In his first episode of Last Week Tonight since the election, something was different about John Oliver: “This was clearly a very long, very tense week although thankfully it all felt worth it due to how it ended.” Was that … happiness? This week’s main segment focused, as most things do this week, on the election results, and Oliver seemed to be in an exceedingly good mood as he described the streets of New York after the election was called for Joe Biden. “There was a mood here that can only be described as a reverse 9/11,” he said, “because it combined complete euphoria, an abiding disgust for Rudy Giuliani, and this time, people were actually dancing on the rooftops in New Jersey. It was a really good day. Never forget.”
Oliver even went as far as to allow himself and his viewers 30 seconds of unencumbered joy as a montage of celebration clips played in the background and the host expounded on his love for octopuses. Still, it wouldn’t be Last Week Tonight without a dose of sobering reality. Oliver pointed to Biden’s constant campaign promises that the last four years are not what America is, stating that “dividing America based on race, religion, gender and national origin has frequently been very much who we are. In fact, you could very well argue that in the history of America, the one-sentence version of Donald Trump’s presidency is, ‘He kept showing them who we are.’”
And he took aim at the white liberal sentiment that black and brown voters who delivered the election in key states did so to save America from itself. “It kind of misses the point a little bit, as they weren’t voting as a favor to white people so much as voting to protect themselves and their communities from someone trying do them active harm.” As Oliver noted, one of the most important takeaways from this election is the the work of activists of color in key states like Georgia, Arizona and Michigan. He specifically shouted out Stacey Abrams, who helped register and turn out thousands of voters in Georgia. “She knows what she’s fucking doing,” he said. “And if the Democrats are smart, which they are not always, they should listen to her and activists like her.”
Oliver told fellow late-night host Stephen Colbert last week that he almost “burst into tears” as he cast his ballot in his first ever American presidential election as a U.S. citizen:
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