Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (2014) s02e04 Episode Script


1 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver S02E04 Infrastructure Welcome, welcome, welcome to "Last Week Tonight.
" I'm John Oliver.
Just time for a quick recap of the week.
And we begin in Russia, the future home of 45 million Ukrainians.
Well, on Friday, there was some terrible news.
We are following a breaking story out of Moscow, the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, the fifty five years old opposition politican was gunned down less than two days before he was to lead a large rally against Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Wow, that would seem like a shocking coincidence if you knew literally nothing about Russia.
Because Nemtsov is just the latest in a long line of Putin's enemies to find themselves mysteriously imprisoned or dead.
In fact, just a few weeks ago, Nemtsov was asked in an interview if he was afraid that Putin might kill him.
And his answer was "Yes, a little bit.
" In fact at the end of that interview, the journalist said to him, "I hope common sense will prevail and Putin will not kill you.
" Which sounds chilling, but to be fair, "I hope Putin will not kill you" is just how Russian people say goodbye to each other.
"Thanks for dinner, Dimitri.
I hope Putin will not kill you.
" "Thanks! I hope Putin will not kill you, too.
" Obviously, we won't know who killed Nemtsov until the investigation into his death is complete.
There's just one problem with that.
Tonight, Vladimir Putin says he will personally take charge of the investigation into Nemsov's death.
Yes, this will be detective Putin's greatest mystery since "the case of the missing Crimean peninsula that I would very much like to take back now.
" But look let's give Putin the benefit of the doubt.
Because his investigation has already made an early breakthrough, and it turns out he's definitely not involved.
President Vladimir Putin has condemned the murder, calling it a contract killing.
He also launched an investigation into the murder and said it bears all the hallmarks of a contract killing.
"Yes, I will find whoever is responsible for this contract killing and make sure they are paid whatever it is that I owed them.
So, I'll do that.
Moving on, let's move on to Washington DC, earlier this week, there was big news from the F.
It is now being called the historic decision for how Americans surf the net.
The F.
C approved sweeping net neutrality rules.
Yes! Cable and telecom companies will not be allowed to create a two-tiered "fast lane" and "slow lane" on the Internet.
Meaning that all of us will be treated the same when we upload and share pictures of a gold and white dress.
It's gold and white! I will fight every one of you.
I will fight you, I will fight you! You may remember that when we talked about this subject last year, we likened Tom Wheeler, the head of the F.
, to a dingo babysitter, due to the fact that he once ran the cable industry's lobbying arm.
Which prompted this response I would like to state for the record that I'm not a dingo.
Yes, you are.
You are a dingo.
It's just that in this one instance, you did not eat the baby.
So, good dingo! Keep it up! Good baby sitting dingo! Keep it up.
This is genuinely good news.
And not just because consumers and entrepreneurs are happy, but because Internet service providers are sad.
And no one reacted more passive-aggressively than Verizon.
Verizon putting out this press release, objecting to what they called "1930's-style rules," so what did they do? They put out a press release in morse code to emphasize their point.
Wow, that's petty.
And by the way, Verizon I'll say this for morse code.
At least it didn't drop out for no fucking reason anytime people walked into their kitchen.
"There's a dead zone by the stove, Bartholomew.
Just wave the machine around a bit.
" It appears, though, that some members in congress are on Verizon's side.
Because just one day after the F.
'S ruling, one of them took to the house floor to disagree with it.
The Obama majority on the F.
C Seized unprecedented control over the Internet under the guise of net neutrality.
Now, net neutrality is the notion that the latest cat video is of equal importance to a teleconference consultation for a heart patient.
Ok, first of all, what if the latest cat video "is" a tell conference for a heart patient with doctor Larry Meowberg-fluffstein? Because he's "excellent.
" He's excellent.
But second you're misunderstanding what net neutrality is.
Cat videos are part of the point.
Net neutrality is about keeping providers from picking and choosing whose voices get heard, ensuring that the Internet remains a Democratic space for all messages.
Even if all a message contains is this Yes, that's freedom.
Finally, finally, a quick word on history.
Or as Ken Burns calls it: "pornography".
This week brought some shocking news about a fact that everyone was taught at some point in history class The rat has had a bad rap over the centuries.
By far, its most deadly offense? Spreading the black death across the world in the 14th century, killing 75 million people.
