Brow Beat

John Oliver Tries to Save the Iran Deal by Taking Out an Ad on the President’s Favorite Show

Last Week Tonight has distinguished itself in the late-night landscape with its long, comprehensive segments that focus on specific, and often obscure, topics. But on Sunday’s episode, host John Oliver acknowledged that even 20 minutes wasn’t enough time to dig into Iran’s complex history. In a segment about the 2015 Iran deal, Oliver zipped through the factors that have shaped Iran’s current government and the country’s relationship to the United States, instead outsourcing the in-depth stuff to his new podcast, Talkin’ Tehran, co-hosted by James Van Der Beek.

As much as I’d definitely listen to Oliver and Van Der Beek squabble about Mehdi Bazargan for 45 minutes, that podcast is, alas, not real. But Oliver did use the rest of the segment to explain the Iran nuclear deal in more depth, including the criticisms from its detractors. One of those is the Foundation for American Security and Freedom, which took out this campaign ad featuring an American family sitting down to dinner—only to be blown to smithereens, presumably by an Iranian nuclear missile.

Donald Trump isn’t a fan of the nuclear deal, either, and has threatened to withdraw from the agreement and reimpose sanctions later this year if Congress and the European countries involved do not fix its “disastrous flaws.” Oliver says withdrawing is a bad idea, because despite its flaws, the current deal at least means Iran wouldn’t be able to develop its nuclear program until the end of the 10-year agreement, whereas if it were eliminated, they could start ramping it up right now, in zero years. “Zero is less than 10. Trust us, we ran the numbers on this ourselves,” Oliver said. “I spent a week at Cambridge speaking with the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics Michael Cates, and I feel virtually certain that zero is less than 10.”

Of course, the one person who needs to hear that information probably isn’t watching Last Week Tonight, so Oliver did what he has done so many times before: He took out an ad on Fox News. Not just any Fox News show, but the one hosted by Sean Hannity, who is so influential he’s reportedly considered Trump’s unofficial chief of staff within the White House. And not just any ad, but a one with the same premise as the Foundation for American Security and Freedom’s commercial. This time, though, the family dinner isn’t interrupted by a nuclear missile, but the Catheter Cowboy with an important message: “Don’t do it, Donald.”