Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 3, Episode 6 - The Wall - full transcript

John talks about latest Brazil demonstrations, the nomination of Merrick Garland to join the supreme court And the wall Donald Trump wants to build and how it would be very costly, ineffective and useless.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -

Season III
Episode 6

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

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

And we begin in Brazil.

The country with the second
most valuable Amazon on earth.

Brazil is facing numerous problems,

from the Zika virus
to a struggling economy.

And it was plunged
into political turmoil.

Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians
are taking to the streets

calling for the impeachment
of their president Dilma Rousseff.

People here are saying
they are tired of being lied to.

And they are particularly tired
of this very deep economic recession.

The protesters want to forcibly
remove their president.

And as Brazilians know well,

you don't want to remove something
slowly and methodically.

The Brazilian legislature is moving
to impeach President Rousseff.

Although they may not be
in a great position to judge,

given that 60 percent of them
face criminal charges of some kind,

ranging from electoral fraud
to homicide.

The Brazilian legislature
potentially contains

40 percent fewer criminals per capita
than the Brazilian prison system.

Rousseff's latest trouble
concerns Lula da Silva

and his connection to the ongoing
investigation into bribes

and kickbacks at Petrobras,
Brazil's state-run oil company.

And is there ever a state-run
oil company that is not corrupt ?

The only two words that are more
inherently suspicious than "state-run"

are "oil company",
except that's not actually true.

The list of suspicious two-word
phrases goes: open marriage,

well-spoken, homeopathic remedy,
staterun, father-daughter,

oil company, and discount sushi.

But Lula da Silva is facing charges
connected to Petrobras.

While he claims
they were politically motivated,

Rousseff didn't calm things down when
she made a surprise staffing choice.

Former President Lula

is now going to be serving
as Chief of Staff for Dilma Rouseff.

If he is in the cabinet,
he is protected from prosecution

by anyone except
the highest court in Brazil.

He virtually has immunity.
That does not look good.

It says something about
what some protesters think of Lula

that they already had
a giant inflatable effigy on hand

the second the move was announced.

Although, I will say,
that balloon looks less like Lula,

and more like a Picasso drawing
of Mandy Patinkin.

But this was the beginning of a
bewilderingly dramatic few days.

First, a Brazilian judge
nullified the appointment.

Then a judge from a higher court
nullified that nullification.

And then things got crazy.

As soon as President Rousseff
got an injunction overturned

against Lula being appointed
to her cabinet,

at least 20 other judges
across the country

filed their own injunctions
to block him from taking the post.

The judiciary is now in open revolt
against the executive branch.

Huge pro-Rousseff and Lula rallies
took place on Friday.

And let's all please enjoy
this brief moment

of feeling superior
to the political chaos of Brazil,

because it's exactly how the rest
of the world will feel this summer,

watching the Republican Party
tear itself apart,

denying the person who got
the most votes their nomination.

So for now,
let's move on to the Supreme Court.

America's fifth-most-watched
legal drama.

On Wednesday, the president unveiled
his pick for their newest member.

I am nominating
Chief Judge Merrick Brian Garland

to join the Supreme Court.

By all accounts, Judge Garland
is deeply experienced.

He is seen by some
as really the best pick

that a republican senate could ask
for from a democratic president.

Garland is an experienced,
moderate judge,

respected by everyone
on both sides of the aisle,

which is more than you can say
for most people at their own wedding.

Not just his moderate views might
make him appealing to republicans.

There's another, slightly creepier
factor to take into consideration.

Merrick Garland is 63 years old,
one of the oldest nominees ever.

It's an easier pill
for Republicans to swallow,

having someone older
rather than someone younger.

He is a consensus candidate.
He's 63 years old.

He's unlikely to serve very long.

Holy shit !
It has got to be a bit weird

hearing one of your most attractive
qualities is your diminished lifespan.

The message to republicans is...
Think about Merrick Garland

the way you think about the 14-old cat
your girlfriend had when you moved in:

you may not like him, but at least
he'll be dead relatively soon.

But senate republicans
have vowed not to confirm

anyone Obama nominates
to the Supreme Court.

And they insisted
their position has not changed.

The decision the senate
announced weeks ago

remains about a principle
and not a person.

I'm not going to change
my position.

I don't care if they put
my brother on there.

It doesn't matter if Obama
would nominate George W. Bush.