But it seems that rats have been the victims of one of history's biggest framings.
Ok, first, history's biggest framings are inside Mariah Carey's living room, and they are around oil paintings of Mariah Carey.
That's a fact, that's a fact! But secondly, if rats didn't spread the plague, who did? Scientists in Norway believe it might actually have been this, the innocent little gerbil.
Gerbils?! Let me get this straight.
The black death, the plague which nearly wiped out human civilization as we know it, may have been caused by Mr.
nibbles here? Well, if rats have been falsely accused, we clearly need to make amends.
And I only partially say that because I live in New York, so I'm reasonably certain there are at least 30 rats within five feet of me right now.
So gather round, rats Because we've made a video just for you.
For centuries, humanity's placed the blame for one of its greatest calamitieses squarely at the feet of the common rat.
The black death was the result of bubonic plague spread by rats.
This turns out to be false.
So it's with great humility, that we, the human race, would like to apologize to the rat community for centuries of demonization.
Apologies, rats.
You deserve better.
Now, as for you, you devious gerbil bastards, all this time we've been buying wheels for you to run on constructing elaborate gerbilarium for you to inhabit And making hat for you, specially made hats.
Wish granted, you pulled off, but that's not the point! All this time, you whiskered fucks, you made responsible for casting a grim shadow of death over the human civilization as we know it.
We have to smack you right in your incredibly cute glassy eyes So here's the deal: We, the human race are pissed off, we really pissed off.
And we demand an apology.
We don't care how you do it.
Write it with scraps of newspaper, chew it into a toilet paper roll.
Spell it out in your own shit.
Just get it done, gerbils, And just to reiterate, sorry to rats.
Moving on.
Our main story tonight is about infrastructure.
It's our roads, bridges, dams, levees, airports, power grid, basically anything that can be destroyed in an action movie.
Get out of there! God, dammit! Holy shit! If an alien species judged humanity by our most popular movies, they'd think we were furious with asphalt all the time.
The problem is though, when our infrastructure is not being destroyed by robots and/or saved by Bruce Willis, we tend to find it a bit boring.
As you know, infrastructure is not a sexy or glamorous topic.
As much as I'd like to think otherwise, infrastructure is not sexy.
Infrastructure is not very sexy.
Yes, infrastructure Like those men we just heard from is important, but not sexy.
Although, to be fair, that may just be because Hollywood promotes unrealistic standards of infrastructure beauty.
That's not what a real road looks like! Real roads have curves! So, so most people think infrastructure is boring.
They think it's boring, but is it? Because I'd argue that it's actually pretty fascinating.
And I know that, in saying that, I have basically become the rad youth counselor trying to convince you that Jesus was the Taylor Swift of his time.
"Revelations is a break-up song to the Romans, guys, who wants another mountain dew? Catch.
" So, so let's talk about infrastructure tonight.
And let's begin with dams.
Because dams are amazing! They're the most powerful device we have for holding back liquid, aside from the idea of using a porta-potty.
"I'll wait.
I'll just wait forever.
I cannot go in there.
America used to love dams.
Grand Cooley dam in Washington state, the world's biggest concrete structure.
The bolder dam stands today a modern colossal.
The walls of the new dam towers into the sky like mighty modern pyramids.
Yes, and we built those dams with ingenuity and brawn and, of course, piles and piles of dead Irish.
Of course we did, they're good workers and their corpses make a solid foundation material.
That's an architectural fact.
But these days, America's once-great dam system is in a state of serious disrepair.
The average age of the country's 84,000 dams is 52 years, and many of them have problems that stem from when they were first built.
Yes, much like most Botox recipients and competitive cloggers, the average dam is 52 years old and probably has something deeply broken inside of it.
You would think a statistic like that would terrify people into action.
But amazingly, many states are paying virtually no attention to their dam problems.
In 2007, the last year for which statistics are available, Texas had just seven inspectors responsible for 7,400 dams.
That's over 1,050 dams per inspector.
The state was only able to look at 239 dams.
Alabama doesn't even have an inspection agency to monitor its 2,000-plus dams.
Zero inspectors! That means that the state of Alabama has exactly the same number of dam inspectors as the band "Alabama.
" And it's not just dams.
We are currently doing a terrible job of maintaining all of our infrastructure.
