Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 5, Episode 11 - Venezuela - full transcript

Venezuela is in deep economic crisis. People in Venezuela are suffering immensely for the epic management from Nicolás Maduro's government. That is why people are now taking desperate ...

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


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

Thank you so much for joining us.
You might be thinking right now,

"Didn't you shut down the show
last week,"

"after Russell Crowe named
a koala chlamydia ward after you ?"

Yes, I did. I did do that.

I went to Australia
to go work with the koalas.

But then I learned
two important things:

HBO contracts are a little harder
to get out of than I thought,

and these little horny fuckers
are not as cute as you'd expect.

They are nasty, they're mean,
they're not even technically bears,

and they kept asking whether or not
I knew James Corden and I don't !

I don't know him !
But I hear terrible things !

So unfortunately for everybody,
this show must continue.

And we begin tonight
with the Trump White House.

The only home in America where
the next occupant will have to ask

"what's the best way to get cum stains
out of Abe Lincoln's ghost ?"

Now, yeah. We're back.

It was another big week
for the Trump administration.

They got 3 American detainees
out of North Korea, which was great.

They pulled out of the Iran deal,
which may turn out to be catastrophic.

John Kelly said immigrants
lack the skills to assimilate,

which is ironic coming from someone
with the surname "Kelly".

And the first lady announced
her anti-cyber-bullying program,

appealing to people to be kind,
which was jarring, considering this.

Denials and deflections.

The White House refuses to talk
about a joke one employee made

about John McCain's
terminal illness.

A Trump aide joked

that John McCain's opposition
to Trump's pick for CIA Director

didn't matter
because "he's dying anyway".

That is shocking,
but it's also not really surprising.

These days, "Trump aide says
something awful" isn't really news.

It's a fact, like gravity
or the fact that "Young Sheldon"

will someday grow up
and look nothing like Jim Parsons

and all hell will break loose

because the world can't handle
an inconsistency like that !

But tonight let's ignore all of that
and focus on the busy week

for one person in particular:
Michael Cohen.

Donald Trump's personal lawyer
a lawyer so shitty he made Trump say:

"I need someone good,
get me Rudy Giuliani on the phone."

Think about that !

Cohen was already in hot water
for making a payment to Stormy Daniels

a potential violation
of campaign finance law

and this week,
the water got even hotter.

To the legal drama

swirling around President Trump's
attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen,

reaching a new level tonight
over millions of dollars in payments

and a serious allegation that Cohen
was selling access to President Trump.

Millions of dollars for access to Trump,
which is bizarre,

because I assumed that you
gained access to the president

by finding a golden ticket
in your MAGA hat.

Don't fall into the river of gravy,
little Charlie,

or you'll never be the next owner
of the racism factory !

Selling access
is a serious allegation.

There is a lot
that we don't know here.

What we can say is,
shortly after Trump was elected,

Michael Cohen suddenly
started making a lot of money.

It was funneled through a company that
he created, Essential Consultants,

a company
for which there is no logo

and even the name
arouses suspicion.

This company involves Cohen,
who is absolutely not essential.

He's also not a consultant,
plus there's only one of him,

so even the "s" in the company name
is a big, dumb lie.

And Cohen's pitch to potential clients
was pretty brazen.

A Republican strategist says his sales
pitch went something like this:

"I don't know who's been representing
you, but you should fire them all."

"I'm closest to the president.
I'm his personal lawyer."

It is a little bit weird. Lawyers
don't generally pitch themselves

by offering up
info on their other clients.

It's like a doctor saying

"If you hire me, I'll tell you about
all of Larry King's birthmarks."

First, you're not supposed
to be sharing that information.

And second...

The most eye-catching business
that Cohen drummed up

came from Columbus Nova,
an investment company,

linked to a Russian oligarch,
which paid him 500 000 dollars.

And they insist that the oligarch
had nothing to do with that payment,

and that they hired Cohen
for his expertise.

But what is Cohen an expert in,
other than wearing jackets

that look like they should be worn
by a leprechaun used car salesmen ?

And it wasn't just Columbus Nova.

