Better Bundo Book: How an Adorable Bunny (and John Oliver) Remind Us That Love is Love

Do you like bunnies? How about adorable illustrations? Are you in favor of marriage equality? Then you might appreciate this post…

…especially if you subscribe to the “Be Careful What You Wish For” school of Maybe Impeaching Trump Isn’t the Greatest Idea.

Here’s how all those concepts connect: in this crazy, sweet book.

OMG that is one cute bunny!!!

Quick back story, in case you are not a follower of comedian John Oliver’s show “Last Week Tonight”:

Back in March, Oliver did a show reminding the nation of our Vice President’s hostility to gay marriage. I won’t go into detail; you can watch the episode here.

Here’s where the adorably illustrated bunnies come in, if you don’t have time to watch the clip. Mike Pence’s daughter Charlotte wrote a children’s book from the perspective of the Pence family’s pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo (gotta admit–cute name, and cute rabbit too). Her mom, Second Lady Karen Pence, illustrated—very skillfully, I might add.

But John Oliver, in order to highlight the VP’s less-than-warm & fuzziness toward gays (and to cause trouble–he is, after all, a comedian), chose to commission and co-write his OWN bunny book. Only this one’s about Marlon Bundo himself.

Safe to say Pence is not the hero of this one.

And even more, it’s about Marlon’s Very Special Day, where he meets…


I won’t be a complete spoiler: please, buy your own copy of the book (which, by the way, has been massively outselling the original it’s spoofing). Buy several copies. It’s a great story, even better read aloud. Don’t believe me? You can practice right now with this final page:

Amen to that.

John Oliver Forgives Zombie Debt: Why This is Even More Awesome Than It Sounds

Did you know that once you’ve amassed an unpayable debt due to–gasp–daring to need hospital care beyond your means, your debt can be bought by a debt-buying company? Which can then sell it to another company, and another company…all of which can come after you and threaten your family 24 hours a day to collect that FULL debt, even after you might have settled with the hospital, years earlier, by paying what you could?

John Oliver just aired a full-on expose of this disgusting practice. John Oliver is my hero.

I could keep on describing how awesome this is, but you’d really get more just watching it yourself.

After setting up a bare-bones website, Oliver said CARP was offered a portfolio of nearly $15 million in medical debt for just $60,000. “Last Week Tonight” was able to pay less than half a cent on the dollar for all that debt.

Oliver said CARP could have received a file that included the names, personal addresses and Social Security numbers of nearly 9,000 people who owed the debt it had purchased. He called that fact “absolutely terrifying, because I could legally have CARP take possession of that debt and have employees start calling people turning their lives upside down over medical debt.”

“There would be absolutely nothing wrong with except for the fact that absolutely everything is wrong with that,” Oliver continued. “We need much clearer rules and oversight.”

Don’t have the time to watch the show? I’ll skip to the ending. John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight staff forms its own company, buys nearly $15 million in medical debt for only $60,000…and FORGIVES it. All those poor folks are now off the hook to go on with their lives.

Oliver makes a big deal out of the fact that he did this partly to trump Oprah’s famous $8-million-dollar car giveaway. But he also did it because it’s the right thing to do. And look at that–here we are thinking about it.

Love ya, you crazy Brit. Keep it the hell up.

Baltimore: In Need of a Laugh, Or at Least a Smile?

What’s there to smile about in Baltimore? Good question.

Baltimore saddens us–not just because what happened to Freddie Gray fits a sickening American pattern, but because the reaction to his death continues to remind us of the disgusting disparities in American socioeconomics.  Last weekend felt like 1968 all over again–yes, I was just a kid then, but I vividly remember those riots, that televised hopeless anger. Our lack of progress is as sickening to me as Mr. Gray’s death.

