Water: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Transcript

John Oliver discusses the water shortage in the American west, how it’s already impacting the people who live there, and what God has to say about it.
Water - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Season 9 Episode 16
Aired on June 26, 2022

Main segment: Colorado River Compact and aridification of the Western U.S.
Other segment: The supreme court overturning Roe v. Wade
 Brian Cox as God

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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. It has been a busy week. And I’d love to talk about the fact Beyoncé released a new single, or that this floppy king became the first bloodhound to win the Westminster Dog Show. Look at him! Look at that wingspan! He looks like a stoned seaplane! But sadly, I can’t do that, thanks to the supreme court, which had itself a banner fucking week. On Thursday they struck down New York’s concealed carry law, then on Friday, one-upped themselves with this:

Tonight, the landmark ruling. The supreme court overturning Roe v. Wade, taking away the constitutional right to abortion. The impact roughly half the states expected to ban abortion, 13 states with trigger laws banning abortion immediately or soon.

John: Yeah. It’s absolutely horrifying. And look, I know for many of you out there, the very last thing you need right now is for some white guy who’ll never need an abortion to tell you how bad things are in a cadence that can best be described as “what if you sang Journey at karaoke and your voice got stuck,” but we are here and we’ve got to talk about this. Because it’s been a horrendous few days. And what’s made it even harder has been having to watch shit like this:

Attorney general Ken Paxton says he’s celebrating the supreme court opinion today. He actually closed his offices at noon today because of this decision. He says, going forward, June 24th will be an annual holiday for the office of the attorney general.

John: Nope. Fuck you. [Laughter] First, June 24th is already a holiday. It’s Solange’s birthday and she does not deserve this on her day. Second, nobody wants to go to a “sanctity of life anti-choice” cookout, the potato salad is going to be trash. Finally, you don’t get a holiday to celebrate the loss of rights for millions of people, when you already have one, and it’s called “Columbus Day.” [Applause] It is hard to stomach some of the gleeful responses right now. Mike Pence issued the statement, “life won,” which is pretty tough to take, given that for some, especially disabled people and other vulnerable groups, forced pregnancy could be a death sentence. And make no mistake: this decision is sweeping. It says states could limit abortion at all stages of development — phrasing that could mean from the moment of conception onward, with no exceptions. And while the supreme court’s constantly disappointing, I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising. The interview process where you can say — and I quote — “yes, we drank beer. My friends and I. Boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer,” and still get the job, doesn’t necessarily produce the best results. [Laughter] Now, some supporters of the decision have tried to minimize its impacts, claiming it merely returns the issue to the states. Others said that people can just choose to have their mandatory baby adopted, or go to a state that allows abortion. But first, even when planned, pregnancy is, best-case scenario, a major medical event that rips open your butt, rearranges your organs, then puts them back in wrong, and anyone who genuinely advocates adoption as a reasonable alternative has clearly never heard the word “prolapse.” [Laughter] And the idea that you can simply seek an abortion in another state is insulting on its face, even before you consider that some lawmakers are already openly looking for ways to punish out-of-state abortions. In some ways, we’re in uncharted territory here. Because when you hear people say we’re returning to a pre-Roe landscape, that’s not entirely true. This is a different world now. In some ways, it’s better. There are new, less invasive ways for people to terminate pregnancies, like with medications. But there are also new ways for the state to monitor people. Meaning that in states where abortion will now be outlawed, any pregnancy loss past an early cutoff can now potentially be investigated as a crime, which in turn means search histories, browsing histories, text messages, location data, payment data, information from period-tracking apps — prosecutors can examine all of that if they believe the loss of a pregnancy may have been deliberate. And that is not the only pandora’s box this ruling has opened. Because Clarence Thomas, in his concurrence, indicated he’d actually like to go a little further.

He writes, quote, “in future cases, we should reconsider all of this court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.” He’s talking about reconsidering decisions on gay rights and the right to contraception.

John: Yeah, Clarence Thomas wants to uphold the sanctity of marriage. Because as we all know, marriage is between one man credibly accused of sexual harassment and one woman who wanted to overthrow a presidential election. Y’know, the way God intended. [Laughter] Now, on one hand, the majority decision does state that it only concerns the right to an abortion, and not those other issues. But on the other hand, that language by no means precludes the court from one day deciding, “you know what, we think it does apply now!” And besides, what kind of idiot would even pretend to believe any reassurances from these justices? You’re right, it’s Susan Collins. Susan Collins would absolutely be that fucking idiot. [Laughter] And the thing is, even if we don’t go down that slippery slope, this is already bad enough. Because what the supreme court has just done is utterly devastating. The message it sends is pretty clear: “we don’t care if pregnancy kills you. We don’t care if you don’t want to be pregnant. We don’t care about you at all.” And for those like representative Cori Bush, who’ve been able to avail themselves of abortion services in the past, and know how life-changing they can be, it is hard to consider what the future now holds for others in their position.

