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A Tostito-addicted seagull and TV host John Oliver explain National Flood Insurance Program

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Insurance is rarely a topic for late-night comedy talk shows but Last Week Tonight host John Oliver on Sunday tackled what he called the absurdities of the National Flood Insurance Program’s high-risk, high-cost government program. 

Zany visual aids included a talking seagull looking for Tostitos potato chips, footage of a news reporter on a live shot from a canoe in the middle of a flooded street, and more. 

The National Flood Insurance Program, created in the 1960s to help people who lost their homes in flood-prone zones and to encourage them to eventually move, is up for renewal in December. Before this year’s disastrous hurricane season the government-underwritten insurance was already $28 billion in the red, Mr. Oliver told the audience. 

Some of the problems include risky development in coastal areas — overdevelopment in Houston exacerbated the flooding in Hurricane Harvey, he noted, reminding viewers that concrete does not absorb water. 

“That’s why people don’t dry off at the beach by rolling around in the parking lot,” he said, with footage of a man in a bathing suit rolling on asphalt.  

On the fact that the low costs for flood insurance encouraged risky development instead of curbing it, Mr. Oliver said that behavior is entirely “human.”

“We will gladly accept huge risks to our personal safety for the sake of a discount that was the entire premise behind the McDonald’s dollar menu,” he said.

Mr. Oliver also slammed the inaccuracy of federal flood-zone maps, which had put 75% of recently flooded Houston in low-risk zones. He said that the government could next create flood maps by having blindfolded little kids pin puddles onto maps of cities at birthday parties.