HBO’s Last Week Tonight took its act on the road this week as host John Oliver traveled to Russia to interview America’s most famous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, where he suggested the American expat stoke fears about the NSA looking at “dick pics” in order to generate concerns about government surveillance at home.
Oliver began the segment by noting that Congress is faced with reauthorizing the Patriot Act on June 1, which contains many of the loosely interpreted laws allowing the government to spy on U.S. citizens.
“Over the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard about strange-sounding programs, such as XKeyscore, Muscular, Prism, and Mystic, which are, coincidentally, also the names of some of Florida’s least popular strip clubs, ” Oliver explained, before using the voice of a pitchman. “Welcome to XKeyscore — our dancers are fully unredacted and Tuesdays are wing nights.”
Oliver used the program names to segue into a look at the Patriot Act’s Section 215, which allows the government to require businesses to hand over records of “any tangible things, including books, records, papers, documents, and other items.”
“If that sounds broad, it’s because it was very much written that way,” Oliver said. “Section 215 says the government can ask for ‘any tangible things’ so long as it’s for an investigation to protect against international terrorism, which is basically a blank check. It’s like letting a teenager borrow the car on the strict condition they only use it for car-related activities.”
“Okay, mom and dad, I’m going to use this for a hand-job in the Wendy’s parking lot. That is car-related, so I think I’m covered,” he said the voice of a teen.
Prior to running footage of an interview he conducted with Edward Snowden in Russia, Oliver pointed out that almost 50 percent of Americans are unconcerned with unchecked government surveillance, which he found shocking.
Calling Snowden “the most famous hero and/or traitor in recent American history,” Oliver conducted a wide-ranging interview with the former NSA analyst, touching on homesickness, the U.S. surveillance state, and asking him how much he misses Hot Pockets, to which Snowden replied, “I do miss Hot Pockets very much.”
Following a surprisingly contentious back and forth over whether Snowden may have put people at risk with his revelations, Oliver pressed the whistleblower to speak up for Americans who are “terrified” that the government might have access to naked pictures of them and “dick pics.”
“Well, the good news is there’s no program named, ‘the dick pic program,’” Snowden said. “The bad news is, they are still collecting everybody’s information, including your dick pics.”
Watch the video below, uploaded to YouTube by Last Week Tonight: