Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Stephen Colbert comes face to face with angry conservatives

By Dana Milbank

colbert.jpg

Stephen Colbert plays an angry conservative man on television. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) plays one every moment of his life. On Friday morning, they met in the hearing room of the House Judiciary Committee. The result was kind of funny.

Colbert had been called to testify about one of his pet issues, the plight of migrant farm workers. King's pet issue is also migrant farm workers, but he wants to get rid of them and replace them with "everyday American workers."

"Maybe we should be spending less time watching Comedy Central and more time considering all the real jobs that are out there, ones that require real hard labor," King said bitterly. He invoked the "Joe the Plumbers of the world who, many days, would prefer the aroma of fresh dirt to that of the sewage from American elitists who disparage them even as they flush."

There were groans in the committee room.

Colbert, in character, delivered his opening statement. "This is America! I don't want a tomato picked by a Mexican! I want it picked by an American, then sliced by Guatemalan, and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian."

King glowered.

When it was King's turn to question the witness, he said he had watched a YouTube video that purported to show Colbert packing corn while working on a farm for a day. "When I watched, you unpacked corn," the congressman alleged. "You don't do that out there on the cornfield."

"Were you implying that I was not actually doing the work I was depicted as doing?" the comedian replied.

"I thought it was curious," King repeated, "that on the farm where you harvest the corn I was watching you actually unload a crate rather than load a crate."

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) yielded time to Colbert to respond to the allegation. "Mr. Colbert, which direction was the corn going in?"

Colbert appeared to get serious. "I was packing corn. I was a cornpacker," he insisted. "I know that term is offensive to some people because cornpacker is a derogatory term for a gay Iowan."

Most everybody laughed, except for King. "I definitely will reclaim my time," Gonzalez said.

Washington isn't exactly Comedy Central, but the Judiciary Committee is a center of comedy of the unintentional variety. Committee members performed their roles for more than two hours.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), chairman of the subcommittee conducting the hearing, played the star-struck groupie. "[Colbert's] actions are a good example of how using both levity and fame, a media figure can bring attention to a critically important issue for the good of the nation," she gushed, making time to mention his show's 15 Emmy nominations.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) performed the role of old eccentric guy. "I would like to recommend that, now that we've got all this attention, that you excuse yourself," he suggested. "I'm asking you to leave the committee room completely and submit your statement instead."

There were moans of protest from the audience, and Lofgren dissuaded the erratic Conyers from pursuing this tack.

Finally, after 35 minutes of the lawmakers' warm-up act, it was time for the witnesses. "I certainly hope that my star power can bump this hearing all the way up to C-SPAN 1," Colbert joked.

The Democrats laughed. The Republicans, not so much.

"America's farms are presently far too dependent on immigrant labor to pick our fruits and vegetables. Now, the obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables, and, you look at the recent obesity statistics, you'll see that many Americans have already started," he said.

The Republicans remained unmoved.

"Unfortunately. . .they are a necessary source of roughage. As evidence, I would like to submit a video of my colonoscopy into the congressional record."

More stone faces.

When Colbert noted that there may be more migrant workers because "many Democrats may be looking for work come November," Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) finally cracked a smile. When Colbert complained that picking beans required him to bend over because "most soil is at ground level," Rep. Dan Lundgren (R-Calif.) allowed a smile to escape.

Yet through it all -- when Colbert suggested that fruits could pick themselves ("the genetic engineers over at Fruit of the Loom have made great strides in human-fruit hybrids"); when he said that memory of his day of field work causes him to "break into a cold sweat at the sight of a salad bar"; when he closed with "I yield the balance of my time - USA, number one" --- King didn't so much as grin.

Colbert largely stuck to his stage persona. Was the farm work hard? "Certainly harder work than this." Does he favor immigration reform? "It's time to roll up our sleeves and face this issue mano a -- whatever the Spanish word for mano is." Does he endorse the GOP's "Pledge to America"? "I endorse all Republican policy without question."

After the cornpacker joke, Colbert dropped his Bill O'Reilly routine. When Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) asked him why he chose migrant workers as his pet issue, he scratched his head. "I like talking about people who don't have any power, and it just seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but don't have any rights," he said. He then quoted a biblical verse, "whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers."

The punchline never came. It was awkward for everybody.

By Dana Milbank  | September 24, 2010; 1:43 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Happy, National Punctuation Day?.!!,()&
Next: Stephen Colbert testimony: a mockery, but of whom?

Comments

Dana, Dana, Dana,
It was an angry democrat who asked Colbert to leave after his testimony. And by the way, Mr. Colbert truly crossed a line here. This isn't funny. To do this in Congress is disgusting, tacky, and downright stupid.

Posted by: AnnieP1 | September 24, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Stephen Colbert is another Obama red herring to distract the electorate. Nothing less, nothing more.

Posted by: VaPatriot | September 24, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Congress can't take a joke.

You know what they say about people who can't take a joke......

Cornpack 'em!!!

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | September 24, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone really believe Colbert would spend a day in the hot sun, havesting corn or other crops? In reality, he would be working under an umbrella, with his catered lunch and beverages nearby. The corn he knows are the crappy jokes he tells to a mindless audience.

