Voting Rights: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Transcript

John Oliver discusses the current attacks on voting rights, who’s behind them, and what we can do about it.
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Voting Rights: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 8 Episode 24
Aired on September 26, 2021

Main segment: Voting rights in the United States
Other segment: Haitian deportation in the United States, Duck Stamps

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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

[Cheers and applause]

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 saw world leaders gather for the U.N. General assembly, major elections in Germany and Canada, and “the view” thrown into chaos after two of its hosts tested positive for covid mid-show, leading to this incredible moment.

I need the two of you to step off for a second.

Okay.

Ana and Sunny have to leave.

And we’re going to bring you back later.

And we’ll tell you why —

More information later — it’s a tease.

We’ll tell you why in a couple minutes. So should I introduce the vice president?

Yes.

Okay, so, vice president.

No!

No?

No.

Okay.

John: Wow. That does not look great. Filming a television show is basically like raising a toddler: it’s unpredictable, occasionally frustrating, and if you ever find yourself having to scream “no,” someone is about to walk into a deadly situation. But the week’s been dominated by the events in Del Rio, Texas, where thousands of migrants — mostly Haitians — attempting to cross the border were met with this response.

Images surface of border patrol agents on horseback appearing to use their horse’s reins like whips to — as one group tried to pass, an agent said this.

Hey, you use your women? This is why your country is shit!

John: Really? You’re gonna call “their” country shit? Because they just got here, and you’re not making a great case for this one. So far, 100% of their experience in America has involved a belligerent man dressed as a party city park ranger screaming at them on horseback. And when asked to respond to those images, the Biden administration fell back on one of their greatest hits.

What did the president say? How did he feel when he saw them?

He also felt they were horrific and horrible. I don’t know anyone who could watch that video and not have that emotion. I think it’s important for people to know, this is not who we are. That’s not who the Biden-Harris administration is.

John: Well, hold on. ‘Cause saying “this is not who we are” about white people chasing black people on horses is a bit of a stretch. Historically, we’ve been yes-and-ing that idea since 1619. If you listed the top three things that make America America, it’d be regional sandwich differences, flyovers at halftime, and white people chasing black people while on horseback. I’m not saying that’s what made America great. Just what made America America. As for “this is not who the Biden-Harris administration is” — are you absolutely sure about that? ‘Cause from an immigration standpoint, there’s not a ton of evidence that you are anything else yet. This administration’s record on immigration, particularly on the southern border, has been deeply underwhelming. And this week, they’ve been all over the map. ‘Cause while many Haitians were released into the U.S., we also sent thousands back to a nation that’s recently suffered an earthquake and a presidential assassination with no clear rationale for how those decisions were made. And it’s not great when our process for deciding who gets released and who gets expelled is as haphazard as the process for finding the new host of “jeopardy!” And by the way, great job so far, guys. You dodged giving that dude the job permanently, and right now we’ve got someone absolutely free of controversy, Mayim Bialik, a person I think is great because I don’t have Google. And the reason we’ve been able to expel over 2,000 Haitians so quickly is the Biden administration is using one of trump’s most infamous immigration policies, title 42, a bullshit move that lets you turn away asylum seekers under the guise of public health. It is such bullshit, a federal judge in Washington said its use in this manner is likely illegal. So it is no wonder the special envoy for Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned this week, refusing to be associated with what the Biden administration was doing. And it is hard to blame him when you consider what some of these people have gone through — not just in order to get here, but in the process of being expelled. Just listen to this man, who was put on a plane back to Haiti, describing how he was treated.

They chained us like animals. They chained our hands, feet, and waist. Once we arrived, they made us stay inside the plane until they unchained us so the journalists wouldn’t see what they did.

John: That is despicable. And just as an aside, I would love to know who made the PR judgment that showing Haitians in chains was unacceptable but charging them on horseback was a-ok. ‘Cause that person clearly knows they’re going to hell, but I’m not sure they grasp just how deep. It feels that the Biden administration is far more focused on “seeming” better when it comes to immigration than actually “being” better. Something driven further home when, just days after her “this is not who we are” comment, Jen Psaki once again said the images from Del Rio were deeply troubling to the president and unveiled this big policy move.

The secretary also conveyed to civil rights leaders earlier this morning that we would no longer be using horses in Del Rio. So that is something, a policy change that has been made in response.

John: Hold on. Are you implying it was all the horsies’ fault? Because, if I may quote myself after watching Burberry’s recent ad: if you’re only focusing on the horses, you’re missing a lot. I’m not gonna say anything about it. I promised him that this joke was finished. But I can think about it and ask you to look right in my eyes while I do that. Look, the Biden administration promised a big shift when it comes to how we treat migrants at the border, but eight months in, where is it? All of this is emblematic of a larger confusion, with one white house official even saying, “I don’t know what our immigration strategy is at all.” But we badly need one, and soon. Because we’re currently sending vulnerable people back into harm’s way. And it’s past time for this administration to stop simply telling people who we are, and start fucking showing them. And now this.

* * *

Announcer: and now, local news anchors announce the changing of the seasons the only way they know how.

Well, today is the first day of fall.

I’m sorry, that’s not how you are usually set at.

It’s fall.

It is fall, y’all.

Happy fall.

It’s fall, y’all.

It’s fall, it y’all.

I just want to say, happy fall, y’all.

[Laughs]

It’s the first day of fall, y’all.

First day of fall, y’all.

It is the first day of fall, y’all.

The brand-new day, we should say gourd morning to you.

We have a couple of other headlines for you. I’m really proud of this first one. Let me show you. Here it is. Whether headlines. Happy fall, y’all. Although summer and leafing.

That’s good.

I’m really proud of that one.

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John: Moving on. Our main story tonight concerns voting. It’s the subject of countless election PSAs, which are always the same — celebrities essentially begging you to vote — but in 1988, there was a strikingly different one. All I’m going to say about this is, there is a surprise at the end and also at the beginning.

♪ ♪

200 Years ago, the constitution of the united states suggested a very simple way to keep fools like these out of our government.

♪ ♪

A reminder from members only.

John: Holy shit! What are you doing, members only? That’s a bold move, putting your name so close to Hitler. Although, I will say, it actually fits pretty well, considering “members only” would have been a perfect slogan for the Nazis. But I want to talk about voting because, as you undoubtedly know, the latest attack on voting rights in America is well underway.

A new report from the Brennan Center shows that between January and July, these 18 states passed 30 laws that restrict voter access. They include crackdowns on mail-in and early voting, harsher voter I.D. requirements, and voter roll purges.

John: Yeah, it’s true, all those states are trying to make it harder for people to vote, and if anyone is surprised to see New Hampshire up there, let me remind you: it’s a state that’s 88% white with a republican governor and no adult seatbelt law. Sure, they present themselves as charming, but they’re basically Florida with foliage. That is it. And some of the biggest attacks on voting rights have been concentrated in the closest states in last year’s election, especially these three, where Biden’s combined margin of victory was less than 43,000 votes. If they’d gone the other way, trump would still be president right now, meaning covid would be even worse, we’d be at war with — I don’t know, let’s say Luxembourg — and we’d all be living under attorney general my pillow guy. I know things are bleak right now, but depressingly, it’s important to remember: this is technically the better timeline. And I know that those pushing these bills claim critics are completely distorting what’s inside them, and any objections could be cleared up with a simple step:

I would encourage people to actually read the bill, find out what the facts are.

It’s time to take a chill pill, folks. It’s time to read the bill.

Read the bill. There is no voter suppression. Read the bill and show me one person who’s eligible to vote that will not be able to vote. You can’t find it. It’s a lie. It’s just not there.

John: All right, well, if that is your criteria, you obviously win. Of course no one is going to find a bill that literally says “this specific person shouldn’t be allowed to vote.” Even though we all know there is someone who shouldn’t be allowed to vote, and it’s this guy. His name is Brandon Caruso. His favorite pizza topping is “no sauce,” his favorite season of “the wire” is “I haven’t watched it yet,” and his list of celebrities he’d have sex with outside of marriage is, exclusively, five times, the wheel from “wheel of fortune.” Not vanna. Not pat. The wheel. Five times. One, two, three, four, five. Brandon. But the thing is, if you do actually read these bills, you quickly find they absolutely make it harder to vote — and particularly for certain people. So tonight, we thought we’d take a look at the attack on voting rights and how best to fight it. And let’s start with what’s in these bills, because it’s a lot. For instance, in texas — where, remember, that guy claimed you can’t find a single instance of voter suppression — one thing their bill does is roll back a lot of the innovative measures put in place during the pandemic that made voting more accessible. Among other things, it gets rid of 24-hour and drive-through voting, both methods Harris County implemented last year. And as the county clerk who oversaw that election points out, when you look at the precincts where those methods were most popular, it’s clear the harm is pretty targeted.

