Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 7, Episode 4 - Sheriffs - full transcript

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Welcome to Last Week Tonight.

I am John Oliver.
Thank you so much for joining us.

We have just time
for a quick recap of the week,

which saw Elizabeth Warren
and Michael Bloomberg

their presidential campaigns.

In Bloomberg's case, after spending
over half a billion dollars.

It is hard to overstate just how
much money Bloomberg wasted,

although, as Brian Williams' viewers
know, it's not impossible.

When I read it tonight
on social media,

it kind of all became clear.

Bloomberg spent 500 million on ads.
U.S. population, 327 million.

Don't tell us if you're ahead of us
on the math.

He could have given
each American $1 million

and have had
lunch money left over.

It's an incredible way
of putting it.

It's an incredible way of putting it.
It's true. It's disturbing.

Okay, for the record:
it's not true.

$500 million divided by
327 million is not a million.

It's around a dollar fifty.
Which goes to show, two:

you can't believe
everything you see on Twitter !

Twitter is not
where you go for facts.

It's where you see the official account
for New Jersey tweet: "gabagool",

or Post Malone tweet:
"is meatball an fruit"

or see Henry Winkler posting
photos of him holding fish.

it's all the man does.

But obviously, the big story
of this week was the coronavirus,

how the common cold
describes itself on its resume.

Cases continue to rise,
and unfortunately,

the Trump administration's response
has left a lot to be desired.

The president has been
playing fast and loose with the facts,

claiming a coronavirus vaccine
could be ready in months.

I don't think they know
what the time will be.

I've heard very quick numbers,
a matter of months

and I've heard pretty much a year
would be an outside number.

Only to be contradicted
by the experts.

So he's asking the question:
"When is it gonna be deployable ?"

and that is gonna be,
at the earliest,

a year to a year and a half,
no matter how fast you go.

Every Trump press conference
has to come with an epilogue

from an expert clarifying
all the things he just got wrong.

"The president said a cure would come
quickly, more likely to take a year."

He also said that it's
"the meanest virus he's ever seen".

That's ridiculous, it's a virus,
it has no intent.

You also saw the president
assure us

that you couldn't get the virus
from sucking on deez.

I then mistakenly asked:
'Deez what ?' to which he replied:

'Deez nuts' and
demanded a high five.

"And while I cannot believe
I have to say this,"

"depending on the nuts,
we cannot say for absolute certain"

"you would not get the coronavirus
from sucking on doze nuts."

It is not just that
the Trump administration

is sometimes
doling out bad information,

it's occasionally
no information at all.

On Wednesday,
the vice president gave a briefing

in which he claimed insurance would
cover the coronavirus testing,

but watch as he leaves

before a reporter can ask
a fairly important follow up.

Thank you.

Can the uninsured get tested ?

Gentlemen, ladies,
can the uninsured get tested ?

Screaming for the camera
isn't gonna get you anywhere.

How about answering the question ?
That's a valid question !

Yeah, it is a valid question !

He's asking if nearly 30 million
uninsured Americans will have access

to a test for a deadly,
contagious virus !

That is relevant ! If he was
shouting something pointless out like:

"What's thedifference
between bisque and chowder ?"

"Are chipmunks just baby squirrels ?"

Or: "Should Nelly be considered
an elite rapper ?"

Ignore him.
Those questions are stupid.

For the record,
the answers are:

texture, no, and of course
Nelly's an elite rapper !

"Country Grammar", "E.I.",
"Ride Wit Me", "Batter Up",

on a debut album ?

Get the fuck out of here with
this non-elite rapper bullshit !

The event that summed up how chaotic
the president's response has been

was when he visited the CDC
on Friday, and spent 45 minutes,

among other things, saying
the governor of Washington

"is a snake", asking if his town hall
on Fox News got good ratings

and bragging that every one
of the doctors at the CDC said:

"How do you know
so much about this ?"

to which his answer was:
"Maybe I have a natural ability."

Then, there was the subject
of testing kits,

the current shortage of which may be
allowing virus to spread undetected.

Even Mike Pence has said
it could be a matter of weeks

until the tests
are widely available.

So, right now, not everyone who wants
a test can get a test.

That's important to know, yet
for some reason, Trump said this.

Anybody that wants a test
can get a test.

Anybody right now
and yesterday,

anybody that needs a test,
gets a test.

They have the tests.
And the tests are beautiful.

Set aside how weird it is

to call a test
for a deadly disease "beautiful".

The fact is, what he just
said is flagrantly untrue.

There are currently
not enough available tests.

And you can't just
state something as a fact

because you wish it was true,

anymore that I can just declare myself
America's most fuckable John.

I'm not. I'm just not.
I'm the second most fuckable John,

and until he dies,
I have to be fine with that.

It's an uncomfortable fact.
Perhaps even more worrying,

was how clear it became
that to Trump,

managing perceptions
here is a huge priority.

He kept bragging that the U.S.
has seen only 240 confirmed cases

and 11 deaths, far lower
than some affected countries.

Those numbers kept coming up.
He even cited them when explaining

why he was loathe to evacuate the ship
that's docked off San Francisco,

where 21 people aboard
have tested positive for the virus.

I would rather, because I like
the numbers being where they are.

I don't need to have the numbers
double because of one ship.

I would rather have the numbers
stay where they are.

But if they want to take them off,
they'll take them off.

But if that happens, your 240
is gonna be a much higher number

and probably the 11
will be a higher number, too.

Yeah, it will !

But you get that those numbers
are also people, right ?

And that things that happen
on boats still count, right ?

Otherwise that would mean

that Henry Winkler
has never caught a single fish.

And he has. Look at him,
the man's out for trout !

If Trump had gotten his way and we had
left people on board indefinitely,

the infection
would've likely spread more.

I'd say it's impossible to have such
a callous indifference to human life,

but he does seem to have
a natural ability for it.

Let's move on
to a quick update on India.

Or as people with this accent have
historically called it: "Mine".

A couple of weeks ago,
we did a story

about India's prime minister,
Narendra Modi,

which some diehard Modi supporters
like Arnab Goswami,

the Tucker Carlson of India,
did not enjoy.

The first hint I got that he was
not happy with me

was in a promo
for his upcoming show.

Go look at yourself in the mirror
and tell yourself

whether you're a motivated fool,
consciously or unconsciously a fool,

or whether
you are just malicious.

I don't know if you noticed
there, but when he said:

"Look in the mirror",
this is what was in the mirror.

That might not be me.
That could be Steve Mnuchin

or Milhouse from "The Simpsons",
or this one owl.

Ya know, any number of hotties.
But in case you were thinking

that it could've been someone else,
his show cleared any confusion up.

An ignoramus of exceedingly
global proportions...

A man whose only job
is as a comedian,

he's not even smart
enough to be a satirist.

A person with absolutely
no knowledge and who, I'm told,

even has his "good morning"
and "good evening" written out to him

by his team of researchers.

A British-American
late-night third-rate TV host.

John Oliver,
you embarrassed yourself.

Listen, I'll give you "ignoramus".

I'll even give you
"third-rate TV host".

My researchers assure me
that's actually a compliment.

But I "embarrassed" myself ?
Who do you think you're talking to ?

I used HBO's money
to purchase and wear jeans

designed to give me
a sweet peach on television,

and not only did I publicly
release this photo to the world,

I put it on billboards
to promote this show.

That's in Times Square right now.
I am beyond the capacity for shame !

You can't hurt me.

The interesting thing about him
scolding me about our Modi show

is that that episode
didn't actually air in India.

A lot of our viewers over there
alerted us to the fact that Hotstar,

the streaming service
that broadcasts us in India,

never uploaded that episode.

There is no evidence that the Indian
government made them do that.

As best as we can tell,
Hotstar just decided to self-censor,

which is still not good.

And what's worse is, it's not the first
time that they have censored us.

They've been
quietly doing it for a while now,

not for the reason
you might expect.

Watch this clip from our show
about the census last year.

They made a small splice right after
we showed an ad from the 1980s.

It's subtle,
but just see if you can spot it.

- Can we count on you ?
- You can count on me !

Okay, first, I'll say this,
that is a beautiful song.

