John Oliver sprayed blame on politicians’ do-nothing approach to grappling with our crumbling infrastructure on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight. The long and detailed segment included a shot at Congress for twiddling its thumbs in re our starving Highway Trust Fund.
More accurately, CBS News’ 60 Minutes warned of the coming disaster — Oliver’s show mostly rehashed a 60 Minutes report that aired November 23, featuring Steve Kroft, with Ed Rendell in Philadelphia and in a helicopter in Pittsburgh, adding some Oliver snark — and a trailer for a faux action movie, Infrastructure, starring Ed Norton and Steve Buscemi.
But Oliver kicked off last night’s show with a victory lap for the net neutrality vote by the FCC — Oliver’s program is credited with shutting down the FCC’s web site when he directed viewers to contact the commission and protest a possible end to net neutrality. “This is genuinely good news and not just because consumers and entrepreneurs are happy, but because Internet service providers are sad,” Oliver said of the vote, noting Verizon put out a “petty” statement of protest in Morse Code, by way of complaining that the idea of the Web remaining a democratic space is so 1930’s. “By the way, Verizon, I’ll say this for Morse code: at least it didn’t drop out for no fucking reason any time people walked into their kitchen,” Oliver observed.
Last Week’s Big Story however, was: Infrastructure, aka “anything that can be destroyed in an action movie,” Oliver explained. The problem with discussing infrastructure is that, when not being destroyed by robots or saved by Bruce Willis, it’s boring. Oliver admitted he was fascinated by the subject but acknowledged that in so saying he has “basically become the rad youth counselor trying to convince you Jesus was the Taylor Swift of his time.”
What followed was a cut-and-paste of the 60 Minutes story, jazzed up with C-Span clips — if that’s possible — shots of dams and bridges, and more Oliver snark:
– Much like most Botox recipients and most competitive cloggers, the average dam (in the United States) is 52 years old and has something deeply broken inside of it.
– At this point we’re not just flirting with disaster — we’re rounding third base and asking if Disaster has any condoms.
– The problem is, no one has made a blockbuster movie about the importance of routine maintenance and repair. Or they hadn’t until now.