Why are we taking 24-hour voting away? Because 56% of voters in November who used 24-hour voting were people of color. And they know that. Why are we taking drive-through voting away? Because 53% of those voters in 2020 were people of color.

John: Yeah, it’s pretty obvious who you’re targeting there. They might as well say, “you can’t arrive at a polling place exhibiting a face in the fenty 300s or higher.” Sure, you’re not “saying” people of color, but we all know what the fuck is happening. And it’s not just drive-through voting — Texas, and all these other states, have added new barriers to voting by mail, coincidentally, just a year after elections in which the percentage of black people who voted by mail surged past white voters. Meanwhile, all these states have put harsher voter I.D. requirements in place, even though federal court cases found black and Latino voters in states with harsh laws disproportionately lacked access to the type of photo IDs required to vote. So already, when you do read these bills, you find some shit in plain view. It’s like a second grader playing hide and seek. You’re bigger than the coffee table, bud. I can see your feet, hands, full face, and you’re giggling very loudly. You didn’t do a good job at hiding. And some of those pushing these bills — like this state representative from Georgia — even argue that, if a law does make it harder to vote, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I do believe that voting in this country is a privilege and —

It’s a right.

And it’s a right as well. But it ought to mean enough where you can put forth a little bit of effort in trying to cast your ballot.

John: Okay, except something can’t be a right and a privilege that you need to work for. Because those are two completely different things — for instance, it’s a right for Brandon Caruso to imagine what hot, tawdry sex with the wheel of fortune would be like. To imagine climbing on top of it and taking her all in. To think about the crowd watching him — yeah, that’s right, the studio audience is there, and they’re rooting for him. Because he did it. Brandon finally did it. He’s finally fucking the wheel. Imagining how good that’d feel is Brandon’s right. But actually getting to grab those pegs and give the wheel a spin? That is a privilege that should take years of effort. And look, none of this is anything new. Republicans have been pushing restrictive voting laws for years. Back in 2013, North Carolina crafted a law that made it so the only acceptable forms of voter I.D. were the ones disproportionately used by white people, in a bill a federal appeals court later said targeted “African-American voters with almost surgical precision.” Which has to be the second-worst context in which to hear that phrase, topped only by “surgery.” “Look, ma’am, your husband’s surgery was… We got in there with ‘almost’ surgical precision. My team’s not a hundred percent yet, but we were really close on this one.” And frequently, these laws have been helped along by well-funded groups like the heritage foundation, whose co-founder, Paul Weyrich, famously admitted, “I don’t want everybody to vote,” and whose former president, Jim Demint, once approvingly said, “in the states where they do have voter I.D. laws, you’ve actually seen elections begin to change towards more conservative candidates.” Pretty much giving the game away. And heritage is very much still at it. Just this year, the executive director of their sister organization, heritage action, actually bragged about their role in pushing this year’s new bills.

We are working with state legislators to make sure they have all the information they need to draft the bills. In some cases we draft them for them. They have been huge victories sending bills on march 8th. Little fanfare, honestly, nobody even noticed. My team looked at each other and we were like, it can’t be that easy. It can’t be that easy.

John: Hold on there, T.J.Maxx Ivanka Trump. Because anyone saying “it can’t be that easy” to do anything other than sneaking their own snacks into the movies absolutely must be stopped. The point here is, this has been a concerted, organized effort over many years. But the reason it now has a much higher chance of working has to do with a pair of supreme court decisions that gutted the landmark 1965 voting rights act, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting. The first decision — Shelby County vs. Holder — basically released these areas, which had a prior history of discriminatory voting laws, from having to run any new ones past the federal government first before they took effect. And the second — Brnovich vs. DNC — essentially found that even if a voting restriction has a discriminatory impact, that in itself doesn’t necessarily violate the voting rights act. Those two decisions basically made it easier for some states to pass discriminatory laws, while at the same time, making it much harder for anyone to challenge them. And given that one of the dwindling ways you can still successfully sue under the VRA is by demonstrating a bill is racially motivated, it’s hardly surprising that those passing these new laws have been quick to shut down any discussion of their racial impact. In fact, in Texas, in the midst of debating their new bill, there was this incredible moment:

Members, this is a reminder to everyone to be civil and respectful to our colleagues as we debate SB1. The chair would appreciate members not using the word “racism” this afternoon.

