Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 1, Episode 3 - Climate Change Denial - full transcript

John talks about Eurovision, Ukraine and Russia's relations, and invites Bill Nye to a statistically representative climate change debate.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -


Welcome to the show !
I'm John Oliver.

Thank you so much for being with us,
I hope you're all well.

We begin tonight with big news.
History was made this week.

history is made every week.

That's kinda how history works,
that's not the point.

Last night, a particular
kind of history was made.

The Saint Louis Rams
made history making Michael Sam

the first openly gay player
ever chosen in the NFL draft.

The first openly gay player
to be drafted in the NFL.

An NFL team drafting
an openly gay player.

He hasn't told his mom yet !
That is not cool !

This is fantastic news but perhaps
the true sign of how far we've come

isn't that the news have spent the week
focusing on the human interest angle.

It's that ESPN
has spent their whole week

showing no real interest
in him as a human at all.

He's much more of a designated rusher
than a 3-4 outside linebacker.

9 sacks came in 3 games each against
Arkansas State, Florida and Vandy,

only two and a half
in the seven other games.

To the combine where he struggled,
we're in a 4-9-1.

Sweet, sweet jargon !
The great mathematical equalizer.

At it's best the world of sports
is completely amoral.

If being gay helped Drew Brees
throw the ball even one yard farther,

even the most homophobic
Saints fans

would be imploring him
to question his straightness midgame.

Are you sure Drew ? Are you sure ?
Are you sure Drew ?

And I'm not saying
that there aren't idiots out there.

If you typed "Michael Sam"
into Twitter last night

you could find things
that made you despair for humanity

but this moment felt a lot bigger
than all of that noise.

For me,
the most heartwarming moment

was not when Michael Sam
sobbed in happiness

when told he'd been drafted
before lovingly kissing his boyfriend,

it was how the ESPN commentators
reacted immediately afterwards .

We've seen this over and over again,
we saw it with Taj Boyd,

the emotion of when you realize
all your dreams have been validated.

For the families and for the players,
there life long dream has come true.

They just uttered
the same bland platitudes

that they been uttering about
everyone else for three solid days.

Which genuinely
feels like a breakthrough.

So this is where we are now:
in a landmark move,

the St. Louis rams, the NFL, and ESPN
proved they are not concerned

about whether there are gay thoughts
in Michael Sam's head,

they are only concerned
about whether he's willing

to use that head
to smash into other people's heads.

We did it, everyone !
We have reached the mountaintop !

But from American sports
to something much less serious:

the potential war in Ukraine.

This morning, voters in eastern Ukraine
held a referendum

on whether or not to move
toward joining Russia.

But tensions had come to a head
in a very unusual way late last night.

Good evening Europe !

Let me explain.

There is a thing
called the Eurovision Song Contest.

It happens once every year, and it's
the craziest thing you'll ever see.

37 European countries

sublimate thousands of years
of ethnic and religious tensions

into a series of bizarre
3 minute song-tastrophes.

Laugh, but you'll be butter-churn
dancing in the clubs next weekend.

Churn it up, get a little bit wristy.
Turn it up....

Last night's final had Russia
facing off against Ukraine,

with their songs being voted
on by all the competing nations.

This contest had more oversight
than the vote for Crimean secession.

First up, it was Ukraine,
whose song featured

a guy in the background
running around in a hamster wheel.

In case that wasn't an apt summary
of their current political situation,

listen to this...

can you hear me go tick tock."

Their song
was called "Tick-tock",

basically the countdown
to an explosion.

For their part, Russia responded
with a song performed

by 17-year-old
folically-conjoined twins

featuring the lyrics, and I swear
to you that this is true !

"Cross the line a step at a time,
maybe there's a place,

maybe there's a time,
maybe there's a day you will be mine."

That, that is essentially
an anthem to annexation.

Can't ask the people of eastern Ukraine
to choose between these two songs.

They're both too good !
Just go to war ! Go to war !

The continent should go to war again,
let Europe tear itself apart yet again !

The only way to stop this

would be if the Eurovision song contest
was somehow won by someone

so spectacularly wonderful that
it erased the tensions in a heartbeat.

