Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 6, Episode 16 - Episode #6.16 - full transcript

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Welcome to Last Week Tonight.

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

We begin with President Trump,
of whom the best thing you can say

is: "Maybe he's never
eaten a dolphin. Maybe."

He had a busy week. He was accused
of a horrifying sexual assault,

he promised massive I.C.E. raids,
to change course at the last second

and he brought us
up to the brink of war with Iran.

24 hours after Iran downed
an unmanned U.S. drone,

the U.S. military
was ready to strike back.

But the president made
a sudden reversal.

We were about to attack Iran,
but Trump had a change of heart.

Just on the attack part,
not a change of heart in general.

He didn't have an Ebenezer Scrooge
moment where he yelled:

"I'm going
to be good from now on !"

No, he just didn't
bomb some people.

This was the latest development
in escalating tensions with Iran.

The U.S. drone that Iran shot down
was not just any drone.

This drone, as he said,
costs up to $180 million.

So, this is not some drone
you're getting off of Amazon.

This is an aircraft that
belongs to our government.

We all knew this isn't some drone
you're getting off Amazon.

No one out there thought
you say:

"Alexa, surveil the Iranians" and
Alexa sends a drone to Iran.

Normally, the U.S. might coordinate
an international response.

But our regular allies
have been slow to come to our side,

perhaps they believe Trump's part
of the reason Iran is acting out.

He pulled out of the Iran Deal
and imposed sanctions on them

and any countries
buying Iranian oil.

Or, as one German official put it,
the Americans "created this mess"

"and now they
have to find a way to get out."

This left Trump isolated.
Even domestically,

he was stuck between
warring factions

both in his administration
and on his favorite network.

Some anchors were pro-war,
like Sean Hannity,

while Greg Gutfeld
had an interesting theory

as to why war with Iran
would be painless.

We're now in a time where it doesn't
matter how large your population is,

because the population
is no longer expendable in war.

It's now about the machines.
Drones are now replacing bones,

so it'll be stuff versus stuff
and we have the best stuff.

That is breathtakingly stupid.

If someone said that to me
at a dinner party,

my response would be:
"Excuse me, this child is drunk."

Someone gave him wine
but he's ranting like a lunatic

about how war
is all 'stuff versus stuff' now.

He needs to be put to bed.

Now, on the other side,
Tucker Carlson took time away

from perfecting the art of racist
befuddlement to tell Trump:

"responding to Tehran's provocations
with force was crazy."

The voice of reason here
was a man who wore a bow tie

well into his 40s despite
being as not in the Nation of Islam

as a person could possibly be.

With everyone giving
Trump conflicting advice,

we were forced
to watch him think out loud.

He tried to reason through why what
Iran did wasn't so bad.

that drone was unarmed.

There was no man in it.
It was over international waters.

We didn't have a man or woman in
the drone. We had nobody in the drone.

There was nobody in the drone.
Because that would've made it,

and I'm gonna throw some
military jargon at you here, a plane.

I'm glad Trump didn't end up dragging
us towards an unnecessary war.

But the manner in which we got so close
should be a genuine concern.

After calling off the strike,
he walked us through his decision

and it is chilling to watch
40 seconds of his mind at work.

They said: "Sir, we're ready
to go. We'd like a decision."

I said: "I want to know something.
How many people will be killed ?"

In this case, Iranians. I said:
"How many are going to be killed ?"

"Sir, I'd like
to get back to you on that."

Great people, these generals.
Came back, said:

"Sir, approximately 150."
I thought about it for a second.

I said: "They shot down
an unmanned drone, plane,"

"and here we are sitting
with 150 dead people"

"that would've taken place within
a half an hour after 'Go'."

And I didn't like it.

I'm actually glad you didn't like it.
But it's amazing to watch him

do the right thing in the same style
that he does the wrong thing.

Many of the same ingredients
were there:

joyously quoting people
calling him "Sir",

expressing childlike disbelief
he gets to hang out with generals,

needlessly pointing out the potential
dead were "in this case Iranians",

identifying what was shot down
as a drone before correcting it

to the wrong answer of "plane",

and telling a lie
that makes him look good.

No way he wasn't
told about potential casualties

the moment the plan
was presented to him.

Considering the ingredients, this
might've been the best outcome.

It's like watching someone put
chicken guts, Jell-O, and human hair

into an oven and then
take out a cake 20 minutes later.

I'm relieved and sort of amazed
with where we ended up.

I'm worried that next time,

if you put the same garbage
through this process,

this probably isn't gonna be the result
we're all going to get.

And now, this.