Posted by: nmg3rln | September 24, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I watched the whole five minutes of this idiot speaking of his "expert" knowledge on migrant workers. Many are reporting that Colbert made a mockery of Congress. I'd say that Democrats, specifically, Lofgran and Conyers, made a mockery of Congress today, by extending this invitation to Colbert. This is a serious topic, and it deserves serious consideration. Democrats should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: boosterprez | September 24, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Stephen Colbert. You are the King. Because you are "The People."

The "Honorable Representatives or Senators" forget they are the public servants of The People. And they need to be put in their place. This is not a party line position.

Posted by: kishorgala | September 24, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Congress makes a mockery out of itself every day. It doesn't need Stephen Colbert to do it for them. His only role was to point out to them, they are indeed quite mockable.

Posted by: raheaberlin | September 24, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

This was wonderful. Colbert got to see how most Americans feel about him. He's silly and way too arrogant for his own good.

Posted by: georges2 | September 24, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Its embarrassing to watch comedians, entertainers, hollywood-types get involved in politics.... because these people are clueless about the real world and show it.
Picking fruit and vegetables IS a LOT different, than Packing it.
Democrats are digging their own grave, and its embarrassing to watch.

Posted by: ohioan | September 24, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Next thing you know, two cornpackers will want to get married. And there goes the sancity of the American grain silo. I'm telling you, this is EXACTLY what the cornpacker agenda calls for. It's disgraceful.

Cornpacker motto: "Don't ask, don't shuck."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 24, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Completely absurd. Congress is enough of a joke as it is; they don't need to make a further mockery of it. I personally like Colbert, but this was not the place for his performance.

Posted by: Lilycat11 | September 24, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

To each his pone.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 24, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

This was simply hilarious! Have Americans lost the ability to laugh. . . especially at ourselves?

Posted by: hueylong | September 24, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

AnnieP1 get a sense of humor. That bunch of blowhards in Congress deserve the backs of our hands: all of them. Their pretense at decorum is a joke. The Democrats deserve it because most of them are so chicken they do not want to take their heads out of the sand long enough to realize that a huge majority of us ordinary people would rush to their side if they grew backbones and actually stood up to the GOP.

The Republicans deserve to be mule-kicked simply because they are Republicans and have not a clue as to what the nation needs. That last gasp bunch of prunefaced neanderthals are simply interested in getting their greedy hands on every last possession everyone else has.

Take a pill!

Posted by: agrossman1 | September 24, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Colbert was funny and brilliant. He exposed the idiocy of the Republican (don't confuse me with the facts) anti-immigrant policies.

Posted by: JohnnyU2Berry | September 24, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 24, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I watched this self-righteous man, Representative Steve King, gloat when he was informed that an airplane had been used as a missile and killed a Federal employee in Texas. He makes a mockery of the Congress every day that he holds a position there.

Posted by: Provincial | September 24, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Watch out, curmudgen6, you might be getting an invitation to bend a Congressional ear!
Good stuff, I say, and not too corny!

Posted by: bluejay31 | September 24, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

What else is a comedian expected to do when called before the public? However, Congress is filled with egotists who wish to be approached as absolute monarchs, to have people speak to them with their eyes cast down and their voice low, as if in church. Colbert just can't be that kind of serf. His showbiz personality pops out.

Posted by: drzimmern1 | September 24, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

LOL HAHAHAHA That was the funniest thing I heard in weeks!

Wow, you can’t tell where Comedy Central stops and Congress begins.

Posted by: erik1 | September 24, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

@ curmudgeon6:

"To each his pone."

Lol brilliant!

Posted by: whistlindiksee | September 24, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

This Congressional Hearing would be very silly if not for the fact that I was informed by a farmer friend of mine in the '80s that he had to use immigrant workers because the young men (I taught in a High School) in the area wouldn't work that hard for the low pay.
Low pay was necessary to keep the cost of production low. If costs increased, mechanize, or get cheap labor. That's the way it is.

Posted by: ntmcdowell | September 24, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Once in awhile it's nice to see our members of Congress humbled. Our Congress seems to forget they are the paid servants of the American people, not the other way round. Really what did Congress expect when they extended this invitation to Colbert. A serious heart to heart talk about migrant farm workers. What a shot accross Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) bow.

Posted by: mjmann | September 24, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Colbert said the truth
and
the Republicans responded as normal..

In denial

ISA

Posted by: Issa1 | September 24, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

How Many Republicans went to Pick Corn
and
to see what the issues were all about?

ISA

Posted by: Issa1 | September 24, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

No one is keeping Americans from competing for the jobs illegals are supposedly robbing them of. The sad truth is Americans won't do what illegals will for the same wage. Why should they. The rich are getting richer by using illegal immigrants instead of paying a living wage to Americans. Many claim that its illegals creating the problem but its actually the businesses and individuals who are willing to ignore immigration laws in search of ever greater profits that force other businesses to do the same if they wish to remain competitive. Then consumers are asked to choose if they wish to crack down on businesses and risk higher prices on the store shelves or punish illegal immigrants. The whole scenario is just so utterly ridiculous and unbelievable that its hard to believe so many Americans are suckered by Republican and Tea Party nonsense about it.

Posted by: tryreason | September 24, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Rep. King is the one who should be out picking field crops.

Those who say Colbert made a mockery of Congress conveniently forgot how the oil spill tycoons (Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil) and the four horsemen of the Goldman-Sachs apocalypse made a mockery of Congress AND our nation AND wrecked the Gulf of Mexico AND wrecked the world's economy. Amnesia?

I wonder how many of Mr. King's constituents clamor to go pick field crops? Which Americans does he see as picking field crops? Minorities maybe? Imagine that.

