Harm Reduction: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Transcript

John Oliver discusses why overdoses in the U.S. have been on the rise and what we should, and shouldn’t, be doing to prevent them.
Harm Reduction: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 9 Episode 5
Aired on March 27, 2022

Main segment: Harm reduction of recreational drug use
Other segments: Kate & William’s Royal Tour 2022, Nenana Ice Classic

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John: welcome, welcome, welcome to “last week tonight!” I’m John Oliver. Thank you so much for joining us. Just time for a quick recap of the week, which has been busy. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its second month, North Korea launched its biggest missile test in years, and here in the U.S., the senate held confirmation hearings for judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, where she had to answer some absolutely batshit questions.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how faithful would you say you are in terms of religion?

I’m an Hispanic man. Could I decide I was an Asian man?

Do you think we should catch and imprison more murderers or fewer murderers?

Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?

Senator… I do not believe…

John: Okay, just stop. Because for a second, don’t focus on the stupidity of the questions, just appreciate how exquisite that pause was. In it was contained the strength and patience of every black woman being stretched to its absolute limit. In that pause was the divine calculus where she had to balance “how much do I want this job?” And “how much do I want to cuss out these preposterous people?” Call it the chisholm-johnson formula. And look, obviously, those questions weren’t asked because they genuinely wanted to know the answer. They were asked to generate viral soundbites. The proof of which is in this image of Ted Cruz, right after his questioning, where he’s checking his mentions on twitter in the middle of the proceedings which is honestly kind of amazing. Can you imagine being Ted Cruz and wanting to hear what people think about you? On the internet? That’s a doom-scroll that will not end well.
But for now, let’s move on to the royal family. They’ve had a pretty tough year, compared to no one else who’s ever lived, from Harry and Meghan talking to Oprah to prince Andrew being stripped of his titles after — will legal let me mention the things he did? They won’t? Even though he definitely did them? Okay, I guess forget those things I mentioned that he definitely did. This was supposed to be a big week for the royals, with prince William and Kate Middleton embarking on an official visit to the Caribbean.

The moments royal tours are made of. The duke and duchess of Cambridge dancing with locals in Belize, a visit officially to mark the queen’s 70 years on the throne, also being dubbed a “charm offensive”, an attempt to persuade Caribbean nations to hang onto the monarchy.

John: “Charm offensive”? Well, it’s certainly one of those things. That looks less like a royal visit and more like “beach barbecue night at sandals Belize” but it’s true that this tour was for two key reasons. First, to celebrate the queen’s 70 years in power, a milestone she’s definitely hit, because she’s absolutely not dead right now. Nope. Don’t do the dates. Don’t do the dates yet. Why would you do that when she’s so obviously fine? But second, this was a clear attempt to try and keep the Commonwealth together, especially as just four months ago, Barbados formally removed the queen as their head of state and, during the same ceremony, recognized Rihanna as a national hero, proving Barbados is currently making all the right decisions. But instead of the fawning coverage the royals no doubt hoped for, this tour has been a disaster.

Not quite the welcome they were hoping for. At one of the first places William and Kate were supposed to visit, protests forced the couple to cancel.

John: Yeah, that was the first stop of day one. Not a great signal for the rest of your trip. It’s like getting to Disney world and immediately being told, “sorry, theme park’s closed to you because your family committed genocide.” That’s going to set a tone for the rest of your time in Orlando. And things didn’t get much better from there. Before they even landed in the Bahamas, the national reparations committee there released a statement, saying, “the time is now for reparations,” ending the letter quoting Bahamian artist Tony Mckay, saying, “I come to collect everything that you owe me.” Which is a devastating way to end a letter. The only thing that could have made it any more devastating is simply adding the word “bitch.” I mean, the “bitch” is implied there. Don’t get me wrong. But it’d be lovely to see it written down. And then there was Jamaica, where things continued going badly. Protestors demanded an apology for the royal family’s role in the slave trade and made some pretty pointed criticisms.

