On 'Last Week Tonight,' John Oliver Prepares Americans for Election Day Tuesday

Covers the Syrian Presidency's Instagram, 'A Taste of Dick Black,' Kenny G, and more.

Last Week Tonight Twitter (@LastWeekTonight)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver returned after covering Canada’s election two weeks ago with a new vote in tow: America’s.

With Election Day coming on Tuesday November 3, Oliver shed light on rarely covered topics, keeping the American electorate — or at least the few who watch his “low-rated show” — informed for a midterm election. But before he got there, Oliver started with some backwards deal-brokering involving Syria.

Recently, world powers convened in Vienna to work toward ending Syria’s civil war. Oliver, in this case, cared a whole lot less about what the meeting accomplished, as much as how the goals were met: without Syria. He dismissed the topic after a handful of jokes. The truth of the matter, which Oliver likely realizes, is that not inviting a war-torn country to its own peace negotiations isn’t all too remarkable. It sounds funny that Syria would be absent, but international relations don’t always make perfect logical sense.

Oliver saved his Syrian efforts for more important topics, like the official Instagram account for the Presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Oliver goofed on the ridiculous #hashtag use as a way of critiquing Virginia State Senator Dick Black, a candidate for reelection who once wrote a letter praising President Bashar al-Assad for his “exhibit extraordinary gallantry in the war against terrorists.” Black was one of three particular candidates on whom Oliver focused. By attaching real faces to candidates, he could show that Tuesday’s elections do matter.

His main point was that many Americans are in danger of falling into the “Medicaid gap,” meaning they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but don’t make enough to be able to afford the government’s subsidized Obamacare insurance. It’s a turn of events that’s been in the making since the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision to uphold nearly all of Obamacare’s provisions. Among the details that fell through the cracks was the fact that states could reject an expansion of Medicaid. Unsurprisingly, many red state politicians didn’t want their names attached to Obamacare, expanding socialist programs, or anything of that ilk.

Matt Bevin (aka Bat Mevin) is Kentucky’s Republican gubernatorial candidate who opposes expansion. Oliver took real pleasure in critiquing Bevin for two reasons: For one, Bevin has recently backed down from claims that he wants to end Medicaid expansion. Quite conveniently, Oliver shared a February clip of Bevin explicitly claiming he would end the program’s spread. Secondly, Bevin used to own a factory in Connecticut that burned down. He needed the government’s help to rebuild it. The irony was on point.

Oliver’s last political target was Robert Gray of Mississippi, a trucker who is running as the Democratic candidate for governor. He has literally no chance. Why is that? Even his mother didn’t know he was running. And more obviously, Jesus (D-Nazareth) himself would probably have a tough time winning an election in Mississippi if he weren’t on the GOP’s ticket.

The stakes are high for every election, even if Donald Trump isn’t running and insulting you baselessly.

There are real people (and pangolins) who could be at great risk if the results don’t go their way. He showed a painful video of a woman who needs a colonoscopy because of her family’s history of colon cancer. She just can’t afford one, so she doesn’t actually know if she’s at risk; she needs to know. Most people may be more familiar with the quartet Dick Black and His Scottish Dance Band’s 2002 LP A Taste of Dick Black than the Virginia politician, but that just should not be the case. It might not seem important and each individual’s vote feels small, but without going to the polls, bad changes may occur. Even if he’s presenting the knowledge pretty late in the cycle, Oliver is continuing to inform concisely and poignantly.

As he did last time, Oliver closed out the program with a celebrity guest appearance. There is an outside chance that we go to war with China — a very outside chance — because the country has been encroaching on neighboring territories. That, honestly, is irrelevant to Oliver’s segment. What is important is that he got Kenny Fuckin’ G (a.k.a. my friend Max’s dad) to play some sax and talk some sense into China. It was a bit of a heavy show, but Oliver knows how to calm things down and keep us laughing.

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