John Oliver On Sweden, Trump-Putin Moral Equivalency

On yesterday’s NSFW Last Week Tonight, hosted by John Oliver, the comedian addressed the nonstop flow of news surrounding President Donald Trump over the past week, which is occurring at such a rate that other newsworthy stories appear to be falling by the wayside.

Oliver began by addressing the “pointless” rally hosted by Trump in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday and the “roadblock” coverage of the event by major news outlets. The comedian summed up the rally as being typical of the president, “the media is fake, Chicago is a nightmare, I’m the greatest.”

At the Melbourne rally, President Trump referred to then-unknown events in Sweden on Friday evening while speaking about the threat he perceives as a result of the flood of refugees coming from Syria and other places, as previously covered by the Inquisitr.

“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden!” President Trump spoke to his supporters.

Reacting to a clip from CNN that quoted the government of Sweden asking “What is your president talking about?” and confirming that there was no terror attack in Sweden on Friday, John Oliver spoke to all nations outside the United States who he predicts will ask the same question in the future.

“The answer is almost always going to be: We have no f****** idea,” Oliver stated as the audience laughed along.

Trump has since explained that he was referring to a documentary about immigration in Sweden that aired on Fox News Friday evening. Oliver compared making sense of Trump with examining the stomach of a shark to learn what it has eaten. The host summed up the current situation as one where the president can “dominate the news” by referencing an event that never occurred.

John Oliver then listed some news stories for the week that he sees carrying more importance than Donald Trump’s ineloquent delivery: the assassination of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam, as previously reported by the Inquisitr; the thwarted plot by a Florida man to bomb Target stores and send its stock lower; and unflattering photos of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.

The Last Week Tonight host stated that under normal circumstances, May’s face in the photos would be “the least diplomatic thing you have seen in your life.” However, last week, Donald Trump’s Somalian ambassador presented the president of Somali with a powder blue “Make Somalia Great Again” hat and held a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu where he stated that he liked a “one-state” solution for Israel that “both parties” can agree about.

After asking “What the f*** are you talking about?” Oliver explained that those on each side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict who favor a one-state solution are unable to agree on which state it should be, making it appear that the president does not fully understand the situation and thrusting discussion of Trump’s competence into the spotlight, rather than the discussion of the issues at hand.

The comedian ran through other Trump news makers of the week, including his assertion that the media is the “enemy of the American People [sic]”; his “Environmental Protection Agency-hating” choice for head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, being confirmed; his choice for labor secretary being panned; his national security adviser being asked to resign; his order that former President Barack Obama’s legislation protecting creeks, streams, and rivers from mining be repealed; and his exchange with journalist April Ryan that appeared to suggest that the president believes that all black people know each other, as previously reported by the Inquisitr. After signing the mining order, President Trump gave the miners who had traveled to witness the occasion the pen that was used to sign the decree.

“Leave it to Trump to give seven people one pen,” Oliver said.

Oliver then moved on to Russia and how the country continues to make news for apparent ties to the Trump administration, including the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after it was revealed that he had been dishonest with Vice President Mike Pence, as previously reported by the Inquisitr. The host called the Flynn resignation the “tip of the iceberg” with regard to apparent connections between the Trump White House and Russia.

John Oliver listed other reporting that has been presented intimating that Carter Page and Paul Manafort, who were each connected to the Trump campaign for president, have been in contact with Russian officials; that “strong evidence” exists that the Russian government attempted to influence the 2016 election with hacking; and other Trump-Russia connections, including evidence of Trump taking part in a Russian sex party, which the president has denied.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There is no hard proof, yet, of direct links between Trump himself and Russia,” Oliver explained. “But, he does have a weird, noticeably soft spot for both the country and its leader.”

After acknowledging Donald Trump’s seeming desire for closer ties between Russia and the United States, John Oliver announced the show’s intention to get to the bottom of Trump’s true intention, how likely improved relations actually are, and what the United States may have to concede to in return.

