Stephen Colbert: American Hero, Or A Disgraceful Joke?

“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 if you look at the recent obesity statistics, you’ll see that many Americans have already started," said the comedian, who once appeared as the closeted gay teacher Chuck Noblet on Strangers with Candy and has joined the United Farm Workers of America's "Take Our Jobs" campaign, which sheds like on the plight of migrant farmers in America.

Of course, as Colbert pointed out, we need fruits and vegetables: "Unfortunately, my doctor has informed me that they are a necessary source of roughage. As evidence, I would like to submit a video of my colonoscopy into the congressional record."

"Who will take that job?" remains Colbert's underlying, rib-tickling question. Not everyone thought he was funny.

"Maybe amnesty supporters should spend less time watching Comedy Central and more time considering all the real jobs that are out there that require hard labor and don't involve sitting behind a desk," snipped Iowa Rep. Steve King at the hearings, and fellow GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz tweeted this week, "The Dems have called him [Colbert] as an expert witness. What a joke."

Rep. John Conyers Jr., meanwhile, compared all the attention to that surrounding Bill Clinton's impeachment proceedings. "That's a haunting remembrance," said the Michigan Democrat. That sounds like a ringing endorsement of Colbert's appearance!

Despite being a "hot-button" issue in Washington, many Americans, particularly Colbert's young audience, aren't paying enough attention to the nooks and crannies of immigration reform. It's an idea, one without specifics or human faces.

Colbert, for all his sly smiles and dry wit, wants to raise awareness of illegal existence in the United States, and perhaps change some minds on the process of legalizing undocumented workers.

No matter which way someone leans on the topic, Colbert's appearance will definitely — and has already — sparked civil discourse, a cornerstone of any democratic nation. While the "media circus" aspect of Colbert's entertainment credentials deserves examination, the real focus should be on the funny man's message, one that addresses not only immigration, but also the essential importance of public debate.

Here's video of Colbert's opening statements today:

Comments

  1. Christopher says

    You beat me to it, Sanho. I was going to say that Congress is a joke, the members of which appear in character every day as sober politicians when they are actually venal, craven mouthpieces bought and sold by corporations

  2. Jersey says

    It’s like the jokes he gave to Bush, who was not deserving of anything but contempt and mocking. This congress deserves no better either. I hate them all and wish they’d jump off a cliff together.

  3. Jersey says

    Wes, sorry if it didn’t come through but I think Colbert was spot on. Congress isn’t deserving of any type of treatment but mockery. In my book Colbert is great. There is no chance in hell that anything an intelligent person would say to congress would have any effect on them. Congress clearly consists of the country’s worst dullards.

  4. jonny says

    Mixed in with his (what I found to be funny and refreshing) commentary, I thought two of his most genuine points came across quite clearly:
    Congress is not working together to better the American people’s situation;
    And really for all the crazy railing against illegal immigrants stealing “our” jobs, most people would not take them which opens the immigrants up to all kinds of abuse and degradation.

    Mock away, Mr. Colbert, you are a true American.

  5. fahd says

    A few years ago, Colbert’s speech at the press dinner was a comedic tour de force. As far as I’m concerned that put him in the historical ranks of the great satirists. Who has ever spoken more truth to Bush (and co) to his face?

    Right now, both houses of Congress have democratic majorities and there is a sitting democratic president. So why do I feel as if the republicans are still in charge.

    Anything to shake them up a little bit.

  6. ohplease says

    As usual, Colbert nails it. After previous Republican-invitees Christie Brinkley and Elmo (!), it was nice to have someone speaking who was smarter and has a greater sense of morals and ethics than everyone else in the room combined. Those who missed the point on this are the ones who always do, so no surprise there.

  7. Dave says

    Thank you for gracing us with your indignation Lincolnlounger. The poolside bartender will be back shortly with olives and you can resume your lounging until you need to return to the suite to prepare for the white party. Until then sip darling, it won’t be long at all…

  8. says

    I love Colbert, but playing his character at an actual Congressional hearing tends to diminish what little dignity Congress has managed to scrape together. I wouldn’t want Glenn Beck to be speaking to Congress, so I’d prefer for Colbert to stick with his brilliant TV show.

