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‘Not a joke’: John Oliver offers Clarence Thomas millions to resign immediately

February 21, 2024

There’s a reason why John Oliver and his Last Week Tonight crew keep winning Emmy Awards: All of the other late-night TV hosts are all talk and no action, reports The Daily Beast.

Oliver’s Season 11 premiere ended with perhaps his boldest move yet, as he offered sitting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas $1 million per year—plus a brand-new, state-of-the-art motor coach worth an estimated $2.4 million, to replace the justice’s current rig—if Thomas resigns immediately from the highest court in the United States. Oliver’s offer expires in 30 days.

“Clarence Thomas is arguably the most consequential justice on the court right now, and he’s never really seemed to like the job. He’s said it’s not worth doing ‘for the grief.’ So what if he could keep the luxury perks that he clearly enjoys without having to endure all of that grief?” Oliver asked. “We have a special offer for you tonight. We are prepared to offer you $1 million a year for the rest of your life if you simply agree to leave the Supreme Court immediately and never come back.”

Oliver then displayed a contract. “This is not a joke,” he said. “This is real. A million dollars a year until you or I die.”

He said he and his show spoke with legal experts who assured him the offer is legal. “Which seems crazy to me because it really feels like it shouldn’t be. But as they keep pointing out, there are no rules in place to stop me from doing this. And let me be clear: HBO is not putting up the money for this. I am personally on the hook.”

Oliver admitted that he might regret this offer if Thomas accepts it: “I could be doing stand-up tours for your retirement for years.”

Oliver had spent the bulk of the episode diving into the many conflicts of interest surrounding multiple members of SCOTUS; how the American public’s approval of the court has sunk to 18 percentage points; and how important some of the cases in front of SCOTUS are now—not just the issues involving whether former President Donald Trump should be disqualified from the 2024 ballot due to insurrection under the 14th Amendment or whether Trump2024 ballot has immunity from any prosecution, but also matters involving abortion rights and the right of the federal government to regulate anything at all.

But Oliver zeroed in on Thomas, whose lack of recusals for sitting on cases involving his wife, Ginni, are just the tip of the iceberg compared to all of the financial favors Thomas’ wealthy friends have bestowed on him since he joined the court.

One of those things, as featured in a 2017 episode of 60 Minutes and more recently questioned, is a $267,000 loan the Thomas’ were given for the motor coach the couple has used to drive across the country–and then never asked to pay back.

Oliver described the current SCOTUS as at a “breaking point,” and said legislative fixes such as enforceable ethics codes, term limits, or expanding the number of justices might help; but he conceded that those ideas might not ever come to fruition.

“In their confirmation hearings, they pretend to have no idea how they’ll rule on hot-button issues and we all have to pretend to believe them before we appoint them to a job that they can hold until they die,” Oliver said. “We don’t treat them like what they are, which is people who can be motivated by ideology and greed like anybody else.”

Which is why Oliver was hoping a new rig worth tentimes Thomas’ current one would appeal. The motorcoach—on display in the Last Week Tonight studio—features a bedroom with a king bed, one-and-a-half baths, a fireplace, four TVs, a “residential-length fridge” plus a washer and dryer.

“And if you’re thinking, What will my friends say if I take this offer? Will they judge me as they sit in the boardrooms and megayachts and Hitler shrines? Will they still treat me to luxury vacations and sing songs about me off of their phones?” Oliver said. “Well, that’s the beauty of friendships, Clarence. If they’re real friends, they’ll love you no matter what your job is.”

As he threw a stack of bills into the air while standing in front of the souped-up “condo on wheels,” Oliver ended the show by repeating the deadline: “Thirty days Clarence. Let’s do this… Your move, Clarence. Your f**king move.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast