Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 4, Episode 4 - Dalai Lama - full transcript

John Oliver talks about President Trump, Jeff Sessions and Tibet. He also conducts an interview of Dalai Lama.

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Welcome to Last Week Tonight.

I'm John Oliver.
Thank you so much for joining us.

And we begin this evening
with President Trump.

Two words that still simply
do not belong together,

like baby pubes
or haunted horse.

This week the president
addressed congress

with what appeared to be
a more disciplined tone.

The time for small thinking is over.

The time
for trivial fights is behind us.

Ok, here's the thing about that.

That's supposed to be
a reassuring statement,

but it could go either way.

Time for trivial fights is behind us.
The time for major fights is here.

Which is why I am launching
a full-scale invasion of Australia.

Who's with me ?

The speech got rave reviews
and for almost 24 hours,

seemed the White House might
be getting on track.

Until this happened:

Washington Post reporting that
Attorney General Jeff Sessions

when he was still a senator and
an adviser to the Trump campaign

had meetings
with Russia's Ambassador

but did not disclose them
during his confirmation hearings.

Jeff Sessions, Trump's attorney general
and the unfortunate result

of Dobby the house elf's one
night stand with a confederate flag

got in trouble this week

for undisclosed meetings
with Russia's Ambassador.

Something, which in itself,
is not against the law.

Sessions' confirmation
hearing featured this exchange.

If there is any evidence that anyone
affiliated with the Trump campaign

communicated with the Russian
government in this campaign,

what will you do ?

Senator Franken, I'm not aware
of any of those activities.

I have been called a surrogate
at a time or two in that campaign

and I didn't have communications
with the Russians

and I'm unable to comment.

There is an obvious problem:
what he just said is not true.

The weirder thing is
that was an unforced error.

He wasn't even asked whether
he'd met with the Russians.

He implicated
himself out of the blue.

Which should have been
immediately suspicious.

If you ask how your
weekend was and they say:

"I wasn't masturbating into
the Slurpee machine at the 7-11,"

you check the security cameras at
the 7-11 and you don't act surprised.

You can sort of tell that
Sessions knew he'd fucked up,

because watch his expression

I didn't have communications
with the Russians

and I'm unable
to comment on it.

Very well.
Without divulging sensitive...

He looked right at the camera.

He looks like he's about to loosen his
collar and audibly say the word "gulp."

Sessions recused himself from
investigating anything to do

with Russia and Trump campaign,
but it might not be enough.

There are multiple
calls for his resignation,

the most forceful
was a damning tweet that read:

"that's not good enough.
You need to resign"

posted by the band Smash Mouth.

You know what they say:
as goes Smash Mouth,

so goes about 8 000 people, tops.

It wasn't just Sessions meeting
with Russian officials last year.

Trump campaign operatives,
including J.D. Gordon and Carter Page,

met with the Russian Ambassador,
as did Jared Kushner.

Nothing inherently wrong there.
But it doesn't look great that

every time Trump associates
are asked about Russia,

they respond like they're
trying to hide something.

Watch former policy advisor
Carter Page on Thursday.

Did you meet Sergey Kislyak
in Cleveland, did you talk to him ?

- I'm not gonna deny that.
- So you did talk to him !

I never met him anywhere
outside of Cleveland.

The only time that
you met him was in Cleveland ?

I may have met him, possibly,
it might have been in Cleveland.

Cleveland is more of a state
of mind than a physical place !

When I need to delay an orgasm,
I "go to Cleveland" in my mind.

Sometimes I meet Sergey Kislyak
there. Does that count ?

Am I still talking ?

A pattern of suspicious responses
you trace back to last summer,

when Paul Manafort, Trump's
then-campaign manager, did this.

Trump has no financial relationships
with any Russian oligarchs.

That's what he said.

That's what I said, that's
obviously what our position is.

Holy shit.
That was so unconvincing,

it probably set off an
unplugged polygraph machine.

I went in to get some paper clips

and the needle
was just going crazy.

It is not clear
what is really going on here yet.

One possibility is that this amounts
to what I'll call "stupid Watergate":

a potential scandal with
all the intrigue of Watergate,

except everyone involved is
really bad at everything,

and the relevant question isn't: "what
did the president know and when ?"

as it is: "is the President physically
capable of knowing things at all ?"