Posted by: 809212876 | September 24, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse


I think King has a lot in common with my "representative," Connolly. Both appear to be idiots. I also love to hear the parliamentarian bs about yield, etc. Wash the chair talking about yields of corn/acre or yielding time? We need fewer of these people on the Judiciary committee and more Colberts.


Posted by: mortified469 | September 24, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious! I hope that the Congressmen saw what it's like when you watch them and their inane shenanigans on Cable in the House and Senate. The only difference between what they do and what Colbert did is that Colbert is FUNNY. The Congress has become an unfunny JOKE that WON'T get anything done!

Posted by: billnbillieskid | September 24, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

This is a serious issue? Really? Than why are republicans always getting in the way of getting something done about immigration? I know, they are afraid if something actually gets done and all the *illegals* they hire would go find a better paying job. You really think republicans want to give up the cheap labor for some of the people who line their pockets with money? And can you imagine the republicans disgust with having to pay someone minimum wage to work for them? The republicans love the cheap labor and too bad all these workers just don't do a work stoppage one day. Lets see all Americans freak out when prices goes up for a fruit and republicans would blame President Obama. Don't be foolish people, republicans are just talking out of both sides, they need the cheap labor, they want the cheap labor, they thrive on cheap labor.

Posted by: Realistic5 | September 24, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

What, did you expect to find -- a Repulican't with a sense of humor? The next one will be the first one.

And what about Big Agra -- which hires these workers? Where is King's rage against them? Cut off the demand and you cut off the supply -- and a fundraising base of King and the Republican't Party. (We're the GOP; we can't, and we won't, do anything)

Posted by: gpwh2os | September 24, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Steve King wants immigrants out so he can get more farm subsidies for his constituents so he can remain elected.
He just wants to use tax dollars for payoffs. I am sure he get enough support for his agenda --- In Iowa. (which is all he needs and from only his District at that)

Posted by: doug39 | September 24, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe the harrumphing self-righteousness of the people commenting on this. Congress in general, and the GOP in particular, has made a total mockery of representative government since Pres. Obama was elected. Bravo Stephen Colbert, for letting them know how ridiculous they are!

Satire has ever been a potent means of letting those in power know what idiots they have become in pursuit of their drug of choice--power over the destinies of others.

Posted by: barberjazz | September 24, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Most ot the time I don't find Colbert's jokes and yet I appreciate what he and Stewart are doing to slap the media, Congress and the TV experts who daily make a mockery of US.perhaps the US Congress is not an apprpriate forum to crack jokes but at the same talking it should not be a place where lies, innuendos and idiocy are the norm as it appears to be for many Congressman, in particular, Republicans; those who critize this event should listen what is said on the chambers, it is shameful, disgraceful, hateful and unamerican.
Colbert should have challenge Congressman King to a duel picking up corn on a 95 degrees day and/or ask him to bring Americans looking for work to the job.

Posted by: postDC | September 24, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I watched the hearing--Colbert was in character, and it really was a sad commmentary on what Congress does with very serious subjects. I watched, on Colbert's show, clips of him 'working'--it was a conglomeration of comedy skits, but no one who was working was laughing. Unfortunately, his presence in Congress made Zoe Lofgren look like an out-of-touch fool for inviting him and Colbert's contempt for Congress was evident, and Colbert's 'field day' antics showed his lack of respect for the laborers and the work they do. Having said that, I think Colbert is a great comedien, but he should stick to Comedy Central.

Posted by: coffic | September 24, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

it was 'pone'.. it was 'pwned'. Stephen Colbert pwned Steve King. And it was over the top hilarious.

Posted by: SpecTP | September 24, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

bottom line is American will not go work in the fields regardless of how much the farmers are willing to pay most Americans are not willing to move around the nation from crop to crop living in substandard housing for low wages we have allowed migrant farm workers for decades I remember these fights back in the mid 60s with Caesar Chavez protesting "mexican migrant workers" the "grape boycotts" etc, they use to bus them in to South Carolina to pick peaches now it's illegal why whos going to pick the peaches people in South Carolina won't do it I loved what Steven Colbert did to Congress they needed some truthiness people like Steven King need to get out of Congress and go home and make their own families miserable rather than all Americans miserable he said it the best of anyone when he said he was done and he was sure both sides were going to work together for all of America and the entire room busted out laughing because they knew it was the truth both sides won't work together Republicans just vote NO on any thing Democratic Senators and Congress people want as they showed yesterday right after their Pledge for America showedd they would support small business they went back to Congress and voted against a small business package for 30 billion in loans and tax breaks only one republican voted for it I thought republicans loved small businesses their votes didn't show that love yesterday and they want control of Congress back why? I would rather have 435 Stephen Colberts serving in Congress than the idiots we have now

Posted by: mikey30919 | September 24, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

After watching the clips and reading the postings here, one is, again, reminded of how little good humor this is in the conservative world.

We, at least, have the ability to laugh at ourselves - even though there are some, "stick up the -back" Liberals."

Posted by: rebeccajm | September 24, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Party and friends - a comedian's dream come true.
This "Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" has shot itself in the foot is walking on its ankles.

Posted by: apspa1 | September 24, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Colbert is a comedian. The Congress of the U.S.S.A. is a joke. The Congress is controlled by the democrats ... along with their resident comedian, Al Franken. To ask why Colbert was there is an oxymoron.

