Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 3, Episode 12 - 911 - full transcript

John Oliver gives an open invitation to Trump's 1980s PR man alter ego "John Miller" then reports on the 911 phone system's failures to keep up with the new issues from so many mobile device users.

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

Thank you so much for joining us.
Just time for a quick recap of the week.

And we begin with Donald Trump.
Rome burning in man-form.

On Thursday, he went
to the RNC headquarters in Washington

to meet with Paul Ryan
to try and mend fences.

Ryan had famously declined
to endorse Trump,

but after the meeting,
he struck a more conciliatory tone.

I was very encouraged with what
I heard from Donald Trump today.

I do believe that,
that we are now planting the seeds

to get ourselves unified
to bridge the gaps and differences.

He was a very good personality.
He's a very warm and genuine person.

Okay, stop !

I understand the "genuine" part

in the same way
that Miller Genuine Draft is genuine.

Is the shitty thing that it is.

But, but the only way Trump
could be described as "warm"

is if you're feeling leftover tanning
bed heat radiating from his skin.

And why is Paul Ryan
being so coy about this ?

We all know where this is going.
Trump needs the GOP's money,

because he's decided he is not
self-funding his election campaign.

And the republicans need
to not alienate Trump's voters.

Trump and the republican establishment
are like a teenage Christian couple

who've made an abstinence pledge.

They are going to have sex.
It is just a matter of time.

They make a show of resisting it for
anyone who might be paying attention.

However, the rest of the week
was a little bumpier for Trump.

On Friday morning, he attempted to
justify not releasing his tax returns,

and it did not go great.

Many presidents
din not show their tax returns.

Every single nominee since 1976
has released their tax returns.

Before 1976,
people didn't do it.

Yeah, sure.

But there were a lot of things we did
before 1976 that seem crazy now.

Like smoking on airplanes,

and thinking Elliott Gould
was a major sex symbol.

The point is, times have changed.

But the weirdest thing involving Trump
this week was the release of tapes

suggesting that, in the nineties,
he had for some reason

invented a publicist for himself
named John Miller,

and pretended to be him
on the phone.

- I'm sort of new here.
- What is your position there ?

I'm of handling PR
he gets so much of it.

- Where did you come from ?
- I worked for different firms.

I'm somebody that he knows and I think
somebody that he trusts and likes.

That is so perfectly Donald Trump.

Even his imaginary alter ego
reflexively brags about himself.

Now, on that tape,
you hear "John Miller"

saying many incredible things
about Trump

including claiming that Madonna
wanted to date him.

She called and she wanted
to go out with him.

The people you write about are...

They call actresses...

People call to see
if they can go out with him.

Now much like his candidacy,
that claim is sad, but not implausible.

Remember: there were rumors
that, in the nineties,

Madonna got together with Vanilla Ice,
Jose Canseco and Willem Dafoe.

What is Donald Trump if not a mixture
of the authenticity of Vanilla Ice,

the likability of Jose Canseco,

and the terrifying facial expressions
of Willem Dafoe ?

But, this shouldn't
even have been news this week !

Back when this happened, Trump
confessed to the whole thing.

Trump admitted that he was John Miller
and called it a joke gone awry.

So there's no story here, then,
is there ?

All present-day Trump needed to do
was re-confirm that it was him.

The simple question this morning,
are you aware of the tape ? Is it you ?

I don't know anything about it.

You're telling me about it
and it doesn't sound like my voice.

Yes it does ! It's clearly you !
There is only one way to settle this.

I would like to extend an invitation
to John Miller, publicist,

to appear on this program.

Now to be clear: this is not
an invitation to Donald Trump,

who, who has never, and will never,
be invited here for an interview.

But if John Miller wants to come,
we would love to have him.

We've even set up
our interview area for you

with all the things
that we presume John Miller enjoys

overcooked steaks,
low-grade pornographic magazines,

and a hand mirror.

It's an open invitation !
So please, come on by, John Miller !

There's nothing stopping you,
other than the fact you don't exist.

Let's move on for now
to queen Elizabeth II.

The only becrowned woman
who acts more entitled

than a bride
at her bachelorette party.

"This is my day ! It's my day
before my 'other' day !"

When the queen makes headlines,
it's because she's just gotten older.

Her most meaningful power as monarch
is basically to stand there

and experience the passage of time.

But at a garden party, she made
news with an overheard complaint.

The queen has been caught on camera
criticizing a Chinese delegation to UK.

