Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 7 Episode 30
Aired on November 15, 2020
Main segment: 2020 United States elections and consequences of Trump’s refusal to concede
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[John] Hi there! Welcome to the show! Still coming to you from this blank void, which I don’t think is purgatory, but I can’t prove otherwise. And we’re going to jump straight in with our main story this week, which unfortunately, for the second week in a row, concerns the election we just had. And believe me, I’m just as disappointed as you about that. I’d much rather spend tonight talking about this rare turtle found in West Bengal. Look how yellow it is! It looks like it got into some trouble with the turtle mafia and is now trying to disguise itself as a peanut M&M. It looks like it went to a costume party dressed as “the less healthy part of the egg.” According to experts, “the rare color of the turtle is attributed to the deficiency of pigment called tyrosine,” but according to me, you can go ahead and drop that little factoid in a file labeled “who gives a shit” because look at how fucking yellow that turtle is! We could’ve done this whole show about this shiny, cheddar cheese mistake, but instead, we have to talk about this asshole. Because in normal times, the loser of a presidential election would simply acknowledge they lost and the country would get to move on. But as of our taping on Saturday, a full week after the election was called, Trump is still refusing to concede. And while that’s not remotely surprising, what has been disappointing has been this shit.
[CBS] Secretary of state Mike Pompeo sent shock waves when he appeared to dismiss the election results.
[Mike Pompeo] There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration. We are ready.
[John] What the fuck are you talking about, you business grimace? You’re the secretary of state. You’re supposed to forcefully denounce coups and look the other way if the CIA does one in central or South America. That’s literally your whole job. And while some have suggested Pompeo was joking there, he also hasn’t yet acknowledged that Biden is president-elect. Nor have most republicans. Mitch McConnell not only claimed Trump is “100% within his rights” to challenge the election results, he went on to say this:
[Mitch McConnell, on C-Span2] Let’s not have any lectures, no lectures, about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election.
[John] Okay, first: no one expected Trump to “immediately, cheerfully accept” the results. He’s incapable of cheerfully accepting anything apart from blowjobs, Nazi endorsements, and the opportunity to scream inside a stranger’s truck. Whose truck is that? I’ll tell you who definitely doesn’t care: this guy. It’s his truck now. Honk honk! And second, while there were some on the left in 2016 who urged fighting the results, Hillary formally conceded the day after the election, and Obama had Trump in the white house the day after that. And yet, republicans are trying to defend their support for Trump’s indefensible behavior, with one senior official saying, “what is the downside of humoring him for this little bit of time?” A question that never ends well, whether the ones asking it are overworked parents who need a break or the Weimar Republic. So tonight, let’s look at just how weak Trump’s case for overturning this election is and what real harm humoring him will do. And let’s start with the case itself, because there are lots of accusations and lawsuits flying around right now, and if you’re a casual viewer of right-wing media, you might think, “well, there must be something here. They wouldn’t be going to all this trouble over nothing.” But the thing is, they are. This really is nothing. And let’s start with the frequently made claim about dead voters. If your uncle is a nightmare and you’re still friends on Facebook, you might’ve seen this post claiming there was a list of 14,000 dead people who voted in Michigan. But when CNN picked out 50 of those names to do a spot check, they discovered 37 were dead and hadn’t cast votes, 5 had voted but were still alive, and 8 were alive but hadn’t voted, meaning exactly zero were dead people who voted. And yes, that is just a sample, but if you were at an Oreo factory and 50 out of 50 Oreos you picked off the line were just two rats squished around a used condom, you might well not risk trusting the next cookie that comes past you. The claim of dead people voting was also advanced by Tucker Carlson, an ’80s ski bully who just lost the big race, and he went in big on one example in particular.
[Tucker Carlson, on Fox News] In some ways, it’s an inspiring story. The triumph of voting over death. And no one quite embodies that story like James Blalock of Covington, Georgia. Mr. Blalock was a mailman for 33 years until he passed away in 2006. 14 Years later, according to state records, he was still mailing things. James Blalock cast a ballot in last week’s election. How did he do that?
[John] Ooh, that’s an excellent question, you waiter’s nightmare. Now that segment got picked up and circulated by, among others, Matt Gaetz and the Trump campaign itself. And it does make you wonder: how did that dead man vote? Maybe his widow has an answer.
[Agnes Blalock] He didn’t vote.
[Interviewer] It was you!
[Agnes Blalock] It was me.