Big companies gave money to Cohen,
including a defense contractor,

which paid him $150,000,
and pharmaceutical giant Novartis,

which agreed to pay him $1.2 million
for advice on U.S. healthcare policies.

But after only one meeting with him,
this happened.

Novartis says it quickly realized
Cohen could not provide them

the insight they wanted
on health care matters,

and the decision was taken
not to engage further.

The company still paid Cohen nearly
$1 million over the course of a year.

They met Cohen once,

and even though he still had months
to go on his million-dollar contract,

they decided
"Let's never see this guy ever again."

They basically paid a million dollars
not to talk to Michael Cohen,

which when you put it that way,
starts to sound like kind of a bargain.

And Novartis
wasn't the only company

who put a stupid amount of faith
in Cohen's non-existent expertise.

On the very first business day
of the Trump administration,

the president's personal attorney,
Michael Cohen,

signed a contract with AT and T

to receive $600,000
to consult on long-term planning.

On the first business day
of Trump's presidency,

Cohen signed a deal with AT and T,

who are trying to take over
our parent company, Time Warner.

They said they only paid him to "better
understand the president's thinking."

Which is ridiculous. If you want
to understand this president's thinking,

simply have a donkey kick you
in the head five times

and then watch Fox News
for 72 hours straight.

That'll give you a pretty good idea
about what's going on in his mind.

We probably don't yet know the full
significance of all of these payments.

I would argue that these companies
got exactly what they paid for.

They wanted to understand
how the Trump administration worked.

They put their trust in a novice
who turned out to be a moron,

and who was bilking them
for personal gain.

You wanted to know how
the Trump administration works ?

Congratulations ! You just got
a fucking master class. And now this.

And now: Local news gets real
about Mother's Day.

Mother's Day shouldn't be another day
where we do the same old thing. Brian !

What are your plans
for Mother's Day ?

My wife is going to leave me
with two children.

I will figure it out.
Those are my plans.

You always do this.

She just told me,
"I'm leaving, good luck to you."

- God. You're being a good husband.
- Yeah, not a choice.

- What are you gonna do ?
- For my wife ?

Let her sleep
and not talk for 30 seconds

till she's after started
drinking coffee.

That's it ?

Hooters has free meals for your mom,
if your wife or mother

is okay with going
to Hooters on Mother's Day.

Every year we say
"Mom we're gonna go walking with you,"

and she's like "I could like go get
a spa gift card, a massage..."

Maybe that says
something about you.

We were standing in the kitchen
our eyes met

and then she gave me
the stink eye.

That's what happened,
it was real awkward.

She gave you the "It's this Sunday,
you better get on the ball."

I felt bad.

Moving on: our main story tonight
concerns Venezuela.

Not to be confused with Benezela,
that is the hot new celebrity couple

that's just Ben Affleck
fucking a vuvuzela.

Yeah. He's happy.
You should be happy for him.

Now, Venezuela is the country
famous for giving the world oil,

seven Miss Universes,
six Miss Worlds,

and of course, most importantly,
one Wilmer Valderrama

who I like to think of as the
"Miss Universe" of "That '70s Show."

Over the last few years, every time
Venezuela has been on the news,

something awful
has been happening.

Food riots and looting.

This is the only daily diet
Venezuelans can count on.

Protesters stormed
the National Assembly.

Punching lawmakers.

A stolen police helicopter fires
on Venezuela's Supreme Court.

The clashes in Caracas
between protesters and police

are looking
more like all-out war.

Things in Venezuela have been
extremely grim. So fair warning here:

this is not going to be one of those
"feel good" Last Week Tonight stories,

"Slippers," "Everything Looks
Okay At The Pudding Factory,"

"A Genocide, But It's Only
Happening To Balloon Animals."

And it has been hard
to keep up with events in Venezuela,

due to the hurricane of shit
that we've all been dealing with here.

If you follow conservative media,
you may have seen it painted

as the inevitable, dire consequences
of a socialist government.

Watch this Infowars reporter

quizzing an extremely chill
Bernie Sanders supporter.

- You know Venezuela ?
- Heard of it.