Can Meghan McCain
Just Say One Thing ?

Can I say one thing too ?
As the Republican on the show...

Can I say one thing, really ?
Can I say just one more quick thing ?

Can I say one thing really quickly ?
Can I say something now ?

- Can I say something now ?
- You just have to do a little digging.

Can I say one final thing ?
Can I say something ?

Can I say something really quick ?
Can I say something ?

Can I say one final thing ?
Could I just interject ?

Can I just ask one more question ?
Can I say one thing, though ?

Can I say one thing ?
'Cause we know each other.

Can I say one thing ?
Can I just jump in really quick ?

Can I say something really quick ?
Can I say one more thing ?

- Can I just say really quick ?
- No. Let me just finish.

Moving on. Our main story
tonight concerns Mount Everest.

It's no longer just a mountain,

it's everyone's go-to metaphor
for a significant challenge.

It's the Mount Everest
of ice cream sundaes.

The Everest of bar food.
The homemade tater tot.

Adam is 20 minutes in,
and he has two and a half dozen left.

This oyster tower is my Everest.

Is it ?
'Cause it really shouldn't be.

When you host a show called
"Man versus Food",

living past 50 with your original
heart should be your Everest.

Everest was first summited
in 1953

by Sir Edmund Hillary
and Tenzing Norgay.

Before, it had seemed
an almost impossible feat.

But as you may've seen,

since then, climbing Everest has
become dangerously popular.

On top of the world, a deadly climbing
season growing more dangerous.

11 killed,
including three Americans.

New video of that line
to reach the top of the world.

Climbers stood in freezing conditions
waiting to get to the peak

and some were pushing
and jostling for photographs

on a space the size of two Ping-Pong
tables thousands of meters up.

Holy shit. The only thing more
dangerous than jostling for photos

on a mountaintop the size
of two Ping-Pong tables

is jostling for photos on two
actual Ping-Pong tables.

11 deaths at Delta Chi house.
Nine of them sad.

Climbing Mount Everest
has somehow gone

from being a rare feat
of extraordinary skill,

to something that looks like
the line at Trader Joe's.

The mountain gets littered with trash.
A cleanup expedition this year

brought down 24 000 pounds
of garbage.

There is also a lot of human
shit up the mountain,

which thanks in part to climate
change, is now sliding downhill,

in what's been called
"a fecal time bomb".

Which is a phrase that should be
printed on every baby onesie.

It's cute and it's accurate.

Let's look at what is causing
these issues,

how Everest's climbing
industry operates

and how we can make things safer.

There's actually nothing new
about this overcrowding problem.

Look at this eerily familiar story
from 2012.

These are images
from high up on Everest.

The path to the peak
clogged with climbers,

as many as 200
gambling with their very lives.

Everest is just
as ridiculously popular today

as it was seven years ago.

There's not many things
you can say that about,

it's basically Everest,
Rickrolling and that's about it.

There's a number of reasons
that explain the persistence

of the crowds at Everest,
as this Sherpa explains.

Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down,

Never gonna run around
And desert you.

It's still fun. You didn't
see it coming and it's still fun.

One reason for overcrowding is that
you can't climb to the top whenever,

there is one major summiting window,
which lasts about 10 days in May.

And in some years, like this one,
bad weather shrinks that time

down to just a few days.

Which was fine when climbing
Everest was relatively rare.

For the first 35 years
after Hillary and Norgay,

there were just 260 ascents.

The 1990s saw the advent
of commercial expeditions,

clients paying for mountain guides
and Sherpas to help them,

causing that number to explode
to over 1 900 by 2003.

And there's now been
over 9 000 successful summits.

With that many people going up,
you might think it's hard to stand out.

Some have bent over backwards
to make their climb unique,

from the oldest to get to the top,
to the youngest, to all this nonsense.

Ben and Shaunna
will be the first Canadian couple

to make it to the summit
of Everest together.

In 2001, Stephan Gatt was the first
to snowboard off the summit,

while husband and wife team
Bertrand and Claire Roche

became the first people
to fly off the top in a paraglider.

It's 5:40 A.M. and Rod's
reached 29 028 feet,

the highest point on earth.

But he's got one more goal:

to make the world's highest
ever cell phone call.

Nice work, Rod. The highest ever
cellphone call. That's incredible.

Or, it would've been, but Rod had
AT&T, so the call never went through.

I got you, Business Daddy !
I got you so good !

If I could get serious for a moment,

there is something
I've been meaning to say:

I know I give you a hard
time, Business Daddy,

but the truth is, you're
the only Business Daddy I have.