It's no "Eat Shit, Bob",
but frankly, what is ?

The concept
of the census is very simple.

Did you catch that ?
That barely noticeable moment

when they smashed
to an unflattering close-up of my face ?

You probably didn't,
because it fits so seamlessly

into the familiar rhythms
and consistent visual style

of this television show.

For the record, here is
what they actually cut out there.

Can we actually count on you,
Mickey ?

It's 1980, you're in a tuxedo
in the middle of the day

and your pupils are the size
of personal pan pizzas.

We all know what that means, Mick:
you've been baking with booger sugar,

horking the rawdilla, riding
the white rail express to Blowmaha.

What I'm trying to say here is:

Mickey Mouse has a really
serious cocaine problem.

I'm just stating a fact.
A Disney fact.

Yeah, they cut out a joke about
Mickey Mouse being a cocaine addict.

Why did they do that ?
It's hard to say.

But it might be because Hotstar
is actually owned by Disney.

And they seem extra-sensitive
about Disney references,

because we also spotted this edit in
our piece on China's one-child policy.

In the sixties and seventies,
overpopulation was a global concern,

with alarmists
making apocalyptic prediction.

The overpopulation hysteria was
global. And China was no exception.

Again: totally seamless and
barely noticeable as an edit.

Well done to everyone involved.

The joke they cut out of that
was about Donald Duck

and how his penis, this is true,
is shaped like a corkscrew.

And that's not even a joke,
by the way.

All ducks have corkscrew-shaped
dicks. Look at this one !

It looks like a freshly boiled
piece of al dente fusilli.

I resent that factually accurate
joke being cut out,

almost more than I resent
our Modi episode being pulled.

Let me say this to Hotstar now:
if you think that you have to remove

anything that reflects poorly
on Disney from this show,

I have some bad news for you,
my friends:

I'm fucking Zazu right here.

Everything that comes out
of this beak is a Disney fact.

If I say that Cogsworth collects
Nazi memorabilia, guess what ?

That's canon, baby, that's
a Disney fucking fact right there.

And for the foreseeable future,
Hotstar, you can look forward

to learning a lot more
of them on this show.

'Cause we're gonna be
sliding them into our stories

like Chip and Dale
slid into Richard Gere.

That's a Disney fact, motherfuckers.
And now this.

Larry Kudlow's Many Buts.

What he's saying is we're gonna
give you a respite here.

He's not going to take immediate
action to close the border

or the ports of entry and so forth,

But, but, but, but.

Moving on. Our main story
tonight concerns law enforcement,

and specifically,
the job of sheriff.

That's not to be confused
with Cheriff,

the proper way to describe Cher
dressed liked a cowgirl.

That's a sheriff.
This is a Cheriff.

It's a key difference
you need to learn.

When you hear
the word "sheriff",

most of us
have two immediate associations.

One: western lawmen
who handle cattlerustlin',

and other livestock-related crimes.

And two: Joe Arpaio, the infamously
anti-immigrant sheriff.

This next clip actually includes both,

as Sheriff Joe gives
an update on a suspect

nabbed through
an interesting investigation.

Finally he decided that
he wanted to travel to Phoenix

to meet our undercover agent

and to have sex with his horse.

Yeah, now.
That sounds truly bizarre

until you realize that the horse
in question was this one.

So, you get it, right ?
I'm not saying I want to fuck a horse.

But if you are gonna fuck a horse,
it should definitely be this one.

Would I travel to Phoenix
to fuck that horse ? It depends.

How much are flights ? If it's
a $300 round trip, of course not.

But if it's $170 and the hot daddy
horse seemed open to it ?

My wife and I have a list

of five people that we're allowed
to have sex with.

Hers are all completely
understandable handsome, kind men

and mine are that horse,
five times.

So, it seems kind of ideal
as a situation. Anyway: sheriffs.

There are actually more than
3 000 of them around the country

and generally speaking, they run
law enforcement at a county level.

Cities or towns might have
their own police departments,

but in many areas, sheriffs are
the only law enforcement around.

And they oversee a lot of officers.

Around 25 percent of local officers
work for sheriffs.

