John Oliver Explains Why Congresspeople Are Part-Time Telemarketers

Ever wonder why it seems like Congress can never get things done? It might be because lawmakers have to spend up to half their time raising money instead of legislating. In his latest episode of "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver reveals that congresspeople spend 25-50 percent of their time on fundraising - for their own re-election as well as the "dues" owed to their federal parties, which are used to finance campaigns in battleground districts.

A lot of that fundraising involves putting aside important committee work in order to report to a phone bank to call donors, which - Oliver notes - can skew a lawmaker's priorities. Instead of focusing on helping economically insecure Americans, politicians have to pander to people who can afford to donate thousands of dollars over the phone.

In the segment, Oliver also interviewed Steve Israel - former Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee - who summed up the horrendous waste of federal resources by saying, "It is - in my view - a form of torture. And the real victims of this torture have become the American people. Because they believe that they don't have a voice in this system."

Check out the full segment below, which ends with Congressman Israel and Oliver commiserating over a bag of Long Island wine - yes, you read that correctly: a bag of wine. Not quite as surprising as Bill Maher lighting a joint on the air but very funny nonetheless.


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