So, I’m standing at the place where I had my own abortion care services at 18-years-old. I got raped when I was 17. And I was able to be back here with the secretary —

That was here?

Here — as we’re talking, we’re sitting with the secretary — that announcement was made. It — it broke my heart. Because I’m thinking about the people who today found out that they were pregnant, who found out they were pregnant a few weeks ago, and were trying to figure out what to do. To restrict people’s right to their own body and their own decisions, it — it broke me down. I think about my daughter who will never — who will never know what it’s like to live in a a Roe v. Wade constitutionally protected society.

John: Yeah. This is gutting. There is a huge amount of understandable rage right now. And there are certainly plenty of individuals and institutions worthy of that anger. We’ve talked before, multiple times, about how exactly we got here: the years of planning by anti-abortion forces, and the failure of democrats to effectively mobilize to stop them. And it’s been dispiriting to see so many democrats this week fail to meet the moment — a moment, by the way, they had nearly two months to plan for. Nancy Pelosi read a poem, one rep tweeted a picture of himself doing yoga, and so many democrats sent out requests for money, really fulfilling that old democratic adage, “when they go low, we ask you for $15.” [Laughter] All of which seemed completely out of touch with how people were feeling. Honestly, a much better response came from the Gators Daily account, twitter’s number-one crocodilian influencer, which simply posted: “fuck the supreme court” and then added, “if you don’t agree, get the fuck off my page. Every alligator hates you and I hope your family is cursed for several generations to never see an alligator again.” [Laughter] [applause] That is some strong messaging! And I don’t mean to suggest all democrats fell short. Some, like Cori Bush and AOC, seemed to understand what people were going through, as did, by the way, the Michigan legislative black caucus, which released a statement saying, and I quote, “this is some bullshit.” Which it absolutely is. And I am not saying that all I want from leaders is shows of anger. But it has been depressing to see so many of them treat the end of Roe v. Wade with the solemnity of a funeral, instead of the urgency of a fucking cardiac arrest! And they stand in stark contrast to the groups on the ground who’ve been displaying that urgency for years now. They fought relentlessly as abortion rights have been chipped away all over the country, and they have worked tirelessly to find ways around each restriction, and provide healthcare services for those who have been denied them, even when it was very hard. Volunteers walked people into clinics, and doctors flew in to provide procedures. Abortion advocates did all of this, even as they were being yelled at from one side, and told that they were overreacting by the other. And their unflinching commitment and compassion is something we are all going to need to find ways to emulate going forward, both on an individual level, as we help one another navigate the nightmarish maze that basic health care is about to become. And hopefully, eventually, on an institutional one, if those in power can demonstrate enough commitment to this fight. Look, time will tell what this week actually was. If it was a permanent setback, a waystation along a further descent into hell. Or if it galvanized a movement that eventually won back everything that we just lost. But the only thing I know for sure right now is that this week was heartbreaking, it was enraging, it was a supreme injustice, and it was, if I may quote the Michigan legislative black caucus, “some absolute bullshit.” And now this. [Applause]

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Announcer: And now, in the interest of giving you something very stupid: better names for the dogs from this year’s Westminster Dog Show. Hamburger. Worm. The Erotic Cowboy. Allen. Jeffrey Epstein, no relation. Cat Enjoyer. [Speaking french] Weird Phil. Snacks. The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born, now is the time of monsters. AlAn 2. Nicole Kidman. Mtv’s “ridiculousness.” And, Todd. [Laughter] [applause]

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John: Moving on. Our main story tonight concerns water. It’s not just the one thing your houseplant needed that you couldn’t even provide, it’s also the engine that once powered this classic toy.

What’s this crazy thing? Why, it’s the Wham-o Water wiggle. You’ve never seen anything like it! Just hook up to a hose and look, a new fun game! It’s practically alive! You never know what the water wiggle will do next.

John: Yes, the water wiggle! You never know what it will do next! Except kill some people. Because that’s what the water wiggle did. It killed multiple people and it was recalled. That’s right, we’re less than two minutes into the piece and I’ve already hit you with a trademark John Oliver sad fact.

