As a British citizen and permanent resident of the United States, John Oliver can't vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump on Election Day. But his biting commentary on the state of the 2016 election has undoubtedly helped more than a few undecided voters make up their minds. Although Oliver's Emmy-winning HBO show, Last Week Tonight, only airs every Sunday, the program has become a must-watch for its hilariously clever recap of the latest political news.
Since Trump first descended the golden escalator and announced his intention to take over the White House back in June 2015, Oliver has made no secret of his disdain for The Donald. From his meme-worthy "Make Donald Drumpf Again" segment to the litany of creative names Oliver has concocted for Trump, the satirist has levied some of his best verbal salvos at the billionaire.
But what does Oliver think about Clinton? The former Secretary of State clearly doesn't inspire the same kind of rapid-fire, on-air debunking that Oliver is known for. In fact, most of the time Oliver mentions Clinton, he does so to draw a clear contrast between an experienced candidate and a dangerous demagogue. Oliver's most substantial critique of Clinton came on Sept. 26, when he dedicated the bulk of his weekly airtime to unpacking the scandals that have dogged both candidates since they announced their campaigns.
Calling Clinton "the woman who, if she loses, will sit there motionless, not speaking, until she eventually dies," Oliver acknowledged that even discussing Clinton's scandals would irritate some viewers.
"Not being as bad as Donald Trump is a low bar to clear," Oliver said. "And if you focus on nothing but him, you fail to vet a woman who might be president. And if you believe the internet, she's guilty of everything."
Rattling off a list of Clinton's scandals that have been "heavily litigated" in the past, Oliver brings out massive stacks of paper representing formal congressional inquiries into Whitewater, Benghazi, and the "Swiss File Transfer," which Oliver then admits "I just made up right now."
"And the fact that you kind of remembered it says something about the tone of the coverage surrounding Clinton," Oliver added.
All the same, Oliver has some serious criticism for Clinton, particularly for her initial response to the scandal about her use of a private email server, where she claimed "everything I did was permitted," and that she's not very "technically capable."
"That is a bad answer for a number of reasons," Oliver explained. "First, she says 'everything I did was permitted,' which isn't remotely true. The use of a private email server would have required prior approval, and she never asked for it. Then, she blames not being 'technically capable,' which is a fine excuse for your dad when he accidentally texts you the letter Q ten times, but it's pretty shitty coming from a Secretary of State."
But looking at the substance of the scandals facing each candidate shuts down any argument that Trump and Clinton are equally corrupt or dangerous for American democracy.
"We've spent several frustrating weeks trolling through all the innuendo and exaggerations surrounding her email and [Clinton] Foundation scandals," Oliver said. "And the worst thing you can say is: They both look bad, but the harder you look, the less you actually find. There's not nothing there, but what is there, is irritating, rather than grossly nefarious."
Even in the wake of the Democratic National Convention, Oliver dedicated the bulk of his show to ripping Trump to shreds. He had a few quips for the Democratic nominee, but none of them rose to the level of panic Trump's rhetoric clearly inspires in Oliver.
Ultimately, Oliver's own views on Clinton, Trump, and the state of the election this year are best summarized in his closing remarks from his final show before Election Day.
This election hasn't so much appealed to our better angels, as it has groped our better angels, mocked their weight, and called them sixes at best. We are at a point where this man has a genuine shot at the presidency, despite having blown up a political party, undermined confidence in our electoral system, declared open season on journalists, and unleashed a river of racism and misogyny. Also, and I feel like we've lost sight of this: He has really stupid hair. And it's important to remember that. It is frankly hard to believe that there was a time when people thought a Trump candidacy would be funny.
So while a Clinton presidency might not be the same kind of legacy-inspiring vehicle for "Hope and Change" that Americans got with President Obama, it's pretty clear Oliver believes a Madame President is an infinitely better option than Trump.
Images: HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver