Strap on your hard hats, because John Oliver took us on a tour of the nation’s infrastructure on Last Week Tonight. What is infrastructure exactly? According to Oliver, it’s roads, bridges, levies, overpasses — or anything that could be destroyed in an action movie.
While discussing the state of the roads for 30 minutes seems dull, to convince viewers that infrastructure is worth talking about, Oliver went on a quick tour of the nation’s dams. According to Oliver, the average dam is 52 years old and has something deeply broken inside of it (“like Botox users and clog dancers,” per Oliver). They also hold back millions of gallons of water and, according to Oliver, have very few inspectors, which is basically a recipe for an awesome action movie sequence.
As Oliver points out, when infrastructure breaks down, things go very wrong, very quickly. Potholes, sink holes and bridge collapses are just a few of the nightmares that can happen when infrastructure breaks, and unfortunately, people only tend to talk about infrastructure when things go wrong — so infrastructure watching becomes a waiting game for disasters. To wit, New York’s notoriously creaky Tappan Zee bridge is described as a “hold your breath” bridge by one official.
According to Oliver, people on both sides of the political spectrum agree that rebuilding infrastructure is important, but maintaining the nation’s roads, bridges and dams isn’t politically exciting enough to gain traction in Congress. As an example, Oliver pointed to the Highway Trust Fund, which will expire on May 31st unless Congress steps in to fund it. Unfortunately, Congress hasn’t raised the gas tax, which funds the Highway Trust Fund, in decades and seemingly no politician is working to correct that, preferring to work on issues that are more politically popular.
Luckily, Oliver has a solution: Infrastructure the movie, with stars like Edward Norton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Steve Buscemi, Hope Davis, Campbell Scott and many more bringing some much-needed sex appeal and Hollywood pizazz to the important topic.