Oliver kicked off his new show, Last Week Tonight, with a jab at Oregon for spending a quarter of a billion dollars on a healthcare website before scrapping it and going with Healthcare.gov. And for spending a few million on ad agency North's wretchedly twee, painfully Oregonian commercials.
Here's Oliver's sketch, starring beloved glasses-wearer and member of the Nineteen Nineties Lisa Loeb:
In a blog post titled, "Yes, John Oliver, we are stupid fucking idiots," North principal Mark Ray decried Oliver's sketch as "brutal," "unfair," and "unjust." Ray somehow managed to both distance himself from Cover Oregon ("we have had nothing whatsoever to do with the $200m+ dollars spent to build Cover Oregon's online application portal") and basically call Oliver a jerk for shitting on an agency that believed in a rainbow healthcare dream.
"Are we, as Mr. Oliver suggests, stupid fucking idiots?
Given the world today, you have to be a stupid fucking idiot to want to help activate a legislation so controversial.
You have to be a stupid fucking idiot to suggest a strategy that unites people around a common good before selling them on something as complicated as health insurance.
You have to be a stupid fucking idiot to think advertising can actually help improve the quality of people's lives.
But at North, we welcome stupid fucking idiots. And I'd do it all again just the same, proudly.
Although, next time I'd probably leave the website out of the ads."
Incidentally, Oliver never named North or called the creators of the ad "stupid idiots," he just contrasted their "violently adorable" commercial with a violently unadorable waste of taxpayer money, for which no one is arguing that North is responsible.
Maybe they're actually smart fucking geniuses for riding the HBO coattails to some free publicity. Never underestimate the power of reverse psychology and a headline with a gratuitous "fucking" in it.