Former "Daily Show" comedian John Oliver launched his new program on HBO last night and hilariously eviscerated a commercial that once touted Cover Oregon, the state's now-defunct health insurance exchange.
The ad was such insipid treacle that many people seeing it for the first time are certain to wonder if it's a parody. (Video after the jump, vulgarity alert)
Oliver preceded his criticism of the spot by slamming Oregon for wasting $248 million on the Cover Oregon website, which did not enroll a single resident of the state. Oregon officials last week decided to shut down the site and divert residents to HealthCare.gov, the federal Obamacare site.
"To be fair to Oregon," Oliver said, "not all of that money was spent on the website itself. Three million of it was spent on violently adorable adverts like this" -- followed by the ad itself which must be seen to be believed, featuring a quintet of string-strumming folkies in bucolic setting, faux waves blowing in the foreground while cardboard cutouts of a fish and submarine pass through, along with a child pulling his wagon, a tableau straight from "A Mighty Wind."
"Long live our Oregon spirit, long live the Oregon way," the nursery rhyme lyrics are sung by a pallid young woman, earnestness exuding from every pore, "to care for each one, every daughter and son, live long Oregon."
Oliver reacted as if he just swallowed an oyster gone bad, his face contorted in mock agony. "Look, we get it, Oregon," he said. "You people live in a cartoon. Your mountains are breathtaking, your coffee is fair trade, and everywhere you go you hear the sound of f***ing ukuleles. You've made your point, but here's the thing. This is all very charming -- until you waste tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on a website that doesn't work."
Oliver unveiled a satirical take on the Cover Oregon ad, featuring Lisa Loeb, who sang the syrupy ballad "Stay (I Missed You)" on the "Reality Bites" soundtrack in 1994.
"Luckily," Oliver told his viewers, "we here have prepared something to convey that message to you in a way that I think you'll be able to understand" -- a video of Loeb strumming acoustic guitar on the lawn of an urban park, supporting players and props behind her reflecting the lyrics --
Like artists in Portland,
Your site doesn't work,
That 404 error is not just a quirk,
You blew all our money on these stupid sets,
So when you break your leg
Try the neighborhood vet.
You stupid Oregon idiots,
You human Pinterest boards,
Your passion for cuteness
Might kill your whole state.
So long, Oregon.
"That's right, that's right," Oliver said triumphantly after the video, "we flew in Lisa Loeb to tell you to go f*** yourselves, Oregon."
Oliver's new program is a virtual clone of "The Daily Show" and we'll soon discover if he'll also follow Jon Stewart's long-established pattern of ridiculing conservatives at every opportunity while occasionally going after liberals.