Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 1, Episode 2 - Capital Punishment - full transcript

John talks about the recent issues of the death penalty, François Hollande, and the rising issues happening in Brunei.

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Episode 2

Welcome to Last Week Tonight.
I am John Oliver.

Thank you for being with us.
A quick recap of the week.

If you're watching this show
in eastern Ukraine

or as it may be called by the time
that this show airs, western Russia,

then, don't worry:

Vladimir Putin is seizing some of your
towns like they're Super Bowl rings,

but rest assured: the international
community is behind you.

If Russia continues, we have
a range of tools at our disposal,

including sanctions that target
sectors of the Russian economy.

Sanctions ! You're welcome,
Ukraine, everything's going to be fine.

That's kind of our go to move.
We impose sanctions the way

Pizza Hut crams mozzarella into
every crevice of a pizza crust.

It's kind of what we do when
we're out of ideas.

This week also showed how little
regard Putin has for sanctions.

New York Times is reporting
that US sanctions over Ukraine

are having a limited impact on
Russia as Vladimir Putin demand

ukrainian troops withdraw
from south-east of the country.

You know it's not a good sign

when Putin tells you to withdraw
troops from your own country.

That is true but to be fair,

it's also it's not a good sign when
Putin tells you anything.

If Putin leans in to whisper
something into your ear,

best case scenario,
he's gonna bite your ear off.

That's the best thing that could
happen in that circumstance.

Ukraine would have been the talk
of the town in Washington this week.

If they hadn't spent the week
party planning for last night.

The White House Correspondents
Dinner called nerd prom.

We call it the nerd prom.

- Nerd prom.
- This weekend.

Nerd prom !
It's even worse than it sounds.

It is the annual alarming display
of coziness where you can see

such majestic sights as National
Security Advisor Susan Rice

asking for an autograph
from the guy from "Duck Dynasty".

Both of them could justifiably
look at the other one and say:

"what the fuck
are you doing here ?"

And they'd both be right.
It's a night when journalists celebrate

their independence by hanging
out with their sources

and celebrate their importance
by utterly ignoring one another

in favor of Hollywood stars.

The main purpose of the evening
seems to be providing photos

of celebrities unaware
of who they're standing next to.

She has no idea, with that person
in question usually being Wolf Blitzer.

Can I be in the photo ?

Surely this wasn't what the founders
of the Correspondents' Association

had in mind 100 years ago.

Let's look at their original charter.

I wish I could show you that charter.
Because it's our most prized artifact.

I wish you could
show it to me too then.

If you're wondering why he's referring
to it in the conditional sense,

it's because during the renovation
of the White House Press Room,

the Association handed over
their charter for safekeeping,

and well...

When they cut the ribbon,
the White House lost our charter.

You weren't really using it anyway,
perhaps you could replace it

with a framed photo
of Wolf Blitzer with Sofia Vergara.

And now this.

Newscasters enjoying a pun about
today's date a little too much.

I'm a massive Star Wars nerd,

it's Star War's day when we say
may the fourth be with you.

- Happy Star Wars day !
- May the fourth be with you.

Obviously it's May the fourth
be with you.

I speak droid guys, he just said
"may the fourth be with you."

May the fourth be with you,
get it ?

That's a take on the force be
with you.

Today is Star War's day
maybe the fourth one

or should we just say
just the fourth be with you.

Moving on...

Our show is dedicated to covering
the biggest news of the week.

Whatever that news may be.

We have a long, proud
one week history of doing that.

What was the biggest
news story of this week ?

We begin in Oklahoma, with an
execution that did not go as planned.

A convicted killer from Oklahoma
dies after a botched execution.

I know what you're thinking:

you're not gonna really do a comic
take on the death penalty, right ?

It's the second episode ! I haven't
decided if I like this show yet.

You're right !
Don't change the channel.

We don't talk about the death
penalty. No one is forcing us to.

In the application of the death penalty
we have seen significant problems.

We as a society have to ask ourselves
some difficult and profound questions.

Do we really have to do that ?
Can you not just answer those for us ?

I don't want to talk
about the death penalty.

Judging by the noise you make when
you talk about it, neither do you.

What happened in Oklahoma
was troubling and...

I know that sound.

That's the sound of a man
drowning on dry land.

Desperately hoping for Biden
to suddenly walk out

into the rose garden
in an open robe.

God, Joe ! Joe's here !
Thank god you're here.

Let's lighten the mood,
let's talk about Benghazi.

Okay. So let's do this then.
Let's talk about the death penalty.

Before you turn this show off,
there was a YouTube video

of tiny hamsters
eating tiny burritos.

And it's as magical and uncomplicated
as you think.

If you make it to the end,
we will watch it together, okay ?

But you have to stay with us
to get it.

