HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” has taken some unusual steps to drive home the point of its segments, like the time it established an actual church to draw attention to the tax-free status of prosperity-gospel churches.
Now the show is getting in the habit of buying advertising time during “Fox & Friends.” Why? They want to make direct appeals to Trump, and as evidenced by his tweeting habits, the president is a loyal viewer.
John Oliver unveiled another “Catheter Cowboy” spot Sunday, which will air Wednesday during “Fox & Friends” in the Washington market. This time, Oliver wants to make a direct appeal to the president about the Republican health-care proposal, which he called “the legislative equivalent of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 5: The Curse of Johnny Depp Getting Divorced and Needing the Money.’”
The show pulled the same move last month with a focus on the nuclear triad. Both ads are spoofs of Medical Direct Club’s “Catheter Cowboy” commercials.
“Saddle up, partner,” Oliver said during Sunday’s episode. “For tonight, you ride again.”
“Who better to tell Trump what this bill will do than someone who stands to be hurt by it?” Oliver continued. “Someone in his early 60s, in rural America, with an unspecified medical problem that requires constant treatment?”
In this new ad, the cowboy returns. “I’ve been cowboying for 25 years and there’s two things I know: I don’t like pain when I cath, and health care is a complicated business,” he says, referencing Trump’s “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated” comment.
“Everybody knows that,” the cowboy says. “Literally. Everybody.”
He continues: “Also, if my premiums go up, and subsidies go down, I’m gonna wind up paying more. That’s basic math there, fella. … And if that happens, millions of folks like me might get real angry, which is worth thinking about if you’re the sort of person who really likes being popular.”
The cowboy then looks directly into the camera. “You get that, right? Right? … You get that … right?”
Oliver devoted this week’s episode to delving into the proposal pushed by Republican leadership in Congress and the widespread opposition it faces, including among health groups and some conservatives. “This bill seems almost universally hated in Washington,” Oliver said. “It is truly the Ted Cruz of health-care legislation.”
He also pointed to a New York Times analysis that found the voters with the most to lose under the GOP plan overwhelmingly supported Trump in the general election.
“It’s like if the people of Pompeii voted for the volcano,” Oliver said. “I know you get to define your own self-interest, but I wish you hadn’t voted for that volcano.”
At least six pages in the roughly 60-page proposal center on letting states remove high-dollar lottery winners from Medicaid, Oliver said. “A not-insignificant percentage of this bill is focused on the urgent matter of what if one poor suddenly becomes less poor,” he said. “I’m honestly surprised they didn’t devote a section that covered what would happen in the event of a ‘Freaky Friday’-type situation.”
But he said Trump has been distant from the debate, including “not clamoring to put his name on this bill. And he has put his name on some of the s—iest products in human history.”
So once again, Oliver will turn to cable-news airwaves to get his message across — and he’s not the only one taking up this tactic. Last month, a veterans group did the same, paying for an ad critical of Trump to air during MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” another program the president is known to watch.