A majority of the country
is eating rats

while their politicians
are drinking champagne.

If Bernie Sanders
were president, right ?

And he wanted to bring the same ideas
as for socialism into this country...

- Do you think that we would benefit ?
- Yeah.

But I told you
Venezuela's eating rats !

But I just want people
to have healthcare, honey.

Same thing Hugo Ch?vez...

when he was taking,
when he was taking over Venezuela.

God ! You people have worms
in your brain, honestly.

That is not great news
for that Infowars reporter

she essentially just got served
by sassy Popeye.

But what you do have
there is a nice distillation

of the current level
of political discourse in America:

two people who don't know
what they're talking about

condescending to each other
until one of them lands a sick burn.

What is happening in Venezuela
is not just extremely important,

it is absolutely
worth paying attention to.

This is not just a story
about socialism

there are plenty of socialist countries
that look nothing like Venezuela

it's a story about epic

So epic that a nation
of 31 million people,

with the largest oil reserves
in the world,

have been forced to resort to
creative forms of protest.

Social media ablaze
for the past few days

encouraging protesters to fill jars
and bags with human feces.

"This is one of our last options,"
says this masked man.

We are calling it
"poo-poo-tov" cocktails.

Yes, poo-poo-tov cocktails.

Named after the Soviet Premier
Vyacheslav Poopootov.

He was infamous for pooping in jars
and throwing them at people.

And while that is funny,
because, y'know... it's poop.

It is also desperate people
resorting to a desperate measure.

Venezuela is having
their presidential election.

We thought we'd check in
on what's been happening there,

to understand
how Venezuela got into this mess,

and how,
despite making it even worse,

their current president Nicol?s Maduro
seen here going to town on a 'nana

is almost certainly going to win,

despite having the support
of only around 1/5 of the population.

To understand anything
about present day Venezuela,

you have to start with Maduro's
predecessor: Hugo Ch?vez,

shown here looking smug

about the fact that he's got
a bird in a hat on his shoulder.

Ch?vez was massively popular
in Venezuela, beloved for both

his generous social programs
and his larger-than-life personality.

Every Sunday he staged marathon
TV broadcasts

that sometimes ran up to eight hours
on his show "Al? Presidente."

The show featured special guests,
dance numbers, and prize giveaways.

Over here we have flat-screen TVs !
It's the opposite of capitalism !

Hold on, Hugo.

If giving away flat screen TVs
is the opposite of capitalism,

then the most successful socialist
leader is Comrade Drew Carey.

Ch?vez could act that way
because Venezuela was oil-rich,

and he took more state control
over their national oil company,

enabling him to fund
programs benefitting the poor.

When that company protested
some of the changes,

he responded by using his TV show
to address its executives.

I'm firing the following people.

Mr. Juan Fernandez, you are fired
from Petroleum of Venezuela.

Eddie Ramirez,
thank you, you are fired.

Mariana, if you don't stop talking
to your boyfriend you'll be fired.

Mateo, if you use the office kitchen to
microwave fish, I'll have you murdered.

To be fair to Ch?vez, many social
programs were initially effective.

During his tenure,
the poverty rate was halved.

Many Venezuelans revere Ch?vez
to a dramatic degree.

The late president's eyes are
painted on public buildings

as if watching over
the revolution.

This man even tattooing
the eyes onto his forehead.

That's the image, eyes of our supreme
commander Hugo Rafael Ch?vez Fr?as.

The eyes that see the world,
the whole world.

That is dedication.
I like my president so much,

I want him to watch me masturbate
for the rest of my life.

That's what those
eyes are gonna see.

They'll see other things,
they're also seeing that.

Some of Ch?vez's programs
could have been sustainable,

if he'd pursued a sound economic
policy and run a tight ship.

But not only did he stop saving
oil revenues in a rainy-day fund,

he oversaw a government that
Transparency International found

to be the most corrupt country
in Latin America.

Latin America
has Colombia in it !

A country where the only campaign
finance law is:

"report bribes consisting of
more than ten kilos of cocaine."

As long as the price of oil went up
forever and Ch?vez never died,

the cracks could've been
papered over.