Drag queen Conchita Wurst
took the trophy for Austria.

The diva won with the tune
"Rise Like the Phoenix".

This night is dedicated

to everyone who believes
in a future of peace and freedom,

you know who you are.

We are unity,
and we are unstoppable.

You know what ?
That's awesome, isn't it ?

Is it just me, or between Conchita
and Michael Sam,

did the world became a better place
to live in in the last 24 hours ?

Moving on !

Finally, this was also a big week
for Vladimir Putin, who visited Crimea

for a long-overdue victory lap
in Russia's newest territory.

Speaking before tens of thousands
in the port city of Sevastopol,

Putin hailed the incorporation of the
region as a return to the motherland.

It is Mother's Day today.

And there's nothing wrong
with moving back in with your mother.

It's "little" weird when your mother
sends an unmarked militia to force you.

And Putin's celebrations
didn't stop there.

Vladimir Putin will celebrate
Russia's annexation of Crimea

with a specially
minted silver coin.

That's his image on the front, a map of
the Crimean peninsula is on the back.

The coin weighs
more than two pounds.

Two pounds !

That's not a commemorative coin that
is a commemorative manhole cover.

Are you sure you want to be celebrating
quite this hard, Vladimir ?

Because I hate to remind you,
but the place you annexed was Crimea.

Crimea depends on Ukraine
right now for 25% of its gas,

for 90% of its electricity,
70% of water.

Crimea only produces about
a tenth of the energy it consumes.

Russia expects to spend between
five to six billion dollars in Crimea.

It's going to be a burden on Russia.

So Crimea is going to be a drain
on Russia's finances and attention.

So congratulations, Putin !
In order to stick it to the West,

you just adopted the sick cat
of autonomous zones.

Have you seen the Crimean people ?
It's basically this guy.

This is what you won, Russia.

This man and the entire history
that his face represents.

And I just want to be clear that
this guy's having a really good day.

That is what smiling
looks like in Crimea.

And why shouldn't he be smiling ?
After all, it's his 16th birthday.


If Russia is going to mint a coin
over their annexation of Crimea,

this coin might at least
be a little more accurate:

Crimea used to be
a piece of Ukraine.

After Russia's historic 2014 invasion,
it's now a piece of history.

And you have
a once-in-a-lifetime chance

to own a piece of history
about this piece of history,

with the "worthless desolate landmass"
commemorative coin.

Like the territory it commemorates,
the coin is symbolically impressive,

has absolutely no value whatsoever,

and will be a cumbersome burden
for generations to come.

On one side,
the silver-plated coin

features an exquisite portrait
of Vladimir Putin shirtless on a horse.

On the other side, it features Vladimir
Putin shirtless, carrying a horse.

If you're wondering
why there is no map of Crimea,

that is because Vladimir Putin
doesn't give a fuck about Crimea.

Which is what it says in Russian
around the edges of the coin.

Call now to order yours. Although,
on second thought, don't call now.

Why would anyone want this ?

Coin is not chocolate on the inside.

When Russia aid shipments during the
winter months, do not try to eat coin.

Let's move on !

Let's turn now to the US
and to campaign finance.

There was yet another development
on this week.

Federal election commission has voted
to allow a political action committee

to accept contributions
in the digital currency Bitcoin.

That's right: Bitcoin.

The currency of choice
for heroin dealers and assassins

is now perfectly fine
for political candidates to accept.

Are there any limits left
on campaign finance anymore ?

Corporations are people, people can
give pretty much whatever they like,

all of which has led us to the point
where 1 state in the midterm elections

is set to have the most expensive
senate race ever.

I'll give you a clue: it is the fiftieth
state that you are thinking of.

It could end up
being $100 million race.

The battle for the US
senate seat in Kentucky.

Kentucky ? $100 million ?
For Kentucky.

No offense Kentucky,
I'm a big fan of your fried chicken,

and, and I proudly
watch your derby each year.

Mostly to find names for my thrash
metal/SKA fusion band.

We are "Dance with Fate"
and we are extremely loud.

You might well ask:
why are Kentuckians

giving so much money
to their candidates.

