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The Congressman Who Hates SOPA, and Loves League of Legends

The last thing you expect to find on a video game message board is a member of Congress, but that's exactly where you'd find Jared Polis of Colorado.

No Caption Provided
Jared Polis was voted into office in 2008, and re-elected in 2010. He'll be up again this year.
Jared Polis was voted into office in 2008, and re-elected in 2010. He'll be up again this year.

A majority of Americans would vote out every member of Congress, according to a poll conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC that was released yesterday. Confidence is at historic lows.

There’s not much love for today’s politicians, but the League of Legends community embraced Democratic congressman Jared Polis (CO-2) when he posted in a message board thread voicing opposition to the recently deflated SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) legislation.

His comment was upvoted 4,457 times.

“As a member of the League of Legends community (partial to Anivia and Maokai),” wrote Polis on January 11, “and as someone who made his living as an Internet entrepreneur before being elected to Congress, I’m greatly concerned about the future of the Internet and gaming if Congress doesn't wake up.”

The post caught plenty of people by surprise. Where does a congressman find time to play games?

SOPA and PIPA are, for now, dead. Both pieces of legislation were Hollywood-driven pitches to expand federal regulation of Internet piracy, with technology powerhouses taking issue with unintended consequences that could impact their companies. Even as parts of the bills were defanged, such as the removal of DNS redirection from SOPA, blackouts on sites like Wikipedia convinced enough legislators to pull support, prompting votes to be delayed.

Polis, a former businessman whose sold several early Internet companies for tens of millions, also happens to play a bunch of games. He recently answered some of my questions over email before boarding a plane back to Colorado.

No surprise, the congressman quickly applauded the decision to push back votes on SOPA and PIPA.

“This is welcome news for those of who care about job creation, gaming, and preserving free speech on the Internet,” he said. “I am hopeful that Republicans and Democrats can work together to coalesce around a practical solution to foreign piracy that doesn’t hurt the internet or gaming It is possible to combat the theft of intellectual property while also protecting Internet freedom.”

He’s been playing games “as long as [he] can remember,” noting the Intellivision as his first console (he was born in 1975), and when he has a few minutes, he often looks for places to play his old favorites emulated on the Internet.

“I grew up with PC games mostly and still prefer PCs,” he said, “but we do have an Xbox. I even played the text based legendary game Dungeon back on my Apple ][ when I was a little kid. I grew up with the Civilization series and have been playing RTS since its inception with Warcraft. I also like RPG style games like Neverwinter Nights and [I'm] very much looking forward to Diablo III.”

Maybe Polis has the power and influence to ask Blizzard Entertainment to finally disclose a release date?

Jumping onto the League of Legends message board wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, as he’s been playing the popular multiplayer game for two years running, and praised the amount of content Riot Games has been adding.

I’ve tried blind jumping into a League of Legends game before, and it’s no joke.

In-between League of Legends matches, however, Polis has been an outspoken opponent of both SOPA and PIPA, and credited the blackouts as a “key turning point” in turning the tide on each.

You may be onto something when the Internet starts turning your stances into memes.
You may be onto something when the Internet starts turning your stances into memes.

“Nothing motivates members of Congress like hearing their constituents call them unanimously opposing a bill,” he said. “It was incredible to watch the grassroots movement take a life of its own. The proponents of these bills were hoping to quickly and quietly pass these bills.”

The recent victory over SOPA and PIPA is important, but Polis made it clear the fight isn’t over yet, and fans will have to remain attentive.

“The sponsors of these bills will now have to go back to the drawing board,” he said. “I want to warn everyone that these bills aren’t completely dead and there is still a lot of will in Congress to pass something that addresses digital piracy.”

It should take “a few months” before the ashes of both bills are dumped into something else, noted Polis, at which point everyone will have to take up arms again. Polis expressed hope the response to SOPA and PIPA will force those writing the bill to make note of everyone potentially affected, but it’s unclear what will ultimately happen.

“Just as the blackouts and protests were the key factor with SOPA and PIPA,” he said, “public interest and oversight will make the difference next time about whether we pass a good or bad bill.”

Want to know this guy means business? Watch this.

Patrick Klepek on Google+

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patrickklepek

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Edited By patrickklepek • 
No Caption Provided
Jared Polis was voted into office in 2008, and re-elected in 2010. He'll be up again this year.
Jared Polis was voted into office in 2008, and re-elected in 2010. He'll be up again this year.