Posted by: IQ168 | September 24, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

A Dem invited him.

A Dem was angry at him.

Congress really has nothing better to do?

Bring on November!!

Posted by: drjcarlucci | September 24, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Um, mikey in Augusta, GA, no human being on earth can read your screed when you string together 258 words like that with only one lone comma in the middle. C'mon, man, give us a break. (Please note I'm not gonna jump on lack of proper capitalization.) If you're going to vent, at least make it a readable vent.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | September 24, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

When I want comedy I watch "Fox-Comedy" and "Boner's" favorite Comedy Station, "Sea Spun" where you talk to no-one and you can show off your "New-Doo" and Toy Assortment.

Posted by: scotch1937 | September 24, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

More people should mock Congressmen and Senators. They are the laughing stock of the nation and a blight on our society. The representative obviously has not worked a real job in years and could not tell if something was being handled for the first, second, or last time.

We should make Saturday Night Live do a skit on Congress once a month.

Posted by: ronjeske | September 24, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

You people do realize that Colbert plays a character. You are right in saying that this is not a joke...but most of congresses solutions make a mockery of our sense of justice, compassion, and human rights. He's raising awareness for a powerless population in a way that the most passionate member of congress cannot, and for that we should that Mr. Colbert. Those who say he has no place in real politics are completely off base. Political satire is a cornerstone of politics and some of histories most insightful people have been satirists. Consider Jonathan Swift who wrote a Modest Proposal, for example. In all honesty...who cares, don't get your panties in a bunch. Just another pointless partisan debacle in congress. Don't you people have more important things to do than comment on this story, like a job, or children? I am at my job right now.

Posted by: jcherson | September 24, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the right would be happier if it was a intelligent republican comedian. If there was such a thing.

Posted by: mack1 | September 24, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

It sounds like Mr. Colbert took his routine to Comedy (Congress) Central, and the Foggy Bottom Bozos didn't enjoy being the butt of his joke.

I can't understand the GOP sour-puss attitude as the are the joke of the country.

Maybe Mr. Colbert's humor hit too close to home.

Posted by: chamateddy | September 24, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse


As an Iowan I am ashamed that Rep King represents our state. No one makes more a mockery of Congress than he does. I can never figure out how he is returned to Congress. His Congressional District is the largest animal agricultural production district in Iowa and processing plants are more dependent on immigrant labor that any other section of the state.

Posted by: bfree123 | September 24, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Congress, for wasting about $100,000 to get a comedy routine. November is coming, and your asses are OUT!

Posted by: madmike272 | September 24, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

These are members of Congress, not absolute monarchs. Bravo to Colbert for taking them down a notch or three.

People seriously need to lighten up and remember that the government is by, for and of the people. They work for us. Colbert should testify more often.

Posted by: simpleton1 | September 24, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Once again this 110th Congress displays their ridiculus ineptitude with this sham of a hearing and the Democrats inviting Stephen Colbert to enter "testimony" on a serious subject. I seldom agree with Rep.John Conyers but he displayed insight and class recognizing the embarssment being rained down this committee and Congress by Colbert and asking him to leave the room and submit his testimony in writing. But the idiot subcommittee chairwoman who invited Colbert went to his defense. This should encourage the voters on Nov 2nd to throw these "losers"out of Congress so we can start over in 2011 in trying to solve problems and stop the embarrassment of this Congress.

Posted by: mrtro | September 24, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Want to see something REALLY funny? That would be Rep. King when he finds out ICE went into the corn fields at harvest time and busted the undocumented workers, leaving all his welfare farmers with no one to do the dirty work 'cause they refuse to pay wages high enough to attract legal workers.

Seeing this fine conservative go apoplectic would be HILARIOUS!

Posted by: Garak | September 24, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

"Stephen Colbert is another Obama red herring to distract the electorate. Nothing less, nothing more."

"Boardwalk Empire" got great reviews. Clearly another distraction concocted by the President to distract the nation from the tea party's hysteria.

Posted by: Koko3 | September 24, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

ohioan wrote: "Its embarrassing to watch comedians, entertainers, hollywood-types get involved in politics."

I agree. And Ronald Reagan was never an entertainer, nor are the current head of the GOP (Mr. Limbaugh) nor the "head" of the Tea Party (Ms. Palin).

Posted by: rogied25 | September 24, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I haven't laughed so hard, to point of tears, in quite a while. Bravo, Mr. Colbert! Well done.

Posted by: tronic1 | September 24, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

"Angry" conservatives? So what else is new? They've been "angry" ever since democracy was restored in this country in 2008 - TFB guys. You'd think these pond scum would whole-heartedly support Colbert's "Keep Fear Alive" rally. After all, that's all they've been doing for the last twelve years anyway. Well that, and stealing the country blind through the GOP's centerpiece program of "Support-A-Terminally-Greedy-Bastard-Republican" enacted duting the Bush Reich.

Posted by: Bushwhacked1 | September 24, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Colbert was pure genius. He gave that horses petoot king a good corn holeing, and left him looking like the complete right wing republicon teahadi stooge that he is. If Americans are so clamoring for those farm jobs, where were they when the immigrant workers offered them up to any takers? 16 people showed up. 16. That will put a big old dent in the unemployment picture. As Colbert so brilliantly pointed out - it is really realy hard back breaking work. EXACTLY what you cannot find an American worker to do. Just like they don't do enough homework in high school history and civics classes to realize the heaping steaming manure piles dished out by the republicons and their teahadi offspring are just that - steaming hot piles of animal mess.

