On Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver did a segment on this year’s third party candidates, a miserable lineup which includes a guy named Joe Exotic, who claims to run the “largest private zoo for tigers.” It also includes Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, who are not much more impressive.
Instead of focusing on the relevant argument that voting third party will likely most benefit the candidate you are ideologically opposed to, Oliver opted to take Stein and Johnson seriously as candidates, and examine their policy ideas, which are bad.
Stein has sympathized with 9/11 truthers and anti-vaxxers and never quite nailed down her stance on the Brexit (which she initially called a “victory”), but her central policy platform is the promise to completely cancel student debt, to the tune of $1.3 trillion. She has said she’ll do this by “using quantitative easing,” which she’s stated the president has the authority to do. But, Oliver points out, the president does not have the authority to do this—the Federal Reserve does—and quantitative easing, which she describes as a “magic trick,” doesn’t apply here at all.
“The only way it could be any more unlikely is if she claimed that Mexico was somehow going to pay for it,” Oliver notes.
Stein, Oliver points out, also played in a horrible folk-rock band in the 90's called Somebody’s Sister which performed songs about biking (“Biking for the nation / the future generation / you think it’s transportation / but to her it’s a salvation”).
And then, of course, there’s Gary Johnson, who only really wants to talk about the time he climbed Mount Everest; Oliver showed a video of Johnson explaining: “People ask me, gosh, what was it like to conquer Mount Everest? Well I did not conquer Mount Everest. She lifted her skirt and I got in there and got a peek and it was really cool.”
Another clip shows Johnson on MSNBC, explaining that he wants to get rid of the departments of “Education, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, how’s that for starters?”—and then immediately backing down when questioned on those cuts, appearing unaware of precisely what those departments do.
“Gosh, uh, you’d have to assume they were doing something that was of value, and yeah, if they are doing something of value, um, yes, we would be looking to continue those operations,” Johnson said.
Oliver notes that Johnson, like Stein, “is prone to overly simple solutions that could have disastrous consequences.”
And yet, combined, the two are polling at 9 percent.