John Oliver‘s Last Week Tonight segment on Turkmenistan’s president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov took an unexpected turn on Sunday night. The HBO show host started with a discussion about how Berdimuhamedov might be dead and he ended with baking a massive marble cake with a photo of Berdimuhamedov falling off a horse to tick off Berdimuhamedov and the Guinness World Records.
Let’s fill in the blanks.
According to Oliver, Berdimuhamedov turned Turkmenistan into “one of the worst places to live in the world.” He added, “That’s quite a claim, especially considering the earth also includes Syria, North Korea, and Twitter.”
Oliver then detailed how Berdimuhamedov has a lot of “bizarre obsessions,” one being horses. The host said the leader has nearly 10 percent of the world’s total of Akhal-teke horses and gave himself the title of “national horse breeder.”
Another obsession is Guinness World Records, because apparently “authoritarians love getting Guinness World Records.” Oliver stated Guinness works with authoritarian governments in order for them to break records. That includes Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Dubai police force. Oliver chalks it up to perpetuating the “cult of personality.”
This brings us back to the cake. In order to embarrass what Oliver called a “human rights-abusing horse f—er,” his team baked a massive cake with an image of Berdimuhamedov toppling over the front of a horse. He tried to get the cake in the Guinness World Records books, but was told it wasn’t family friendly. Oliver replied on the show, “I guess we don’t run a brutal enough dictatorship to meet Guinness World Record’s high ethical standards.”
“They did say that if we fully documented making the cake, they might certify us after the fact,” Oliver continued. “Unfortunately, they wanted us to sign an agreement that could’ve prevented us from criticizing them in this story, which is clearly ridiculous.”
Naturally, the Guinness World Records had a response.
“We were disappointed to see the false and unfair allegations about Guinness World Records in Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” reads a statement. “The piece appears to have been motivated by our decision not to participate in tonight’s show. We were asked to provide a judge to officiate the so-called world record attempt for ‘largest cake with an image of someone falling off a horse.’ On the basis that it was merely an opportunity to mock one of our record-holders, we declined. It is our policy not to partake in any activities which may belittle their achievements or subject them to ridicule.”