Lazy shiftless slugs whining about things they don't have a clue about. Colbert rocked them. His rally should be one for the history books, unlike the stupidity of a palin rally repleat with its thinly vieled bigotry and willfull ignorance which will go in the history books alongside the Klan rally of 1924 in DC....

Posted by: John1263 | September 24, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

The entireity of Planet Wingnuttia is utterly humor-challenged.

The extremist Republican party once had ELMO testify at Congressional hearings.

This isn't unheard of and watching finge right wing xenophobic wingnut haters like Steve King clenching their teeth during this was worth the price of admission (which was NOTHING) in itsself.

The Right Wing Noise Machine and the conservative loving Corporate Media don't like it because nobody asked THEM to testify. Their panties are in a bunch, their noses are out of joint, because they didn't get asked to eat lunch with the cool kids.

Hey TV pundits - GROW UP.

.

Posted by: DrainYou | September 24, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

He then quoted a biblical verse, "whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers."
The punchline never came. It was awkward for everybody.
--------------------------------------------
Actually THAT was the punchline. And everyone in that particular room should have felt awkward...and ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: Sharon_6441 | September 24, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Satire can be an effective rhetorical tool to make a point; Colbert, in my opinion, succeeded admirably. I had already watched his migrant worker performance last night on the Colbert Report and was interested in seeing the congressional reaction to his testimony on behalf of migrant workers.

In case some readers did not recognize the comedian's closing reference: "Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to me," I'm appending the original context from Matthew 25: 31-40. Take some time to read it without sneering or name-calling.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations 15 will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Strange that there is no mention of anyone having to "deserve" or "qualify" for the compassion Jesus requires. This is, by the way, is what "liberal" means, at least to me. The "bleeding hearts" may be on the right side after all.

Colbert was focusing on those we judge to be the "least of these" in our society's message. Got it? Let's hope Congress does.

Posted by: castleb | September 24, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe we should be spending less time watching Comedy Central and more time considering all the real jobs that are out there, ones that require real hard labor," King said bitterly.

So according to King, he doesn't have a real job right? Or is that somehow different?

Posted by: cjpotter19 | September 24, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

You guys need a war you can win...you people are so self-destructive!

"Bleeding hearts" abused by "Jesus freaks"?

The teachings of "The Christ" are practised by the "bleeding hearts" to some degree; yet are attacked by the coalition (GOP/Tea Party/Religious Fanatics) sheep in wolves clothing!

The world believes that like a Bad smell" the USA will just go away...or sold out to the highest bidders...Middle East/China/Europe/Australia...or as the "Borg" would say "you will be assimilated"!

Posted by: porpie9254 | September 24, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

What upsets Rep. King is that Steven Colbert was right. The migrant workers do the jobs Americans refuse to do. If you bother to watch his entire testimony, Colbert spoke from the heart and as a Christian. It was actually a poignant moment to here him explain why he took up the plight of the powerless farm worker. Brilliant, Steven, and very moving!

Posted by: tfburke19 | September 24, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Sadly porpie9254 what you say is too true. We are a nation of idiots that will never get on the same page and therefore will implode on our own. Can you imagine these Americans now having to fight WWII? Scary, huh? These folks are all about ME ME ME, and too many have the IQs of carrots. We elect a good faithful man(versus an adulterer/divorcee) and they slay him in our news/make up every lie they possibly can, instead of working together to fix our problems in this country. History will treat us not so kindly. And Satan is totally delighted.

Posted by: Sharon_6441 | September 24, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Democrat, and some of you may recognize my username as defending the President usually without going ad hominem. This having been said I will say mea culpa in advance, because Lofgren is a moron who got taken in by Colbert.

He is a relentless self promoter who spent the whole hearing doing standup, and not very good standup. Lofgren may have thought that he was bringing light to the problem, but like Beck, like Limbaugh; the only they are exposing is themselves. One can only imagine if Beck had been invited to a hearing and went into his crying and his usual massacre of US history.

Lofgren is probably doing self-congratulatory phone calls all evening, while not realizing how she made herself look. Even Conyers, her collegue, was disgusted with her. She reached for and achieved the rare Triple Crow, promoting Colbert, trivializing farm workers and making herself look like a buffoon!

Posted by: 54465446 | September 24, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

johnnyU2berry wrote:

"Colbert was funny and brilliant. He exposed the idiocy of the Republican (don't confuse me with the facts) anti-immigrant policies"

Really? Exactly what did he say about immigrants and their diffiuclties, because I watched the whole thing and didn't hear a word about immigration, or even about the farm workers that he was supposed to be representing.

Posted by: 54465446 | September 24, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Realistic wrote:

"This is a serious issue? Really? Than why are republicans always getting in the way of getting something done about immigration? I know, they are afraid if something actually gets done and all the *illegals* they hire would go find a better paying job. You really think republicans want to give up the cheap labor for some of the people who line their pockets with money? And can you imagine the republicans disgust with having to pay someone minimum wage to work for them?"

I'm sorry. I didn't realize that it was only Republicans who shopped at Walmart and bought products made in undeveloped countries. I didn't realize that there was a majority of Americans who are willing to pay $10 for a head of lettuce so that better wages could be paid in the fields.

