Many political followers were disappointed when Jon Stewart retired from The Daily Show at the start of the 2016 election. Thankfully, Stewart’s former colleague John Oliver has proven to be more than a suitable replacement. The host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight has tackled the election with zest and vigor this cycle, and Oliver’s best 2016 moments demonstrate that he’s second-to-none in the “news that makes you laugh” department.
On his show, Oliver takes deep dives into the topics of the day, sometimes spending upwards of 20 minutes on one subject. This format allows much more in-depth analysis than a five-minute segment ever could, and he’s used this to great effect while skewering the 2016 election. From the financial viability of a U.S.-Mexico border wall to the complex inner workings of primaries and caucuses, Oliver has provided his viewers with genuinely useful information about genuinely important topics — and he makes us laugh while doing it.
This has made him absolutely invaluable to those trying to figure out just what the hell is going on in this utterly bizarre election. Oliver, like Stewart, has demonstrated how effective humor can be as an educational tool. Let’s have a look at some of his greatest moments from this campaign.
After acknowledging that the word “Trump” has an inherently impressive sound to it, Oliver revealed that the Trump family, many generations back, was originally named “Drumpf.”
'Drumpf' is much less magical. It’s the sound produced when a morbidly-obese pigeon flies into the window of a foreclosed Old Navy. ‘Drumpf!’ It’s the sound of a bottle of store brand root beer falling off the shelf in a gas station mini-mart. ... 'Drumpf’ is much more reflective of who he actually is.
Oliver then encouraged viewers to use the #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain hashtag, which they eagerly did.
The Feasibility Of A Border Wall
Trump has famously promised to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Oliver meticulously analyzed how much it would actually cost to build such a wall, taking into account the cost of things like transporting materials and maintaining the wall over time. He eventually concluded that it would cost $25 billion to construct the wall.
Oliver then responded to Trump’s assertion that “Mexico is going to pay for the wall, and they’re gonna be happy about it:
Of course they are. People love it when you make them pay for sh*t they don’t want. That’s why everyone is so happy when their cable company bundles together cable, Internet, and landline. 'Ooh, landline! Ooh, thank you!'
Predicting The Next President
Around the time Hillary Clinton announced her presidential campaign, Oliver reflected on the futility of trying to forecast elections too far in advance:
Speculating over who’s going to win the 2016 election now is like speculating over who’s going to win the shot put at the 2016 Olympics: The only thing we know for sure is that Ted Cruz isn’t going to win either. That’s it. That’s all we know, so we can put it on hold.
Well, he was right about Ted Cruz.
The Democratic Primary
In a lengthy segment about primaries and caucuses (or “electoral foreplay” as he put it), Oliver tackled the question of whether the Democratic primary was rigged against Bernie Sanders.
He concluded that the primary system is indeed broken and undemocratic. But he also concluded that Clinton, by every metric, had earned millions of more votes than Sanders. Given how controversial this question has been on the left, Oliver’s was a remarkably even-handed assessment.
This is a system which clearly needs wholesale reform. The problem is, once the system produces a winner, the conversation tends to just move on.
Trump And The GOP
After Trump clinched the Republican nomination, there was a lot of uncertainty over whether or not the GOP establishment would embrace or reject him. Oliver predicted what would happen, and it turned out to be prescient:
Trump and the Republican establishment are like a teenage Christian couple who’ve made an abstinence pledge. They are going to have sex — it is just a matter of time. But they still need to make a big show of resisting it for anyone who might be paying attention.
Marco Rubio Trying to Attack Trump
“You know what they say about men with small hands: You can’t trust them,” Marco Rubio said of Trump in February. He was attempting to out-Trump Trump by hurling crude, below-the-belt insults at him, but as Oliver accurately pointed out, that strategy doesn’t work if don’t fully commit to it:
If you can’t say the word ‘penis,’ don’t imply the word ‘penis,’ because at that point, it’s not even an insult. It’s a Christian Rock lyric.
Donald Trump Inciting Violence
A lot of people were shocked when a Trump rally in March was canceled due to violent scuffles in the arena in which it was to take place. Oliver, however, noted that this wasn’t really much of a surprise at all:
A Trump rally being canceled due to violence is the most predictable thing to happen in this campaign since Donald Trump mentioning the size of his d*ck. Of course those things happened. Of course they did.
Oliver was right: Back in August, two Trump supporters allegedly beat a homeless Mexican man with a metal pole — and Trump defended them.
These seven examples of Oliver's best 2016 moments are the perfect reminder of how he's the best in the late-show business right now, especially when it comes to having honest (and informative!) discussions about politics.