Mr. William, I see you love to dance with the black people and you love to frolic, but speak some truth on this trip.

Our goal is to loosen and remove the hands, the gloved hands of the queen from around our necks so that we can breathe.

How are these two young white people now, going to be here saying we are going to kowtow to them and we are going to bend and bow and kneel to them as if they are gods? Those days are done. The monarchy is a relic.

John: Holy shit. William, Kate. Just go. You just gotta leave. If all those black women have taken time out of their day to call you “mr. William” and “those two young white people,” you’re done. You’re just done. It is over for you. All of it. Having your entire thing in life reduced down to “you love to frolic” is fucking brutal. The people of Jamaica have said, “these two white people are unserious, and we do not require them. Please go frolic somewhere else” and I do not disagree with them. And look, William and Kate tried to turn things around. They played some bongos, they sat in a Jamaican bobsled, and posed next to a Bob Marley statue, while somehow managing to look more lifeless than an actual statue. But it all felt desperate. And perhaps their lowest moment came during their audience with the Jamaican prime minister, because as he welcomed them in for their initial photo op, before the cameras had even got settled, he dropped this on them.

Jamaica is, as you would see, a country that is very proud of our history and very proud of what we have achieved. We are moving on and we intend to attain it in short order. And fulfill our true ambitions as an independent, developed, prosperous country.

John: Oh, shit! He basically broke up with them before they could even sit down. They didn’t even make it to the chairs. It’s hard to watch that without getting flashbacks to every time you’ve been dumped. Although, if you need to break up with someone, you should definitely do it like that. “I’m sorry, Michelle. Before we eat, I just want to say I’m very proud of our history and what we’ve achieved together, but I’m moving on and intend to fulfill my ambitions as an independent, developed, prosperous person. Also, I hate every single one of your friends and I always have.” There were so many points this trip that it should’ve been abandoned. How did no one on it not look around and say, “no one asked us to be here, everyone is fucking mad at us, we shouldn’t be here.” Although to be fair, I guess “no one asked us to be here and now they’re mad” is essentially British history in two sentences. The thing, though, is, even if William and Kate were charming, I’m not sure there’s enough charm in the universe to convince these nations to stick with the monarchy. This is an empire that invaded their lands, robbed their wealth, and enslaved and murdered their people, and now the royals have the fucking balls to ask, “can you please keep us around?” That has to be the single dumbest question I’ve ever heard in my life. Aside, maybe, from this.

Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?

John: exactly. And now this.

Announcer: and now yet another installment of coming up on “Inside Edition.”

Bugging out. The president attacked by a cicada. Then, the guy who says he was swallowed by a whale. He says it’s also happened to him. Then, baby dinosaur mystery. And, you call this lunch? What the heck is this? Then, not bad for an old man. Then, storage lockers. Millions of Americans are storing their stuff in them. Freak out. Then. Their song so beautiful. Gator girl. Wild-goose chase.

Has he been eaten by alligators?

Then, chiropractors for babies. Champagne wedding toast. This is not going to end well.

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John: Moving on. Our main story tonight concerns drugs. They’re something we’ve often been told to avoid, through PSAS like this.

♪ Don’t do drugs! ♪

Oh, no!

Oh, don’t you do it now! ♪ Don’t do drugs! ♪

Oh, no!

♪ Someone plays you for a fool when they say, ♪ come on, be cool just be smart and heed this rule ♪ ♪ don’t do drugs! ♪ Just tell them you got better things to do ♪

John: Cool. Everyone knows the hottest spot to snort coke is a bench on a residential street in broad daylight. These days, you can’t even hang out on your split-level porch in your poodle skirt without seeing those pesky teens, blowing that snow like it’s Jackson hole. But despite those very compelling arguments, millions upon millions of Americans still use illicit drugs. And it’s easy to see why. Drugs can be a lot of fun. Some, in fact, can be so much fun they end up ruining your fucking life. Because the truth is, that “grease” fever dream isn’t wrong to imply engaging with the illicit drug supply can be dangerous. This past decade has shown a substantial rise in overdose deaths, leading to alarming statistics like this.

