Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 2, Episode 5 - U.S. Territories - full transcript

John Oliver discusses a Fanta controversy in Germany, citizenship grievances for those in U.S. territories, and cigarette packaging.

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

Time for a quick recap of the week.
It was dominated here at home by this.

Breaking news
out of Ferguson, Missouri.

Let's just all agree that
"breaking news out of Ferguson"

has become
one of the most dread-inducing

combinations of words
in the English language,

alongside "Doctor Phil sex tape"
and "vegan cupcakes."

The Department of Justice
released two reports on Ferguson.

The first announced
that no civil rights charges

would be filed against Darren Wilson
for the Michael Brown shooting.

But it was the second
one that had people talking.

The department also officially
released a report that found

systemic racial bias in the Ferguson
Police Department and courts.

I don't think anyone was surprised
by the contents of that report.

You needed to read
that report the same way

you needed to read
the reviews of Mortdecai.

You knew
the verdict would be terrible,

it was which particular words
they chose to use.

The report didn't just show evidence
of disproportionate targeting

and violence against African
Americans. It also showed this.

Investigators say
that they found emails

from court officials and
police department, police officers

racial jokes
that referenced President Obama.

Another message in June 2011,
compared dogs to African Americans,

suggesting the animals needed welfare
because they were mixed in color,

unemployed, lazy, can't speak English
and have no clue who their daddies are.

It's moments like this
that make me glad I'm on HBO,

where you can hear me say this:
fuck those fucking assholes.

This is what swearing is for.

The mayor of Ferguson
went into damage control mode,

inexplicably arguing that we should
not blow this all out of proportion.

These actions
are in no way representative

of the employees
of the city of Ferguson.

In no way representative ?
Did you read the report ?

They were entirely representative.
That's the problem.

These emails were sent from official
city of Ferguson email addresses

to supervisors in both
the Ferguson police department

and the court system,
during work hours.

They couldn't be more representative
of Ferguson city employees

if their signature said, "sent from the
very core of who I am as a person."

I will say, there is one thing
the mayor of Ferguson said

in his press conference
that did made sense.

Today's report
allows the city of Ferguson

to identify the problems
in the entire St. Louis region.

That is true. Because let's be clear:
this is not just Ferguson.

If you need proof,
here's one other example.

A year and a half ago, an African
American police officer in St. Louis

received this letter at work.

It read in part, quote:

"You black expletive.
We want you out of our station.

We want your black expletive dead.
Expletive your medals.

If an aide call comes out
for you we won't respond.

Kill yourself expletive or we will.
Respectfully, south patrol."

I'll tell you
what gets me about that:

ending a racist threatening letter
with respectfully.

Whatever systemic problems
that area may have,

Midwestern politeness
is unshakeable.

I can only assume
that that officer responded,

"Dear assholes,
why don't you racist fucks

shove a burning cross up
your white asses ?

Love and smooches,
your friend and colleague."

So let's move on.

From Ferguson to a slightly less
contentious spot on the globe: Israel.

Their elections are in two weeks time,
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's

recent ad campaign
has proven controversial.

Islamic state fighters
on the road to Israel.

That's what Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu

is warning voters
in this campaign advertisement.

The message appears
to be that if the center left defeats

Netanyahu's right wing party in the
March 17th parliamentary election,

ISIL will end up taking over.

I'm pretty sure if ISIL
were going to take over Israel,

they wouldn't be politely
waiting until after the election.

Death to Israel !
Pending all precincts reporting !

Respect the process, guys,
stand back.

Meanwhile, one of Netanyahu's
main opponents, Isaac Herzog,

has been running an ad addressing
a slightly less urgent issue.

The Zionist Camp
is the largest movement in Israel.

The reason some of you are undecided
about voting for me is my voice.

Isaac Herzog is apparently
concerned that people hate his voice.

If you're thinking, "why ? He seems
to have a perfectly pleasant baritone."

It turns out, for that ad,
he dubbed his own voice

with that of a booming announcer.
Which kind of makes you wonder,

how annoying is this guy's voice,
if he's been forced to do that ?

Are we talking Pee Wee Herman
mid-orgasm ?

Ray Romano possessed
by the ghost of a duck ?

Russell Crowe's
normal singing voice ?

