Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 2, Episode 13 - Paid Family Leave - full transcript

John discusses Victory Day in Russia, paid parental leave, and Japanese government mascots.

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Season 2
Episode 13

Welcome, welcome, welcome
to Last Week Tonight.

Thank you so much
for joining us.

I'm John Oliver. Just time
for a quick recap of the week.

And we begin
in the United Kingdom,

America's deadbeat dad.

The UK held its election
on Thursday,

and virtually every poll predicted
the prime minister, David Cameron,

and his Conservative party
would be unable to win a majority.

But in a dramatic twist,

it turned out
that everyone was wrong.

We are seeing the Conservatives
are the largest party.

I think there really is
quite a lot of shock

amongst a lot of people,
when you think

the way the polls went
in the run-up to the election.

It's an even more dramatic result
than we were predicting.

It's an outright win
for the Conservatives.

Total shock, really, from where
we started in the evening.

To be fair,

that is about as emotional
as a British newsreader

is capable of being.

The American equivalent
of what you just saw

would be Wolf Blitzer
stripping naked

and setting fire
to his own beard.

But in fact, this result
was such a surprise

that when the exit polls
were first announced,

the former head of the Liberal
Democrats, Lord Paddy Ashdown,

didn't quite believe it.

If this exit poll is right,

Andrew, I will publicly
eat my hat on your program.

Now, just so you know,

that's a little disingenuous,
because this is his hat.

So the context is important.
It looks delicious.

This election may well
fundamentally change the UK forever,

because the Scottish
National Party,

who last year came close
to winning a referendum

on Scottish independence,

won almost every seat
in Scotland,

leading many to speculate
about what comes next.

The strong showing by
the Scottish National Party,

the SNP, could fuel a fresh push
for Scottish independence.

Again ?

We have to beg
to keep Scotland again ?

Don't make me bring
out the unicorn, Scotland.

I can't do it.
We killed it.

We killed it
and we ate it.

Not because we were hungry,
not because we were curious,

we just did it.

Now, you might assume that England
would take this threat seriously.

But if you want the purest distillation
of English arrogance

when it comes
to Scotland's importance,

then consider this,
a 20-year-old woman

had just defeated
the shadow foreign secretary

and she was talking
about the importance

of Scotland's voice being heard.

And this is how
the BBC reacted.

The people of Scotland
are speaking

and it is time for their voice
to be heard at Westminster.

We'll come back in a moment
to Paisley and Renfrewshire...

"Sure, we could hear
Scotland's voice,

"which to my ear,
sounds a bit like a potbellied pig

"running a triathlon,

"or we could listen
to literally anything else.

"Besides, rumor has it,
a dusty old man

"is about to come
on television and eat a hat.

So that's unmissable."

So let's move on.

Let's move on
to the world of boxing.

Last Saturday,
millions of people

watched an unrepentant
domestic abuser named Floyd

repeatedly hit
a Filipino congressman in the face.

It turned out many people
were disappointed with the fight,

including one notable
world leader, Hun Sen,

the prime minister
of Cambodia.

Apparently, he's a massive
Manny Pacquiao fan.

And he was pissed.

Let me talk about protesting
with the referee

who judged the World Boxing
Championship match yesterday.

I can't believe
the American judges

are that poor,
really very poor.

That was not
a one-off comment.

He devoted about 15 minutes
of a speech

exclusively to the outcome
of the fight.

Bear in mind,
the Gettysburg Address

was three minutes long

and had little to no references
to boxing in it.

And if you're wondering

why the Cambodian prime minister
cares so much,

well, it turns out he had a $5,000 bet
on Pacquiao,

and he wanted
to make it clear

that he was not
going to pay.

Hey, the 5,000 U.S. dollars
you want

is not finalized yet.

It is not yet settled.

So I'm not going
to pay yet.

I'm not paying yet
because I need to find justice first.

Hold on.

That's not how gambling works.

You can't retroactively
void your bet

because you didn't agree
with the outcome.

Even the people who bet
against the Patriots

aren't demanding
their money back,

and that team was essentially
tossing around

a floppy leather handbag.