That's what is so bad about the Colbert approach. It's easy to mock or to be a critic. No one ever asks you about solving such an intractable problem or coming up with the money to pay for it.

For all your psuedo tears about the plight of immigrants not one of you would let them pitch a tent in your backyard or pay more for a remodeling job because you felt sorry for the immigrant contractor. Colbert probably wouldn't even let them use his bathroom if they were landscaping his lawn!

Posted by: 54465446 | September 24, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

There was a time when "redneck" was a badge of honor. These were Anglo-Saxon Americans who slaved in the fields for just a little more pay than people of color in the Ag industry. Today, it represents some people who get a little more pay, tout how conservative they are, although they hire people of color for illegal little pay and degrade them at the same time.

Posted by: TheCentrist1 | September 24, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, there were actually some intelligent posts here! I really liked the post at about 7.40 pm quoting Matthew 25: 31-40. I also liked the post at 11.22 about this being an intractable problem.

I think the benefit of bringing in Colbert is the attention that it gives both to the particular subject and to Congressional proceedings in general.

My two cents is that it isn't helpful to throw up one's hands and say a problem like this is intractable. There may be government actions that could make the situation better or worse. There is no doubt that employers employ migrant workers because it maximizes profits for the farm owners and also reduces the cost of American-grown food. For some farmers, migrant labor may be the difference between bankruptcy and keeping the farm. At the same time, migrant laborers are human beings and they deserve decent treatment and the opportunity for a better life. So, I think it is possible for our government to provide a framework for allowing farmers to hire cost-effective labor while at the same time providing some legal protections for the laborers. Thus, the relevance of of the quotation from Matthew.

Posted by: Renu1 | September 25, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Wow - look how far the Dems have sunk...trying to use comedians to save themselves.....no wonder they are going to get slaughtered in the midterms.

Posted by: Realist201 | September 25, 2010 6:13 AM | Report abuse

5446544 wrote about Colbert:

"He is a relentless self promoter who spent the whole hearing doing standup, and not very good standup ... Exactly what did he say about immigrants and their diffiuclties, because I watched the whole thing and didn't hear a word about immigration, or even about the farm workers that he was supposed to be representing."

I have to agree. Very flat attempt at satire and irony, making his final comments sound merely pathetic, as if just more of the same long, bad joke. It was mostly attitude, one being that "I'm so clever, you're so stupid, therefore I'm right." No wonder the dinosaur from Iowa didn't laugh (a rule of comedy is that you joke with your audience, not at them). Thank goodness the "left" has the humorous yet incisive sincerity of Jon Stewart and the unsparing analyses of BIll Maher.

Posted by: JH87 | September 25, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

I see several comments on this article regarding the inappropriateness of Stephen Colbert, a well known comedian, providing expert testimony in Congress. Yet, as I see it we considering the election of a witch from Delaware and an anti-government militia activist from Nevada to the Senate. I'd say we are about to embark down a road of extreme whackiness arising from Congress in the years ahead. I'll take Colbert.

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | September 25, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Not funny.

Posted by: carlbatey | September 25, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Well ask a silly question you get a silly answer. Colbert is a man of good wit, he proved it by throwing Bush a curve ball in 2006. As for the GOP, it has once again proved itself to be a party of stupid white men who, to boot, have no sense of humor. What a dismal lot of ideologues, dogma-riders, sourpusses, all hissy ever since Roosevelt slammed the door to feudalism in their collective faces. And if Americans vote them in again, well they will get what they deserve, just like all those laid-off factory workers in 1984, who went for Reagan even while feeding catfood to their families (this is not hyperbole).

Too bad. You deserve your poverty, poverty of mind, poverty of spirit and in the end poverty of pocketbook.

Posted by: Talleyrand57 | September 25, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Amid the laughter of some and the angry glowers of others, Colbert's message was largely missed - he was supporting immigrant farm workers who have no political power and share no civil rights but are used by the rest of us. I thought he was quite eloquent.

Posted by: lifestory | September 25, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

lifestory wrote: "Amid the laughter of some and the angry glowers of others, Colbert's message was largely missed - he was supporting immigrant farm workers who have no political power and share no civil rights but are used by the rest of us. I thought he was quite eloquent."

I agree. I stuck with the Wapo clip until the end. Some of it was awkward. Then this: "I like talking about people who don't have any power, and it just seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but don't have any rights,....whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers."

That was a line that Congress, that all of us, needed to hear.

Posted by: martymar123 | September 25, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

And why do we have such a low opinion of Congress. Asking an unfunny liberal comedian, pretending to an unfunny conservative to address a serious issue, but an issue which is not as significant as unemployment, the economy, or even firming up next year’s tax policy is as brain dead as it comes.

Have we now totally crossed over? We don’t make anything, we don’t educate our young, and nothing is serious. We just market each other to ourselves, entertain ourselves, serve burgers to people on lunch break from their fast food jobs, and borrow money.

Has the Comedy Channel gone to Congress or is Congress the Comedy Channel?

Posted by: flyover22 | September 25, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Looks like our Kings & Queens got their COURT JESTER!

If they were serious, they would have called in victimes and families of victims that have been killed & raped by illegal aliens!

Posted by: dareisay | September 25, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Looks like our Kings & Queens got their COURT JESTER!

If they were serious, they would have called in victims and families of victims, that have been killed & raped by illegals!

