John Oliver’s main story on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight was a look into political fundraising, “and before you roll your eyes,” says Oliver in the clip, “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.” The focus, instead, is on funding for congressional races, which totaled $1.7 billion in 2014. “That’s a lot of money,” says Oliver. “That’s more than it costs to buy 230 million tubes of hemorrhoidal cooling gel, and it’s somehow ever more upsetting.”
Perhaps the most “horrifying” thing about this process, Oliver points out, is the amount of time members of Congress are forced to devote to raising money for their own campaigns, which can take up anywhere from 25 to 66 percent of their time each week. In looking at where that time goes, Oliver discovers the grueling settings where members of Congress meet their donors to give them the impression their donation will make their voice heard. Even worse than that is the grungy call center where members of Congress spend hours calling their donors.
To get a better understanding of the process, Oliver sits down with retiring Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who says, “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.”