And it's a little difficult...

It's a little difficult
to hear Hun Sen

lecture anyone about
fair play for two reasons.

First, this is a man who,
Human Rights Watch says,

has repeatedly
used political violence,

repression and corruption
to remain in power.

And secondly, if we're
really talking fairness,

let me point out that this was him
trotting out onto the field

to take part in a not-at-all-staged
soccer match

in which all his opponents
tried desperately hard

to get him to score a goal,
and it wasn't easy.

After that display,

you do not get to comment
about officiating fairness,

or anything having to do
with sports ever again.

You owe your people
and that ball an apology.

But, finally,
finally this week,

Russia, where despite
appearances to the contrary,

the cathedrals
are not edible.

It was the 70th anniversary
of VE Day this week,

when Allied forces
formally defeated the Nazis,

and Russia went all-out
to mark the occasion.

Russia's biggest-ever
Victory Day parade

to mark 70 years
since the Nazi surrender.

16,000 servicemen,

nearly 200 units
of hardware,

140 helicopters
and planes.

Cameras have been placed
in every conceivable location,

embedded in the road...

... and onboard
some of the aircraft

taking part in a fly-past.

"Yes, and we don't just
have cameras there.

"We also have cameras
on the horse foot.

"And even inside
Putin mouth.

"Many cameras
for you to enjoy.

Many cameras."

But as triumphant,

as triumphant
as the parade was,

you couldn't help feeling like there
was something missing.

Today's parade was attended
by some 20 world leaders,

but President Vladimir Putin
had invited more than 70.

Most Western leaders
stayed away

in protest
over Russia's actions in Ukraine.


Less than a third
of invitees showed up.

And it actually got even sadder
when you look

at Putin's outgoing texts
halfway through the parade,

including, "Where U at ?",

"U on UR way ?",

and, "More of a gathering
than a party,

but you should def swing by."

I mean, that's heartbreaking,
or it would be if Putin's heart

was not a potato
filled with battery acid.

In fact, with so many
Western leaders not turning up,

the parade attendees
amounted to a who's who

of who Putin hasn't pissed off.

Chinese president Xi Jinping

was the most
prominent visitor.

Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe,
another willing guest.

Okay, well, get...

Getting the Chinese president
is pretty good.

But no one in the course
of human history

has ever said, "Well,
at least Mugabe came."

To be fair, there was actually
an American presence there

in the form of Steven Seagal.

And I would say
it's the last place

that you'd expect
to see Steven Seagal,

but that wouldn't be true,

because that place,
of course, is a movie set.

I'm just saying, he's the only action
star who is literally too expendable

for The Expendables.

But despite
all this spectacle,

this parade was not actually
the most awe-inspiring thing

that Russia did
to commemorate VE Day,

because there was another military
tribute in Russia this week

that was simply breathtaking.

This is the way Laska
and her friend

Winnie the Pooh
salute their superiors,

as now they are not
just seals,

but Baikal special forces,

waking up early, physical training,
and of course, shooting practice.

How was that not part
of the parade in Red Square ?

In fact, how was that
not the only thing there ?

There is frankly nothing that projects
a country's greatness

like two heavily-armed seals
in berets.

Bravo, Russia ! Bravo.

And now this.

And now, the continuing adventures

of the most patient man
on television.

Michael, from just outside
of Baltimore, in Owings Mills,

good morning.

Michael, you with us ?

Fuck !

Okay, we'll move on to Al.

We apologize when
callers get through,

and that kind of language
is unacceptable.

Thanks for waiting.
Good morning, with Dane Egli.

Hey, Dane Egli.

Uh, I just wanted to know
how big is your penis ?

Okay, I apologize
for that call.

Rocky is on the phone.
Good morning.

Hi, am I on ?

You sure are.
Go ahead.

Awesome. I just want
to talk about

how I think that Russian...
cock, big cock...

Okay, let's go to Lore.

I think the CEO
of Bank of America

should be Howard Stern
and Baba Booey.

Okay, we'll stop you there.

They didn't give a shit...