A majority of Americans would vote out every member of Congress, according to a poll conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC that was released yesterday. Confidence is at historic lows.

There’s not much love for today’s politicians, but the League of Legends community embraced Democratic congressman Jared Polis (CO-2) when he posted in a message board thread voicing opposition to the recently deflated SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) legislation.

His comment was upvoted 4,457 times.

“As a member of the League of Legends community (partial to Anivia and Maokai),” wrote Polis on January 11, “and as someone who made his living as an Internet entrepreneur before being elected to Congress, I’m greatly concerned about the future of the Internet and gaming if Congress doesn't wake up.”

The post caught plenty of people by surprise. Where does a congressman find time to play games?

SOPA and PIPA are, for now, dead. Both pieces of legislation were Hollywood-driven pitches to expand federal regulation of Internet piracy, with technology powerhouses taking issue with unintended consequences that could impact their companies. Even as parts of the bills were defanged, such as the removal of DNS redirection from SOPA, blackouts on sites like Wikipedia convinced enough legislators to pull support, prompting votes to be delayed.

Polis, a former businessman whose sold several early Internet companies for tens of millions, also happens to play a bunch of games. He recently answered some of my questions over email before boarding a plane back to Colorado.

No surprise, the congressman quickly applauded the decision to push back votes on SOPA and PIPA.

“This is welcome news for those of who care about job creation, gaming, and preserving free speech on the Internet,” he said. “I am hopeful that Republicans and Democrats can work together to coalesce around a practical solution to foreign piracy that doesn’t hurt the internet or gaming It is possible to combat the theft of intellectual property while also protecting Internet freedom.”

He’s been playing games “as long as [he] can remember,” noting the Intellivision as his first console (he was born in 1975), and when he has a few minutes, he often looks for places to play his old favorites emulated on the Internet.

“I grew up with PC games mostly and still prefer PCs,” he said, “but we do have an Xbox. I even played the text based legendary game Dungeon back on my Apple ][ when I was a little kid. I grew up with the Civilization series and have been playing RTS since its inception with Warcraft. I also like RPG style games like Neverwinter Nights and [I'm] very much looking forward to Diablo III.”

Loading Video...

Maybe Polis has the power and influence to ask Blizzard Entertainment to finally disclose a release date?

Jumping onto the League of Legends message board wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, as he’s been playing the popular multiplayer game for two years running, and praised the amount of content Riot Games has been adding.

I’ve tried blind jumping into a League of Legends game before, and it’s no joke.

In-between League of Legends matches, however, Polis has been an outspoken opponent of both SOPA and PIPA, and credited the blackouts as a “key turning point” in turning the tide on each.

You may be onto something when the Internet starts turning your stances into memes.
You may be onto something when the Internet starts turning your stances into memes.

“Nothing motivates members of Congress like hearing their constituents call them unanimously opposing a bill,” he said. “It was incredible to watch the grassroots movement take a life of its own. The proponents of these bills were hoping to quickly and quietly pass these bills.”

The recent victory over SOPA and PIPA is important, but Polis made it clear the fight isn’t over yet, and fans will have to remain attentive.

“The sponsors of these bills will now have to go back to the drawing board,” he said. “I want to warn everyone that these bills aren’t completely dead and there is still a lot of will in Congress to pass something that addresses digital piracy.”

It should take “a few months” before the ashes of both bills are dumped into something else, noted Polis, at which point everyone will have to take up arms again. Polis expressed hope the response to SOPA and PIPA will force those writing the bill to make note of everyone potentially affected, but it’s unclear what will ultimately happen.

“Just as the blackouts and protests were the key factor with SOPA and PIPA,” he said, “public interest and oversight will make the difference next time about whether we pass a good or bad bill.”

Want to know this guy means business? Watch this.

Loading Video...
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Branwulf

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Edited By Branwulf • 

I love how everyone just ignores ACTA : /

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teekomeeko

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Edited By teekomeeko • 

Love that clip at the end of the article, and this guy really seems to be what I keep hoping more politicians would be - in touch with actually people and the modern world.

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Jimbo

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Edited By Jimbo • 

Watch your fucking lane, Congressman!

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benpack

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Edited By benpack  Staff • 

Man he plays Anivia? I love this guy.

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veiasma

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Edited By veiasma • 

@Branwulf said:

I love how everyone just ignores ACTA : /

There's no vote on it, so there's nothing to really influence.

