Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Comedy Isn't Welcomed On Capitol Hill. . .

Or Is It?

When Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central, showed up on Capitol Hill this week to attend a session on illegal farm workers hosted by the United Farm Workers, he drew the largest crowd seen at a hearing, at least by Congress member John Conyers.

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert
Conyers, in his "I run Congress" persona complimented Colbert on his celebrity appeal to bring people out to participate in politics, saying he couldn't remember when a hearing drew such a crowd, but respectfully asked the comedian with the sudden political conscience to leave the room after for offbeat comments that included him saying, "I don't want my tomatoes picked by a Mexican.  I want them picked by an American."

Colbert's comments also included him saying, "America's farms are presently far too dependent on immigrant labor to pick our fruits and vegetables then sliced by a Guatemalan and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian.  Now the obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables and if you look at the recent obesity statistics, you'll see that many Americans have already started."

While Conyers wanted Colbert out, the invitation that came from Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) to appear on the Hill, stood.  Colbert was asked to remain present.

House speaker, Nancy Pelosi said it was a good thing to have Colbert bring attention to the issue.

Colbert took his antics even further with him explaining his time spent picking vegetables earlier in the day at a local farm in New York.

"I started my work day with preconceived notions of migrant labor but after working with these men and women picking beans, packing corn for hours on end side by side in the unforgiving sun, I have to say, and I do mean this sincerely, please don't make me do this again," Colbert said.

"It is really, really hard work."

Apparently, being stupid and getting a million dollar television contract isn't.
The session was to supposed to focus on the AgJobs bill, proposed legislation to improve agricultural job opportunities, benefits, and security for aliens in the United States, (and for other purposes).

Conyers, who has been active in getting the issue of billions of dollars owed to African American farmers, recently paneled a forum with Harry Belfonte during this year's Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference on saving Haiti.

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