Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 4, Episode 24 - Episode #4.24 - full transcript

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Season IV
Episode 24

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

Thank you for joining us.
Another frantic week.

A new and terrible health care bill
was pushed in the Senate,

the president called Kim Jong Un
"Rocket Man" at the UN,

there were developments in
Mueller's Russia investigation

and this weekend,
all hell broke loose.

The president picking
a fight with professional athletes.

Taking aim at players
like Colin Kaepernick

who protested by taking a knee
during the national anthem.

Wouldn't you love to see
one of these NFL owners,

when somebody
disrespects our flag, to say:

get that son of a bitch off the field,
he's fired !

Putting aside the free-speech
implications there,

how is kneeling in front
of a flag more disrespectful to it

than grinding it against
your gnarled, old boner ?

I'm afraid it is true: the president
of the US took time out

while three million American citizens
in Puerto Rico are without power

to call Colin Kaepernick
a son of a bitch.

Kaepernick's own mother
magnificently responding:

"guess that makes me
a proud bitch !"

That was one of many eye-catching
responses to Trump,

including Bills running back
LeSean McCoy tweeting:

"it's really sad, man, dot dot dot,
our president is an asshole".

Many more players took a knee

and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
denounced the president's comments.

When you have lost the moral
high ground to Roger Goodell,

something is horribly wrong.

Which is not to say that Trump did not
have his supporters,

and none were more vigorous
than Fox News's Jeanine Pirro,

who delivered a calm and measured
address to those kneeling players.

America's been incredibly good
to every one of you

from the time you displayed
talent in sports as a youth,

America's allowed you to shine
and become financially prosperous.

There are so many of you who make
tens of millions of dollars.

Shame on you.
Shame on all of you.

No one wants to hear about politics
from a wildly successful athlete.

You only want to hear about them
from an abject failure of a prosecutor

who somehow let Robert Durst
slip through her fingers.

Jeanine, there's a flag behind you,
have some fucking respect.

Let's move on, because I would like
to focus on a pair of scandals

concerning officials
and their use of planes.

Tom Price had taken at least
two dozen private-plane trips

since he became health secretary,

which by one estimate has cost
taxpayers more than $400 000.

An occasional private jet flight
may be necessary for officials.

But for many of these flights,
including one to Philadelphia,

it turns out far less costly
alternatives were available

as CNN's graphics department

There was a commercial flight
departing just minutes earlier.

That commercial flight would have
cost between $500 and $700.

There was also the option of Amtrak.
A train from DC to Philadelphia,

even in first class, would've cost
no more than a few hundred dollars.

The same trip by car would've cost
an estimated $18 in gasoline

each way for an SUV.

Price could've taken a Greyhound bus
for either 10 dollars or a hand-job.

Or he could've just Razor scootered
himself there instead.

Or even fired himself out of a cannon
and saved us all a lot of money.

According to Politico, he may've
paid $25 000 for that trip,

which is disgraceful.

Not as disgraceful as this
mustache he used to have.

But still, unforgiveable. It's like
his upper lip is being haunted

by the mustache of a
17th-century sex offender.

But for sheer brazenness here,
Price has to take a reclinable backseat

to treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin,
a man whose appearance answer to:

"what if income inequality dressed up
as me, John Oliver, for Halloween ?"

That's mean, to both of us...
Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton,

seen here on her wedding day,
silently reminding herself,

that this is exactly what she wanted,

stepped in trouble when accompanied
her husband on a trip to Kentucky.

It all started when Louise Linton
posted a picture of herself

getting off a government plane,
mentioning labels from her outfit,

including Hermes and Tom Ford.

An Oregon woman responded:

"glad we could pay
your little get away. #deplorable."

Linton fired back: "pretty sure
the amount we sacrifice per year"

"is more than you'd be willing
to sacrifice"

and "you're adorably out of touch."

It's a little ironic that Linton,
who actually tagged her photo

"hashtag ValentinoRockstudHeels",
is calling someone else out of touch.

Rockstud heels ? Really, Louise ?

What is this, Valentino's Fall 2010
ready to-wear show ?

Is there some asymmetrical pastel
organza you'd like to pair them with ?

Maybe something floaty
with a scalloped hem ?

