Los Angeles Politics

John Oliver rips into ‘Meatball’ Ron DeSantis on ‘Last Week’

John Oliver delivered a blistering takedown of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a segment of “Last Week Tonight” that has been making the rounds on social media.

During Sunday’s episode of “Last Week Tonight,” the TV host ripped apart DeSantis’ conservative political views and actions — such as denying minors gender-affirming care, signing a “15-week abortion ban into law,” banning books in schools and criminalizing “those deemed rioters at demonstrations” — while denouncing him as “a petty autocrat and a bully … with no interest in hearing dissent.”

“When you take all of this together — the books being removed, the inane proclamations to shame trans athletes, the sloppy attempts to criminalize protests — and you combine it with everything else — from the support for restrictive abortion bans to the efforts to stop gender-affirming care — it really begins to feel like the freest state in America is only free to the extent that anyone wants to behave exactly the way that Ron DeSantis thinks they should,” Oliver said.

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond Monday to the Los Angeles Times’ request for comment.

Throughout the scathing segment, Oliver repeatedly referred to DeSantis as “Meatball Ron” — a demeaning nickname given to the politician by his right-wing rival, former President Donald Trump.

“I hate to say it, but Trump’s still got it,” Oliver said. “It’s perfectly stupid, childish and hurtful in a way that’s genuinely difficult to articulate.”

Despite Trump’s high-profile efforts to discredit DeSantis, the Emmy-winning late-night host cautioned Americans against viewing DeSantis only in comparison to Trump as both men vie for the Republican presidential nomination.

“While many commentators insist on framing him solely in opposition to Trump — saying things like, ‘He’s Donald Trump with a brain’ — that doesn’t seem particularly meaningful,” Oliver continued.

“It’s like saying that new restaurant is better than this chicken potpie that fell on the sidewalk. It is, but you’re not really giving me much useful information there.”

While visiting Simi Valley over the weekend, DeSantis railed against COVID-19 protocols and vaccine mandates. He also bragged about opposing critical race theory and restricting classroom conversations about gender identity.

His appearance drew about 1,000 supporters and approximately 100 protesters waving rainbow flags and signs with messages such as, “Say gay everyday” — a critique of legislation signed by DeSantis and known to critics as the “Don’t say gay” law because it prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools from kindergarten through third grade.

“You almost have to admire his dedication to being such a f— idiot,” Oliver said on “Last Week Tonight.”

“In the months to come, you’re going to hear a lot of DeSantis-versus-Trump comparisons,” Oliver said. “And the truth is, he’ll probably come out well in a lot of them more or less by default. But that cannot be the bar here. It is important to consider DeSantis in his own right. If Donald Trump never existed … and you’re forced to learn about Ron DeSantis from scratch with no basis for comparison, what you would see would justifiably horrify you.”

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Joseph Hernandez

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