John Oliver Blasts CNN, Applebee’s, Putin; Addresses Russia-Ukraine – The Hollywood Reporter

John Oliver wasted little time in addressing the major news event of the past week on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight: Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

He first turned to CNN and its on-air gaffe last week in cutting from coverage of the invasion to an Applebee’s commercial featuring a country song and a man in blue jeans and boots shaking his derriere that was a jarring juxtaposition from the news coverage.

“CNN during its coverage of air-raid sirens in Kyiv somehow found a way to make it even worse with this terrible transition to break,” he said, then showing this clip.

Said Oliver: “It’s not great, is it? It’s not just that they cut to a commercial for a restaurant whose food can only be described as ‘sometimes warm,’ it’s just so aggressively American. From the country song that thinks listing food counts as lyrics all the way to this human Boot Barn shaking his nonexistent ass.”

Oliver then read part of Applebee’s statement on the incident: “We are deeply concerned about the situation in Ukraine. … [The ad] never should have aired, and we are disappointed in the actions of the network.”

Quipped Oliver: “That’s some deft international diplomacy from the home of both the ‘grilled oriental chicken salad’ and the ‘tipsy leprechaun.’”

(After the opening segment, Oliver played a produced montage of “notable moments” in history being interrupted by the Applebee’s commercial, such as former President Barack Obama announcing that Obama bin Laden had been killed, Walter Cronkite telling the nation that President John F. Kennedy had died after being shot, the verdict being read in the O.J. Simpson trial and news of Princess Diana’s death.)

Oliver then chastised former president George W. Bush for his own words on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, reading this line from Bush’s statement: “I join the international community in condemning Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.”

Said Oliver: “Hold on, George. Not from you. You are not the guy for this one. Because that statement only would have made sense if it ended with ‘Oh shit, now I hear it. Sorry. I’ll shut the fuck up now.”

Oliver also noted that Russian state media has been reporting false stories about the Ukraine as part of its propaganda machine for a long time, along with Putin’s claim that he is fighting for the “denazification” of Ukraine despite the fact that its president, Volodymr Zelensky, is Jewish and had relatives who died during the Holocaust.

Oliver also showed a clip of a conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Sergey Naryshkin, director of the Foreign Intelligence Service in Russia, at a meeting where the latter was arguing for one last attempt at diplomacy before invading the country but being intimidated by Putin.

“Unfortunately for that guy, he clearly forgot the best strategy for public speaking in Russia which is, just imagine the entire audience in their underwear, and Vladimir Putin pointing a pistol at your head. It really focuses the mind,” Oliver said, calling Putin “an autocrat, a tyrant, a warmonger. But also, he’s kind of a huge bitch.”

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