Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 7, Episode 3 - Episode #7.3 - full transcript

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LAST WEEK TONIGHT
WITH JOHN OLIVER

Season VII
Episode 3

Welcome to Last Week Tonight.

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

It has been a busy week,
so there is frankly no time

for us to talk about the U.S. signing
a deal with the Taliban,

or Joe Biden
winning in South Carolina,

or even the end of billionaire
Tom Steyer's presidential run,

despite the fact the closing days
of his campaign got weird.

This is businessman
Tom Steyer with Juvenile up on stage.

Dancing to "Back That Ass Up".



I have a few questions there.
One, the fuck ?

You spent a quarter billion dollars
on your campaign, was it worth it ?

And three, that song
is called "Back That Ass Up",

why are you not
backing your ass up ?

No one told you to lurch forward

and then do a weird
little lasso that ass up.

Juvenile is standing right next to you
and he's clear about what he wants:

payment in full for this inexplicable
campaign appearance

and also for you
to back your fucking ass up.

No wonder
your campaign failed.

But look, tonight, we're actually
gonna do something different.

Let's dive straight in with
our main story tonight,

which concerns the subject that
has dominated the news all week.

Global hot zones,
the coronavirus spreading.



Fears grow of a global pandemic.

A huge spike in cases in Italy.

Hundreds of cases in South Korea.
New cases reported in Europe.

The CDC warned Americans
to be prepared here at home,

that it's not a matter of if,
but when.

Yes, the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, the CDC said

that its spreading here is not
a question of if, but when.

Not a comforting thing to hear
about the spread of something deadly.

Only if you talk about whether
Saoirse Ronan will win an Oscar

or whether Henry Kissinger
will ever die.

Don't worry ! It's not
a question of if, but when.

And the CDC were not wrong,

there are now several dozen
confirmed cases here in the US,

with the first death
coming just yesterday.

The stock market has taken
its biggest one-week dive since 2008

and many Americans have questions
about how to stay safe.

Joy Johnson emailed us asking:

"Can I get coronavirus from
a package being delivered from China ?"

A great question.

Talk about these masks.
Do we get them or don't we ?

Some are wondering if you
can you protect yourself

from the virus
by gargling with bleach.

- What ?
- Or taking steroids.

Can you get the coronavirus
by eating Chinese food ?

No, no you can't.

Of course you can't get the coronavirus
from eating Chinese food.

If you're eating at a Panda Express,

you can't even get Chinese food
by eating Chinese food.

Although, I will say this,

you are unlikely to get the coronavirus
if you regularly gargle bleach.

You know what they say: being
dead is already the best medicine.

It might be helpful to get the very
basics down here straight away.

What we're talking about is
a sickness called COVID-19,

caused
by a new strain of coronavirus.

Symptoms include fever,
cough, and shortness of breath

and preliminary estimates are that
it has a two percent mortality rate

with the elderly and those with
pre-existing conditions most at risk.

I know some people don't seem
to think that 2 percent is all that bad

as Chuck Todd told us
in the weirdest possible way.

So, last night I surprised
my teenager when I told him

that only 2 percent of those
that get this coronavirus die.

He goes:
"I thought it was much worse."

And I understand
if you just digest social media,

you just digest the headlines,
this feels more deadly than it is.

Okay, so first,
on behalf of your teenager:

"Dad, get out of my room
and stop telling me the news".

But second,
two percent of people is a lot

when you're talking
about those people dying.

Think about it this way,
two percent of people disappearing

was literally
the premise of "The Leftovers",

the show whose pilot did not
consist of Justin Theroux going:

"That was rough but to be honest,
could've been worse !"

and then the show ended.

The fact is, a two percent
mortality rate, if true,

would be about 20 times
higher than the seasonal flu.

While the good news is

around 80 percent of those who get
this virus have mild symptoms,

the bad news is,

that means they are more likely
to spread it without even realizing.

That is one of the things
that makes this so dangerous,

and why, even though
its mortality rate is much lower

than that of SARS or MERS,

this virus has already killed
three times as many people.

One expert has predicted that 40
to 70 percent of the world's population

will be infected
within the next year.

Which is upsetting because
there's only one infectious disease

that two-thirds of the world
should be getting now

and that's
Adam Driver fever.

Shatter my knees,
you fuckable redwood.

Snap off my toes,
you big, unwashed buffalo.

If the stock market is tanking

and people are considering
gargling bleach,

we thought tonight might be a good
time to talk about the coronavirus,

how we got to this point,
what's currently being done

and how this virus has exposed
governmental vulnerabilities

as it has spread around the world.

Let's start
with how all of this began.

