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John Oliver says when incompetence and disloyalty are your only defense, you're fucked

Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

Sunday’s Last Week Tonight ended with a lovely palate cleanser, as John Oliver once more soaked his HBO bosses, this time for the cost of creating a giant John Oliver mascot (named Chiijohn) and sending it and a film crew on a whimsical, ultimately and improbably heartwarming trip to Japan. See, there’s this whole unauthorized otter mascot controversy in the little port city of Susaki, and the actual mascot is sad because a knockoff otter mascot started stealing the limelight, and, well, it’s a whole otter mascot thing. It’s also the sort of inventive silliness that Oliver and his people routinely get up to on Last Week Tonight, one assumes in order to shove their collective sanity back into place after delving into the darkest recesses of world politics and other woefully unjust and corrupt institutions.

You know, like the fact that that whole “Stupid Watergate” thing is still a thing and, impossibly, getting even worse. That’s the term, of course, that Oliver coined to discuss the Trump administration, specifically the whole “accept and actively seek out Russian help to hack an American election and then obstruct justice when anyone tries to find out about it” aspect thereof. Yes, Oliver, having had the better part of a week to apply his comedic intellect to the sort-of released Mueller report, delivered his customary acid take on that whole ongoing shitshow, a blisteringly funny fifteen-minute dissection that made the case that “too stupid, disorganized, and bumbling to commit actual treason” isn’t exactly the best defense.

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Combing through the Muller report with an eye for the ludicrous saw Oliver spotting some lesser-known examples of Trump administration self-owning. From sending sketchy Russian intel to the wrong email address, to Trump lawyer pal Michael Cohen confusing a Russian government official with a super-jacked former Russian powerlifter, Oliver fairly goggled at the “cartoonish levels of disorganization and incompetence” on display. He also moved on to examine the “reassuring but also terrifying” fact uncovered by Mueller and his team that Trump himself only likely failed to obstruct the investigation into his terminal shadiness because at least 10 of his subordinates simply blew off his most blatantly illegal orders. Especially concerning, according to Oliver, is that those people have given way to enthusiastically compliant hacks like, it has become nakedly apparent, Trump’s chosen Attorney General, William Barr. “All of this is clearly very depressing,” said Oliver, although noting that there are still some 14 ongoing investigations into the Trump swamp and that Mueller’s report provides a glow-in-the-dark roadmap toward impeachment seemed to offer a parting glimmer of faint hope. (He also clearly enjoyed the report’s account of Donald Trump moaning, “I’m fucked” when learning about Robert Mueller’s appointment as Special Counsel.) Thankfully, we’ll always have Chiijohn.

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Dennis Perkins

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