Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 3, Episode 16 - United Kingdom - full transcript

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Welcome to Last Week Tonight.
Thank you so much for joining us.

I am John Oliver.

Let's begin with the story that has
dominated the news all this week:

the aftermath
of the shootings in Orlando.

Everyone has had their own ideas
on the root of the problem.

It will not surprise you to hear where
the worst of those ideas came from.

I've been saying for a long time
it's going to happen.

We are taking in thousands of people
into our country.

We have no idea where they come from.
We have no idea who the hell they are.

There is a great deal wrong with that,
not least the fact that we know exactly

where this shooter came from,
because he was born in Queens.

About 8 miles
from where Donald Trump was born

presumably when a racist fairy
brought a butternut squash to life.

Democrats focused less on the shooter,
and more on the weapons he used,

even springing a surprise filibuster
on the floor of the senate.

Democrats led by Chris Murphy
held the floor for nearly 15 hours

pushing for new regulations
to stop people on the terror watchlist

from buying guns
and to expand background checks.

After nearly 15 hours,

Murphy said he had gotten signals
that his 2 measures would get a vote.

Is he absolutely sure
he saw those signals ?

Or was that a hallucination
brought on by ammonia poisoning

after holding his pee in
for 15 hours ?

Those proposals
are actually coming up for a vote,

but before you get your hopes up,
there may be a bit of a problem.

Let's not kid ourselves.

The Republicans
control the house of representatives,

there is never going to be
any gun control that passes.

That's true.

Closing the gun-show loophole in
this congress is incredibly unlikely.

Even regulating the gun show
Paul Ryan puts on every day

is pretty much
a lost cause at this point.

Which means here we are again,
after another mass shooting,

with weak legislation
doomed to failure.

And there is clearly a disconnect
between public opinion,

which favors, to varying degrees,
different gun control measures

and any practical action
in Washington.

And it is pretty clear what is standing
between those two things:

the National Rifle Association.

Like PETA,
but for guns, and effective.

And to be fair,
to be fair to the NRA:

it's not surprising they take
a hard line on gun legislation.

They're an advocacy group.
It's what they're supposed to do.

What is shocking is just
how successful they've been at it.

Look at the last big failed
attempt at gun control,

known as
the Manchin-Toomey amendment.

There were high hopes for that.
Partly 'cause it didn't do much,

it called for background checks
at gun shows and for online sales.

But mainly because Joe Manchin,
who cosponsored it,

had some credibility
regarding firearms.

I'll protect our 2nd amendment rights.
That's why the NRA endorsed me.

And I'll take dead aim
at the cap-and-trade bill.

Holy shit. That is a guy
so comfortable with guns,

he basically just used one
as a hole punch.

His office's three-hole punch
must be fucking terrifying.

And Manchin did everything
he could to appease the NRA.

He even inserted several
of their direct requests into his bill

including allowing firearms dealers,
for the first time since 1968,

to sell handguns across state lines.

Which is a weird provision
to put in a gun-control bill.

It's like letting Jose Cuervo
convince you that the seventh step

in Alcoholic's Anonymous
should be tequila shots.

But despite all that, the NRA
turned on Manchin and the bill,

and then punished him by running
ads like this in his home state.

Manchin is working
with President Obama

and New York mayor
Michael Bloomberg.

Concerned ? You should be.

Yes, the NRA
stabbed Manchin in the back.

It would've been more on-brand
of them to shoot him in the back,

and argue it never would've
happened if his back had had a gun.

And the thing is whenever
any potential regulation comes up,

the pushback is always the same.

No evidence that gun laws
would prevent shootings.

There is at least
an absence of certain proof,

as to the efficacy
of gun ownership laws in the past.

To think that somehow gun control
is, or increased gun control,

is the answer, in my view
that would have to be proved.

It's the old "I'm not doing anything
until you can prove it" argument,

the same argument
favored by climate-change deniers

and fathers of the baby on Maury.

Happy Father's Day !

The point is that brings us

to perhaps the most ingenious
and insidious NRA tactic.

They don't just manage
to block legislation concerning guns.

They've managed to block
information concerning them, too.

One of the major funders
of academic research,

the Centers for Disease Control,

has been hamstrung in studying
how best to prevent gun violence

for the last twenty years.

In 1996,
the NRA successfully lobbied congress

to put this restriction
into the CDC's budget:

"... none of the funds may be used
to advocate or promote gun control."