I would still not do it.

Wait ! You created a hypothetical using
the best candidate you could think of,

and you came up
with George W. Bush ?

"I wouldn't go into that restaurant
if Guy Fieri himself was the chef !"

What point
are you trying to make there ?

The republicans
are in a tough spot here.

They know their position
is logically indefensible,

and some,
like Senator Orrin Hatch,

have really painted themselves
into a corner.

In 2010 he called Garland
"a consensus nominee",

but is now refusing
to even meet with him.

And there is something
profoundly emblematic

of the republicans' cynicism
in his explanation for why.

Right now the political arena
is toxic, difficult,

and terrible to bring
this nominee up at this time.

Hold on, the atmosphere
is too toxic to bring him up ?

You are the one making it toxic !
I live by a hard and fast rule:

you do not get out
of having to do the dishes

just because you took a shit
in the sink.

And now this !

And now, more of CBS This Morning's
awkward sex talk.

- It's always good to come back home.
- Looks like you've got a tan.

You noticed ?

- Welcome back to CBS This Morning.
- One more time.

Charlie likes black people !

Charlie it's not good to date
coworkers, so leave me alone.

- We had a good time ?
- A really good time.

More on that later.

A gentleman never tells.

Don't you find it attractive
when women make the first move ?

No reason to think a man's not gonna
like you because you come over.

Charlie looks handsome in blue.

- Thank you.
- You're welcome.

Do you two want to be alone ?

You have a little tickle
in your throat...

- A little cold.
- Where'd you get that from ?

From her last week.

We'll take a break
from kissing when I've got a cold.

- You like sweet things.
- Not cupcakes.

Alright !

Moving on. Our main story tonight
concerns walls.

The envy of all employees
who work in open plan offices.

"I would take
a fucking beaded curtain"

"just so I don't have to directly
observe Carol clip her nails."

"Do it at home, Carol !"

This year, one particular wall
has gotten a lot of our attention.

I will build a great, great wall
on our southern border.

That's a Trump wall.

I will build the greatest wall
that you've ever seen.

I want a gorgeous wall. The Trump wall,
would that be a beautiful wall ?

Donald Trump wants to build a wall
on the U.S.-Mexican border.

And, based on his tone,
he also wants to fuck that wall.

The wall is such a fixture
of his speeches,

and so popular
among his supporters,

one man even wore a spandex
wall costume at one of his rallies.

That's kind of incredible.

The only group of people more excited
about barriers are high school teachers.

"That's right,
when you're horny,"

"there is nothing better
than a good dental dam !"

"It feels exactly the same !"

It doesn't. It really doesn't.

The border wall
is one of the few policy proposals

Trump has talked about in detail.

Instead of mocking or dismissing it,

let's take a proposal by a serious
presidential candidate seriously.

Let's put aside the potential racism
and xenophobia involved here.

We can come back to that later.

Instead, let's focus on the practicality
of whether and how it can be done.

Let's start with the cost.
When Trump started talking about this,

he said it would cost a lot,
but not a lot a lot.

Let's say the wall costs 4 billion.
They say $10 billion.

4 billion
if you know what you're doing.

He's saying he could build a wall

at 40 percent
of what it would cost others.

Which I would say
is an insane magic trick,

if I thought his tiny fingers could
wrap all the way around a magic wand.

That's an actual photo.

But since then,
his estimate has grown.

The wall is gonna cost 6-7 billion.
The wall is 8 billion dollars.

It's going to cost $10 billion
to build the wall.

A lot of money. It's a wall.

The wall's going to cost 10 billion
dollars. Maybe 12, depending.

We've gone
from 4-12 billion dollars.

Donald Trump's margin of error
is the entire GDP of Moldova.

We're now at $12 billion dollars.
But to truly know the real cost,

we're going to need to know what
the wall is going to be made from.

If Donald Trump could
explain it to me like I'm a child.

So, you're going to build the wall ?
What's it going to be made out of ?

That's a good question.
Lift him up here, bring him up.

What are the walls
going to be made out of ?

It's gonna be made of concrete
and of rebar and steel.

Trump is holding
that child less like a human being

and more like a cat
he just gave a bath to.

But second to be fair,
rebar and steel.

That is a clear answer.
I appreciate that.

The amount we would need would
depend on the height of the wall.

Trump has been unclear on that,

suggesting numbers ranging
from 35 to 90 feet.

