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John Oliver: Shaking the addiction to pettiness

By Jarrett Bellini, CNN
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John Oliver loves 'Benjamins'
  • "The Daily Show's" John Oliver discusses America's debt crisis
  • The comedian gives the tea party credit for drawing attention to the $14.3 trillion debt
  • He also throws some punches at the media for the way it covered the crisis

(CNN) -- John Oliver says America might be doomed.

The "Daily Show" correspondent was recently in Montreal, where he was hosting a comedy gala called "Decline of the American Empire?" at the famous Just For Laughs festival. And while he emphasized the show title's punctuation, he also noted that, "The question mark is getting smaller and smaller as the news progresses, particularly today."

Our video interview took place only a few days before the August 2 debt ceiling deadline so, naturally, we focused on the plight of America's finances.

"It doesn't really seem to make any sense, logically," he says. "Other than pettiness is something that it seems America is now addicted to. And that's a hard habit to kick."

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Oliver also spoke about the members of the tea party, giving them some credit for their role in the conversation, but also questioning what will become of them after the debt ceiling issue is resolved.

"They have brought to attention that America is $14.3 trillion in debt. That's a lot of dollars. That's more than $14. And it's more than $14 trillion. It's $14.3 trillion. That's a lot. So they've done that. They've pointed that out. And now they seem to be, for some reason, wanting things to get worse. So I don't know how they'll come out of it. I guess the same as they went into it -- angry and confused."

Of course, Oliver also had a few choice words for the media.

"The media has, as it's always done, done a terrible job reporting on this. They have seen the fire and they've decided to throw gasoline on it," he says. "I'm sure they're proud of themselves as they always are. And that is a misplaced pride."

Oliver, who is British and works here on a green card, shouldn't be confused for a gleeful foreigner who relishes in the financial and political hardships of the United States. Perhaps it's good for his job as a comedian, but, personally, there's no sense of schadenfreude.

"I would much rather America was a more stable, wonderful place. You know, I love it. But it is odd seeing it do this to itself for no clear reason."