Yesterday, he decided this was the best
way to dispel everyone's suspicions.

It was before sunrise in Palm Beach,
when the president of the US

took to Twitter to make one
of his most stunning accusations ever.

"Terrible. Just found out that Obama
had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower"

"just before the victory,
nothing found."

Followed by four more outbursts
taking on Obama and misspelling tap.

Let me give you some context
for where we are:

in 1992, Dan Quayle
misspelled "potato"

and it became one of the most famous
dumb moments in political history.

Now the President is so busy hurling
conspiracy theories around

we can't even pause to enjoy
the fact he misspelled the word "tap".

And his evidence for suggesting Obama
committed a crime seems pretty thin.

The president cited no proof,
it is not clear tonight

whether he based his allegations
on a top secret White House briefing.

Or whether it came from reading
an article on the Breitbart website,

that detailed speculation

from a conspiracy-loving
talk show host, Mark Levin.

We can now declare Trump has a worse
media diet than the Son of Sam Killer

and he got all his news from a talking
dog who told him to murder.

Rather than providing evidence
to support the accusation,

the White House urged
congress to look into the allegations.

It seems odd that a president
would issue a firm statement of fact,

and then launch an investigation
to try and support that claim,

something pointed out
to a White House spokesperson.

The President of the United States

is accusing the former president
of wiretapping him.

I think that this is again,
something that if this happened.

If... Why is the president
saying it did happen ?

He's going off of information that
he's seen that has led him to believe

that this is a very real potential.

Let's break that down. She "thinks"
the president saw information

that led him to "believe"
that this is a real "potential".

I guess this is just how
things are going to work now.

The president once saw a banana
with a bruise

that looked like a picture
in an article he read in a dream

and that is why
we're at fucking war.

Deep down we probably knew
this week would end this way.

And if you need proof of that,
just look at Paul Ryan's face

immediately after Trump made
his call for an end to triviality.

The time for trivial fights
is behind us.

We just need the courage to share
the dreams that fill our hearts.

That is the face of a man thinking
"don't laugh, he's the President."

Which incidentally should now be
the official slogan of the Republicans.

And now, this.

Does anyone know
if CNN's Brooke Baldwin

would consider herself a nerd ?

All right,
my fellow pop culture nerds.

All right, you Apple nerds,
myself included.

Here's how big of a nerd I am.
All of us political nerds.

I was a huge nerd
and watched the entire last debate.

Kinda put on my news nerd hat.
I'm a bit of a word nerd.

I was a bit of a Shakespeare nerd.
Big music nerd.

Wanted to have a geek out moment.

I'm an archaeology geek.
A self-professed geek myself.

Thank you for allowing me
to get my Supreme Court geek on.

As a huge space geek.
All right, my fellow space geeks.

All right, my fellow space nerds.
Thank you, my fellow space nerd.

I'm a bit of a nerd
about these things.

Are you geeking out like me ?
Is this not amazing ?

Thank you for having a nerd moment
with me here live on CNN.

Moving on. For our main story tonight,
we'd like to talk about

someone you may not have thought
about for a while: the Dalai Lama.

A man so enlightened he's basically
the original woke bae.

According to a Gallup Poll,

the Dalai Lama is the sixth
most admired man in America.

When you mention his name,
you can see how widely he's revered.

Lotta respect,
inspiration for what he says.

He says a lot of good quotes.

He has some great quotes about life.

He said
a lot of good things.

I guess he's a peaceful man.

He's about peace.

So, he's peaceful, admired
and has some good quotes.

That is pretty broad. They could be
describing either the Dalai Lama

or Matthew McConaughey.

Watch what happens when those
people are asked a simple follow-up:

What would you say
the Dalai Lama does ?

I have no idea,
I'm not even gonna lie.

I'm not really sure.

He's a very important figure
for Hinduism ?

- He's a Buddhist god, right ?
- He's a real person.

- He's alive.
- Shit.

He just said: "oh shit" like
he owes the Dalai Lama money.

He's alive ? Shit ! I gotta disappear.
That guy does not fuck around.

