John Oliver speaks from his news desk on Last Week Tonight next to a picture of George W. Bush.

John Oliver Notes Maybe George W. Bush Should STFU About Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

"Hold on, George, not from you. You are not the guy for this one."

Ahead of its main segment on America’s horrible sex work laws, yesterday’s episode of Last Week Tonight opened with a look at Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine—a subject on which John Oliver noted not everyone’s opinions need to be heard.

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Oliver noted that condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was widespread, coming from all sorts of public political figures. That includes George W. Bush, who addressed the issue without a shred of self-awareness. “I join the international community in condemning Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” Bush said recently—a nice sentiment, but maybe not what anyone needs to hear from the man who led more than his fair share of unprovoked and unjustified invasions of sovereign nations.

“Hold on, George. Not from you. You are not the guy for this one,” Oliver interjected, after showing a clip of Bush’s statement, “because that statement only would have made sense if it ended with ‘Oh shit, now I hear it. Sorry. I’ll shut the fuck up now.'”

Bush isn’t the only Iraq and Afghanistan War figurehead to condemn Putin’s actions. Condoleeza Rice, who was Bush’s national security advisor during those invasions and later went on to be his secretary of state, told Fox News that invading a sovereign nation goes “against every principle of international law and international order.”

So what’s changed in the last twenty years? Have we developed some new perspective on our past actions as a nation? Based on the fact that “freedom fries” is trending today—referencing the ludicrous rebranding of French fries some performative patriots embraced during the start of the Iraq War in response to France’s opposition to the invasion—I’m going to say no, we probably haven’t.

No, this CBS reporter (along with plenty of others over the last week), made it very clear what a lot of people undoubtedly see as the big difference between Ukraine and the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other non-European countries:

“This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades,” Charlie D’Agata said on-air. “This is a relatively civilized, relatively European—I have to choose those words carefully too—city where you wouldn’t expect that or hope it’s going to happen.”

It’s all a good reminder that while George W. Bush is near the top of the list of people who should consider keeping their thoughts to themselves right now, that list is, unfortunately, very long.


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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.