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HBO's John Oliver trashes PG&E again, digs at Gavin Newsom

SF Gate logo SF Gate 5/17/2022 Eric Ting
© HBO Max

It's fair to say that John Oliver, the host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" is not a fan of PG&E, Northern California's gas and electricity provider.

In November, Oliver went on a blistering rant over the utility's role in starting the devastating Camp Fire of 2018. At the time, Oliver said of PG&E's infrastructure, "You can't just keep something that old in place and expect it to keep working forever. PG&E basically took the same approach to their equipment as Democrats did with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and in both cases, it didn't end well."

In his most recent show Sunday, Oliver again trashed PG&E for its myriad scandals and being allowed to remain in operation as the region's main provider of electricity and gas.

"PG&E is not only not in prison, it is still supplying power to millions of Californians who have no choice in the matter," Oliver says at around the 3:40-mark in the video below. "If you're thinking, 'How the f—k is that possible,' that is what this story is about. It's about the incredible amount of power that we give to utilities, how weakly they can be regulated and the damage this can do."

Oliver then spends the next 10 minutes discussing utilities' monopoly power more broadly before focusing back on PG&E by providing some of the utility's most scathing Yelp reviews. He also criticizes Gov. Gavin Newsom for dismissing a question in 2019 about PG&E contributing to his gubernatorial campaign.

"PG&E was convicted of six federal felonies in 2016. After that, you took more than $200,000 to help get elected," a reporter says to Newsom in a 2019 clip. "How can people trust you to be running the show to come up with the solutions?"

"I wish you luck with whatever you're working on but that's a strange question," Newsom replies.

"Is it though?" Oliver asks of Newsom's response. "Is it? Because that seems pretty reasonable to me. It's not like that reporter asked, 'Mr. Governor, why do you think The Wiggles had Princess Diana killed?' That is a strange question. There was no big red car anywhere near the scene. But what he just asked you deserved a proper answer and yet, frustratingly, if you live in California, and PG&E is your provider, there is nothing you can do."

In fairness to Newsom, he did force some changes at PG&E as governor. You can read an explainer on the matter from SFGATE.

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