Posted by: dareisay | September 25, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

VaPatriot,

The whole Colbert and Pony Show is a distraction. While CNN A NEWS ROOM? WaPoo! NYT, et al, are joking and laughing at the crazies on the "Right", the Democrap Wright Wing of the apostate pack of pale rogues from Chitcago-Land, now squatting in OUR houses, water OUR feet, spit in OUR eye, and call US names when WE dare to complain. Some Blog-Hogs ask, just who are WE? WE the People .... endowed BY OUR CREATOR ....

Posted by: RichNomore | September 25, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

You need a soul to have a sense of humor, and Colbert proved Republicans don't have a sense of humor.

No wonder Republicans vote against minimum wage legislation, and allow 15 states to disallow workers compensation for farm workers - which is the point Colbert brought light to.

The Republicans are left with crying about no tax breaks for the rich, and any safety net for the poor. Colbert proved they have No Souls!

Posted by: GarrisonLiberty | September 25, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Annie wrote>>>To do this in Congress is disgusting, tacky, and downright stupid.

That's what I thought when Republicans overwhelmingly voted AGAINST the Democrats' bill to give tax breaks to corporations that moved jobs BACK to the U.S.
Republicans didn't want to change THEIR longstanding legislative accomplishment that gave tax breaks to corporations that MOVED middle class jobs overseas.
Stupid Republicans!

Posted by: angie12106 | September 25, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Garrisonliberty wrote:

"No wonder Republicans vote against minimum wage legislation, and allow 15 states to disallow workers compensation for farm workers - which is the point Colbert brought light to."

Really? Exactly how did he do that?

I watched the whole video and all I saw was standup, followed by that last weepy line "to the least of my brothers" Milbank called it awkward. I call it phoney. As I posted before I'm sure away from the TV cameras, Colbert won't even let the landscapers use his bathroom when they're doing his lawn.

Posted by: 54465446 | September 25, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

martymar123 wrote:

"I agree. I stuck with the Wapo clip until the end. Some of it was awkward. Then this: "I like talking about people who don't have any power, and it just seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but don't have any rights,....whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers.""

Really? You do? Then why give us standup for 8.5 minutes and then devote only a throw away line to the cause you're supposed to be there to espouse?

Posted by: 54465446 | September 25, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican - who has enough of a sense of humor to have appeared twice on Colbert's show - was unamused:

"What's sad about it is in the 21 months I've been on the immigration subcommittee, we have only met 10 times. We have never, never looked at a substantive bill to deal with the immigration issue. Then they call up Stephen Colbert?"'

I guess simply saying "the least of my brothers" is enough eh?

Posted by: 54465446 | September 25, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Sub-Committee:
GarrisonLiberty | September 25, 2010 3:25 PM:

No, you need to know of a creator of a soul to have any idea what a sense of humor is, but......

.....seriously, Depression pretty much has set in for the 14,000,000 Joseph Robinette (she's a big ***king deal) Bite-me (your jobs are never coming back or getting any better in this life-time) Biden is the Czar over.

Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but no one is obligated to presume anything. Everyone has a right to an opinion and to express it freely, without coercion, but no one should be compelled to either presume anything and/or hear that expression, ie, there is no right-endowment to be heard (idividually that is). Therefore, those who are in the business and/or are charged with presenting information related to the collective of opinion and expression thus, have a greater responsibility to protect the rights and safety of individuals over groups than even government.

Abbrogation or Responsibility

Collectivism has obscene consequences and is fair to no one but those who administer it. Freedom and Protection from collectivism has it's own level playing field. Supreme Justice-Unconstrained Representation-Limited Administration cures all problems. What if? Eh?

Men of the People, not of certain People.

Example: Representative says, "certain people need help getting loans to live in a Condo. Administration says "not so fast, there may be consequences to the availability of credit without oversight and qualification". Collectivist Lawyers say "give the loans or we will shut down the banking industry", Administration folds like a house of cards. Voila! Sub-Prime Morgue for 50% of Capital driven Business activities, a new hope and change remake of Robin Hood Politics, and USA is nearly on the ropes without one more plane through a building. Reps of certain people, WIN. Administration of Certain Business people, WASH. Collectivist Lawyers, Left of Sanity Academics, Al Qaeda, WIN WIN WIN! Cost-Benefit: $10,000,000,000,000/$0.00. Oh, except the Parking Meters now run on time.

All is not lost! Recovery is not an option any longer, only Restoration.

Posted by: RichNomore | September 25, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

BTW... that is: General Welfare, not certain people's welfare out of other people's pockets. Besides in order to honor that CREATOR and encourage the adoption and adherence to those enumeratated principles, one must first acknowledge that creator-ship, with all one's heart, mind, mouth, and life. There appears to be a sad lack of that fervor on the part of today's leader's. In fact there is more effort being exerted to rob Peter to pay Paul, then mug Paul on his way home. That "DECLARATION" was "UNANIMOUS". That should be the test for bi-partisan government.

Posted by: RichNomore | September 25, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

For anyone who thinks Stephen Colbert is too arrogant or isn't funny, you're missing the point. He's a satirist. If you don't get the joke, he's probably making fun of people like you. And the arrogance is part of his act. He's mocking right-wing "pundits" like Bill O'Reilly. What most probably don't understand is that whenever he's on camera, he's always in character. I've been a fan of his show since its inception and have been following his career since the early Daily Show days when he was the newest correspondent. One of my favorite Colbert moments was the White House Correspondents Dinner where he was a guest speaker - couldn't have expected anybody to ROAST a president, let alone Bush. It was unexpected and awesome.

