Since February, John Oliver and Last Week Tonight have been producing educational ads starring a friendly cowboy with a targeted audience of one: President Donald Trump.
The idea is that if they air during specific cable news programs, the ads could, given the president’s reliance on cable news, get through to him on crucial issues, like climate change or how the unemployment rate works, in a way that articles or congressional hearings wouldn’t. And on April 9, the “Catheter Cowboy” — so named for the product the cowboy pretends to sell before pivoting to politics — rode again, this time to inform the president about the dangers of continuing to support an alleged serial sexual harasser in Bill O’Reilly.
The Fox News host’s April has been a chaotic one due to the New York Times’s recent report that Fox has quietly paid out more than $13 million to five women who alleged that O’Reilly sexually harassed them. (The accusations included “verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted comments," and "phone calls in which it sounded as if [O’Reilly] was masturbating.")
While The O’Reilly Factor’s ratings have actually increased in the wake of the news (what’s that old saying about even negative publicity being good publicity?), around 50 advertisers have nonetheless pulled ads from the show, seemingly as preemptive measures against expected backlash. On Thursday, April 6, for example, the show featured only seven advertisers versus the usual 40 or 50.
So even though Oliver had so much material to get through during his April 9 show that the episode ran five minutes longer than usual, he still made time for O’Reilly — and for his trusty “Catheter Cowboy.”
"Bill O'Reilly needs advertisers, and Donald Trump needs to understand sexual harassment,” said Oliver, introducing the ad he apparently submitted for consideration to air during The O’Reilly Factor in New York and Washington, DC.
“I’m a professional cowboy and I use catheters, and there’s two things I know,” says the cowboy as the commercial begins. “I don’t like pain when I cath, and repeated unwanted sexual advancements or obscene comments in the workplace constitute workplace harassment!”
In fact, he continues with a benign smile, “that’s about as inappropriate as lubricating a catheter with hot sauce, partner. Why would you do that?!”
The cowboy also suggests that maybe denouncing someone who’s been accused multiple times of sexual harassment isn’t high on Trump’s priority list, given that the president himself has the same problem.
But then the cowboy takes a sharp left turn, addressing Trump directly: “But on some level, you’ve got to know you’re blowing this. You’re sacrificing the chance to make society a better place on an altar of your towering ignorance and fragile ego. You. Are. Blowing. This.”
The O’Reilly Factor has not, weirdly enough, accepted this ad.