Sad fact! [Laughter]

John: Water is obviously vital to all life on earth. Our bodies are essentially bags of bones and meat suspended in water. But already, 3.6 billion people, nearly half the world’s population, live in areas that suffer water scarcity at least one month each year. And while this is clearly becoming a problem everywhere, tonight, we’re going to focus on the American west, where the last several decades have seen a record-breaking drought. The southwest is actually going through its driest 22-year period since 800 A.D.! That is as far back as the data goes, which is pretty startling, partly because I can’t believe someone back then was even keeping drought records. It was probably the 9th century version of me: some lanky, near-sighted dweeb who squealed, “I’ll be the official drought daddy! I’ll count the wets!” [Laughter] And this drought has had massive impact on the Colorado River, in particular, which is a key source of water for most of the southwestern states.

22 Years of drought, combined with exploding populations in Colorado and throughout the southwest, have led to record-low levels at both lake Powell in Utah and lake Mead outside Las Vegas, where an expanding white ring of mineral deposits is probably the most visual evidence of the river’s decline.

It’s dire. The situation along the Colorado river is dire, and I’m not sure it’s going to get better, ever.

John: Wow. That is a bleak thing to hear an environmental expert say. But then, the news here is bleak. Water levels in lake Mead have now fallen so much that you may have seen: authorities have found human remains there, twice, in just one week. Which really freaked me out, until I remembered that I dumped that hitchhiker in lake Mojave, not lake Mead. So, I’m good. [Laughter] And while you’d like to think a situation this dire would cause people to be more mindful of our water usage, instead, we’re seeing stories like this.

Right now, it’s an empty plot of land covered with brush. But if developer Regent Properties gets the go-ahead, the open desert will be transformed into this, the $750 million thermal beach club. Under the current plan, the developer wants to build 326 luxury homes here at the site, all surrounding a 20-acre surfing lagoon.

John: That’s right: a 20-acre surfing lagoon in the middle of the California desert, one of at least four new surf lagoons proposed out there. That is just monumentally stupid. I’m surprised they didn’t go even further. “Not only do we have surfing lagoons, we also have a wall of constantly flushing toilets, a hose that runs all day in the middle of a concrete parking lot, and of course, wet Frank, a man we pay to dump buckets of water on himself all day.” Keep it up, Frank! We stan a damp legend! [Laughter] And while development like that is obviously not ideal, it is depressingly consistent with our approach to water out west, because it’s been a history of denial and wishful thinking, especially around the Colorado river, that is now crashing into harsh reality. So tonight, let’s take a look at our water shortage, how it’s been impacted by the choices we’ve made, and what we can do about it. And let’s start with how the Colorado river is managed. Because a lot of problems we’re seeing today can be traced back to decisions that were made a century ago.

This precious resource is allocated based on a 1922 agreement called the Colorado river compact. Once the river basin states agreed on their fair shares, they each established a seniority system, first in time, first in right.

John: It’s true: seven states got together and carved up all the water in the river, essentially letting people lay claim to it through a complex system of calling dibs. And look, I’ve got no problem with “dibs” in principle. It’s a great way to figure out who gets the last slice of pizza, or the pink Starbusts, or the cutest baby at the hospital. [Laughter] I don’t care if you gave birth to her, I called dibs! That one is mine! But it is a weird way to divide up something as important as water. The Colorado river compact serves as the foundation for what’s known as the “law of the river.” Which sounds less like a set of water management agreements and more like an animated buddy cop movie starring a trout and a bear, voiced by two actors who are both wildly antisemitic. But there were a few major problems with how the compact was set up, right from the start. First, Mexico wasn’t included, and even though it is today, the river essentially runs dry by the time it gets across the border. And the compact also didn’t specifically address the water needs of the more than two dozen native American tribes who depend on the river. Which is pretty shitty, especially as those tribes do have the most senior water rights, given they were, in a very real sense, here first. They have the ultimate dibs. But even so, many tribes have had to struggle to get those water rights actually quantified on paper, and even then, to get the infrastructure they need in order to access it. And for many tribes, those fights are still happening. But it wasn’t just about who the compact left out. Another key flaw was that, right from the start, it allocated more water than actually existed. Water supplies are measured in acre-feet, and the compact divided up rights to 15 million acre feet of water, even though the river only carries around 12 to 13 million. And to be clear, they knew this was a problem at the time. The explorer and scientist John Wesley Powell warned in 1893, “there is not sufficient water to supply these lands.” But the bullshit math never stopped. Just ten years ago, in a major study by the federal government, states forced the modelers to add so-called “magic water,” extra water that existed in the computer model only, which is just absurd! And not only because “magic water” sounds like a euphemism for urine used exclusively by Bjork. “It’s me, Bjork. Sometimes I have to make the magic water. [Giggles] But it takes forever to get out of this swan!” [Laughter] And I do get why states might want to pretend there’s more water than there is: because they want continued growth and economic development. And nobody wants to be the bad guy pointing out the fundamental problem with that. Just listen to a reporter pressing a representative of Southern Nevada’s water authority on how they can justify growth in the face of looming water scarcity.