Or is it seven years ago only
from the ankle-down ?

If you've never seen Valentino
rockstud heels, first: congratulations,

Google-image: "a stylist phones it in
for a CW star's red carpet appearance"

"at the People's Choice Awards"
and you will find them.

The strangest part of Linton's
response came when she wrote:

"do you think the US govt paid for
our honeymoon or personal travel ?"

I hadn't considered that, but now that
you've brought it up: yes, definitely.

Guess what we found out last week ?

Multimillionaire treasury
secretary Steven Mnuchin requested

that he and his new wife, Louise,
regularly seen in designer clothes

with purses at $10 000 plus,
be allowed to travel in style

in a government jet
on their honeymoon to Europe.

A man worth an estimated $300 million
asked to use a government jet.

And the request was later
withdrawn, which is good,

because that would've been
a breathtaking waste of money.

That is saying something for Mnuchin

considering that
he invested in Collateral Beauty.

A movie that was, and not a lot
of people know this, a movie.

Mnuchin is still facing questions over
whether he arranged that trip,

it happened to be the perfect spot
from which to view the solar eclipse.

Mnuchin denied that, and, casually
insulted the entire state of Kentucky.

People in Kentucky took
this stuff very seriously.

Being a New Yorker, in California,
I was like,

I don't have any interest
in watching the eclipse.

What are you talking about ?

It's a fucking eclipse,
not a Broadway show.

I live in Manhattan so
I see eclipses all the time.

I'll leave work a little early, grab
a pre-eclipse dinner at Joe Allen.

I don't have time to go to Kentucky
to see some touring-company eclipse.

I know Mnuchin and Price's scandals
are not the biggest in the world.

For this administration,
they're nostalgically quaint.

But to quote America's
loudest legal mind,

America has been
incredibly good to them.

It's allowed them to shine, and
become financially prosperous

and they've made million dollars.

They have disgraced the American
taxpayer. So shame on you.

Shame on both of you.

And now this.

A preview of Megyn Kelly's
new morning show.

In a world, in a country that
is incredibly divided right now,

my hope is that this show
can be a unifying force.

And now look at the "unifying force"
that is Megyn Kelly.

Gay rights are more protected
and recognized in this country.

Christian beliefs and rights,
not so much.

This is about the attempted war
on the religious right, not on women.

For all you kids watching at home,
Santa just is white.

Jesus was a white man.

The decision to drop the now-infamous
voter intimidation case

against members
of the New Black Panther Party.

The New Black Panther case.
The New Black Panther Party,

out there saying we gotta go
kill some cracker babies.

Do you hate white people ?
Is Obama playing the race card ?

Now people made this a race thing.
Do black lives matter, or all lives ?

Last night's debate
found five presidential contenders

suggesting black lives may have
more value than all lives.

Are these just thugs ?
Thugs is not far off the mark.

The thug mentality,
and that's a controversial term,

that it's cool to sort of hate
the cops and hang out

and be somebody who doesn't
prize being there for your family.

Illegals. Late-term abortions.
Death panels. War on Christmas.

Benghazi. Look at that moron.
Cupcake nation alert !

A culture of victimization.
If you watch those VMAs,

you wonder if in 25 years they're
gonna be openly having sex on stage.

Why can't we acknowledge the role God
played in formation of this country ?

You get on TV every night
and state what you believe to be true.

- I do. I state what I believe...
- You're opinion guy. I'm journalist.

Moving on. Tonight, I would like
to talk to you about business:

the thing that everyone on "Shark Tank"
thinks they have a great idea for,

even this guy !

Our cakes are made of foam
and they're rentals.

Wait: so I can neither have
my cake nor eat it, too ? I am in.

Here is a million dollars.

Small startup businesses like that hold
a special place in America's heart

and politicians love to talk
about how important they are.

Small business is the backbone
of the American economy.

Small businesses are the backbone
of this nation's economy.

Small businesses are
the backbone of our economy.

Small businesses are
the backbones of our economy.

It's true. "Small businesses
are the backbone of our economy"

is that rare thing that
every politician agrees on.

It's that, "support the troops",
"Ted Cruz can go fuck himself"

and South Dakota senator John Thune
can get it, he can get it.

It can feel like we're in a golden age
of small business startups,

but the rate at which new businesses
are created been falling since 1970.