The first documented cases

cropped up at the end of last year
in Wuhan, China.

Initially, the Chinese government
wasn't just slow to respond,

officials tried to silence
and punish medical professionals

who tried to raise the alarm,

which almost certainly helped
the disease to spread.

When the Chinese leadership
finally decided to act,

it moved aggressively, putting
nearly 50 million people on lockdown.

One month after Wuhan
sealed off its borders,

its roads are empty and
construction sites are abandoned.

Residents had been permitted
to leave their residential compounds

once every seven days,
but this week,

loudspeakers placed on street corners
notified households of a change.

From now on,
nobody can go out.

Holy shit.
A talking box that tells you

you can't leave your house
feels pretty dystopian.

I much prefer our dystopia,

where a talking box listens
to all our conversations

and then tells Jeff Bezos when
I'll need underwear next.

It's such a convenient way
to give up everything.

People on lockdown in China
are in a very unpleasant situation,

but they've been doing their best
to try and amuse themselves,

like this man, who either
improvised a cool mask

or found a socially acceptable reason
to indulge in a very specific fetish.

Other citizens
made makeshift hazmat suits

out of inflatable Christmas tree
and dinosaur costumes,

while others, indoors, were reduced
to creating their own entertainment

like playing snooker
with chopsticks and cherry tomatoes.

That is the most culinary
resourcefulness that I've seen

since Claire from Bon Appetit Test
Kitchen made Combos from scratch.

I don't know why you do
this to yourself, Claire.

They sell them in stores !

Despite the government
effort at containment,

over 27 hundred people
have now died in China,

among them Dr. Li Wenliang,
an early whistleblower

silenced by officials,
who has since become a symbol

for citizens' anger
at their government's response.

That is how this all began.

The coronavirus has since spread
to more than 60 other countries,

who've handled it
with varying degrees of success.

Vietnam, for instance,
moved quickly,

and among other things, produced
this public information video

about how to limit its spread
through proper hygiene.

Yes, yes...

Vietnam made a song
about washing your hands

to prevent coronavirus infection
and it absolutely slaps.

That's a genuine club banger,
right there.

People like that song so much,
it became a TikTok dance challenge.

The song's incredible !

It makes all other songs about
washing yourself look like trash.

I'm talking
to you here, Ernie.

You've been on top of the pile for
a long time, but you got complacent.

While other artists
were out there innovating,

you kept singing
the same old ducky song.

You lost the hunger, son.

You fell asleep at the wheel and
music moved on without you.

Not all countries have responded
quite as well.

Japan famously botched its handling
of the cruise ship Diamond Princess

by quarantining more than
35-hundred passengers and crew

on the ship itself,
which had disastrous results.

More than 620 cases
have been confirmed

among the passengers
and crew on the cruise ship,

raising worries about how the virus
was able to spread so rapidly

among people
who should have been isolated.

I'll tell you how it spread so rapidly.
They were on a cruise ship.

Under the best of circumstances,
a cruise ship is a floating petri dish.

You might as well have held them
in a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit.

The spread was so bad that
seven passengers have since died

and the WHO's list of coronavirus
cases by country

had a separate line
just for the Diamond Princess.

Which is terrifying, although,
again, in terms of cruises,

still not the worst.

If your options are
the Diamond Princess

or the actual Carnival cruise

where the toilets are so full of shit
they are falling off the walls,

I'm booking the S.S. Coronavirus
10 times out of 10.

10 out of 10.

And in some countries,
the response was handled so badly,

you could watch the virus
spread live on television.

In Iran, a government spokesperson
attempted to reassure people

that the virus was under control,
while the deputy health minister

started mopping away fever sweat
like an Alabama preacher.

That guy was later confirmed
to have the coronavirus,

not before going on TV again
to explain away his symptoms

while coughing all over
the fucking studio.

And if that wasn't bad enough,
which it is,

it turns out the Iranian people now
trust their government so little,

they think
he was staging the whole thing.

They say they're lying
that they have corona,

this is a propaganda.

- They think he's not got it ?
- They say he's lying.

And in three days
he's gonna come out to say:

"I'm recovered,
it's not serious, don't worry."

The level of mistrust towards
Iranian politicians is so deep

that they wouldn't believe anything
that comes out of their mouth.

Iranians won't believe anything that
comes out of their politicians' mouths,

even if that thing
is the actual coronavirus.

That is a huge problem.
Because it is going to be hard

for any government to give effective
advice if people don't believe in them.

Trust in institutions is critical when
trying to contain a possible pandemic.

Unfortunately, that brings us to
the US' response to this virus

and specifically to this guy.