But something’s got to give. I mean, you can’t just keep expanding the population size with a dwindling water supply. I mean, that’s just not sustainable.

That’s just human nature. I mean, that really kind of goes back to manifest destiny. It goes back to, sort of, this American dream. You’re going to continue to see people moving to the desert southwest. So, from our perspective as water managers, it is up to us to make sure that we’re able to meet the demands of our community, regardless of what our numbers might be.

John: Okay, so there’s a lot there, including the phrase “manifest destiny,” which as we all know, only has good connotations. [Laughter] Like “A self-published book about my struggle,” or “I really want to impress Jodie Foster,” or “Hello, my name is Ted Cruz.” [Laughter] No red flags there at all. But again, you can understand why he feels the need to respond that way. Nobody wants to be the one having to deliver bad news. But the immovable fact is cities in the desert can’t grow without limit, and hard sacrifices will have to be made. Which brings us to another fundamental tension here, specifically between farmers and cities. Because farmers and ranchers were out west much earlier than most American cities were established, meaning they have senior water rights, and they use them. Agriculture uses about 70% of the Colorado river water. And obviously, agriculture needs water, and no one wants a situation where we create food shortages. But it’s worth knowing: in some places, farmers are incentivized to use their allocation to a truly nonsensical degree. Many states along the river have rules promising to confiscate water rights if water users don’t maximize their use. Basically, use it or lose it. And that has ingrained certain habits. Just listen to this farmer in Arizona explaining why he chose to grow a particularly water-intensive crop.

I’ve just been farming it, this alfalfa. You got to keep farming it to keep the water, and that’s why I was mainly doing it, was to hang on to the water.

John: Okay, first, I don’t know who was filming him there but that camera is simply too close. Back up and give that man some space! [Laughter] That is just too much face. But second, he farmed alfalfa just so he could hold onto his water rights, which feels ridiculous. The only more absurd way he could’ve used water in that field is if he’d also planted wet Frank. [Laughter] Great work, Frank! The soggy prince did it again. So for all those reasons, many related to the compact’s original overallocation, the Colorado river is shrinking. But what that is leading to is water users increasingly turning to another major source: groundwater. Groundwater is exactly what it sounds like: water under the ground. It slowly collects in aquifers beneath the earth’s surface, accumulating when rain, snowmelt, and other natural water sources seep into the ground. But importantly, some of these aquifers took thousands, if not millions of years to fill. So if we pump them dry, they’re not coming back anytime soon. But that’s not always reflected in our policies. Take Arizona, for instance. In 80% of the state, there are no laws protecting how much water is taken from the ground. And when you have no limits, it is, unsurprisingly, a free-for-all.

Over the past five years, farmlands have increased by almost a third in Arizona. The number of wells has risen from 43 to 123 in Wilcox alone. All they have to do is buy the land to have access to as much free water as they want.

In this area, there’s no rule.

So, your client can pump as much water they want?

They could drill a well every 10 foot all around this place. No limit.

John: Yeah, that’s not great, is it? Partly because drilling that many wells means they’re going to pump a ton of groundwater out, and also because if your dog is trying to tell you Timmy is stuck down a well: which well, Rusty? [Laughter] There are hundreds of them! Which fucking well? You have to give me more than “arf arf” here! Where is the boy? [Laughter] And it’s not just Arizona. Big farming operations have long been pumping groundwater in the San Joaquin valley in California. And it’s had some pretty severe consequences.

When this much water is pumped out of the aquifer below ground, the clay between the pockets of water collapses and the ground starts to deflate like a leaky air mattress. The sinking is buckling the walls of irrigation canals, damaging pipes, creating giant sink holes, and cracking homes. This bridge has dropped so much, the water will soon flow over it instead of under it.

