Watch John Oliver Take Hard Swipe at Ellen DeGeneres Over George Bush Controversy

John Oliver took on military and foreign policy issues on Sunday's episode of Last Week Tonight, but he spared a punchline for Ellen DeGeneres as well. Oliver threw out one casual jab about DeGeneres' controversial friendship with President George W. Bush, suggesting that she would be just as comfortable sitting with the likes of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Oliver dedicated most of this weekend's episode to the situation in Syria, following President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the northern border. However, as usual his lengthy monologue was interspersed with throwaway gags and punchlines that built on each other as the episode went on. Viewers were given a basic understanding of the political climate in norther Syria, including an understanding that Turkish President Erdogan is a militaristic "strong man."

With that in mind, Oliver saved a small aside for DeGeneres near the end of his main story, while discussing the cooperative efforts of Erdogan, Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. All three, he argued, have benefited greatly from the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, as has ISIS itself.

"So, Trump has made a snap decision where the big winners are Putin, Erdogan, Assad, and ISIS. And that is a group you do not want to be friendly with!" he said. "Although, I actually believe they were all at the Cowboys' game with Ellen this weekend."

The crowd laughed and cheered at this line, which was accompanied by a graphic of DeGeneres sitting in the owners' box with all three world leaders, and a masked ISIS fighter. DeGeneres was even photoshopped to look like she was leaning in and sharing a private laugh with Putin, as she did with former President Bush earlier this month. Oliver then mocked DeGeneres' explanation for the friendly meeting.

"Look, we're all different, and that's okay!" he said with a manufactured lilt.

The moment was brief, but effective, especially as the backlash against DeGeneres has been dying down recently. Several of her celebrity defenders have quietly withdrawn their co-signatures of her message, and social media users have re-lived Bush's presidency with a keen eye on his foreign policy and his treatment of the LGBTQ community.


Fans online seemed generally unanimous in applauding Oliver's takedown of DeGeneres, at least among those who watched his show live. However, Oliver's stories often pick up steam through belated streaming views or YouTube clips, so we may see more varied responses later in the week.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver airs on Sundays at 11 p.m. ET on HBO.