John Oliver is facing the legal wrath of a lawsuit-happy coal baron after a brutal segment in which the host tore into the American coal industry.
The document accuses Oliver of a “ruthless character assassination” of Robert Murray, CEO of the nation’s largest coal mining operation, Murray Energy.
It didn’t exactly come as a surprise; in fact, Oliver more or less dared the notoriously litigious coal boss by mocking an earlier cease-and-desist letter from his company on the show. And at least one first amendment lawyer has said Murray doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the absurd spectacle of the legal team for the man Oliver described as a “geriatric Dr. Evil” trying to out-bombast the HBO comedian’s signature hyperbolic wit in dry legalese.
Here are some of the lawsuit’s best moments:
Murray’s giant squirrel tormenter
“Defendants continued their ruthless character assassination and attack on Plaintiffs’ business reputations by describing Mr. Murray as someone who ‘looks like a geriatric Dr. Evil’ and arranging for a staff member to dress up in a squirrel costume and deliver the message ‘Eat Shit, Bob!” to Mr. Murray.'”
This is one of the lawsuit’s several references to a staffer dressed as a giant squirrel whom Oliver brought out to insult Murray. The stunt was a reference to some apocryphal company lore about a squirrel urging Murray into the coal business — it’s a long story. Suffice to say, Mr. Nutterbutter seems to have really gotten under Murray’s skin.
BTW Murray didn’t actually talk to a squirrel, OK?
“Specifically, in reference to an absurd story that Mr. Murray claimed a squirrel had told him he should operate his own mines, Defendant Oliver stated ‘You know what, I actually believe him on that one.'”
At least everyone’s in agreement that Murray didn’t actually consult a squirrel about his business decisions. Maybe there’s hope for an amicable resolution…