With (yet another) bill in the U.S. Senate pushing for D.C. statehood, satirist John Oliver offered a vigorous defense Sunday night of D.C. statehood -- and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton says she'll show it to members of Congress.
The host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight" explained his view on the history of taxation without representation as only he could, with the snark turned up. His British accent lended the tirade a tinge of the American Revolution.
"The D.C. mayor gets to run the city the way a student council president gets to run her high school," he said. "'Sure Kelsey, pick the theme for prom, but we'll pick the budget and 'Eyes Wide Shut' is not an acceptable theme. We are not having a repeat of last year. It was a mess and surprisingly boring.'"
Without statehood, the District of Columbia does not have full representation on Capitol Hill, and Congress has the final say in D.C.'s budget and laws. Norton is D.C.'s sole member of Congress. She can vote in committee but not on the floor. And she has proposed at least three futile bills to grant D.C. a vote in Congress or statehood since she took office in 1991.
Norton said in a statement Monday that she plans to host a briefing on D.C. statehood when Congress reconvenes in September -- and she'll show Oliver's segment.
"John Oliver has picked up where Stephen Colbert left off, when he regularly made fun of D.C. -- and me -- for not having the same rights as other Americans.” Norton said.
Norton said she and other statehood advocates have been frustrated by the common belief that D.C. residents enjoy the same basic rights as other Americans despite Congress' constant effort to deny home rule and equal rights. She said Oliver's video gives statehood advocates the ammunition they need to better inform the public and move forward.
Oliver called Norton's position one with "pretend powers," because of strict limitations. "Like a child watching Dora the Explorer," he said jokingly in one of many references to Congress' child-like treatment of D.C.
Oliver referenced D.C.'s history of problems caused by its exclusion from statehood, including the recent congressional override that prevented the District from creating regulations around marijuana, which had just been voted in by a landslide referendum.
The satirist also said Congress originally blocked a needle exchange bill during the HIV/AIDS epidemic that eventually dropped needle-related HIV transmissions in the District by 87percent.
"Because of course they did," Oliver said. "Needle exchanges are always preferable to the alternative. Try thinking of needles as bridesmaids dresses. Anyone who tells you to reuse them does not have your best interest at heart."
The Dalai Lama visited the U.S. and called the situation "quite strange," considering that a small pocket of people in the world's "champion of democracy" lacked full voting rights, Oliver noted.
The most recent bill to give D.C. a vote in the Senate was introduced in 2009. Congress agreed to pass the law if D.C. agreed to repeal multiple gun restriction laws.
The bill did not pass, and D.C. hasn't come that close to statehood since.
For D.C.'s possible future as a state, "It's probably a long shot, Oliver said. Only two people showed up for the last hearing for D.C.'s statehood, which Oliver said, "is not only pathetic for a hearing on Capitol Hill. It would be pathetic for a 1-year-old's birthday party."
D.C. becoming a state would mean changes to the Constitution, the American flag and kid-friendly state-rhyming songs -- all of which Oliver thinks could be done.