In this week’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver shifted focus from President Trump to the Dalai Lama. Oliver begun by discussing how many Americans “vaguely love” the Dalai Lama while the Chinese government “very specifically hate[s]” him. Oliver then discussed the historical persecution of Tibetan Buddhism, which has resulted in the self-immolation of 146 Tibetans since 2009.
The Dalai Lama, Oliver noted, fled this religious persecution and has lived in exile in India for more than 50 years. In exile, he has met and received gifts from many diplomats. “I’d give Bush’s skills as an artist,” Oliver cracked, describing a portrait George W. Bush painted of the Dalai Lama, “the same review I’d give his time as president: not bad for a five-year-old.”
Where the story gets “absolutely amazing,” in Oliver’s eyes, is with regards to the Dalai Lama’s successor: in Buddhist belief, the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. The successor was to be chosen by the “Panchen Lama,” an individual chosen by the Dalai Lama. The complication, however, lies in the fact that little to nothing is known about the location of the Dalai Lama’s choice for Panchen Lama, who was taken away by the Chinese government. Oliver compared a senior Chinese official’s statement on the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts—“[He is] being educated, living a normal life, growing up healthily and does not wish to be disturbed”—to a statement given by a child star’s publicist.
To clear the issues of succession up, Oliver made the trip to the Dalai Lama’s Indian residence, and sat down with the Dalai Lama himself. What ensued was a candid conversation about horse-milk, succession and more. Watch the full segment and interview above, and find more Last Week Tonight video here.