I know that
you want what's best for me.

It's not easy
having me as a Business Boy.

I don't say this
as often as I should,

but I love you, Business Daddy.

I hope that we never lose
that special connection we have.

I'm so glad our connection
isn't on your wireless network,

'cause it's absolutely terrible.

I did it again !
I got you, Business Daddy.

Business Baby's out of control !
I'm acting up.

I'm sorry, where was I ?
That's right: Mount Everest.

Hundreds of people
now go up every year.

Commercial expeditions haven't
just increased access to the mountain,

they've also increased comforts.

There are now "luxury expeditions"
that can cost up to $130 000,

offering things like heated tents
with dining tables.

We should talk about how all those
amenities and, indeed, most climbers,

get up the mountain,
and that's with Sherpas.

The majority of expeditions
rely on Sherpas to do everything

from carrying supplies to putting up
tents to setting the ropes and ladders.

They are integral to commercial
expeditions, as this Sherpa will tell.

How many of the clients
that you see coming to Everest

could do it without you ?

- I would say zero.
- Zero ?

- None of them ?
- None.

For many climbers, Everest
is not unlike Simon and Garfunkel.

There is someone along
for the ride to the top

and there's someone
pulling all the weight.

I'm not saying who's who
and neither is Art Garfunkel,

unless Paul Simon
writes it for him.

Just a quick note regarding

Sherpas, with an uppercase "S"
are an ethnic group.

Sherpas, lowercase "s"
are the mountain workers,

some of whom, but not all,
are Sherpas uppercase "S".

Extra fun fact: a word that changes
meaning when it's capitalized

is known as a "capitonym".

Now you have the perfect tidbit
handy next time you want

to self-destruct on a first date,
that's yours to have fun with.

Sherpas take on
a lot of responsibility and risk.

One of the most dangerous parts
of Everest involves

the Khumbu Icefall, a notoriously
deadly area

littered with gigantic blocks
of ice that can fall at any moment,

as well as huge crevasses.

Some Sherpas known
as "Icefall Doctors"

prepare the crossing
for climbers each season.

For a sense of just how
dangerous this job is,

take your anxiety medicine
of choice and watch this.

After four hours,
they're back at the crevasse.

It's so wide, three ladders
need to be latched together.

The first crossing is always
the most dangerous.

The risk is the unsecured end
will collapse.

Temba knows that the icefall doctor
he replaced died the previous year

on this mountain
down a crevasse.

Keep going forward.
Nice and easy.

Take it easy.
Don't get scared !

Wait: "Don't get scared ?"
The fuck are you talking about ?

That is very scary ! Fear is
the body's natural response.

That doesn't help. It's like telling
someone: "don't get thirsty"

or "don't be cold" or "don't sneeze
at this photo of Justin Long."

Why are none of you sneezing ?
You're being weird. Take that down !

I do know that I cut that clip
off there, and you're worried

about whether he made it
to the other side,

so let me just show you the end,
it's absolutely amazing.

I got you again ! It's still fun !
Rick's still got it.

That guy did make it across,
don't worry.

Even after the ropes and ladders
are fixed,

the Icefall is still dangerous
for those who cross it.

While clients may only have
to pass through it a few times,

Sherpas have to pass
through it far more often.

Time spent in the Icefall
is borrowed time

because the more time you spend
in it, the more likely you are

to be buried alive.

On each expedition as their
clients sleep in heated tents,

the Sherpas have to carry
the tourist gear through the Icefall

not once or twice,
but about 40 times,

40 times as baggage porters
through this valley of death.

40 times. That seems like
between 39 and 40 too many times.

It puts their customers' achievements
in a different context.

If your friend ran a marathon,
but only because someone else

ran a thousand miles back and forth,
bringing them Gatorade

and carrying a dining table,
you might not cheer quite so hard

at the finish line.

Everest Sherpa ranks among the most
dangerous occupations on earth.

Many are willing to do this,

because there aren't many jobs
that pay as well.

The fact they are risking their lives
for the ambitions of well-off climbers

is uncomfortable to square,
no matter how hard some might try.

Watch one TV presenter
ask his Sherpa to help him

grapple with the morality
of what he's asking him to do.

If I wasn't here,
you wouldn't be here.

And you wouldn't have
to go through the Icefall

and I know of the tragedies
that have happened,

so I'm fascinated to know
and I'd love to hear your thought

whether you think it's wrong
that we should be here ?

During our expedition,
we are like same family.

I love that.
Yeah, come here. Thank you.

I like those sentiments.
When we're away from family.

I agree. It's nice.

