It’s become normal that John Oliver starts every episode of Last Week Tonight by saying “A lot happened this week” because it is wildly accurate. It seemed that this week he was speaking a mile-a-minute in order to try to fit in pertinent news at the top of the show.
First on the list was the Democratic National Convention which many were calling an “unconventional” convention, thinking that they were the ones that coined that phrase. It was unconventional because it was a virtual affair with delegates coming up with fun ways to showcase their states during the roll call. Oliver particularly put the spotlight on Rhode Island, who was one of the most memorable as they were bragging about calamari as a masked man, Oliver referred to as “the calamari ninja” presented a plate of the tasty appetizer.
“I had no idea that calamari was Rhode Island’s official state appetizer,” he said. “It might be the first thing I’ve learned about that state that I have actually liked.”
He then took an opportunity to, once again, take some unexplained jabs at Danbury, Connecticut. “Aside, of course, that it doesn’t include the city of Danbury, Connecticut. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: f*** Danbury…babies, elderly, pets, buildings all of you can go f*** yourselves.” Of course, this comes after the Danbury mayor recently named their sewage plant after Oliver. This is an unlikely — and funny — feud that will be providing us with entertainment for weeks to come.
With the DNC, Oliver pointed out that the convention was trying its best to steer in the middle of the road. Although there were appearances by noteworthy progressivs like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stacey Abrams, a lot of real estate was given to Republicans such as Meg Whitman, Colin Powell and John Kasich.
“It’s hard to convince progressive voters that you’re a forward-looking party when your convention feels like a Zoom cast reunion except the show is the 2008 RNC,” he said.
Oliver observed that Biden’s nomination speech also played it safe. He showcased warmth and empathy and name-checked broad goals like expanding child care and ending racism. However, his speech was light on details. Instead, he leaned heavily on lines like this: “This will determine what America is going to look like for a long, long time. Character is on the ballot, compassion is on the ballot, decency, science, demo — they’re all on the ballot.” To which Oliver responded: “Now normally I’d point out that compassion and decency are not concrete policy agendas but considering open authoritarianism is also on the ballot, sure, wtf…adequate vs evil — let’s go.”
The DNC spent the four days pointing out that Biden is not Trump. Oliver argued that spending most of the convention saying that Trump is not fit for office may have been redundant because 45 spent the entire week making that case for them by continuing to show his distrust of voting by mail, boycotting Goodyear and refusing to disavow the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Oliver pivoted to what we should have been paying more attention to: Senate’s report confirming that Trump’s campaign was uncomfortably close to Russian intelligence. “It’s something we already knew, but it’s nice to have it in writing,” he quipped.
New details cited Paul Manafort’s “willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services” as “a grave counterintelligence threat”. The report also details how Roger Stone tried to get WikiLeaks to drop damaging emails from Hilary Clinton’s campaign chair just as Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape came out.
Oliver added that while Trump denied knowledge of Stone’s activities to Robert Mueller, the report put “one hell of an asterisk on that.” Contrary to what 45 claims, the committee accessed that Trump did speak to Stone about WikiLeaks on multiple occasions.
“The bipartisan report comes from a Republican-led senate committee is a truly damning indictment of Trump’s character, underscoring just how important the election in November is,” said Oliver, “and as much as the DNC’s platform of ‘Biden is not Trump’ should be an overwhelmingly successful strategy, the truth is Trump still has a real chance at reelection.”
Oliver goes back to the “calamari ninja” who was interviewed and said he didn’t know if he would vote for Biden because he doesn’t know him well.
The host gave some sobering truths about this: “While your instinctive reaction might be, ‘how can anyone still be undecided?’ the sad fact is, lots of people still are so I really hope the DNC strategy this week of woo’ing undecided voters with the star power of John Kasich and Meg Whitman pays off because if the Democrats just spent a week trying to appeal to conservatives who ultimately end up voting Republican then this will actually turn out to be a depressingly conventional convention.”