Her majesty was introduced
to a police commander

who described difficulties during the
state visit of the Chinese president.

Can I present
commander Lucy D'Orsi,

gold commander
when the Chinese state visit.

Bad luck. They were very rude
to the ambassador.

They were rude to the ambassador !

I will say: it's kind of refreshing
to hear a 90-year-old woman

air a grievance
with specific Chinese individuals

rather than expressing a vague distrust
for Chinese people in general.

But this story became a big deal,
with experts even delving

into the physics of how
the queen had been overheard.

Sometimes you hear the royals,
sometimes you don't.

There seems to have been
a sort of perfect storm yesterday.

The queen was under a plastic umbrella,
which acted to amplify her words.

Of course, the classic problem
of unintended sound amplification.

We haven't heard this much
from the queen since she had surgery.

But other people
were more interested

in examining
why the queen was so upset.

In the queen's defense,
she is only saying

the police officer is saying
what was widely reported,

which was Chinese officials and
Chinese security at the embassy

were pretty high-handed
in the way they were treating

British police, British diplomats,

acting, in the words of one observer,
as if they owned the place.

That is a little rich
coming from an English person,

because for about 300 years, that
was Britain's entire military policy.

"How should we engage
the enemy, sir ?"

"I suppose we'll march in
and act like we own the place."

And finally this week: Budweiser.

America's favorite
liquid yeast infection.

They decided to make
a branding change, and surprisingly,

it wasn't making their product taste
less like minion jizz.

It was something far less expected.

This summer, Budweiser
is renaming its beer "America":

new labels and images
associated with the U.S.

It's true, for six months,
Budweiser will be called "America".

So now, people can finally say,

"Sorry, I vomited America all over
the men's room of a Ruby Tuesday's."

It is self-serving for Budweiser
to wrap the US flag around their cans

of what's left in the dishwasher
after you accidentally wash beans.

Especially when you consider
this one tiny detail.

Budweiser, by the way,
is brewed in St. Louis,

but it is owned
by a company in Belgium.

Yes, Budweiser's parent company
is based in Belgium.

Though Belgium does have one thing
in common with Budweiser:

Germans refuse to acknowledge
that it's even there.

But one proud American has stepped
forward to claim credit for the change.

You will almost certainly guess who.

Donald Trump,
you had something to do

with Budweiser changing their name
of the beer for this summer ?

They're so impressed
with what our country will become,

that they decided
to do this before the fact.

They got to get a taste.

That actually makes sense. Because
Budweiser beer is a lot like Trump.

They're both known for their
terrible taste and frothy heads,

they're both the color of burnt urine,
and every once in a while,

they both seem to change their name
for no reason whatsoever.

And now, this !

Elected officials,
at the local, state or federal level,

these are the men and women

who make us look like fucking idiots
for electing them.

Let's meet one, in our ongoing series
"People Who Somehow Got Elected".

This week's person,
Paul LePage, governor of Maine,

the state that has been overseeing a
non-stop lobster genocide since 1820.

Since coming to power 5 years ago,

brash Tea Party
backed conservative Paul LePage

has been busy, mostly fighting
with the state's legislature,

to which he's issued a record number
of vetoes, over 400 and counting.

But he's best known
for the unusual things he says,

like these remarks about drug dealers
many took to be racist.

These are guys that are named
D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty,

these type of guys that come
from Connecticut and New York.

No self-respecting drug dealer
has ever called himself Smoothie.

And second, we haven't even got
to the racist part yet.

Half the time they impregnate
a young, white girl before they leave.

There it is ! And LePage
later offered a recommendation

for how Maine's gun owners
could combat the drug trade.

Everybody in Maine,
we have constitutional carry,

load up
and get rid of the drug dealers.

Encouraging vigilantes
to mow down criminals

isn't an enforcement strategy,
it's the plot of Death Wish 3.

But for people who live in Maine,
these statements are not surprising.

While most humans possess
a thin barrier that stops thoughts

from immediately exiting
their brain as words,

Paul LePage does not.

Like when he sent a message
to the NAACP...

Come and kiss my butt.

Or complained about
immigrant workers in his state.

What's the special today
from somebody from Bulgaria ?

The worst one
is if they're from India.

Or describe the diseases he thinks
refugees would bring to Maine.

What happens is you get Hepatitis C,
Tuberculosis, AIDS, HIV,

the Ziki fly...

