Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 7, Episode 8 - Episode #7.8 - full transcript

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


Hello there !
Welcome, once again, to our show,

still taking place
inside this white void.

I've been calling it a white void.

But it's this zoomed-in picture
of Snoopy's dick.

For 3 weeks now, you've been
staring at a cartoon dog's dong.

Sorry for not telling you sooner.
I'm telling you now !

It's clearly been a very busy week.

Bernie Sanders
dropped out of the presidential race.

Boris Johnson dropped in,
then out, of intensive care.

And the coronavirus continued
to cause widespread havoc,

including forcing some of us to deal
with the difficulty of working at home,

as this news reporter learned when his
cat pulled focus during a live shot.

Another Valley business
is making changes

to ensure the customer
and worker safety.

Starting today,
a White House fruit farm in Canfield

is temporarily closing to walk
in traffic due to the pandemic.

I was not paying attention
to a single word that man just said.

Probably because he broke the
cardinal rule of broadcast journalism:

never report the news
while sitting next to a cat

who's making a five course
meal out of its own asshole.

I hope the story that he was
trying to break there was about

how his cat's butthole
is clean as a whistle,

because that's all the information
I got from that.

That clip actually points to our
main story, though, tonight,

which is how the coronavirus
has impacted workers.

Not so much those who are lucky
enough-like that man, and that cat,

and our staff
to be able to work from home.

It is something only around 1/3 of
people are able to do in this country.

Instead, I'd like to talk
about two groups:

the unemployed and those
having to leave the house

because they work "essential jobs".

Because each is facing
a different set of challenges.

And let's start
with the unemployed.

More than one in 10 workers have lost
their jobs in the past three weeks.

Those are staggering numbers.

And the federal government
has taken some big steps

to protect those people
and to try and slow down job loss.

Unfortunately, the execution
has been less than ideal.

Take the Paycheck Protection Program,

which offers loans of up to $10 million
to small businesses,

loans which don't have to be repaid if
they keep their workers on the payroll.

To hear Trump tell it,
the rollout has been pretty great.

It's really a tribute to government,
really well-run government.

And there are few glitches.
Very few.

Any little glitch, we had worked
out within minutes, within hours.

I just want to congratulate everybody.
This has become so popular.

That is just classic Trump,
to try and brag

about how in-demand
an emergency bailout system is.

If he was captain of the Titanic,
you just know he'd be saying,

"I just want to congratulate everyone.
These lifeboats have become popular !

A few weeks ago-nothing,
now they're moving like hotcakes.

It's really a tribute
to a well-run ship.

And I know this won't shock you,
but the situation

the president just said was going great
and makes him look good,

isn't and doesn't.

The glitches he just tried to brush off
were pretty substantial.

On the day the program
was supposed to launch,

many of the nation's biggest banks
said they weren't yet ready

to take loan applications
because the government didn't release

final versions of the documents
they needed until the night before.

This means many banks
have been playing catch-up,

as this health food store
owner discovered.

Monday morning, I go into my branch
to talk to my, my banker.

He didn't know what was going on.
He wasn't even informed.

He couldn't even inform us to apply,
because he didn't know.

Is it frustrating
for you when you're hearing,

"No, no, no.
The SBA's gonna get involved,"

"and they are going to provide
a safety net" ?

But when ? That's the question.
That's the million-dollar question.

Yeah, of course it is.

Whether you're a small business owner
or a trapeze artist,

the two questions you always want
answered about your safety net are

"When will it be there ?"
and "How big are the holes ?"

And the obvious problem is,
if help takes months to come,

that's not going to save a business
set to go under in weeks.

To be fair, no program of this size was
ever going to have a perfect rollout.

But this is yet another area
where this administration

could've been preparing
for this much, much sooner.

And it definitely doesn't help

that the director of the National
Economic Council, Larry Kudlow,

downplayed complaints
like this !