The White House's messaging
has been all over the place this week.

On Tuesday, the very same day
that the CDC said

that the spread of coronavirus in US
was "not a question of if, but when",

one of Trump's top advisers
was on TV saying this.

We have contained this.

I won't say airtight,
but pretty close to airtight.

Which is it ?

Because "airtight"
versus "close to airtight"

is a pretty crucial distinction !

It's the difference between
having a working submarine

and a cool metal tube to die in.

The dissonance there
speaks to a real problem.

In a global health emergency,

you want to hear
from the many trained experts

who we're lucky enough to have working
in our nation's public health agencies.

You do not want
to hear from politicians.

Yet, on Wednesday, the president
had a surprise announcement.

President Trump alongside
his top health advisers

sought to calm a nervous nation,

naming a new point person to lead
the administration's response.

I'm gonna be putting our
vice president, Mike Pence, in charge.

He's got a certain talent for this.

Does he ?
Does he though ?

I was under the impression the only
things Pence had a certain talent for

were avoiding off-leash women,
sucking up to people

who represent the antithesis
of everything he claims to believe in,

and miserably failing at pulling off
a haircut known as "The Judi Dench".

Putting aside Pence's, to put it
mildly, extremely mixed record

as governor of Indiana
on managing public health issues,

even the announcement
that he would be leading the task force

was a debacle.

Alex Azar, the Secretary
of Health and Human Services,

was already supposed
to be chairing that task force

and Trump didn't seem
interested in clarifying their roles

or, indeed,
really being there at all.

Wish him good luck. Who ?

Is Secretary Azar, given the Pence
move, still going to be...

If I could just clarify, you're
not getting the point here of this,

I'm still chairman
of the task force.

- You don't feel like being replaced ?
- Not in the least.

When this was mentioned to me,
I said I was delighted that I get

to have the vice president
helping in this way.

Delighted. Absolutely.

Yeah. He just left.

This was a press conference meant
to calm the nation

and with the most basic question
of who would be running things

seemingly up in the air,
he just fucked right off.

I know we're used to only
seeing businessman Trump,

but it is nice to get a glimpse
of the absentee father in him, too.

It is more
than just a lack of leadership.

It is also concerning that Trump's
focus, when discussing this virus,

seems to be downplaying
any potentially bad news.

He twitted: "The Coronavirus
is very much under control".

There was no way to be sure of that,
as he frankly should have known.

Many of the test kits
the CDC initially developed

to detect the virus apparently
didn't work as expected.

Meaning that,
as recently as Wednesday,

the CDC and only six state labs
were testing for the virus.

Thankfully,
that has since been fixed,

and we're presumably
going to find more cases now.

Trump seemed reluctant to admit
that that will happen.

You can watch
that dynamic in real time,

as officials at the press
conference say one thing

and he tries to massage it
into something else.

We can expect to see more cases
in the United States.

We do expect more cases.

When you have 15 people and
the 15 within a couple of days

is gonna be down to close to zero,
that's a pretty good job we've done.

Yeah. But it won't be
close to zero, will it ?

Your experts just said cases will go up
and you said they will go down.

You can't just ignore real numbers
and make up ones that you like better.

This is the problem with a president
whose entire life has been

a series of low-stakes lies.

A man who has lied about, among
other things, his net worth,

his Apprentice ratings,
the number of floors in Trump Tower,

the size of his Electoral College
victory, the attendance at his rallies,

whether it rained at his inaugural
and even whether or not

he was invited on this
"very boring and low rated show".

Which he wasn't !
He wasn't ! It was a lie !

But there is a difference

between lying about something
that means literally nothing,

and lying about the spread
of a deadly disease.

And that is not the only time
that Trump has peddled false hope.

If you've seen him speak
on this virus at all lately,

you may've seen him repeatedly
reassure everyone

that there is a chance the end of
the outbreak is just around the corner.

There's a theory that in April,
when it gets warm,

historically that has been
able to kill the virus.

A lot of people think that goes away
in April, as the heat comes in.

In April, supposedly, it dies
with the hotter weather,

and that's a beautiful date
to look forward to.

Okay, so first: never call
calendar dates "beautiful".

I don't know how he did it,

but I'm pretty sure Trump just sexually
harassed the month of April.

But second: again, the truth
is much more complicated there.

Because yes, some viruses
do recede in warmer months.

And yes, history's worst
flu pandemic, in 1918,

did ebb away over the summer.

But it is worth knowing that,
come the fall, the virus returned,

was far more severe,

and ended up killing nearly
200 000 Americans in October alone.

This is a bad time to have
a president who can not speak clearly.

