WATCH: John Oliver's Epic, Disturbing and, Yes, Hilarious Rant on the Death Penalty
After apologizing profusely for taking on the very unfunny topic of the death penalty last night, John Oliver, host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver," took on the very unfunny topic of the death penalty.
He managed to find some humor in the grimness, and to reward his audience for watching the 12 minute segment, he showed a video of tiny hamsters eating tiny burritos.
Oliver asked for a “broad, almost infantile” explanation of the death penalty and when it is appropriate." He found one in Bush Administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, who explained that he only believes in using the death penalty on "those who are guilty of commiting the crime.”
Okay, then, no innocent people should be executed. "Bold statement," Oliver quipped.
In Britain, where Oliver is from, there has not been the death penalty since 1965. But that does not mean that people don't want it. Then again, people want lots of things that are bad for them. Take the McRib sandwich, he said. It's "tantalyzing" but "ethically wrong." It's also "not suitable for civilized society," a tagline that Oliver thought might be a good advertising slogan for the McRib, should McDonalds bring it back.
Newscasters say lots of dumb things about the death penalty. For instance, Anderson Cooper asked a panel, "Isnt it interesting that things that were once considered airtight evidence are now considered junk science?"
Oliver thought the word "interesting" would be better replaced by "fucking horrifying."
And Rick Perry, who has presided over more than 200 executions in the state of Texas was asked during a debate if his sleep his ever troubled by the possibility that he is executing the innocent, and he quickly said, "Not at all."
Oliver pointed out that the U.S. is in the company of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and China in terms of its number of executions, which is not really a club you want to be in. Better to be on a list with Finland, he suggested. "Finland is on all the best lists. Best pastries, best place to have a lesbian destination wedding."
The segment is both funny and disturbing. Plus there's that hamster video at the end. Watch: