John Oliver is an expert at mixing serious journalism and silly comedy in the pursuit of creating informative but entertaining political coverage on Last Week Tonight—but every once in a while, the balance of humor to disgust tips one way. Last night, he was at his most disappointed and disgusted with the Trump administration as he covered Trump's pre-midterms anti-immigrant rhetoric—then peeled back to take a closer look at Trump's migrant family separation policy, and the families who are still dealing with the lingering trauma of it.
"If the president really wants to make Tuesday's election about him and immigration, then fine," he said. "Let's make it about that. Because family separation is perhaps the most emblematic moment of his presidency so far. It was cruel, sloppy, needless, racist and ultimately exactly what we should have expected. And I would argue the biggest threat to our status as the greatest nation on Earth is not a caravan 1,000 miles south of us—it's whoever thinks that doing this is an acceptable fucking response."
The this, in this case, is a clip from a documentary about a six-year-old from Honduras named Jenri who was separated from his mother, placed in one of Trump's holding camps, and reunited after a month apart. "I'm warning you, this is going to be rough to watch," Oliver said before showing the clip, as the crying, traumatized child tells his mom, "I want to go to the jail," "You don't love me," and "You're not my mom anymore."
"Yeah, we did that," Oliver added. "And not because we had to, but because we chose to. And horrifically, we may actually be about to do it again." He then showed a clip of Thomas Homan, former Acting Director of ICE, endorsing the idea of bringing back the family separation policy on Fox & Friends, saying, "If they would’ve stuck with that for 30-60 days, there wouldn’t be a caravan today."
"Yeah, maybe, Tom," Oliver responded. "And you know what, if we surrounded the border with randomly firing flamethrowers and snakes we trained to stand up whenever anyone approached, that could potentially drive the caravan away too, but we don’t do things like that because that’s not supposed to be who we fucking are."
Watch the full segment, which also incorporates Corey Lewandowski's infamous "womp-womp," the fact that multiple children were lost in the system, and the casual cruelty and cynicism of conservative immigration arguments.