The CDC estimates more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses over a 12-month period ending this April, a record. That’s nearly three times the number of deaths from traffic accidents last year and more than twice the number of gun deaths.

John: Wow. That is staggering. And quick side note. It’s depressingly American to be shocked that something could cause more deaths than guns. We’re the only country that would look at that and say, “it’s hard to believe that drug overdoses are killing more people than one of those natural causes of death, highly preventable loss of life by loosely regulated weapons.” The fact is: street drugs are an absolute mess right now, as they’ve become so contaminated, one Yale researcher said the whole supply is just so absolutely fucked at this point. And the rise in overdoses deaths has been driven by the presence of one drug in particular: and that is Fentanyl. A synthetic opioid often used prescriptively for things like surgeries or cancer pain. But outside of medical settings, illegally manufactured Fentanyl has become a huge problem. Because it and other synthetic opioids were involved in nearly two-thirds of all overdose deaths during the past year. And while it’s true that Fentanyl is incredibly potent, the bigger problem is that there’s a dangerous lack of consistency in the way it’s currently distributed within the street drug supply. So you can either know you’re taking it on its own or in something like heroin but not know how potent what you’re taking is. Or you may not know you’re taking it at all.

What we’re seeing is that this opioid is being found in a contaminated pill supply in the whole United States. They’re using pill presses that look like pills for pharmaceuticals that are currently marketed.

One day, I admitted three people into the clinic. All three of them said they were taking Oxycodone. None of those three people had any Oxycodone tested in their urine that we tested that day. It was all Fentanyl.

John: Well, that’s not great, is it? The only time you should be surprised by what’s in your urine is when you forgot you ate asparagus earlier that day or, worst case scenario, the shrunk down magic school bus comes out after a biology lesson gone horribly wrong. So if the current drug supply is this tainted and this dangerous, we thought tonight it’d be worth talking about the overdoses it can cause, and the things we should and really shouldn’t be doing to prevent them. And let’s start by acknowledging some past mistakes. Because for decades, we’ve been fighting a war on drugs that was often fueled by fear and misinformation, directly leading to bad policy.
In the ’80s, for instance, the risks associated with crack cocaine use, which were very real, got cartoonishly inflated into fearmongering headlines about a generation of crack babies with stories like, “Crack babies turn 5 and schools brace,” which was obviously shitty and racist at the time but has also since been completely debunked. But that hysteria led to policies like mandatory minimums that fueled mass incarceration, and laws that criminalized everything surrounding drug use, from paraphernalia to even locations where drugs were used. And unfortunately, we’re seeing a similar panic today brewing around Fentanyl, which, again, is dangerous if ingested or injected. But to hear law enforcement tell it, it’s also dangerous to be anywhere near it. Take this video from the San Diego county sheriff’s department, and before I show it to you, just know the officer involved here is completely fine, for reasons I’ll get to in a minute.

My trainee was exposed to Fentanyl and nearly died. He found a white substance that he suspected was drugs.

It tested positive for Fentanyl. That stuff’s no joke. It is super dangerous.

A couple seconds later, he took some steps back and he collapsed.

John: Again… Don’t worry. That officer is completely fine. And there should have been a few immediate red flags there; not only did the department voluntarily release that body cam footage, they also went to the trouble of scoring it with music that can only be described as “funeral home slideshow.” But the idea that officer could’ve been passively exposed to Fentanyl and then overdosed is completely absurd. Experts say it is technically impossible to touch Fentanyl powder and feel any effects from it, let alone overdose and “you would have to be in some sort of wind tunnel with massive amounts of Fentanyl” to accidentally inhale enough to O.D. and by the way: “a wind tunnel full of fentanyl” is quite the phrase there. If you just add “and roving gangs,” you’ve pretty much got how a racist uncle describes Chicago after watching too much Fox News. And the things is it’s by no means just San Diego multiple police departments have put out similar claims of od-ing through accidental skin contact or inhalation, which again, is basically impossible. What those officers were much more likely experiencing were panic attacks. Which makes sense, in a way, because they’d just been exposed to something they’ve repeatedly heard is deadly to be anywhere near. This has now become such a trope, it was a plot point on “Blue Bloods,” where Donnie Wahlberg’s partner briefly picks up a tray with Fentanyl on it, and then this happens.

