Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 1, Episode 7 - Immigration Reform - full transcript

John discusses immigration, the Washington Redskins and Iraq and talks to Stephen Hawking.

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Welcome to Last Week Tonight !
I'm John Oliver.

Our guest: Stephen Hawking
is our actual guest this evening,

very exciting.

Before we begin, a couple of weeks ago,
we did a piece about net neutrality.

We pointed out that Tom Wheeler,
the chair of the FCC,

which is tasked
with regulating cable companies,

was previously a lobbyist
for the cable industry.

Something of a conflict of interest
that we summarized thusly...

That is the equivalent of needing
a babysitter and hiring a dingo.

It's a little offensive to Australia's
favorite baby-eating animal,

but needs must for the joke.

You're probably wondering
why I'm playing it again now.

On Friday, the FCC held
an open meeting, and this happened !

You watched the John Oliver segment ?
What you thought about it ?

Shit !

That is not good.

So... What did he think ?

I think that it represents the...

high level of interest that exists
in the topic in the country,

and that's good.

I would like to state
for the record I'm not a dingo.


And second:
We never said you "were" a dingo.

We said you were "like" a dingo.
But you're denying it so strenuously,

I'm honestly starting to wonder
whether you are actually a dingo.

He tried to throw us off his scent by
pretending not to know what a dingo is.

I had to go look it up.
It's a feral wild animal in Australia.

That's exactly the kind of thing
a dingo would say

if he didn't want anyone
to know he was a dingo.

Look at a split screen !

The likeness is uncanny.

If you shaved the one on the left,

would it not look
like the guy on the right ?

Because now I have
lots more questions Wheeler.

"Have you, at any time ever consumed
a swamp wallaby for its nutrients ?"

You probably have,
you fucking dingo.

- What's your answer to that ?
- I'm not a dingo.

You keep saying that,
but now the burden of proof is on you !

Unless you can produce a document,
verified by a licensed zoologist,

certifying that you are in fact,
not a 100 percent talking dingo,

I don't think you can complain

if Americans refuse to leave you
alone in rooms with their babies.

Because you'd eat them.
You filthy dingo !

Moving on to something
unfortunately far more serious:

it has been a terrible week in Iraq,
even by Iraq's terrible standards.

Fighters under black flags
have marched south through Iraq,

the cities have fallen one by one.

From Mosul in the north to
Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

More than 200 miles
in a matter of days.

They started on Tuesday and were
just outside Baghdad five days later.

They took over a portion of Iraq

as quickly as Amazon can give you
complimentary ground shipping.

The group currently overrunning Iraq
call themselves ISIS,

or "the Islamic State
of Iraq and Syria",

although they should probably
be known now as "Turbo Al Qaeda."

Because they didn't take over much
of northern Iraq this week.

They went "Ocean's 11" on it.

The militants are flush with cash.
They robbed Mosul's central bank,

taking over $400 million,
according to the city's governor.

It makes them arguably the richest
terrorist group in the world.

Wait, you made $400 million
and exploited half a country in a week ?

What are you,
a terrorist group or a hedge fund ?

Of all the chilling details
that came out about ISIS this week,

this one was perhaps the worst...

ISIS formed in April last year
growing out of Al Qaeda

but it is so extreme that Al Qaeda
has now disavowed them.

How crazy
do you have to be for Al Qaeda

to distance themselves from you ?

That's like Liam Neeson saying

"You're going a little overboard
trying to save your daughter.

Have you thought about going to the
embassy ? Official channels are best."

And finally this week
the president made a long overdue trip.

President Obama focused on the
struggles of Native Americans today.

He made a visit to the
Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

With his visit today, he becomes
only the fourth sitting president ever

to visit an Indian reservation.

That is pretty amazing. Only the fourth
sitting president to visit "ever".

Technically, if you count
"non"-sitting presidents

then Andrew Jackson
did visit "lot".

You shouldn't count that. He did visit
but you shouldn't count it.

The U.S. department
of housing and urban development

announced they'd be making
70 million available

to improve tribal housing conditions,
including money for mold removal.

