Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 5, Episode 27 - State Attorneys General - full transcript

John Oliver briefly catches up with last week's events: deadliest attack on Synagogue, Saudi's lamest explanation of Jamal Khashoggi murder. Then he talks about the State Attorneys General....

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LAST WEEK TONIGHT
WITH JOHN OLIVER

SEASON V
EPISODE 27

Welcome to Last Week Tonight.

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

A quick recap of the week.
It was particularly grim,

with yesterday's attack leaving
11 dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Days after a racially-motivated
shooting in Louisville

and a series of package bombs sent
to critics of Trump.

It has been a time for sober reflection
or, if you are Fox News

discussing those package bombs,
a time for wild speculation.

Before the suspect was arrested,
they had a ludicrous theory.



You talked in your notes about the
potential it could be a false flag.

We cannot rule out that
it's a false flag operation.

I feel these are
false flag bombings.

At the risk of sounding
like a far right-wing lunatic,

I believe this whole thing
was an elaborate hoax.

"Sounding like a far rightwing
lunatic" is not really a risk

for the Fox News brand, is it ?

It's more of a guarantee.
It'd be like if Tony Bennett

started every song with "at the risk
of making your grandma wet".

We all know that's going to happen,
it's what you're here to do.

Once the suspect was found,
it was clear that the bombs were real

and that he was
a Trump supporter,

Geraldo apologized:

"Never mind; outsmarted myself in
conjuring false flag operation".



"Outsmarted myself" is a brilliant way

to say that you did something
incredibly stupid.

I outsmarted myself when I accidentally
ate kitty litter instead of Grape-Nuts.

I remember thinking
as I chewed the clumps:

"I truly am two steps
ahead of me !"

Even after the suspect's
motivations were clear,

some Trump supporters insisted
there was more to this story.

Barack Obama probably
sent his to himself

and Hillary Clinton
probably sent hers to herself.

You don't think this guy sent
these bombs to these officials ?

- No. Probably not.
- Why ?

- They may have paid him to do it.
- What would be the upside ?

Trying to bring people,
feeling, over to their side.

- Against Trump ?
- Yeah.

Obama flew to Florida, mailed a bomb
to himself in Washington,

then flew back in time to avoid it,
all to frame this guy.

I'm not saying that that man's
theory doesn't have any holes in it,

but we can all agree:
he outsmarted Geraldo Rivera.

Let's move on to Saudi Arabia.
The country with bans on pork,

alcohol and porn, or as it's known
in America: a "Florida breakfast".

Saudi Arabia is continuing to deal with
the fallout from the death of Khashoggi

who disappeared after entering
Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul,

which also contained 15 Saudi
operatives who'd flown in

with an autopsy
specialist and a bone saw.

The Saudis initially insisted
Khashoggi had left the embassy alive,

but now admit that they'd incorrectly
remembered what happened

or "dismembered",
if you will.

Their story became that he'd been
killed, but for good reason.

They say discussions led to a brawl
and he died in a fistfight.

Yeah, a fistfight. It started when
they had a disagreement

over whether or not Khashoggi
should be murdered in cold blood.

He didn't think so, but the Saudis
were adamant it was a good idea

and one thing
just led to another.

This story was, as Khashoggi's
editor at "The Post" tweeted,

"utter bullshit" which should also be
the new term that The Post uses

when fact checking politicians.

It's better than using their current
system of one to four Pinocchios.

You're a journalistic institution,

why are you using a dishonest wood
demon from a children's story ?

Now the Saudis then abandoned
that story and suggested

killing may have been "premeditated",
which was obvious from the start.

Especially as it now appears the killers
had the laziest of strategies

to convince people that Khashoggi
left the consulate safely.

CNN aired what appears
to be surveillance video

described to them as one suspect
dressed in Khashoggi's clothes,

even apparently a fake beard.

That is pathetic.
Khashoggi is bald

and the body double
has a full head of hair.

If you're picking a body double,
make sure they look like that person.

That is why my body
double is this owl.

The resemblance is uncanny !

You can't even tell
which one is the real owl !

This horrific situation has put Trump
in a difficult position.

He is close to the Saudi leadership
and has been bending over backwards

to try and excuse what happened.

Even as the Saudis'
story unraveled,

he unleashed a critique that can
only be described as very weird.

They had a bad original concept.
It was carried out poorly.

And the cover-up was one of
the worst in the history of cover-ups.

It's very simple.

"A very bad original concept ?"