Any idea what she came in contact with?

Said she got fentanyl on her hands. What the hell’s happening here? She was fine one second, the next minute, she’s not breathing.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. The slightest exposure can trigger an overdose.

John: Yeah, that’s complete horseshit, not that you’d expect any more nuance from a show that’s basically adult Paw Patrol. But the point is, it’s deeply irresponsible of police to keep perpetuating a medical impossibility and for media outlets to keep amplifying it. For a start, it might make people afraid to help someone they see experiencing an overdose. Why risk giving someone CPR if they might be covered in powdered death? And also, when you treat a drug like a bio weapon, you justify a punitive, militarized response to it. A couple years back, a Ohio man received additional prison time for assault on a police officer after officers searched his car for drugs and found powder that later tested positive for Fentanyl. That exposure to Fentanyl alone constituted the assault. And look, if Fentanyl really were smallpox in a bottle, maybe it’d make sense for total eradication to be our goal. But it isn’t. So it frankly makes much more sense to focus on how to protect those genuinely at risk of overdosing on it: that is the people taking it. Which is to say, the rest of this piece is going to be about harm reduction. Essentially, harm reduction accepts the reality that people will use illegal drugs and that some either can’t or don’t want to stop. So rather than arrest them, we might be better off trying to mitigate the damage done. It’s a concept you might be familiar with through things like syringe services programs which give people clean needles and are proven to massively help drive down the spread of disease. And right now, if you genuinely want to reduce the number of overdoses, there are some important tactics we could encourage. First, there’s drug checking. The simple act of testing drugs to find out what’s in them. This can be done through things like Fentanyl testing strips or reagent test kits. These are very valuable tools to keep people safe, and yet, thanks to those drug-war era laws on paraphernalia I mentioned earlier, they’re technically illegal in all these states, making it a liability to carry them, which is just complete madness. Now, thankfully, some states have written carve-outs for specific methods, like Fentanyl testing strips. And others are choosing not to enforce their stupid laws criminalizing them. The problem is, though, police officers may not be aware or indeed care about those carve-outs and are still very much arresting people or using the presence of testing equipment as probable cause for further searches. And all this means people are still getting locked up because they were carrying a lifesaving tool, which is ridiculous, because if any life-saving tool should be criminalized, it obviously shouldn’t be drug checking equipment. It should be the Heimlich maneuver. I’m sorry, but let’s get this very clear. If you see me choking that is, frankly, none of your business. If I die, let me die doing my favorite thing in the world: not being surprise-hugged by a stranger. Do not touch me under any circumstances. Then there’s the harm reduction method you’re probably already aware of: that is Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan. Naloxone, as this woman who works in harm reduction explains, can quickly reverse an opioid overdose.

So pretend that, like, this, this here, this is the fentanyl coming in your system, right? So when you shoot someone up with Narcan, it’s like a wall goes up and so the Fentanyl hits the wall, it can’t keep on going. The more Narcan you put into the system, that bigger that wall gets.

So what you’re saying is is it’s actually quite easy to reverse an overdose?

Yes, it is.