To which the Native Americans
presumably said:

"Finally !
We are officially square.

Look, it was touch-and-go
for a few centuries there,

but at the end of the day,
all we wanted was our mold removed."

There is one other thing the Native
Americans wouldn't mind if we did.

And it concerns the football team
for some reason


They still haven't changed their name
despite the launch, just this week,

of a new emotionally-powerful
advertising campaign.

Seminole. Seneca. Mohawk.

And Creek. Mills.

Will Rodgers. Geronimo.

Unyielding. Strong. Indomitable.

Native Americans
call themselves many things.

The one thing they don't.

For the average American,
that ad should tug

at one sixteenth of your heartstrings
and made the rest feel extremely guilty.

The strongest possible pushback
you can have

after watching
something amazing like that is...

Yeah but...
You're right., you're right.

We've got to change the name,
you're right.

But one person remains unmoved,

and unfortunately,
he's the only one that matters.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder
has held firm

that he will not change
the nickname of his team.

Washington Redskins
is more than a name

we have called our football team
for over eight decades.

It is a symbol
of everything we stand for:

strength, courage,
pride and respect.

I had no idea you have an ancient
eight decade history at stake here.

You are clearly proud people
who have suffered greatly.

Please accept my apologies,
oh chief runs without moral compass.

It's getting increasingly hard

to make a good argument for keeping
the Washington Redskins' name.

If only there were some emotionally
affecting way to convey that.

There are many positions
that can be defended.

Steven Tyler's still got it.

Cauliflower is the king
of vegetables.

Camping is actually fun.

Music you never tire of ?

Weasels make the cutest pets.

You should leave
that fourth voicemail.

Every flight needs more babies.

If you don't learn to play
the recorder, you're fucked.

Philadelphia is the cultural capital
of America.

If you want to get laid,
become a magician.

Nancy Grace seems nice.

But the one position
that can't be defended...

Is this...

Seriously though,

playing a recorder sets you
up for life, seriously.

Now, moving on, I'd like to talk
about immigration tonight.

Now, clearly, I have
a vested interest in the subject.

Eight years ago, I journeyed
to American from across the sea,

like a human Fievel.

"Somewhere out there,

beneath the pale moonlight..."

Immigration has always been part
of the American story.

And it has definitely been part
of the American story this week.

House majority leader Eric Cantor
going down to defeat

to an unknown economics professor,
Dave Brat.

The big issue was immigration.

Brat told republican voters in
Virginia's conservative 7th district,

that Cantor would support
president Obama on immigration reform.

This means immigration reform
is 100% dead.

Immigration reform, probably dead
for the rest of the Obama presidency.

- Immigration reform is dead.
- Dead as a doornail.

So, let's break this down,
immigration reform

one of the most important issues
facing America

has been door nailed by 65 000
republican primary voters

who could be bothered
to turn up on a Tuesday,

500 miles
from the nearest border.

The system works !

Immigration reform
was already dead.

It's just that Congress
had put a hat and sunglasses on it

and propped it up
hoping no one would notice.

Which is a real shame. If you've been
watching the news this week,

you may have seen the evidence of how
badly our immigration system is broken.

Not just the heartbreaking photos
of hundreds of children

being held in detention facilities
in Arizona, but also this...

Here's the issue, if you want to go
from let's say El Salvador to right here,

to Mission, Texas, if you want to go
with the V.I.P. Coyote,

the guys that bring you in illegally,
it's going to cost you about $9,000.

If you do it on the cheap,
it's going to cost you about $2,500.

If you want to cross the border
right here on the river behind me

on a jet ski, that's going to cost you
an additional $500, or $600.

That is a weird tone of voice
to be using.

Is that guy delivering
a news report or an infomercial ?

"Call the number on the bottom
of your screen,

and you won't just get the jet ski ride
and the coyote access,

you'll get a counterfeit
social security card.

And, for some reason,
a Thighmaster. Call now !"

I will say, though,
I think most people would agree,

anyone who manages to immigrate
into America on a jet ski

probably belongs here.

That's a universal truth.

But the immigration issue
always provokes a strong response.

And that's not an American trait.
That is true the world over.

The French want to preserve their
way of life, and don't want to adopt

the cultures, traditions,
and customs of these foreigners.

We are fighting for a Dutch society
without immigrants.

Bulgaria is constructing
a 30 kilometer wall

along part of its border
with Turkey.

When those Romanians or Bulgarians
here, you're going to have a problem.

You haven't seen crime
yet but you will.

That last one honestly
makes me so homesick.

That's the music of my youth.

I lost my virginity to the sound
of a man ranting about Bulgarians.

So, basically, immigration
is the universal crazy-maker.

And believe me, I know,
I come from England.

Hating immigrants
is one of our national pastimes,

it's like cricket
or winning Academy Awards.

We're almost weirdly good at it.
And we've been doing it for years.

Of course, there are far too many
immigrants in this country.

When will the public wake up
to the fact that you cannot

put a quart into a pint bottle ?

My wife and I used to like to go out
weekends down to the local,

have a couple of drinks,
meet friends in there.

We can't go into the locals anymore,
they're full up with noisy foreigners.

After going through two world wars
we should at least have the dignity

of being allowed
to live with our own kind.

That lady missed some key lessons
from those world wars.

The Nazis must be defeated

so we can create an England
pure of race and genetically superior !

At least, but look...

At least, England has an excuse
for being that stupid:

It's just too old.

Americans don't have that excuse,
you're young enough

you can actually dress up like your
earliest ancestors in the country.

If you asked
an English person to do that,

they'd show up confused
wearing a cloak and deer antlers,

and waving a wand around.

"Is this it ? Merlin went
through a wardrobe. Is this it ?"

Immigrants have been good
to America.

They've created
some of your most American things:

"God bless America ?"
Written by a Siberian.

Levis jeans ? A Bavarian.

The White House ?
Designed by an Irishman.

Superman ? A Kryptonian.

Who was co-created by a Canadian.

And in return,
America has been good for immigrants.

Sure, yeah,
people shouldn't come here illegally.

But can you blame them ?
It's great here.

You guys, yes,
you guys have done...

It's awesome,

and you guys have done an amazing job
of branding yourselves !

This is the land of Captain America !
The Mall of America !

American Girl Dolls !
The American Pie movies !

You took the most iconic foodstuff and
monetized a movie about fucking it !

Is it any wonder people
want to live here ?

I did !
And it's worked out great !

So, if America's good for immigrants,
and vice-versa,

why do some people want
to clamp down on immigration ?

Let's start by asking the man who
pushed the issue to the fore this week,

Eric Cantor's vanquisher, Dave Brat.

We clearly cannot import
7 billion people on the planet

into the United States of America.
It's just a non-starter.

Yeah ,except no one's saying
we should import 7 billion people.

Congratulations Dave !
You constructed a straw man so large,

you could burn it in the desert and
hold an annoying festival around it.

That's the problem
with the immigration debate right now.

Those like me, and most Americans

who would like
some kind of immigration reform

have our voices drowned out by...

And look, this is going
to sound a little bit prejudiced,

but drowned out by a lot of opinions
unsupported by documentation.

Let's call them
undocumented opinions.

They flooded all over this country,
threatening the American way of life.

If only we could build some barrier
to protect ourselves from them !

A fence, if you will, of facts.

Let's try. Here comes one of those
undocumented opinions rights now.

You are bringing in workers to take
jobs from unemployed Americans.

That's a classic. Undocumented workers
take American jobs.

The problem is that it's not true,
but it feels like it might be.

Like "bears only have sex
face-to-face." Or...


Or, "every vagina starts closed,
and doctors open it."

"The difference between peanut butter
and mustard is the amount of salt."

Multiple sources,

including the Conservative
American Enterprise Institute,

have said there's no evidence of
emigrants hurting US employment.

Just as there is no evidence
that bears only have sex face to face.

They only do it sometimes,
on anniversaries.

Okay, so...

Look at me ! Happy Birthday !

Okay, so what's another
undocumented opinion

that needs to be stopped
from entering people's ears illegally ?