I love that description
that we're family.

It's not client and Sherpa.
We're in this together.

But it is client and Sherpa.

You jumped on his answer
real quick, there.

That Sherpa barely had time to get
it out before you were hugging him.

That is not the warm
embrace of family,

that's one man physically squeezing
the white guilt out of another.

Huge risks are being
taken by Sherpas

to give their clients the bragging
rights of conquering the mountain.

Purely in terms of the skills
needed to make it to the top,

Everest isn't actually the most
difficult mountain to climb.

Don't take that from me,
I don't know anything.

Mountaineers will tell you
the same.

Everest is a very difficult endeavor.
It's not a very technical mountain.

It doesn't require a lot
of technical climbing skill.

If you can get fit enough to keep
putting one foot in front of the other,

you can get up.

If you're going
with a commercial tour,

you don't need much technical
ability to climb Everest.

Theoretically, I could do it,
if I just trained a little.

I know what you're thinking:
with that body,

is there any way
you could be training harder ?

I'm a beast. Not a day goes by that
I don't sacrifice sweat

to the gods of swole
at the Temple of Iron.

I got a mortgage from Swell's Fargo

and I've been passing
plate ever since.

I call this one "Papier"
and this one "Maché"

because my shit is shredded.

While Everest doesn't require
much technical skill,

inexperience can still be deadly,
especially as you near the peak.

Climbers can experience something
called "summit fever".

They want to get to the top,

not considering whether they'll have
energy to get down.

It can be hard to make
good decisions up there,

the area above 26 000 feet
has only 30 percent of the oxygen

that there is at sea level.

It is called the "Death Zone",
what it can do to your body is brutal.

It's impossible to stay at these
heights for more than a few days.

The stomach stops digesting food,

the heart stops pumping blood
to the fingers and toes

and the brain
goes into meltdown.

Your brain is now swelling
because of the hypoxia.

It has nowhere to go because
it's constrained by your skull.

The only exit out of your skull is
where your spinal cord comes down.

Your brain is being squeezed
out of your skull.

Delightful. I'm surprised descriptions
didn't continue getting worse.

Your brain is squeezed out,
your nipples retract into your chest

and start stabbing your heart,
your kneecaps explode,

re-form, and then explode again,

and the bones in your arms and legs
switch places.

Ideally, inexperienced climbers

would not be allowed to try
something so dangerous.

But the limits on Everest
are very lax.

The limits on half
of Everest are very lax.

There are two major routes
that commercial expeditions follow.

One from the Tibetan side
and one from the Nepalese side.

The Tibet side is more
technically difficult

and the government has limits
on how many people can summit.

But the Nepal side is a little easier
and there are no limits

on how many climbing permits
the government issues.

You need to pay an $11 000 fee

and have a doctors' note
that deems you physically fit.

And that's a pretty big loophole,

even the least-physically-fit
person on earth

can get a glowing
doctor's note.

I know this for a fact
because he recently did.

A massive two-thirds
of climbers go up the Nepal side

and a shocking number of them
are unqualified to do that,

as a Nepalese official admits.

How many of the climbers
that you permit to climb,

do you think
are well qualified ?

- Maybe around 50, 55 percent ?
- 50 percent ? Half ?

Only half are qualified !

Then why are you
letting the other half climb ?

If Cirque du Soleil had
half its trapeze artists

be trained acrobats and the other
half enthusiasts with $11 000

and their own tiger bodysuit,
you would shut that shit down

before someone got badly hurt.

Nepal relies
heavily on tourism revenue,

so they've been slow
to make changes.

They are not the only ones
to blame.

Guiding companies could
also turn down unqualified climbers.

Many good ones do.
Unfortunately, many bad ones do not.

Take Shriya Shah-Klorfine,
a Canadian woman who decided

to climb Everest, despite having
no serious climbing experience.

Shriya got an introduction
to an expedition company:

"Utmost Adventure Trekking"
it's called.

They told Shriya as long as she was
determined, they'd teach her.

She had to be taught almost everything,
from putting crampons on her boots

to how to use them
to cross the ice ladders.

Agreeing to take such an obviously
unqualified climber up Mount Everest

could well be the Mount Everest
of irresponsible decisions.

While that woman
did make it to the summit,

she died
trying to make it back down.

Slow, inexperienced climbers
aren't just a danger to themselves,

they can be a danger
to everybody else.

The top of Everest
is just two Ping-Pong tables

and the route down is
sometimes single file.

If people aren't moving,
you can get stuck.

Listen as some experienced guides
worry about a client who's summited,

but who can't get down, because
people who probably shouldn't be there.

