Yes, Stephen Colbert testified Friday before Congress in character as the blowhard pundit from Comedy Central's “The Colbert Report.” Not all the members of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration were happy he was there. That was clear from their body language. Rep. John Conyers (D) of Michigan, chairman of full Judiciary panel, even made an abortive attempt to keep Mr. Colbert from speaking, asking him to just submit his statement for the record, instead.
But Colbert did speak. And as you might expect, he was something of a loose cannon in a china shop. He’d had been invited by the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) of California, to discuss farm labor issues. His expertise? He worked on a farm for a day as part of the United Farm Workers “Take Our Jobs” campaign, which challenges US laborers to replace immigrants in the fields.
Despite being invited by a Democrat, Colbert took jabs at Democrats that, even though they came from a fictional character, caused Democratic aides to wince.
For instance, he noted that only a handful of people had accepted the UFW’s “Take Our Jobs” challenge, but “that number may increase in the future, as I understand many Democrats may be looking for work come November.”
And the farm work? It is hard. Really, really hard. You have to bend over to pick things a lot.
“It turns out – and I did not know this – most soil is at ground level,” said Colbert.
Perhaps improving the legal protections for farm workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants, will help all farm workers, Colbert added. But the ultimate answer to making the job better might be scientific progress.
“Maybe the easier answer is to find fruits and vegetables that pick themselves,” said Colbert. “The scientists over at ‘Fruit of the Loom’ have made great strides in fruit-human hybrids.”
Alternatively, dietary changes could solve the problem.
“The obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables,” said Colbert. “If you look at US obesity statistics, you’ll see many Americans have already started down this road.”
Most members of the Judiciary subcommittee were leery of asking Colbert a direct question. One who went there and came back alive was Rep. Lamar Smith (R) of Texas, who thanked him for his statement about Democratic employment prospects.
“I endorse all Republican policies without question,” said Colbert (after all, he’s a mock-conservative pundit).
Representative Smith then thanked Colbert further for his implicit support of the GOP’s new Pledge to America list of proposed legislative actions.
In the end, Colbert said he would never work on a farm again after his one day in the hot sun.
“I don’t even want to watch ‘Green Acres’ anymore,” he said.
And he thanked the assembled members for their service to the nation. We think.
“I feel that after my testimony both sides here will work for the benefit of America. As you always do,” he deadpanned.