For every one whose a valedictorian,
there's another hundred out there

that weigh 130 pounds and they got
calves the size of cantaloupes

because they're hauling 75 lbs
of marijuana across the desert.

What ? What did you just say ?
Calves the size of cantaloupes ?

That is magnificent.

Put aside there are countless studies
that debunk the notion that immigrants

are especially prone to crime at all.

Relish for a moment how he poetically
presented that bigoted bullshit.

they did burrow through the border,

their arms moist and sinewy,
like ropes upon a ship's mast.

I might hate what you're saying,
but I sure do love the way you say it.

But, but even if you can stop
the undocumented arguments

that when immigrants
aren't stealing American jobs,

they're acting
as melon-esque drug mules,

there is one argument
that always seems to get through...

This is President Obama's number one
political agenda item

because he knows we will never
again have a Republican president.

Ever, if amnesty goes into effect.

Right, okay.

So, the argument is
we can't let the immigrants in,

because they'll never vote for us.

To which, I might have a solution:

what if, and is going to sound crazy,
you just tried treating them better ?

I don't want to push you
outside your comfort zone,

maybe even
as if they're human beings

who might have something
hypothetically to offer the country ?

I've been through
the immigration process

under the best possible scenario,
and it was still hell.

At this point, the poem
in the base of the statue of liberty

"give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses"

is starting to constitute
false advertising.

I would say
the FCC should get involved.

But they're currently run
by a human dingo.

I am not a dingo.

Prove it ! That's on you.

Here's the thing, I was ten when
I first saw "An American Tail".

And I thought, "yes !
That looks delightful !

Sure, there's a mildly unpleasant
boat ride at the beginning,

but after that, you get
to take a flight around New York

on an inexplicably
French pigeon.

But to the modern immigrant,
that film is now a lie.

A lie told by a friendly rodent.

So, if we can't update
our immigration policy,

at the very least,
we need to update that movie

to reflect what the current immigrant
experience is actually like.

In 2014, a little mouse made
a big journey to a far-a-way land.

America ! What a place !

It's "An Actual American Tail" !

'Att'l be five hundred fer you
and yer whore sister.

But sir, my sister...
Asphyxiated a few days ago.

That right ? 'Att'l be another 100
to ditch the corpse, then.

Human right's critics call
"An Actual American Tail"

"absolutely appalling"
and "a dehumanizing mess

that will make you
question why you wanted

to subject yourself
to the experience."

You've never seen America 'till
you've seen it through Fievel's eyes.

These mice come over here,
they take our jobs and our cheese.

And what do we get in return ?
Nothing ! I'm sick of it !

They need to go back !

What happens when Fievel's forced
to take a job at a mousetrap factory ?

I'm gonna dedut the cost of that trap
from your pay, you piece of shit !

Discover what you do when you can't
risk going to the emergency room !

And coming next year,
watch what happens when Fievel

tucks his severed tail between his legs
and attempts to come back legally

in "An Actual American Tail:
Fieval goes INS."

I'll go home
and come back the right way !

Featuring nine solid hours of Fievel

being gradually crushed
by a broken system

hamstrung by the lack
of any political will for reform.

With endless waiting livened up by
the occasional mandatory blood test !

Watch as Fievel fills out forms,
calls the attorney he can't afford,

and lives in a state of constant panic
that his application will be denied

for reasons such as social
affiliations, tenuous health,

losing his employer-based sponsor
because they don't need him anymore,

or a bureaucratic slip-up.

Yes, next summer,

bring the family and watch
the heartwarming tale of Fievel

becoming both inmate and executioner
in a prison of his own mind.

You can do it Fievel !

It's going to be impossibly hard.

And now this...

Across the broad expanse of history,

there have been billions
upon billions of idiots.

As well as a handful
of smart people.

We interviewed some of the latter
group for our on-going series,

"Great Minds:
People Who Think Good."

This weeks people who thinks good
Stephen Hawking.

Professor Stephen Hawking
is a pioneering physicist,

international best-selling author,

and a popular guest character
on The Simpsons.