Okay, I'm gonna
stop you there.

Homosexual clubs,
you know, like he was a guy

who just loved to have a dildo
lubed up and shoved...

Okay, I'm gonna stop you
at that point.

But people are saying
that he lost the game on TV

and also my balls.

We'll go to Tom next.

Moving on,

our main story tonight
is Mother's Day.

It's the day
we honor moms,

as opposed to every other day
when we look at our phones

and go, "Yeah, not now."

Mother's Day is not just
an opportunity

to do something
for your mom,

it's an opportunity for businesses
to be the thing that you do for them.

JC Penney believes Mom deserves
to get everything she wants.

The JC Penney
Mother's Day Sale.

Mother's Day cake.

Pick one up today.

For Mother's Day,

Welcome to Hooters.
Right this way.

Moms rock. Bring yours
to Hooters on Mother's Day

and she'll eat free.


What better way
to honor the woman

who gave you life
than taking her to Hooters ?

"Mom, I just want
to thank you

"for making me
the man I am today,

"a man who takes his mother
to a Hooters on Mother's Day.

"By the way,
I don't have to pay for you,

so order me some wings."

Even America's national pastime
wants to publicly acknowledge mothers.

Hey, Mets fans. Come spend Mother's Day
at City Field on Sunday, May 11.

Every mom in attendance
is going to receive this Mets T-shirt.

On Sunday, May 11th,

make sure your mom receives
this Dodgers Mother's Day clutch.

Celebrate Mother's Day
with the home team.

The first 10,000 women
get a Rays flower pot.

It's the perfect gift
for the mom

who enjoys the three Bs,

baseball, botany,

and being disappointed
with her Mother's Day gift.

In America, there is nothing
we wouldn't do for moms,

apart from one major thing.

According to
the United Nations,

we and Papua New Guinea
are the only countries in the world

that do not provide
any paid time off for new mothers.

Just us
and Papua New Guinea.

That's as unlikely a pairing

as Sofía Vergara
and Reese Witherspoon.

Separately, great.

But if it's just
the two of them with no one else,

it makes you feel like one of them
has taken her eye off the ball.


In the US, here in the US,

federal law grants workers
just 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

And there are
some stark limits on that.

You have to work for a company
with 50 or more employees.

You have to have been there
for over a year.

You have to be a full-time
salaried employee.

So if you're a freelancer, contractor,
something like that,

it doesn't apply to you.

And what that means
is that 40% of workers

are not covered
by the federal law.

So if a worker with no paid leave
goes into labor at work,

she better hope
it's on her lunch hour

and that her coworkers don't mind
if the break room gets a bit messy.

And this is not to say
that women don't take leave.

They just have to get very creative
about doing it.

What we have right now,
women do take maternity leave.

It is oftentimes unpaid.

And it is through
a patchwork system

where they use up
their vacation time,

they use up
their sick days.

One woman I talked to
put her maternity leave,

on her credit cards.

Now, sure,
that sounds bad,

but on the plus side,
think of all the points she earned

towards vacation
she can't now take

because she has
a fucking baby.

This is not how
it's supposed to work.

Mothers shouldn't
have to stitch together time

to recover from childbirth

the same way that we plan
four-day weekends in Atlantic City.

"I'll take
a vacation day Thursday,

"call out sick Friday,
hit the slots Saturday,

"win big Sunday,
and I'll never go back, baby !

Whoo !"

And look,

there are women
who want to get back to work

as soon as they can,
and that's obviously fine.

But for many women,
the current situation

forces them to return
well before they want to,

like this new mother.

Right now I'm using
the family medical leave

for my time.

It's not paid.

And it'll guarantee me
my position back

only for 12 weeks.

I see myself probably,
maybe, like,

a month.


I don't see myself
taking longer than that.

I don't know how I could
take longer than that.

probably like a month.

That is a woman

who deserves real gratitude

in the form of a Tampa Bay
Rays flower pot,

just to help her
and the baby.

And that's if your pregnancy
goes according to plan.