The CDC was already banned
from advocating for gun control laws,

or, indeed, any form of legislation.

But the 1996 Dickey amendment
named after both its sponsor,

Jay Dickey, and after the fact
it was an extremely dickey thing to do

had a chilling effect on the CDC
funding any gun research at all.

CDC funding into gun violence research
has plummeted 96 percent since 1996,

to just $100,000 of last year's
$5.6 billion dollar CDC budget.

The only other things that've dropped
96 percent in the last two decades

are Lycos searches
and Tickle-me-Elmo-related stampedes.

It's not just CDC struggling to collect
reliable gun-related information.

For decades, the NRA has successfully
lobbied to prevent the ATF

from having a database that
is electronically searchable by name

when tracing the origins of firearms.

This is what they have to do

with documents from gun shops
that've gone out of business.

Workers are left with an antiquated
system to trace 350,000 guns a year,

requiring them to review
by hand tons of paper records

and 500 million entries
on microfilm.

Many of the records
are barely legible.

These are records that we received
as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

We had to dry these out
in the parking lot.

That is clearly absurd.

That does not look like a present day
record of gun ownership.

It looks like the manifesto from
a Spanish galleon that sank in 1610.

So how the fuck has the NRA managed
to accomplish all of this ?

Because they're not
that large an organization

they claim they have a membership
of around 5 million.

But that is 3 million fewer members
than Planet Fitness.

And the members of Planet Fitness
have almost no power.

Most of them don't even have the power
to actually go to Planet Fitness.

And that is true. By mid-January,
that place is nothing more

than a storage facility
for grape colored exercise bikes.

And while the NRA
does spend a lot of money lobbying,

they are frequently
outspent by even the NAR,

or National Association of Realtors,
a group of wily bastards

who have somehow convinced us
we need to live indoors like nerds.

But the real power of the NRA
is in its members,

who are highly motivated,
and can be mobilized quickly.

At the website of the NRA's
political action committee

you will find alerts for every piece
of legislation around the country.

And not just
"write your congressman" alerts,

alerts like, "the following bills
are scheduled to be heard on June 14",

"at 9 am, in room 126
of the State Capitol".

Because they know:
their members often show up.

One of the reasons they're able
to rally their base so effectively

is they have an appealingly
simple message.

It's all about a single issue.

There's no four-point plan
that they have to defend.

I would point out,
they only have to say 'no.'

They're not for anything.
They're against something.

A single issue. One word: 'no'.


It's a lot easier to drum up support
when you're flatly against something.

There is a reason that TLC
insisted upon "No Scrubs",

and not the implementation of a
national registry of potential scrubs,

AKA "busters", that would screen
for scrub-like tendencies

or affiliations with known scrubs.

They knew,
"No Scrubs" is a lot catchier.

And the truth about politics is,
it's about showing up.

Remember the Manchin-Toomey
amendment ?

A national poll at that time
found that 88 percent of people

universal background checks,

and yet Manchin's office maintains
that, of the calls it received,

they ran 200-to-1
in opposition to the bill.

And that is why it is important
to actually call your congressman.

You can't just hit them up
on Twitter or Facebook.

Because you won't get
a personal response,

or, even worse, you'll get
a very personal response indeed.

Put it away Carlos, put it away.

And remember the Dickey amendment,

which has effectively kept the CDC
from studying gun violence ?

It is now opposed by both the American
Medical Association and Jay Dickey,

the man who sponsored it
in the first place.

Whenever a member of Congress
tries to kill it

as Nita Lowey did last summer,
this is how it goes.

Let's support research
to prevent gun violence,

protect our communities
and save lives. Thank you.

The question is on the Lowey
amendment. All in favor say aye.


- All opposed say no.
- No.

The no's have it.
The amendment is not agreed to.

It's like watching
a committee of deer

voting against investigating
the effects of oncoming cars.

"Let's stand still. I like our chances.
And those headlights are shiny."

And if you're thinking,
"I'm sure, after Orlando,"

"if someone tries that they'll succeed
'cause we're all paying attention".

Here's the thing about that...

Representative Tony Cardenas tried to
overturn it again just this Wednesday,

with an amendment to a mentalhealth
bill, and this was the result.

- All those in favor will say aye.
- Aye.

- All those opposed say no.
- No.

The no's have it.

Are you fucking kidding me ?
That happened four days ago.

I'm guessing that you're hearing
about it for the first time now.