That's one in four cops !
And depending on where you live,

your sheriff might be good, bad
or a total weirdo.

And I will not say which ones
are the weirdos

because that would be unfair
to Kenney Boone,

who until recently was sheriff
in Florence County, South Carolina,

where he made this incredible PSA.

They said one hit wouldn't hurt.

They said one hit wouldn't hurt.

They lied.
I'm Sheriff Kenney Boone.

Please, talk to
your kids about drugs.

Talk to your kids about drugs !

What are you doing ?
That is so magnificently weird.

I want 900 more versions of that
PSA where Kenney Boone implores us

to talk to our kids
about other things.

Talk to your kids about slugs.
Please, talk to your kids about rugs.

People, I'm begging you,
talk to your kids about pugs.

They said one lick wouldn't hurt.
They lied.

The role of sheriff is unique
because sheriffs are actually elected.

Which means
they often produce campaign ads.

A candidate in South Carolina
produced a frankly unforgettable ad.

You're about to think
that you know where this is going,

but you're gonna need to brace
yourself for a hard turn.

I want to tell you
at the start of my campaign

some things that politicians
would try to hide.

Things my opponents may try
to use to tarnish my integrity.

As a 16-year-old,
I received a ticket

for not having my driver's license
in my possession.

I've been in fender benders
that were my fault.

And about 10 years ago,
as a young police officer,

I attended a law-enforcement
Halloween party

dressed as ruthless drug kingpin,
Big Meech Flenory.

I did it to disparage a criminal whose
actions hurt our community and country.

That was a different time.

For the record,
the "different time" he's talking about

was 10 years ago,

when blackface was still widely
considered, and this is true, bad.

Once in office, sheriffs hold much
more power than you may realize.

With over a thousand
sheriff elections this year,

possibly where you live, we thought
tonight might be a good time

to take a look at this job.

And let's start with the fact
that in most states,

sheriffs' duties are enshrined
in the state constitution,

meaning that their job description
can have a certain old-timey flavor.

In many places, sheriffs can still
technically form a posse,

meaning that they can enlist volunteers
to help with tasks

ranging from providing security
to pursuing fugitives.

And those posse members
can be basically anyone,

which is how this actual
school shooting drill

came to include
an arguably famous face.

This is every parent's
worst nightmare.

Face down. Get on the ground.

These men are learning
how to fight the next school shooter.

You can't wait that long !

And oddly enough their coach is 1990s
action film legend Steven Seagal.

For every second that goes by,
you could have dead children.

Yeah !
That's Deputy Steven Seagal !

Watching Steven Seagal
conduct an active shooter drill

while discussing dead children

is a lot like looking at a picture
of Steven Seagal's current hair.

You immediately think to yourself:
"Highly unusual and upsettingly dark".

Still, one of the greatest powers
that sheriffs have

is to set law-enforcement
priorities in their county.

That in and of itself
is not entirely a bad thing.

Some sheriffs have advanced
genuinely progressive ideas,

like deprioritizing
low-level drug offenses,

or, in the case of one Texas sheriff,
fighting hard for bail reform.

75 percent of our population,
of the 83-hundred that we have

is there simply because
they're pre-trial detainees

and many are too poor to pay,
many non-violent offenders.

We need to find a way to make sure
they can stay with their families,

be held accountable still.

But no one can be held in jail
simply because they're too poor to pay.

He's right. That's fantastic,
he's absolutely right.

And hearing someone in uniform
say that is genuinely weird.

A good weird,
like eating a bacon doughnut,

or seeing how dogs walk when they
wear shoes for the first time.

Go get the ball !

Milo, come on !

Yeah, exactly:
weird, but good.

And by the way:
that sheriff is not just talk.

He implemented a cite and
release program for low-level offenses,

rather than booking people into jails,
which is great.

But obviously, sheriffs can
also go hard the other way.

Sheriff Joe prioritized immigration
enforcement to the detriment

of other concerns, like
investigating sexual assault.

Sheriff Richard Jones,
in Butler County, Ohio,

has refused to allow his deputies
to carry Narcan

to rescue people mid-overdose,
which is an incredible policy to adopt

in a place where, at one point,
overdoses were killing more people

than all other causes
of death combined.

