“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” returned to kick off its ninth season on Sunday, and in John Oliver’s main segment of the night, he came for Texas Senator Ted Cruz first.
Really, the issue at hand was critical race theory. But, as Oliver argued, the issue has been politicized and weaponized by conservatives over the past year or so. As evidence, he played a series of clips of conservative parents and politicians railing against critical race theory, including one where Cruz called the concept “bigoted,” “a lie,” and “every bit as racist as the Klansman in white sheets.”
In response, Oliver rattled off a Dr. Seuss-like poem he wrote for the senator.
“I do not like that Ted Cruz man. I do not like him shouting Klan,” Oliver recited. “I do not like him in a room. I do not like him in Cancun. I do not like him playing ball. I do not like his face at all. I wish he’d lose his cushy job. That man Ted Cruz is a f—ing knob.”
Oliver then went on to debunk conservatives’ claims about critical race theory, explaining what it really is. You can watch Oliver’s full segment in the video here and above.
Though Oliver added his humor to things as always, even going so far as to compare critical race theory to Rihanna’s pregnancy — “Even if you think it has nothing to do with you, you’re going to be hearing a lot about it this year,” he joked — he did make sure to give an actual definition of the term.
“It’s the name given to a body of legal scholarship that began in the 1970s that attempted to understand why racism and inequality persisted after the civil rights movement,” he explained. “The core idea is that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something that is embedded in legal systems and policies.”
Oliver then went on to call out specific people for misinformation on the topic, including Tucker Carlson, conservative activist Christopher Rufo, Republican Rep. John Ragan and others. The late night host also criticized legislation across the country that claims to be about stopping CRT.
“For all the laws being passed to prevent discomfort or anguish on account of an individual’s race, whose discomfort, exactly, are we prioritizing here?” he posed. “Because kids of color can tell you, they don’t get a choice to not talk about race and have it go away.”