The death penalty.
Should it exist ?

What should its limits be ?
Can someone give me a broad,

almost infantile guideline
of when they think it's appropriate.

The Supreme Court told us that
it is constitutional.

I believe in death penalty,

but only to those who
are guilty of committing the crime.

Okay. Bold idea.
We shouldn't execute innocent people.

I think most people would
probably agree with that.

You, sir, are a regular
Atticus Finch.

Executing the innocent
is not the tough question here.

It's whether
we should be executing the guilty.

And let me acknowledge up front
that I come to this as an outsider.

Britain does not have
capital punishment.

So in a way, I don't know
what I'm talking about.

But in another way, I really "do"
know what I'm talking about.

Because before 1965, we didn't
just have capital punishment.

We literally went medieval
on people's asses.

The history of capital punishment
in Britain is a long and bloody one.

Since the middle ages,
those condemned to death

have variously faced being boiled
alive, burnt at the stake,

or hung, drawn and quartered.

Yep. We did that.
We boiled people.

And in the grand tradition
of British cuisine,

if anything we over boiled them.

We loved killing people so much
we kept coming up with new,

inventive techniques that looked
like they were designed

by the Marquis de Sade
and named by Willy Wonka.

The Headcrusher.

The small and seemingly innocuous
"Thumb Biter"

originates in 14th century Scotland.

These devices have almost childlike
names. Like Penny Winkies.

That's right, Penny Winkies !

A delightful English cousin
of the Throaty Tug-tug,

and the Jolly Shocky Buzz Buzz
Tickly Wickly seat.

I know all of that is still technically
horrifying but that's the point.

Whether you are boiling people alive
or putting them to sleep

with a tiny injection administered by
a puppy dressed as Winnie the Pooh,

in the end
you are getting the same result.

Just because the British people
don't have the death penalty anymore,

doesn't mean
we don't want it back.

Recent polls suggest that
at least half the population

would choose to have it reinstated,
which makes complete sense.

The death penalty is one of those
things that is natural to want

but shouldn't necessarily have.

The death penalty
is like the McRib.

When you can't have it,
it's so tantalizing.

But as soon as they bring it back,
you think "this is ethically wrong".

Should this be allowed
in a civilized society ?

And by the way,
here's your new slogan, McRib.

You are welcome and you can have
that for free, that's yours.

There are things
about having the death penalty

which might make you
a little bit queasy.

What does the US have in common
with Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia ?

The answer is the death penalty.
According to Amnesty International,

those nations and China are responsible
for 82% of the world's executions.

This is going to seem
like a gross simplification.

Any list that contains Iran, Iraq,
Saudi Arabia and China

is "not" a list
you want to be on.

Ideally, you want to be on one
of those lists that Finland is on.

Finland's on all the good lists. Like
"countries with the best pastries".

Or "best countries to host
your overseas lesbian wedding".

I know what some
of you are thinking:

"I hear you saying that most western
countries no longer have executions,"

"but if someone committed
a heinous crime,"

"I'd still very much
like to kill them."

Well, let's start with "if" !

There have been
312 DNA exonerations

since we've been doing
forensic testing.

Isn't it interesting how things
which were once considered

complete air tight evidence are now
being viewed as junk science ?

Isn't it interesting ?

Is interesting really the word
you're looking for, Cooper ?

Facts found on Snapple caps
are interesting.

The statue of liberty's nose
is four feet six inches long.

That's an "interesting" fact.
But facts like innocent people

are potentially executed by our
government on a regular basis

are fucking horrifying.

If you found that on the bottom
of a Chobani lid,

that would make a container of Chobani
harder to swallow than it already is.

Look, statistics suggest that false
convictions aren't all that rare.

We're learning from the proceedings
of the national academy of sciences

a study that shows 4% of death row
inmates are innocent.

I think that might be
the wrong tone. Four percent !

The outrage about this
must be off the charts.

A certain Texas Governor felt
that four cases of voter impersonation

in the last decade was a moral
issue important to address.

Any person who does not want
to see fraud

believes in having good, open,
honest elections, transparent.

We'll take it to the Supreme Court.

To the Supreme Court !

Over a voter impersonation rate
essentially close to zero percent.

So a potential executing the innocent
rate of four percent

must really eat away at Rick Perry.

Your state has executed
234 death row inmates,

more than any other governor
in modern times.

Have you struggled to sleep at night
with the idea

that any one of those
might have been innocent ?

I've never
struggled with that at all.

Nope. I never struggled with it.
In fact, I sleep great.

Like a big muscular baby.
14 hours a night.

Legs in the air,
with a mobile above my head.

Crying when I shit myself,
I'm a big baby, I sleep like a baby.

Let's imagine for a moment
a magical world

where you could be sure
of someone's guilt.