Funny story: they're not.
The two likely candidates

are senate minority leader
Mitch McConnell

and his democratic opponent,
Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The vast majority of their big-donor
money comes from out of state.

Let's not pretend
that Kentucky's election

has anything to do
with Kentucky anymore.

Each candidate has been
using some of their money

to scorch the earth
with negative ads.

For Mitch McConnell, it's mainly
about how much he loves coal,

and how much
his opponent hates it.

To Barack Obama and his allies,

coal country represents a threat
to their idea of "green energy".

Whatever that means.

So when someone says a war on coal
is what the country needs,

they're declaring a war
on a heck of lot more than coal.

It's a war on Kentucky.

We didn't ask for this,

but if it's a war they want,
it's a war they'll get.

Holy shit,

I think Mitch McConnell declared
a war on the rest of the country.

"I love my coal. You come after
my coal, I hit you with a shovel.

Burning rocks is my favorite
thing to do. It's wartime."

That's a solid impression,
I don't want to argue with you.

We're not arguing,

McConnell's ads are a little
reductive and inflammatory.

I'm sure Alison Grimes will offer
a lot more in the way of substance.

He's blocked the senate
over 400 times

then voted to shut down the government
hurting Kentucky's economy.

Mitch McConnell
can't light the house on fire,

then claim credit for putting it out.

Two things there:
one that's not even special effects.

And two, that used to be
Kentucky's capital building.

But that ad speaks to Alison Grimes'
overall strategy:

to point out
that she is not Mitch McConnell

in any way, shape or form.

Alison Lundergan Grimes
is quick to remind you: she is female.

Women get it done, men...
Women can make it happen.

I'm proud, as the senator said,
to be a homegrown Kentucky girl,

unlike Mitch McConnell.

She's not wrong.

Mitch McConnell is not
a homegrown Kentucky girl.

Politfact rates that one as "true".

The main points are that she hates
coal, and he's an old man.

And the worst thing is,
things get less substantial

when you turn
to their online campaigns.

Back when Grimes
entered the race,

the McConnell campaign
welcomed her with a YouTube video.

That is a viral video in the sense
that herpes is a viral disease.

Once it's in you,
it is never going away.

And that was just the beginning
of the online trolling.

The Grimes campaign
later created an electronic valentine

so people could tell Mitch McConnell
"it's not me, it's you",

to which team McConnell responded
with a list titled "Valentine's Day:

a love story between
Alison Grimes and President Obama".

Accenting every meaningless point
with a tiny movie clip !

So who cares if the sentence
"they're so obsessed

with your 2nd amendment rights that
they want to control it all for you"

literally makes no sense ?

You get to look at the seagulls
from "Finding Nemo".

The people of Kentucky
deserve everyone's sympathy.

Or the ones with internet access
because here's an interesting fact:

28 percent of Kentuckians
don't have any online access,

a commodity that the UN
has deemed a "basic human right."

Even Alaska has that number
down to 18 percent,

and they had to lay fiber optic cable
through 1300 miles of narwhal.

Which brings us
to the larger point here.

This race is all but ignoring
Kentucky's many substantial problems.

And perhaps I should
explain this to candidates

in terms their campaigns
would approve of.

Here are five important facts
about Kentucky

that you might want to find
some solutions for.

Kentucky has the country's
fifth-highest percentage

of adults below the poverty line !

Kentucky is the ninth
most obese state in the country !

It is a lot !

Kentucky also has the country's
fifth-highest unemployment rate !

Yes ! Plus, more than
one in ten adults in Kentucky

lack basic literacy skills !

Yes, really !

And finally: Kentucky has the
nation's leading cancer death rate !

Yes, it is sad, something should
be done and that's the point.

What's happening in Kentucky

is just a microcosm
of what is happening everywhere.

As the amount
of money gets greater,

the ads nationwide are somehow
just keep getting worse and worse.

I grew up castrating hogs
on an Iowa farm

so when I get to Washington
I'll know how to cut pork.

And as for as long as I can remember,
my father had this rifle real handy.

Just to keep us safe.

My forefather used a canon

to fight the British in Savannah
and win us the Constitution.

If you're the sexual predator and
sociopath that murdered my sister

and you come to my front door
to do harm to my girls,

I'm going to use my glock;
to blow your balls off.