If a baby is born prematurely,
parents can be forced

to make some truly
heart-wrenching choices,

like Selena Allen, whose baby
was six weeks premature

and who knew
that she could only afford

to take four weeks off
in total.

We decided the best thing
we could do

is to spend the one month
with Carr

when he was home with us.

I gave birth
on a Wednesday.

And on Monday,
I went back to work.

It was like a piece of me
got left in that hospital,

and now I had to pretend
that I'm okay.

Okay, that's terrible.

Although, I will say,

you have definitely got
everyone's bullshit

"What I did
over the weekend" story beat.

"Oh, oh, really, Carol ?

"Skydiving ?
That's interesting.

"I dropped a baby
from my innards

"and I was forced to leave it
right there in the hospital

"for financial reasons.
But go ahead,

"tell me what you had
for brunch the next day.

"You had waffles ?

You're incredible, Carol.
That's a great fucking story."

And, look,

I don't mean to suggest
that this is an issue

that only mothers
should have to think about.

Family leave should be thought of
as an option for both parents,

which will take
some cultural adjustment.

Look at Major League Baseball,
which offers all of three days off

to players who become fathers.

But when one of them,
the Mets' Daniel Murphy,

actually took it,
this happened.

This week, sports radio
skewered him

for missing the first two games
of the season for his son's birth.

You get your back to your team
and you play baseball.

That's my take on it.

What... there's nothing
you can do anyway.

You're not breastfeeding
the kid.

Always said, C-section
before the season starts.

I need to be at opening day.

Good luck selling that
to your wife.

"Uh, listen, babe,

"I know I play 162 games
in a season,

"but I can't miss
a single one,

"so let's cut that thing
out of your belly

"so I can wear
my baggy pajamas

and swing a cone of wood
to make a ball go far."

So why do we have this system
in the United States ?

Well, for a start, employers
tend to fear any sort of mandate.

But when it comes
to family leave,

any fears do tend
to be overblown.

Look at the way that lawmakers
discussed our current

12 weeks
of unpaid leave system

back when it was proposed
in 1993.

I want to make sure
that all of you

who will vote for this
have no illusions.

This bill will cost jobs.

Today, America's businesses
are already saddled

with too many suffocating
regulatory burdens.

Now is not the time

to shove restrictive
federal mandates

down the throats of American businesses
and American families.

This bill is unfair,

anti-growth, invasive,
deathly expensive...

"I say this to the House,

"if we allow new mothers
to take time off work,

"businesses shall crumble,
our cities shall burn,

"and hungry wolves
shall roam our streets.

"I'm not anti-Mom,
I'm anti-wolf !

"That's all I'm saying.
No to wolves !

"No to the wolves !

Think about the wolves !"

Now that bill
obviously passed,

and a 2012 survey
found few work sites

reported negative effects
of complying with the law.

So we thought
the bill would kill us,

but instead we just got used
to having it around,

like an irregular mole
or a new step-dad.

"I don't know why
I was so afraid of you, Gene.

You were fine."

Now, some people might argue,

"But that was unpaid leave.

Paid leave is too onerous."
But is it ?

Because back in 2002,
California passed a plan

providing six weeks
of partially-paid leave

funded through
a small payroll tax.

it was an insurance plan

that would cost employers
little to nothing.

But all the same
fear-mongering took place,

and in the end,
this happened.

More than 90%
of the companies there

reported either positive
or, at worst, neutral effect.

Businesses seemed
to just make it work.

And the polling data we have
when we survey them,

most of them say
it's just not a big deal.

Yeah, it seems paid maternity

is a bit like having hockey on
in the background at a bar.

It's not hurting anyone

and a couple of people
are actually really into it.

So, look, in California,
it worked.

And yet only two other states
have followed their lead.

And that may be because
any legislation

that specifically seeks
to support women

often faces vocal opposition.

In fact, Minnesota
recently debated a bill

which expanded unpaid
maternity leave

and provided other workplace
protections for women,

which seemed
like a slam-dunk.

After all, lawmakers love
their mothers in Minnesota.

Just look at these videos
they made.