Anyway, it wasn't the first time a comedian's been called to testify in front of Congress on an issue they aren't the foremost expert on. So what? He made good points and he did more farmwork than most any other American will ever do in their lives, so he can speak about his experiences and he's entitled to his opinion about the issues. I don't think we should give migrant workers full citizenship rights and I don't we should give amnesty for illegals, either. I DO, however, welcome legal immigration and if people choose to be farmers and do that work (which the migrant workers do), then give THOSE people full rights.

Posted by: fbutler1 | September 25, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

fbutler wrote:

Anyway, it wasn't the first time a comedian's been called to testify in front of Congress on an issue they aren't the foremost expert on. So what? He made good points and he did more farmwork than most any other American will ever do in their lives, so he can speak about his experiences and he's entitled to his opinion about the issues

Your last line is absolutely correct that he's entitled to his opinion. The rest of your post is insane. He didn't make ANY points about migratory labor other than that "they were least of his brethren". He did no farm work AT ALL. He was just filming a segment for his show!

That's what to me is the real issue. If he gets up there and actually starts talking about the problems in the industry, then he does a public service. NONE of this was about that. All of it was just standup, promoting Stephen Colebert.

Posted by: 54465446 | September 25, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Poor babies.
Life is a bummer.
Grow up conservatives. you made fools of yourselves and got caught at it.

Posted by: stanassc | September 25, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Those of you who have followed the career of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) probably remember when he tried to eliminate the law that requires a living wage to be paid to workers on federal projects. He did that because his son wanted to pay a low wage on all the ethanol plants he was building in King's district, the congressional district with the most of those projects in the nation and sonny King has the most of those contracts.

Posted by: jbowen431 | September 25, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

"Poor babies. Life is a bummer. Grow up conservatives. You made fools of yourselves and got caught at it.
Posted by: stanassc | September 25, 2010 7:06 PM
----------------------------
Exactly! The Republicans/Tea Partiers/Uptighty-whitie-righties are so naive they don't even know when they are the BUTT of American's jokes. Colbert made so much sense that they didn't even comprehend why he was there. Absolute deafening silence on their part. When are the Congressional people going to grow up?? I've never seen such a sea of stoney-faced hypocrites in my life. It was almost like watching the Howdy Doody Peanut Gallery over and over again. What brought tears to my eyes was the filmclip of ELMO, of all people, the intelligent brother of all conservatives. And a good share of Dems looked like they had cornpone shoved up their nether regions also. What a comedy crew! Yissssshhhh!!!

Posted by: dakotahgeo | September 25, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

AnnieP1-"This isn't funny. To do this in Congress is disgusting, tacky, and downright stupid."
-------------------------
But...but...but, Annie P1... you've just described Congressional conservatives and a few Dems! How COULD you???

Posted by: dakotahgeo | September 25, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

madmike272 thanks "for wasting about $100,000 to get a comedy routine."
About $100,000 for less than an hour of testimony? Did they build a new structure for the occasion? I hope mad mike has an accountant to handle his/her financial affairs.

FYI madmike, Colbert's testimony and the migrant worker experience he traveled to and from at his own expense did not cost you or the taxpayer or some wealthy patron a dime, unless you also begrudge his use of the already installed microphone.

Groundless charges like these are becoming more and more part of the deception, misrepresentation, and outright lying in partisan politics, followed the familiar coarsely-worded threat: "November is coming, and your asses are OUT!"

An electorate that buys into this malicious nonsense deserves what it gets.

Posted by: madmike272 | September 24, 2010 6:05 PM

Posted by: castleb | September 26, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Milbank,

Your charactrization of the discussion re Mr. Colbert, as anger expressed by some, you call 'conservatives' makes you the oxy in a pantheon of morons. In the first place conservative by definition embodies slow to anger, easy to get along with, etc. WE suspect that is why this blog stop attracting attention as soon as visitors see the tone of some of the drive-by trolls are only interested in stirring the old pot n' brew, sticking pins in their self-fabricated dolls of ritual, and generally demeaning a true sense of Patriotism WE all would appreciate in public and private life.

Posted by: RichNomore | September 26, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Stephen Colbert made Biden look intelligent. Colbert is proof that this generation of sub-humans can’t put a legitimate argument together on any subject without referring to their anus.

Posted by: heffleyjr | September 26, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Colbert out-classed the Congress. The truth is difficult to take at times. King, should but won't, learn that.

Posted by: jckdoors | September 27, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

He should make the so-called "Christian" conservatives in Congress squirm. when is the last time they cared about "the least of these?"

Posted by: chiquita2 | September 27, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that the same whiners who are crying about a "comedian" having no business testifying before Congress sat in front of their TVs spellbound with admiration when their hero Tom DeLay embarrassed himself on "Dancing with the Stars" a couple years ago.

Of the two, Colbert's performance was far more dignified and serious. Now THAT's funny!

Posted by: whatmeregister | September 28, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Only in the WP can a situation this is absurd on it's face that is presided over by the dems be turned into a slam on republicans! You guys are pathetic.

Posted by: sagedutch | September 29, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Republicans are sad, bitter little people. I hope voters don't turn America over to these humorless half-dead zombies.

Posted by: TwoTermObama | September 29, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

blah, blah, blah, blah, and BLAH. Exhausting!

Posted by: threezeroone | September 29, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company