On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver continued his mission to pick up America by the heels and see what comes tumbling shamefully out of its pockets. This week, it was the old-timey, homely sounding law enforcement position of sheriff, the county official whose election you probably skip over on your ballot since some 60 percent of such candidates run unopposed. So no problem there, right? That must mean that the 3,000 or so positions are filled, nation-wide, with the sort of stalwart, fair-minded public servants who patrol their jurisdictions without a whiff of corruption, prejudice, cruelty, or completely bonkers campaign ads explaining that that decade-old snapshot of them wearing full blackface was from “a different time.” (Notes Oliver: blackface was considered racist bullshit ten years ago, too.)
Yup, there are some serious nutcases out there, heavily armed, operating with state-constitutional complete authority, and occasionally deputizing Steven Seagal to lecture actual law enforcement on school shooter drills as if he weren’t a washed-up marginal action star and Vladimir Putin stan with a history of sexual assault accusations against him. Or then there’s Republican Ohio Sheriff Richard Jones, who’s banned the officers in his addiction-plagued county from carrying the life-saving drug overdose medication Narcan because drug addicts just want to steal the copper wire out of your house and therefore deserve to die. Or Alabama Republican Sheriff Todd Entrekin, who used a loophole to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars (and build himself a groovy beach house) by shorting the taxpayer funds earmarked for prisoners’ food. Or California Sheriff Greg Ahern, who pooh-poohs a reporter’s questions about complaints of frequent inmate deaths, a female prisoner screaming for help while giving birth in solitary confinement, and shit-covered cell walls by essentially saying anyone arrested is a dang liar.
Bringing in pal Rob Corddry as a (barely) exaggerated caricature of some of these transparently unfit bozos (he used to be a Hitler impersonator and personally stuck his swine flu-infected hands into every Sizzler salad bar in his state), Oliver noted that it’s damnably difficult for an elected sheriff to be removed from office during his term. (Even convicted felon and Trump pardon-pal and proud racial profiler Joe Arpaio, who routinely pursued his anti-immigrant agenda in favor of investigating some 400 sex crime complaints during his tenure in Arizona, among other Trump-approved things.) Noting that pretty much all of the still-in-office examples cited in his report are running unopposed in their November 2020 election (but not one South Carolina Sheriff Kenny Boone, heard threatening an investigator into alleged embezzlement and now in jail for embezzlement), Oliver urged everyone to find out just who their current sheriff is, possibly by Googling, “Who the fuck is my sheriff?,” and taking a fresh look at just who the fuck indeed is holding the jail keys.