And here, LePage is wrong,
because Ziki fly populations

have decreased in Maine
in recent years,

owing to the fact that Ziki flies
are not a real thing and do not exist.

LePage saves his finest remarks
for his opponents,

like when he criticized a lawmaker
in the most graphic possible terms.

Senator Jackson
claims to be for the people.

But he's the first one to give it to
the people without providing Vaseline.

That's right, he implied
former state senator Troy Jackson

was subjecting Mainers
to an unlubricated fucking, but...

Shit, he's coming back
to say something else.

Listen, dammit !

That comment
is not politically correct,

but we gotta understand:
this man is a bad person.

As a result
of his mouth forming words,

Paul LePage is in a near
constant state of apology.

Governor LePage is apologizing.

Governor Paul LePage met with Jewish
community leaders to apologize again.

I do apologize for offending anyone.
Particularly the loggers.

I apologize
to all the Maine women.

Governor LePage apologizing
to the son of a political cartoonist.

LePage sent Nick Danby
a hand-written letter

apologizing for joking that he wanted
to shoot Danby's father.

A weird letter to receive.

Sorry I said I wanted to shoot
your dad, love, the governor.

Yet he insists there's a rational
explanation for everything he's said.

I'm sorry, I am not like you guys.

I am not polished speaker,
but I have a heart.

You can take the kid off the street,
but not viceversa.

I may not be very articulate
because I came from the streets.

Squeezing a toy pig doesn't prove
you're from the streets,

it proves you're a 3-year-old boy
named Toby.

He's not one of those politicians who
will think one thing and say another,

he'll tell you what's on his mind,
no matter how horrifying it is.

And that is why Paul LePage
is, incredibly,

a person
who somehow got elected.

Moving on ! Our main story tonight
concerns 911.

The thing you call right after
WebMD tells you

you're not going to be able
to get it out on your own.

911 is a number so important, we do
everything to make kids remember it

from classroom posters,
to toy phones,

to folksy PSA's
produced by local firehouses.

Hi, Mrs. Clark,
welcome to station four.

So who knows when to call 911 ?

You should call 911 if a person is
badly hurt or in danger, right now.

If you're not sure
whether it's a real emergency,

and there are no adults around,
make the call.

That's true. But sometimes, you
should call even if adults are around.

If someone's dying and the only
adult is Matthew McConaughey,

maybe don't leave
the decision to him.

"You bleedin' out there, hoss ?
Let's get some bongo drums"

"and herbal love and tell that
open wound to come together."

"We got it done."

We make roughly 240 million
911 calls each year,

dispatchers do amazing work
talking people through childbirth,

CPR, abductions
and home break-ins.

We're so accustomed
to relying on them,

we even call
when we don't have an emergency.

- 911, where's your emergency ?
- Are the fireworks still on ?

- You cannot call 911 for that.
- Thank you.

I'm having an overdose and so's my
wife. We made brownies.

And I think we're dead.
Time is going by really slow.

I have a baby lizard in my house
and he crawled in my printer.

- The baby crawled in your printer ?
- No, a baby lizard.

- Where is your emergency ?
- I'm on the toilet !

That's a little boy named Richie.

- I'm done ! Potty.
- You're done potty. Okay.

I know that sounds adorable,

but that kid may've caused such a mess
he had to call 911.

"This is Richie. You guys have some
sort of emergency cleanup crew ?"

"I am done going potty."

We have a lot of faith in 911,

but the system can break down
more than you think.

When it does,
people can die as a result.

Shanell Anderson was delivering
newspapers in the dark

when she careened
into this pond.

She knew right where she was.

- The Fairway and Batesville.
- Batesville and what ?

- The Fairway is the street, ma'am.
- Fairway ? I don't have that.

But 911 dispatchers
can't find her on their map.

It took first responders
20 minutes to get to her.

She died because a system we expect
to save our lives failed her.

And 911 losing valuable time,

because dispatchers can't determine
your location, is not unusual.

Improving location accuracy
could save 10 000 lives a year.

Which seems like a worthwhile goal.
People making emergency calls

are on the short list of things we
expect to be found 100% of the time.

It's that, the clitoris and Nemo.

He's not a bad fish,
he's just curious

and he's capable
of more than you think !

And the obstacles for 911 centers
don't stop there,

they may be underfunded, understaffed
and full of outdated technology.

Which is fine if you're describing
a Radio Shack,

but it's scary when it's a place that
handles life and death situations.

