Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

John Oliver demolishes the racist scam that is Trump's wobbly border wall

John Oliver
John Oliver
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

“All of this was stupider than even I thought was possible,” eventually concluded John Oliver toward the end of his Sunday Last Week Tonight main story about Donald Trump’s flagship boondoggle, the border wall between the United States and Mexico. And, indeed, Oliver did peg quite a few—but not all—of the ways this clarion call clarion call to gullible bigots the nation over would crumble back before Donald Trump was elected. Irreparable damage to environmental and cultural heritage sites? Check. Seizure of borderlands owned by American citizens? Nailed it. Massive costs for an easily climbable monument to white supremacist caveman thinking (“Wall good! Keep safe from browns!”)? Point Oliver, although the host noted that even he could not have imagined that Trump’s zeal for a continent-wide “keep off my lawn” sign would find its funding at the expense of the military budget for on-base children’s schools and day care centers. (Lindsey Graham, shown in a vomit-inducing clip justifying the pilferage of a military kids’ school’s desperately needed vermin extermination and mold-removal budget, sure can though.)

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Last week, we highlighted the term “representative villainy” to describe Last Week Tonight’s strategy in putting a human face on its week’s unearthing of wide-scale evils. And Sunday, that pasty, greed-sweaty mug belonged to one Tommy Fisher, head of Fisher Sand And Gravel, one of the main contractors chosen to throw up desperately superfluous patchwork sections of Trump’s pet prejudice project. And while Oliver’s disclosure of the publicly available record of tax fraud, sexual harassment, criminal violations, fines, and—oh yeah—child pornography clinging to the Fisher Sand And Gravel name is depressingly predictable (okay, maybe not the child porn part), his thematic bridge linking this one company’s involvement to what has always been the ridiculously racist fever dream of a simpleminded creep is as solidly constructed as Tommy Fisher’s erosion-plagued wall scraps are not.

Showing how the company’s entrance in Trump’s desert-set “America’s Top Wall” beauty pageant for potential wall builders wasn’t initially chosen (thanks to crappy design and, well, everything else), Oliver detailed Tommy Fisher’s slavish and repeated pitches on Fox News’ nightly propaganda parade, revealing that Trump overrode his own experts because he saw Fisher’s pandering pleas make Laura Ingraham light up like she just saw a Muslim family being evicted from their home during Ramadan. Predictably, Fisher Sand And Gravel’s slatted border segments have turned out to be hot, rickety garbage, with a recent ProPublica investigation showing Fisher’s self-described “Lamborghini of walls” quivering under the lightest pressure. Oliver agreed with Fisher’s Lamborghini assessment, in that the wall his company has built is a thoroughly unnecessary vanity purchase that you shouldn’t ever touch, needs constant maintenance, and represents the extravagantly showy peacocking of a sad, aging man obsessed with impressing the wrong people. (The fact that Trump’s semi-erect monument to his own power is collapsing as soon as it’s exposed to the world is just an added metaphorical bonus.)

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And that’s just the corruption and incompetence of the taxpayer-funded (to the tune of some $2 billion in contracts), ineptly-built, land-despoiling glorifierd climbing walls. Oliver choked back his glee at the Thursday arrest of former Trump strategist, open white supremacist, and least-trustworthy human on the planet Steve Bannon. Bannon—swept up in the fraud investigation of private rube-magnet organization We Build The Wall alongside founder Kevin Kolfage and former Red Sox pitcher and noted hayseed bigot Curt Schilling among others—is facing charges that the people behind crowdfunded enterprise pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars from patriotic Americans who just wanted to buy commemorative bricks with xenophobic slogans on them. Sort of a no-lose scenario for schadenfreude enthusiasts out there, and good luck to Bannon, who’s seen here alongside Kolfage joking about stealing donors’ money and broadcasting their hate-a-thon efforts from a luxury yacht bought with the spoils. (Note: Steve Bannon was arrested on the mega-yacht of an exiled Chinese billionaire wanted for everything from tax evasion to human trafficking to rape, because of course he was.)

As Oliver said after exposing all this racist grifting to the light, “Believe me, this is the last thing I wanted to say ‘I told you so’ on.” Maybe because he said that right after the clip of a Native American leader weeping while testifying to Congress that Trump seizing and dynamiting his people’s formerly protected sacred land is like bulldozing right through Arlington National Cemetery. Referencing Trump’s not-a-joke feeler about having his face chiseled onto Mount Rushmore (also a vainglorious American monument on stolen sacred Native land, by the way), Oliver said that Trump’s border wall is all the monument he needs, or deserves. You know, in that it’s “destructive, pointless, ineffective, racist, weak, and something that, the damages of which we’re going to have to be dealing with for a very long time.”

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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