So let's work with his lowest
estimate: a 35 foot tall wall,

which Trump has said we would
need around a thousand miles of.

to one construction economist,

that would cost $10 billion
for the concrete panels,

and $5 to $6 billion for steel
columns, including labor,

plus another billion for concrete
footing for the columns,

and a concrete foundation,
so, that's at least $16 billion.

We're already four billion
over his largest budget

and we've only
just gotten started here.

You're going to have to transport
those material,

into areas inaccessible
to construction vehicles.

So that same expert estimates
another $2 billion to build a road

so 20-ton trucks
can deliver those materials.

It's not even getting
into another 30 percent

for engineering,
design, management.

So now we're up
to around $25 billion,

anywhere from two to six times
Trump's estimates.

But we're still not done:
all of that is just building the wall.

The congressional budget office
estimated that wall maintenance costs

would exceed the initial construction
costs within seven years.

So it's a big, dumb thing that only
gets more expensive over time.

It's like getting a pet walrus.
You think it's stupid now:

wait until you learn what a bucket
of sea cucumbers costs.

You've not prepared for that.
But whatever the cost is,

Trump claims
he has got a way to pay for it.

Mexico is going to pay for the wall.
They're going to pay for the wall.

Mexico is gonna pay for the wall.
And they're gonna be happy about it.

Of course they are.

People love it when you make them
pay for shit they don't want.

That's why everyone's so happy
when their cable company

bundles together cable,
internet, and landline.

Landline. Thank you !

Landline, lucky me !

It'll come in handy when I need to call
my cell phone because I can't find it.

But is Mexico
going to pay for the wall ?

The Mexican treasury secretary's
said Mexico, under no circumstance,

is going to pay for the wall
that Mr. Trump is proposing.

And two former Mexican presidents
were even clearer...

Mexican people, we are not
gonna pay any single cent

for such a stupid wall.

I declare I'm not gonna pay
for that fucking wall.

He should pay for it !

I think the best part of that clip

is the fact that he even took
the extra effort to swear in English.

"This may be my second language"

"but I want to make sure
you fuckers understand it."

When Trump was asked, he responded
with characteristic diplomacy.

The wall just got 10 feet taller,
believe me. Ten feet taller.

C'mon ! Things don't get
bigger just because you're angry.

If that were true, Alec Baldwin would
be a hundred feet tall by now !

Now to be fair,

Trump has thought through how
he will get Mexico to foot the bill:

We have a $58 billion
trade deficit with Mexico.

That's why they're going to pay.

Okay, I see. Mexico will pay,
because we have a trades deficit.

Unfortunately, that's
literally not how anything works.

We did buy 58 billion dollars more
in goods and services

from Mexico than they did
from us last year,

that money doesn't belong
to the Mexican government.

It's earned by Mexican businesses.
It's not lying around

in some centralized Scrooge McDuck
money bin labeled

"Dumb Americans' money:
do not spend on border fence."

Let's put all this aside and
let's say we did find the money.

Where would we put
a border wall ?

Now your instinct says:
"on the border".

Even that is actually
more difficult than it sounds.

We know because in 2006, George
W. Bush signed the "Secure Fence Act",

the construction of 700 miles
of fencing along the border.

A project, which then-senators Barack
Obama and Hillary Clinton voted for.

Which is terrible.
Although keep in mind,

that millions of you
voted for Taylor Hicks in 2006,

so maybe don't be quite
so quick to judge.

Soul patrol !

That fence ran into
a lot of problems, though.

In large stretches of Texas,
the border consists of the Rio Grande.

Typically, you can't build
a wall along the river,

as a 1970 treaty prohibits building

anything that "may cause obstruction
of normal flow of the river."

Some stretches of the border fence
were built considerably inland.

And as towns like Brownsville, Texas,
have learned, that can be a problem.

This here is the Rio Grande river,
cuts all the way.

You can see it makes
a natural crescent there.

This is Mexico, all back here.
Here's where the wall's built,

so all of this golf course

is stuck
between Mexico and this border fence.

That course was stuck between
the US border fence and Mexico,

in a space that, like the Queso Diablo
burrito at Qdoba,

isn't really American
but sure as shit isn't Mexican.

The ridiculousness of this situation
was not lost on the players.

Do you realize you're not really
in the United States or Mexico here ?

