Utah bore the brunt of John Oliver’s pointed wit Sunday night on HBO, in which the “Last Week Tonight” host roasted Gov. Spencer Cox for his religious attempt to end Utah’s drought and, bizarrely, took aim at the Jazz Bear.
The main topic of the show was water woes in the western United States, where water usage is outpacing water supply. And the “worst example,” Oliver said, is Utah, “home of both the Utah Jazz and their mascot, Jazz Bear, who answers the question: ‘What if Wile E. Coyote was a jock who also wanted to murder me in my sleep?’”
The photo of Bear that accompanied those words was taken several years ago by Tribune photographer Franciso Kjolseth, and — to be fair — the mascot’s eyes look kind of crazy.
Oliver, posting a headline from The Tribune from last September, said Utah residents use more water per capita than any of the other Western states. (Utah actually ranks second in that regard.) “Nowhere is this more true than St. George, which has become one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country with per person water consumption among the highest,” Oliver continued.
“Not only does St. George have very cheap water rates,” Oliver said, but he pointed out that Washington County “which is in the desert, remember” has “at least a dozen golf courses,” which use “a s--- ton of water. They are pretty much the dumbest possible thing to put in the middle of the desert. Other than, of course, Burning Man.”
He also pointed to a “billion-dollar pipeline” Utah is trying to build to bring in “additional, surplus water from Lake Powell,” which “simply does not exist. I know that that seems wildly irresponsible on Utah’s part, and that is because it is.”
But, he continued, it is “not the worst idea they’ve had.” For that, he played a 2021 video of Gov. Spencer Cox calling for “divine intervention,” asking Utahns to pray for rain.
“Wow!” Oliver said. “You know Utah is desperate when they ask all faiths to join in the prayer.”
And then he stepped in for Cox, saying, “I’m asking Utahns of all faiths, whether that’s the Mormon one or many of the wrong ones to collectively pray to the Christian God and the false deities the rest of you worship for more rain so that we can solve this crisis before those of you who have not accepted Jesus Christ into your heart burn in the fires of eternal hell.”
Well, at least he recognized that Latter-day Saints are Christian.
Utah was not the only state that was labeled, well, stupid for its over-use of water. Arizona, Colorado and California were also criticized. “It is not just Utah. No state can continue to use water the way they’ve gotten used to.”
“Last Week Tonight” ended the segment with an appearance by God (played by “Succession” star Brian Cox), who profanely told Gov. Cox not to try the prayer thing again: ”I know I don’t often do this, but I just wanted to appear in person to make one thing perfectly clear. You can’t pray your way out of a drought. Frankly, I’m insulted you even asked me. You got yourself in this [expletive] mess. … Utah, your capital is Salt Lake City. It’s next to a salt lake. A lake of salt. Take the [expletive] hint. No, I will not be answering your prayer for rain. … The point is, I want humans of all faiths to come together and act like rational [expletive] adults when it comes to water use.”
Here’s a link to the not-safe-for-work video.