Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 6, Episode 7 - Mobile Homes - full transcript

This week, Trump lies, why Stephen Moore and Herman Cain are terrible picks for the federal reserve, Baltimore's mayor embroiled in scandal, the secret star of TV divorce courts, and a deep dive into the hidden disasters of mobile homes.

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

welcome to "last week tonight."

I'm John Oliver, thank you so

much for joining us.

Just time for a quick recap of

the week, and it was a busy one

for the president, who, in

between claiming his father was

born in Germany when he was born

in New York, mispronouncing the

word "origins" as "oranges"

repeatedly, and trolling

Joe biden for touching women...

which seems, y'know, a bit

fucking rich... made a major and

shocking decision on Thursday

regarding the federal reserve.

President trump is said to of

selected Herman Cain for the

federal reserve board.

A former pizza executive

turned radio talk show host who

dropped his 2012 republican

presidential bid amid sexual

harassment allegations, not a

typical resume for a federal

reserve board member.

Oh, really?

You sure about that?

You think the resume of

pizza maker, talk show host, and

alleged sexual harasser would be

pretty unusual for the fed?

Well, why don't you tell that to

the rest of the board, six

Mario batalis?

But it is true, picking

Herman Cain for the federal

reserve is bonkers, and comes

just two weeks after trump also

said he'll nominate

Stephen Moore, a TV commentator

and fellow at a conservative

think tank.

And these two likely nominees

are causing more concern than

your typical trump

administration appointee, and

for good reason, as I'll let a

former deputy secretary of the

treasury explain.

It's one thing to be putting,

you know, your political friends

and cronies, you know, within

the agencies, but to put them on

the board of the central bank is

something that is... that has to

be done very, very cautiously,

because the moment the fed loses

credibility, it's almost

game over.

Now, that's a pretty

bold statement.

She's basically saying,

"go ahead, put 'Mr. oops' in

charge of the department of

energy, or a mint condition cpr

dummy in charge of opioids and

middle east peace, or hand the

commerce department over to a

man who looks like

Jackson pollock if he had lived

or Moby if he had died.

But the fed?

You don't fuck around with the


And that is because a lot of

America's economic power depends

on people's trust in the

stability of the dollar.

It is the world's reserve

currency in part because the fed

is seen as a reliable,

independent institution.

Trump has actually already

filled four of the fed's seven

seats... including the chairman,

Jerome Powell... but those

appointments didn't get much

press because all of these

people are fundamentally


Cain and Moore, however, aren't.

Cain has argued for a return to

the gold standard, a virtually

unheard-of opinion among

respected economists, while

Moore is a tireless advocate of

supply-side economics, he helped

design the tax cut that blew a

hole in Kansas' budget, and once

asked if the country even really

needs a fed.

But instead of spending time

breaking down why their economic

views should be disqualifying,

I'd like to make a point that

requires no knowledge of

monetary policy whatsoever, and

that is that these two guys are


They're just a pair of

dangerously goofy goofs.

And this isn't actually a job

where that's okay.

Fed board members are famously

careful with anything they say

in public because markets can

react violently.

Just two words from the fed

chair sent markets soaring last

November, and these two are not

known for thinking before they


Here's is Stephen Moore on a CNN

panel last year discussing

stormy Daniels and deciding to

blow the doors off the room with

this awesome joke.

We're discussing a sitting

president being sued by a

porn star, and it's part of

almost like the routine of

today's news cycle, which is the

interesting part of it.

Kevin, are you saying that a

porn star would actually try to

call attention to herself?

Shocking, right?

I mean, that's what

porn stars do!

Nailed it.

You nailed it, Stephen.

You don't want that man's mouth

moving markets.

Now, as for Herman Cain, let me

remind you, this is a man who,

when he ran for president, once

asked a crowd of

Cuban-Americans, "how do you say

'delicious' in Cuban?,"

he bragged about not knowing the

president of


Stan-Stan," and had this

memorable moment in a

presidential debate:

A poet once said, "life can

be a challenge, life can seem

impossible, but it's never easy

when there's so much on the


All right, so, it turns out

that quote wasn't exactly


It was, strictly speaking, a

song from the end of

"pokemon the movie" from 2000.

