Why John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight Is Better Than The Daily Show and Colbert

Matt Zoller Seitz in Slate:

Over the past few weeks he’s shown us, with evidence, that while our national legislature is unproductive and tedious, our local legislatures are incredibly prolific and often demented; that the rules governing drone strikes are so filled with slippery language as to be almost meaningless; that the death penalty and our preferred defense of the need for the death penalty are holdovers from medieval Europe’s golden age of religious-based torture; that the increasing income inequality in the United States is inextricably tied to its historical belief in optimism, a cover for money-grubbing that turns exploited people into enablers (“I can clearly see that this game is rigged,” Oliver proclaimed, in the voice of a typical American citizen, “which is gonna make it really sweet when I win this thing!”); that former U.S. troops are working harder to get translators to the states than our own government is; that “nutritional supplements” are the new snake oil; and that President Warren G. Harding was a smooth mofo who wrote “smutty fuck-notes” to his mistress. And his interviews, while tinged with agreeable but by-now-cliché Daily Show–style goofiness, are excellent: particularly his sit-downs with Stephen Hawking, Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, and General Keith Alexander, former head of the National Security Agency, where the motto was, to quote Oliver, “Collect everything … the motto of a hoarder, that’s the fundamental principle that ends up with somebody living alongside 1,500 copies of newspapers from the 1950s and ‘60s and six mummified cats.” (It helps tremendously that most of these interviews are conducted off-site, away from a studio audience that might encourage the guest to “perform” too much or the host to overdo the chumminess.)

More here.