What level of irritation
to the human ear is it ?

I have to hear this horrific
real voice in action.

There is also a growing
disappointment and mistrust

about Netanyahu's
security policy.

That voice is fine !
That's a normal, human male voice.

It's not a great sign
of strong leadership

that the moment
someone criticizes your voice,

you panic
and go hire a stunt-larynx.

But the single greatest campaign ad
from the Israeli election so far

is from the Yesh Atid party,
which consists of,

and this is true,
a three-hour long, single shot

of a man summarizing
his party's achievements,

while someone paints
a mural behind him.

And it is pretty bold to make
a video that literally allows people

to compare you to the experience
of watching paint dry.

The single most exciting thing that
happens in that 3-hour video is this.

Give him credit,
he did nail that.

He was two hours and 15 minutes in.
If he'd given himself the hiccups,

they would've had
to start over from the start.

But finally, tonight: Fanta.
The button on a vending machine

to be covered by a piece of masking
tape crudely labeled "root beer."

Fanta was actually in the news
for some spectacular reasons.

Coca Cola has pulled its latest ad
for Fanta in Germany

over an unintended reference
to Nazi Germany.

If you work in advertising,

before you hit the button on any
campaign, someone has to say,

"We all checked
this thing for Nazi references.

We do not want another Michael Jordan
with a Hitler mustache issue, okay ?

We don't want that to happen again."

Coca-Cola made the mistake

of deciding to celebrate
Fanta's 75th anniversary

by reminding people
of how it was invented.

Coca-Cola explains
how its German plant

was having difficulty
getting the syrup needed

to make Coke in the forties

so bottlers were forced to make
their own sodas, including Fanta.

The reason the plants
had a hard time getting this syrup

was of World War II and trade
embargos against Nazi Germany.

Yes. Fanta was invented
in Nazi Germany.

And if you didn't know that before,
I'm willing to bet

it's the only thing you're going
to associate Fanta with from now on.

It's a good rule that any companies
with historic ties to the Nazis

should generally avoid nostalgia.

There's a reason
that Volkswagen emphasizes things

like the Passat
winning car of the year,

rather than, say, the honors
it won back in the 1940s.

Herbie ! How could you !
You've truly gone bananas !

I will say this, Fanta !
Good luck trying to get people

to forget your connection
to Nazi Germany again.

'Cause I do not think
it can be done.

We at Fanta are aware we've had
some messaging problems recently.

So we just want to remind you
what Fanta is really all about.

It's the cool, crisp, carbonated drink
that marches across your taste buds...

Wait, hold on, not marches,
fizzes across your taste buds.

If you're on the beach on a summer day
think of Fanta as a corridor to the sea.

Wait no, not that.

Just focus on the great taste of Fanta.
It'll annex your thirst.

Not annex. Quench ? Is quench okay ?
Yeah, yeah quench is fine.

We just want to make sure
when you think about Fanta,

you don't automatically think
about Nazis.

Fanta. Nazis ! Shit !

Moving on:
our main story tonight,

our main story tonight
concerns voting.

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary
of the first Selma march,

one of the pivotal moments
which led to the Voting Rights Act.

But voting rights in this country
much like John Travolta's hair

are still very much
a work in progress.

There are the obvious obstacles
for many Americans,

such as increasingly
restrictive voter-ID laws.

There's also the less obvious ones, as
Congress was reminded just this week.

As we commemorate 50th anniversary
of the march on Selma this week

and the subsequent passage
of the Voting Rights Act,

I want to call again to the attention
of my colleagues here in Congress,

that there are still American citizens
who do not have equal voting rights.

These are citizens
of America's island territories:

the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico,
Guam and the Northern Marianas.

American citizens
living in U.S. island territories

do not get to vote for president.

That's the kind of unsettling fact

that deep down, you probably knew,
but chose not to think about,

like the fact that the dog from
Full House is definitely dead by now.

That kind of thing. But, more than
you're proving my point.

More than 4 million people
live in the U.S. territories

more than 98 percent of them
are racial or ethnic minorities.

The more you look into the history of
why their voting rights are restricted,

the harder it is to justify.

'Cause it goes all the way back
to when America first acquired them.

The United States flag
is flying over these lands

and so some people said, doesn't
that mean American laws apply ?