John: Yeah, it’s true, and this is not a new problem. A scientist in California once marked just how much the land had sunk from 1925 to 1977 on a telephone pole. And that is a startling drop. Although, if you didn’t know what that was measuring, you would be pretty confused. It looks like someone was measuring the shrinking height of an elderly giant with osteoporosis. [Laughter] But in recent years, as large farming operations have drilled deeper and sucked up more water, there have been escalating impacts for the shallower wells that families use. Last year in California, nearly a thousand shallow household wells went dry. And for anyone who’s ever lost one, it can be a real burden.

This is where we catch our water so we can flush toilets. Get up in the morning, take two bottles of rainwater, put it in the coffee pot, my fiancé will come in. She’ll help me wash my hands, and we’ll take this water, recycle it, put it in a bucket out there until it gets enough to where we can flush the toilet.

What about showering?

Well, usually we have to go into town to one of my friend’s house. And if I can’t go to my friend’s house, you’ll see some guys that — there’s ads, even, on Craigslist, to be able to take a shower. “Five bucks to take a shower,” that kind of stuff. That’s what kind of place it is around here.

John: Wow. Using Craigslist to take a shower. [Laughter] That is legitimately horrifying. How do you even write an ad for that without it sounding suspicious?

“Seeking shower for $5: 34-year-old adult non-creep looking for fellow non-creepy adult to allow me to use their shower. This is not a euphemism. There’s a water shortage and I genuinely just want to get washed. Again, not a euphemism. This isn’t sexual in any way. I will happily pay five American dollars for the shower. You can’t watch, you can’t tape it, you can’t be weird. I’m just going to come into your house, hand you a $5 bill, get in the shower, wash my hair and body as quickly as possible, and then leave, all while making the least amount of eye contact possible. We won’t talk or have any conversation. Ideally, you will forget this whole thing ever happened. Actually, you know what, I don’t like the way any of this is sounding, so I’m just going to stay dirty forever. Please do not contact me with unsolicited services or offers.”

[Laughter] [applause]

But perhaps the most important thing to know about groundwater is that it’s not totally independent of surface water at all. These are often part of one intertwined hydrological system, so when you pump groundwater, it can ultimately dry up rivers. The connection between groundwater and surface water is one of those alarming connections that we just choose to forget. You know, like the one between Elisabeth Moss and Scientology. It’s so much easier just not to really think about it. [Laughter] So, to recap: for decades now, we’ve been using more water than the Colorado river has, even as we have rapidly depleted critical groundwater supplies. And when it comes to responding to this crisis, places have gone in very different directions. One of the best actors, and you are not going to believe this, is actually Las Vegas. Which I know automatically feels weird, because when you think of Vegas, you probably think of it as a place that uses water for things like this:

How you doin’?

So, what are we looking at?

This is just a musty waterfall, a drizzling fountain.

Appreciate the uniqueness.

[“Friends” theme song]


John: I honestly feel bad for that fountain. No drop of water ever dreamed of one day being forced to dance to the “Friends” theme for a bunch of drunk Vegas tourists. No one told them life was gonna be this way. [Laughter] But the thing is, despite looking extremely wasteful, the Bellagio’s fountain actually isn’t. It uses water that’s too salty to drink, and annually only uses as much as would irrigate just eight acres of alfalfa. And that is just one tiny way that the people of Vegas have learned to conserve water. They’ve also banned new lawns and ornamental grass there, which should save about ten billion gallons a year. And overall, even though the population of the Vegas metro area grew by 34% between 2002 and 2013, its use of Colorado river water actually dropped by over a quarter. So Vegas could actually be something of a model for other places when it comes to water conservation, and literally nothing else. [Laughter] But unfortunately, not everywhere is taking it that seriously, with the worst example being Utah. Home of both the Utah Jazz and their mascot, Jazz Bear, who answers the question, “what if wile e. Coyote was a jock who also wanted to murder me in my sleep?” [Laughter] Crush me, king. Utah residents use the most water of any western state. And nowhere is this more true than St. George, which has become one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country, with per-person water consumption among the highest. Not only does St. George have very cheap water rates, their county — which is in the desert, remember — has at least a dozen golf courses, including these. And golf courses use a shit-ton of water! They are pretty much the dumbest possible thing to put into the middle of the desert, other than, of course, Burning Man. [Laughter] And while Utah has recently passed some new laws encouraging conservation, they’ve also been pursuing a billion dollar pipeline to bring in what some in Utah insist is additional surplus water from lake Powell, a surplus that anyone who so much as looks at that lake would know, simply does not exist. And I know that seems wildly irresponsible on Utah’s part. And that is because it is. Though, to be fair, it’s still not the worst idea they’ve had. Because just watch this video from the governor of Utah in response to drought conditions there just last year.