Agnes Blalock voted using her married name, newton county confirmed. Her voter registration was signed as “Mrs. James e. Blalock Jr.” And that’s exactly how she signed her name when she voted in the November 3rd general election. Who did you vote for? You don’t have to share that.
[Agnes Blalock] I voted for the democrats, for Biden.
[Interviewer] I see. And so —
[Agnes Blalock] I guess I voted against the other one, really.
[John] Okay, so the claim was bullshit. He didn’t vote; she did. And, by the way, not so much for Biden as against the other one, meaning that this 96-year-old’s approach to the election was the pretty much the same as that of 20-year-old progressives. I wonder what else do they have in common? Does she also have a collection of dank memes and spend five hours a day calling Bill de Blasio a bitch on Twitter? I really hope so. Then there were claims from numerous supposed whistleblowers. In fact, Lindsey Graham, Leslie Jordan’s absolute worst character, sent a letter to the DOJ asking them to investigate particular claims by a postal worker in Erie, Pennsylvania, who said in an affidavit that postmarks were being backdated on mail-in ballots to make it appear as though they’d been collected on election day. Unfortunately for Graham, that man later recanted those claims in the affidavit, when talking to investigators, and while he’s now insisting he stands by his initial statements, the really important thing to know is, the total number of ballots from his post office that were postmarked November 3rd and delivered to the board of elections later — so, the maximum number that could have had their date changed — was two. Which is, and this is true, not the number of votes Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by. But perhaps the strangest whistleblower accusation involved a poll worker in Nevada, who Fox gave a primetime slot to make her claims.
[Poll worker in Nevada, on Fox New] I went out to go for a walk on my break and I probably had a 150-, 175-foot stretch where I was walking.
[John] Sorry. I really should have mentioned: they disguised her identity by making her sound like Megan Mullally undergoing an exorcism. But I’ll let her continue — basically, she claims she saw a Biden-Harris campaign van outside the polling place with people handling white envelopes. Go.
[Poll worker in Nevada, on Fox New] As I got closer, the envelopes were being torn open, there were two men — or two people dropping the envelopes, and two people ripping them up open and turning and facing the van and drawing on them or marking them. And as I walked by, I looked and I thought, “those are ballots.”
[John] Okay, I’m just going to say it: that’s either total bullshit or the dumbest scheme of all time. The Biden-Harris campaign opened envelopes and marked ballots in the parking lot of a polling place in broad daylight against the side of a van which had their logo on it. That is like if, in Ocean’s Eleven, they showed up to the casino in a giant “Danny Ocean Robbery Service” van and slowly put on their disguises in the lobby. It’s the perfect crime! Also, that woman hasn’t yet filed a formal complaint. According to the Nevada A.G.’S office, all they’ve received is a redacted affidavit that doesn’t contain her name, signature, or contact information, meaning they have no way to begin a proper investigation. And that has been something of a pattern here: the Trump team making claims of widespread fraud, publicly, but there then being a huge dropoff when it comes to what they actually file in court. In Michigan, they submitted a lawsuit with 234 pages of affidavits from poll watchers, but those who actually read them found that they do not show proof of widespread fraud or egregious misconduct. Instead, they’re either allegations from people who don’t seem to fully understand how the vote-counting process works, so are questioning pretty commonplace things, or they are petty bullshit like complaining people inside the counting room were wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts or that election workers were opening ballots with Donald Trump votes and rolling their eyes. Neither of which are illegal! And if it helps here, let me just head off any future Trump campaign lawsuits: a poll worker eating a banana is not evidence of voter fraud. One humming the chorus of “Uptown Girl” is not evidence of voter fraud. Now, wearing a baseball cap could be evidence of voter fraud, but only if the person wearing it is putting valid votes into a paper shredder. If it’s just the hat part, that, again, is not evidence of voter fraud. And look, I could spend the rest of the show debunking stories. The problem is, it’s endless. The latest claim is that voting machines or software changed votes, even though this government cybersecurity agency — created by an act that Trump himself signed — released a statement saying, “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” and that “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.” In fact, as of this taping, one of the few seemingly legitimate cases against anyone for voter fraud this year has been this:
[WNEP.COM] Luzerne county officials say, for the first time in 30 years, there has been a voter fraud arrest. County detectives say Robert Lynn of forty fort signed his deceased mother’s name on an absentee ballot application, and that’s a crime. Lynn is a registered republican. Court paperwork shows the application was flagged in September and elections officials reported it to county detectives.