You're the president addressing the
assassination of a resident of the US,

not a Netflix executive deciding
whether to green light a new series.

Even if you were, everyone knows
the Netflix development motto

is "There Are
No Bad Original Concepts."

Businesses with ties to Saudi
Arabia have now come in for scrutiny,

including the WWE, who signed
a 10-year deal to stage events there

and who staged the
"Greatest Royal Rumble" in Jeddah,

a wall-to-wall propaganda
for the Saudi government.

There was a clip from that event
that we didn't have time to show you,

involving wrestler Titus O'Neil,
who ran into the arena,

to jump into the ring.

What you're about to see
was not staged.

Titus had a very busy week
here in Saudi Arabia.

He's had dinner with many princes
and very important people...

What the heck ?

There isn't any better encapsulation of
WWE's relationship with Saudi Arabia

than a wrestler meeting princes
before falling flat on his face.

WWE has their next event in Saudi
Arabia, "Crown Jewel", this Friday.

They've been
under real pressure to cancel it.

There are even unconfirmed
reports that John Cena

wants to pull out of the event.

Wrestling fans have been uncomfortable
with this whole Saudi deal.

Listen to a crowd that is cheering
for The Undertaker,

suddenly take a turn
when he brings up Crown Jewel.

Undertaker !

Fifteen-thousand strong chanting
on their feet for the Phenom.

At Crown Jewel...

Holy shit ! I think
the WWE itself just turned heel.

Do you know how deeply bad something
has to be to get wrestling fans to boo

a wrestling event
at a wrestling event ?

That is the type of crowd reaction
that you'd expect to hear

if the WWE championship
was suddenly won by Beck.

Which is totally plausible.
The guy's a scientologist.

And they give you superpowers.
It's not just a religion,

it's a set of principles to help you
improve your life and maybe fly.

Just look into it, that's all
I'm compelling you sincerely.

Despite all the criticism,

the WWE is going full steam
ahead with Crown Jewel,

in partnership with a country that
just murdered and dismembered

a journalist
for "The Washington Post".

Their promotion for it
has been a little tone-deaf,

such as this actual Instagram post
featuring a funeral urn,

which was initially captioned:

"Respect is out the window
at #WWECrownJewel."

That is insensitive, but also,
it is kind of nonsense,

the urn is referring to The Undertaker,
but that's not his catchphrase.

His catchphrase is:

"I'm a big beef ghost here to drive you
to hell. I'm a beef ghost !"

That's what
he says when he wrestles.

It is not going to be easy for the WWE
to thread the needle on this.

They are pushing ahead despite
the concerns of wrestlers

and their own fan base.

But since they have clearly
picked a lane here,

they may as well just say "fuck it"
and air something like this.

On November 2nd it's Crown Jewel.
Live from Saudi Arabia,

featuring Brock Lesnar,
A.J. Styles, The Undertaker,

no female wrestlers,
they're not allowed to perform

and maybe John Cena, if he's
willing to take a major PR hit.

Forget everything
you've seen on the news,

and watch the Brothers of Destruction
leave their opponents dead and buried.

Sorry, poor choice of words.
Someone is going to rest in pieces.

Nope, hang on.

Someone is gonna be ambushed
and mutilated with a bone saw...

You know what ? Never mind.
Point is, next Friday at Crown Jewel,

respect is out the window.

If you care about human rights,
then WWE's got two words for ya:

suck it !

Moving on...

Our main story tonight
concerns state attorneys general.

That is the correct plural
and if you already knew that:

I'm sorry that high school
was such a rough time for you.

Believe me, I know: being
a teenage grammar nerd

is something from which
it is difficult to recover.

I realize that a show about state
AGs sounds like a tedious prospect.

Watch the start of this 2006 panel
discussion on C-SPAN,

in front of an electrified crowd.

Our panel today features
three distinguished

and very different and
bipartisan attorneys general.

I gotta say that was a bit of a dick
move by the C-SPAN cameraman.

He didn't have to pan
across those empty seats,

but he did it anyway,
as if to say:

"Even the panel's friends
didn't show up !"

I'll tell you what that panel
did wrong:

if you want a live audience to listen
to you talk about state AGs,

don't tell them in advance.

We film this show in front
of a live audience.

You think we told them what this
show's about ? Of course not !

They were told that this was
a taping of "The Rachael Ray Show".

I promise:
she'll be out any minute now.

It is worth the effort
to learn about state AGs.

They are very important and most of
us probably don't know who ours is.

If you live in Indiana, I am very
excited to introduce you to yours.