In 2014, the price of oil plummeted
from over 100 dollars a barrel

to just 50 dollars a barrel,
just one year after Ch?vez

plummeted from being alive,
to being very much dead.

Here is where Maduro,
the big banana fan, comes in.

He was Ch?vez's
hand-picked successor,

but had neither his booming
economy, nor his charisma.

He has tried to make up for that,
even going so far as to tell people

he'd received messages
from the spirit of Ch?vez,

who'd visited him
in the form of a little bird.

It's a story he's told repeatedly,
and sometimes with sound effects.

Suddenly, a little bird came in and
circled three times above my head.

He stood on a wooden beam
and started whistling

and I felt his spirit.

I felt like he was giving us
a blessing.

What I like the most about that,
other than the whistling,

is the idea that when powerful
leaders die, they become birds.

That is an humiliating second act.
I led my people to greatness.

I will barf my lunch into my child's
mouth and fly into a glass window.

I don't want to say that Maduro's
charm offensive hasn't been working,

but watch this moment where he was
reading messages from viewers.

Moises David tells me:
"Nicol?s Maduro suck on it."

You suck on your own.

You can suck yourself.

Maduro essentially appeared on
"Celebrities Read Mean Tweets"

completely by accident.

It's easy to see why Maduro
has pissed people off,

he has managed Venezuela's economic
crisis in the worst possible way.

He's doubled down on many
of Ch?vez's most unsound policies,

like unrealistic currency
and price controls,

while attempting to make up for missing
revenue by creating more money.

Inflation has exploded, with the IMF
forecasting 13 000 percent inflation

for 2018.

And to give you an idea
of just how ridiculous that can look,

this was a trip
to a Venezuelan market last year.

The currency is so devalued
some shopkeepers weigh the money

rather than waste time counting.

If residents are lucky enough
to find food on the shelves,

prices are out of sight.

This plantain costs what
your house cost 25 years ago ?

Two options there. Either inflation
is completely out of hand.

Or that is one incredible plantain.
I mean world-class plantain.

Inflation is one of many reasons
why many Venezuelans are struggling

to find or afford basic necessities
like medicine or food.

Those shortages have had
terrible consequences.

This food shortage is widespread.
Over the last year,

three-quarters of the population
lost an average of almost 20 pounds.

Look how fat I used to be.
This is how many holes

I had to make in my belt
on the "Maduro Diet."

Yes, "the Maduro Diet".
That is a commonly used phrase.

And it's a very healthy sounding term
for a truly horrifying situation.

Like saying Jim Jones was the pioneer
of the Jonestown Juice Cleanse.

It is not like Maduro isn't aware
that people are starving.

During one of his media
appearances, a reporter noticed

that the video feed cut away
every time Maduro helped himself

to the plates
of charcuterie and cakes.

He knew that eating
would look insensitive.

Watch this clip that
went viral last year

and know that what he's saying
doesn't matter.

Remember he's about to think
that the camera is off him.

He just housed an empanada
in front of a starving nation.

A nationwide famine
is no time for "fourth meal".

If you think that is the most tone-deaf
reaction to mass food shortages,

wait until you see him do some
insensitive crowd work.

Why are you so skinny, Gustavo ?

Have you been jogging ?

What happened to him ?

Maduro's Diet.
Maduro's Diet makes you hard.

No need for Viagra.

The most awkward presidential
attempt to be "in on the joke"

since Herbert Hoover claimed

"Hoover towns make you wet,
without cornmeal or castor oil."

They didn't understand how
vaginas worked back then.

Even when the Maduro government
tried to help,

it's done it
in a ham-fisted way.

Maduro has proposed
a so-called "Rabbit Plan",

a program to encourage
Venezuelans to breed and eat bunnies.

But when people started putting bows
on them and keeping them as pets,

his administration
gave a callous correction.

A rabbit is not a pet. It's two
and a half kilos of meat

high in protein,
with no cholesterol.

Holy shit. A rabbit is just
two and a half kilos of meat.

Less like a government
pronouncement and more like

a tank top Marlon Bundo used
to wear back in his clubbing days.