And one of the reasons is that big
businesses have been getting bigger.

Which brings us to our main topic:
corporate consolidation.

Recent years have seen record highs
for mergers and acquisitions,

as you would know if you've watched
reactions they get on business news.

M&A has been hot,
continues to be hot.

An exciting year for M&A.

A few blockbuster deals. They call
it Merger Monday on Wall Street.

It is shaping up to be another
Merger Monday.

Don't call it Merger Monday
for nothing.

Media Mega Merger Monday...

Merger Monday ?!?
At last we have one. And I sayý

That is a little nauseating.

But also pressing a button on TV
is a little bit dangerous.

Someone could take that footage
and then loop any sound they want.

I am not immature enough to do that.
If I were, it would look like this.

Merger Monday ?!?
At last we have one. And I say...

The point is all this merger activity

helped make some sectors of our
economy ridiculously consolidated.

The US has gone from having 10 large
airlines back in 2000 to just 4 today.

And those 4 mega airlines
now dominate

more than
80% of the US market.

We're down
to just four major airline choices.

That does not include Jet Blue,
that is not actually an airline.

It's just an expensive way to eat
those weird blue chips,

which are, and this is true,
just sliced Grover arms.

Airlines are just the beginning.
The rental car business

is now 90 percent dominated
by just three companies.

The US beer industry is 70 percent
controlled by just two companies.

And online search
engines are, as we all know,

dominated by one major player.

That's right, say it with me: Bing.

That's right, Bing:
the best way to Google something.

Even our own parent company,
Time Warner,

is currently trying
to merge with AT&T,

which makes this story
dangerous for us to do.

Presuming that AT&T's
executives manage to get

their shitty service
working long enough to see it.

AT&T: it's the top telecom company
around, alphabetically, nothing else.

Even brands you might think of as indie
now have multinational owners.

Burt's Bees ? It's not run by
a backwoods bee-fucker called Burt,

it's run by Clorox.

Tom's of Maine, the deodorant
which didn't deodorize your roommate ?

That's now owned
by Colgate-Palmolive.

And then there is Goose Island.
Now their ads

feature beardy brewers
rubbing hops on their faces.

They don't mention Goose Island
is owned by Anheuser-Busch

and that farm that you just saw
is located at 822 Budweiser Loop.

It's presumably just past
Bud Light Lime-A-Rita Boulevard.

If you see the mass grave of Clydesdale
horses, turn left and you're there.

It says something about the rapid rate
of mergers that even Jim Cramer

occasionally finds himself in disbelief
at one happening.

Watch him react to a mega-merger
in the aluminum can industry.

Ball Corp's acquisition of Rexxam

is taking the number of competitors
in this space down from 3 to 2.

How did they let that happen ?

It's not great when a business-casual
Louis C.K. with a sound effects board

is saying: "Holy shit,
this was a really bad idea."

But "how did they let that happen ?"
is a really good question

and the answer is interesting.

We have had antitrust laws on the books
for more than a century.

I'm not saying that
every single merger is bad.

Businesses getting bigger can lead to
greater efficiencies and improvements.

The tension is between allowing that
and preventing them from doing harm.

So it's a balance. But since
the late 1970s,

that balance has tipped in
favor of being merger-friendly.

Which led to problems.
Let's start with the obvious:

for workers, mergers
can often mean big layoffs.

It's not just employees
that can suffer, consumers can, too,

as Jim Cramer explained,
in that aluminum-can segment

in an inexplicably sarcastic tone.

I always say competition,
while great for you a consumer,

is anathema to profits.

Sometimes a business will be a total
monopoly with no competition.

While that's the ideal,
it's rare to see a genuine monopoly

because it's against the law.

Which brings us
to the next best thing: an oligopoly,

where a handful of companies
control an entire industry,

coexisting without much
in the way of price competition.

That's a weird tone to use to describe
something that's awful.

"It's rare to see genuine bestiality,
because it's against the law,"

"which brings us
to the next best thing:"

"having sex with a stuffed animal while
looking at pictures of a real horse."

For a sense of what it can look like
when "a handful of companies coexist"

"without much in the way of
price competition," look at airlines.