Meet Curtis Hill:
AG by day, although by night,

something very much different.

I was toying around with it

and discovered
that I sounded sort of like Elvis.

We're caught in a trap,
I can't walk out,

Because I love you too much, baby.

We saw the attorney general
do all the hits.

I don't look much like Elvis.

I hadn't, to be honest,
I hadn't noticed that.

It's difficult to notice anything
besides the most sadistic inseam

in the history of tailoring.

That looks like a marshmallow
bisected with fishing wire

and that's all it looks like.

Most state AGs are elected, meaning
they belong to political parties

and they run campaign ads,
like this striking one from Michigan.

When you're choosing
Michigan's next attorney general,

ask yourself this:

who can you trust most not to show
their penis in a professional setting ?

Is it the candidate who doesn't
have a penis ? I'd say so.

That is an argument.
If you are asking me which candidate

I trust not to show me their penis,
I'd have to go with dickless Dennis.

He can't show me his penis.
Why ?

That mean old raccoon still has it !

That woman is running for
attorney general in Michigan.

It's one of 30 states where voters
will be selecting their next AG.

Those elections are going
to be unusually competitive.

Some estimate that
more than $100 million

will be spent on AG races this year,

that's up to three
times more than ever before.

Let's look at who AGs are, what
they do and why they matter.

Typically, they serve as a state's
chief legal officer and people's lawyer

with responsibilities ranging from
criminal law enforcement

to consumer advocacy
and everything in between.

The landmark, multi-billion-dollar
tobacco industry settlement in the '90s

that killed Joe Camel,
that was thanks to state AGs.

Report on abuses by the
Catholic Church in Pennsylvania ?

That was thanks to a state AG.

Who put out that
raging wildfire in northern California ?

That was firefighters.
Use your head.

Why would state AGs have been
involved ? Use your instincts here.

AGs often work on politically
neutral matters. And they still do.

In recent decades, they've become
significantly more partisan.

One small sign of this is that while
all AGs belong

to the National Association
of Attorneys General or "NAAG",

two decades ago, Republicans
formed a committee just for them,

RAGA, and the Democrats
followed suit, with DAGA.

I know that RAGA and DAGA sound
like twins from Dutch folklore

that teach children
about right and wrong.

Raga always milks the cow
when its udders are swollen,

but Daga is off making
nonsense with a goose.

When Daga is given no dinner,
this is justice.

The most high-profile way in which
this job has become more partisan

is the extent to which AGs belonging
to one party teamed up

to bring lawsuits against
the federal government.

That used to be relatively rare,
but starting in the Obama years,

the number of those sort
of lawsuits skyrocketed.

It was Republican AGs who limited
the Medicaid expansion of Obamacare

and suing the government became
a pride for AGs like Greg Abbott.

What I do is I go into the office,

I sue the federal government
and then I go home.

I've sued the Obama administration
25 times over the last four years.

That is not the smirk of a guy
who just goes into the office,

sues the government
and goes home !

That's a guy who goes into
the office, sues the government,

adjusts the office thermostat
without telling,

steals someone's sandwich, farts in
the elevator and then goes home.

Abbott has since gone on
to become governor of Texas,

his successor Ken Paxton was no less
eager to sue the Obama administration.

Just listen to his wife, proudly
describing Paxton's love for lawsuits

in what apparently
I legally have to call a song.

I'm a pistol packin' mama,
yes I am.

I'm a pistol packin' mama,
yes I am.

I'm a pistol packin' mama,
And my husband sues Obama.

I'm a pistol packin' mama,
yes I am.

I never thought I would say this,

but I would honestly rather
listen to Moose-knuckle Elvis,

Shirley Temple-ing it up in his
living room in a tootight onesie.

Paxton is a really good example
of how a state AG's political views

can impact their work.

He told county clerks

they could refuse to issue
marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

He was a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit
that shot down an Obama-era rule

that would've made 4 million
people eligible for overtime pay.

When Obama tried to extend protections
for transgender kids in public schools,

Paxton sued and said this.

Any man that decides they want
to declare themselves to be female,

can walk into your daughter's
locker room or bathroom.

It now opens the door for anybody,
no matter what they are,

they can change their gender and
walk into a women's locker room.

It's not right.

What are you talking about ?
Obvious bigotry aside,

transgender people don't just
switch identity for convenience.

They are human beings,
not reed frogs.

Reed frogs, should the need arise,
can change from female to male.

I hit you with an unexpected frog fact

in the middle of talking
about state AGs.

