John Oliver devoted most of Sunday’s Last Week Tonight to “Supreme Court nominee and walking crushed beer can” Brett Kavanaugh, rehashing the judge’s emotional, angry and controversial testimony on Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The host’s ultimate question was simple: “Why this particular asshole?” he asked. “Why is he the hill that conservatives are willing to die on?”
The comedian opened the 29-minute main segment by describing the core purpose of the hearing, which included testimony from both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges that the judge sexually assaulted her during a high school-era gathering in 1982. Oliver described Ford’s demeanor and tone as “remarkably composed,” in sharp contrast with Kavanaugh’s fiery approach.
“Kavanaugh came straight out of the gate weird in his opening statement – not just denying all her allegations but almost breaking down while attempting to paint a folksy image of his time in high school,” Oliver said. “[He cried] at the memory of lifting weights at his friend Tobin’s house. I hate to say it, but I’m starting to think men might be too emotional to serve on the Supreme Court.”
During the hearing, Kavanaugh emphasized that he’s had many close female friends over the years, recounting nights spent talking on the phone to “Amy or Julie or Kristen or Karen or Suzanne or Moira or Megan or Nikki.” Oliver cracked that this recitation isn’t exactly testimony – more like a “plaintive spoken word cover of ‘Mambo No. 5.'”
The comedian also focused on Kavanaugh’s repeatedly cited love of beer (“We drank beer, my friends and I. Boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer.”) and the judge’s use of a calendar to document his whereabouts at the time of the alleged incident.
“Kavanaugh just said that his dad started keeping calendars in 1978, when Kavanaugh was 13,” Oliver said. “Meaning he would’ve been 14 at the time his dad had even a single calendar to read to his children from. And an adult man reading last year’s calendar to his 14-year-old son is literally the saddest Christmas I can imagine, other than being one of the innocent people who gets murdered in the movie Die Hard.”
The host also zeroed in on some of Kavanaugh’s misleading or confusing statements during the hearing, including the judge’s attempts to clarify phrases from his high school year book that are commonly used to describe drinking and sex. For example, the term “Devil’s Triangle” often refers to sex between two men and one woman, but the judge brushed it aside as a “drinking game.”
“I’m just not buying that,” Oliver said, “unless all your drinking games were named after widely recognized sex acts. Oh, doggy style? Drinking game. You pour vodka in a bowl and lap it up while wearing only a dog collar.”
“While it may seem unbelievably petty to give this much attention to a high schooler’s yearbook,” the host added, “you have to remember that, to some extent, many were watching this hearing to try to ascertain who was more trustworthy: Was it the terrified psychology professor who blew up her entire life to relive her trauma on a national stage, or was it Judge Animal House, who seemed to be sweatily making up drinking games in front of members of the Senate?”
Oliver argued that Republicans created a flawed system of “he said/she said” by only allowing testimony from the “he” and “she,” failing to gather other evidence and hear from more people.
“Even if you don’t think he’s guilty of sexual assault, or even if you don’t think it’s impossible to say whether he is because it happened in his teenage years – even then, there should be plenty in what we saw this week to cause you real concern because a key part of the job he is up for is judgment and temperament,” he said. “And this week we saw Kavanaugh talk over the top of senators, dodge questions and conflate ‘doesn’t recall something happening’ with ‘denied something happened,’ which is, again, a fucking important distinction for a judge. Not to mention he reportedly wept at the concept of calendars.”
The real “disqualifying” moment, he added, was Kavanaugh’s “positively Trump-ian” opening statement, in which he labeled his nomination process a “political hit” fueled by anger from Trump’s election win, “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” and money from “opposition left-wing groups.”
Ultimately, Oliver added, the fight to prevent Kavanaugh’s nomination will likely result in the appointment of another Supreme Court Justice who “is almost certainly going to restrict abortion rights.” But he argued that the battle matters on a deeper level.
“You don’t need to choose an unhinged partisan with multiple accusations of sexual misconduct hanging over him,” he said. “So it feels like they’re doing this just to deliver a ‘fuck you’ to Democrats and, even more directly, a ‘fuck you’ to women.”