The man set to become host of one of the United States' most popular talk shows has said Australia is the most "comfortably racist" place he has ever visited.
The Daily Show's England-born correspondent John Oliver made the observation in his 'Bugle' podcast after touring cities including Sydney, Wagga Wagga and Wodonga, Mumbrella reports.
"Australia turns out to be a sensational place, albeit one of the most comfortably racist places I've ever been in," Oliver said.
"They've really settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper."
The long-serving reporter, who is set to replace Jon Stewart as Daily Show host while he directs a film, said Australia's racists seem to be particularly angry with members of the Lebanese community.
"You can say what you like about Australian racism, it is undeniably specific. I had a couple of Australians, more than one, complain to me about all the 'Lebos' in the country, referring apparently to the Lebanese," he said.
"Who the f--- is annoyed by Lebanese people?"
"In a way you have to admire the attention to detail. Not just all those Arabs, but the Lebanese. That's like saying 'You know who I can't stand? Sri Lankans. Malaysians not a problem. Bangladeshis, lovely people, but Sri Lankans — I've got no time for them."
The remarks have been attacked by online commenters who have suggested Oliver did not speak to a wide cross-section of Australian society.
"Let me guess, American comes in, interviews a pack of right wing d---heads and we're all tarred with the same brush. ***YAWN*** It's like me going to the deep south, interviewing a couple of 'good old boys' and saying all Americans hate black people. It’s a nonsense," one Mumbrella user wrote.
"Comfortably racist? Which bogan RSL did you visit or did you visit John's place?" Ben Shaw wrote on Twitter referring to an interview Oliver conducted with former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
However, other commentators have backed Oliver's comments saying the reporter "nails it" and "speaks the truth".
Author: Martin Zavan, Approving editor: Nick Pearson