'Talkin' Tehran' is your go-to listening for furious debates about Iranian moderates

By Christian Holub
April 23, 2018 at 10:25 AM EDT

John Oliver dedicated the main monologue space on Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight to discussing the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran. An important deadline is coming up for the deal (which was forged by former President Barack Obama’s administration in 2015), and it’s unclear if President Donald Trump — who has said many times how much he dislikes the deal — will uphold it.

“That is not a good sign for the Iran deal, because whenever there is a ‘will he or won’t he’ question with Trump, you can pretty much guarantee he’ll pick the worst possible option,” Oliver said.

In order to give his viewers context, Oliver presented a “ludicrously short history” of the Iran-America relationship, starting with the U.S.-backed coup in 1953 that overthrew democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favor of the shah. Then, in 1979, the shah was overthrown by a revolution that ultimately brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power. Going deeper into Iranian history would require a podcast-length dissertation, so Oliver even teased a fake podcast about the country with recent EW cover star  James Van Der Beek, to be called Talkin’ Tehran.

Let’s pick up where we left off, with the privatization of state-owned enterprises in Iran,” Van Der Beek said in Oliver’s fake sample clip of Talkin’ Tehran.

“You’re talking about the work of Rafsanjani?” Oliver said.

“No I’m not talking about that, John. You do this every f—ing time,” Van Der Beek said. “I’m talking about the underappreciated roles of moderates like Mehdi Bazargan.”

“Oh please, Van Der Beek, you’re thumping on again about moderates like Mehdi Bazargan,” Oliver said. “Change the record!”

Aside from Talkin’ Tehran, Oliver’s other unusual approach to covering the Iran nuclear deal was to buy ad space on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. Modeled after an anti-Iran ad from a few years ago, the commercial featured an old cowboy interrupting a family dinner to address “Donald” directly: “I’m here to tell you the Iran deal may not be perfect, but it helps restrict Iran’s ability to make a bomb for at least 10 years.”

Watch the full clip above.