In 1901, the insular cases. Basically
the judgment of the Supreme Court

was that the new territories
were inhabited by quote, "alien races"

and they may not be able
to understand Anglo-Saxon laws.

The Constitution
doesn't have to apply.

Alien races can't understand
Anglo-Saxon principles.

I find that condescending,
and I'm British.

We basically invented
patronizing bigotry.

I do so wish we could explain
the concept of voting to them,

but their savage little coconut brains
would probably just collapse.

I'm assuming it's coconut milk.
We'll soon see. Whacky stick !

If that does not set off
some alarm bells for you,

the man who wrote the lead decision
in the first of those rulings

was Justice Henry Billings Brown,
who, fun fact:

wrote the famous "separate but equal"
decision in "Plessy v. Ferguson".

And even he suggested
these exceptions to the Constitution

should only stand "for a time"
as in, a temporary arrangement.

But it's been 114 years !
It's like, for over a century,

America's computer has been saying,
"update to your country is available"

and we've been clicking
"remind me later" again and again.

So tonight, let's look
at voting rights in the territories,

and we'll begin in Puerto Rico,
whose citizens are Americans.

A fact that comes as a surprise
to a shocking number of people,

as we learned when Sonia Sotomayor
was named to the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor is the daughter
of Puerto Rican immigrants.

A first generation American,
daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants.

The daughter
of Puerto Rican immigrants.

She's the daughter of Americans
who moved from Puerto Rico.

If Puerto Ricans are immigrants,

anyone who moves "anywhere"
is an immigrant.

"Could you help me
immigrate apartments on Saturday ?

I need to immigrate a couch
up two flights of stairs."

Puerto Rico has more American
citizens than 21 U.S. states.

But less voting rights
than any of them.

And whether or not
they choose to become a state,

they have a delegate in Congress
who can't do much.

My constituents cherish
their U.S. citizenship

and have made countless
contributions to this country.

They cannot vote for president
have no U.S. senators

and send one delegate to the house

who has a voice
but no vote in this chamber.

It's pretty infantilizing,
when discussing national legislation,

to give Puerto Rico the same status
as a six-year-old

voting on where the family
should get to go on vacation.

"What's that, Timmy ? Narnia ?
Colonial Williamsburg it is then.

You were heard, Timmy."

The same voting rights restrictions
apply to the residents of Guam

the Pacific territory that sounds
the most like a Batman punch.

There is nothing
not to love about Guam.

A beautiful island in a strategically
important location for the US military

so much so, their bases currently
occupy over a quarter of Guam's land.

And the residents of Guam
have no say

in general elections
for their Commander in Chief.

Which is even harder to swallow
when you consider this...

According to Guam's office
of Veteran's Affairs,

at least one in eight adult
Guamanians is a veteran,

among the highest percentages
of all U.S. states and territories.

Guam gives a quarter of its land
and as much as an eighth of its people

to the U.S. military.

At this point, the American flag should
really just be a guy from Guam

waving an American flag.

And yet, due in part to their
lack of full voting rights,

those veterans
are shamefully underserved.

In 2012, Guam ranked dead last
in per capita spending on medical care

by the U.S. Department
of Veteran's Affairs, the V.A.

It's called the PTSD program locator.
So it tells me to enter my address.

5 options here but the closest one
so far looks like Hawaii.

It's 3,803 miles,

point 22 miles.

That is disgusting.

The only person who should have
to travel 3,800 miles for treatment

should be a Beverly Hills housewife

flying to Colombia
for unapproved lip injections.

But just because Guam residents
aren't allowed to vote for president,

doesn't mean that they don't.

Guam holds a straw poll
every presidential election.

And their registered-voter
turnout is actually higher

than that of the rest of America.

And to misquote the words of the great
philosopher Lil Jon: Turn out for what ?

That's a great song.
But just imagine how it must feel

to have the desire to vote, but know
deep down you're going to be ignored.

You don't have to imagine it.
'Cause let this Guam voter tell you.

It's terrible.
I believe it's not fair.

We're citizens of the United States.
I wish somebody changed that.

That sounds sad,

but at least on election day,
that woman gets to wear the special

"I voted and wish it had
actually counted" sticker.

Look, amazingly,
Guam still gets more respect

from the U.S. government
than American Samoa.