You heard it here first

the biggest trends
in political ad's this year: balls.

There is no way things
are going to get better

until we collectively
hit rock bottom.

And at this point, the only thing
keeping us from doing that

are the limits on what you can show
on network television,

which is where
we might be able come in

because this isn't
network television.

This is HBO.

This is the moral wild west
of sex and violence.

Have you ever seen the arterial
explosion that is True Blood.

Coming back in June,
by the way.

HBO, for years, brought you
middle-aged nudity on Real Sex.

Happy Mother's Day !
Take that down, take that down.

If things have to get worse
before they can get better,

then worse they shall get.

We have prepared attack ads
for both McConnell and Grimes

that are very much in the spirit
of the ads they're already running.

So Mitch McConnell ?
Here is your new attack ad.

Kentucky ! To us, it's home.

Kentuckians pride ourselves
on our industries:

we're proud of our bourbon,
we're proud of our music,

and most of all
we're proud of our coal.

But one politician hates coal.
And coal miners.

Alison Lundergan Grimes.

If she wins,
there'll be nowhere to run.

There'll be nowhere to hide.

She uses coal to kill
and not to power Kentucky's future !

Take a good look, Kentucky.

'Cause this is what a vote
for Alison Grimes will get you.

She'll kill everyone.
And everything.

Alison Grimes.

She will rip off Kentucky's head,
and shit down its neck.

I'm Mitch McConnell
and I approve this message.

That's yours !
Run it as much as you like,

run that as much
as you like Mitch McConnell !

But while you're doing it, Alison
Grimes will be free to run this on you.

For too long,
politics in Washington

have been dominated
by old, white, wrinkled dicks.

And no dick is older, whiter
or wrinklier than Mitch McConnell's.

Think about it, Kentucky.
Don't just think about it, look at it.

This dick's been telling you
what to do for thirty years.

It's time for something new.
It's time for Alison Grimes.

She's young, energetic,
she'll work tirelessly for Kentucky.

Unlike Mitch McConnell,

Alison Grimes believes in increased
funding for education,

cutting government waste,
and putting Kentuckians back to work.

Alison Grimes.
Mitch McConnell.

Alison Grimes.
Mitch McConnell.

I'm Alison Lundergan Grimes.
I'm honored to approve this message.

Do you feel that ?

We're at rock bottom people,
all of us together.

Now can everyone please try
a little harder in the future,

because there's nowhere
to go from here but up.

And now, this !

Last Week Tonight
asks "how is this still a thing ?"

Dressing up as other races.
How is this still a thing ?

On Monday,
MSNBC's "Way Too Early"

celebrated Cinco de Mayo
in a somewhat questionable manner.

It is Cinco de Mayo, celebrating
Mexican heritage and pride.

It's also an excuse to drink tequila
on a Monday morning at work.

Yes, that's professional reporter
and white guy, Louis Burgdorf,

in a sombrero
drinking from a tequila bottle.

Because, ya know...Mexico !

But, to be fair, that's just
one network with bad judgment.

This holiday is also known
as Cinco de Drinko.

Two networks
with bad judgment.

America has supposedly
evolved past its use

of racial caricatures
in movies, TV, etcetera.

What does 'etcetera, etcetera'
mean in Japanese ?

But even with racism
now officially over,

We don't have racism
in American anymore.

Some Americans
can't seem to let go

of their obsession with
dressing up in offensive outfits.

Serra High School football coaches

dressed as members of the Jamaican
bobsled team, black face and all.

Even when it's a shitty,
out of date reference

that no one had thought
about for years.

Yes, whether you're
an elected official,

Ashton Kutcher making a bold choice
in a pop chips commercial...

I'm Raj.
I am a Bollywood producer,

looking for the most
delicious thing on the planet.

Or a fraternity attempting to
celebrate Martin Luther King day

in the worst way possible...

The frat held an MLK party last
weekend where students dressed up

like gangsters then posed
for pictures holding watermelons.

The desire to play demographic dress
up runs surprisingly deep

even among
well-known actresses.

Julianne Hough dressed up in blackface
for a Beverley Hills Halloween bash.