I don't care,
as long as I'm on the golf course.

Do you think it's helping
with security ?

No. Stupid.

That woman said in two words

what I'm taking twenty minutes
to say in this piece.

"Does the fence help ?"
"No. Stupid."

Texas became a real problem
for constructing that fence.

Because in Texas there is no federally
owned buffer along the Mexican border,

meaning the land is mostly owned
by citizens, like the Loop family,

who discovered
that three quarters of their land

would suddenly be
on the other side of the fence.

When Homeland Security asked
the Loops to sign away

rights to their land for the fence,
they said no way.

I said I'm not signing
anything at this point.

This is not possible.

Government used the power of eminent
domain and condemned their property.

And the Loops weren't alone,
hundreds of property owners

were sued by the federal government
so the fence could be built.

Perhaps the only silver lining
here might be that historically,

when the government
treats you terribly,

you at least get an offensive
football team named after you.

I guess one day we can all look
forward to the Washington Loops.

It's a sign of respect !

They're respecting their heritage,
why can't you understand that ?

The fence's damage
didn't stop there.

Michael Chertoff,
secretary of Homeland Security,

gave his department the authority
to waive 36 laws to build the fence,

including the Endangered Species Act,
the Safe Drinking Water Act,

and the Native American Graves
Protection and Repatriation act.

He even welded parts of the fence,
wearing an American eagle facemask.

And he looks like a member
of Daft Punk

if Daft Punk played
nothing but Lee Greenwood covers.

That Native American grave clause
came in horrifyingly handy,

as this Native American leader

Fragments of human remains were
found in heavy equipment tracks

on the Christian Ranch
Archaeological site,

a site now crossed by barriers
and the border road.

Imagine a bulldozer
in your family graveyard.

I think "imagine a bulldozer in your
family graveyard"

is definitely the worst verse
of John Lennon's "Imagine".

It is not my favorite.

The fence has posed dangers
to the survival in the U.S.

of everything from jaguars
to pronghorns, to pygmy owls.

Look how shocked
they look by that fact !

Although they do permanently look
like you've murdered their families.

Trump might well argue having
a wall is worth all this,

because it will stop people and
drugs flowing across the border.

But let's look at that. The most
recent authoritative estimate suggests

nearly half of the unauthorized
migrants in the U.S. entered legally,

through an airport
or a border crossing,

with visas
that they then overstayed.

It's like wearing a condom
to protect against head lice.

You could do that,
but that's not really how

you keep the thing you're
worried about from happening.

There are not some people crossing
the border where a wall would be.

But would a wall really stop them ?

What the border patrol says is that
if you build a 30 foot wall,

all it's going to do is create
a market for 31-foot ladders.

Of course.
And, by the way, remember,

when you're looking for
a 31-foot ladder, avoid Werner.

It's like dousing yourself in grease
and climbing a pile of tetanus.

Do yourself a favor
and get a Dewalt ladder.

I'm not being paid to say that.
I'm just a fan.

A fan, and a very happy customer.

Ladders are not the wall's only
weakness. Watch as Donald Trump

inadvertently stumbles
his way into a key realization:

You take precast plank.
It comes 30, 40, 50 feet long.

There's no ladder going over that.
If they ever get up there,

they're in trouble, 'cause there's
no way to get down, maybe a rope.

Yeah. Maybe a rope.

Your brilliant plan has been
undone by mankind's third invention.

As for stopping drugs,

walls and fences have not posed
much of a challenge to cartels.

In Mexico, police discovered a tunnel
used to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

Using this make shift cannon they were
shooting marijuana across the border.

These men were using a catapult
to launch drugs across the border.

Other smugglers just get somebody
with a good arm who throws it over.

If they're looking for a new recruit,
Peyton Manning is between jobs.

For many people,
efficacy is beside the point.

This wall is about
making us feel safer.

And here is where the racism
and xenophobia that we put aside

needs to be brought back.

While politicians have
supported barriers at the border,

Trump has been clear about
who we need to be protected from.

When Mexico sends its people,
they're not sending their best.

They're bringing drugs. They're
bringing crime. They're rapists.

And some, I assume,
are good people.

Trump sounds like an angry villager
running through the town square

yelling "Werewolves !
Run for your lives !"

"Though some are good werewolves,
but they're here to kill you,"

"with maybe a few exceptions,
but mostly: werewolves !"