The nation's infrastructure of bridges, roads, and pipelines is sorely in need of renovation.
Collectively they get nothing more than a D-plus.
A d-plus? Think about that.
America got the same grade than a 10th-grade teacher gives a nightmare kid so she doesn't have to deal with him for another year.
"No Landon.
We're not calculating the surface area of our penises.
Just give him a d-plus and say he has family troubles.
I cannot even deal with that shit again.
" And look, to be fair, that D-plus grade came from the American society of civil engineers, who would clearly benefit from more infrastructure spending.
So it's a bit like having the state of our nation's tennis balls assessed by the American society of golden retrievers.
"They are dangerously underthrown! This must change! We've been such good dogs, such good dogs!" But other studies have also found our infrastructure is lacking.
The world economic forum ranks America 16th in the world and we need to be better.
Because when infrastructure fails, bad things happen.
Like last year, when a pipe burst and flooded the campus of UCLA.
A water main break in West Los Angeles.
It turned the UCLA campus into a river.
Students walked through ankle deep water or in some cases, tried to have fun with the situation.
I've been here for 20 minutes trying to get the best view.
Actually I just came from the gym.
I got kicked out you know because of the flood, so It was insane, like there was so much water.
"It's like, I never seen so much water, except for like, lakes, I guess.
" And when, And when infrastructure is damaged, it's not just incredibly expensive.
It can also be lethal.
From the big stuff like bridge collapses and dam failures to the little stuff, like potholes.
Gone at 53 years old.
Al Lee slammed his bike into a pothole riding along grizzly peak boulevard in Oakland.
His wife Nancy says a car then hit him head on.
Roadways need to be paved.
That's why we have infrastructure.
That's why we pay our taxes.
And That is horrifying.
But the problem is, we only ever seem to talk about infrastructure when something tragic like that happens.
And the scale of this problem is scary, as the former secretary of transportation points out.
According to the government, there are 70,000 bridges that have been deemed structurally deficient.
- Yep.
- What does that mean? It means that there are bridges that need to be really either replaced or repaired in a very dramatic way.
They're dangerous? I don't want to say they're unsafe.
But they're dangerous.
What? Hold on, Hold on, Hold on.
When we're at a point where the secretary of transportation is struggling to decide between using the word "unsafe" and the word "dangerous," we might have a problem worth fixing.
And if you want a glimpse into how close to catastrophe we occasionally are, take this story from Philadelphia.
In 2008, two contractors from the Pennsylvania department of transportation stopped to get a sausage sandwich and parked their cars under this bridge.
And fortunately they wanted that sausage sandwich, because they saw one of these piers with an eight-foot gash in it about five inches wide.
And if they hadn't wanted a sausage sandwich? There's a strong likelihood that bridge would have collapsed.
So there might have been a disaster if those Philly contractors hadn't stopped for a sausage sandwich! Which means we were fine.
We were always going to be fine.
But, but the scary thing is, the scary thing is what if the next cracked pillar in Philadelphia is next to a vegan smoothie stand? The bridge is going down, and people are going to die.
And it's not just Philadelphia.
Look at Pittsburgh, the "city of bridges" and its solution to one that was dangerously deteriorating.
One of these arch bridges actually has a structure built under it to catch falling deck.
See that structure underneath it? They actually built that to catch any of the falling concrete so it wouldn't hit traffic underneath it.
They built a bridge under the bridge! That is a college sophomore approach to structural engineering "Yeah, the trash was over flowing, so I just started putting it in the microwave.
Problem solved.
I'm a legend.
" And there are dangerous bridges everywhere.
Here in New York, the Tappan Zee bridge is so notoriously shaky, one government official in charge of fixing it called it a "hold-your-breath" bridge.
And the only time we should ever talk about "hold-your-breath bridges" would be if, for some reason, Beau Bridges were into autoerotic asphyxiation, and you were trying to remember which one he was.
"Is he the normal bridges or the 'hold-your-breath' bridges?" It's important that I know this.
The facts about the Tappan Zee bridge.
Are frightening enough.
And yet the history channel felt the need to produce a terrifyingly C.
-Filled account of the worst-case scenario.
Some of the Tappan Zee's foundations are at risk, and this is what could happen if they eventually gave way.
Ok, Ok, Ok.
One, one that's very frightening.