In 2012, one airline executive told
an industry conference,

consolidation allowed us to do things
like ancillary revenues,

which is jargon for all those fees
that drive you crazy.

American was the first major airline
to charge you

for your first checked bag,
back in 2008.

And back then,
people could not believe it.

American Airlines will soon charge
15 dollars for the first checked bag.

That's on top of a fee
of $25 for your second one.

Fifteen dollars ? I'll have
to put my underwear in my pockets !

Yes. First: that is clearly
a delightful man.

It does make you wonder whether
he fills his bags full of underwear

and nothing else.

But within months, most major
airlines followed American's lead

and it was the industry standard.

And it is easy for that to happen

when there's only
a handful of big players.

Since then, they've increased
bag fees multiple times,

which is how those fees have gone
from generating

around $540 million a year a decade
ago, to $4.2 billion now.

If I wanted exorbitant fees
that keep getting raised all the time

despite shitty service,
I'd become a customer of AT&T.

Fuck you, AT&T. Even if you take over,
you'll never be my real dad !

You may well be angry with the service
you get from airlines,

but thanks to consolidation,
they don't really need to give a shit.

Remember that awful video
that went around earlier this year ?

The shocking images of a passenger
caught in a travel nightmare.

A man shaken as he's yanked
and then dragged off a United jet

by law enforcement after
refusing to give up his seat.

That is the most horrifying thing
you can see on an airplane,

unless your in-flight movie
is "The Boss Baby".

A movie that combines the
unbearable smugness of Alec Baldwin

with the unbearable smugness
of a baby.

People said it was a PR nightmare,
there was talk of boycotting United.

On certain routes,
they're the only option.

So a boycott is going to be
pretty hard to pull off.

That is why their CEO was able to open
his earnings call for that quarter,

by describing a period in which

a passenger had his teeth knocked out
on one of United's planes, like this.

Welcome to a terrific second quarter,
strong financial results

and even more
incredible operational results...

As you think of our customers, I thank
them for their loyalty and support.

We continue to find
new and better ways to service them

and make them more comfortable
on our airline.

Is it really any wonder that
their earnings stayed solid ?

United is sometimes the only way
to get to where you are going,

which explains their new slogan:

"You want to rollerblade
to Houston ? Shut up and get in."

And when an industry
gets too consolidated,

any company trying to compete
or survive in their supply chain

can get crushed.

Now we all know about
Amazon, Walmart, or Google,

but there are less obvious examples,
take eyewear.

If you go into a LensCrafters,
you will see frames from brands

like Prada, Dolce and Gabbana,
Burberry and Ralph Lauren,

all of which are made by
an Italian company called Luxottica.

Which, incidentally,
also own LensCrafters

and Sunglass Hut, and Pearle Vision
and runs Target Optical

and Sears Optical.

What happens when a smaller company
goes up against them ? Ask Oakley.

Oakley was a big competitor.
They had a fight with Luxottica.

Luxottica basically said: "We're
dropping you from our stores."

They refused to sell
their glasses in their stores.

They dropped Oakley,
Oakley's stock price collapsed.

There were some issues in
the beginning of the 2000s.

Both understood
that it was better to go along.

- We merged with Oakley in 2007.
- You bought Oakley.

They tried to compete and they lost
and then you bought them.

I understand your theory, but they
understood life was better together.

That is the menacing tone
of a Bond villain.

They understood life
was better together. Mr. Bond, no ?

That is the first time
that I've ever felt sorry for Oakley,

the official sunglasses of guys
who use the term: "fingerblasting".

It's a sponsorship deal. There is
one more victim of consolidation

and that is
the products themselves.

Heavily consolidated industries can
lose the incentive to innovate.

And the best example of this may be
the cable box beneath your TV.

If you have one of those,
you probably hate it.

It's huge, glitchy, and one of
the largest energy-consuming items,

even when it's turned off.

Cable companies have no real
incentive to improve them,

they're regional monopolies.

They know that you basically
have nowhere else to go.

You can't even smash your cable
box of frustration, you are renting it

and they'll then charge you
if you don't give it back.

We went to the trouble
of blowing this one up for you.

Please take a look. There you go.
Pretty cathartic to watch, right ?

Feel free to watch it again
in slow-motion.

I want you to know:
that box suffered.