"Run ! Werewolves love me,
but they're here to kill all of us."

While individual undocumented
immigrants committed horrible crimes.

So, obviously,
have American citizens.

Researchers find that immigrants
are less, not more,

crime prone than
their native-born counterparts.

The crime rates among immigrants
once here are relatively tiny digits,

which is something Trump
should frankly understand,

given that he has ten of them
attached to his miniscule wrists.

None of this is to say
the idea of the wall

is not still comforting
for some people,

or, as one man who actually
lives near the border puts it:

This was put up to illustrate

to Joe whoever up in Dubuque
or some place,

they see a picture of this

and their over-stuffed butts
looking at a too big TV thinking,

yeah, that'll stop 'em.

Of course it doesn't.

This guy is amazing,

shitting on the fat cat out-of-touch
metropolis that is Dubuque, Iowa.

Even if it does make the people
of Dubuque feel safer,

given everything we've seen,
is it worth it ?

We calculated that this could
conservatively cost $25 billion,

excluding the cost of both
maintenance and the land under it.

That works out to around
$77 per person.

And here is where I would like
to make a counterproposal.

If the main thing it's going to get us
is a warm sense of satisfaction,

I suggest, instead of
building that wall,

we use the money to buy every man,
woman and child in America

a Palmer waffle iron.

These beauties retail at $75 apiece,
we'd still have a billion dollars left.

This isn't one per household.
This is one per person.

You have five people in your family ?
Five waffle irons coming your way.

Not only is this cost-effective,
unless you are a really sick fuck,

this waffle iron plan would
not kill a single pygmy owl.

I know what you're thinking:
John, this is a stupid idea.

But is it ? Is it really ?
Yes, obviously, it is.

But is it significantly stupider
than Donald Trump's wall ?

This waffle iron plan
will cost less,

it'll do nearly as much to keep
out immigrants and drugs,

won't harm our relationship
with our trading partner,

if it is racist,
it's only toward Belgians,

and unlike Donald Trump's wall,
this makes fucking waffles.

So come on America,
let's ask ourselves:

what kind of country do
we want to wake up to ?

One that spends billions on an
impractical symbol of fear ?

Or one that smells like breakfast ?
Exactly. And now, this.

And now...

The sexual tension on CBS this morning
is going through the fucking roof.

What you've done to me ?

You make me feel so good inside !

- And I just want to be...
- So close to you !

You make me feel so alive...

- The news is back in the morning.
- I'm gonna die and go to heaven.

And finally tonight: a few more
words on the Supreme Court,

site of more flowy black robes than
Mariah Carey packing for a funeral.

The senate is stalling confirmation
hearings for Merrick Garland.

But we at Last Week Tonight do
not have the luxury of time on this.

If there is even a chance
Garland might be confirmed,

that is going to impact
our all dog Supreme Court.

These are the dogs we use to re-enact
Supreme Court oral arguments

because cameras
are not allowed in the courtroom.

This new dog will have some
big paw prints to fill.

'Cause while Antonin Scalia
was a divisive figure on the court,

bulldog Scalia was universally beloved
due to his cheerful demeanor

and his ability to avoid
humping Justice Kagan,

which frankly could not be said
for all the justices.

I'm talking to you, Samuel Alito.
Bad justice.

If Merrick Garland
is going to take Scalia's place,

we need a dog
who captures his essence.

Tonight, we're asking you
to advise and consent

as we pick from among
these three fantastic dog justices,

any one of whom could
effectively portray Merrick Garland.

Now from left, we have Mollie,
who if appointed would be

the first miniature schnauzer
on the highest dog court in the land.

In the middle, there is Biscuit,
a pug with nuanced opinions

on drug sentencing laws and
time-out for sitting on the couch.

And finally, there is Winston,

a terrier known for his blistering
dissents and glossy coat.

Winston still makes time for his wife
of nearly two years and their 37 kids.

These... Calm down, Winston.
These are your options, America.

They look entirely
different from one another,

and yet, somehow all look
exactly like Merrick Garland.

Please tweet your choice,
Mollie, Biscuit or Winston,

to #doggarland, and we will
take them into due consideration.

Even though the senate is refusing
to decide something important,

we can still decide on something
monumentally stupid.

That is our show.
Thank you so much for watching.

We'll be back in two weeks.
Goodnight ! Good boy.