As was proven a little while back
when a U.S. member of Congress

was tasked with introducing
their delegate, Eni Faleomavaega.

The chair recognized the gentleman
from American Sa-mo-lia.

Mr. Falamoobinga.

"Samolia" ? Listen: I get that
his name is a little difficult.

But you cannot mispronounce
American Samoa.

There's a fucking Girl Scout
cookie named after it !

Think about it this way:

would you forget the name
of the state of Thinmintissippi ?

No ! That would be ridiculous.

But watch how gracious American
Samolia's delegate was in his response.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
It's American Samoa.

That is class that I do not have.
If I were him, I'd have responded:

"Thank you, it's a privilege
to be here in Waffleton D.P.

in the great United Sporks
of Amooga-boink."

American Samoans
not only lack voting rights,

they lack a little
something extra, too.

U.S. Constitution grants citizenship
to everyone born on U.S. soil

soil except in one jurisdiction.

American Samoa in the south Pacific.
It is a U.S. territory

but people who are born there do not
automatically get U.S. citizenship.

They don't even
get automatic citizenship !

Meaning the "American"
part of "American Samoa"

is really just a title
that doesn't mean anything,

like "people's choice award nominee"
or "social media expert."

Just devoid of meaning.

And that fact is especially shocking
when you learn that American Samoa

a territory that cannot vote for a
president who could send it to war

is also home to the top army
recruiting station in the country.

So now, I'm thinking
the American flag should be

a guy from American Samoa, waving
a flag with a guy from Guam on it,

waving the American flag.

Because of their status as non-citizens
many veterans have to carry around

a humiliating reminder that they
are not equal in the eyes of the law.

So this here is my
U.S. national passport.

The last page of the passport makes
it uniquely a U.S. national passport.

It makes me look
like I'm an outsider.

I think it's...
it demeans me as a person, I think.

They're not "citizens",
but "nationals".

They can't run for president,
serve on a federal jury,

or depending on where they live
even become a public schoolteacher.

They're like off-brand citizens.
They're Americans in the same way

that these are froot loops,
or this is Dr. Pepper.

You can pretend it's the same thing,
everyone knows it's worse.

Five American Samoans are suing
the government to change this rule,

but the Obama administration
has fought them

by citing the insular cases
from earlier.

Which suggest that American Samoans
like all residents of the territories

can be given fewer rights
because they belong to alien races

differing from us in customs
and modes of thought.

And that's a tricky argument to win,
in the face of this kind of evidence.

- Where you from ?
- I'm originally from American Samoa.

- And what do you do for a living ?
- I'm a solider in the U.S. Army.

I joined out of high school

and it was something to serve
my country and to give back.

We've got back from deployment
to Afghanistan for 9 months.

That is an Afghanistan war veteran
moving an audience to cheers

and at least one judge
to a partial orgasm

with a rendition of a Rihanna song on
a show called "America's Got Talent".

If that's not an American,
I don't think one has ever existed.

Look... There are a lot
of complicated issues

surrounding what the precise status
of all the U.S. territories should be

and what the people
who live there would prefer.

But surely, when it comes to denying
Americans the right to vote,

we have to find a better reason than
citing an 100-year-old legal decision

written by a racist that was always
supposed to be temporary.

And I'm not saying
this'll be an easy thing to do.

We've figured out a more complicated
things in the last 114 years.

Think about it: we invented television.
We eliminated the measles

and then, for some fucking reason,
brought them back again !

We've held 30 Wrestlemanias and
those things are logistical nightmares.

And you know what else we
figured out ? How to fucking fly !

And if we can work out
how to climb inside metal birds,

slip the bonds of this earth
and soar through the air

to visit these territories,
we should be able to work out

how to ensure the four million people
who live there get adequately heard.

And now this !

And now, Last Week Tonight
asks how is this still a thing ?

This week, daylight saving time.
How is this still a thing ?

If you're like most Americans,
you've been groggy all day

after losing an hour of sleep
to daylight saving.

And as you struggle to remember how
to change the clock on your microwave,

you may have wondered,
why is this happening ?

Conventional wisdom has been that
it benefits one particular group.

I know it started because of farmers,
I'm sure of that.

That's not true.