But two, why did the director assume we'd have such a strong emotional attachment to the coffee cup? A fucking bridge just collapsed.
At this point, we aren't just flirting with disaster.
We're rounding third base and asking if disaster has any condoms.
And, and the crazy thing is, ask any politician from either side, and they'll tell you that infrastructure is incredibly important.
Everyone agrees on this! In fact, at a recent hearing, both business and labor in the form of the U.
chamber of commerce and the AFL-CIO turned out to support infrastructure spending.
And even they know how rare that is.
If business and labor can come before you united on this issue and we are united on this issue despite our sharp disagreements on a variety of other matters I think that should tell everybody something and tell it very loudly.
He's right.
The last time business and labor agreed on an issue, it was the issue of "how dead should Jimmy Hoffa be?" They both agreed: "pretty dead.
" Here, here's how obvious our need is.
Just two days ago, even a total idiot agreed.
We have to rebuild our infrastructure.
Our roads are crumbling, everything's crumbling, and we're rebuilding China.
Ok, now, glossing over whatever the fuck he was talking about regarding rebuilding China, that upside-down piece of candy corn in a wig made of used medical gauze is right we do have to rebuild our infrastructure.
So with consensus like this, how are things so bad? Well, one of the problems is, just fixing things is not politically appealing.
Because when you build something new, you get to do this.
One, two, three! Yeah! All right! Yay! Yeah! There is nothing politicians like more than using oversized scissors to cut through ribbons.
But you don't get to cut a ribbon after routine repairs.
Infrastructure is like legos.
Building is fun.
Destroying is fun.
But a Lego maintenance set would be the most boring fucking toy in the world.
"It comes built and then you maintain it, and if you do it right, nothing happens and eventually you die.
Have fun, son.
" Perhaps the best symbol for our neglected infrastructure is the U.
S highway trust fund.
It's the single largest source of infrastructure funding in this country.
And guess what's about to happen to it? There is a may 31st deadline this year.
The highway trust fund goes bankrupt unless congress acts.
Yes, the fund is about to run out of money.
And unlike most broke trust fund recipients, our highway system can't just get a job at its daddy's law firm.
"Really, Declan? What case are you working on? And does it contain 24 Miller lites? I hate you, Declan.
" The reason the fund is nearly insolvent is that it's primarily funded by the federal gas tax.
And there's just one hitch with that.
The highway trust fund gets revenue from 18.
4 cent per gallon gas tax, but the tax has not increased to keep up with inflation since 1993.
And the fact it hasn't increased means that in real terms, the gas tax has gone down 39% since 1993.
Much like Koosh ball sales, or respect for Bill Cosby.
I'd like to think it's more than that, but sadly, I don't think it is, actually.
You'd think congress would fix this shortfall, but we haven't had long-term transportation legislation for over a decade.
In fact, since 2003, it's barely passed two partial authorizations and 23 short-term extensions.
One of which in July 2005 Was for just two days, Two days! That entire extension lasted half a Sting orgasm.
That's not enough.
So, so you might think why doesn't Washington just raise the gas tax and fund the fund? Well, because that would be incredibly unpopular.
Listen to what happened when C-SPAN had a call-in and asked people whether or not the gas tax should be raised.
I don't know about another gas tax is going to help us out.
- No, they shouldn't raise the gas tax.
- Ok.
The last thing we need is new taxes.
If gas prices go back up, we'll be stuck with a super high prices.
The government has plenty of money.
What I want to say is no.
War on coal, war on gasoline, war on diesel.
I agree with all of the previous callers.
- Hello? - Ok.
Ok, ok.
That callin lasted for nearly an hour and they did not receive a single call in favor of the gas tax.
You'd think they would at least have been prank called by Mikey and the badger, D.
's number one morning zoo crew.
"Hi, I'd just like to say we should definitely raise the gas tax! You've been badgered!" B.
b badgered! Badgered! In the face.
In the face of that kind of overwhelming lack of public support, it is hardly surprising that the White House is not too keen on it either.
The administration has not put forward and does not plan to put forward a, a proposal to increase the gas tax.
So it seems raising the gas tax is unlikely, which is fine, as long as you have another concrete way to raise that money.
So what is the White House's plan? This administration has put forward an idea by essentially closing a loophole that allows corporations to benefit from stashing some of their profits overseas.
Ok, raise funds by closing corporate loopholes.
