The annual, televised Miss America Pageant is perhaps best known as a bizarre, voyeuristic, occasionally hilarious sideshow to what purports to be a philanthropic cause—Miss America has long claimed to be the "largest provider of scholarships to women." Turns out, that's mostly true and dizzyingly complicated. "And through it all—the dance numbers, the inexplicable ventriloquism—it was very difficult not to think: How the fuck is this still happening?" Indeed.
Perhaps no one on Earth cared more than John Oliver about the crew of Russian geckos that recently perished during a mission to mate in space. He's devoted multiple segments on Last Week Tonight to the brave fuck-lizards and their plight, and the news of their death seems to have hit him pretty hard.
Payday loan companies screw customers with annual interest rates as high as 1900%, and base their entire business model on the fact that desperate debtors will never be able to pay them back. On the latest Last Week Tonight, John Oliver explained all the ways they're fucking you, in uncomfortable detail.
John Oliver's big topic on the latest Last Week Tonight was the crumbling wall between news and advertising, an invisible ethical forcefield that used to be known as the "separation of church and state."
The U.S. prison system: Where 1 in 25 inmates is sexually assaulted, private corporations are brought in to cut food and medical costs to the bone, and one prison tried to disinfect a woman's C-section with table sugar. It's all good, though, because recidivism rates (and therefore, profits) are high.
Americans are fiercely protective of the imaginary wealth they don't have yet, and John Oliver believes that the idea that we're a nation of "haves and soon-to-haves," as Marco Rubio actually put it, explains why we perpetuate policies that have led us to near-Great-Depression levels of inequality.
Last Week Tonight was on hiatus due to the Fourth of July, but that didn't stop John Oliver from reporting the biggest U.S. news story of the weekend: Fireworks. Although it would, of course, be physically impossible for Oliver to have attended every fireworks show in the U.S. this weekend, he covered them all anyway.
Physicist Stephen Hawking, frequently cited as one of the smartest people alive, is also pretty funny. As the first person John Oliver interviewed for Last Week Tonight's new "People Who Think Good" series, Hawking delivered a stark lesson about the nature of reality: There is no timeline in which Oliver will date Charlize Theron.
The only thing that can match John Oliver's excitement about the World Cup, which begins this week in Brazil, is his disgust at FIFA, the corrupt organization that controls it.
General Motors recalled another 2.7 million vehicles due to faulty ignition switches last week, bringing its total for the year to 11 million. Worse, the company apparently knew about the defects as far back as 2001, and a leaked memo revealed a list of words—including "Kevorkianesque" and "sarcophagus-like"—that GM employees aren't allowed to use to describe the recalled cars.