Friday, July 15, 2016

John Oliver shows how congress members earn their money, literally (and sadly)

The main story on Sunday's Last Week Tonight was on political fundraising, John Oliver said at the top of the segment, "and before you roll your eyes, this is not going to be about how money corrupts presidential candidates. For that, you can read much more on your most annoying friend's Facebook posts." Instead, he wanted to talk about the less-discussed issue of raising money in congressional races, which reached a total of $1.7 billion in the 2014 election. "That's a lot of money," he said. "That's more than it costs to buy 230 million tubes of hemorrhoidal cooling gel, and it's somehow even more upsetting."

And the amount of time members of Congress spend raising money isn't just embarrassing, "it's horrifying," Oliver said, taking up anywhere from 25 percent to 66 percent of their work time. "So tonight, let's look at where that time actually goes," he said. He focused on fundraisers and phone calls to donors, and while they both sound unpleasant, the phone calls sound terrible. Oliver settled on calling it "a dehumanizing process," but noted that while there is a bipartisan hatred of raising money, neither party is willing to back down first. "And regulating campaign finance is going to be difficult," he added, not least because the Supreme Court has ruled that spending money is a form of speech.

Oliver then showed a little of his own powers of persuasion, convincing retiring Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) to sit down, on camera, and explain the fundraising process. "It is, in my view, a form of torture, and the real victims of this torture have become the American people, because they believe they don't have a voice in this system," Israel said. If you watch to the end, Oliver had a little surprise for Israel. He also compares lawmakers to coked-up Girl Scouts with gambling debt, has a bit about phone sex with Sting, and uses some mildly NSFW language. If you're okay with that, watch below. Peter Weber

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