If you are looking
for trouble you found it.

Yeah, just try me, you...

His breakthrough work
on black holes and string-theory

is considered hugely important, by
anyone who pretends to understand it.

An expanding universe
does not preclude a creator.

I traveled to the Department
of Applied Mathematics

and Theoretical Physics
at Cambridge University

to speak with one of the world's
greatest living minds.

First off, congratulations
on being the first subject

of our "Great Minds" series.

Is this the single greatest honor
you have ever received ?

- Yes.
- Good.

It's a little hard
to read your tone of your voice.

When you say that,
are you being sarcastic ?

- Yes.
- I thought so.

If there is one thing you want people
to understand about your work

bearing in mind that most people
will never understand anything,

what would that thing be ?

Imaginary time. People think
it's something you have in dreams.

Or when you're up against
a deadline.

But it's a well-defined concept.

Imaginary time is like
another direction in space.

It's the one bit of my work
science fiction writers haven't used.

- Because they don't' understand it.
- Idiots.

People are such idiots,
'cause presumably to my mind,

you're talking about the theoretical
measurement attained from real-time

by a wink rotation of pi
divided by two in a complex plain

where T equals I times T.

It's not that difficult.

Let's talk
about artificial intelligence.

In a recent op-ed column
you said, and I quote,

"Success in creating
artificial intelligence

would be the biggest event
in human history.

it might also be the last."

Are you saying, that robots
are going to destroy humanity ?

And is that a scientific argument,
or the pitch for an amazing movie ?

Artificial intelligence could be a
danger in the not-too-distant future.

It could design improvements to itself.
And out-smart us all.

I know you're trying to get people
to be cautious there,

but why should I not be excited
about fighting a robot ?

You would lose.

We don't know that do we ?

We don't know that for sure.
'Cause what could a robot do

that I couldn't then fight back
by simply just unplugging him ?

There's a story that scientists built
an intelligent computer,

the first question that asked it,
"Is there a God ?"

The computer replied,
"There is now."

A bolt of lightning struck the plug,
so it couldn't be turned off.

That is the most terrifying
story I have ever heard.

- Yes.
- Hold on...

Who is talking to me right now ?

Is it you, or the sentient computer
pretending to talk on your behalf ?

- It's me.
- But how do I know that ?

Because if computers
had become sentient,

what better way
to convince people they hadn't,

than by co-opting the voice of the
most intelligent man on the planet ?

You're an idiot.

Who's saying that, Stephen,
you or the machine ?

- Both of us.
- Okay. Alright.

That's quite reassuring.

You've stated that you believe,

there could be an infinite number
of parallel universes.

Does that mean that there is a universe
out there where I am smarter than you ?

Yes, and also a universe
where you're funny.

Okay, look, if you're so smart,
what number am I think of...

- 13.
- It was 13.

I was thinking of 13.

Okay, that was a lucky guess.
What am I thinking right now ?

That you've been a huge
disappointment to your family.

I wasn't thinking that.
Why would I think that ?

You know I'm trying
as hard as I can.

Why is that so hard for them
to understand ? Hypothetically.

Are the following things
technically possible ?

Life on other planets ?
Is that theoretically possible ?


- A Schwartzchild wormhole ?
- Yes.

What about this, me going on a date
with Charlize Theron ?

- No.
- No ? Not at all, in no universe ?


In none of the infinite universes
does that happen ?


It's completely beyond the bounds
of scientific possibility ?


Quick follow-up question:
in any of those potential universes,

am I the one rejecting her,
and that's why it doesn't work out ?

No. You do realize that typing
a response is difficult for me ?

Sure, yeah.
It's just that I'm trying to play this out.

I'm trying to see
if there is any hypothetical...

It doesn't matter.
But, never say never.

If time travel were possible,

would you want to go back in time
and refuse to do this interview ?


You truly are,
an incredibly smart man.

Stephen Hawking,
thank you so much for your time.

Thanks so much for watching.

You can watch an extended interview
with Stephen Hawking, here...

Thank you very much !
Have a good week !