courtesy of CSPAN
Like many DCers, I’ve watched a Congressional hearing or two either for work or… well, for work. I mean, who watches hearings for fun? When I heard that Stephen Colbert would be coming to Washington (ahead of his March to Keep Fear Alive) to testify in character before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security; I knew that it would be a hearing many would be tuning in for. He was called upon to talk about the issue of illegal migrant farm workers in the US after hosting several interviews and segments on the issue on his show, The Colbert Report.
Colbert talked a big game prior to the hearing and he certainly delivered, to the dismay of several Members of Congress. Colbert was invited by Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) to testify as a witness and participant in the Take Our Jobs Campaign and last night aired a segment where he visited a farm and spent the day working as farm hand to experience what it was like to work one of the 22,285 jobs that have been moved to Mexico between 2007-2008.
Of course, it was expected that he wouldn’t stick to the written statement he submitted ahead of time and even before Colbert was given the chance to speak, John Conyers (D-MI) asked him kindly to leave the room and not testify.
Oh snap. Colbert Nation is going to have a field day with you, Conyers.
Conyers eventually withdrew his request and allowed Colbert to speak- and speak he did. We all knew it was on when his first words included, “I certainly hope my star power can help bump this hearing all the way up to CSPAN 1.” Audience members and staffers laughed- congressmen, however, did not.
Here are some of the notable quotes from his opening statement:
- “America’s farms are presently far too dependent on immigrant labor to pick our fruits and vegetables,” he told the subcommittee, keeping in character with the arch-conservative he plays on television. “Now, the obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables. And if you look at the recent obesity statistics, many Americans have already started.”
- “This is America, I don’t want my tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean is giving me a Brazilian.”
- “Maybe this AgJobs Bill could help- I don’t know, like most members of congress- I haven’t read it.”
Reactions on the jokes were silent, as expected, there were some smirks and chuckles but I bet most of the laughing was had by anybody outside the room watching it on TV.
While having a celebrity like Colbert testify before Congress isn’t groundbreaking since many stars have faced Congress before, I was surprised to see the Congressmen throw any questions to him during the Q&A section. This is the guy behind Better Know A District. I would of assumed our lawmakers know that saying hi to him puts you at risk of being flamed on his next episode. Yet he continues to find ways to get Congressmen to talk to him, and in his latest feat, get invited to come to Capitol Hill and talk to them on the record.