"The document will be an argument to Congress that the executive can pass this agreement alone – legally binding the US to a trade agreement without no congressional authorization – because, according to the Executive, ACTA is fully consistent with current US law."

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Seastalk

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Edited By Seastalk • 

@Branwulf said:

I love how everyone just ignores ACTA : /

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MysteriousBob

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Vorbis

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Edited By Vorbis • 

This is great and when the current younger generation is old enough to run for congress this should be much more common.

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paulunga

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Edited By paulunga • 

To misquote the great Jeff Gerstmann: "Eventually all the old people will die and we'll have people in Congress we can relate to."

Though I shudder at the thought of someone who grew up on 4chan becoming a senator.

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D3adend

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Edited By D3adend • 

That was pretty legit.

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leebmx

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Edited By leebmx • 

Very interesting clip at the end. Cheers for putting that up. So good to here politicians having a rational debate but so sad to here the lady saying she would not be able to support the amendment because she wouldn't be able to explain it to the folks back home. By which I assume she means her consituents?

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CommodoreGroovy

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Edited By CommodoreGroovy • 

I remember reading this guy's post on the LoL message board. It felt so surreal that I thought it was a joke at first.

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Argo15

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Cretaceous_Bob

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Edited By Cretaceous_Bob • 

Holy fuck, vast portions of my faith in the Republican system of America have been restored.

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Edited By PenguinDust • 

SOPA and PIPA will just be rolled in HR 1981, the trojan horse internet spying bill. On the surface it sounds great, who can argue against that? No one, but hidden behind the lofty ideals, is the complete and total destruction of internet privacy. That's how government works these days. Take something controversial and attach it to something no sane politician can go against.

...the information that commercial Internet providers are required to store to include customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses...It represents "a data bank of every digital act by every American" that would "let us find out where every single American visited Web sites," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California

"Freedom" is an outdated concept. It's been replaced by "surveillance".

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jasondesante

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Edited By jasondesante • 

why cant you go on the internet and look up your "town" or whatever, and see exactly what the people that represent you did that day and what theyre planning to do, and somewhere you can directly communicate on specific things. why doesnt that exist. oh yea because they don't know how to solve problems as well as a game company....sad

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yoshimitz707

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Edited By yoshimitz707 • 

@paulunga said:

To misquote the great Jeff Gerstmann: "Eventually all the old people will die and we'll have people in Congress we can relate to."

Though I shudder at the thought of someone who grew up on 4chan becoming a senator.

Someone who grew up on 4chan doesn't have the social skills to get elected.

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Rohok

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Edited By Rohok • 

This guy is from my state.

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LibraryDues

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Edited By LibraryDues • 

Hell yeah, that's my Congressman!

Well, he was before I moved to Philadelphia, but I still love the dude.

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Moonshadow101

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Edited By Moonshadow101 • 

I like that the forum admins changed his description from "Senior Member" or whatever it was before the "United States Congress."

@jasondesante said:

why cant you go on the internet and look up your "town" or whatever, and see exactly what the people that represent you did that day and what theyre planning to do, and somewhere you can directly communicate on specific things. why doesnt that exist. oh yea because they don't know how to solve problems as well as a game company....sad

You're assuming that most politicians wouldn't shit themselves if there was that level of transparency. It's pretty easy to look up your congressman by zip-code, but their own website is unlikely to be that precise.

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MisterMouse

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Edited By MisterMouse • 

Kind of interesting to find out about a congressman who admits to playing video games, that is kind of cool though to see some one in a political position who seems to understand where a variety of us are coming from.

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Moncole

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Edited By Moncole • 

He should run for president and America will be much better because he won't allow FOX to make up shit about videogames

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Video_Game_King

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Edited By Video_Game_King • 

@Branwulf said:

I love how everyone just ignores ACTA : /

I love how everyone is saying this.

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GUTBOMB

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Edited By GUTBOMB • 

@Jimbo said:

Watch your fucking lane, Congressman!

Well played sir, I needed a good laugh

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Sweep

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Edited By Sweep  Moderator • 

Find me a congressman who plays Dota2, then we can talk.

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a5ehren

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@Moncole said:

He should run for president and America will be much better because he won't allow FOX to make up shit about videogames

Fox makes up shit about the President. I don't think that would stop them, especially since he's a Democrat.

