John Oliver takes a look at the president of Turkmenistan, a dangerous autocrat with some notably strange obsessions.
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the country of Turkmenistan and specifically its President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov that that is not to be confused with the Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov that he went to high school with all the one that was dating Taylor Swift over the summer no we're talking about this government Ghoulie Berdimuhamedov he's actually been in the news a bit recently after rumors circulated that he died something his government pushed back on heart first insisting that he was merely on vacation then releasing a 25-minute video to state TV showing everything he was supposedly doing from bowling to working out with his friends to this as we know our dear leader is very skillful in controlling a sports car he wrote his powerful off-road car around the crater and demonstrated his high professional driving skills well count me convinced that guy is clearly alive and well you can't do donuts around a flaming pit if you're dead think about all the people who are dead right now Babe Ruth Galileo Marlon Brando Mother Teresa the original Paul McCartney do you see any of them doing donuts around fire pits of course you don't you have to be alive now if Berdimuhamedov looks a bit familiar at all to you we've actually mentioned him before on this show during our segment on authoritarian governments last year when we showed you this clip of him being a literal strongman I hate to say this to a fellow lifter but that shit's weak bro you did one rep and they weren't even weights on the bar even went on tapering I stacked more plate than in omakase my body stuck off beast mode and there's no off switch you want to know how I got these to Boulder shoulders by putting in my time at my fortress of solitude I'm just I'm the same bro take notes because I burst out of suits like on Megan Markel no mistake Berdimuhamedov is even worse at ruling a country than he is at pushing plate he is a fierce authoritarian and according to Human Rights Watch Turkmenistan remains one of the world's most closed and oppressively governed countries or as one NGO researcher put it I would say it's probably one of the worst places to live in in the world so you know freedom of the press absolutely know where you could voice any kind of opinion it is still virtually a police state one of the worst places on earth that is quite a claim especially considering the earth also includes Syria North Korea and Twitter and it's not just a lack of freedom of speech they've also been State Department reports of arbitrary arrests and detention endemic corruption and forced labor so he's a dangerous world leader but that is not the reason that we're talking about him after all dangerous world leaders are currently a dime a dozen it's just one of the many things that makes being alive right now simply great know what makes birdie Machamer tov unique is that even among strongman dictators he is truly deeply and compellingly odd so tonight let's take a look at him and what this story is going to get very weird I promise you in 20 minutes you're not so much going to be wondering why we talked about Turkmenistan as why we'd ever talk about anything else ever again and let's start with the obvious autocrat stuff here he's been running token understand for for 12 years and in his most recent election he won with 98 percent of the vote and like many autocrats he's fond of showcasing his physical prowess which he kind of already knew from watching him install a shower rod on hashtag arm dough and there's just no shortage of videos online where you can see him firing weapons and throwing knives to impress his troops but that is just the beginning because Berdimuhamedov takes those standard-issue cult of personality antics and does them just a little bit stranger shorter by shooting targets down while riding a bike our great commander-in-chief once again demonstrated his physical readiness this became a moment when our dear leader who has high skills in every trade demonstrated his level of masterfulness oh yes total masterfulness so watch out enemies of turkmenistan because Berdimuhamedov will not hesitate to slowly write a bike near you and shoot a gun in your general vicinity before an editor makes it local he actually hit you but Berlin is not just knife tossing and gun cycling Berdimuhamedov is also an artist and his canvas is the human ear he went viral last year with a rap video recorded with his grandson about the importance of sports called sport lee turkmenistan his inspiration makes buddies show and show all the nations gives you a joy and race spirit high spots as though 80 or health Anamika calm fire everything about that video is perfect from the fact that clearly neither of them are playing their instruments to the fact that they just roamed Turkmenistan with Turkmenistan oh it is a fun catchy sports anthem truly worthy of jock jams vol 40 maybe sports suck but his musical talents don't just stop there he also deejays plays the piano and he's a guitarist who goes to great lengths to conceal his blistering chops holy he looks like he's playing a duet with the smoke monster from lost that stage looks like the back entrance to a church after a French a a meeting so so he's a strong man who likes deejaying rapping with his grandson and playing the guitar but amazingly we haven't even gotten to the truly weird stuff yet because birdy become a dog also likes horses like a lot like the incorrect amount like to the extent that it distracts from everything he's done during his nearly 13-year presidency just think about how much Angela Merkel would have to like Turtles for someone to go on TV and say we don't have much time so let's put aside everything she's ever done as Chancellor of Germany and let's focus on the turtle thing that is how much Berdimuhamedov likes horses and and not just any horse he's specifically a fan of the occult echo which which isn't in itself unusually - beloved national symbol in Turkmenistan but not only does he give a halter cakes as gifts to other world leaders he's written multiple books on horses including the horse a symbol of faithfulness and happiness the flight of the celestial raced horses and a Cal Tech a our pride and glory until recently an official english-language copy of that book was actually available on Amazon but unfortunately there was only one copy and it and it appears that someone bought it shipped it to New York and put it under their desk because would you like to hear my favorite passage from this book bit because it's this and I quote witnesses never wearied of being astonished by the steed and human intercourse brought to full perfection which I'm hoping I'm hoping as a mistranslation but probably isn't because Berdimuhamedov has involved himself in all stages of the horse lifecycle a few years ago he awarded himself the title the people's horse breeder he's also made it illegal to change in a Cal Tech a horse's name during its lifetime and a few years ago issued a presidential decree instituting a tradition of beauty contests for horses which is definitely odd but at the same time you do have to admit the outer K is a beautiful horse I mean that's a super horse right there I'm not saying that I would that horse I'm just saying that if I was a horse I would that horse to be clear me John Oliver the human would not that horse but John Oliver the horse would definitely that other horses all the time that's how they make new horses I guess what I'm saying is if I was a horse and you said to me marry kill Mustang I shall take a Clydesdale no question in my horse mind the Apple tech a marry the Mustang said the Clydesdale to the glue factory but again if I was a horse only if I was a horse and literally I've thought about this a lot but definitely not as much as Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has amazingly he reportedly owns more than 600 a Caltech ace which is almost 10% of the world's total he owns a plurality of them that is objectively too many horses imagine owning 10% of the world's total of anything and I say this as the owner of 100% of Amazon's inventory a Caltech a our pride and glory now early this year someone actually gave Berdimuhamedov yet another one named Rho watch and he was so excited that he wrote a poem about his new horse and read it on state TV and this is real Peter Allen you are the worship and memorabilia of ancestors you are the passage of the past into tomorrow your neighing is the melody of heavens Roe watch you are the anthem of my heart wait just wait your neighing is the melody of heavens writing a sonnet about a horse is we it strongly suggests that he'd like to have sex with that horse but writing the sonnet about a horse while sitting on a horse thrown among horse accented cabinetry complemented by a horse statue horseshoe and custom desk inlaid with gold horses that strongly suggests that he actually already did the point is president Equus he likes horses but do horses like him the answer and this is a direct quote is neigh and and don't just take that from me watch his expression there that's not so much an expression as a physical manifestation of the phrase I can't even and this isn't even the first time a horse has seemed to have an issue with Berdimuhamedov just watch what happened when he participated in a horse race in 2013 and before I show you this I should say two things first remember he runs a country where activists are disappeared in the prison system and which has hit the bottom of a number of human rights indexes and second the horse you're about to see was fine here it was fine so with those two things in mind watch this again the horse is alive and well I can prove it to you here he is doing donuts around a fire pit you have to be alive to do that case cl...