What would be the argument for
killing ? Is it a deterrent to others ?

There is no credible evidence
that the death penalty

is a deterrent to violent crime.

The death penalty is an amazing
deterrent to fishing without a license.

I'd love to go, but is it worth it
you've got a wife and children.

So, what about the argument that
we shouldn't have to pay

to house
and feed a convicted killer ?

An average death penalty case costs
the state millions of dollars.

In California alone, since 1978,

the total cost of enforcing the death
penalty has been over $4 billion.

That's $308 million for each
of the 13 executions carried out.

It costs up to ten times more to give
someone the death penalty

than life in prison.

So what a death sentence
is really saying is:

"This is America and the way we treat
the despicable members of society"

"is spending the entire budget of
the Lord of the Rings trilogy on them."

So the death penalty is expensive,
potentially kills innocent people

and it doesn't deter crime.

Here is where it gets hard.
Harder than is potentially appropriate

for a comedy show
late on a Sunday night.

But if we are going to answer
difficult and profound questions,

as the President told us to,
the toughest one is probably:

"if someone is guilty
of committing a horrible crime"

"and the family of the victim
want the perpetrator executed,"

"do we want to live in the kind
of country that gives that to them ?"

I would say "no".
You might very reasonably say "yes".

Or at the very least...

But it's a question that is going
to need an answer

and in the meantime
a much easier question is:

do you want to watch a YouTube
video of a tiny hamster

eating a tiny burrito ?

Because at this point,
you have fucking earned it.

That is how you end a comprehensive
segment on the death penalty.

And now this:

America, everyone knows
it's the greatest nation on earth

and our leaders are
the greatest leaders on earth

but did you know there are other
countries that are not America ?

Each of them
has a leader of it's very own.

Let's take a moment to meet
one in our ongoing series:

"Other countries'
Presidents of the United States."

This week's leader:

Francois Hollande. Francois Holland.

Francois Hollande.

That's right, Francois Hollande,
the President of France,

the country where your cousin spent
a three month study abroad

and the rest of his life over
emphasizing the word croissant.

Interestingly, Hollande is rare
among world leaders

in that he's publicly questioned
the existence of God

which perhaps explains why on his
inauguration day this happened:

Hollande was on his way to meet
with Angela Merkel in Berlin

when his plane
was hit by lightning.

Hollande is a committed Socialist.

Not only believing that France
should have a public investment bank

and that the retirement age
should begin at sixty

but also his body should be shared
with as many women as possible.

Yes, Francois is probably
most famous for his love life

which rivals that of France's
notorious President LePew.

We can do away with
the dull preliminaries.

Hollande has four children
with Segolene Royal

a fellow Socialist who also ran
for President

only to lose to Nicholas Sarkozy.

Hollande chose to comfort his partner

by leaving her for his younger
mistress, Valerie Trierweiller.

An act so heartless the French
people decided to punish him

by electing him
to the highest office in the land.

But wait, there's more.

Hollande then cheated on his mistress
with another mistress.

Sneaking out of the Presidential Palace
to meet her on a scooter,

a sequence of events so stereotypically
French it's almost offensive.

We introduce you to Francois Hollande,
who dumped a presidential candidate

and became president himself,
a man who evicted a First Lady,

an action which somehow
increased his approval rating

and the only man who managed
to pick-up a movie star mistress

while riding on a scooter.

Who says there's no God ?

Let's move on, there was
big news this week out of Brunei.

Wait, let me back up a second.
There is a country called Brunei.

It's located "here" in Southeast Asia.

Specifically, it's located here,
on the island of Borneo.

There's big news
from Brunei there this week.

At a ceremony
on Wednesday morning,

the sultan announced that Brunei's
experiment with Sharia Law had begun.

Sharia law is one of those scary terms

your grandma sends you email
forwards about

because a guy who looked Muslim cut
in front of her at the grocery store.

What does this new law entail ?

In about a year those guilty of theft
or consuming alcohol will be punished

with a whipping or even amputations.

And in two years, the death penalty
will be implemented for crimes

like blasphemy, sodomy
or insulting the Quran.

Holy shit. I guess
this explains Brunei's new slogan:

"Brunei is for lovers, only within
the bounds of heterosexual marriage."

I know I should be careful. And maybe
this sultan is a devout, pious man,

obeying the strict tenets
of his faith.

He's worth more
than 20 billion dollars.

He owns a fleet of more than 5 000
luxury cars and his own 747.

His family includes 12 children by 3
wives, lives in a 1 788 room palace.

I'm not really getting
"humility" off of this,

so much as Donald Trump
times Richard Brandson

to the Scrooge McDuckth power.

His most incredible display of wealth

was the surprise party
he threw for himself back in 1996.

It has been Brunei's
most lavish party ever.

A two week $25 million dollar bash

thrown by sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
for his 50th birthday.

Michael Jackson, the sultan's favorite
pop star gave a public concert.

As a gift to the fans the sultan
picked up the tab for the concert,

which he did not attend.

He did not attend,
that is a power move.

Fly Michael Jackson around
the world to perform for you

and then you don't turn up
to the concert.

I'm just too rich to give a shit.
And it's not just wealth.

It's a little hard to take strict
moral guidelines from a man

whose own brother
owned a yacht called "Tits",

with service boats called
"Nipple 1" and "Nipple 2".

You're not the moral
authority of your country,

you're just
Jeremy Piven with money.

The Sultan's brother even stocked
his estate on Long Island

with these actual graphic statues
of himself having sex.

I'd say that's not classy,

but to be honest it's classiest
thing on Long Island.

Come at me !

So rank hypocrisy and vicious
antihomosexuality laws.

And yet... A lack of condemnation
from any major countries.

And that's because Brunei
falls under the Saudi Arabia rule:

if you're a tiny, wealthy,
strategically located country

with oily business underneath you,
the whole world is your friend.

Remember the British Royal
wedding ? Because the Sultan does.

And here we have
the Sultan of Brunei coming in,

the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah
and he is there with his wife.

Yeah, he was there
and he had good seats, too !

Who's that over William's shoulder ?
There he is ! Literally courtside !

If something had gone wrong,

he could've tapped in and
got himself wife number four.

Remember the last G20 summit ?
Because guess who's there !

It's the Sultan of Brunei !
Brunei's not even in the G20.

The Sultan just doesn't give a shit,
he just turns up anyway.

He had face to face sit downs with
each of the last three presidents.

It is a great pleasure to welcome
my good friend,

his majesty the sultan of Brunei.

For context: Brunei has a population
of 420 000 people.

For scale, the population
of Staten Island is 470 000.

I don't remember seeing Staten Island
borough president James P. Molinaro

getting a sit down
with the president.

Although, to be honest,
he's a lot less fun than the Sultan.

Molinaro's last big birthday
took place at a Sizzler

with entertainment from
a Jermaine Jackson impersonator.

I'm kidding.

It was actually
far less exciting than that.

A happy birthday to our borough
president James Molinaro

who turned 80 years young.

He recieved flowers and
several phone calls in his office.

I'm gonna guess that none
of those were from the President.

And the sad thing is,
we in America were on such a roll

of condemning antigay legislation
around the world

in places like Uganda
or, recently, in Russia.

I have no patience for countries

that try to treat gays or lesbians
or transgender persons

in ways that intimidate them
or are harmful to them.

I have no patience,
I might try to build some up.

You never know
when it might come in handy.

There was no public statement
on Brunei's law

from the State Department
at all this week.

We even called them ! And we're
nobody. They explicitly told us that.

Although there was one group
this week that took a stand.

It's also led to several celebrities
boycotting the Beverly Hills Hotel,

which the sultan owns.

I've got to say congratulations
to the city of Los Angeles.

It can't have be easy to within
a week discover you have

a worse billionaire owner
than this guy.

The most public statement
of condemnation this week

came from Ellen's Twitter feed,

where she said she would be
boycotting hotels the sultan owns.

Take that, sultan !

You might get a pass from every
government on earth,

but you do not piss off
the people's republic of Ellen.

You don't do it,
you don't do that !

It's too bad, the sultan was
one of my favorite Ellen guests.

Look at him dance !

That's just natural rhythm.

You know who I feel the worst
other than everyone in Brunei ?

Their tourism authority. They're
gonna have to change their ads now.

When it's time to go back
to the values of sincerity and purity,

there is always Brunei.

Brunei Al DaraSalaam,
a kingdom of unexpected treasures.

That's nice, but you are going to want
to at least change the end of that.

Brunei Al DaraSalaam.

We're on top of a shit ton of oil.
What've you got ?

Nothing is the answer and now this:

People falling asleep behind

Understand that your success in life
won't be determined

just by what's given to you
or what happens to you.

No one can outcompete us,

there's no country in the world
that can outcompete us.

I'll have the answer
about whether I even could.

And our allies are so much
less willing to trust us.

We need to make sure
the American people

are given just a fighting chance.

We must do these things together
as one nation and one people.

Corporate Japan is gonna overtake
the USA.

The common refrain is more care and
less Rick but I'm working on it.

There's folks on the left that try
to be purposely provocative

saying the meanest, nastiest things
about the other side.

The social problems they have to deal
with are incomprehensible.

We stand for freedom
and hope and opportunity.

I know that you can do it,
after all you are the Giants

and with the education here
there is nothing that you can't do.

For more of "Last Week Tonight",
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Have a great night.