Hi, Mom.
Happy Mother's Day.

Whether it's one day
or all year round,

frankly, we should be
thanking our moms.

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers
in Minnesota. And thank you.

Do I talk about my mom

or the mother of my children ?
I love them both.

She always said there's
two sides to every story.

You need to know them both before you
can be wise enough to know what to do.

Okay, just pump
the brakes a bit,

because moms are like feet.

The more you talk
about them in public,

the more everyone assumes you want to
have sex with them.

So just don't.

Still, it's... it is...
Don't think too much about that.

It is interesting that Representative
Dan Hall's mother

taught him that there's
two sides to every story.

Because you might
like to know that he

and every other lawmaker
you just saw

voted against that bill.

And you can't
have it both ways.

You can't go on and on about how much
you love mothers

and then fail
to support legislation

that makes life
easier for them.

In fact, until we...

Until we as a country
do something to address this,

this should be
the only message

that we're allowed to send
on Mother's Day.


We owe everything
to them.

They gave birth to us.
They nurtured us.

They made us who we are.

And this Mother's Day,
we have just one thing to say

to all the mothers out there.

Get the fuck back to work.

get back to work now.

Because unless
you can personally afford

to take the time off you want,
we're going to need you

to get your exhausted ass
back to work

and show us that can-do attitude
that moms are famous for.

We'd do anything
for our moms,

up to, but not including,

paying them to stay home
for a while

after pushing a human being
out of their body.

But we do want to say,
"Thank you."

And what better way
to thank us for thanking you

than maybe turning up
on time once in a while ?

We appreciate you, moms.

That's why we're happy
to allow you to bring

that weird doughnut cushion
to work,

just so long as you promise
not to tell us what it's for.

And if you need to find
a place to pump breast milk,

well, no problem.

Either use the break room,

or even better,
why not get some fresh air ?

You'll be more comfortable
out there.

It'll be like a picnic.

And, moms, you love picnics.

The important thing
is that you come back to work

when you're ready,
or when you're not ready,

or even when your placenta
is still technically inside you.

Clean-up on aisle seven.

Look at you, super mom,

taking care of everyone.

Because remember, not only
can you balance work and family,

you have to.

And that's why
this Mother's Day,

we know you'll be grateful,

because you understand
that even though

183 other countries
do more for you,

we do as much
as we feel we can right now.

What we're saying is,

you deserve
the very best, moms.

You're just not gonna get it.

Happy Mother's Day.

And finally tonight,
let's talk about Japan,

a nation so vibrant,
not even Sofia Coppola

and the band Air
could make it boring.

Japan, like every country,

has struggled
to engage its people

with government programs
and services.

That's why they've come up with a
quintessentially Japanese solution,


These are mascot characters

created for local districts
throughout Japan

to promote the areas.

Apparently, there are now
over 1,500 such mascots.

1,500 mascots !

So if you're in Japan
and you throw a rock,

you'll probably hit one.

And you'll know it
when it happens

because you'll probably hear
an adorable squeaking sound.

And it's not just
local districts' tourism boards.

There are official mascots
for everything.

Some cities
have dozens of mascots.

This is Noruran,
a mascot for a train line.

And this is Katakkuri-chan,
the mascot

for a notorious
Japanese prison.

That's right.

Their prisons have mascots.

And you've got to admit,
The Shawshank Redemption

would be a very different movie
if every now and then

that thing was walking around
in the background.

That's a different film.

That's a very different film.

And the thing is,
mascots can be big business.

Just look at Kumamon,
one area's lovable bear mascot.

He has brought in
an estimated $1.2 billion

over two years.

And if you're wondering why,
take a look at this.

He loves Kumamoto a lot

That's it.

I am done interacting
with humans now.

If you ever want
to talk to me,

wear a Kumamon outfit
or get the fuck out.

And the thing, he's not even
the most popular.

That title goes
to Funassyi,

a giant genderless pear

representing the city
of Funabashi.

And not only does Funassyi
hold press conferences,

he does some pretty incredible
TV appearances.

Let me show you just one.

I don't know...

I don't know why anyone
is still watching this show

or any other show now that they know
that that video exists somewhere.

Mascots have become
such a feature

of political life in Japan
that foreign embassies

are even being compelled
to play along.

The Israeli embassy in Japan

has unveiled its new mascot
to the public,

a parrot holding
an olive branch named Shaloum-chan.

I believe some Japanese will see Israel
like this character.

Look, people see Israel
a lot of different ways.

But I don't think
there is anyone on Earth

that sees it
as that character.

But that just proves
the power

mascots have to reach out
and engage people.

Although, not all
are instantaneously lovable.

For example,
the prefecture of Nara

is represented by Sento-kun,

a shirtless boy creature
with antlers on his head

who looks like the result
of Andre Agassi fucking a reindeer.

Or there's the objectively
terrifying Melon Kuma,

an angry bear
with a melon for a head

who represents Yubari.

Now let's watch
a local school visit

going exactly how
you'd imagine it would.

What did they think
was going to happen ?

It's got bloody teeth
and a melon for a head !

The problem is,

the sheer scale of publicly-funded
mascots has become a problem.

Last year,
the Japanese Finance Ministry

tried to crack down on them,
describing some

as a waste of public funds,
which is ridiculous.

Because not only should Japan
not be cutting back,

we, in America, should be
creating our own mascots

to engage people
with government agencies.

In fact, I'll do some
for you right now.

If you want the embodiment
of justice,

forget about that boring
blindfolded lady.

Let me introduce you
to Scales The Blind Iguana.

You need someone to make Immigration
and Customs Enforcement

a bit friendlier ? Well, meet Hamilton,
The Pig In A Sailor Hat.

Look out,
he's coming to de-pork you.

And, you know, for the Department
of Health and Human Services,

you could have, I don't know,
a creepy baby doll

with Hulk hands
wearing a tutu.

To be fair, that is no weirder
than most Japanese mascots,

and it's just as memorable.

And, look,
I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, "John,
this is all very well,

"but the Japanese put their money
where their mouth is

and they make these mascots."

Well, let me ask you this.

Have we ever
let you down before ?

We have made mascots

for 11 government agencies.

Would you like
to meet them all ?

I can't hear you.

Would you like
to meet them all ?

Let's do this !
Dim the lights !

Ladies and gentlemen,

please welcome
your 2015 government agencies.

From the Department
of Justice, Scales The Blind Iguana !

From Immigration
and Customs Enforcement,

Hamilton The Pig !

And of course,
from the HHS,

Creepy Baby With Hulk Hands
In A Tutu !

Oh, but ladies and gentlemen,

we're just getting started.

From the Department
of Transportation,

please welcome Stunk
The Steampunk Skunk !

She loves trains !

And from the National
Security Agency,

it's Hoots The NSA Owl !

He just wants to know
"hooo" you've been talking to.

From the TSA,
it's Spike The Hedgehog,

who collects
four-ounce bottles of shampoo

and Swiss Army knives.

Spike, did you need
to take all those ?

I can't stay mad
at you, Spike.

And next, from
the Department of Energy,

Ram Jam The Dancing Ram !

He's got so much energy,
he never stops dancing !

How's it going there,
Ram Jam ?

How's it going ?

Of course it's going well.
He loves it.

And don't think
we've forgotten about

the Department
of Agriculture or NASA.

We've got a soybean
and a space gecko just for them.

Plus, representing
the Bureau of Alcohol,

Tobacco, Firearms,
and Explosives,

here is acclaimed
character actor Bob Balaban !

And finally,

from the Dep...
He's actually here.

And finally, from the Department
of the Treasury,

please say hi to Cornelius,
The Illuminati Pyramid !

It has an eyeball
at the top of it.

So that's it.

This is your 2015
government agencies !

Look at them dance !

Look at them dance,
America !

You cannot be apathetic

about what
you're looking at here.

If you don't feel
the importance

of government
agencies right now,

I just don't think
I can help you.

That's our show.

Good night.
Join us next week.

Farewell !

Let's rock.


Season 2
End of episode 13