I think we all know that is guaranteed to work.
The only obstacle would be And I know that this is highly unlikely if there were another corporate loophole somewhere else in the tax code.
Oh, and there is one other obstacle.
When the president floated this plan by John Boehner a year ago, he swatted it aside.
Perhaps because Boehner favors his own plan, which he's been talking up for the past two years.
I'm committed to working at the find of funding source so we can begin to repair America's aging infrastructure.
The hunt has been underway for the last year and a half to find that funding source.
I wish I could report you that we've found it, but we haven't.
We've got to find a way to deal with America's crumbling infrastructure, and we need to do it in a long-term program oh, uh, that is, in fact, funded.
Two years and nothing.
That's an oddly laid back way to tackle a potentially catastrophic problem.
Because if a giant lizard were attacking our roads and bridges, you wouldn't spend two years saying, "yes, I'm committed to preventing marauding lizards destroying our city, but we need to do it in a long-term program that is, in fact, funded.
" I refuse to believe that after all this time, Boehner doesn't now have some sort of plan.
We actually emailed his office earlier this week and asked, "what is Speaker Boehner's proposal to raise revenue for the U.
highway trust fund?" We didn't hear back.
So we emailed someone else in the office.
Still nothing.
So we called the office.
Still nothing.
At this point we were getting desperate, so we sent him this tweet asking: "Mr.
speaker, how specifically will you raise revenue for the U.
highway trust fund?" #HappyBirthdayJustinBieber, just to make sure that he would see it.
Then, still nothing.
Then we found out that he's on vine for some reason, because apparently he's 14 in 2013 so we sent him this: Mr.
Speaker, how specifically would you raise revenue for the U.
trust Sunday? Is that six seconds? It feels a lot longer.
Still nothing.
He still didn't get back to us.
Look, the lack of political urgency in tackling this problem is insane.
And you can not tell me you're not interested in this.
Because every summer, people flock to see our infrastructure threatened by terrorists or aliens.
But we should care just as much when it's under threat from the inevitable passage of time.
The problem is, no one has made a blockbuster movie about the importance of routine maintenance and repair.
Or they hadn't, until now.
In a world where a few feet of concrete can mean the difference between life and death, where everything you love can be taken from you in the blink of an eye, a few brave souls are willing to risk everything to make nothing happen.
- Hello? - It's time.
- Excuse me? - For your biannual bridge inspection.
I've got Thursday afternoon or Friday anytime before 3:00.
This summer, get ready for "Infrastructure.
" Brace yourself for 98 heart-pounding minutes of incremental maintenance.
I'm not showing any cracking.
No delamination.
No falls in the concrete deck.
What have you got? Mild corrosion on beams.
You're going to have to keep an eye on that.
Thank you, sir.
Don't get cocky.
"The New York Times" calls "Infrastructure," necessary and "something I never thought about but yeah, sure.
" Jesus, God, Bobby! Behind you.
Seepage! This thing is going to blow.
15, 20 years, which is why it's so important that we caught it early.
In this line of work, one mistake could be catastrophic.
It's loose, boss, the bolt is loose.
Well, then tighten it.
God dammit! I don't know which way.
Ok, listen to me, listen to me.
Listen lucky loosey, raggy tighty.
Talk to me, what's going on? It's good.
Yes! "Rolling stone" says: "Nothing happens and that's probably for the best.
" I came here to chew bubble gum and inspect bridges.
You want to see terrible puns about engineering you don't fully understand? Looks like somebody needs to get their ducks in a row.
You want to see 20 minutes monologue on the structural integrity of girders I'm ordering you uniaxial tests of the slab transverse to the deck corrugations with additional reinforcement and tension tests of the support fastener connections between the deck and the girders, bitch! You want more thrillin routines maintenance than you can handle? They used PVC piping when they should have used CPVC piping.
God help us.
You want to see "Infrastructure".
Featuring an all-star cast, plus two-time academy award nominee Edward Norton.
Sorry, three-time academy award nominee Edward Norton.
And introducing, as the chief: Steve Buscemi.
I'm the best dams inspector in the business, and I'm here to inspect this dam.
Coming in summer 2015, "Infrastructure.
" If anything exciting happens, we've done it wrong.
Sausage sandwich? Of course.
That's our show.
Thank you so much for watching, good night.

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