To be honest,
we only found out about it yesterday.

And we've been working
on this story all week.

The Dickey amendment is emblematic
of a chokehold the NRA has

over even basic gun data.

And it should obviously
be overturned.

But the hard truth is, NRA members
seem to care more consistently

about preventing gun control
than most of us do about passing it.

While you might be
focused on gun control now,

they were focused on it
two weeks before Orlando,

and they'll still be focused
on it two weeks from now.

Here I would say:

"Tell your senator and representative
to repeal the Dickey amendment".

And you should absolutely do that
if you want to.

But you are going to need to do
more than that.

You're going to need to call them
and "remind" them to repeal it.

Then call them on their birthday:

"Happy birthday and also get rid
of the Dickey amendment."

Call them on Arbor Day and say:
"Happy Arbor Day !"

"What's going on
with that Dickey amendment ?"

Call them on days
where there wasn't a mass shooting,

and say: "What the fuck's up
with the Dickey amendment ?"

Repealing it is not asking much.
It's not gun control.

It's enabling us
to have an informed conversation

about what that could look like.

If and when a proposal
you like is on the table,

you're going to have
to make all those calls again.

Because remember, it doesn't take
much to outnumber the NRA.

Planet Fitness members
outnumber them.

But it is time for us to learn
what those members haven't:

if you want to see serious changes,
you have to show up every fucking day.

And now, this.

And now, 60 Minutes anchors
are still prompting people

to deliver
the exact sound bite they need.

He's a notorious
tunnel manufacturer and architect.

The tunnel king.

Not without controversy.

A collector of trophies.

Dirty money.

Bad actors.

Both are false.

Not the varsity team.

East German secret police.

Alarms were going off.

Took 16 years.

- You were Cockney...
- I was a Cockney.

The class system
was that rigid...

Just accept that.
They're going to get in.

Didn't want to get his pants dirty.

The doo-wop.

You touch it.

And then they go home.


That's what happened.

Just like that.

- Nailed it ?
- Nailed it.

Moving on: our main story
tonight concerns the United Kingdom.

Birthplace of the Beatles and yet
very much the world's Ringo.

On Thursday, the UK faces an in-out
referendum on whether to leave the EU.

Incidentally, an "in-out referendum"
is what most English people call sex:

I say, that was a jolly good
in-out referendum, Priscilla.

Capital stuff, old girl !
Simply capital !

You may not have heard
about this referendum,

unless you watch financial networks,
it's referred to by a catchy name.

A lot of fear in the marketplace about
the Brexit vote.

Brexit fear is getting traction.

A new survey
focuses on Brexit fears.

Brexit is one of the major concerns.

I think that the scariest thing
about Brexit is the name Brexit.

Because it's unknown. It's like:
Brexit, be afraid, conjuring Brexit.

Okay, calm down.
"Brexit" doesn't sound scary.

It just sounds like a shitty
granola bar you buy at the airport:

this tastes like
a preserved owl pellet.

Fuck it, I'm going to Cinnabon,
you pushed me into it !

If you are watching this outside the
UK, you're probably thinking:

Why should I care about what
Britain does with the EU ?

As long as those crooked-toothed
scone goblins keep shooting out

royal babies
and "Doctor Who",

I don't give a tally-ho fuck
what happens there.

And fair enough.

But a "Brexit", or British exit,
could have wide-ranging implications,

for the UK
and the world's economy.

It might help to understand what
the European Union actually is.

The idea for it came after
the Second World War,

a desire to keep the continent
from tearing itself apart yet again.

It has since evolved into an economic
union of 28 countries,

whose citizens can trade
and move freely across borders,

and who negotiate international
agreements as a bloc.

Britain has always had an arm's
length relationship with the EU.

It doesn't use the Euro,
some British politicians

have been openly hostile,
right to the face of EU officials.

I don't want to be rude, but you
have the charisma of a damp rag

and the appearance
of a low-grade bank clerk.

And the question that I want to
ask, that we're all going to ask,

is who are you ?!

I'd never heard of you. Nobody in
Europe had ever heard of you.

That is painful to watch,
and not just because

all of those insults are things people
in the UK have said about me.

The EU is not perfect.

It's large, confounding
and relentlessly bureaucratic.

Think of it like Gerard Depardieu:

it's an unwieldy European body
that's a source of great bewilderment.

But Britain leaving it would be
a huge, destabilizing decision.

So you would expect the Brexit camp
to have some pretty solid arguments.

