“Last Week: Tonight” host John Oliver chose a surprising topic for his righteous crusade on Sunday night: chicken farmers.
“It’s like an agricultural Glengarry Glen Ross,” he said of the industry, “or, Hengarry Hen Ross, if you will.”
Ninety-seven percent of chickens are produced by “contract farming,” in which a handful of big companies outsource almost the entire process and turn a profit while piling the costs onto small farmers.
The chicken companies exploit independent farmer, drive some out of business, and threaten those farmers who try to speak out.
Oliver was aghast at one company spokesperson’s response to hearing that small famers were being driven to the poverty line by his bosses.
“Which poverty line are you referring to? Is that a national poverty line, is that a state poverty line?” the spokesman asked rhetorically.
“The poverty line is like the age of consent,” Oliver responded. “If you find yourself parsing exactly where it is, it you’ve probably already done something very, very wrong.”
With a vote coming up in Congress to give industry regulations some teeth, Oliver walked over to a TV screen displaying the members of Congress who have the chance to change the situation.
Over the same kind of jangly guitar used by the big chicken companies’ ads, Oliver advocated branding any legislator who voted against the regulations a “chicken-fucker.”
“Unless they want that chicken-fucker label to follow them for the rest of their lives, they may want to think extra carefully about which way they are going to vote,” he said.
“Because chicken-fucker accusations do not come off a Wikipedia page easily,” Oliver added.
Watch the clip, courtesy of HBO:
- Contributions allow us to hire more journalists
- Contributions allow us to provide free memberships to those who cannot afford them
- Contributions support independent, non-corporate journalism