It's true.

It's true.

Herman Cain quoted this pokemon

movie during a presidential

debate, which is both the worst

place to do that and also

technically the best place to do

it, because who on that stage is

going to risk calling you out?

"Excuse me, but I believe my

opponent just attributed that

quote to a poet, when it really

comes from the theme song to the

film 'pokemon the movie 2000,'

whose lyrics I also know by

heart, and oh, god, I'm just now

realizing this is worse for me

than it is for him, please carry


Ignore what I just said."

And as if all that weren't

disqualifying enough, I know

personally that Herman Cain

should not be on the fed,

because after he dropped out of

that presidential race, I did a

series of interviews with him

for "the daily show" where he

pretended to be in office, and

in which he, for some reason,

did anything I asked him to do.



Look into that camera and

convince Nicolas cage to give

that constitution back.

Nicolas, bring back our


I respect you, cage, but get a


We have just had the results

back from your latest

presidential physical, and it

turns out you have telepathic


Look into that camera and

convince the Chinese that they

need to step down.

It's your move.

Oil is spilling everywhere

and it has devastated America's

national parks.

Gather those most affected and

explain to them why their

sacrifice is not in vain.

Creatures of the forest,


If any part of you is

thinking, how did I get him to

do that stuff?

I just asked him.


He took orders from some

birdy twit with a pixie cut.

And look, at this point, you may

be wondering what trump sees in

these two men.

Well, just that.

He wants people who will do

exactly what he tells them to.

You've just seen how well Cain

takes direction, and Moore is

such a trump sycophant that he

co-wrote a flattering book

called "trumponomics" and said

trump should win the nobel prize

in economics.

And this should be worrying to

you, as trump seems to be

looking to bring the fed under

his control.

He's reportedly furious that it

has raised interest rates,

slowing down the stock market,

and he's publicly attacked

Jerome Powell, a huge breach of

custom, and reportedly

considered firing him.

And if he manages to install

Moore and Cain, that could

fundamentally undermine the fed,

so it's important the senate

stand against these nominations.

And I know that this could be a

difficult fight, but as a poet

once said, "come with me, the

time is right.

There's no better team.

Arm in arm, we'll win the fight.

It's always been our dream.


Gotta catch em' all.

It's you and me, I know it's my



Let's move on now to Baltimore.

Baltimore is a great place to

get crabs if you can't find

post Malone.

Now, Baltimore has a long

history of corruption, but its

latest scandal is truly


Well, mayor Catherine pugh is

speaking out amid the ethics

controversy surrounding her

business dealings with the

university of Maryland medical


The mayor had served on the

board of directors since 2001,

and throughout an eight-year

period, she sold the medical

system $500,000 worth of her

"healthy Holly" children's


It's true.

Baltimore's mayor has apparently

made hundreds of thousands of

dollars off several local

entities, some of which have

business before the city,

purchasing her self-published

books, including "healthy Holly:

Vegetables are not just green,"

Fruits come in

colors like the rainbow," and

presumably, "healthy Holly:

Fruits come in vegetables but

only when they receive verbal


And look, look, it is hard to

believe pugh's books were purely

bought on the basis of literary


Reporters who've read them have

pointed out that, for a start,

she can't seem to settle on the

correct spelling of the name for

one of her main characters.

Also, she seems to think a

normal, healthy dinner involves

a family gathered around four

massive plates of salad with one

smaller salad that sits in the

center of the table untouched

while your dad says normal

things like, "we are having

spinach with our dinner.

It is a vegetable."

And finally, in her educational

children's book about eating

right, she spelled fucking

"vegetable" wrong.