So tonight, let's focus on how
on earth we got to this point.

The location problems
have a lot to do with the fact

that 70 to 80 percent of all 911 calls
now come from cell phones.

And that's become a problem.
When everyone used landlines,

they could simply match
the call to your billing address.

But now, you could be anywhere.
Unless, of course, you have AT&T,

because then you can only get
reception standing by your window,

as long as it's not cloudy.

While 911 centers do get some
location info from wireless carriers,

it varies wildly.

They might only get the cell
tower your call was routed through.

And that's why, around the country,
your chance of them quickly find you

ranges from as low as ten percent
to as high as 95 percent.

Watch one reporter put a dispatch
center in Virginia to the test.

911, where is your emergency ?

This is Jeff Rossen with NBC News,
want to know if you can tell me

where our location
is on your computer.

- Showing 4641 West Ox Road.
- That's not here.

Absolutely not.
That's about a quarter mile away.

And we're standing in the actual
911 center. That's it down there.

That is not good.
You never want to be in a situation

where you have to tell someone:
"I'm actually inside you right now."

If you're thinking:
"Hold on, wait a minute,"

"I can find my location
on my cell phone."

You're not alone.
Dispatchers wonder the same thing.

I can check in on Facebook and
it'll tell you what building I'm in,

I can be at the hockey game and it
tells me I'm at First Niagara Center,

but when you call 911 we don't get
that accurate location information.

Technology's out there,
it's not getting to us at this point.

That's a good point. 'Cause even the
Domino's app can tell where you are

and they've barely mastered the
technology to make a palatable pizza.

So we asked everyone, from the FCC
to public safety groups,

about why it seems Ubers can find
you better than ambulances can.

There doesn't seem to be
a simple, satisfying answer.

Broadly, services like Uber aren't
always 100 percent accurate,

particularly in rural areas.

Emergency workers would
like technology that can tell them

what floor you're on and no one seems
to know how to do that yet.

The wireless industry
does claim to be working toward

incorporating some of what Uber
uses into 911 location services,

it seems there is no guarantee when
that'll be ready for widespread use.

The FCC has mandated they improve
accuracy, so that by 2021,

carriers deliver a usable location
for callers 80 percent of the time.

Which sounds impressive,
until you put it like this:

Six years from now,

911 could still be unable to find one
out of every five emergency callers.

"In six years, I might not be able
to find one out of five of you"

is only acceptable if you're speaking
to the members of One Direction.

I'm sorry, Niall. But one of you
has to be the J.C. Chasez.

Fixing the location problem
won't fix everything.

911 is so fragmented, there are
currently 5 899 dispatch centers,

because each county or municipality
might have its own one.

There is no guarantee that
any two dispatch centers

use the same technology
or have a system to work together.

In six states, there is no
specific statewide entity

in charge
of coordinating 911 services.

While Georgia law does require
a committee to help develop plans,

it's not exactly a robust body.

This is it. Georgia's permanent
911 advisory committee.

You'll notice all 15 seats are empty.

There's no one at the mic
and there's nothing on the agenda.

This committee hasn't met for years,

because there isn't a single
member currently appointed.

How is that possible ?

A spokesperson claimed that that
committee does have members.

And didn't answer when we asked
for those members' names.

You could at least make up a name
like John Miller,

right off the top of your head,
it's clearly not hard.

And there is a lot that
that committee could be doing.

The federal government has been
talking about Next Generation 911.

Upgrading dispatch centers
to an IP based network

and enabling them to do things
like accept videos and text messages.

Could be life saving in situations
where you can't make a phone call,

like domestic violence or having
a heart attack in a library.

Get some help, but have some
respect for the other patrons.

But as of right now, no state has
fully implemented Next Gen 911.

This would make everything
so much easier for the dispatchers

whose jobs are hard enough already.

Some days, depending upon
the outcome, it's good.

Other days, not.

Sometimes, you really
don't know the outcome,

and you go home at night
and you wonder,

I could've prevented this person from
dying or this from getting hurt ?

And then there are other times
when you might save a life,

that you go home and
you pat yourself on the back

and you're saying to yourself:
I did something really good.

That is a wider extreme than most
of us experience in our daily jobs.

For me, is whether there's hazelnut
creamer in the break room

or whether Janice from
accounting drank it all again.

That's not even milk.
That's disgusting.

And that level of stress,
combined with funding shortages,

has caused dispatch centers
to be understaffed.

