John Olver had a lot to unpack as Last Week Tonight hits its first birthday in the white void. For those who are new to the HBO show, production of Oliver’s show shifted to this mystery space at the top of the pandemic which has proven to be quite entertaining and enjoyable. As much as I would like to see the show return to the studio, there is a peaceful comfort to see Oliver wrap up the week’s news in the white void.
Nonetheless, amid Andrew Cumos growing scandals and moderate Democrats killing hopes of a $15 minimum wage, Oliver started by commenting on the opening of certain spaces as cases of Covid-19 begin to decrease and the vaccine slowly gains traction. He specifically focused on how the Milwaukee Bucks started welcoming fans in limited numbers back into its stadium by a cartoon squirt bottle of hand sanitizer. In news footage, we see many people getting squirted by said animated bottle which Oliver had jokes about — many of them inappropriate, but hey it’s HBO and they were very funny.
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This led to a discussion of Texas and Mississippi doing away with government Covid restrictions this week. Texas Governor Greg Abbott claimed that decreasing hospitalizations and an increase in vaccinations means state mandates are no longer needed. He said that businesses can open fully and he ended the mask mandate in Texas.
“Well that’s f*cking stupid,” Oliver said bluntly. “Lifting all restrictions is ridiculous when we’re still in the middle of a pandemic.” This leaves it to businesses to decide whether or not they would require masks.
He continued, “The thing is, leaving it up to individuals to ‘behave responsibly’ is likely to cause immediate problems because while businesses can still require people to wear masks, the lack of a government mandate could make things difficult.”
In addition to Texas lifting restrictions for Covid-palooza, Senate passed the Covid relief bill while FBI director Christopher Wray gave a testimony that identified white supremacists that participated in the January 6 insurrection. He also debunked a conspiracy theory that said left-wing radicals posing as Trump supporters participated in the insurrection. Oliver said that it’s amazing that Wray had to debunk a conspiracy theory that was clearly false.
Many networks covered the live hearing while Fox News barely touched it because as Oliver points out, they were too busy focusing on the banning of Dr. Seuss books, which was also in the headlines this week. Certain books by the popular children’s author will no longer be published because of their dated and offensive portrayal of certain cultures. One right-leaning commentator referred to the banning of the books as “fascism”.
“Given how strongly all of those commentators were defending those books, it is worth knowing exactly what exactly they’re defending,” said Oliver. Images from the books that will no longer be published included one that contained a caricature of an Asian man who was originally yellow and referred to as a “Chinaman” as well as drawings of monkeys representing people from Africa.
“Are these things we really want to fight for kids to see?” asked Oliver. “To be honest, I’m squeamish about showing them to you right now, and just three minutes ago, I was more than happy to subject you to a basketball arena jizz storm.”
He continued, “The point is, these images are rough, which is probably why, for the most part, Fox didn’t actually show them.” Instead, Fox’s Tucker Carlson focused on books that aren’t being questioned included Seuss’s The Sneetches so he can play his favorite game of “liberals are the real racists.”
Carlson said that the book teaches kids that “we are all the same” and the need for colorblindness. During his report, Carlson insisted that this is why the “forces of wokeness” hate it and that the “canceling” of Dr. Seuss is an attempt to rid America of a certain mid-century culture that “championed color-blindness”.
After some choice words, Oliver fired back at Carlson’s thoughts. “It’s a little weird to claim that mid-century American culture championed color-blindness when signs of the time explicitly demanded the opposite.” He said this while a photo of segregated water fountains from that era flashed on the screen.
“In fact, to the extent anyone is trying to eliminate some parts of American culture, it’s the parts that perpetuate racism, xenophobia, and bigotry,” said Oliver. “But it’s not hard to see why Tucker would be so anxious to talk about Dr. Seuss this week because if he talked about Christopher Wray’s testimony, about white supremacists participating in the attack on the capitol, it would’ve contradicted what he has been telling his viewers for weeks now like: ‘There’s no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6th…that’s a lie’.”
“Conservative media fell back on their classic playbook of distracting from important issues with bullsh*t culture wars,” stated Oliver. “It’s incredibly lazy and depressingly effective. And the thing is, no matter how many times I see them do it, it never fails to leave me feeling completely disgusted and like there’s no way for me to get clean.” As soon as Oliver said that, he was then attacked by an animated squirting bottle of hand sanitizer.