Jones has argued that it is unsafe
for his officers to help revive people,

but the more he talks,
the less it seems that he thinks

those people are actually
worth reviving at all.

I'm not advocating
that people die

but I'm not advocating that
the police, this is their job.

I understand people that say
it's a disease,

I don't know that I believe
it's a disease.

Some people will equate it
like people that have cancer.

And I say, it's not.
People don't choose to have cancer.

The people with cancer
aren't stealing my air conditions,

the copper out of people's houses
and ripping the wires out.

That is clearly offensive. Not just
to those dealing with addiction,

but to people with cancer.

You think that they don't have
the ability to steal copper ?

People with cancer can grip it,
rip it and strip it

with the best metal
thieves out there.

Cancer patients have been

some of the best five-finger
copper shoppers that I know.

But the most significant duty
of a sheriff is that in most places,

they are the ones
operating the local jail.

They can have a ton of leeway
over how to do that.

Up until just last year, in Alabama,
sheriffs were legally allowed

to personally pocket any leftover
money designated to feed prisoners,

giving them a strong incentive to
skimp on inmate food, which happened.

The most spectacular example

was Sheriff Todd Entrekin
of Etowah County.

There had been accusations
of problems

with the quality and quantity
of food in his jails.

While he denied those allegations,
two years ago, it emerged

that he'd bought
a $740 000 beach house.

If that seems like a suspiciously large
purchase for someone with his salary,

this probably won't surprise you.

Over the last three years,

the sheriff's food program
has run under budget,

letting him pocket the leftovers.

$750 000,
all of it taxpayer money.

Do you agree that
the optics of this are terrible ?

The optics, yes.
But I can't change the optics.

I'd love for the optics to change.
I want to keep doing what I'm doing.

I just wish it would look better
when I did it.

Try and picture me
with sunglasses and a cool jacket.

Are the optics better, now ?
I like these better.

And bad jail conditions
obviously don't stop at food.

Take Sheriff Greg Ahern
of Alameda County, California.

More than 40 inmates have died
in his jails in the past five years.

29 female inmates have sued Ahern
over conditions and treatment,

with allegations ranging

from being put in a cell
with feces and blood on the walls,

to a woman
who says she screamed for hours

as she gave birth alone
in an isolation cell.

The sheriff has defended his facilities
and disputed those allegations,

though not
in a particularly convincing way.

When you hear people say:
"There was feces on the wall,"

"blood everywhere, and
tampons stuck everywhere",

does that make you angry ?

You mean the people
that are in custody for murder, rape,

robbery, who lied their entire life
and they make things up habitually ?

Okay, hold on.

The two women who made those
claims were not murderers or robbers,

they were in there on minor charges,
all of which were dropped.

Even if they were murderers, they
should still be treated humanely.

And third,
how do you whiff on the question:

"There was feces on the wall, blood,
does that make you angry ?"

That is one of the easier questions
to answer well, like:

"Is cake good ?"
or "Is this a fuckable horse ?"

The answer is yes.
It's obviously yes. Right ?

Look at me, yes. And at this point,
you may be wondering:

"How can sheriffs be reined in ?"

The problem there is that
that is actually very difficult.

While police chiefs
can be hired or fired,

removing a sheriff between
elections is almost impossible.

It requires a criminal conviction,
intervention from state government

or a recall vote, and those
are very rarely successful.

So, sheriffs operate
with a lot of impunity

and they can get pretty belligerent
if anyone questions them.

Remember Kenney Boone,
the sheriff who hated drugs

but loved yelling
at fake child funerals ?

When the county finance director
started asking about his spending,

Boone did not take it well.

Kevin, Kenney Boone again.
I don't know what your deal is

putting your nose
in other people's business...

Now all of a sudden you want
to question things that I do ?

You little nerdy,
intelligent bastard...

Payback's gonna be hell,
I promise you. Thank you.

Yes, Kenney, that's fantastic !
I would give anything to hear

the next voicemail
he left for that guy.

