Last night, John Oliver focused his show on two of America’s greatest traditions: Cheating politicians, and fleecing the poor.
The British ex-pat host of “Last Week Tonight” continued his run of long-form, joke-infused explainers of pressing (and unsexy) crises with a long analysis of income inequality. Oliver marveled at the unique form of American optimism, which drives citizens of this fair nation to both pursue their dreams and cast misguided votes for politicians that will do nothing to help them.
For example, Oliver contended that the Republican party has somehow convinced millions of people that the estate tax — a tax on huge inheritances that does not impact 99.64 percent of the country — is a draconian measure out to steal from small business owners and farmers. Video of Fox News and Mitt Romney making that case — and calling the measure the “death tax” — proved pretty damning in context.
It was an incredible, 15-minute piece that hopefully many will see, though undoubtedly it will be way less viral than three minutes Oliver spent reading the dirty letters that President Warren G. Harding wrote to his mistress, which were recently found by historians.
And, to be fair, they did include amazing turns of phrase like the following: “Wouldn’t you like to get sopping wet out on Superior — not the lake — for the joy of fevered fondling and melting kisses?”