[John] Yeah, that’s one person, allegedly trying to steal one vote, that was flagged in September, and the person involved was a Trump supporter. And this is not the most important thing, but it happened in a town called Forty Fort, which is just delightful. Just say the words “Forty Fort” out loud, right now. Forty Fort. It feels so good in the mouth. Now, apparently the town was named after the original 40 settlers who built a fort there, but I call bullshit, because I refuse to believe that there just happened to be 40 settlers who named their fort “Forty Fort” without being fully aware of how funny that sounds. Here’s what I think happened: they built the fort, then one settler said, “what should we call this place?” And another said, “who cares? Let’s just name it Forty Fort.” And everyone justifiably laughed very hard and agreed to do just that. Then another settler — who no one really liked — said, “wait, what if someone asks why we called it ‘Forty Fort’? We can’t just say we did it because we thought it was funny.” And everyone quietly muttered, “oh, my god, Ezekiel, you suck so much.” So then they said, “okay, if anyone asks, we called it Forty Fort because there are forty of us. I mean, there aren’t, but who’s going to call us out on that? It’s fucking 1770 and most people can’t read.” And that is how Forty Fort got its name. I will take that story to my gravey grave.
And for the record, I have exactly as much evidence to back that up as republicans currently do of widespread voter fraud in this election. So the allegations here are complete nonsense. And who knows why republicans are entertaining this? Maybe it’s to do with the fact Georgia has two senate runoffs coming up and they want to keep Trump happy so he’ll help rally voters for them there. Maybe they’re currying favor with him because they’re worried that he’ll be a power broker going forward. I don’t know. What I do know is that the answer to the question, “what is the downside of humoring him?” Is “a lot,” because this administration’s refusal to acknowledge the election’s outcome means that Biden is not getting high-level intelligence reports and can’t access funds meant to facilitate his transition. And then, of course, there is this.
[Today] President Trump’s ongoing refusal to concede the race is complicating Biden’s pandemic planning. Until the Trump administration formally recognizes Biden as president-elect, outgoing Trump officials can’t share critical Covid vaccine distribution plans with the incoming Biden team.
[John] Yeah. And that’s not great. With cases spiking to a terrifying extent, you really want the new team handling the pandemic to be able to talk to the old team — even if, as I suspect, the old team’s plan was just a single whiteboard in Jared’s office with nothing on it except for “discover cure?” Circled five times and a drawing of Donald Trump saying “good job, new son.”
But the damage of indulging Trump goes even further, because it also plays into the grim fantasies of embattled Trump supporters, something expressed perhaps most dramatically and stupidly by the actor Jon Voight in this video that Trump himself retweeted on Wednesday.
[Jon Voight] My fellow Americans, I stand here with all that feel, as I do, disgusted with this lie that Biden has been chosen, as if we all don’t know the truth. This is now our greatest fight since the civil war. The battle of righteousness versus Satan. Yes, Satan. Let us fight this fight as if it is our last fight on earth. As Muhammad Ali said, it’s not over till the last punch you have.
[John] Okay, there’s a lot there, from doubling down on calling the left Satan to saying “I stand here” when he’s clearly sitting, to that Muhammad Ali quote, which we could not find any record of him saying. Which does make sense, because it doesn’t really sound like Muhammad Ali. It doesn’t have the rhetorical flair of “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” or the wit of “I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.” “It’s not over till the last punch you have” sounds less like Muhammad Ali and more like a blurb on a bootleg VHS cover of Rocky IV. And sure, that’s a ridiculous video, but the fact is, a lot of people believe stuff like that. And when you continually insist that the election was stolen in big cities and suggest that remedying this calls for the biggest fight since the civil war, things start to get deadly serious. Last Thursday, two armed men were arrested outside a Philadelphia convention center after police had received a tip about a threat to the vote-counting site. And one of the city commissioners in charge of ballot counting — a republican, by the way — has been understandably rattled by the chaos engulfing his office.
[Al Schmidt, City Commissioner, Philadelphia] From the inside looking out, it feels all very deranged. It’s people making accusations, that we wouldn’t count those votes, or people are adding fraudulent votes or just coming up with all sorts of crazy stuff.
[Interviewer] Accusations like “you are cheating.”
[Al Schmidt] Yes.
[Interviewer] “You are manipulating the vote.”
[Al Schmidt] Yes. Or calls to our offices reminding us that this is what the second amendment is for, people like us.
[Interviewer] You’re getting calls like that?
[Al Schmidt] Yes.
[Interviewer] That’s a not-so-veiled death threat.
[Al Schmidt] Yes, for counting votes in a democracy.