We need more rain, and we need it now. We need some divine intervention. [Laughter] That’s why I’m asking Utahns of all faiths to join me in a weekend of prayer, June 4th through the 6th. By praying collaboratively and collectively, asking God or whatever higher power you believe in for more rain, we may be able to escape the deadliest aspects of the continuing drought.

John Wow. You know Utah is desperate when they ask “all faiths” to join in a prayer. “I’m asking Utahns of all faiths — whether that’s the Mormon, or one of the many wrong ones — to collectively pray to the Christian god and the false deities the rest of you worship for more rain, so we can solve this crisis before those of you who have not accepted Jesus Christ into your heart burn in the fires of eternal hell.” [Laughter] So what can we do about all this? Well, we can start by acknowledging some uncomfortable truths. First, states like Utah are not going to be able to use the full amount of water they think they’re entitled to, primarily because that full amount never actually existed in the first place. But it is not just Utah. No state can continue using water the way they’ve gotten used to. Experts suggest it might help actually not to use the word “drought” at all anymore, which sounds temporary, and instead use the term “aridification” as a better way to describe what might be a long-term drying of the American west. So we need to be incentivizing conservation and water efficiency, especially when it comes to agriculture, and stop with our magical thinking toward water, which has been a depressingly common theme throughout history. During a drought in the ’90s, city officials in Ventura, California, decided to study the possibility of hauling icebergs from the polar caps and planting them off the county’s shores. One proponent even suggested, “we’d have to wrap the iceberg with a diaper” to collect the melting iceberg water. More recently, Arizona passed a resolution to study building a pipeline from the Mississippi river to the Colorado river. And if you’ve ever seen a map of the U.S., you may have noticed that the Mississippi river is all the way over here, and Arizona is all the way over here, so to do that, you’d need a pipeline that’s over a thousand miles long. And the only way that idea could get any dumber is if the pipeline was also somehow wrapped in a diaper. [Laughter] Don’t worry, everyone: chase is on the case! The fact is, states need to start working together to cut back on their collective water use. And some have tried small steps. In Arizona — home, remember, to our close-up alfalfa farmer — they recently changed their “use it or lose it” rules to allow for more conservation. And in California, in 2014, they passed the sustainable groundwater management act, to try and bring groundwater pumping under control. But it is just not enough. And that may be why something very big happened just a week ago. Because the government dropped a bombshell on the Colorado river states, telling them “they have 60 days to create an emergency plan to stop using between two and four million acre-feet of water in the next year,” which is a massive amount, “or the agency will use its emergency authority to make the cuts itself.” Which is a drastic move, but we are in a drastic situation. So let’s hope those states get to work in the next two months and come up with a decent plan. Because we desperately need to prepare for a much drier future in the American west, and do it more equitably this time. Because it is imperative that we learn from our past mistakes. And for anyone who still thinks that this is something we can just pray our way out of, I actually have a special message from a very special guest: [angelic singing]

Hi. It’s me, God. I know I don’t often do this, but I just wanted to appear in person to make one thing perfectly clear: you can’t pray your way out of a drought. Frankly, I’m insulted you even asked me. You got yourself in this fucking mess, get yourself the fuck out of it. I gave you plenty of water. It’s not my fault you wasted it building surfing lagoons and golf courses in the middle of a fucking desert. Utah, your capital is Salt Lake City. It’s next to a salt lake. A lake of salt. Take the fucking hint. So, no, I will not be answering your prayer for rain. For the record, I’ve only ever, ever answered one prayer: little Timmy Pendleton wanted a Hess truck for his birthday in 1986, and I made sure he got one. The kid just really seemed to want that truck, and maybe I felt bad about killing both his parents with that tornado. I don’t know. There’s so many things I’d rather talk about to you than your stupid, stupid water usage! Like the meaning of life, or which animal I created by mistake. Guinea pigs, by the way. The point is, I want humans of all faiths to come together and act like rational fucking adults when it comes to water use. Heed my words, my children, and conserve the once bountiful gifts of rivers and lakes, which I created for you on earth. Now, fuck off.


John: That’s our show, thank you so much for watching. We’re off for a few weeks, back July 24th. See you then, good night!

[Cheers and applause]

♪ ♪

I told you to fuck off. Fuck off.


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