John: Right, it’s incredibly effective. Naloxone has got to be in the hall of fame for erasing mistakes, up there with the pencil eraser, the control-z key, and starring in “Daddy’s Home 2.” What a fun family! What a cranky dad! I wonder if there are any fun pranks or voicemails on the set. I bet there were. The point is, naloxone’s a fucking miracle, which is why it’s so frustrating that the FDA currently has it under prescription-only status, something even the AMA has said should be changed. And while every state has adopted some kind of workaround, meaning an individual can theoretically get it without seeing a doctor first, it can be very difficult. And for community groups who want to buy it in bulk, so they can distribute it directly to people who need it the most, it can be basically impossible. And look, there are certain things you’d want to go out of your way to discourage people from having in their homes — Nazi flags, pet chimps, a tv playing an episode of “Blue Bloods”, but Narcan is absolutely not one of them. But perhaps the biggest step we could make here is to properly support overdose prevention centers, sometimes called supervised injection sites. They’re places where people can bring their own drugs, and have access to clean supplies and trained professionals who can intervene in the event of an overdose as well as direct them toward tons of other services, including addiction treatment, if they so choose. Here’s a look inside one of them right here in New York City.

When we were inside, there were half a dozen clients using drugs.

No more improperly discarded syringes on the streets, near our schools, in our subway stations. You won’t — you find way less —

Safely, securely. Without having to worry about overdosing.

The voice behind the divider belonged to a man named OZ who told us he’s a marine corps veteran and was using heroin as we spoke.

I’ve gotten more help here than I’ve gotten from, you know, from the V.A.

John: Wow, that’s incredible. And I know that we, as a society, have learned not to trust anyone named OZ who’s either yelling at you from behind a curtain or trying to talk to you about something medical. But we should make an exception here on both counts because this particular OZ makes a very important point. Overdose prevention centers provide crucial services that keep people who use drugs as safe as possible. And yet, whenever they’re floated as an option, people freak the fuck out.

It’s actually a heroin shooting gallery, and that’s really what it is. It is a community center for heroin addicts to go and shoot up under supervision, which I think is — is crazy.

The best way to prevent overdoses from heroin is to have people stop doing heroin.

They called it harm reduction centers, but in my way of thinkin, it’s really harm enabling centers.

There’s so many other things to deal with than, you know, letting people shoot up safely. It’s just like condoning doing drugs. It’s like, “why don’t I go do it?”

John: Okay, but that’s not at all what these centers are for. They’re not for the heroin-curious to sample flights of syringes like IPAs. They’re to help people who already use drugs do so in a way that won’t fucking kill them. We know overdoses often happen when people use drugs alone, with no one around to help them, and these facilities are designed to make sure that doesn’t happen. And politicians who actually study these sites, like the former mayor of Ithaca, New York, come away impressed.

The first time I heard it, I thought it sounded like we were just enabling people to use drugs. But the truth is, in the places where it’s worked, in Australia and Europe and Canada, more people get off of drugs, people who use supervised injection are 30% more likely to enter into treatment, and they’re 100% less likely to die.

John: Just to underline that: 100%. No one has ever died there. In fact, there has never been a recorded death in any overdose prevention center on earth. That’s insane! People die everywhere! People die at Chuck E. Cheese! All the time! The ball pit there is — and this is true — mostly bones. You want to know that rat’s real name? It’s charles “execution” cheese. And yet despite the fact that clip was from six years ago, Ithaca still doesn’t have an overdose prevention center. Because when cities float opening one, questions around their morality and even legality make it next to impossible. Just recently, an OPC in Philadelphia was prevented from opening after a three-judge panel found it violated a provision in federal law known as the “crack house statute,” which bans facilities that operate for the purpose of using illegal drugs. Yet another 1980s law we’re still suffering from, which is just infuriating. So often, the problem facing all harm reduction programs is that people are so angry with those who use drugs, they want to try and punish them into abstinence. But that’s not how any of this works. And advocates have been trying to tell us this for a long time, like Louise Vincent, who points out that for decades, we’ve been going at this completely wrong.

All we do is disconnect people in the united states. So if you are found to be a person who uses drugs and needs help, we start with disconnecting you. And I truly believe that addiction is the opposite of connection. So what we do is everything wrong to help a person. We disconnect people from their families. We disconnect people from their friends. We alienate people from work. We disconnect them from community, and then we disconnect them from their freedom, finally, and when people finally have nothing left, then they will use until they die.