[John] That’s awful. And Trump is playing a dangerous game here, because there is a huge difference between “not my president” and “not the president.” And to be clear, people who are that angry are not riling themselves up in a vacuum. They’ve been fed a steady diet of misinformation, bullshit fraud claims, and a victim narrative from outlets like Fox News, Newsmax, OAN, and most importantly, Trump himself, whose Twitter feed this week oscillated between Breitbart articles, nonsense claims that he won Pennsylvania, and one lone reply to Scott Baio, who you may know from Happy Days or from Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, where he starred alongside none other than Jon Voight. I bet they had a lot of fun on set, because I guarantee no one else did. And infuriatingly, Trump has chosen to sow all this chaos around the election despite the fact that, deep down, he knows it’s over. Friday afternoon, the final states were called by most outlets, putting Joe Biden at 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. And during a press conference Trump held just a few hours later, he nearly acknowledged reality.
[President Trump] Ideally, we won’t go to a lockdown. I will not go — this administration will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully the — the, uh, whatever happens in the future — who knows which administration it will be? I guess time will tell. But I can tell you, this administration will not go to a lockdown.
[John] Except no, time will not tell. Time has told. Trump lost this election, and he knows it. And yet, just an hour after that press conference, he was retweeting voter fraud conspiracies again, which is pathetic, dangerous, and in many ways, an appropriate coda to a presidency that has destroyed so many lives — not only of those that he’s attacked, but also of those he’s claimed to protect. So many of us have lost loved ones, either because you could no longer square your love for them with their love for him or because they fell down a mind-melting rabbit hole of conspiracy theories that he happily perpetuated or because he let a deadly virus run wild and it fucking killed them! And now, as a parting gift to the country, Trump is somehow managing to divide us even further while also hobbling his successor at the worst possible time, which is absolutely unforgivable. And yes, the fact Trump won’t be president next year is good. It’s really good. But there’s a lot of work to do, and at least in the short-term, things are going to suck for a while. But we have to try and repair this damage. As a great fighter once said, “it’s not over till the final fisting you give.” And now this. Or some shit like that. I don’t remember anymore.
And now this:
Announcer: and now… 2020 Bingo.
The bingo board for 2020 is large. It’s like — you know, it folds out many times. It is larger than any game board in your house.
If you had tigers as being controversial on your 2020 bingo card, congratulations.
Vin Diesel becoming a pop star on the 2020 bingo card.
You have Carol Baston competing on “Dancing with the Stars” on your 2020 bingo card.
Good news for anyone who had a Robert Kardashian hologram on their 2020 bingo card.
So who had “train runs into whale” on their 2020 bingo card?
Ever had terrorizing turkeys under 2020 bingo card, yeah.
Did anyone have cat vampire on the 2020 bingo card?
Did you have angry white house racoons on your 2020 bingo card? We should just throw the bingo cards out all together at this rate.
Did you have a return of the dinosaurs on your 2020 bingo card?
If so, bingo.
[John] Moving on. Before we go, this is our final show of the year and we want to thank you so much for watching. Clearly, this has been a dark time to be producing a comedy show, but incredibly, we’ve managed to have some fun this year. We sponsored a Marble league, we made stamps to help the postal service, we tracked down this magnificent piece of rat erotica, and Wendy Williams eating a lamb chop. We made a show for cats, I got in a fight with Danbury, Connecticut, which resulted in them naming a sewage plant after me, John Cena delivered a message about conspiracy theories for us while taking up his shirt, something — I cannot stress this enough — we did not ask him to do. The fact that he did that unprompted makes it even funnier. And of course, I spent the whole year demanding that Adam Driver demolished me, crush my larynx, you unwieldy boulder. Explode my — oh, fuck. Oh, shit.
[Adam Driver] Hey, John.
[John] Wow. Adam Driver. I can’t believe you are calling.
[Adam] Oh good, listen to me. What the fuck are you doing?
[John] Excuse me?
[Adam] This bit, this thing yet that you are doing that is either sexual or violence.
[Adam] The strange, strange but that for some reason you pulled me into. What is it? When you first started doing it, it was easy for me to shrug it off.
[John] Especially with those shoulders, I bet.
[Adam] Then it kept going on and on —
[John] You could stroke the whole planet with those big–
[Adam] Stop talking. Do you realize over this past year, what you’ve asked me to do to you? Collapse on your chest. Tie your fingers in a square knot. Step on your throat. Shatter your knees. Pull your heart out through your ear. What is wrong with you? You realize we are strangers, right? I don’t know you. And now random people on the internet stan us, claiming that you thirsting over me is a mood.