John: look, look, if the word you don’t want people to use is “racism,” I hate to break it to you, but you’re doing a racism. Someone might’ve told you that sooner, but in fairness, you told them they’re not allowed. A constant theme in debates over these bills is black-elected officials pointing out their impact and their white colleagues telling them to be quiet. In Arizona, back in April, they were debating a bill that makes it hard for many voters to receive an early ballot in the mail. But watch what happened when one lawmaker started pointing out the disproportionate impacts that would have.

The effect of this bill will make it harder for independent voters, seniors, native Americans, black, brown, and low-income people to vote. To each of you —

Point of order.

In 2022 —

Point of order.

I have 12 words for you.

Point of order.

Show up —

Point of order.

Show out —

Point of order.

And vote.

John: Okay, you should never shout someone down when they only want to say 12 words, unless, of course, those 12 words are, “his testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married.” And look, and look, I know, that obviously doesn’t look good. But wait until you see that man’s colleague read from the rule book to explain his “point of order.”

In accordance with rule 19a, no member shall be permitted to indulge in personalities, use language personally offensive, arraign motives of members, charge deliberate misrepresentation, or use language tending to hold a member of the house or senate up to contempt. And I feel personally that motives were arraigned of members, including myself, with regards to colored people, black people, whatever people this individual wants to single out in their ability to vote. And I don’t think it’s correct and I think he should be sat down and he shouldn’t be allowed to speak.

John: Oh, fuck all the way off. I don’t care what the situation is. The second someone starts reading you the rules from a weird, tiny book, they can just fuck right off into the sun. Also, for the record, if you say the words “colored people” and it’s not immediately preceded by “National Association for the Advancement of,” you are officially in time-out. But republicans cannot just claim they’re not being racist in pushing these bills — they do still need a reason for them. So what, exactly, is that reason? Well, for years, they claimed there was an epidemic of voter fraud, despite the fact actual instances of that are incredibly rare. So they’ve now shifted their justification from something measurable — what people are doing — to something much less tangible — what they’re feeling. Just listen to the lieutenant governor of Texas making that exact pitch.

I’ve been asked why this bill is needed. Very simple. The bill is needed because Americans no longer trust the system. And a country where voters do not trust the system is a country in peril.

John: Yeah, okay, but you still need a reason to legislate against something. You can’t just do it based on a feeling. If that were the case, I’d propose a bill to outlaw Tilda Swinton. Why? Too creepy. She looks like a ghost who knows exactly how and when you’ll die but won’t tell you because it’s more fun for her that way. But I will say, despite the fact state and local officials found the last election to be “the most secure in American history,” the truth is, many republicans don’t trust the system. But the reason for that might be that people like Dan Patrick spent all last year calling voting by mail a scam by democrats to steal the election, and saying shit like this:

Look, when you have an opportunity to steal a vote, the democrats will take advantage of it. And you can swing the ballots easily, ed. I could give you ten scenarios, but I won’t, because I don’t want to give anyone ideas how you can easily steal thousands of votes.

John: Oh, come on, Dan. “I can give you ten scenarios, but I won’t” is such an obvious lie. It’s up there with “I have a girlfriend, she goes to a different school, you wouldn’t know her”, or “I’m five minutes away!” Or “I’ve never sexually fantasized about lobsters.” We’ve all done that. It’s natural. They’re stoic and terrifying, the perfect sexual combination. What are we looking for if not someone who knows what they want and also hates you? That’s lobsters, buddy! We want their claws pinching our earlobes. Not too hard, but honestly? Hard. Like when the dentist says “does this hurt?” And you say “no” but you mean “yes” because you’re kind of curious what this dentist can do when pushed. Do you know how many legs a lobster has? I’ll tell you: a sex amount. Bonk bonk bonk bonk bonk. Bonk bonk bonk bonk bonk. That many. Fuck me stupid, you weaponized ocean bitch. Here is four hit reasons why it would be cool to fuck an adult-sized lobster on holiday: they live a long time, meaning they know what they’re doing; their backs are incredibly strong and responsive — I shouldn’t have to explain why that’s good sexually; they’re incapable of racism; and they can’t talk and ruin the mood. We ask “is this good?” And they just sort of wobble their horrible black eyes around.

My point here is, we all think about having sex with burdened, unhappy lobsters all the time, even in winter, and that’s why we shouldn’t listen to Dan Patrick or, honestly, whoever it was I was talking about earlier. I don’t remember. But here’s the thing: there’s a reason Patrick can give you ten scenarios for democrats stealing elections, but no evidence, and that’s because — despite saying he’d pay up to a million dollars for evidence of voter fraud — he has, to put it mildly, not paid out. And local election supervisors themselves will tell you these bills make no sense. The Florida supervisors of elections strongly opposed their state’s new bill, with one republican supervisor telling a reporter, “it’s stupid, okay? It was a solution looking for a problem.” But it’s actually one step worse than that. Because these are solutions to problems that have been deliberately and strategically manufactured. The game’s pretty obvious: use bullshit claims to stir up baseless fear to pass unnecessary restrictions targeting particular groups. Just look at what happened this week. The nonsense “audit” in Arizona come to a humiliating conclusion that failed to show, yet again, that trump was cheated of victory — but its organizers still recommended the legislature tighten up the election process to provide additional certainty going forward. Because of course they fucking did. It’s all a shameless attempt to get to the same place. So what can we do to fight all this? The good news is, there’s proposed legislation that addresses many of the problems you’ve seen tonight. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore parts of the VRA the supreme court gutted. And more substantially, there’s the freedom to vote act, which would, among other things, make voting by mail available for every voter, make election day a public holiday, and make automatic voter registration a national standard. Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell‘s announced he’ll filibuster any attempts to get either of those acts passed. So if we want to protect the ballot — which we absolutely should — we need to end the filibuster. And you’d hope every national democratic politician would be screaming about this, but some are doing the opposite. Joe Manchin‘s consistently defended the filibuster. And when Joe Biden was asked if he supports doing away with it to specifically protect voting rights, this was his maddening answer.

What I don’t want to do is get wrapped up, right now, in the argument of whether or not this is all about the filibuster or — look, the American public, you can’t stop them from voting. You tried last time. More people voted last time than any time in American history. In the middle of the worst pandemic in American history. More people did. And they showed up. They’re going to show up again. They’re going to do it again.

John: Sure, Joe. Maybe. Or maybe they’ll show up and get turned away, because of everything we’ve been talking about. Biden’s White House even reportedly told voting rights groups that it’s possible to outorganize voter suppression. But the problem is, it isn’t. It just isn’t. That’s what voter suppression is, as activists and actual organizers will tell you:

I’m very upset with president Biden because I feel like he’s not advocating for us in this moment. What I want him to see is — is to stop saying to outorganize voter suppression. I want him to support the elimination of the filibuster. I want him to support and endorse the for the people act because he needs to step up — step up to the plate. We are at a — at a crossroads. We need federal assistance immediately. If he’s incapable of that, he needs to be quiet and go.

John: Yeah, he’s right. The solution to being blocked from voting can’t be to “just vote” for the same reason that the solution to being locked out of your home can’t be to tell someone “just go inside and get the keys.” What the fuck are you talking about? I’m locked out. How are you not understanding this situation? All of this is to say to joes Biden, Manchin, and any other joe who wants to skip doing anything significant and instead rely on the perseverance of the American spirit: stop fucking around and fix this. I know it’s tempting to bang the optimistic drum that more Americans showed up last year than ever before, and by gum, they’ll do it again, but here’s the thing: the republicans know that might happen — that’s why they’re doing this. And anyone unwilling to do what it takes to actually tackle this problem should — and I can’t believe I’m going to borrow this quote — really be sat down and not allowed to speak. And now this.

* * *

Announcer: and now, the utterly spectacular dramatic pauses of ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

I’m going to tell you the winners and losers… For this summer already…
Houston, you have a problem. Speaking of problems…
I’m pretty ticked off! Oh, and my ticked! Put it mildly, I am having a very bad day!
I am in no mood!
So what happens?
Not one, not one, not one!
It’s not bad. Not bad.
I’ll tell you something…
Melo is gone!

John: Moving on. Before we go tonight, a quick word about the outdoors. It’s home to lakes, trees, and the candy witch who lures children to their doom. It’s great! Specifically, I want to talk about one way to conserve the precious nature the outdoors contains, and that is Duck Stamps. If you’ve never heard of them, I’ll let this charmingly stilted 1990s video explain it to you.

The majority of stamps are sold to waterfowl hunters who, by law, must have a federal duck stamp in their possession while hunting. Increasingly others, young and old, are voluntarily buying federal Duck Stamps as an effective, direct way to help conserve our nation’s waterfowl and other wildlife.