The host explained that while the Russian president is seen by many Americans in a less-than-perfect light, he is revered and “genuinely popular” with the Russian people, even garnering his own pop hit, a song about why Russian women want a man like Vladimir Putin as their leader. Several seemingly staged photos of the Russian leader were shown, which Oliver stated are “taken at a face value” by many Russian citizens, including photos of Putin on a shoreline holding two pieces of ancient pottery that he had “miraculously” recovered from depths of the ocean.

“It’s not a coincidence,” a woman speaking in Russian said of the photos of Putin recovering the pottery. “It’s very significant.”

Oliver then ran through some of the wide-ranging charges of corruption leveled against the Russian president, including that he directs “states assets” to friends and that he “marginalizes” those whose support he feels he cannot count on. Estimates of Vladimir Putin’s net worth are reported to range from $40-$85 billion, though he is thought to earn only about $100,000 annually as president, leading the comedian to conclude that the figures “don’t add up.” A clip described Putin as living like “the super rich,” wearing $3,000 workout suits, and collecting pricey watches.

Even Putin’s daughter, Katerina, who works as an academic/rock’n’roll dancer, is thought to have a net worth, combined with her husband Kirill, near $2 billion.

The host then listed the fates of some of Putin’s “critics and political opponents,” such as opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead; FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned; murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya; poisoned activist Vladimir Kara-Murza; and more than one Putin associate having sex tapes published. Oliver stated that perhaps Putin “just got lucky,” and had nothing to do with any of these incidents.

John Oliver described the climate in Russia fostered by Putin as being “extremely hostile to any opposition.” The host detailed acts against Russians opposed to Putin that included one dissident’s car being defecated upon and a speech being interrupted by radio-controlled flying dildos, which the host grudgingly admitted holding an admiration for.

“There is so much that people suspect, but can’t quite prove.”

The show then turned to indisputable facts about the Russian president, including slapping prison sentences and fines on protesters in Crimea; propping up the regime of Syrian president and accused war criminal, Bashar al-Assad, as previously reported by the Inquisitr; and criminalizing homosexuality.

“In a nutshell, that is Russia under Vladimir Putin,” Oliver stated. “And our president wants to get along better with him.”

The host compared Trump’s desire to “get along better” with Russia to a desire to be able to walk up to a bear and hug it, with both being desirable, but situations that are “not that easy” to cultivate. He stated that Russians “love it” when a U.S. finger is pointed at the Russian president and that he just “points it right back,” removing the ability of the United States to claim a “moral high ground.”

A clip of Putin being asked about “suppressing dissent” shows the Russian president responding “you believe that everything is perfect now from the point of view of democracy?” Putin cited the violent demonstrations and police response in Ferguson, Missouri, with regard to the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, as an example of a failure of U.S. democracy. John Oliver described this “moral equivalency” argument as a “key Putin technique.”

“There is no real democracy in the world, it doesn’t work,” a Russian man summed up Vladimir Putin’s worldview.

In a clip from Fox News, Bill O’Reilly can be seen telling Donald Trump that Putin is a “killer.”

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania disembark from Air Force One in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday.

“There are a lot of killers. We got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?” Trump responded.

“The only way he could sound any more like Vladimir Putin, is if he said all that in a f****** $3,000 track suit,” John Oliver said. “Who knows why Trump is acting this way. Maybe he’s compromised. Maybe he’s an idiot.”

The host then stated that “America and Russian are not the f****** same,” because it appears that the president “won’t stick up for this country.” Oliver held up the human rights track record of the United States as being less than perfect, but that it “does not compare to Russia,” and the fact that the press is still free in the United States. Toward this, the show played a series of clips of the host absolutely taking Trump apart, starting with referring to him as “America’s wealthiest hemorrhoid.”

The show ended with John Oliver saying that someone needs to explain to Donald Trump the likelihood of improving relations with Vladimir Putin and Russia. With nobody in sight that appears up for the job, Last Week Tonight went to the trouble of rewriting the Putin pop song with new lyrics, which begin “A man like Putin may seem like he’s strong, but if you think that, know that you’re wrong.”

[Featured Image by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images]