John Oliver sits at his desk

Last Week Tonight/YouTube

John Oliver is running for prime minister of Italy

He's using the 'Air Bud' theory.


Christine Friar

Layer 8

Posted on Feb 26, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 11:38 pm CDT

Italy’s government changes a lot. In the past 70 years or so, it’s seen a staggering 60 different governments, and with that much change, it’s hard for a prime minister to gain much footing. Since the current prime minister is giving an unremarkable performance, it’s safe to assume that the upcoming election will see a new candidate voted into office—but there’s a problem. Everyone currently interested in running is… eccentric, to say the least.

On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver profiled a few of Italy’s standout candidates. He also pointed out that the election should be of interest to American voters since the struggling nation is seeing a spike in fake news, anti-refugee rhetoric, and neo-fascism across the country, much as the U.S. did during its election. Between the openly misogynistic, fascist-sympathizer (Matteo Salvini), and the Putin-loving, in-home erupting volcano model-haver (Silvio Berlusconi), Oliver struggled to find a political figure he could root for.

So he consulted with several Italian legal experts, who confirmed a surprising loophole in the Italian constitution: there’s nothing that specifically says a non-citizen can’t run for prime minister. Basically, by enacting the same logic that helped Air Bud dunk on a bunch of middle schoolers, Oliver can toss his hat into the ring and nominate himself for candidacy in Italy’s election. And that’s exactly what he did Sunday night.

Based on the achievements of the other candidates, Oliver painstakingly outlined his equal qualification for office. Berlusconi recently did an interview holding a baby lamb, so Oliver upped the ante by bringing a lamb to his news desk and flashing images of himself holding other baby animals on-screen. Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi got booed on Italian Wheel of Fortune for getting an answer wrong, so Oliver provided his own real (fake) archival footage.

“My candidacy for prime minister may be a complete and total farce,” he said. “But be honest, incredibly, I am far from your worst option.”

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*First Published: Feb 26, 2018, 8:35 am CST