Kenney again,
ignore that last message,

I just wanted to say,
you're a bastard,

I don't think you're intelligent,
I think you're a nerdy, dorky...

Insightful individual. Damn it !
I blew it again, ignore this call too,

speak to you soon, talk to your kids
about drugs, love you, bye !

God dammit, Kenney.

You should know we reached
out to Kenney Boone's lawyer

and they said that they dispute
the authenticity of that voicemail.

The one where he says
he's Kenney Boone

while sounding exactly
like Kenney Boone.

We'd have discussed this difference
of opinion with Kenney Boone

but he wasn't available because,
fun fact, he's in jail right now.

He recently pleaded guilty
to felony embezzlement.

Which actually reminds me:

talk to your kids about
felony embezzlement !

The point here is, too often, sheriffs
are the law wherever they live.

If you're wondering:

"I don't even know who my sheriff
is, do I have a bad one ?"

The very fact that you're asking that
is kind of the problem here.

Sheriff elections,
like most down-ballot elections,

do not receive enough attention
and often they aren't even competitive.

In 2018, 59 percent of all sheriff
races were unopposed.

Remember Sheriff Ahern, with
the nightmarish-sounding jail ?

He's been unopposed for
the last four election cycles.

As for Sheriff "No Narcan", unless
someone steps up to challenge him,

he will be unopposed when
he runs for re-election this year.

Running against
an incumbent sheriff is not easy.

Their own employees are often loathe
to take them on, fearing retributions.

Because, as you have seen
tonight, they're very powerful.

But that cannot be allowed
to continue.

The same criminal justice reform
movement that's been putting

a spotlight
on district attorneys' races

is now increasingly focusing
on sheriffs' races, too.

And that is not
a moment too soon.

Right now, we have a position that
has a tremendous amount of authority

with low accountability, which is
an inevitable recipe for disaster.

So, if there is a sheriff's race
in your area this year,

now would be an excellent
time to start Googling

"Who the fuck is my sheriff ?"
and learning about them.

Otherwise, you might well wind up
seeing a campaign ad like this.

Hi ! I'm Scott Wilkerson,
candidate for sheriff.

It's been my honor to serve
the people of this county

and I hope you'll re-elect me
as your sheriff.

But before my campaign begins,

I'd like to tell you some things
other politicians might try to hide.

I drink a lot.
I often drive while drunk.

I have what my therapist
calls a "hair trigger temper".

I don't like your attitude !

And as a younger man,

I did work as a Hitler
impersonator at birthday parties,

and one disastrous bar mitzvah.

It was a different time.
But that's not all.

I spent much of the nineties
trying without success

to assassinate that little dog
from "Fraiser".

I have dabbled in what
you'd call light cannibalism.

I have never seen a frog
and not killed it.

In 2009, I contracted
the H1N1 virus,

better known as swine flu

and then drove to every Sizzler
Steak House in the state,

licked my fingers and dipped
them in the salad bar.

Why did I do this ?
Well, I love Sizzler

but beyond that, I do not know,
cannot tell you why.

Whenever there's a computer
in front of me,

I go to the Wikipedia page
for the Armenian Genocide

and just sort of tone it
down a bit.

I don't think it didn't happen,
I just think people are exaggerating.

I came up with the idea
for zucchini noodles.

In every single hotel room I have ever
stayed in, I have licked the phone,

ear part and mouth part,
that's both parts.

I give black people different
handshakes than I do white people,

whether they want it or not.

What else ?
Yeah ! I also fucked this horse.

I think it's okay, 'cause I traveled
out of state to do it.

Wasn't like a local horse
or anything.

I hope that with these confessions,
I have earned your trust.

It's been an honor to serve you
as sheriff for the past 42 years.

So, vote Sheriff Wilkerson
when you go to the polls

on November 3rd, 2020.

It's not like you have a choice,
because I'm running unopposed.

So, see you on the streets,
shitheads ! I'm dangerous !

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

Get them fish drunk.

Enjoy yourselves,
my fine finned friends.

I might try and catch
a duck today.

Fuck you, frog !

I also like strangling frogs.

Not just shooting at 'em.
I like killing them any ways.