John Oliver showed up on Thursday’s Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, where he spoke about his appearance on the hit Netflix docuseries Tiger King. In 2016, the subject of the series, known as Joe Exotic (Joseph Maldonado-Passage), ran as a write-in candidate for president. And after running clips of a Joe Exotic campaign ad on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Oliver had some fun with it.
“Wow. Just wow,” Oliver said. “Joe Exotic is truly the candidate you’d want to sit down and have a beer with, then another beer, and then several more beers until you’re drunk enough to try meth for the first time. The point is, Joe Exotic: Make America Exotic Again.”
What Oliver was unaware of at the time is that Joe Exotic was killing his own tigers at his private Oklahoma zoo, and actively trying to hire a hitman to murder his nemesis, Carole Baskin. He was recently sentenced to 22 years in prison for his crimes, which, besides killing tigers and the murder-for-hire plot, also included selling baby lemurs and falsifying paperwork to say they were donated.
Asked if he was shocked to see his coverage of Joe Exotic’s presidential run on Tiger King, Oliver replied, “Yes, I was a little surprised. I was hoping we’d be left out of that. But I did have a dalliance with Joe Exotic back in early 2016.” He added, “We were aware of what was happening down there, not the full extent. All our researchers told us was, he keeps ranting about a woman named Carole. Then, we didn’t realize what that meant. Now, unfortunately, we know.”
On the show, Joe Exotic was constantly ranting about how Baskin, who owns an exotic-animal sanctuary in Florida, killed her second husband Don Lewis, who mysteriously disappeared 23 years ago, and fed him to the tigers. Baskin has adamantly denied those claims, but it’s a widely accepted assumption among viewers that that’s exactly what happened, and Oliver agrees.
Asked if he thinks Baskin fed Lewis to the tigers, Oliver responded, “I mean, it certainly seems like the most likely scenario that he was tiger chow.”
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