My wife Judy, whom you know,

and she is a self-employed

a very distinguished one
of some renown,

she could use some help
for her operation

and she went
to a local community bank

up in our place in Connecticut

and apparently it's a one-page form,
that's all it is.

So, couldn't be easier.

His response was basically, "My wife
did it, so what's the problem ?"

There are a few issues there:

one, Judy Kudlow is the wife of a
high-ranking White House official,

which might have had some impact
on her experience at the bank.

Two, I'm not sure the phrase,
"it couldn't be easier",

should apply to anyone whose situation
includes being married to Larry Kudlow.

And three, if your ears perked up
when you heard him say

his wife is an artist of some renown,
you're not alone.

We did look into it, so you might
want to lace up some comfy shoes,

'cause we're about to go
for a brief walk together

through Judith Kudlow's
still life work.

It often seems to be focused
on her husband's clothes.

That's a real painting
titled "Three Shirts",

showcasing what I can only assume
are three of Larry's shirts.

And that's just part of a larger
collection in her closet series,

featuring such pieces
as "Summer Shirt", "Grey and White",

"American Shirts",
and "American Shirts", 2013.

But, I don't want you to think
her art is merely shirt based.

She also paints her husband's ties.
Lots, and lots, and lots of his ties.

When you think she couldn't possibly
paint another of Larry Kudlow's ties,

she does it again,
and then somehow does it again,

and then again,
and again, and again.

And crucially, Larry Kudlow himself
appears to be nowhere in her work.

And I don't mean to make any sweeping
judgments about their marriage.

I'm just saying, these aren't
so much portraits of Larry Kudlow

as they are portraits
of the absence of Larry Kudlow.

They showcase the beauty
of where Larry Kudlow isn't.

And sure, that's a beauty
we can all appreciate !

I mean, it's no "Stay Up Late" by
Brian Swords of York, but what is ?

And on that note:
I actually have another proposition.

If you are the owner of a Judith Kudlow
tie painting, I want one.

You may remember, I offered
to pay $1,000 for "Stay Up Late",

which is why I'm willing
to offer $10 for one of these.

Although, that's not all, as this offer
also comes with a $20,000 donation

to the food bank in your area.

So, if you, or someone you know, owns
one of these Larry-less masterpieces,

just email John-at-JohnOliver

There was no need to make up
a new email address

when the perfect one
was already available.

Anyway, what were we talking about ?
That's right-mass unemployment.

With the Paycheck Protection Program
experiencing a bumpy rollout

and thousands of businesses
laying off staff,

millions are now in need
of government assistance.

That is why Congress has significantly
expanded unemployment insurance

for the next few months-which is good.

the sheer magnitude of demand,

combined with the fact many
states' unemployment systems

have been neglected
and underfunded for decades,

means that, too often, people are
having real difficulty getting through.

All specialists
are busy with other customers.

You must call back this week.

I've done that 50 times,
every day, for two weeks.

Are you a month away from being
broke ? Two months away ?

I'd say about a month.


I'm curious, would you try
the unemployment office again ?

Yeah, absolutely.
Let me pull up the number.

We're sorry.

We are experiencing an extremely
high volume of calls at this time.

Holy shit. With those results,

you might as well call
(719) 266-2837.

It's the Callin' Oates hotline,
an actual number you can dial

to hear one of four possible
Hall & Oates songs in an emergency.

Now, sure, they can't help you
with your healthcare or finances,

but honestly, neither can
the Department of Labor right now

and at least with Callin' Oates,
you get to hear "Maneater".

So, once again,
that's (719) 26-OATES.

Claiming unemployment
is incredibly difficult right now

and that's not even
getting into the fact

that for many people
who lose their jobs,

they then lose
their health insurance.

And this is, to put it mildly, a very
bad time for that to be happening.

So, it's frankly no wonder many who
can work, feel that they have to,

even if that means enduring
a dangerous work environment.

And that brings us to the second group
we're gonna look at tonight:

essential workers.

