John Oliver returned Sunday night, and perhaps just in time, to offer his singular view of the political landscape on HBO's "Last Week Tonight."For his first installment, he immediately picked up the momentum from the student survivors of the Parkland Florida Shooting as they organized a march on Washington.
He applauded their tenacity in breaking what he saw as the traditional responses to these mass shootings. "These events are now so familiar, we basically now automatically know how each side will play out. Thoughts and prayers. F-ck your thoughts and prayers. It's a mental health problem. Yeah, but it's also a gun problem. And then, someone says, 'Now's not the time to talk about gun control,' and everyone moves on until it inevitably happens again."
As he put it, when the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School heard that it wasn't the time to talk about gun control, they said, "You know what? Yes, it f-cking is!" They held a public rally over the weekend and organized a "March for Our Lives" on Washington, scheduled for March 24.
Oliver played a clip of Stoneman Douglas senior Emma Gonzalez calling "b.s." on those in power dismissing herself and others like her when they're the ones on the front line of these attacks. "It is a little ironic that the people acting with the most maturity in this horrifying situation aren't even old enough to say the word bullshit in front of their parents," Oliver noted.
To prove the uphill battle that Gonzalez and her fellow students, parents, faculty members and school administrators face, Oliver played a clip from a conservative commentator who went on CNN Sunday morning. Andre Brauer said, "When I grew up it was Andy Griffith and you never had school shootings, and we still had prayer in school, and we drove to school with guns in the car." He called out films, rap music and radio in desensitizing us to violence, and just had to throw in, "Now we have to worry about kids eating Tide pods instead of discipline."
But Oliver was ready for this argument, too -- not the Tide pods one because that's just ridiculous -- because he'd actually seen episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show," and good Sheriff Taylor never even wore a gun.
"And he was happy to explain why," Oliver said. He then played a clip from the show where the good sheriff said, "When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he's getting might really be fear. So I don't carry a gun because I don't want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I'd rather they would respect me."
There's a word that seems to have lost all meaning in this conversation. Maybe it's time for some of that.