The Chinese government
have a very different view:

instead of vaguely loving
the Dalai Lama,

they very specifically hate him.

They've referred to him
as "a wolf in monk's robes",

and have banned his image.

They've retaliated against Americans
for even meeting with him.

Britain's Guardian says China
reportedly banned Lady Gaga,

because she met with the Dalai Lama
to discuss yoga.

Not only is it incredible
they banned her for that.

It's incredible
that event happened.

Lady Gaga was with the Dalai Lama
in Indianapolis discussing yoga.

Slightly less ridiculous than
Elton John meeting Ben Bernanke

on Easter Island
to talk about Roombas.

The Chinese government's hatred
stems from its desire to control Tibet,

a region in southwest China.

Tibet was something of a celebrity
cause in the 1990s,

there were Tibetan Freedom concerts

and Richard Gere
brought it up at the Oscars.

I was wondering
what this kind of...

If something miraculous and kind
of movie-like could happen here,

where we could all kind of send
love and truth and kind of sanity

to Deng Xiaoping
right now in Beijing.

That he will take his troops and
take the Chinese away from Tibet

and allow these people to live
as free, independent people again.

We send this thought,
send this thought out...

We send this thought,
we send it out right now...

I'm sorry,
there's been a mistake.

The thoughts are supposed to be
sent to the producers of "Moonlight".

This is not a joke. Moonlight !
These thoughts are for you !

There's been a horrible mistake.
Moonlight, take the thoughts.

There is a lot about Tibet
that you might not actually know.

It's larger than you probably think.
China say it's this area

but Tibetan exiles will say
it's even larger,

encompassing an area that
is roughly a quarter of China.

So it's very big,
in a confusing way,

also how director Lars Von Trier
characterized Willem Dafoe's dick.

He told reporters: "Too big. Everybody
got confused when they saw it."

Tibet is the Willem Dafoe's dick
of planet Earth. Surprisingly large.

The point is,
China invaded Tibet in 1950,

and imposed strict controls on
the institutions of Tibetan Buddhism.

Temples have been destroyed

and hundreds of thousands
of Tibetans have been killed.

When Freedom House scored

countries and territories for
political rights and civil liberties,

Tibet came in second-worst
behind Syria

and ahead of both Somalia
and North Korea.

The whole territory is
a gross human rights violation,

another way that Lars Von Trier
described Willem Dafoe's penis.

The clearest sign of just how bad
conditions are is the fact that,

since early 2009, 146 Tibetans
self-immolated in Tibet and China,

setting themselves
on fire in protest.

To which the Chinese police have been
less than sympathetic.

When Lobsang was on fire,
Chinese police came

and they caught him
and beat him.

Because Lobsang was on fire,
the police's clothes caught on fire.

So later, the police
are demanding Lobsang's family

that they need compensation
for the burning of their own clothes.

Every part of that is horrifying.

And China is unlikely
to loosen its grip on the region.

Tibet has rich resources,
from gold and lithium,

to rivers supplying hydroelectric power
and water to over a billion people.

They are very sensitive to any
perceived threat to their control,

which brings us back
to the Dalai Lama.

He's been both a spiritual and
political leader of Tibetan Buddhists,

a cross between
a Pope and a president.

A "Popesident," if you will.
But you shouldn't, so please don't.

China has done everything over
the years to diminish his power.

He even fled Tibet in 1959,
under fear of arrest,

an escape that was reported

by the most British man
who has ever lived.

The young Dalai Lama, revered by
his people as a living Buddha,

was reported under arrest
by the Reds.

But, according to other sources,
is safely in hiding.

Red tyranny is not wanted
by these intensely religious people.

Yes, damn that unwanted
creeping Red tyranny !

Down with those
thieving imperialists !

And good night to her majesty's
subjects in Bahrain, Maldives,

Rhodesia, Jamaica, Barbados,
Kenya and Uganda.

Nighty-night. Sleepytight.

For over 50 years, the Dalai Lama
has lived in exile in India.

And he's lived quite a life. He's met
with the last four presidents.

When he was a child,
FDR gave him a beautiful

Patek Philippe pocket-watch,
which he still has to this day.

George W. Bush gave him an even
greater gift by painting his portrait.

This portrait.