It's a broad term
that can include any job

from health care professionals
to custodians,

to grocery store clerks
to, I would argue,

TikTok stars
teaching me how to dance.

Carole Baskin.

Killed her husband, whacked 'em.

Can't convince me
that it didn't happen.

Fed 'em to tigers, they snackin'.

What's happening ?
Carole Baskin.

Excellent !

In the Venn diagram of how I'm spending
my time during quarantine,

the absolute dead center
is the overlap of TikTok,

learning a brandnew skill,
and "Tiger King".

I'm gonna be such a good dancer/
slash-Carole-Baskin-truther !

Or, I should say, Carole Baskin !

And companies
who employ essential workers

have openly waxed poetic
about how much they value them,

few in more glowing terms
than Amazon.

To all of our Amazon retail heroes,
on the floor,

in the air, and behind the wheel,
we want to thank you !

We'll continue
to do everything we can

to keep you healthy,
safe, and protected.

The work you are doing
means everything right now.

Thank you.

It's hard to say
what I like least about that:

maybe it's the schmaltzy
piano music,

maybe it's Amazon
patronizingly claiming

they care about
the wellbeing of their "heroes",

or maybe it's just the fact that,
out of context,

the Amazon smile logo is a quick
sketch of a circumcised dick.

It's probably
a combination of all three.

And while the company claims
it's keeping workers safe

by distributing masks and,
and conducting temperature checks,

many Amazon workers
paint a much different picture,

citing concerns like "an inability to
maintain social distancing guidelines,

a lack of protective gear
and hand sanitizer

and lack of time
to clean their hands".

And if you feel you're
not working in safe conditions,

it can be even more infuriating
to know the items you're packing

can sometimes be anything
but essential.

They should not be selling
non-essential items.

If you go on the website, all the
essential items are, are sold out.

Until you restock and until you
close this building, shut it down.

Dildos are not essential items.

Books, for kids, yes.
But, dildos ?



Risking your life to get someone
a sex toy probably doesn't feel fair.

There's a reason "1917"
wasn't about two soldiers

trying to bring Benedict Cumberbatch
a dildo he wanted.

Although yes, the cinematography
would still have been impressive.

The continuous shot of George MacKay
sprinting through the trenches

followed by Benedict Cumberbatch
masturbating with a dildo to completion

in Dickens' hands
it would have been a masterpiece.

And look, determining what
constitutes an essential product

clearly isn't straightforward.

If dildos make it
easier for people to stay inside,

you could argue
they might literally save lives.

But if we're depending on those
workers for both our survival

and, to a certain extent,
our comfort,

we owe them a lot in return.

And companies should be doing
everything they can

to lower the risks to workers

which can mean offering
protective gear,

changing workflow
to allow for more distance,

or putting up Plexiglass shields
in grocery stores.

And one thing every company
should be doing

is offering paid sick leave.

Congress actually required employers to
temporarily provide two weeks of that

in the Families First
Coronavirus Response Act,

but, unfortunately,
that requirement only applies

to businesses with fewer
than 500 employees.

The thinking
was that larger companies

were either already offering paid sick
leave or would do it on their own.

Sadly, that has not
always been the case.

Buzzfeed found that all these companies
currently have policies less generous

than the one the government
established for small businesses,

or have set unreasonably
high bars to qualify.

Amazon's initial policy was that it
would give two-weeks paid time off

for anyone who's diagnosed with Covid,
or who's been quarantined.

Which sounds good,
but there's a big problem

with requiring a positive test,
as one worker pointed out.

Good luck getting the test
in New York right now.

It's very hard to make appointments.

The time you get the test,
it's days later.

The time you get the results
is days later.

Exactly ! Testing in New York
is so scarce,

Amazon's plan
may as well have been:

you get double pay and free
healthcare for your whole family

if you can guess
what number Jeff Bezos is thinking.

