John Oliver Doesn’t Think the Plot of 24 Is a Good Argument for Torture

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Last Week Tonight tackled torture on Sunday, focusing on the Senate’s consideration of an amendment that would outlaw it for good. In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order that banned torture, but that prohibition could be lifted by future presidents. 

In fact,” Oliver said, “we asked all 14 declared candidates if they would consider overturning the president’s order, and only four of them told us definitively that they would definitely keep it in place.” Those four candidates happened to be the declared Democratic candidates. 

The country doesn’t seem to be uniformly against torture, either; Oliver cited a poll that showed a majority of Americans think waterboarding can help stop terrorism. The show blamed pop culture for such a belief. “Even supposedly smart people like Antonin Scalia, an ill-tempered bullfrog in a robe,” Oliver said, “cite 24 as evidence that torture could be justified. He said, ‘Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives … Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so.’”

“Just because Kiefer Sutherland does something on-camera,” he added, before showing additional footage of the actor drunkenly leaping into a Christmas tree, “does not mean it’s a great idea.” Last Week Tonight also showed other interrogation methods — like empathy — that have been proven to work far more effectively than torture. 

For those who haven’t yet read the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture, Oliver had Dame Helen Mirren read some of it aloud on the show. And, continuing one of the stranger running gags, Bud Light Lime managed to make an appearance in the discussion.