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Colbert testimony turns surreal (but was that ever in doubt?)

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Stephen Colbert’s appearance before a House committee hearing on migrant workers got off to a weird start this morning. Right off the bat, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., tried to kick Colbert out of the hearing, but Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., insisted he stay.

His opening statement featured the same absurd leaps in logic and clever wordplay he employs night after night on his show, and had some very funny lines. (For example: “My great-grandfather did not travel across 4,000 miles of Atlantic ocean to see this country overrun by immigrants. He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland.”) At times he seemed to be waiting for laughter that never came, which felt slightly awkward.

But the most bizarre exchange came when an obviously unamused Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, challenged Colbert’s self-proclaimed experience as a corn packer. Colbert stood firm, but drew some nervous titters when he said, “I know that term is offensive to some people because corn packer is a derogatory term for a gay Iowan.” (And in what is — I hope — a Capitol Hill first, Colbert offered to introduce his colonoscopy as evidence after singing the praises of roughage.)

Although Colbert was witty as he sparred with the stuffy lawmakers, I still think his appearance was a mistake. His paraphrasing of the Biblical passage about doing unto the least of your brothers was heartfelt and the one serious spot in his appearance, but it’s dangerous for a court jester to dip his toes into activism. Lofgren compared Colbert to Bono, for crying out loud, and that’s never a good place for someone who’s built a career on puncturing others’ pomposity.

Colbert’s opening statement is below, and video excerpts from his questioning can be found at this link. Video of the “corn packer” exchange is after the jump.

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Comments

  1. M Says:
    September 26th, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    What the Congress, ala Conyers (w/ a felon for a wife), Hoyer, and other Dem Leaders? apparently doesn’t realize is that Stephen Colbert is a hero to progressives while the Democratic Congress has become the butt of the Joke.
    Colbert could have been used effectively to draw attention to an issue that needs attention drawn to it…..but once again, this Democratic Congress, instead of utilizing something or someone, Colbert, for good, just shoots itself in the foot.
    There needs to be some levity for the sake of good in Congress. We progressives are tired of the ineffectiveness turned into buffoonery that is reflected when the Dem Congress looks into the mirror.

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