Oliver Parodies Cover Oregon Ads

Cover Oregon's bad week was capped by a parody of its quirky TV ads on John Oliver's new HBO quasi-news show.It's been another bad week for Cover Oregon. It tried to hand off its website to the federal government, only to discover it lacked authority to make the transfer. Then CO was skewered on John Oliver's new HBO quasi-news show.

Memories are stretched to recall when Cover Oregon enjoyed a good week. Maybe back when its expansive plans won the admiration and funding approval of the Obama Administration, attracting nearly $200 million.

But those days are long gone, with some $250 million more or less washed down the drain with a website that still doesn't work — and a group unable to raise the white flag of surrender without legislative approval.

Oliver, who just graduated from the Jon Stewart school of broadcast hilarity, included Cover Oregon in his debut half-hour show Sunday night. Despite the inability to sign up anyone online, Oliver said the $250 million wasn't completely wasted. There were those memorable TV ads.

So memorable, in fact, Oliver's comedy team — with special guest star Lisa Loeb — parodied them, and not with a version suitable for airing during times when children and sensitive adults might be viewing.

Luckily, most of Cover Oregon's toughest critics probably never heard of John Oliver or his new HBO show. Ironically, the show's parody is the kind of third-party validation they could use to reinforce their point, perhaps with a few bleeps.

North, the agency that produced the ads, responded, saying it wasn't responsible for the website's failure and that the ads did their job of building awareness of Cover Oregon. "Relative to the marketing budget," the North official said, "we created real return on taxpayer money."

While true, the cutesy ads, which had their own critics, serve as a convenient, ready-made vehicle to lampoon Cover Oregon's debacle. There is no escaping the humor in that.