As for economic policy,
Maduro has lived in complete denial.

His most recent plan to address
rampant inflation was to introduce

a new version of their currency,
the Bol?var,

just with three zeroes
lopped off the end.

In case any part of you thinks that
might fix their inflation problem,

we asked Yale economist Robert Shiller
if that's how money works !

No, that's not how money works.

Thanks, Robert ! Thanks.
I appreciate it. It's good to know.

In the absence of solutions,
Maduro reached for the next best thing:

blaming someone else.

He's suggested the US was responsible
for injecting Ch?vez with cancer,

he said that the U.S. was sabotaging
Venezuelan ATMS

and he's chalked up protests
against him to this.

This is part of a scheme
of non-conventional war

the U.S. perfected
throughout recent decades.

America has done some awful
things in Central and South America.

We've backed coups attempts,
juntas and atrocities

in Chile, Argentina
and Guatemala.

But what's happening in Venezuela
is actually not our fault.

Accusing America of creating
Venezuela's crisis

is as fair as accusing O.J. Simpson
of murdering Princess Diana.

I'm not saying it would be
out of character,

it happens to not be true
in this particular instance.

That's basically
what I'm saying.

Despite all of this, Maduro
is about to dominate this election

like he dominated that banana.

How is that possible ? He's bent
the democratic process to his will.

In 2015, when his party
lost control of National Assembly,

he responded by stacking the
Supreme Court with 13 new justices

and created a new assembly.

President Nicol?s Maduro
wants to create a political assembly

with the vast power
to rewrite the constitution

and dismantle the democratically
elected legislature.

All of the candidates are Maduro
supporters, including his wife and son.

Think about the sheer scale
of what Maduro did there.

That'd be like, if here, Trump put
his friends on the Supreme Court,

who then allowed him to create
a second Congress

and whose members
include Melania and Eric,

and which you just know
he'd call "Don-gress".

You know it ! Take that down
before he gets any ideas.

I regret brining it up.

Maduro has jailed or barred from
public office his political opponents

and has even turned down help from
other countries and agencies,

he has turned down
food and medicine,

telling Venezuelans that humanitarian
aid is part of a conspiracy.

All has left Venezuelans feeling
so hopeless that 1 million of them

left the country
over the past two years.

And many who've remained
are now at their breaking point.

Everyone in the world needs to know
we are dying of hunger.

We are living in a dictatorship
that is in disguise.

There are many that are afraid and
can't speak out, they have us gagged.

If you speak out they send the militias
to harm you or kill you.

That's horrifying.
When you listen to her,

it starts to hit you that
poo-poo-tov cocktails

might turn out to be
pretty restrained.

There aren't a lot
of great options to help.

The Trump administration
imposed some sanctions,

but if they're not extremely careful,
those could cause more hardship.

Seeing as Maduro won't listen to
reason, or to the will of his people,

perhaps it's time to call in the one
voice we know he'll listen to.

So ladies and gentlemen,
please welcome a bird.

Hola, Maduro.
It's me, a bird.

Remember ?
We spoke a few years back.

If you're thinking: "this is just
Wilmer Valderrama in a bird suit ?"

You used to think
I was Hugo Ch?vez,

so you're not exactly
the authority on what's birds.

Listen up, buddy, 'cause I'm two and
a half kilos of high-protein and meat

and I'm here to tell you: you're
in some serious trouble, compadre.

It's not a good sign when people
are throwing their poop at you.

I should know. I'm a bird.

Come on, man.
I invented poo-poo-tov cocktails.

Every time a bird poops on you,
it was a political statement.

We aimed
and thought it was funny.

Maduro: the whole world can see
what mess you are making.

Even TV hosts here in
America, like that idiot.


I was just having a little snack.

That's just bad timing, Zazu.

The point is, Maduro, you
need to accept humanitarian aid

and cool it with the dictator stuff

or I've got a poo-poo-tov cocktail
with your name on it right here.

This is it for me.
And because I am a real, actual bird,

I am going to exit
with effortless beauty and grace.

That's our show.
Thank you for watching.

We'll see you next week.
Goodnight !

Fly away ! Fly !