John: Right, when people have nothing left, they will use until they die. It is fucking dark. It’s horrible, and right now, you can make a pretty good case that — deliberate or not — it’s the end-goal of U.S. Public Health policy. So, given that, what do we do from here? Well, for starters, the FDA should remove Naloxone’s prescription-only status, and they should do that right now. And crucially, not just for expensive brand-name nasal sprays like Narcan, but for low-cost, generic Naloxone, which is thirty times cheaper. As for state legislatures, they should re-examine their paraphernalia laws to make sure people aren’t held liable for holding basic protective tools like drug testing equipment. And finally, we need a full-throated endorsement of overdose prevention centers from the Biden administration, because remember, right now, as Philly is finding out, they’re arguably illegal, thanks to that crack house statute. Now, the Biden administration could intervene here, and take a stand in their favor, which is frankly the very least Biden could do. Because if you’re wondering, “who’s the guy who authored the crack house legislation,” I’ve got some bad news for you.

I’m the guy who authored the crack house legislation.

John: Oh, thanks for clarifying, joe. Nice Larry King costume, by the way! And look, this administration has done some real good, in being the first to broadly endorse harm reduction tactics. But advocates say much, much more is needed, including making sure people who use drugs have a seat at the table during policy discussions, and that funding gets to community-based organizations providing the most services for them. But we all need to get on board here. Our engrained stigmas around drugs and the people who use them run really deep. And if we actually want to minimize deaths and keep people safe, the facts point in a very clear direction: we need to meet people where they are, help them transition into safe drug use to stay alive, and remove barriers for those seeking addiction treatment. And what we absolutely need to stop doing is spreading misinformation and warehousing drug users in prisons. Or, to say it more succinctly: it is well past time to start paying attention to the man behind the curtain. And now this.

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Announcer: I know, still of coming up on “Inside Edition.”

Peacock invasion.

Sound like babies being tortured.

Then, the Brazilian butt lift. Tortoise theft. You’ve been replaced by a robot waitress. Then, hey, buddy, how is the fishing? Plus.

911 Bad haircut.

And do face coverings prevent women from getting cat calls?

Is the baby in danger?

The woman they are calling Hulu Hoop Karen. Mask wars Karen. Why these people named Karen are fed up. Supermodel Gisele saving the turtle. The Lupe Taylor swift patient. Whose dentist doesn’t like Taylor Swift.

You don’t like Taylor Swift. Don’t touch me.

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John: Moving on. Finally tonight, I’d like to talk about Alaska. The single best place to see a salmon jumping into a bear’s mouth, and, if you’re really lucky, a bear jumping into a salmon’s mouth. It’s rare, but when it happens, it’s beautiful. Specifically, I’d like to talk about one of Alaska’s greatest treasures: the Nenana Ice Classic. It’s a yearly contest you may not have heard of, but it’s happening right now, and it’s absolutely incredible. Here’s how it works.

With the placing of the tripod on the frozen Tanana river, the Nenana Ice Classic is off and running. The Ice Classic involves guessing when the tripod connected to a clock near the riverbank will fall through the melting river ice, with the closest guess winning.

John: It’s true. Every year, people in the small Alaskan town of Nenana put a giant wooden tripod on a frozen river and place bets on exactly when the ice will melt enough to break up, and the tripod floats downstream. And before we go any further, let me just say: if you aren’t intrigued by what I just said, turn this show off right now. If you just heard me describe people betting on ice melting and didn’t think, “sounds great, tell me more,” change the channel, shut your laptop, close this YouTube video on your phone, hit the “unroku” button on your Roku — whatever you have to do, just get this show away from your face. This is not a program for you. You don’t need to watch it. I don’t want you to watch it. And I don’t want to be in your life. Fuck off! Now for the rest of us: the Nenana Ice Classic is apparently one of the oldest continuously running betting events in the United States. It officially began back in 1917, when a handful of railroad engineers decided to bet on the ice breakup to help pass the long Alaskan winter. And already, I can’t help wondering what else did they do to pass the time before they came up with that idea? “Let’s see, guys, we played cards, sang songs, wrote letters home, drank heavily, and experimented with cannibalism, but we’ve still got two months of winter left. So, who’s up for betting on when that ice over there melts?” If you’re wondering how they determine the exact moment the contest is over, they’ve devised a pretty amazing system.