That man's name is Chris Smalls
and he was fired

just two hours after he helped organize
an employee walkout

in Amazon's Staten Island facility
last week.

According to Amazon,
he was let go

for "putting the health and safety
of others at risk"

by violating social distancing
guidelines and an order to quarantine.

But, leaked notes from
an internal meeting days later,

at which Bezos himself
was present,

show the company's leadership
discussing plans to make Smalls

"the face of the entire
union/organizing movement"

since he is
"not smart, or articulate".

Which, holy shit !

That is so racist,
I can't even point out

how smart and articulate Smalls is
without also sounding racist.

Amazon will say that they've now
made their sick leave policy

more lenient for their "heroes",
which is true.

That only came after they got a letter
from 14 state attorneys general,

saying their initial policy was
inadequate to protect public health.

And this clearly
isn't just about Amazon.

Many companies have chosen
not to offer paid sick leave,

possibly because the U.S. is one
of the few wealthy democracies

that does not mandate
that they do that.

And that does a disservice not just
to workers, but also to customers,

as this McDonald's employee
will tell you.

I've worked at McDonald's
for over 10 years.

I'm that face you see that serves you
your hash browns for breakfast,

maybe a Quarter Pounder
for lunch

and even gave you a McFlurry
to top off your dinner menu.

So, I ask you,
if I caught the coronavirus,

would you want me making
your next meal ?

No, of course not ! I wouldn't want
anyone with the coronavirus serving me,

unless, of course,
that person was Adam Driver.

Because, infecting me with dessert
is very much on my running list

of "Things Adam Driver
Can Do to Me".

I'm sorry.

You thought I'd stop the Adam Driver
bit 'cause I'm stuck at home now ?

You were wrong about that.

Yes, I know my wife can hear me,
that's part of it.

Sneeze in my McFlurry,
you pensive bison.

Ravage my lungs,
you relentless hillock.

Congress absolutely needs
to mandate all businesses provide

paid sick leave in the next coronavirus
aid bill on a permanent basis,

as well as require
they provide significant hazard pay

for any worker
being asked to risk their lives.

Because that risk is very real.

Grocery store workers are
dying of this disease right now.

And so far, we've lost 41 transit
workers in New York City alone.

This is the least
of what essential workers

and, indeed, all workers,
need right now.

They need protection, financially,
physically and otherwise.

Because there are some truly
indefensible situations

being thrown into plain view.

Take this EMT in New York State,

who is doing incredible,
dangerous work,

without something
you might assume he has.

Right now, I'm doing all of this
with no health insurance.

How is that possible ?
It doesn't come through the job.

The job doesn't offer it.

And our affordable marketplaces
aren't very affordable.

If I get sick and, okay,
I go get tested positive,

I can't go to the hospital.

People come out, and they
show us their support. And I love it.

I have eaten so much pizza in the last
two weeks. It's been great.

I don't need pizza.
I need to be able to pay my bills.

I need to be able to work
a 40-hour workweek,

and live
like a normal human being.

Yeah, it's like that old saying
about pizza and sex:

even when they're bad,
they're still pretty good

and even when they're really good,
you still need fucking healthcare.

And obviously, his work
should give him health insurance.

But more broadly,
we need to seriously think

about whether having our health
insurance system so tied to employment

is a good idea.

I would argue
it emphatically isn't.

While many of the problems we're being
forced to confront right now

weren't created
by the coronavirus,

it has thrown a spotlight
on some of the biggest flaws

in how our system operates.

Things like paid sick leave and
hazard pay are essentially Band-Aids

and we absolutely need them
right now because we're bleeding.

But, when this is over, this country's
gonna need more than Band-Aids.

It's gonna need
fucking surgery.

Things need to change
and not go "back to normal".

Control-Z'ing us back to how we were
in 2016 is simply not gonna cut it.

And honestly, it shouldn't have taken
a pandemic to prove

our unemployment system is a mess,
that we need universal healthcare

and that workers need benefits,
the right to organize

and wages that reflect
how essential they really are.

