Most 24-hour cable news outlets and nightly talk shows are infatuated with Donald Trump‘s increasingly successful run for the White House. Last Week Tonight host John Oliver is no different, but his hot take on Donald Drumpf last Sunday wasn’t a regular occurrence for the former Daily Show correspondent. That’s because the British comedian’s penchant for deeply researched political commentary stretches into topics so varied and sometimes esoteric, his viewers can’t help but become suddenly infatuated with them. Things like voting, abortion laws, and hell — even the stupidity of pennies.
Looks like we ought to add special districts the list, too. That is, one of the most inane special subjects of local government and taxing to ever receive a literal 15 minutes of fame on a major television program. No wonder Oliver introduces the segment as “government, [or] sports for nerds.”
Working with the assumption that almost no one knows what special districts are (which is a pretty good assumption), Oliver explains that they’re units of local government tasked with a single objective. An objective — be it education, fire prevention or utilities — for which their organizers can withdraw and use large amounts of taxpayer dollars. How big are these “large amounts?” Per the segment’s first clip, around $100 billion per yer. Or as Oliver puts it, “that is $16 billion more than Russia spends on its military.”
With the host’s recognizable witty banter and the research department’s flare for digging up insanely detailed amounts of information, Last Week Tonight does a pretty good job of explaining away special districts. Even so, Oliver recognizes that no amount of HBO-approved satire is going to make his viewers care enough about the topic, so he and a bunch of local kids created a video montage and entered it into a contest in San Diego. Specifically, a special district association’s video contest with a cash prize of $1,500. All Oliver and his adorable correspondents had to do was “create a one-minute entertaining & creative video educating the public about ‘what’s so special about special districts?'”
Whether or not the results are good enough to enlighten viewers about all the ins and outs of special districts remains to be seen. However, the kids Last Week Tonight hired for a day are really cute.