John Oliver
Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

One of the chief attractions of Last Week Tonight—apart from the weekly spectacle of John Oliver’s intermittent, British-accented, expertly calibrated, outraged freakouts—is its long-form treatments of issues beyond Donald Trump’s daily dump of laughably hateful bullshit. Oliver and his staff have made hilariously tummy-upsetting viewing out of such unlikely issues as FIFA corruption, net neutrality, and the ominously sizzling threat posed by indifferently warehoused nuclear waste in the past, and, on Sunday’s show, the host’s examination of the upcoming Italian elections unearthed yet another fucking thing we didn’t know we should be worried about.

Noting that Italy’s notoriously unstable political history (65 governments in the last 70 years) often allows for some, let’s call them “unique” outlier candidates, Oliver showed how this current crop of prime ministerial aspirants offers an even more alarming than usual roster. When, as Oliver explains, the seemingly safest choice is Luigi Di Maio, the 31-year-old acolyte of a rabble-rousing comedian named “Beppe,” who, when not engaging in super-rad X Games-type stunts, flirts with anti-immigrant, anti-vaxxer rhetoric, Italy isn’t in a great place. That’s because the chief challenger to that guy is one Matteo Salvini, “a truly poisonous politician,” whose history of sexist, racist, “Italy first” positions inspired a recent drive-by mass shooting where an Italian skinhead specifically targeted immigrants and claimed Salvini as his “captain.” Oh, and Salvini is also the chosen candidate of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. You know, the Putin-cuddling, underage sex party-throwing, tax fraud-convicted boor who, despite being banned from Italian politics until 2019, is called “a kingmaker” by Oliver. (Naturally, Salvini—seen on tape calling for a “mass cleaning” of Italians he sees as undesirable—is a favorite of one Donald Trump. Because, of course he is.)


So what’s to be done about this looming, potentially region-destabilizing electoral disaster of a longtime American ally? Well, as John Oliver puts it, “If you can’t see this coming, you’ve never seen this fucking show before.” Pointing to various farcical elements of this gathering shitshow, Oliver, keeping with his show’s storied history of direct-action comic fuckery, is throwing his hat into the ring—as the next Italian prime minister. (That several of the current candidates were contestants on Italian game shows is only about the fourth-weirdest thing about this race.) Oliver explained that Italian legal experts have assured him that they can not, in fact, find any rules about non-citizens being chosen prime minister in the not-impossible event that no governing coalition can be formed. So, calling on the airtight precedent of the “Air Bud scenario,” Oliver, to his studio crowd’s hearty applause, announced, “Alley-oop, motherfuckers.” Kicking off his supposed candidacy with one final flourish, Oliver then wheeled out a massive replica of the fully functional scale model volcano that Berlusconi reportedly kept hidden on the grounds of his mansion, and told the Italian people that, sure, his candidacy is “a complete and total farce,” but, considering the clown car of disgraced bunga-bunga artists, fresh-faced slicksters, and outright fascists already on the scene, “I am far from your worst option.”