“Sure Kelsey, pick the theme for prom but we’ll control the budget and ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is not an acceptable theme,” Oliver said Sunday on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.” “We are not having a repeat of last year. It was a mess and surprisingly boring.”
Oliver also hit pro-states rights Republicans on the often humorous ways he says they use to rationalize their staunch anti-D.C. statehood stances.
“Well, when my kids were young and teenagers they often want budget autonomy too,” Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) has said, before being asked if he views D.C. leaders as children. “No, but they have matured and we just don’t want regression.”
For D.C. residents, these less-than-logical explanations (hey, we do have “taxation without representation” written on all our license plates) are nothing new.
Residents have long heard D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s blustery speeches on the House floor framing D.C.’s lack of voting representation as a major civil rights issue, and generally know that D.C. has a bigger population than Vermont and Wyoming and larger gross domestic product than 16 states. (Norton does not have a vote in Congress, though did appear on “The Colbert Show” in 2006 to argue in favor of D.C. statehood.)
But to see the issue get the classic Oliver treatment, packaged into a shareable clip with popular appeal, was a small victory for statehood advocates.
Oliver pointed to former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) blocking D.C. from spending its own tax money on its highly effective needle exchange program despite Barr’s home state of Georgia having its own needle exchange program. The HBO host also talked about how President Barack Obama used D.C. abortion rights as a bargaining chip in tense budget negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in 2011. And he said that Congress recently almost took away D.C.’s legal weed.
“The only time trading away D.C.’s abortion would be acceptable is if D.C. abortion is a rare 1950s comic book and you are gets Marvels the Amazing Mammogram in return,” Oliver said. “That’s it.”
Josh Burch, the founder of the grassroots organization Neighbors United for DC Statehood, said he now wants to see the main news networks give the issue of statehood some attention.
“It is long past time this issue garners some national attention. It’s still shameful how both national politicians and news outlets ignore this issue, our disenfranchised status, which is counter to the principles upon which our country was founded,” Burch wrote in an email. “Thanks to John Oliver & HBO but where is NBC, CBS, ABC, & Fox?”
The segment ends with kids singing about D.C.’s lack of rights to the tune of the classic “50 states” song.
“All the rest of us can choose a path that we think is best, but any choice that D.C. makes is easily suppressed,” the children sing in a sit-down sing-along with Oliver. “‘Cause some a—— with a rider who might live in Tennessee can destroy a needle program for preventing HIV.
“Let them have gun laws! Let them have weed! Let them decide the things that they need!” the song continues. “And if you’re totally convinced that there should be just 50 states, well then let’s all kick out Florida ’cause no one thinks they’re great. Oh yes, let’s all kick out Florida ’cause no one thinks they’re great.”