For the second time in a few weeks, host John Oliver and the team at Last Week Tonight discussed Donald Trump, this time focusing on his insane plan to build a wall along the US/Mexico border. The show also spent some time discussing another political topic on everyone's minds - the current vacancy on the Supreme Court bench.
Before launching into those issues, Oliver began by talking about the political unrest in Brazil. The citizens have taken to the streets to protest the poor economic conditions and the massive scale of corruption within the executive branch of the government. Nearly 60% of the legislature are under investigation for a variety of crimes, and the current president is attempting to gain immunity for her predecessor by handing him an official position. This move has been the subject of at least 20 injunctions filed by other judges across the country. Oliver ended the segment by imploring us all to enjoy "this brief moment of feeling superior" with respect to massive political turmoil in another country, reminding us that this may be the situation within the States if Trump wins the Republican nomination.
The Supreme Court, America's "fifth most watched legal drama", was up next. Last Wednesday, President Obama announced his choice for the Supreme Court, moderate and by all accounts universally respected Merrick Garland. Unfortunately, regardless of how respected Garland is by Republicans, they are still planning on blocking the nomination at all costs. They are blaming the toxic atmosphere they have created as a reason to block the nomination; a situation Oliver compared to trying to weasel out of doing dishes simply because "you took a shit in the sink".
Oliver then moved on to the show's main segment: Trump's wall. The show opted to discuss the wall as a serious political issue, given that it's one of the very few political proposals put forth by Trump on this campaign trail. The segment began by setting aside the obvious racist nature of the wall, and instead began by focusing on it as a matter of practicality.
The issue of cost was the first one to be discussed. Trump's estimates have widely varied, from four billion all the way to 12 billion. Oliver pointed out that his margin of error is in fact "the entire GDP of Moldova", and in order to compensate for that, Oliver was able to do some math and determine the true cost, based off of the materials that would be used to construct the wall, and the height of the wall. While Trump has given a clear and concise answer with respect to the materials, his height estimates have also varied widely ranging from 35 feet to 90 feet. In order to simplify the true cost estimate, Last Week Tonight used the lowest estimated height. When all was said and done, the total cost of the wall, based off of the materials Trump said he'd use, and the cost of labor, material delivery, design and management, the actual price of the wall would be around $25 billion dollars. In addition, the cost ot maintain the wall would eventually exceed the cost to build it within seven years. Oliver compared the construction of the wall to owning a Walrus, "a bit dumb thing that only gets more expensive over time".
The next issue is how the wall will be funded. Trump has said again and again that Mexico would be the ones to pay for the wall, and that they'd be happy about it, despite assertions to the contrary made by two former Mexican presidents, one of whom took the time and effort to swear in English, just to drive his point home. The current Mexican Secretary of the Treasury has also disputed Trump's assertion that Mexico will pay, saying, "Mexico, under no circumstance, is going to pay for the wall that Mr. Trump is proposing". Trump seems to misunderstand how economics works, believing that the wall will be paid for out of the trade deficit, which is "literally not how anything works".
Last Week Tonight also examined the placement of the wall, which cannot be placed along the physical boarder. In 2006, an Act was signed into law authorizing a boarder fence to be built, which caused a number of issues for the Texans who live along the boarder. Construction of the fence also violated a number of other pieces of legislation, such as the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
A wall would not stop most of the illegal immigration into the United States, as most people enter legally and subsequently overstay their visas. In addition, a wall is not an insurmountable obstacle for entry into the country. Drugs have been smuggled in using tunnels, catapults, and canons.
Given that the wall would be a stupid move financially, and wouldn't do much to prevent the type of crime Trump asserts it will, the true motivation seems to be racism. Trump famously called Mexicans "rapists", but has consistently ignored research that has shown time and time again that immigrants are "less, not more, crime prone than their native-born counterparts".
The wall would cost approximately $77 per person in the United States. In true Last Week Tonight fashion, Oliver and the team of writers came up with a counterproposal, suggesting something that would make Americans feel just as warm and comforted as the construction of a stupid, impractical wall: a non-stick waffle iron. These would be cheaper per person, and would go a long way to #MakeAmericaBreakfastAgain.
The episode ended with something humours to take the bad Trump taste out of viewer's mouths - a doggie nomination. You may remember that a few months ago, Last Week Tonight compiled an all-dog Supreme Court, to use for reenactments, since cameras are not allowed in the court itself. Despite the fact that Republicans seem to be completely unwilling to confirm the nomination of Merrick Garland, the show is searching for the perfect doggie counterpart to serve on its court. Viewers are encouraged to choose their favourite substitute, using the hashtag #DogGarland.
Last Week Tonight will be off next Sunday for Easter, but will return in two weeks' time with a brand new episode on HBO. You can watch the segment on Trump's wall below.