There's already enough bad
information flying around.

The president's favorite channel has
been a particular offender here.

Fox anchors and guests have
repeatedly amplified false claims,

from the idea that the virus was
created in a Chinese bioweapons lab,

to the baseless internet rumor

that it came from Chinese people
eating bat soup,

which one commentator used as
an excuse to say how he really feels.

Bat soup may be delicious
to certain people.

Unfortunately, bats are the world's
greatest reservoir for viruses.

What are we gonna do
about China ?

What are we gonna do about
its totalitarian dictatorship

where it's okay to sell live
virus-infected bats in marketplaces

and then have business travel
and tourist travel

between that country
and the civilized world ?

That escalated quickly. He moves
from the vaguely dog-whistle-y

"what are we gonna do about China"

to "it's not part of the civilized
world" at lightning speed.

Truly, that man
is the Usain Bolt of racism,

a comparison I'm certain
he absolutely hates.

It gets worse.

Because some people are even clearly
trying to profit off the present panic,

like televangelist Jim Bakker, who has
a cure that he'd love to sell you.

Would you recommend,
as a doctor,

people to have silver
in their house for a pandemic ?

You never wanna be
without silver.

You're saying that Silver Solution
would be effective ?

Let's say it hasn't been tested
on this strain of the coronavirus

but it's been tested on other
strains of the coronavirus

and has been able to eliminate it
within 12 hours.

Totally eliminate it.
Kills it... De-activates it.

Okay, that is ridiculous.
Silver does not kill coronavirus.

Silver kills werewolves.
Which means first,

you need to get your coronavirus bitten
by a microscopic werewolf.

Where am I gonna find one
of those in this economy ?

That's right,
from our online store.

For just $49.99, we will send you

John Oliver's
Premium Werewolf Solution.

It contains millions of microscopic
werewolves ready to spread

their bestial curse
to your coronavirus.

And then, you can use
the Silver Solution,

which is based on the exact
same amount of science.

The truth is...

While clinical trials are underway,

there is no treatment for
coronavirus at the moment,

and a vaccine could take between
a year and 18 months to develop.

At this point, you may be wondering,
how scared should you be.

And the answer
is probably a bit.

I don't want to be alarmist here,

but I also don't want to minimize
what we could be facing.

It's really about trying
to strike a sensible balance.

If you're drinking bleach to protect
yourself right now,

you should probably
calm the fuck down.

If you lick subway poles because
you're certain nothing can hurt you,

maybe don't do that.

You want to stay somewhere
between those extremes.

Don't be complacent
and don't be a fucking idiot.

As a practical matter, until experts
advise that this threat is over,

we should all be
following some basic advice.

First: don't be racist.

That's just good general advice
for now and for later.

Two: don't hoard masks.

While I understand
that you might want to do that,

you are taking away those masks
from the people who really need them:

healthcare providers
and those who are sick.

Three: check the CDC website
for future updates,

because they could have additional
guidance as this develops.

And this is more important
than it might sound,

wash your hands regularly,
for at least 20 seconds.

I know that that last lesson
is boring and easy to forget,

but luckily, we now know,
that there is a way to ensure

that it absolutely
never leaves your head.

Hit it !

That song fucks.
That fucks so hard. And now this.

Chris Matthews Just Cannot
Seem to Nail His Sign-Off.

That's Hardball, for now.
Thanks for being with us.

All In with Chris Hayes
starts right now.

That's Hardball for now.
Thanks for being with us.

That's Hardball for now.
Thanks for being with us tonight.

Thanks per being with us tonight.
Thanks for being us.

Thank for being with us.
All In with Chris Hayes starts now.

Thanks for being with us in...
All In with Chris Hayes starts now.

All In with Chris Hayes starts now.

All In with MSN...
All In with Chris Hayes starts now.

All In with Chris Hayes.
That's Hardball for now.

All In with Chris Hayes
right now.

Moving on. Finally tonight,
I want to talk to you about baseball.

The only sport that involves
reading made-up sign language

while staring directly
at someone's dick.

That's what the sport is.

With the new season
just around the corner,

a huge scandal has engulfed the sport
and I'm not referring

to the Houston Astros cheating
their way to a championship.

I'm actually talking
about something even more important.

He's one of the most recognizable
mascots in sports

but he could soon be
a free agent.

Unless the team pays out
millions of dollars to keep 'em,

the Phillie Phanatic
could be a thing of the past.

Why do you feel like
it's the heart and soul of the team ?

He embodies everything that
is Philadelphia. He's real !

I hate to break it to that guy,
because based on his face paint,

mullet and colorful bandana,
he's living his absolute best life,

but the Phillie Phanatic
is not actually real.

