Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Sheriffs
March 9, 2020 2:49 AM - Season 7, Episode 4 - Subscribe

This week's main story is on US sheriffs, how they often have huge amounts of power on a local level, and how many of them are ridiculous. Rob Corddry appears playing "Sheriff Scott Wilkerson," who in his words, "has never met a frog he didn't kill."

Brian Williams is bad at math; Trump lies about the Coronavirus some more; reactions to last week's piece on India Prime Minister Modi; also, India streaming platform Hotstar, owned by Disney, has been stealth-editing Last Week Tonight episodes to remove Disney jokes; And Now: Larry Kudlows Many Buts; and the main story, Sheriffs.

The Coronavirus: "How the common cold describes itself on its resume"
India: "Or, as people with this accent used to call it, 'MINE.'"
Arnab Goswami: "The Tucker Carlson of India"
Sheriff: "Not 'Cheriff,' the proper way to describe Cher dressed like a cowgirl."

Main story is on sheriffs, who oversee law enforcement at a county level, of which there are roughly 3,000 in the US. Sheriffs head roughly 25% of police departments in the US, and are weird because they're not hired but elected, hold a lot of local power, and also, that all kind of crazy people can end up as sheriff. Here are the specific sheriffs mentioned:
  • Joe Arpaio (former sheriff), infamously pardoned by Trump for criminal contempt of court for refusing to cease holding "immigrant round-ups."
  • Kenny Boone (former sheriff), who made a ridiculous PSA which transitioned from a kid saying "one hit wouldn't hurt" to a funeral, to guitar music, and with Boone telling the camera saying, "THEY LIED. Please, please talk to your kids about drugs." (close up) "TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT DRUGS!" He also threatened the county Finance Director over voice mail when he started investigating his spending. He's currenly in jail for felony embezzlement.
  • Craig Stivender, a Republican candidate for sheriff who made a campaign ad for himself in which he admitted, among other things, to going to a Halloween party in blackface ten years before. With photo.
  • Richard Jones of Butler County, Ohio, refuses to allow his deputies to carry Narcan for overdosing drug users despite, at one point, overdoses outnumbering all other causes of death there combined. He is currently running unopposed for reelection this year.
  • Sheriff Todd Entrekin of Etowah County, Alabama, who purposely skimped on inmates' food budget so he could pocket the remainder, a total of $750K, which he used to purchase a beach house.
  • Sheriff Greg Ahern of Alameda County, California, in whose jails 40 inmates have died over five years, and a woman once had to give birth alone in an isolation cell, and who defended against allegations of women suing him over terrible conditions including feces and blood on the walls by basically saying, they're criminals, who cares. He's run unopposed for the last four election cycles.
59% of sheriff races are run unopposed. It might be a good idea, if there is a sheriff in your county, to look into who that is and if they're doing a good job.

Because he doesn't deserve to be listed with those others:
  • Sheriff Ed Gonzalez of Harris County, Texas fights for bail reform. Pretty awesome!
Steven Segal, the former action star who helped run an active shooter drill in a school, is a human being so awful that podcast Behind the Bastards split his episode up into two parts

F.37 "Mulvanished" MICK MULVANEY
posted by JHarris (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

India streaming platform Hotstar, owned by Disney, has been stealth-editing Last Week Tonight episodes to remove Disney jokes

Corporate fragility.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:09 AM on March 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

As always, another important, timely main story that no other outlet is talking about—I am still bewildered by the fact that one of the funniest shows on TV is also the most journalistically sound and engaged. The 21st century is really weird so far, but I remain so grateful to Oliver and his team for their work.

A dozen years ago, I lived in Maricopa County AZ (Sheriff Joe country) for a couple of years, and that shit was OUT OF CONTROL. Not that it’s new information, but I am continually just gobsmacked at how little accountability law enforcement officials are subject to in the U.S. And the stuff with profit incentive is disgusting—not just the guy pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars by feeding inmates garbage, but the funding incentives (e.g., Louisiana) that local law enforcement receives from for-profit prisons: more inmates = more funding. It’s inhumane and indefensible.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:33 AM on March 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

In my county (Orange, CA), it's a neverending string of Sheriff's being convicted of witness tampering, racketeering, or subject to multiple lawsuits. The previous sheriff somehow managed to escape a jailhouse snitch indictment when Kamala Harris dropped the investigation (no one really knows why). And of course just to the North, LA County deputies are consistently behaving like complete assholes, most recently by sharing Kobe Bryant accident photos with each other.

In my county, the deputies are required to serve at least two years in the county jail system before they can be deployed to the public. Between you and me, subjecting young rookies to that level of psychological hell before they interact with the public seems quite insane.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:56 PM on March 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

I remain so grateful to Oliver and his team for their work

Every time I watch this show it makes me more angry that Trevor Noah is still hosting The Daily Show. Seven minutes of that day's viral youtube clips with commentary less funny or pointed than freaking Tosh.O, five minutes of hacky jokes about the apocalypse, throw to a C+ correspondent piece then close with an interview with the star of some Netflix show. It's all so crushingly mediocre, and then you watch John Oliver or Sam Bee and you realize just how great things could have been.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:58 PM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

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