Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight focused on state attorneys general, “and, yes, that is the correct plural and if you already knew that, I’m sorry high school was such a rough time for you,” John Oliver said.
Thirty states will be electing their next attorneys general in November, and campaigns are particularly fierce this year. Some experts estimate that $100 million will be spent on AG races this year alone, far more than ever before.
The increased interest is tied to the fact that while AGs have been primarily neutral in the past, over the last few years they have become significantly more partisan. They have even split up their national organization to form partisan professional groups: the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) and the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which Oliver note sound like “twins from Dutch folklore that teach children about right and wrong.”
And as AGs become more partisan, they have been teaming up to file suit against the federal government. Under the Obama Administration that meant suing to stop Medicaid expansion or transgender rights; under the Trump Administration, state AGs have helped stop the so-called travel ban and sued the Trump Foundation.
With so many states electing AGs in November, Oliver believes it is really worth taking some time to research the various candidates, not only because many people leave the AG spot blank on their ballots, but because researching AG candidates turns up some interesting facts. For example, in Wisconsin, searching for “Brad Schimel $10,000 coins” reveals that he spent taxpayer money minting coins with his personal slogan “KAED” on them (according to Oliver, that stands for “Kicking Ass Every Day”). A search for “Leslie Rutledge Karaoke 2016“ turns up videos of the Arkansas AG singing a song about a sexy tractor. Oliver also recommends Googling “Bill Schuette 1989 video,” so you can watch the former AG and current Michigan gubernatorial candidate “creepily hitting on the woman behind the camera.”
In an act of encouragement for voters to take just two short minutes to research the candidates, Oliver ended his show a little bit early so people could visit Vote411.org to look up their local elections. To ensure that viewers turned off the television and did some research, as he had requested, Oliver did his best to intentionally drive viewers away by airing a cacophony of a bagpipe, accordion, theremin and children’s recorder players, all for a good cause.