John Oliver has a message for French voters as they prepare to go to the polls in a critical presidential election: Don't make the same mistake we did. Twice.
As Oliver explained Sunday on "Last Week Tonight," the presidential race in France will most likely have a profound influence on the future of Europe. Should Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right National Front party, prevail, France would most likely follow the Britain by leaving — and potentially ending — the European Union.
"This could be the most disastrous French exit in history," Oliver said, "and that is acknowledging that a French exit normally refers to drinking an entire bottle of red wine and then leaving a party with the host's wife."
And before you can say "not gonna happen," Oliver broke down the reasons why a Le Pen loss is far from a sure thing. The French election is a two-step process, beginning with a general vote on April 23. Assuming none of the dozen or so candidates receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two contenders will compete in a runoff May 7.
Sarcastically mocking France's "ridiculous system" for electing a president and contrasting it with the Electoral College, Oliver joked: "Go easy on France, they're still working out the kinks in their democracy."
After a brief rundown of the more out-there candidates — including a conspiracy theorist with a hilarious, tenuous understanding of "Star Wars" — Oliver turned his attention to the two candidates perceived as front-runners. And, well, let's just say they've all got some baggage.
First up was Emmanuel Macron, a former banker and economic advisor to President Francois Hollande. "If you're falling asleep just listening to me describe him, you're not alone," Oliver said, likening the centrist Macron to 'the guy who played the main character on 'How I Met Your Mother.' " (That would be Josh Radnor.)
The one rather interesting thing about Macron? The fact that he married his former high school teacher, who is more than 20 years his senior.
Then there's Le Pen, "the main reason you should be invested in this election." Though she has distanced herself from her anti-Semitic, Holocaust-questioning father, Le Pen is no stranger to inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric.
"You in France love nothing more than acting like you are better than Britain and America. Well, now is your chance to prove that," Oliver said, urging the French people to prove their alleged superiority by not making another "populist, nativist choice."
Oliver pleaded his case in the "elegant, restrained manner" preferred by the French — think subtitles, black and white, and accompanied by whimsical accordion music.
"Help us, France," Oliver said. "You're our only hope."