Came as one of the characters
from Orange is the New Black.

Yes Julianne Hough
learned two lessons that night:

Wearing blackface to a Halloween party
is a terrible idea.

If she's about to leave the house
looking like an asshole,

not one of her friends will tell her.

And incredibly,
all this is happening at a time

when there are more costumes
available in this country

than in the history of costumes.

You can dress up as a fireman,
a nun,

a slightly out of shape
Captain America,

a sexy rocket scientist, a banana

or even a banana with a penis.

Along thousands more ridiculous
but non-racist costumes.

With all of these options,
it begs the question:

Dressing up as other races...
How is this still a thing ?

Finally tonight, The Earth.
You may know it as

"that blue thing Bruce Willis
is always trying to save".

Or from its famous collaboration
with "Wind" and "Fire".

Or just simply as "that place
where George Clooney lives".

The earth had some genuinely
bad news this week.

A White House Report
that says global warming

threatens every part of the U.S.

Climate change
is already affecting us now.

Now ! Smart move, Obama.

That is a key shift in how to talk
about climate change.

We've all proven that we cannot
be trusted with the future tense.

We've been repeatedly asked,

"don't you want to leave a better
earth for your grandchildren ?".

We've collectively responded:
"nah, fuck 'em."

But, incredibly this latest
damning scientific report

may still face an uphill climb
with some of us.

Here's that gallup poll
which found one in four Americans

is skeptical
of the effects of climate change.

That doesn't matter. You don't need
people's opinions on a fact.

You might as well have a poll asking
"which number is bigger, 15 or 5?"

Or "do owls exist ?"
Or "are there hats ?"

The debate on climate change
should not be whether or not it exists.

It's what we should do about it.
There is a mountain of research.

Global temperatures are rising. Heat
waves are becoming more common.

Sea surface temperatures are rising.
Glaciers are melting.

And no climate report is complete
without the obligatory photo

of polar bear
balancing on a piece of ice.

The only accurate way to report
that one out of four Americans

are skeptical
of global warming is to say,

"a poll finds 1 out of 4 Americans
are wrong about something."

Because a survey of thousands
of scientific papers

that took a position
on climate change found that

"97 percent endorsed the position that
humans are causing global warming."

I think I know why people
still think the issue's open to debate.

Because on TV, it is.

And it's always one person for,
one person against.

And it's usually
the same person for.

Bill Nye and Marsha Blackbird,
welcome both of you !

Bill Nye joins us now along with
climate change skeptic Mark Marana.

Joining me now to go
head-to-head Bill Nye,

CEO of The Planetary Society.

In the crossfire,
Bill Nye The Science Guy.

Bill Nye the Science Guy
believes in man-made global warming.

More often than not it's Bill Nye
the Science Guy versus some dude.

And when you look
as the screen its 50/50

which is inherently misleading.

If there has to be a debate
about the reality of climate change,

then there is the only mathematically
fair way to do it.

Last Week Tonight presents

a statistically representative
climate change debate.

Good evening, joining me tonight,
a climate change denier,

and naturally,
Bill Nye the Science Guy.

John, humans are causing climate,
no question.

Before we begin, in the interest
of mathematical balance,

I'm going to bring out two people
who agree with you, climate skeptic.

And Bill Nye, I'm also going
to bring out 96 other scientists.

It's a little unwieldy
but this is the only way

you can have
a representative discussion.

So, yeah. Please, file in !

Again, this is going
to make the debate difficult.

We shouldn't really
be having it in the first place

but representationally climate skeptic
please make a against climate change.

I don't think all the science
is in yet, it's settled.

And what is the overwhelming view
of the entire scientific community ?

Okay, any response to that ?
Any response ?

I can't hear you over
the wait of scientific evidence.

This whole debate
should not have happened.

I apologize to everyone at home.

My thanks to Bill Nye and the
overwhelming scientific consensus.

Thank you at home for watching.
Have a great week ! Thank you !

I can't hear you,
the problem is....

You understand, there are way
too many of these people...

this debate...

I can't hear you...
it's an overwhelming consensus...

this consensus is overwhelming
so you understand,

I can't hear...

Make your point...