Many of them are bullshit.
One of the most popular

involves the financial contributions
Britain makes to the EU.

We've got an opportunity to take
back control in this country

of huge sums of money that
we send every year to Brussels,

about 350 million pounds a week.

That is former London mayor
Boris Johnson,

a man with look and economic insight
of Bam-Bam from the Flintstones.

He has even been driven around
in a giant red bus,

with the words "we send the EU 350
million pounds a week" written.

But that number has been
thoroughly debunked.

It's actually about 190 million
pounds a week,

when you consider a rebate and
money that the EU sends back.

If Britain does leave the EU it may
have to spend close to that amount

just to access the common market.

What the bus should say is:
"we send EU 190 million pounds a week"

"which as a proportion of our
GDP makes sound fiscal sense."

"Considering the benefits we reap,
we're running out of bus ! Bye !"

One of the other main talking
points from pro-Brexit campaigners

has been
the EU's onerous regulations.

It's even a centerpiece
of the pro-Brexit movie,

"Brexit: The Movie".

Here is regulated EU man,
waking from his regulated slumber

to start his regulated day.

You wouldn't think you'd need
a law for pillowcases, EU has five.

But that's nothing. The pillow inside
is subject to 109 different EU laws.

But is it, though ?
Because we blew up that frame,

and then went looking through
each of the pillow regulations.

Most have nothing
to do with actual pillows.

This is a classification of a type of
cereal that comes in "pillow shapes".

This one is related to a merger
between two auto-part companies

that included
the phrase "pillow ball joints",

and this one uses the word
"pillow" in reference

to this weird foot pump thing,

which is supposedly for
inflating air mattresses

but is clearly a sex doll
for a platypus.

It's so obvious
what that actually is.

It seems the benefits of leaving
may be overstated.

There's a great many people
warning about a real downside.

President Obama is against Britain
leaving. So is China. So is Japan.

So is India. And the EU itself.

One Austrian politician tried to
convince Britain with a poem.

The Brexit is, to put it simple,
not like an ordinary pimple

you take some cream, put it on,
a few days later it is gone.

It is a complicated matter
more like a novel, not a letter.

To understand the story
well you've got to listen,

I will tell you what may happen
so sit back, and let me rappin'.

Cool. Come on, Britain,
if a middle-aged Austrian bureaucrat

spitting dope half-rhymes
in a busy hallway,

if he does not win you over,
nobody will.

There's also overwhelming consensus
about the damage Britain could do

to its economy by leaving.

Reports by the British
Treasury, the Bank of England,

the IMF, the OECD, National Institute
of Economic and Social Research,

Price Waterhouse,
Oxford Economics,

Centre for Economic
Performance have predicted

that leaving would have a negative
effect on the British GDP.

The pro-Brexit camp's
response to that has not been great.

People in this country
have had enough of experts

with organizations from acronyms

Saying that they know what is best
and getting it consistently wrong.

Yes, fuck these eggheads
with their studies and degrees !

I get my economic forecasts from
Otis, the GDP predictin' horse !

You may be wondering: if leaving
is so universally seen as a bad idea,

then who the
fuck is in favor of it ?

Let me introduce you to one of the
leading groups backing a Brexit,

the UK Independence Party,
also called UKIP.

Their leader is Nigel Farage,
that man you saw earlier

at the Roast of European Council
President Herman van Rompoy.

UKIP is known for its hardline
anti-immigration views

and some of its members
have engaged in outright racism.

Look at Robert Blay,
a UKIP candidate for parliament,

who was suspended after a tabloid
caught him saying this

about a rival
of Sri Lankan descent.

His family's only been
here since the seventies.

You are not British enough
to be in our parliament.

"Not British enough
to be in our parliament" ?

He's talking about a British citizen

who was born in London
and raised in Hampshire !

How is that not "British enough" ?
Must he literally be a monocle badger

named Reginald
who lives in a Shepherd's pie ?

Is that the bar of entry to him ?

UKIP has had councilors like this
woman, on a district council in Kent.

I have to watch my tongue,
because I can be very outspoken,

and it goes against the grain.

The only people I do have
problems with are negroes.

And I don't know why.

Let's agree, it is now official:

not everything sounds
smarter in a British accent.

It is absolutely, 100% official.

What you heard is horrifying,
but at least we can all rest easy

knowing that, as she speaks,
that shelf full of clowns

is plotting to carry her away
into the night forever.