In North Carolina that same weekend, I had spent time with an old classmate who now lives in Baltimore, and several of us immediately emailed to express our sorrow over what was happening in her city. But Rachel’s reply was heartening:

Wow, thanks everyone. We’ve been untouched other than a cancelled doctor appointment. And of course having our hearts broken and filled like everyone else here. Holding hope it can be the start of a break from the patterns that led to it. Not sure how much the national media are covering all the little moments? The drumline and step dancers at the central spot. Everyone sweeping and cleaning together. Street corner and basketball court conversations between elders and young people. The symphony playing outside at lunchtime.

That statement about the national media touched a nerve. Not only are they generally playing up the worst of the situation while missing those smaller human moments–let’s face it, flames and looting make for more titillating coverage than street-corner conversations–they are, apparently, having trouble distinguishing the individuality of Baltimoreans themselves.

Comedy Central’s John Oliver weighed in hilariously on this topic during his latest episode of Last Week Tonight. The YouTube link was blocked, but I’ll let The Daily Beast take over from here, quoting John Oliver:

“It has been a delicate situation handled by the media with all the deft, not-at-all racist touch that they’ve become known for,” Oliver said. “Please watch as Geraldo Rivera greets someone as Russell Simmons who is absolutely not Russell Simmons.”

Yes, the man marching with NBA star—and Baltimore native—Carmelo Anthony is none other than Kevin Liles, who bears only a very slight resemblance to Simmons.

“Geraldo, you do realize that when African Americans stand together as one, that does not mean they’re all literally the same person, right?” he continued. “Geraldo Rivera is supposed to be a journalist, and I suppose we should all be thankful that at least none of his colleagues made the same mistake.”

Oliver then cut to a clip of CNN reporter Brian Todd, who also mistook Liles for Simmons—and not only that, kept harassing him about it, proclaiming, “I’m not sure I believe you. We think this is Russell Simmons, Wolf.”

Then Oliver got serious. “This week has shone a serious light on the disparities in Baltimore between the community and the police force—disparities that were highlighted when six officers were arrested on charges in Gray’s death, and were then released on bail,” he said.

He threw to a news clip announcing that the six officers charged in Gray’s death had bail amounts ranging from $250,000-300,000.

“That sounds like a fair amount for such serious charges, but juxtapose that with the bail set for people involved in the protests, like this 18-year-old who helped smash in the windows of several cars, including a police car. How much was his bail?” asked Oliver.

The young man in question is Allan Bullock, who allegedly was captured on film bashing in the windows of an unmarked police car with a traffic cone. And his bail was set at $500,000—more than for any of the officers charged with Gray’s death.

“Five hundred thousand dollars for breaking car windows!” he said. “To put that in context, even Robert Durst had his bail set at just $300,000 after definitely not killing that guy in Galveston, Texas. That amount of money makes absolutely no sense! That kid’s crimes were misdemeanors, he turned himself in—in fact, the only explanation for his bail being set that high is that, just like Geraldo Rivera and that guy from CNN, judges in Baltimore can’t look at black people without seeing millionaire Russell Simmons.”

I salute John Oliver for pointing out this hypocrisy. I salute the strong citizens of Baltimore who are out there cleaning up their streets and safeguarding their young people. I salute any politician at any level who is doing the necessary work to address the income gap in our country which has turned cities like Baltimore into powder kegs.

(Copyright Shannon Stapleton/Reuters,

(Copyright Shannon Stapleton/Reuters,


If I could vote right now to raise my own tax rate to deal with this appalling inequality, I would. Failing that, right now, the least I can do is to send a check to help restore the Baltimore neighborhood foundation building that fell victim to the riots. And publicize whatever there is in Baltimore worth smiling about.

John Oliver, Edward Snowden, and Us: Why Does a Brit Seem to Care More About American Freedoms Than We Americans Do?

Quick: Turn to someone near you and tell them who Edward Snowden is and why he matters to Americans.

If you’re like the folks Comedy Central’s John Oliver interviewed on the streets of Manhattan, you will either a) draw a blank or b) confuse Snowden with Julian Assange, the “Wikileaks Guy.”