We also shouldn't have needed
a pandemic to consider

whether mass incarceration
is tolerable,

as prisons and jails become
petri dishes for the coronavirus

or whether our treatment
of the homeless is adequate,

when we've seen photos of them
sleeping in a parking lot 6 feet apart.

Or, what we do about the multiple
underlying inequalities

that are making this virus,
in some places,

twice as deadly for black and
Latino people as whites.

What's been infuriating
is that some conservatives

have seemed worried
that we might do too much.

The extension of paid
sick leave opens the door.

You know what's gonna happen
on the Democratic side,

Schumer's gonna want
a permanent program.

They're gonna try to get another social
program. We can't let that happen.

Really ? Why the fuck not ?
That argument basically boils down to:

"If we help people today,"

"the Democrats are just gonna want
to help more people tomorrow",

like that's a bad thing.

While dollar-store Bill Nye here has
moderated his stance since then,

others are still adamant that nothing
should change because of this.

Florida Senator Rick Scott,
seen here having just learned

that enough money was raised
at the talent show

and he won't be able to shut down
the orphanage after all,

he put out a statement
arguing that:

"The crisis shouldn't be an opportunity
for members of Congress"

"to permanently expand
the welfare state".

Which is weird, because
there is no better argument

for a permanent welfare state
than watching your government

desperately try to build one
when it's already too late.

Because make no mistake:
the real test here

isn't whether or not our country
will get through this.

It will. The question
is how we get through this

and what kind of country we want
to be on the other side.

And if nothing else,
this crisis has done

what any great
Judith Kudlow painting does:

make painfully clear what we've been
missing all along.

And now this.

In Honor of Easter,
Our Annual Fuck You to Peeps.

As you know, Jay,
Easter's coming up on Sunday

and it will probably feel
a lot different this year.

At least there's Peeps.

No !
The Peeps have returned !

- Everyone makes fun of Peeps.
- They're nasty. Do you like 'em ?

Someone must buy 'em.

Who ? Who among you
has made this wretched bargain ?

It's not Easter without Peeps.

Fine !
Then let's not have Easter !

And so the other secret with Peeps
is that the kids love eating 'em

but what my brothers would do
is they would actually leave 'em out

and they would harden and then
they would throw 'em at me.

Yes !

This man's story of childhood trauma
is an allegory for the way

in which Peeps
have emotionally damaged us all !

Have you heard ?
The company that makes Peeps

is shutting down production
weeks before Easter.

Salvation !

Might we be spared the unspeakable
horror of the Peeps ?

But don't go into Peep panic.

Peeps for this year's Easter
are already hatched, you might say.

It's too late !
The Peeps have already hatched !

Moving on.
Finally, before we go tonight,

we thought we'd just take a moment
to focus on some good news.

Things are obviously
pretty grim right now

and many outlets are understandably
trying to bring you

any dose of joy they can find.

For weeks now, the news
has been full of stories like these.

The Georgia Aquarium teamed up
with the Atlanta Humane Society

so that the kitties
could go check out the fishes.

And you can see the kittens were
mesmerized by all the fish here.

Chicago's Shedd Aquarium has been
taking the penguins on a field trip

to visit some
of the other animals.

That's Wellington the penguin
saying hi to the beluga whales.

Odie and Caramel got to explore
the aquarium by themselves

and when they were done,
the two snuggled up for a nap.

That's a much-needed smile
that we can all use right now.

Sure ! I guess so.
Although I will say

not every instance of putting animals
where they don't belong has worked out.

One zoo seemingly tried
to replicate "The Lion King"

by bringing a warthog
to visit some meerkats,

who seemed understandably
freaked the fuck out.

Then there was this visit to an
aquarium by an indifferent porcupine.

That porcupine could not give less
of a shit about those penguins.

And, on behalf of bird-like
things who like to look fancy,

fuck you porcupine !

You think you're better
than penguins ? You ain't shit.

Your whole thing
is being pointy.

I liked that better the first time
when it was called being a cactus,

you dopey fuck.

Penguins waddle and they swim
and they make fun noises.

You should be bowing down,
you pointy mess.

Hashtag #TeamPenguin, hashtag

All around the world,
there's been an inclination

to try and find small moments
of solidarity.

In the U.K., the Queen gave
a speech to unite the nation,

which she did, although not perhaps
in the way she intended.

Because in delivering that speech,
she wore a green dress,

which is a huge mistake,

as it enabled people to Photoshop
other images onto it,

which they very much did.

They also rendered her
as a "Star Trek" crew member,

as Iron Man,
as an Iron Maiden fan,

and someone who wants you
to eat farts.

She even served as a vehicle

for the climactic scene
from "Avengers: Endgame".

We join with all nations across
the globe in a common endeavor,

using the great advances of science

and our instinctive compassion
to heal.


That really took her speech
up a notch.

And I've got to say,
it was inspirational

to watch people collectively engage
in stupidity in the face of adversity.

It was a triumph
of the human spirit, in a way.

Which actually brings me

to a bit of good news
that we may have for you.

Because two weeks ago,
I showed you a video

of a 1992 public television art auction
from South Central Pennsylvania,

featuring some
truly spectacular artwork.

Item number 735 is a watercolor,

"Stay Up Late"
by Brian Swords of York.

It's 24 by 18 inches.

Brian's work began,
the Biohazard series began,

as a statement about brutality
to experimental animals

and has developed into a whole scene
of these rather unusual rats

involved in all types
of normal human activities.

Magnificent. You can't put
a price on a masterpiece like that.

I mean, somebody did,
and it was $80. But you get my point.

Now, I ended that segment offering
the owner of that painting

$1 000 plus $20 000
to the food bank of their choice.

We received, and this is true,
890 emails in response.

Most of which, I'll be honest,
were a complete waste of our time.

But some of which weren't.

Many who didn't have the painting

instead offered us
other homemade rat erotica,

like this magnificent painting
of two rats watching our show.

This other image of two rats
very much not watching our show,

this image of a five-rat orgy,
this image of me as a hot rat,

and even this image,
which is not of two rats,

but of two koalas somehow giving
each other chlamydia

with a bag bearing the logo of the
John Oliver Koala Chlamydia Ward.

All of which is very good.
But not what I needed.

We did, however, get one
intriguing message which read simply:

"I believe I have something
you're looking for",

with a photo of the painting alongside
a copy of that day's newspaper.

That got my hopes up that something
incredible might be about to happen.

And look, is this what America
needs most right now ?

No, of course it isn't.

America needs a vaccine,
more ventilators,

a different president, and also,
just like a quick break.

But you know what would be nice
in the meantime ?

A victory.

Managing to track down that painting
would definitely be a win.

Because what are the chances that,
in 1992 in South Central Pennsylvania,

a man would have made an impulse
purchase of high-quality rat erotica.

Then, instead of throwing it away
at any point in the past 28 years,

kept it, cherished it,
framed it,

not knowing that one day,
far in the future,

it might force HBO to donate
$20 000 to Pennsylvania food banks

in the middle of a pandemic ?

It sounds impossible.
There's no chance, right ?

But if that person could do all that

so that painting
could find its way to me,

then there's no limit to what
we can do, my friends.

To what
we have already done !

I believe I have something
you're looking for, world.

I believe I have something
we've all been looking for !

And it's called hope !

That is our show.
Thank you so much for watching !

We'll see you next week.
Good night.

We did it !

I hope in the years to come,

everyone will be able to take pride in
how they responded to this challenge.

And those who come after us

will say the Britons of this generation
were as strong as any.

That the attributes of selfdiscipline,
acquired good humored resolve

and a fellow feeling
still characterize this country.