I'd give Bush's skills as an artist

the same review I give his time as
president: not bad for a five year old.

Dalai Lama officially stepped down

from running the Tibetan government
in exile in 2011.

But he is still of profound importance
to the Tibetan people

as a spiritual leader
and as a figurehead.

Here is where
this story gets absolutely amazing.

He's 81 years old. So thoughts have
turned to his next reincarnation.

It turns out, there's a bit
of a problem with that.

Broadly speaking,
when the Dalai Lama dies,

he reincarnates
as a child somewhere on Earth.

A key person in the process of finding
him is the Panchen Lama.

When the Panchen Lama dies,
Dalai Lama plays a similar role

in finding him and so on.

They're playing
a Buddhist version of hide-and-seek.

The ninth Panchen Lama helped
identify the current Dalai Lama,

who in turn, identified this six-year
old boy as the Panchen Lama.

It gets tricky because that boy has
not been seen in more than 20 years.

These are the last known pictures
of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima,

the boy chosen
to be Panchen Lama.

Chinese authorities rejected
his appointment,

arrested the boy and his family.

China kidnapped a six-year-old,
and no one has heard from him,

although just two years ago,
a senior Chinese official said:

he is being "educated,
living a normal life,"

"growing up healthily and
does not wish to be disturbed."

Sounds like the kind of thing a
former child star's publicist

would scream into a phone:

"She's growing up healthy,
living a normal life."

Those track marks on her arms
are where they inject vitamins.

She's fine.

China didn't stop at just
stealing the Panchen Lama.

They had another trick
up their sleeve.

In an attempt to discredit
the Dalai Lama's choice,

Chinese officials used a 200-year-old
ceremony to name their Panchen Lama.

Yes ! They made
their own fake Panchen Lama !

They counterfeited a religious
leader like a knockoff handbag.

That doesn't say "Coach".
That says "Cough !"

China's tactics here are obvious:
if they control the Panchen Lama,

they can use him to pick
a new Dalai Lama who might,

coincidentally, be very favorable
to the Chinese government.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama
is pretty pissed off about this.

One thing that I want to make clear,

that as far
as my own rebirth is concerned,

the final authority is myself.

No one else. And obviously,
not Chinese Communists.

That is some forceful language too.
He's basically saying:

"They can make that decision
over my dead body",

except specifically not that.

He's now saying that he will either
not reincarnate as the Dalai Lama

or, if he does, it won't be inside
Chinese-controlled Tibet.

When he dies, we could plausibly
wind up with two rival Dalai Lamas

and the already fraught situation
in Tibet could spiral out of control.

There is only one person
who can fill you in

on what is happening
in the Dalai Lama's head,

but he lives in India, and
that is a 14-hour flight away.

I went to speak to the Dalai Lama
in India. Enjoy.

I traveled to the Himalayan
foothills of Dharamsala, India,

a journey that involved
more uphill walking, cows

and monkey traffic
than I'd been led to believe.

All to talk with the Dalai Lama
about China, conditions in Tibet

and what comes next for him.

Your Holiness, it is
an honor to speak to you.

- May I say, "tashi delek".
- Tashi delek. Thank you.

- How is my pronunciation ?
- I think very good.

I just started learning Tibetan
40 seconds ago.

Let's talk about China,

because the Chinese government
absolutely hates you, don't they ?


One government official said you're
a wolf wrapped in monk's robes.

And photos of you
are forbidden in many places.

You don't, to me,
look like an evil wolf.

- They describe me as a demon.
- You're a demon. Yeah.

Then, I immediately reacted yes,
I am demon, with horn.

- That's the classic demon, right ?
- Yes.

When they look at you,
that's what they see.

Whatever they want to say,
that is their freedom.

I have no negative feeling.
I just feel love, like that.

I practice, you see,
taking others' anger, suspicion,

distrust and give them patience,
tolerance and compassion.

I practice that.

It seems the Chinese government
are particularly good

at taking your positivity,
turning it back into negativity

and oppression of the Tibetan people,
and they hand it back to you.

Outside the Dalai Lama's temple
is a local memorial,

honoring Tibetans who've
self-immolated in protest,

acts that put him
in a very difficult position.