It should only take about 10 minutes
a person at the maximum.

I feel really sorry for Bill
and the guys up there.

Russ, we haven't moved.

Yeah, I know.

23 people queued up
on the second step.

The most pathetic sight
I can see

is the people who can't even down
climb a ladder one step at a time.

I'm sorry for the pathetic standard
of mountaineering in front of you

and I hope they can hear.

His frustration is understandable.
Think about the violent rage

you felt the last time
you couldn't walk down an escalator,

because assholes were standing still.

Now imagine doing that for hours,
in freezing temperatures,

as your brain leaks
down your spinal cord.

You'd be angry, too.

We're never going to get the number
of deaths on Everest down to zero.

There is inherent risk there.
Or at least, there will be

until one of the luxury expeditions
offers a bespoke catapult experience

in which clients are lobbed
in a private pressurized bubble.

But there are steps that Nepal
could take to manage the risks,

like reduce permits to
prevent overcrowding,

space out expeditions
and place limits

on the number of companies
that can operate...

Until Nepal does that, there will
continue to be deaths

that could have been prevented.

You question the motives
behind some of these climbs.

Even Sir Edmund Hillary was depressed
at what he had seen Everest become.

In these commercial expeditions

the guides work pretty hard
getting their customers up.

But all the customers want to try
and get to the top of the mountain

and then come down and boast
about it to their friends at home.

Very few of them,
and I've talked to many of them,

have a deep feeling
of love for the mountains.

Some aren't doing it out
of a passion for mountaineering,

but just because they want
to say they climbed Everest.

You think a selfie
from the summit of Makalu

is gonna get Everest-levels
of Instagram love ?

Of course not !
Who gives a shit about Makalu ?

It's only the ninth-tallest
mountain on earth.

Or rather, it would be,
if it existed, which it doesn't,

'cause I just made it up and none
of you noticed and that's the point.

Or, it would be,
if I had made it up.

Makalu is neither imaginary
nor the ninth-tallest mountain:

it's the fifth-tallest
and that's the point.

Or, rather, it would be,
if that were even Makalu.

That's the view from Everest
and you didn't notice

'cause the only thing most of us
know about mountain climbing

is that a selfie from the Everest

is fire because goals and thus
deserves some serious Insta-love

and that is the point here.

This points to a possible solution.
In researching this story,

we stumbled upon this tantalizing
attempt to secure bragging rights.

An Indian couple's accused
of faking a Everest climb.

A photo posted to the tour company's
website claimed to show

the woman at
the peak of Everest.

Another climber said this is a
Photoshopped picture of him.

They just Photoshopped
themselves up there.

That is the boldest
use of Photoshop to trick people

that I've seen, since I stumbled
across this sealpony hybrid.

It's amazing ! if you are going to put
yourself on top of Everest,

put yourself on a seal-pony,
it's just better !

The more you think about it,
the more brilliant this idea becomes.

If it is just a summit photo
that you want,

faking it is probably the most
ethically defensible way to get it.

If even faking it seems
like too much work to you,

we've created the company
"Adventures Indoors Luxepeditions",

the world leader in getting people
to the summit of Everest

without ever going there.

We believe that climbing Everest
should be for qualified climbers.

But that doesn't mean that you
can't visit the top of Everest.

Simply visit

a website
that was surprisingly available.

Once you are there,
you'll be asked:

"Would you like
to climb Mount Everest ?"

Simply click "Yes" and you can
then insert a picture of yourself,

either alone, with friends, or a pet,
onto the top of Everest,

all without posing any risk.

Our fatality rate is close to zero,

not too bad for the oldest Photoshop
expedition out there,

operational since Earlier
This Week 2019.

We know everyone wants
an arbitrary world record attached,

so you can also customize your
photo with your personal first,

like this one, of the first twin
babies to summit Everest.

Look at those fecal time bombs !
What an achievement.

What are you waiting for ?

Climbing Mount Everest has become
an industry with blood on its hands.

But it's one of the most striking
photos you can have of yourself.

Join me in embarking upon the Everest
of Instagrammable moments.

Visit TheTopOfMountEverest-dot-com.
Why do it ? Because it's there.

I'm going up. Shoo, Sherpa !
I'm doing it on my own.

I did this myself !
I did it on my own !

That's our show. Thanks for watching.
See you next week. Good night !

I did it !
Get out of here.

You're in frame.
Go get me a dining table.

I did it !
I'm on top of the world !

I'm the first British man with glasses
in a navy blue suit

to get to the top of Everest.

I did it !