We have developed a mechanism that tells us when the tripod moves 100 feet down the river. It consists of pulleys, wire, a cleaver, two different types of rope — there’s twisted poly and then there’s braided poly — half of a 55-gallon drum that’s filled with rocks, a clothesline, and the special clock.

John: Excellent. They basically made a Rube Goldberg machine out of random items to call the contest. Honestly, I wish it was even more complicated. How about this? When the tripod hits 100 feet downriver, it pulls a rope that runs to the tower, which is connected to a hook that pulls up a garbage can filled with Doritos, and that releases a basketball, which rolls down a wooden plank and pulls a string attached to a pair of scissors, which cuts a clothesline, which is tied thousands of miles away to the back of Robert DeNiro’s pants and it pulls his pants down, which then pulls another string back at the tower that trips a wire, which drops a second garbage can filled with Microsoft Zunes, which lands on three dozen eggs, and the egg yolk runs down into a funnel that flows into a cup, and once the cup is filled, it pushes an air pump, which fills a balloon until it pops, and the balloon’s string pulls open a gate that releases a marble, which rolls down a spiral track and then hits a man named Doug in the head, and then Doug unplugs the clock. It might not be as accurate, but it’d be really fun to watch. So, to recap, the moment the tripod floats 100 feet downriver, the clock stops, and the contest is over. Here is that glorious moment from a past year.

Whoooo, baby! Look at it! Look at it go!

The clock has stopped!

The clock has stopped!

Whoooooo! Look at it go. I could not ask for a better breakup, baby.

I’ve never witnessed this before.

You haven’t? What do you think?

It’s good.


John: Don’t you envy that woman? Don’t you envy how much unbridled joy she felt watching a giant wooden tripod float down a partially frozen river? She’s got life figured out. We’re over here running around like idiots, being miserable all the time, while she’s up in Alaska watching ice melt and experiencing a level of pure happiness that the rest of us will never feel in our pathetic lives. That woman is living her best life, and we are all dipshits. The way you enter the Ice Classic is by filling out a card with your guess and dropping it off with the $2.50 entry fee, into one of these red Ice Classic betting cans. Which are delivered to various gas stations, bars, and stores all over Alaska. And each year, they sell over a quarter million entry tickets, with last year’s jackpot being over $230,000. It was split evenly between 12 winners. And if you’re thinking, hold on. Twelve different entries had the exact day, hour, and minute this giant wooden thing floated 100 feet downstream? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m telling you. Keep paying attention. Now, one of the reasons for that is that you’re technically allowed to place as many bets as you want as long as you pay the fee each time. And the contest isn’t just fun for everyone who takes part. It actually provides a valuable source of climate change data by measuring the river ice breakup to the minute each year. As one climate specialist put it, “it’s almost as perfect a climate record as you could get.” And the final thing you should know is that participation isn’t just limited to Alaskans. Anyone in the world can apparently place a bet. Now, due to Alaska gaming regulations, they can’t physically mail the tickets out to you, but you can mail your list of guesses along with $2.50 per guess to the Nenana Ice Classic office, and they will gladly fill out the tickets for you. And at this point, you can probably see where I’m going with this, right? You think I’d spend 10 minutes talking about the single greatest ice melting contest in the world, then say “okay, goodnight” and end the show? No, that’s not how we operate. Of course, we’re betting on this fucking ice melting contest. Of course we are! We decided to place exactly one bet on this year’s competition for April 26, 2022, at exactly 2:17 p.m. Why? I just have a really good feeling about it. And the truth is, we could have placed more bets than that, but it didn’t feel right. At that point, what would stop someone from placing bets for every minute of every day for the entire month of April? Then it just becomes a contest of “who has the most money?” And that’s already the general contest for life in America. And initially, we were going to mail our guess to Alaska. Until we realized that’s not fully entering into the true spirit of the contest. So instead, we decided last week to go all the way to Nenana and drop off our bet in one of those red cans. And when I say “we,” let me be very clear. I don’t mean me. I did not go to Alaska. You really think “this” could handle a harsh Alaskan winter? My apartment’s thermostat is set to “dainty boy.” Thankfully, though, I know someone with a perfect body for such an adventure. You may remember, several years ago, in an attempt to help celebrate earth day, we introduced a new mascot Marshmallow, the polar bear with a broken penis. Now, why was his penis broken? I honestly can’t remember, and I doubt it really matters. But long story short, the organizers of earth day refused to adopt Marshmallow as their mascot. Shattering his heart, like his penis, into a thousand different pieces. And as Marshmallow’s been sitting around with nothing to do for seven years, he was more than happy to drop our bet off in person, which is exactly what he did. Take a look.