But even when UKIP candidates
are caught making racist comments,

Farage has stood by them,
look at Kerry Smith,

who used a racial slur
about Chinese people.

A term I'm not going to use,
because I'm not a candidate for UKIP.

But Nigel Farage
did not exactly condemn him.

If you were going out for Chinese,
what do you say you're going for ?

I would not use
the word chinky, would you ?

No, but a lot of people would.

Yeah, a lot of people would.
Racists, for example. Bigots.

Idiots, the intolerant...
Who am I missing here ?

Yeah, UKIP voters.
Them, as well. A lot of people would.

UKIP argue that a Brexit would
enable the UK to reduce immigration,

preventing both EU citizens
from taking British jobs

and non-EU citizens from sneaking
in to commit terror attacks.

They have not been subtle,
with toxic posters like this one,

showing lines of refugees and
the headline "Breaking Point".

It is hard for me to overstate to you

how poisonous things have
become in England.

MP Jo Cox was killed in the street,
and the man charged for it

gave his name in court as "death
to traitors, freedom for Britain".

In that cauldron, people are being
asked to make a major decision.

Incidentally, regarding immigration,

even if you believe tightening borders
is what Britain needs to do,

opting out of the EU will not
enable Britain to do that.

Leaving the EU, does that mean
UK gets control of its borders ?

It could do, if we cut ourselves
off from the rest of Europe.

We could choose to end migration.
But if we remain part of the market,

that means accepting
free mobility of labor.

If Britain wants a good trade
deal with the EU,

it's going to have to abide
by most of its rules.

And the same goes for all
those hypothetically cumbersome,

pillow regulations.

If British companies want
to trade with the EU,

they also are going to have to abide
by those rules anyway.

So, it's not a Brexit so much as it's
a "Bratus Quo", or a "Bromeostasis",

or a "Conscious Unbroupling".

So, to recap:
immigration policy may not change,

hysteria overregulation
is a red herring,

and the economic benefits of
staying appear to outweigh the costs.

And yet, polls suggest my homeland is
on the edge of doing something insane.

And on some level,
I actually kind of understand.

There is an innate British desire to
tell Europe to go fuck itself.

I feel it, too...

You know those things I say when
countries pop up over my shoulder ?

That's a reflex action.
I don't even know I'm doing it.

I'll show you: Germany:
where the national motto is:

"let's stick
to the present, shall we ?"

Okay, give me another one.
Luxembourg !

What happens when you leave
Lichtenstein out in the sun too long.

Okay, give me another one.
Belgium !

The casual acquaintance France
crops out of its Instagram photos.

One more.
I'm on a roll, one more.

Denmark: what would happen if
a suicide note was a country.

I don't even know I'm doing these
and I could do them all day.

The EU does not make
itself easy to love.

Its official anthem is
Beethoven's "Ode to Joy"

and they actually had a competition
to do a video, set to that tune.

You really have to see what won.

Fuck you.
Fuck you all forever.

You fuck yourself,
you go fuck yourself right now !

It is perfectly understandable
to be annoyed at Europe.

I'm barely containing
my anger right now.

But here is how I feel about the EU:
it's a complicated, bureaucratic,

ambitious, overbearing, inspirational,
consistently irritating institution

and Britain would be
absolutely crazy to leave it.

Especially because, if it stays,
it can reap all the benefits,

while still being a dick about
everything, that is the British way.

So, to the people of the UK,
I say this:

if you need your "hatred of the EU"
itch scratched, I understand.

Don't vote for a Brexit.
I have a better solution.

I'd like to retroactively
enter that EU anthem contest,

with a song straight out
of every British heart,

that insults Europe and acknowledges
how lost we'd be without it.

Please, enjoy.

Fuck you, European Union,

tally-ho, you fucking pricks.

We are the United Kingdom

you can eat our spotted dicks !

That being said, we're not going to
leave you, turns out we need you.


Fuck you, European Union,
it feels good to tell you this !

Poland is depressing,
and there's vampires in Romania,

Spain is far too hot
and where the fuck is Lithuania ?

To be fair, Slovenia is lovely,
we're only kidding, it sucks too,

but we must admit,

without these countries
we'd be really screwed.

Fuck the European Union,
even though we must admit

we would all be batshit crazy
if we vote for leaving it.

We would all be batshit crazy,

if we vote for leaving it.

That's our show !
We'll be back next week. Good night !