As horrific as the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan inarguably is, that maddening act of governmental negligence is just the tip of a very depressing iceberg. John Oliver, with some help from his Sesame Street fam, outlined the nation's widespread lead contamination problem on Sunday'sLast Week Tonight with a series of grueling reality checks. Should we cash them? Of course.
"There is no safe level of lead," Oliver told his audience. "It's one of those things so dangerous you shouldn't even let a little bit of it inside you, much like heroin or Jeremy Piven." Citing a USA Todayreport from earlier this year, Oliver noted that nearly 2,000 water systems in the nation have at least some level of lead contamination.
"We can't just act like it’s not there the way we all pretend that the public swimming pool is not 3 percent children's urine," Oliver said, after presumably losing Jeremy Piven as a regular viewer. "That's generous, by the way." In fact, as Oliver revealed during his 18-minute takedown of the corruption that ultimately births such a lead crisis, lead is also a very serious problem in more than 2 million homes. Ingesting lead paint dust, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is perhaps an even greater threat than lead-tainted water.
The root cause of these dueling lead crises? GOP lawmakers hell-bent on defunding regulation. Thankfully, Oliver was able to soften the blow of this stack of reality checks with some help from his closest friends:
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