They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step but for this polar bear, it began with a fond farewell to his employer. A 90 minute cab ride to Newark, virtually no TSA line, and an eight-hour flight. Once in Alaska, Marshmallow was ready to go. Unfortunately, his luggage was not. Feels like the fish backs always come out last. Fucking Alaska airlines. Marshmallow faced an omen of the perilous path ahead. Here was a feat far worse than a broken penis: being stuck at the airport forever. Marshmallow knew this journey wouldn’t be easy, trekking through the vast arctic expanse of snow, subzero cold, and winds that cut to the bone. No one seemed willing to lend a hand or even a horn. And when Marshmallows paws took him as far as they could go and he was at his physical and mental limits, he called on Alaskan Uber. Now that’s a five star ride. Soon he had reached his destination. Nenana, home of the Ice Classic. It was time for this bear to fulfill his destiny by placing a single bet for $2.50 in the ice smelting contest. April 26, 2:17 p.m. The wager 100% guaranteed to win this year’s Ice Classic. A kind stranger said the nicest words anyone had ever said to Marshmallow.

Thanks, marshmallow. Good luck to you and I hope your penis feels better.

Sorted marshmallow. But our bear’s journey wasn’t complete. He had one more thing left to see. Suddenly there it was.

♪ ♪

The mighty tripod on the river. As straight and sturdy as Marshmallow’s penis was not. We all face a foreboding tundra at some point in life that we must cross. But it’s the fire on the inside that pushes us through the bitter cold on the outside and as long as that fire burns within you, anything is possible. Except for fixing a broken penis.

John: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back from Alaska, Marshmallow, the polar bear with a broken penis! Welcome back, Marshmallow. Welcome back old friend. How was Alaska? Oh, you can’t talk because your penis hurts too much and you’re a bear? I’m sorry, I forgot. The point is, our bet for this year’s Ice Classic is officially in. And when we win, I’m proud to announce we will donate our entire prize to the food bank of Alaska. And if for some weird reason, we don’t win, we’re going to donate $10,000 to them anyway. If you want to find out more about how to bet on the Ice Classic, there’s information on how to do that at this address so have fun, and may the best guess win!

That’s our show. Thank you so much for watching. Thank you to Marshmallow! Good night! We did it! We did it, buddy. We did it. That’s right.


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Slow Horses - S03E02 - Hard Lessons

Slow Horses – S03E02 – Hard Lessons | Transcript

River Cartwright is tasked with a risky mission to retrieve the Prime Minister’s vetting files from Regent’s Park. After failing to trap the abductor, River confronts the abductor who is revealed to be none other than Diana Taverner.