And "vege tale" sounds like

slang that douchey bros use when

they pick up girls at vegan


"Yah, brah, I'm gonna gulp down

some quinoa, pretend I fucks

with Kale, and then try to smash

some of that vege tale.

All day, son.

All day."

And the scandal widened this

week after it emerged that the

amount she has received from

high-profile organizations or

people has now reached $800,000.

Pugh is now on leave because

she's fighting pneumonia, but

before she left, she called a

press conference to defend


And in this appearance, where

she was dealing with accusations

that she'd misused her office to

promote a side project, she did

Mayor pugh also showed us her

child clothing line which has

slogans to get active on them as


There was bibs and onesies.

It's true.

She basically started Hawking

her idea for a kids' clothing

line, and she did it for three

full minutes.

As you can see from these

bibs, it was about teaching

children to walk, run, crawl,

skip, dance.

Some to eat healthier.

To play and crawl.

And same thing here with the


Swim, jump, play,

walk, run, crawl.

Okay, a few things

First, "walk, run, crawl,

skip, dance," sounds less like

something you'd put on a onesie

and more like something that

bjork whispers to you at the end

of a conversation instead of

saying "goodbye."

"Walk, run, crawl, skip, dance.


Second, second, if the clothes

you're making are that small,

your baby is not ready to swim.

And finally, how is a baby

supposed to learn healthy eating

habits from a bib that reads

"eat healthy"?

The baby can't see the bib when

it's on.

It just can't bend its neck far


And I know what you're thinking,

just look in the mirror, baby.

Look in the mirror after you put

your bib on but before you eat.

But then, of course, the writing

will be backwards, making it

even more difficult to decipher

for a baby who already...

and this is true... cannot

fucking read.

But let's put all that aside and

let's say this baby can read

backwards, looks in the mirror

before a meal, and intuits the

message that it should eat


It's still going to be

physically strapped into a chair

and fed whatever its parents

pick because babies have no

agency 'cause that's how babies


Now, investigators are now

looking into this situation, and

while there have been no charges

so far, the whole thing does not

look good for the mayor.

And unless there is some very

good explanation that I can't

see and does not exist, it

might be better for her to read

the writing on the onesie and

walk, run, crawl, skip, dance,

her way out of office.

And now this.

And now, a

tribute to the secret star of

divorce court.

Mr. Marino, did your wife

catch you with your situation

out on your phone, texting it to

other people?

It couldn't have been me.

I don't know.

I was like, well, I knew she

found out.

I'm just going to make up an


We hang out all the time, so

I wouldn't remember...

I do tend to react that way,

because my feelings be hurt.

Because that's how large the

argument was throughout those

few days.

You should have known I was

going out with some other guy.


Because I feel...

there's no "I guess."

If I say something...

a lot of the conversation was


I did do that.

But that's not how we started.

She was in the backseat with

two dudes in the car.


Moving on.

Our main story tonight concerns

mobile homes.

Perfected by humans, but

invented by snails.

There are many misconceptions

about mobile, or manufactured


For instance, right now, you may

be picturing something that

looks like this.

But for decades, the industry

has been trying to change that

image, running ads like this

You bought a mobile home?

Today's manufactured home.

You bought a house!

Factory-built quality at a

price that makes sense.

We have three big bedrooms.

I love it.

It's a manufactured home.

Today's manufactured home.

You bought a house.


I think I get it.

But for the record, that sexy

saxophone riff would make a

reveal of anything seem good.

Here, I'll show you.

You bought a taxidermy fox?

You bought a fox!

But it is true, it can be

genuinely hard to tell the

difference between manufactured

homes and conventional homes.

Just like it's hard to tell the

difference between

Jessica chastain and

Bryce Dallas Howard.

The difference is, like a mobile

home, Bryce Dallas Howard is

assembled off-site then placed

on wheels and moved to her

permanent location.

Around 20 million people live in

mobile homes.

That's roughly 1 in 18

Americans, and they're one of

America's last affordable

housing options, costing up to

50% less per square foot than a

conventional house.

Which is great, but in recent

years, some of the biggest

investors in America

have moved into this industry.

According to one new report,

over 100,000 home sites,

traditionally run by mom-and-pop

businesses, are now owned or

partly owned by private equity

firms like these.

So the homes of some of the

poorest people in America are

getting snapped up by some of

the richest people in America.

And luckily, there've been no

problems whatsoever.

Except I'm obviously kidding.

It's going terribly.

If you want to hear me lie about

stories to make you feel better,

you might enjoy our spinoff

show, "everything's fine!

With John Oliver."

Did you know Isis is just


This little terrorist's name is

dumpling, and he doesn't even

know how to use his gun!

Sadly, back in the real world,

the truth is, the rise of

big-money investors in mobile

homes has led to a corresponding

spike in rents, fees, and

local-news stories like these:

People living at a local

mobile home park outraged over

the sharp increase in lot rent.

Rents were raised by as much

as 36%.

Rents were raised by nearly


Ella karcher lives on a fixed


Her lot rent's just gone up, and

it all adds up to a bill she

can't afford.

Now it's a matter of, "okay,

now which medication am I going

to take and half so that I can

make it stretch out a little bit


That's clearly


Nobody should be made to stretch

out medicine.

It's sad enough when you stretch

out your almost-empty bottle of

shampoo by adding a bunch of


And if you didn't relate to that

joke, you haven't suffered a

single day in your life.

So tonight, let's take a look at

the mobile home industry.

And let's start with the company

that sells more mobile homes

than any other, Clayton homes,

controlled by one of the richest

men in America, Warren buffett.

Although the company's ads used

to feature a more down-home


What do I know about

Clayton homes?

I know they're built right here

in America.

And they know the difference

between a house and a home.

Hey, miss Kay, a home is where

you get your famous sweet potato

pie, honey.

And you all know how we all

try to make miss Kay happy,

happy, happy.

Clayton homes.

Good call.

Judging by that creepy

delivery, there is no way that

"getting her famous sweet potato

pie" is not also code for some

kind of disgusting sex act.

It probably means miss Kay

smearing pie filling on his

ball sack while a live duck

scrapes it off with its bill.

And if it does, good call.

But the key difference between a

mobile and conventional home has

nothing to do with pie.

It has to do with how it retains

its value.

Just listen to finance guru

Dave Ramsey give his no-nonsense

take on whether or not you

should buy one.

Mobile homes go down in


It's the only thing that you

own, that you live in, that goes

down in value.

Even if you buy dirt under it

that goes up in value more than

it goes down in value so it

appears you didn't lose money,

you lost money.

You buy a $50,000 mobile home,

in a few years, it's a $10,000

mobile home.

I mean, cars go down in value,

mobile homes go down in value.

It's a car you sleep in.

I gotta say, I find the

negativity of his tone genuinely

refreshing there.

That guy should replace

Jim cramer on his show.

No more running around excitedly

pressing buttons like a little

boy at an arcade, just an angry

old grump hunched over a desk

telling you you're going to lose


So mobile homes may be a

terrible investment for people

buying them, but they've been an

incredible investment for

Warren buffett.

Clayton homes generated pre-tax

earnings of $911 million last

year, and they've done that not

just by selling homes but by

financing them as well, because

instead of being financed with

mortgages, mobile homes tend to

be bought with high-interest,

shorter-term chattel loans, the

kind you'd use to buy a car or a


And an investigation a few years

back found Clayton relies on

predatory sales practices,

exorbitant fees, and interest

rates that can exceed 15%,

trapping many buyers in loans

they can't afford.

Now, Clayton strenuously denies

all that, saying the report was

based on isolated incidents, and

its customers report high levels

of satisfaction.

Although I will point out that

one of those isolated incidents

was this call a Clayton customer

got when she fell behind on


Why don't you try something

to come up with the money by the


What should you... what do

you suggest except for the

things that you already suggest,

which doesn't work?

Donate plasma or donate



I'ma get $800 for that?


