John Oliver wants to see Washington, D.C. become the 51st state

When the Chinese pandas at the National Zoo have as much right to representation in the U.S. Congress as any resident in the District of Columbia, you know there's a problem. So says John Oliver, who explored the issue of D.C.'s experience with a lack of representation on Sunday's Last Week Tonight.

As Oliver explains, even though Washingtonians pay federal taxes, fight in wars, and contribute to a GDP that's higher than 16 states', they are not represented by a member of Congress able to vote on their behalf. They do have a champion in Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, but as Oliver puts it, she only has "pretend power," as she is unable to vote on the House floor.

The segment gives a brief rundown of D.C.'s political history (yes, residents couldn't vote in presidential elections until 1964), as well as clips of lawmakers giving a variety of excuses as to why D.C. should just be content with the way things are now. In 2009, a bill was introduced that provided a glimmer of hope for those who wanted to see D.C. get voting power, but the Senate added an amendment that would repeal all of D.C.'s gun control laws, including its ban on semi-automatic weapons, and would alter its ability to enact future gun control legislation. "It was the kind of amendment NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre dreams about as he sleeps in his bullet-filled bathtub, I presume," Oliver quipped. The bill was dropped, and there hasn't been anything close since.

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Not wanting the segment to end on a low note, Oliver brought in a gaggle of children to sing a song about what it would be like if D.C. became a state, and the simple steps that would have to be taken in case people become adamant about only having 50 (sorry, Florida). Watch the clip below. Catherine Garcia

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.