  9. Zlick says

    Gotta disagree with you there, Milkman. He said it all in his quip about getting bumped up to CSPAN 1 via his celebrity factor. The truth is, Colbert playing Colbert before Congress is going to go viral and be seen by more people than the entire viewership of CSPAN over any ten-year period. A spotlight is what he felt this issue needs, and he knew how to give it one. Bravo.

  10. Ross says

    I wouldn’t say “disgraceful”, but it’s certainly inappropriate. There are a ton of celeb-advocates that appear before Congress as themselves, not the characters they play on television.

  11. Drew says

    I LOVE that Colbert was there, but it’s terrifying to me as well… Would we appreciate a tit-for-tat reprisal with Sean Hannity being invited to spout his nonsense under the cloak of ‘diginity’ that speaking to Congress provides?

  12. Chris says

    Although it was funny, I flinched a little at what I thought was excessive mockery. However, after having given it some thought, I’m realizing the point was probably not to convince some Congressional committee, but to raise awareness of this issue. Considering the fact that it has gone viral, I’d say it has succeeded. So good job, Colbert!

  13. Anon says

    In the last question asked of him, he finally drops out of character for a few seconds to answer why he is interested in this issue. His response was that powerless people need a voice. The video is on HuffPo; it’s pretty powerful to see him take the mask off.

  14. Shaina says

    That nasty little snip about Colbert’s “young viewers” not paying enough attention to immigration reform is fallacy. The real issue is that the media glosses over any real, thoughtful, non-militant debate about immigration. You see Tea Partiers on TV, fringe elements; hype that sells, but not to us. My demographic is highly underrepresented– we are the bulk of the people pushing for moderate, workable solutions.

    We venerate people like Colbert and Stewart because they draw attention to the need for common sense and accountability in our government.

  15. Philo says

    I watched the whole thing this morning (over 2 hours) on C-SPAN3. He saved the best for his responses to questions from Democrats and Republicans, always playing the Republican clown, except for the one time he left character. That was why Rep Steve King R-IA left so pissed.

  16. Anon says

    “‘spend less time watching Comedy Central and more time considering all the real jobs that are out there that require hard labor and don’t involve sitting behind a desk’, snipped Iowa Rep. Steve King”

    Pot, meet kettle.

  17. mstrozfckslv@yahoo.com says

    johnny u forgot his other great point about how his grandfather didnt come to america crossing 4,000 miles of atlantic ocean to have this country overrun by immigrants and that he came to america because he had killed someone

    1- hello , we r all the descendants of immigrants
    2- the vast majority of which did not come through ellis island with papers
    3- the vast majority of whom were considered either criminals of their day, mentally retarded, or religous cultists the likes of their day’s waco texas types/ jim jones types

    a point that should have been brought up was that the irish, scots, welsh, german, italian illegal immigrants were bashed in their day as “stealing jobs of good anglo american protestant xtians, bringing disease, dumbing down the country, leaching off the wealth of the country”

    Anyway; it is impossible to stop immigration. No empire in history has ever been able to stop it. Become powerful and wealthy and people outside the borders of the empire will flood in. It is as inevitable as the sun rising and has occurred for thousands of years to every empire and can’t be stopped. The Romans built hadrians wall to keep those barbaric white skinned flee ridden tattooed scots, picts, jutes, etc out of their empire and it accomplished squat

  18. JT says

    He was flawless. To see the mindless ideologies be paraded about in front of the idiots who made them is priceless. Today all of the pundits on both sides are crowing about how inappropriate and “wasteful” it all was.
    Frankly, anyone with half a maggots brain could see what he was doing, the info he was providing, and the points he was making. And to see congress sit there dumbstruck explains the last 25 years of governing in this country.

  19. says

    It’s about time these pompus asses in Congress were knocked off their pedestals.
    Many of the pundits in the mainstream media are all bent out of shape by his appearance.
    Could it be because he succeeded in doing in five minutes what these arrogant assholes haven’t been able to do since this issue first surfaced? Since the 4th estate doesn’t seem capable or simply refuse to do their jobs, (they would rather hob nob with the elite than hold their feet to the fire), it’s nice to know we have great Americans such as Mr. Stewart and yourself to get people thinking again. Well done. To the point and funny as hell by the way. Unfortuneately, not everyone will get it. More is the pity.

