Speed Reads

John Oliver Explains

John Oliver dissects 'the elections that actually matter' Tuesday: State legislatures

The news media is consumed by the question of whether Republicans will flip the Senate on Tuesday — something that wouldn't end gridlock in Washington and that you, as a voter, probably have little say over, anyway. "Why all this attention on the national level, where almost nothing is happening, when down at the local level, everything is happening?" asked John Oliver on Sunday night's Last Week Tonight.

Oliver spent a good part of his show talking about "the elections that actually matter on Tuesday," the races for state legislature, where your vote actually (maybe) counts. You may have been ignoring these races, he said, but "state houses do a huge amount of work while no one is watching." In fact, he added, "all those conspiracy theories about a shadow government are actually true, only it's not a bunch of billionaires meeting in a mountain lair in Zurich, it's a bunch of pasty bureaucrats meeting in a windowless committee room in Lansing, Michigan."

But while you've been ignoring state legislatures, businesses haven't, financing the "conservative bill mill" ALEC that is behind so many of the legislative abominations Last Week Tonight has covered, Oliver said he's going to give them a credit as "Associate Producer of Creating Horrible Things for Us to Talk About." If you all of a sudden care who is representing you, it may not matter — an estimated 25 percent of state legislators are running unopposed on Tuesday, Oliver said. Whether your local representatives are shoo-ins or not, though, it's worth watching below because this is a topic that really doesn't get the attention it deserves — and because the footage of clownish state lawmakers (from both parties) in action makes for amazing television. --Peter Weber