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On the Kavanaugh hearings, John Oliver asks, "Why this particular asshole?"

John Oliver
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

John Oliver’s weekly platform for calculatedly hysterical outrage, Last Week Tonight, might seem to be at a disadvantage when reacting to the fast-erupting sewage-news overflowing the White House containment tanks during the Donald Trump administration. Yet, like someone who wisely takes a few deep breaths during a nice cleansing walk through the autumn leaves before posting a Twitter response to, say, a paid commentator on House of Trump propaganda factory Fox News calling the multiple women who’ve come forward alleging Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them vile, sexist insults, the weekly schedule gives Oliver and his staff time to craft a response. It’s the difference between, for example, threading an articulately witty condemnation quoting the Federalist Papers, Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” and the sage advice from your Holocaust survivor grandmother in response to Donald Trump’s immigration policies to simply knuckle-typing “FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING NAZI-CODDLING, SEX CRIMINAL TRAITOR! AAAARRRGGGHHH . . .” Both accurate, but one gets the point across with a little more finesse.

So Oliver spent his entire show on Sunday summing up the Kavanaugh hearings, where “an unhinged partisan with numerous accusations of sexual assault hanging over [him]” became the Republican Party’s unimpeachable golden boy. In an impassioned but tightly constructed and furiously funny takedown, Oliver ran down the “deeply flawed” system Kavanaugh’s Republican supporters in the Senate specifically designed to ram their favorite beer-swilling, rage-faced, truth-optional candidate through to the bench, while picking apart the now-infamous testimony that saw Kavanaugh alternately tear- and fury-facedly swearing vengeance against one political party, violating the basic rules of evidence in his own defense, refusing to answer direct questions, making up ludicrously sweaty lies about his youthful behavior, and mocking United States senators for daring to ask him about the sworn testimony of a woman with nothing to gain accusing him of heinous criminality. As Oliver put it, the choice for Republicans clearly came down to that between the word of “a terrified psychology professor who blew up her entire life to relive her trauma on the national stage” or “Judge Animal House, who seemed to be sweatily making up drinking games before members of the Senate.”


Of course, as the statements of GOP lawmakers like Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made clear, such petty distinctions are irrelevant, as they flat-out stated their intention to support Kavanaugh regardless of whether or not he sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and other women, so long as he can push their signature anti-choice, anti-woman agenda on the highest court in the land. Or, as Oliver put it, they cearly believe “life begins at conception, stops right before a sexual assault, and starts right back up again once that sexual assault is over.” Oh, and he also tied his opening remarks about America’s newest favorite nightmare fuel sports mascot with his plans for Last Week Tonight’s all-dog (and one illegitimately seated lobster) Supreme Court, choosing a potential new justice should the current FBI investigation against Kavanaugh prove inconclusive. (A prospect depressingly increased by Republicans’ continued efforts to make sure it does just that.) As Oliver explained, his choice of said mascot is intended to perpetually symbolize a presence on the Courthostile, consistently upsetting, temperamentally unpleasant, and that screams ‘What the fuck?! Who the fuck allowed this to happen?!’”

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About the author

Dennis Perkins

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