  20. tony says

    How many people would have watched this on the web or cspan if Colbert had not been there. He was highlighting an important issue. He only took his 5 minutes, and didn’t disrupt or hijack the proceedings. I think every member of the committee should be thanking him.

  21. Jay says

    Comedy and satire are time-honored techniques of debate. (Cf Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Voltaire, Jonathon Swift, Evelyn Waugh) Colbert has as much right to speak truth to power as any other citizen. His purpose was serious and THAT is not a waste of time.

  22. el polacko says

    how about that “dry wit” on display when he claimed that “cornpackers” is a term used to describe gay iowans..that sure was a knee-slapper, wasn’t it? ‘funny’ that it’s not mentioned in this article…had someone less favorably approved of had made the same ‘joke’ (in the halls of congress, no less) this site would be exploding in outrage. why is it that colbert, stewart, maher and others on the left get a pass for all their many ‘hilarious’ gay slurs??

  23. ratbastard says

    Nothing against Colbert, but he should not have been allowed to use what is in fact a very serious place for comedic purposes. It was a mockery, and says a lot about the chairperson responsible for allowing it. As they say, if you can’t counter and argument successfully on merit, mock, laugh at, and make fun of your opponents. It’s ultimately, from an intellectual viewpoint, the lowest denominator.

    As for the issue of massive illegal immigration: It’s complete bullshit to say:

    1) It’s OK, everyone does it, and this is the way most immigrants to the U.S. arrived.

    Most DID NOT immigrate to the the country known as the U.S. (I’m not referring to the period when North America was inhabited by a small number of disengaged Native Americans, i.e. Indians, who of course also immigrated from somewhere else, Asia) illegally. Strict controls have always existed from the 19th century onwards.

    I know of no modern nation that has such loose control of it’s borders as far as immigration is concerned, and tolerates such massive abuse, as the U.S. The EU by comparison sees a fraction of the amount of illegal immigration (mostly African) as the U.S. and they are overwhelmingly pissed off. Spain sees some illegal immigration from Latin America and it’s created a big backlash and raised the levels of racism and xenophobia, but proportionately it’s small compared to what the U.S. tolerates.

    ************************

    2) No country was ever able to stop (illegal?) immigration and it’s impossible to stop.

    Again, bullshit. Most countries (all advanced western western 1st world nations and Latin American nations, including Mexico) have very strict border controls and anti-illegal immigration laws that are enforced. The U.S. is the most lenient, and the most non-compliant regarding it’s own laws, regarding border control and illegal immigration. The U.S. is so lenient in fact, it’s the only advanced 1st world nation I’m aware of that grants automatic citizenship to any birth on it’s territory, regardless of the citizenship status of the child’s parents.

    ********************************

    The massive amount of mostly poor, uneducated, illegal (and legal) immigration to the U.S. in the latter half of the 20th century into the 21st century makes NO economic or sociological sense whatsoever. It’s almost akin to a deathwish. There are few jobs for such people, our native born underclass are being raped by the presence of many millions of illegal (and even many legal) competitors for scarce jobs and opportunities. Our social services saftey net are collapsing directly because of this huge problem. It’s a disaster economically, socially, etc., for the whole nation.

  24. Rich says

    He was invited to attend, and he was not under oath. His testimony was successful in the same way his show is successful. He can get a point across very well to anyone with a brain, while mocking the other side mercilessly. The “take our jobs” campaign is brilliant, and Colbert drawing attention to it is wonderful. Taking it all the way to Washington is exactly what the issue needs.

  25. says

    “I love Colbert, but playing his character at an actual Congressional hearing tends to diminish what little dignity Congress has managed to scrape together. I wouldn’t want Glenn Beck to be speaking to Congress, so I’d prefer for Colbert to stick with his brilliant TV show.”

    I didn’t appreciate Colbert acting the buffoon in front of a Congressional committee, either. He and any other celebrity has every right to testify before Congress, but they should do so in seriousness. I don’t send representatives to Washington so they can guffaw at a comedian’s routine when they should be hard at work.

    The problem with America today is that everybody wants politics to be entertaining! Everybody wants to watch a show; if it isn’t Glenn Beck’s histrionics they want to see, then it’s the clowning of Stephen Colbert and John Stewart. I’ve been unemployed for nearly a year; I don’t f*cking feel like being entertained!