John: Now, I know that looks sweet, but what you didn’t see there is the screaming that happened as soon as those two kids got home. “What are these? Duck stamps? I sent you to the store for medicine! Listen to me, your sister is about to die because you keep spending all her insulin money on bird stickers!” But it’s true: every year, the federal government issues a duck stamp, which isn’t a postage stamp, but is effectively a kind of permit for hunters. They currently cost $25, and they’ve actually been a huge success story for conservation, with 98 cents of every dollar that they make going to preserving wetlands. Since 1934, the stamps have raised more than a billion dollars to protect over 6 million acres of wetlands habitat. And that’s partly because non-hunters like to collect them too. And you can see why. There’ve been some beauties in the past, like this 1960s stamp featuring a family of redhead ducks, this 1980s one showcasing a majestic snow goose, and this mottled duck from the 2000s who is absolutely ripped. Check out the definition on that back. Quick question, does this stamp come with Moo Shu pancakes? ‘Cause that duck is shredded. But the best thing about the duck stamp is how each year’s is chosen — because it’s an annual, nationwide art competition. And the judging of it is no joke.

The judges independently vote on each entry. They consider not only the visual impact of the art and how it might look as a stamp but also whether it is anatomically accurate.

John: It’s true: ducks must not only be beautiful, but anatomically accurate. An especially fun requirement, given that you’re painting an animal that has — as we’ve mentioned on this show before — a long, corkscrew-shaped penis. It’s a fact that drove us to create this image of Donald Duck that — as of taping — Disney had not yet sued us over. And once you start looking into the duck stamp contest, it’s not long before you find some drama. There are big names, like the Hautman Brothers, an actual duck dynasty who, going into this year’s competition, had collectively won it 13 times. They are truly the duck G.O.A.T.S. And there’s also been a heated rivalry between one of the regular, traditional duck artists, Tim Taylor, and his more avant-garde rival, Rob McBroom, who Tim Taylor has no time for.

Rob McBroom is a guy who enters the duck stamp every year. And every year, he violates the rules, he breaks every rule of the contest, and he’s really just an attention seeker.

He’s found this contest that people take very seriously and the contestants work really hard on the entries and he mocks it. He does paintings that mock it.

John: Yeah, to be fair, he does kind of do that. He’s submitted paintings to federal and state contests that clearly go against the desired aesthetic, like this one of two cartoonish ducks, and whatever the fuck this is. Also, Rob McBroom is very much aware of Tim Taylor’s criticism and trolled him for years, even taking previous Taylor paintings and parodying them.

This is about as close as you can get to Tim’s original without actually knowing the size, and it’s completely built from scratch.

This is the piece of work that Rob McBroom took off of the internet to “abstract.”

The little bits I’ve learned about him, I’m like, okay, he obviously hates Barack Obama, and he hates communism. So I decided to load it up with imagery with that.

Here is Barack Obama’s birth certificate that he released. Here’s the eye of the duck, which is the communist symbol.

There’s other things in here, like he was holding a baby at a christening. And then I put Lenin’s head on top of it.