Go to Google, put in "understaffed
911 dispatch" and your town

and see what comes up.

In many places,
it will be headlines like these.

These are one of those things
a ridiculous number of cities have,

like a Chinatown
or a statue of someone racist.

If your local dispatch center
is understaffed,

when you call, the first voice
you hear may be this:

You have reached
Memphis 911 emergency.

All operators are busy,
remain on the line.

Cincinnati 911 center. Your call will
be answered as soon as possible.

New Hanover County 911.
We have high volumes of calls.

You have reached 911 emergency
dispatch. Do not hang up.

If in danger, lay down
the phone and go to safety.

"Go to safety."
Why didn't I think of that ?

Here I am in danger, when really,
I could simply be going to safety !

I shouldn't have wasted
your time by calling.

Some of that call volume is on us.
The ubiquity of cell phones means,

if 50 people see a fire,
911 might get 50 calls.

And that's on top of an even
bigger strain on the system.

84 million 911 calls a year
nationwide are butt dials.

One person even butt
dialed 911 136 times.

When you receive a call
and it's from,

as we call the butt dial,
there's not a lot you can do.

When I tell that I butt dialed them,
they sound kind of aggravated.

It's kind of a waste
of their time, you know ?

Like, okay, make sure
you don't call again.

I bet that guy
hears the same response

from anyone he dials
by accident or on purpose.

We have an antiquated,
disjointed system,

populated by workers who are
sick of listening to people's butts.

Almost everyone's phone bill
has a line like this on it,

which you might assume goes
to fund 911 centers.

The FCC's fee report show
that, since 2008,

at least 20 states
diverted those dollars elsewhere.

Which is probably why,
depending on where you live,

911 may be a joke in your town,
to quote Duran Duran.

It's a Public Enemy song. Did you know
that Duran Duran covered it ?

You're welcome, you haven't heard
that disaffected anthem properly

until you've heard it performed
by Simon from Hertfordshire.

We are routinely raiding 911
to pay for other things.

New York state, which has seen
multiple breakdowns in its system,

took in over $185 million
in fees in 2014,

but diverted $77 million
into the state's general fund,

where it could be spent
on pretty much anything.

When the governor was asked,
he blew it off.

Is that something in the budget
process you'll take a look at ?

Is it right for us
to divert this money ?

It is not an issue that has come up,

I haven't heard any legislator raise
it. If it comes up, we'll look into it.

A, it just fucking came up.

B, legislators have raised the issue
since you've been in office

and C, not diverting money
away from 911

is one of those things you shouldn't
have to be told not to do.

Like siphoning gas out of a fire
truck to put into your dirt bike.

"No one's told me this is wrong.
I'm gonna go spin some donuts."

This blasé attitude
is indicative of the fact that,

until we're confronted
with the challenges facing 911,

it seems we're not going
to do anything about them.

We are taught from a young age
to take 911 for granted,

so perhaps
it's time for that to change.

You should call 911 if a person
is badly hurt or in danger.

Any questions ? Yeah.

If I call 911,
you'll come and help me ?

I'm sure gonna try, sweetie.
If you're calling from a cellphone

and you don't know your address,
we're gonna struggle to find you.

- That's scary.
- Don't you worry.

By the year 2021,
we will find you every time.

Four out of five times.

How can you not know
how to find me ?

I can order pizza from my phone
and they know where I am.

- It's not the same thing.
- There's a pizza on its way.

I'm gonna get a dispatcher to
come explain this to you.

Bill said you had questions about why
we cannot find you all the time.

- Why is that ?
- We just don't have the technology.

- Pizza's here !
- Shit ! Get out !

Some places have pretty good
statewide systems, like Maine.

- My grandma lives in Maine !
- Well then she should be fine.

- My grandma lives in Georgia.
- She is fucked.

Totally fucked !

- Why don't you just try harder ?
- Excuse me ?

You think I don't try hard ?
I just worked a twelve-hour shift !

I helped deliver three babies,
I saved a family from a fire,

I pulled a lizard out of a printer,
I listened to 15 different butts !

We'll see how hard you're laughing

when I'm listening to someone's ass
and you're all burning in your beds !

It's so hot ! The flames !
They're lickin' my body !

Who wants to pet a Dalmatian ?

911, we'll be there when you
need us. Some restrictions apply.

Offer not guaranteed in all states.
Contact a medical professional

if you experience a wait time
longer than four hours.

That's our show, thank you so much
for watching, see you next week !