John Oliver Offers Clarence Thomas A Million Bucks A Year to Go Away

If Thomas is going to be on the take, why not be upfront about it?
John Oliver Offers Clarence Thomas A Million Bucks A Year to Go Away

If Clarence Thomas wants to grift, John Oliver will make it easy for him. The Supreme Court justice has faced calls for his resignation in recent years, thanks to dozens of vacations and other gifts funded by donors, er, good friends like billionaire Republican Harlan Crow. But all that ethical shadiness takes a certain amount of effort to cover up. That’s why on Last Week Tonight, Oliver offered up a tempting retirement plan for Thomas to consider.

While Thomas is not the only judge receiving questionable benefits, he’s “unquestionably” the most egregious offender, says Oliver. “For years, there have been stories about Thomas accepting lavish gifts but things escalated recently with a series of ProPublica investigations revealing Thomas's relationship with four conservative billionaires.” Those reports detail 38 destination vacations, 26 private jet flights, eight helicopter rides, a dozen VIP passes to high-profile sporting events, two stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica and one standing invitation to an exclusive golf club. If you were playing The Price is Right, you could bid millions on that prize package with little concern about going over the actual retail price.

Oliver also highlighted one of Thomas’s passions: His 40-foot motor coach. The Justice’s gas-guzzling monstrosity is “the Rolls Royce of motor coaches,” or as Thomas himself puts it, “a condo on wheels.” He borrowed a quarter of a million to purchase the vehicle from a “wealthy friend,” such a good pal that the debt was eventually forgiven before it could be paid back. 

Oliver spends a great deal of time illustrating the potential conflicts of interest of receiving huge amounts of money and gifts from people with a vested interest in Supreme Court decisions, a scenario one doesn’t need to be a far-right billionaire to understand. Couple that with Thomas’s vocal dissatisfaction in the past with his annual salary as a Justice, which currently sits at just under $300,000. Pretty good scratch for you and me but it’s not luxury motor-coach money. Once, Thomas threatened to resign due to low pay — these days, it’s pretty clear he’s never leaving. 

But what if Thomas could enjoy his current perks without having to endure the “grief” that he’s said makes the job so underpaid? Oliver has a solution. He’s offering Thomas a million dollars a year — and all Thomas has to do is leave the Supreme Court and never return. “This is not a joke!” Oliver insisted, it’s really a million bucks a year. But wait, the comic’s not done yet! Act now, Clarence, and Oliver will throw in a “little deal sweetener” — a brand-new, top-of-the-line motor coach, complete with king-size bed, a fireplace, and residential-size refrigerator! If this were a Price is Right Showcase Showdown, the contestant would be jumping out of their nametag about now.

Oliver says he’s personally fronting the cash for the offer, not HBO, an annual sum that he’d pay until either he or Thomas died. But like many TV offers, this one won’t last forever. Thomas has 30 days from last night’s show to resign. What would Harlan Crow think? Take the bait, says John Oliver, and Thomas can find out who his good friends actually are.


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