It gives an extra time to plan,
extra plan to harvest.

It has nothing to do with farmers.

I remember years ago, hearing
that it was for the farm people.

The farm people want nothing to do
with this, as they will tell you.

I know of really no farmer
that I'm aware of that benefits

from, you know, actually farm
activities at daylight savings time.

Of course daylight saving
doesn't benefit farms.

Cows don't care what time it is because
they're cows and cows are idiots.

So if it's not for them,
who is it for ?

The modern daylight saving was
introduced during the first World War,

as a fuel saving measure
by the Germans.

You lost an hour of sleep this morning
thanks to Kaiser Wilhelm.

And while, back then, daylight
saving may indeed have saved fuel,

in the modern era, energy consumption
is a little more complicated.

In fact, when Indiana adopted daylight
saving in 2006, guess what happened ?

The data shows that daylight
saving led to a 1% overall rise

in residential electricity.

Of course it did, because switching
on a lamp an hour later in the summer,

doesn't really matter when
you're blasting an air conditioners

and staying up all night,

scrolling through Instagrams
of your ex's honeymoon to Morocco.

That's not to say daylight saving
doesn't have any effects at all.

Studies show there is an increase of
car accidents and work-related injuries

the week after the time change.

What you lose in sleep,
you gain in mortal danger.

Despite all this,
70 countries around the world

still observe daylight saving

and yet by going by local news reports,
none of them could tell you why.

From Australia...

Daylight saving is almost over
before another year.

With it comes the usual debate
over its merits or lack-thereof.

To Italy...

It's a pain in the ass.

To even the Germans, the people
who started this whole mess.

The time change
for many people is ridiculous.

Whether it's an hour ahead
or later is complete nonsense.

Complete nonsense,
and that's coming from a country

that thinks this is a word
and that this is dancing.

So if it doesn't benefit
our energy bill, our health,

or our stupid, stupid cows,
it has to make you wonder,

daylight saving time,
how is this still a thing ?

And finally tonight, a quick
update on the tobacco industry.

A few weeks ago,
we looked at their efforts

to bully countries out
of adopting plain-packaging laws.

This week, to their credit, another
country was brave enough to try.

Ireland became
the first country in the E.U.,

the second in the world to introduce
plain packaging for tobacco products.

It is remarkable and all the more
so because tobacco companies

sent threatening letters
to the Irish government,

with an affiliate
of Philip Morris International

claiming the laws infringe
its trademarks saying, and I quote,

"As a dance is only
meaningful when danced,

so a trademark
is only meaningful when used."

And you know you have
a pretty weak legal argument

if it sounds like
a rejected fucking Jewel lyric.

When we talked about this,

we struck upon a compromise,
suggesting that Marlboro

should be allowed to put
branding on its packaging,

so long as that branding
was their new mascot,

Jeff the diseased lung
in a cowboy hat.

We even took out an ad
at a bus stop in Uruguay

and shipped a box
of Jeff tshirts to Togo.

We encouraged the rest of the world
to spread the word about Jeff

using the hashtag "jeffwecan."

And to our absolute joy,
Jeff you did.

Jeff you did very much.
But it didn't stop there.

Because, and we had nothing to do
with the rest of this,

there are now shockingly good
animated videos of Jeff on YouTube,

as well as this bus-stop ad in Germany,
featuring text which roughly translates

as, "break the tobacco industry."
Which is fantastic.

But, quick note: if you're going
to reference Kim Kardashian's

"break the internet" photo shoot,
you should make Jeff look like this.

They were both good it's just,
the point is, the point is,

it actually gets one step better,
'cause incredibly,

someone made
an elaborate full Jeff costume,

and sent us
a video from Mexico City

of him dancing
around onstage at a rally.

Gracias, Mexico. Muy bueno.

Should feel free to continue whatever
Jeff-based madness you see fit.

But by way of thanks, we wanted
to give something back to you.

In the words of the great poet
Philip Morris International,

"a dance is only meaningful
if it is danced."

So please now welcome Jeff
and the diseased lung line dancers

to perform the soon-to-be
international dance craze, "the Jeff".

Okay, that's our show, everybody !
Good night !

Thank you for joining us.
We'll see you again next week.

Jeff, are you okay ?
Are you okay Jeff ? Goodbye !