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(John) Oliver’s Twists

By Erin Maxwell

Two weeks ago, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver took an in-depth look at the shady business of televangelists and the practice of seed faith, the theory in which a donation made to a church or group will plant the seed for future earnings. In the piece, the comedian-turned-cable TV freedom fighter made examples of cable spiritualists like Mike Murdoch and Kenneth & Gloria Copeland who urged their viewers to forgo paying off their credit card debt or cancer treatments in lieu of donations for the church.

The bit was both hilarious in the way it pointed out the sins of these ministers of Gods and disheartening in that they led their pious and mostly poor followers down a path which could lead to financial ruin or worse. Such as in the case of Bonnie Parker, who sought to sow the harvest of her seed rather than seek medical attention.

Viewers of the show took note and sprung into action, pressuring the IRS to start taking an in-depth look at these “warriors of God” who lived in multi-million dollar mansions while their followers lived paycheck-to-paycheck.

Oliver’s arguments also aided the Trinity Foundation, an org that protections God-fearing folks against religious fraud and televangelists looking to cash in on the kindness of others.


This wasn’t the first time that John Oliver has launched a movement or righted a political or social wrong. In fact, in the year and a half of being on the air, Oliver has become the cable TV voice of social justice.

His ability to take was is perceived as mundane, boring or uninteresting topics and find a way to make it relatable and even funny has helped more than just HBO’s ratings.

It’s helped society.

Recently, Time Magazine dubbed the phenomenon “The Oliver Effect”. His open candor, sardonic wit and ability to spotlight the injustices that exist but go unnoticed has caused not only is audience to spring into action, but political figures and government agencies.

John Oliver has a posse. And he ain’t afraid to use it.

Here is a look at a few of Oliver’s achievements:

Oliver Vs. Bail Bonds

The policy of setting redonkulously high bail bonds for non-violent offenders based on an antiquated system caused folks awaiting trial for crimes they did not commit to just plead guilty in hopes of avoiding jail time.

Thanks to Oliver’s segment, the system of bail bonds was restructured in many cities, offering new regulations to help bring justice back to a broken system.

Oliver Vs. Net Neutrality

In June 2014, Oliver releases his horde of winged Internet monkeys on the FCC website, which as the time was gathering comments about net neutrality. When the former Daily Show correspondent pointed out the flaws in the system that ultimately could have given cable companies the ability to control their customer’s ability to go online, the Internet rose up to take action.

In a matter of hours, the FCC website crashed and burned from angry, angry Internet trolls looking to do more than write racist comments on the IMDb page.

As a result, the government org opted to protect the concept of an open Internet, thumbing its nose at big businesses looking to capitalize on those who want to binge on Orange is the New Black.

Oliver vs FIFA

Nothing on television has ever been as entertaining as watching Oliver take on FIFA, the corrupt sport’s organization whose has been mishandling the World Cup with grubby little hands for many decades now.

In his multi-segmented look at the org over the past year, Oliver has pointed out the many flaws with the sports’ authority, from the way it destroys countries in its demands for stadiums to the lavish lifestyles lives by its board members who can rent apartments in Trump Towers for their purebred cats.

But the true focus of his rage was FIFA topper Sepp Blatter, who Oliver made out to be just one tier above a cartoon villain who ties women to railroad tracks.

Perhaps the best part of the three-part segment was watching Oliver beg FIFA sponsors to pull their funds from the org, making promises to wear gold-lame’ Adidas sneakers, eat chicken-eque nuggets for the McDonald’s menu and even drink a Bud Lite Lime, a drink that tastes “like your tongue is angry at you.”.

In June, Oliver got his wish, as Blatter stepped down a mere four days after his re-election while FIFA itself was rocked by a corruption scandal that arrested a handful of board leaders.

Oliver Vs. Civil Forfeitures

The idea of seizing personal property that is suspected to be of use in a criminal act gave great power to police officers, not all of them on the up and up. The practice was without any true regulation, and as a result, officers largely abused their power to seize a lot of personal property for monetary and personal gain. All of which was legally down while hiding behind a shield of federal law.

After his report on this practice in October, regulations came into play to restrict the practice unless a warrant or a formal charge was produced.

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