  26. Leonard says

    Lord forbid someone be entertaining AND educational. I applaud Stephen Cobert for helping to bring to light the plight of migrant workers while also being hilariously entertaining, as usual.

    “It’s a disaster economically, socially, etc., for the whole nation.”

    Wrong. There are many people who view our immigration problem as a wonderful way to do business. Just like the financial crisis of ’08, there is a subset of America that is profiting by slowly destroy our economy and domestic security. The middle-class, just like in ’08, is partially responsible also. We all just love our “low, low, low,” prices, and eventually our choice to rely on cheap labor to manufacture our goods is going to bite us on our ass.

  27. ratbastard says

    Cheap labor and cheap imported consumer goods manufactured by basically slave-like labor in China may be good for consuming, and is absolutely good for the bottom line of many executives at multinational corporations, lawyers, accountants, etc., It isn’t ultimately good for the majority of citizens or the country as a whole. An economy based on service sector jobs (most comparatively low wage), a series of bubbles created by easy credit and out of control consumerism, and the massive outsourcing and off shoring of industrial capacity…all this while engaging in ‘free’ trade with others who don’t follow the same rigid industrial safety measures, pollution controls, and who have masses of basically slave-like labor, is a disaster. The average American’s wages have been at best stagnant since the 1970’s while inflation (real inflation) has exploded. 30 years of ‘free’ trade with China has produced 30 straight years of trade deficits. All in all, I think it’s safe to say the whole experiment has been an epic failure for MOST Americans…not the 1-2% at the top, of course. They’ve made out like fucking bandits.

    And both main parties, both main ideologies (the left and right) want to continue the status quo.

  28. ratbastard says

    Powerful liberal politicians like Ted Kennedy created the foundation for economically undesirable out of control immigration, lax enforcement of federal laws, in the 60’s and 70’s, starting with the immigration reform act. This corresponded simultaneously with the federal black civil rights laws of the mid 60’s, which opened up whole new avenues for many black people, especially those in and from the deep south. Many people from these areas rapidly increased their migration to northern urban areas for better opportunity. Unfortunately, these things also corresponded with the decline of America’s industrial base and blue collar type jobs these folks would have filled. It was from this period, especially the early 70’s onward, that real wages of America’s working and middle class came under sustained assault, and the country began it’s experiment with being a almost solely service based economy, while it shed millions and millions of good paying industrial and blue collar jobs. But the policy of uncontrolled immigration of mostly poorly educated, poor people into America wasn’t slowed down or stopped, in order the adjust for economic needs. In fact, it increased! Who benefited from this policy, and who have been badly hurt by it? Both parties, for different, selfish reasons, have continued this policy, even though they know it badly hurts America’s native born under-class, especially disproportionately African-Americans. 40 years of stagnant wages, millions of loss industrial and blue collar jobs (often partially replaced by less well paying service sector jobs), and 40 years of non-stop hyper immigration (a revolving door) of mostly undesirable (for a modern, post industrial society) poorly educated, 3rd world immigrant…who compete directly in an exponentially diminishing job pool. What fucking genius came up with this master plan?

  29. jamal49 says

    Besides betraying the entire LGBT community on a daily basis, LincolnLounger also proves that the GOProud/LCR girls are (a) stupid; (b) insensitive; and (c) without a sense of humour, which is probably why they lick the boots of their republicon masters with such fervor.

    I am not surprised that LincolnLounger was outraged, just outraged, that Mr. Colbert did a masterful job of sticking it to Ms. Linckie’s congressional heroes.

    The disgrace, Ms. Linckie dear, is that republicons and other elitists such as you have turned what should be an intelligent, meaningful debate about how to update and improve our immigration laws into a cesspool of xenophobic, racist vitriol.

    I challenge you, LincolnLounger, to get your fat, republicon, GOProud/LCR ass up off the divan and go out for one week, just one week, and work the fields, or gut an endless supply of pigs in the most unsanitary and unsafe conditions, or work for abusive contractors doing the most menial and dangerous of jobs, and work those jobs 12-14 hours a day for menial wages.

    Then, get back to us and let us know how it went for you.

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