We seem to have forgotten
how important antitrust is

and now all being forced to live
with the consequences.

This issue affects almost everything
you do. Angry at banks ?

The industry is dominated
by just these four.

Frustrated with your
health insurance provider ?

Odds are, it's one of these.
If this story is infuriating you

that you are yearning
for the sweet escape of death,

bad luck because the casket industry
is controlled by these companies.

The afterlife is actually
controlled by "one" religion.

I'm not saying which one, but when
you find out, you are gonna be so mad !

The point is we have laws to prevent
the worst effects of consolidation.

And it may well be time to more
aggressively use them,

to empower the FTC and the DOJ's
antitrust divisions.

That is something most people
would really get behind,

and nearly every politician should.

After all, there is one thing
they cannot stop saying.

Small business
is the backbone of our economy.

If they really believe that,
it may be time for them

to stop talking about backbones
and actually fucking grow one.

And now this.

All of Jim Cramer's sound buttons,
replaced with fart noises.

Hedge funds that are
in trouble start selling.

Not because they want to, but
because they have to raise money

to pay back their
unhappy clients.

Things keep working out.

Is it any wonder that Norfolk Southern
Union Pacific keep running ?

Buy high, and then sell low.

A time honored way to lose money.

Sell it tomorrow.

The whole idea of saving
for retirement will put you to sleep.

Well I want you feel emboldened

As we tell you what we would do
before we pull any trigger.

I was wrong on both counts.

Moving on. Finally tonight, just
a quick word regarding trains.

Basically, buses that fuck.

We recently became obsessed
with WNEP Scranton's train.

It runs behind their
weather forecasts,

we got so obsessed
that on our last program,

we made them a large train set
and ended our show with this plea.

WNEP, call us to arrange
pickup or delivery

of the greatest backyard train
that local news has ever seen.

We built them
an enormous train set

and then demanded that they drive
two and a half hours to get it.

Which is basically
the world's worst gift,

right after giving
someone a "plant".

That is not a present.
It is an assignment.

In classic Scranton style, viewers
were split on the issue of the train,

some, like this one,
were positive.

You've got to go get that train,
that beautiful train for the backyard

that HBO made.

Your little one,
I can't even look at it now.

Come on ! There's no need
to make this about how shitty,

your words,
the regular backyard train is.

To be fair: not everyone
in Scranton liked ours, either.

I won't let some New York big shot
come and give that big, fancy train.

The hecks with them
New York fellows there.

What do they know about
trains anyway ?

That man does have a point.
The subway here proves

that New Yorkers
know nothing about trains.

Subway trains are basically
just elongated dumpsters with seats

that slowly roll through
rat-infested sadness tunnels.

Those angry callers got their wish,

our train set will not be replacing
their backyard train,

for the simple reason
that it doesn't fit in their backyard.

Which, to be completely honest,
we kind of thought might be the case.

We decided it would be funnier
to give them a really big train.

It wasn't an accident.
We're just terrible people.

But the really good news here is
that WNEP donated our train set

to Scranton's local
Electric City Trolley Museum.

Or as it's known to the children
"every fucking year's class trip".

They went all-out, even using
a police escort

to bring our train set
through Scranton.

Took a train, loaded it into a truck
and then surrounded it with cars.

So they weren't so much "going"
to a transportation museum

as "becoming" one.

And on Friday,
they celebrated the big unveiling.

Now that large train is on display
in Scranton for all to see.

John Oliver could not make
it to today's dedication,

but we were honored with the presence
of two of the show's characters:

Mr. Nutterbutter himself
and the Dancing Zebra

took part in today's festivities.

I couldn't make it,

I have to work all week to make
this show... Stephen and Jimmy.

We did send our favorite naturally
occurring barcode, the Bolivian Zebra.

And Mr. Nutterbutter,
America's furriest co-defendant.

This train adventure
has genuinely been a lot of fun

and I would like to thank
the people of Scranton,

because they found the perfect way
to say thank you,

and also to get back at me.

We have made some amendments
to it since you saw it last here.

John Oliver's face is now on it.

Well played, Scranton ! There is
no more passive aggressive way

to thank someone for a gift than by
driving a train into their face.

That is our show, we'll see you
next week, good night !