This is a hard question.
The self-immolation that has happened,

140 Tibetans have burned themselves,
it is very sad.

Indeed, yes.

Why is it hard to definitively
tell them to stop doing it ?

This is, I find,
very difficult sort of situation.

That right from the beginning,
when I first heard that,

firstly I expressed
my sort of sadness.

if I say their action is wrong,

then their family,
they feel very sad.

One of their family member did
something against Dalai Lama's wish.

I don't want to create that.
Then suddenly I cannot support that.

Act of killing, from Buddhist
viewpoint, self-killing not good.

So therefore,
my position is very difficult.

So then, best thing
is remain silence, keep quiet.

The Dalai Lama is painfully aware
how powerful his words are

and he uses them in targeted
and surprisingly specific ways,

like this example, which he offered up
out of nowhere.

One of my previous visit Mongolia,

they took lot of vodka,
the Russian sort of hard...

They like a drink. Yeah, vodka.

Then, I suggested drink
much less vodka.

They love to hear that.

Instead of that, traditional sort
of drink, horse milk.

- Wait, hold on.
- Horse milk.

You tried to wean them off vodka
by giving them horse milk.

- Yes. Then, they follow.
- What ?

They really follow.
Since then, you see,

I think majority of Mongolian
no longer any drink.

Hold on, that is a huge claim.
You cured Mongolia of alcoholism.

- Using horse milk.
- Yes.

Yeah, not to labor the point,
I'm just concerned.

I would see horse milk and I'd think
that came from a horse.

That's illogical. What's differences,
cow milk and horse milk ?

One comes out of a cow,

the other I don't know how
you get it out of a horse.

We were having fun and I knew
how to keep the party going.

Let's talk about a lighter subject:

You are going to die and when you do,
it's going to be a massive problem,

because there are issues regarding
your reincarnation regarding China.

I do not much
concern about that.

My main concern is wellbeing
of seven billion human being,

and then preservation
of rich Buddhist tradition.

- Which we kept.
- You're intertwined with that.

You see, individual person,
not much important.

But you're the Dalai Lama.

Buddhism over 2 600 years
still very much alive.

So, do you think you might be
the last Dalai Lama ?

- Very possible.
- You do ?

- Yes.
- You might be it ?

If I become last Dalai Lama,
I feel very happy.

- Because you were a good one ?
- I may say, quite intelligent.

You're calling yourself intelligent ?
A little bit of arrogance there.

But if you don't resolve
your reincarnation issue,

are you not worried that China
will appoint their own Dalai Lama

and he may not speak
like you're speaking now ?

That also, may I say so...
That's also one of the foolish act.

- Short-sighted.
- China ?

Without using human brain
properly. It's harmful.

That is a guaranteed way to calm
the Chinese government,

to tell them they're not using
the human brain properly.

I told them, our brain have
the ability to create common sense.

The Chinese hardliners,
that part of brain is missing.

I think the Chinese leaders,
Chinese Communists,

they are concerned
about image of China.

I'm happy to sit here
and criticize China with you,

because the consequences for me are
not as bad as they are for you.

They call me demon.
So I want another demon.

So you become demon.

No, you can't transfer, you can't
reincarnate the demon into me.

- Yes.
- No, don't make me a demon.

No, you can't do it.
Can he do that ?

- As I mentioned, you see...
- No.

This is not how I wanted
this interview to go.

Dalai Lama seems determined to keep
his reincarnation plans private,

leaving millions of Tibetans
waiting for an answer,

and as our time drew to a close,
I wanted to cement our friendship.

You were given a watch by
President Roosevelt, is that true ?

Yes. True. At that time,
I think one Patek Philippe.

- Patek Phillippe, a beautiful watch.
- Pocket watch.

I have a special gift for you. Not
a beautiful watch from a president,

but it is a special watch
from me.

Here it is. It's a calculator watch.
Right ?

Roosevelt may have given you a fancy
watch, but that is water resistant.

Wonderful. Thank you.
Roosevelt watch I think old-fashioned.

This new-fashion.

Not so much
new-fashioned as from the 1980s.

Thank you so much.

Thank you, my demon friend.
It was an honor.

That's our show, thanks for watching.
See you next week, good night !