He's just a person in a costume.
Fun fact: the person inside it ?

Jessica Lange. And she has never
missed a single game.

But it is true, the Phillies
are in a lawsuit over their own mascot

and the concern is, that they
could lose the rights to it.

If you've never heard
of the Phanatic before,

you're frankly in for a treat,
because he's absolutely incredible.

Here he is teaching his cousin Gritty
how to do his signature belly dance.

Here he is dumping popcorn
all over the Phillies' TV broadcasters.

Here he is firing hot dogs
from a cannon into the crowd.

Here he is dressed in a Kiss outfit
playing a guitar that's firing sparks.

And here he is blindsiding
a minor league baseball mascot

who was running the bases.

Was that other mascot okay ?
Ask yourself this: does it matter ?

Last year, the Phanatic released

a four-hour-long Yule Log
video for Christmas,

much of which is him just sitting
in a rocking chair, reading a book,

roasting marshmallows
in the fireplace,

and at one point,
getting tangled in Christmas lights.

No respect to Martin Scorsese,

but that is clearly the best
four-hour film of 2019.

It's not even close.

The Phanatic is an absolute master
of the mascotical arts.

This lawsuit
is genuinely complicated.

It revolves around whether the company
who helped design the Phanatic

has the right to reclaim the copyright
after what's been 35 years.

The filings in this case
are spectacular.

Among other things,
the two parties bicker about

whether the Phanatic
is a costume

or, as the company claimed
in its original submission

to the U.S. Copyright Office,
an "artistic sculpture".

The Phillies argue that
without someone in the costume,

the Phanatic
would have appeared formless.

And to illustrate that,
they provided this actual photo

of an empty costume
lying on the floor.

Which would be the most horrifying
way for this guy to find out

that the Phanatic is not real.

Never show him that photo.
He can not handle it.

Last Sunday, the dispute
took yet another turn,

when, in a move that some
think was prompted by the lawsuit,

the Phillies introduced
a brand new Phanatic design.

Many changes are subtle,
like a shorter snout,

a lighter blue color
around the eyes,

a pair of red shoes and blue socks
and scales under the arms.

The longer blue tail
was a bit more obvious.

It might not look to you
like there is much of a difference

between the new
and the old Phanatic.

But believe me,
there very much is.

And forget the fact that he now
has scales for no reason,

or the bullshit star
shapes around his eyes,

they changed
the Phanatic's honker.

Look at it ! It's a cylinder now.
Which is ridiculous.

The Phanatic's honker
is supposed to be conical !

He's supposed
to have a conical honker !

Now they've made him look stupid.
You respect the conical honker !

Hashtag
#RespectTheConicalHonker.

The point is: the old Phanatic
was perfect just the way he was.

Look at him: he's a Sesame Place 10 !
But now ?

He's a Times Square six,
at best.

I'm not the only one
who hates this new design.

Fans in Philadelphia even started
the hashtag #NotMyPhanatic,

which they've used
to voice their justified anger.

But the most important part
of this story

is that if the Phillies lose this case,
there is a question

over whether the Phanatic could,
theoretically, become a free agent.

Meaning, he could move
to a different team

or a different brand entirely.

And that, my friends,
is where we come in.

We're no stranger
to the mascot game here.

We've never had an official
show mascot before.

And to be honest,
after learning about this,

I'm feeling like I kind
of want one now.

If the Phanatic does
indeed hit the open market,

we are putting ourselves
at the front of that line.

So Phanatic, if you are tired
of being treated terribly,

we have an offer
that we'd like you to consider.

You were the face of Philadelphia
sports for over 40 years.

The Phillie Phanatic.

But all good things
must come to an end.

Sometimes a hero needs
a new challenge, a new home,

a home that doesn't want to change you
into whatever the fuck this is.

A home that respects
the conical honker.

Sure, they tried to knock you
down in the past,

but champions don't stay down.

They get back up, dust off their fur,
show the world what they're made of.

Phanatic, it's time to link up

with the most stacked
mascot lineup in history.

We've got an empty pedestal
just waiting for you.

It's time to fulfill your destiny.

Mr. Phanatic,
you're about to be a free agent.

And if there's gonna be a bidding war,
we're willing to go nuclear.

Name your price,
you magnificent beast.

Join a new team and become
the official mascot

of "Last Week Tonight".

New York is waiting for you.

That's right, Phanatic,

your new team is ready
and waiting for you right here !

We've spent money on things
way stupider than this !

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

LAST WEEK TONIGHT
WITH JOHN OLIVER

END OF EPISODE 3,
SEASON VII