I know you're thinking:
"Where is Rachael Ray ?"

If she's not here in the next five
minutes, I'm gonna riot.

Be patient,
she'll be here.

She's making fritattas,
and you're all going to have a taste !

She'll be here, just be patient.

Paxton has spent almost his entire time
in office under indictment

and is awaiting trial
for securities fraud.

That is not the Ken Paxton-related
allegation I would like to show you.

I'd like to focus on one mentioned
in an attack ad from his opponent.

This is the Collin County
Courthouse,

where a Dallas attorney left
a $1 000 pen at the metal detectors.

This is Ken Paxton,
the indicted Texas attorney general,

rummaging through the trays
and stealing that $1 000 pen.

And this is Ken Paxton,
the indicted Texas attorney general,

walking away with a stolen pen.

Vote Justin Nelson for Texas
attorney general.

He will fight on behalf of all Texans
and he won't steal your pen.

I guess that's a relief.
Thanks to that ad earlier,

I would also like to know he won't
steal my pen or show me his penis.

Or, for that matter, show me
his pen or steal my penis.

I need to know his positions on
the penis-pen show-steal continuum.

State AGs are increasingly partisan.

When you look at how Ken Paxton
has used his power,

it is hard not to think
that that is a bad thing.

Partisanship can cut both ways.
And now that Trump is in office,

Democratic state AGs file
lawsuits against the president.

While you may've been unhappy
to hear people cheer

for that pistol-packin'
mama's husband suing Obama,

it might feel different hearing the
Democratic AG of Washington say this.

Since Trump became president

we've filed 19 lawsuits
against the administration.

What do you say to people who think
you have an axe to grind against him ?

I plead guilty. I do.
I don't know what to say.

It's interesting how your feelings
on suing the government can change

based on who is saying it.

It's like how "I'm getting off here"
is a fine thing for someone to say

if they're standing next to the door
of a train,

but a very rude thing to say if they
are masturbating on that same train.

State AGs have a lot of power.

While many of us may
not have been aware of that,

corporations and other special
interests certainly have,

because both RAGA and DAGA have
been aggressive about raising funds.

One way they do that
is by organizing events,

where they sell access to AGs.

RAGA has some pretty lavish getaways,
where industries can mingle

with the AGs who are supposed
to be policing them,

as CBS found when it spied
on one in South Carolina.

We saw at least nine state AGs
rubbing shoulders

with representatives from
Koch Industries, Big Tobacco,

payday lenders and the NRA.

The dress code: resort casual.

CBS News reviewed 88 donations
over $50 000

and found more than half of the donors
had matters under consideration

by a state attorney general
or had recently settled.

RAGA says there is
no quid pro quo there.

So I guess those groups simply donated
substantial amounts of money

because they wanted to chillax
to the max at a resort casual clambake

with North Dakota
Attorney General, Wayne Stenehjem.

He's not just the AG of North Dakota,
he's the mayor of Margaritaville.

Wayne parties fucking hard,
he's an animal.

Some state AGs have been cozy
with corporations.

Take Scott Pruitt,
former head of the EPA.

He served as Oklahoma's AG,

where he had a close relationship
with energy companies.

He sued the EPA 14 times

and wrote the agency about policies
that threatened to impact

local oil companies
like Devon Energy.

When a reporter obtained copies
of Pruitt's correspondence with Devon,

he noticed a weird coincidence.

The letters that Scott Pruitt
had written were identical copies

of the draft letters
that Devon had sent him.

He had taken those letters
and simply put 'em on a stationery

and sent them in as if they were
the state law enforcement opinion.

And I was, like "holy...".

Exactly, like he said:
holy motherfucker.

That looks like Pruitt let an oil
company do his work for him.

Maybe he happened to think up
the exact same words,

in the exact same order
that they did.

Maybe you find that plausible.
I find it about as plausible

as I do the idea that the family
in "A Quiet Place" stayed silent

for 472 days.

No one farted
for more than a year !

That should be the title of the movie
because that is incredible !

State AGs are powerful,
increasingly partisan,

and over half of them
are on the ballot this year.

Republicans are very
much ready for this fight,

as Arkansas state AG and chair of
RAGA, Leslie Rutledge, will tell you.

When it comes to the Democratic AGs,
I can't speak to what they do.

They raise a heck of a lot less
money than the Republican AGs do

because we have been crushing it.

Again, bit of a dick move
by the C-SPAN cameraman there,

undercutting her claims of crushing it
with a cruel cutaway

to her audience
Candy-Crushing it.