Hopefully you’re not like those folks. But if you suspect you might be, watch this breathtaking interview conducted in Moscow with what Oliver calls “America’s most famous patriot and/or traitor.” When I say breathtaking, I mean that literally: breathtakingly bold, breathtakingly honest. Oliver asks Snowden the questions most of us would want to ask.

But in so doing, he also turns the camera on us, in effect asking Americans, “Why don’t you care more about the real effects of the Patriot Act? Why don’t you care more that your government has been proven to have the capacity to spy on you?”

A quick warning, before you watch this episode from Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight”: if you’re offended by casual profanity and excessive references to male body parts–don’t. This ain’t the New York Times, remember–it’s Comedy Central.

But in my opinion, it still deserves a Peabody Award.

So, you watched? Is John Oliver brilliant or what? Tell me what you think.

John Oliver for Jon Stewart!

The King of Political Satire is retiring (from The Daily Show). Long live the King–whoever that will be. I think the choice is obvious: John Oliver. Too bad I don’t get to vote. But I do get to exercise my mad influential skills.

When Jon Stewart took those weeks off in the summer of 2013 to make his movie “Rosewater,” we all thought, “Uh-oh.” But when John Oliver stepped in, with his perky dimples, his adorable English accent and most of all, his enthusiasm? I think most of went, “Hmmm.”

I don’t get HBO, so I’d never watched John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight, though I was pleased to hear he had it. When I got the opportunity to see a few episodes, though, I was more than pleased–I was blown away. With his once-a-week format (Sunday nights), John Oliver gets full creative freedom to focus on ONE TOPIC for the bulk of his half-hour (Guthrie, Marisa (16 April 2014). “John Oliver on the Luxurious ‘Freedom’ of HBO, His Complicated Relationship With NYC”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved by Wikipedia 19 April 2014).

And what does he do with that creative freedom? Watch this:

Published on Sep 21, 2014

The Miss America Pageant…how is this still a thing?
They claim to give more scholarships to women than any other organization, and, unfortunately, they’re right.
To illustrate these problems, John Oliver stages his own pageant with the help of Kathy Griffin.

This isn’t just funny–it’s excellent investigative reporting! AND it’s funny. I’ll bet Jon Stewart would kill to’ve been able to run his show like that.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart got my family and me through the darkest years of the Iraq War. When our boys were in Middle School,The Mate and I used to turn that annoying intro music up loud and call, “Time for Social Studies!” They’d come running. The Mate also understood that Jon Stewart was the only man I was allowed to leave him for–at least if Jon gave up smoking.

But Jon’s been looking tired lately. Where we once religiously kept up with his show, watching each one recorded from the night before, lately we’ve skipped some nights. Fewer of the segments have that hard, earnest humor that kept us riveted all those years. Whenever he speaks of human rights or lambasts the news media, that passion flares to life, but that doesn’t seem to happen with such regularity anymore. And those celebrity interviews? Unless it’s someone on the other side of the political divide with whom Jon can productively spar, we skip ’em.

Now, if I were John Oliver, I’m not sure I’d want to make the switch. Sure, you’d be trading the handful of viewers who get “Last Week Tonight” via HBO or whatever it is for the giant audience commanded by Comedy Central. But you’d also have to trade your format of deeply-researched, passionately-delivered, once-a-week specials for the Daily Grind of the Daily Show. No wonder they’ve kept that lame interview segment all these years–it’s the equivalent of a nap for a guy like Jon Stewart.

Now, Jon–meet me at Camera Three, would you? Hey, sweetie. No, I haven’t seen your movie yet, but I’m going to. Meanwhile–mazel tov. Take a break, man–you’ve earned it. THANK YOU for being a voice of sanity all those years, and for helping us to raise our children.

And, if you have any influence–which I’m pretty sure you have–can you get John Oliver behind that desk of yours again, and keep him there? And while you’re at it–get ’em to lose the celebrity interviews, ok?

What do you guys think? Who’s with me on this? (If you’re not a Daily Show fan, just watch that Last Week Tonight video, and you’ll become a John Oliver fan, I promise.)