But that's one way to come up

with a little bit of money,


Holy shit.

"Go donate blood."

I guess one way to get your

customers to report high levels

of satisfaction is to make sure

they're all feeling light-headed

after you literally bleed them

fucking dry.

But one of the biggest problems

here isn't even to do with how

you pay for a mobile home or how

quickly it loses value.

It's where you put it.

Because around a third of

mobile home dwellers own their

homes but don't own the land

underneath it.

That's because they live in

mobile home parks and pay rent

on that land to the park owner.

But in recent years, large

investors have been snatching

those parks up and either

tearing them down or ratcheting

up rent and fees, as these women

experienced first-hand.

The ingdol family decided to

sell the park and they sold it

to the Carlyle group.

First of all, Carlyle started

off with an immediate 8%

increase in space rent, so that

was a threat to most of us who

are living on fixed income.

I don't know what's gonna


I may be forced to leave


My doctors, my friends.

The life I've known here.

Even though I own my home.

It's true.

That woman may lose her home so

the Carlyle group, an investment

firm with $216 billion in

assets, can make more money for


If the concept of "income

inequality" came to life, that

is the sentence it would scream

when it orgasmed.

Now, Carlyle... Carlyle insists

the price hikes were to pay for

park improvements... which makes

complete sense.

If you asked these fuckers why

they got into private equity,

I'm sure they'd say "to break

even on investments in the

beautification of affordable


Why else would we do this?"

I also apparently have to tell

you that they have a safety net

program for low income

residents, although it only

applies for 81 of them, although

it only attaches 3% of people,

just like the one they use as my

favorite circus, a pile of dead

trapeze artists.

It's fun for the whole family!

Unless you're the family of one

of those trapeze artists.

And if you're thinking, "well

look, that's terrible, but if

those women live in mobile

homes, why don't they just


There's a problem with that, as

one of those women will tell


Although they call them

mobile homes, it would cost

$20,000 to move this home out of


Plus, it would... once you move

them in and they settle, moving

them out's gonna help destroy


She's right.

It can cost thousands of dollars

to move mobile homes, if you can

move them at all.

That's why 80% of mobile homes

never move.

So mobile homes are mobile about

as much as a king crab is

actually a king.

It's just not... except in some

parts of Alaska, where it wields

the power of a despot... but

even then, it constitutionally

shares power with

moose parliament.

So "king" is really a more

ceremonial title.

Alaska is a fascinating place.

And this lack of mobility for

tenants is actually part of the

attraction for big investors.

And to see just how cynical and

predatory the industry can be,

meet frank rolfe.

His company is one of the

largest park operators in the

us, controlling over 30,000 home

sites in 25 states.

Rolfe is an evangelist for the

wonders of mobile home park


Just look at this uplifting

message that he made ahead of

the 2012 election about what it

would mean for his industry,

taped, for some reason, in front

of a shitty green screen oval


If mitt romney wins, things

are good.

And if Barack Obama wins, things

are good.

You see, it doesn't much matter

who wins the election.

All that matters is that the

statistics show that Americans

will continue to get poorer in

that lower half of the



What president webcam is

essentially saying there is,

"no matter what happens, the

poor will suffer, and we will

feast on their rich marrow.

And, as you can see, it's casual

Friday here at the white house,

which is why I sit before you

looking like a divorced dad at a

parent-teacher conference."

Rolfe is shameless about the

degree to which his business

depends on having a captive

customer base, positively

comparing it to running a

waffle house where everyone is

chained to the booths, a concept

so deeply chilling, I think it

may have just inspired

Jordan peele's next movie.

Now you should know, rolfe

maintains that line was taken

out of context.

In fact, he has a whole page on

his website about it, claiming

he was just talking about the

"incredibly consistent revenues"

in mobile home parks.

So he wasn't suggesting that

he's a heartless person whose

customers are stuck there with

him holding all the cards

deciding for himself how high he

wants their rent to go.