She is right:
RAGA is really out-raising DAGA

and they are now locked
in an arms race for funds.

Which just cannot be the healthiest
way for this system to operate.

Naughty Raga ! Naughty Daga !
If you keep behaving like that,

your parents will sell you to
the sea witch like your sisters !

Rutledge is one of the AGs up for
election on November 6th,

as is possible pen thief
Ken Paxton.

If you live in any
of these highlighted states,

you have got an AG race
to vote for.

It is worth taking a few minutes
to research the candidates.

Especially because many people
who do actually vote

end up leaving the AG box
on the ballot empty,

so your vote for AG may
technically be more valuable.

In Texas, one poll showed that
39 percent of registered voters

didn't name who that they
would vote for for AG,

because they, and I quote:
"haven't thought enough about it."

Which sounds terrible, but that's
a cause for genuine hope.

That is where
Ken Paxton is running.

And if there is one thing sure
to damage Ken Paxton's reputation,

it's an awareness
of Ken Paxton's reputation.

Please, before November 6th,
think about your AG race.

You can do it.
You've got nine days left.

I know we've all been asked
to think about a lot this year,

from Supreme Court nominations
to gun control,

to the energy
of Pete Davidson's penis.

It's been a lot and now I am adding
"research your state AG race".

But it is worth it.
Also, if you do it,

you'll be amazed at the kind
of tidbits that you might find.

If you live in Wisconsin,
Google "Brad Schimel $10 000 coins"

and you'll learn about how your AG
spent 10 grand of taxpayer money

on coins reading "K.A.E.D." which
stands for his personal motto:

"Kicking Ass Every Day."

If you live in Arkansas, Google
"Leslie Rutledge karaoke 2016",

so you can see our friend from before
"crushing it" onstage.

I think his tractor's sexy,
It really turns me on,

I'm always starin' at him,
When he's chuggin' along.

Sing it, Leslie, sing it !

Did that guy just say
"sing it, Leslie ?"

I think that might be an honest plea.
Sing it, Leslie. Sing it !

Don't drone it arrhythmically
at an inconsistent volume.

The band's in "E major"
and you're in "H".

Try and bring it into
the known musical universe, Leslie.

If you're in Michigan,
and even if you are not,

Google "Bill Schuette 1989 video".

He is their current AG,
but he's not up for election,

he's running for governor,
but it is still worth Googling that,

so you can watch him creepily
hitting on a woman behind the camera.

Would you please
move closer to the lamp ?

I would be happy to move
closer to the lamp.

I will do anything you want.

Some things I may not
let you run the camera on.

I admire your tenacity, appreciate
your spirit of Vincent Van Gogh,

Rembrandt and Toulouse-Lautrec.

That is roughgh to watch. I don't know
how she got throughgh the interview

without punching him in the dighgh.

Taking just two minutes
to research your state AG

is a valuable use of your time.

And if you are thinking that
you don't have two minutes, you do.

It's 11:28 right now. I'm not
saying goodbye until 11:30.

So go to Vote 4-1-1-dot-org now,
where you can find out

if there is an election in your state,
and who your AG candidates are.

Do it now. You will not
be missing anything.

Nothing entertaining is going to
happen for the rest of this show.

To help drive you away,
for the rest of the broadcast,

a bagpiper will be playing
Leslie Rutledge's favorite song:

"She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy."

Take it away.

God. Yes, believe it or not,

the bagpipes make this song even
more unlistenable than it already is.

That is an ungodly noise,
no disrespect.

Turn this show off now
and research your AG.

If you haven't already
been repelled into action,

I'll happily add
an accordion into the mix.

Yes, the sweet, sweet sound
of a bagpipe-accordion duet.

Two sounds that go
together like Pop-Tarts and fish.

Go to Vote 4-1-1-dot-org now,
this just isn't gonna get any better.

Don't fucking push me on this.
You think I won't add a theremin ?

Think again, motherfuckers.
Don't try me.

You shouldn't be watching
this show anymore.

I'm slightly disappointed
our live audience is still here.

Rachael Ray is not coming tonight !
You've been betrayed !

There were never
going to be frittatas !

But I'll tell you who is coming,
though:

six children playing the recorder !

How are you somehow the worst
ingredient in all this ?

Go research your AGs, because
these guys are about to get louder !

That is our show.
Thank you for watching.

See you next week. Good night !
My god !

LAST WEEK TONIGHT
WITH JOHN OLIVER

END OF EPISODE 27,
SEASON V