[John] Adam, I get it.
[Adam] I’m sick of people stopping me on the street and asking me if I will punch a hole in you like a Marriage Story wall.
[John] That’s completely fair, yeah.
[Adam] And you know what? You should be ashamed of yourself because you know this was inappropriate. Right? But just from the beginning, you were just what?
[John] I was having some weird fun.
[Adam] Exactly. And now you are what?
[John] I’m America’s naughtiest bitch.
[Adam] Sure, but more importantly you’re —
[John] I am 6 feet of nasty spankable bird meat crumpled into a suit?
[John] Oh, sorry!
[Adam] I’m trying to get you to say you’re sorry, Jesus Christ, you deeply weird small– small thing!
[John] I’m sorry Adam, I am truly, truly sorry, consider this bit over. It’s done.
[Adam] Okay. It’s fine. Look, it’s been a rough year for everyone, and I can tell, it’s really gotten to you. Sitting alone in your void. But I think maybe, it might be time for you to step out of it for a bit. Get up from your chair. See what the world has to offer. Explore the space, man. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even even discover some surprises along the way.
[John] Huh, all right, yeah, I think I might– just to be absolutely clear, Adam, are you giving me an order?
[John] Just — it didn’t sound like an order.
[Adam] Explore the fucking space, you hollowed boned Mr. Bean cosplayer. Look around you, you under-baked gingerbread boy.
[John] Oh, god, that feels good.
[Adam] I hated this. Goodbye.
[John] I mean, that went really well. You know what, Adam Driver is right and hot and massive, but he’s mainly right. Because I have been stuck in this empty void since March and I’m realizing, I haven’t shown you any of it. It’s actually much bigger than just this. Come with me. I’ll give you a tour. As you can see, just off camera, there is more void and a bit more, and then a bit more void after that. It is a truly enormous, expansive nothing. And this is where I have been all year long! Now interestingly, this void does not conform to normal rules of physics. For example, the desk I’ve been sitting behind this whole time, it’s up there. [Laughs] Weird, right? But I have to say, all of this does make me a little sad, because we used to have an audience for this show. Also, I used to get to see the incredible people I make this show with, most of whom I miss very much. And three of whom I don’t. Two of you know who you are. And most importantly, we use to end our seasons with big stunts, just four years ago, I blew up the year 2016, as if that was a very bad year, and it was. It was terrible. But this year? Holy shit. This has been a lot. For me, it does not like the world has somehow both shrunk around me. I don’t see anyone, I don’t do anything, and I have no idea what’s going to happen next.
Huh. A door. That’s new. ♪ ♪ Wow. This might be the last time I see this blank void. Well, thanks for everything! You were really great at being white, depressing, and remarkably empty on the inside! And that is game recognizing game! Okay. Let’s see what’s on the other side. ♪ ♪ Oh. That makes sense. Look, this year has been an absolute parade of misery. In January alone, Australia has been ravaged by wildfires, Kobe Bryant died, and for a few days, it really seemed like America was about to go to war with Iran. That was all this year. And that was before the coronavirus exploded and everything got even worse. Mass unemployment, evictions, that video of those celebrities singing “Imagine.” It was really terrible. On top of which, this year, so the deaths of Chadwick Boseman, John Lewis, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Plus, the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett. I mean, for fuck’s sake, 2020 made me learn who Carole Baskin is, it made me set up a Google alert for Carole Baskin so I would immediately know if she was ever convicted for that thing that we are all pretty sure she did. This year ruined lives, jobs, concerts, and sanity. It also brought a new wave of wrenching videos of police brutality that brought on a national reckoning with race and a ferocious and depressing backlash, and sure, the presidential election ended well, but it was grim to live through. And Trump will not actually leave office until next January. 2020 was absolutely terrible. And I really hope next year is going to be better, but the truth is, what happens next is up to all of us. It’s going to depend how willing we are to fight, how well we learn from what’s happened, and how much we are able to care about each other. So I don’t know what happens next. But I do know what happens now.
Let tomorrow be about solutions. Today is about vengeance. Fuck you, 2020. Get fucked. [Explosion]
♪ ♪ [explosions] ♪ ♪ [explosions] ♪ ♪ [falling debris]
[John] That’s it. That’s our show. Thank you so much for watching this year. We’ll be back next February. Please stay safe until then. Good night.
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Music in order of appearance:
– De Blue Danube, Johann Strauss II
– The Planets, Mars bringer of War, Gustav Holst
– De Blue Danube, Johann Strauss II
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