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CharlesAlanRatliff

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Edited By CharlesAlanRatliff • 

This guy is awesome.  
 
Love these types of articles!

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Veektarius

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Edited By Veektarius • 

@PenguinDust: Freedom and surveillance are not antonyms. Nor do they relate directly to the same concept.

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Edited By warmonked • 

I'm going to get hate for this, and I only mean this as constructive criticism, but Patrick's one-sentence-per-paragraph writing style really bugs me. Each one is like a weird topic sentence fragment that goes nowhere.

It's a really great story topic though!

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Gordo789

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Edited By Gordo789 • 

@warmonked: no, I agree, it's really hard on the eyes.

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Edited By Korne • 

@GlenTennis said:

Man he plays Anivia? I love this guy.

He plays Mao... even more love there. Center lane or jungle Maokai is stronk!

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Edited By WindFall259 • 

SOPA, PIPA, and whatever bastard children that will spawn out is not just an expansion of federal power, but also a huge expansion of corporate power. All you need is a corporation that cries wolf and a court order will rush out. Remember that.

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tourgen

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Edited By tourgen • 

@jasondesante said:

why cant you go on the internet and look up your "town" or whatever, and see exactly what the people that represent you did that day and what theyre planning to do, and somewhere you can directly communicate on specific things. why doesnt that exist. oh yea because they don't know how to solve problems as well as a game company....sad

An informed and active voting public does not serve their purposes - which is usually all about getting up to dirty back room deals and using their privileged access to information to play the markets. I believe quite a few of them would actively oppose such an online tool.

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wizall

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Edited By wizall • 

@warmonked: Nah, I'm with ya on that. I don't see its purpose--chop for chop's sake?

Anyway, that was a cool bit of news.

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Edited By Napalm • 

Can we stop jerking each other off over SOPA/PIPA? Can we start talking about ACTA now, please? Does nobody else see the immediate danger this "executive treaty" holds? It's fucking global and has the potential to destroy the internet as we know it.  I'm not trying to be excessively mean, but this back-patting is starting to get a little ridiculous, especially when there's an executive law that has been passed in several countries that nobody seems to be paying attention to.

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Edited By Shnowmon • 

Mid MIA, Mr. Congressman, WW got red and blue.

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seintsu

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Edited By seintsu • 

Ahhh the patented Pron Defense.

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Edited By Rirse • 

Can we have this guy as our president?

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jakob187

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Edited By jakob187 • 

Given how much of a badass he is, I'm going to assume he jungles Maokai like a pro.

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Krakn3Dfx

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Edited By Krakn3Dfx • 

I know Jared Polis through a friend, and I can attest that he's just as cool in real life as you would imagine him being. Yes, he is a politician, so by default I haven't always agreed with his stance on all issues, but he's a lot more no-nonsense than most of the guys we have running things here in Colorado.

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Edited By jasondesante • 

@Napalm said:

Can we stop jerking each other off over SOPA/PIPA? Can we start talking about ACTA now, please? Does nobody else see the immediate danger this "executive treaty" holds? It's fucking global and has the potential to destroy the internet as we know it. I'm not trying to be excessively mean, but this back-patting is starting to get a little ridiculous, especially when there's an executive law that has been passed in several countries that nobody seems to be paying attention to.

+infinity

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NakAttack

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Edited By NakAttack • 

I know who I am voting for.

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Edited By Vexxan • 

Pretty cool :)

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Death_Unicorn

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Edited By Death_Unicorn • 

Jared Polis is a pretty cool guy, he did an AMA on reddit as well.

@jasondesante said:

@Napalm said:

Can we stop jerking each other off over SOPA/PIPA? Can we start talking about ACTA now, please? Does nobody else see the immediate danger this "executive treaty" holds? It's fucking global and has the potential to destroy the internet as we know it. I'm not trying to be excessively mean, but this back-patting is starting to get a little ridiculous, especially when there's an executive law that has been passed in several countries that nobody seems to be paying attention to.

+infinity

We should message Patrick, and hopefully that will help raise awareness.

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President_Barackbar

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Edited By President_Barackbar • 

I remember seeing Mr. Polis post in the stop SOPA and PIPA thread that Riot Games started and I was really impressed by what he had to say and how hard he was working to present alternative legislation.

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Edited By gbrading • 

In the UK we also have a politician who advocates for video games, Tom Watson. It's nice to see that there are a few politicians out there who aren't completely corrupt or useless.

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