To see him say that, you'd need

to enroll in his online

mobile home university, which we

did, and found seminars like

What I've found, and again,

just as a heartless person, is

that, you know, the... the

customers are stuck there.

They don't have any option.

They can't afford to move the


They don't have three grand.

So the only way they can... they

can object to your rent raise is

to walk off and leave the

trailer, in which case it

becomes abandoned property and

you recycle it... put another

person in it.

So you really hold all the


So the question is, what do you

want to do?

How high do you want to go?


Usually when someone is that

contemptuous of poor people,

they're immediately visited by

the ghost of Christmas future.

Now, maybe... maybe rolfe will

claim that quote is out of

context too, and that he's not

arguing they're hostages.

To hear him say that, you need

to send away for rolfe's audio

seminar on running mobile home

parks, which we also did, and

found this:

One of the big drivers to

making money is the ability to

increase the rent.

If we didn't have them hostage,

if they weren't stuck in those

homes in the mobile home lots,

it would be a whole different


Frank rolfe's

mobile home university is

basically a crash course in how

to be an asshole.

Although having taken that

course, I'd argue that if that's

what you're looking for, save

your money and just follow

piers Morgan on Twitter for one


And, look, rolfe's course isn't

just online.

If you attend his mobile home

boot camp, he'll even take you

on a field trip tour of a park.

When you get to the park,

you'll be shocked and turned off

by, for example, the beach towel

in the window instead of an

actual curtain.

That doesn't mean anything.

What you gotta worry about are

the following items:

Infrastructure, density,

expense, age of home, and


Got it?

What's going on?

They're teaching people about

mobile home parks.



That's good.

No, it isn't, though.

It's really not good.

Telling that woman people are

just there to learn about

mobile home parks is like

telling a lobster people came to

the restaurant to learn about

crustacean habitats.


That's good!

Are those knives and forks to

help remove these tiny rubber

bands from my claws?"


They're going to eat you.

So with that woman and many

mobile home residents like her

in danger of having their lives

turned upside down, it is worth

asking, is there anything that

can be done here?

Well, one potential solution is

for residents to band together

and buy their own park, keeping

it out of the hands of

speculators or developers.

And while that sounds inherently

like a long shot, there are

nonprofit groups that have had

real success in helping tenants

get financing to do just that.

What would help is to have laws

in every state that give

residents the right of first

refusal and time to raise funds

if the current owner plans to


But until laws like that are put

in place, which there absolutely

should be, there are some key

If you

want to rent a mobile home,


If you can afford to buy one and

put it on land that you own,


But buying a mobile home and

renting the land underneath it

can be financially catastrophic.

And it is very important that

anyone considering doing that

knows the risks involved.

And I'll tell you what would've

been helpful all along, if the

marketing for these homes had

always made those risks clear.

You bought a mobile home?

Today's manufactured home.

You bought a house.

I can't believe you bought a


I really didn't.

It's exactly like a house.

And what a beautiful piece of


I don't own the land though,

and that's actually a super

important difference.

Look at you all grown up with a


It's a chattel loan with an

astronomical interest rate.

The important thing is, it's

an investment in your future.

It will actually only go down

in value, and since a private

equity firm brought the park, my

rent has skyrocketed.

Are you listening to me?

Oh, I love these decorative


Oh, that's my blood.

I have to sell my blood and

plasma in order to make

loan payments.

But home is where the

sweet potato pie is.

I didn't make that.

Did you make that?

Isn't that burning your hand?

Are you a witch?

I want to see your garden.

No, no, don't go out there.

There she is.

Look, she can't afford to move.

You hold all the


He's right.

It's like a waffle house where I

am chained to my booth.

That sounds delicious.

What is wrong with you?

Speaking of delicious...

stop it.

You bought a house!

Say it again, motherfucker!

That's our show, thanks so

much for watching, see you next

week, good night!

Are you listening to me?

Are you listening to me?

Are you listening to me?

Speaking of delicious.