John: Wow, that is petty. Honestly, if I were Tim, I’d back off at this point. Because if this man made a communist duck out of your personal photographs, just think what else he’s capable of. “Here’s another one, Tim! The feathers are made out of bank statements I fished from your trash, and the beak is from a photo of you I took while you were sleeping. But by all means, keep talking shit.” The point here is, the duck stamp competition is intense. Last year, there were some incredible entries, like this one of a duck somehow tripping in midair, and this one, which I would argue is actually a dog stamp. A dog on his way to a leather bar while a duck happened to be passing. I’m not saying that as a criticism. I’m just saying, that’s what it is. But the overall winner was this objectively wonderful, very anatomically accurate painting of a lesser scaup drake by artist Richard Clifton. And hiding the duck’s coil-y dick underwater was a very smart movie, Richie. You can’t see it, but you know it’s down there swirling away. Quick fun side note: that duck call in the corner is only there because, under the trump administration, there was suddenly a rule that all entries had to feature hunting imagery, which many people didn’t like. Thankfully, that rule will be gone next year, which is good, because potentially driving people away from the duck stamp is a terrible idea. Stamp sales are already down, and as you now know, that means less money for conservation. What clearly needs to happen is for more people to be driven to collecting these things. And for that to work, you really need this year’s winner to be an absolute doozy. And that is where we come in. Because the fact is, anyone can enter this contest. And I’m happy to announce that, this year, this anyone did. We commissioned a painter to create this gorgeous oil painting of a blue-winged teal flying in the Nintendo game “Duck Hunt,” meeting their ridiculous hunting requirement. This is a real painting that took months of work. But I’m sorry to say, it was disqualified because of, and I quote, “the rule against having any numbers or lettering on the entry.” Which is a ridiculous requirement. It’s like if they said, “no duck stamp is allowed to feature cans of spaghettios or Paul Sorvino.” What happened in past contests that prompted that regulation? So that is the bad news. The good news is, we actually had a second entry. Specifically, this painting of ducks judging the duck stamp art contest. Unfortunately, we fell victim to the same bullshit number rule, and this was disqualified too. So you can probably imagine just how relieved we were to suddenly remember that we’d actually entered three other paintings, all of which, I’m happy to say, did qualify for this weekend’s contest. So let’s take a look at them. First, there’s this one of a redhead duck hunting a hunter hunting another duck. Hold the ominous, quietly maniacal look in that duck’s eye as he’s about to pull the trigger. It’s a haunting yet triumphant image. So let’s see if the duck stamp judges liked it:

Please vote.

It’s out.

John: Are you fucking kidding me? Not one of you judges voted for that? Ridiculous. Just ridiculous. All five of you should be ashamed of yourselves. But you know what? Fine. Because remember, we still had two others. Next up was this entry, “duck with a pearl earring.” Which I would argue is exquisite. It makes the original Vermeer look like a complete pile of shit. That girl doesn’t even have any feathers. Or a beak for that matter. What a waste of paint. So surely, surely, the judges loved this one.

Please vote. It’s out.

John: Oh, come on! These judges are fucking clowns. They don’t know shit about art, they don’t know shit about ducks, and they certainly don’t know shit about duck art. And, look, I’m not alone in being shocked by this. The people watching the contest’s livestream were very into this entry, writing “gorgeous. Perfect. Stunning.” “Y-a-a-aaas.” And “I want that on my wall.” And of course they do. What cultured duck art lover would not want that? So at this point, we were getting a bit nervous. Luckily, our final painting was guaranteed to blow everyone away. Because it is this masterpiece depicting a giant duck brokering peace between longtime duck art rivals Tim Taylor and Rob McBroom. No one in their right mind wouldn’t put this through, at least to the second round. Right? So judges, it’s over to you.

Please vote. It’s out.

John: Fuck yourselves straight to hell! I’m sorry, the federal duck stamp contest just lost all of its integrity. Although, I admit, the judges weren’t the only ones who didn’t care for it. Tim Taylor himself actually replied to that painting in the chat with, “I don’t know why anyone painted that.” Really, Tim? You don’t? I know why someone would paint that. It’s because, one, we paid them to, and two, it’s fucking awesome. That’s why. So sadly, none of our entries made it past the first round of voting, and eventually, the prize went to this entry:

And now for the winner of the 2022-’23 duck stamp contest, with a painting of a redhead, Mr. Jim Hautman from Chaska, Minnesota. This is his sixth win. [Applause]

John: Get the fuck o– y’know what, I have to say: that is a beautiful duck painting. I kind of get why the Hautman Brothers keep winning. That said, I do still prefer our “duck hunt” one. It’s funnier and better and would have been a cooler stamp. But look, I’m obviously disappointed that we not only didn’t win the duck stamp art contest, we didn’t even get a single vote from any judge, al though I think that says more about them than it does about our paintings. Because if any of ours had won, they could’ve helped raise a bunch of money for a very good cause. And the good news is, they actually still can. Please come with me. ♪ ♪ Because I’m proud to say that we’ve decided to auction off each of these absolute masterpieces with 100% of proceeds going to the federal duck stamp program. And you know what that means? That means you — yes, you! — Have the chance to hang any of these originals in your own home. You could get rid of your stupid family portrait and replace it with something much, much better. All you have to do is go to bestduckingstamps.com and bid on whichever piece speaks to you the most. You can bid until Friday at 10:30 p.m. And I’m proud to say, ladies and gentlemen, the bidding starts now!

[Gavel bangs]

That is our show, thank you so much for watching, we’ll see you next week. Good night!

♪ ♪

[Duck call]

♪ ♪

[cheers and applause]

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