Stephen Colbert Takes On Congress, Sarcastically Argues for Farm Workers

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Colbert Testimony Prompts Committee Squabble

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applauded the testimony, even if a good chunk of it was delivered in character.

"Of course I think it's appropriate. He's an American, right?" Pelosi said. "He comes before the committee, he has a point of view, he can bring attention to an important issue like immigration. I think it's great."

But Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa., the ranking minority member on the subcommittee, thought there was nothing appropriate about Colbert's appearance.

"I think that he mocked the hearing process," King told reporters after the hearing. "I think it was his intent to do that."

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Colbert's appearance on Capitol Hill today almost ended before it began.

Conyers, chairman of the full Judiciary committee, asked Colbert to submit his written statement and leave the room before testifying.

"I'm not asking you not to talk," Conyers told Colbert. "I'm asking you to leave the committee room completely and submit your statement instead."

Conyers' request drew groans from the massive crowd assembled at the hearing.

"I think many are eager to hear his comments," the subcommittee's chairman Zoe Lofgren told Conyers.

After forgetting to turn on his microphone, Colbert responded to Conyers' request.

Video of the best in late night political comedy.
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"I'm here at the invitation of the [subcommittee] chairwoman, and if she would like me to remove myself from the hearing I am happy to do so," he said.

Since Lofgren wanted Colbert to stay, he stayed. It's no surprise that Lofgren wanted him to testify -- she invited him to the hearing in the first place, and as she noted, his appearance has drawn far more attention to the subcommittee hearing than it would ordinarily receive.

"Maybe it was impeachment, but it's been a long time since we've had this much coverage," Lofgren said.

The testimony Colbert submitted before the hearing was far more serious than the schtick he used in front of the microphones.

"I am here today to share my experience as an entertainer turned migrant worker and to shed light on what it means to truly take one of the millions of jobs filled by immigrant labor," Colbert planned to tell the panel, according to his prepared testimony. "They say that you truly know a man after you've walked a mile in his shoes and, while I have nowhere near the hardships of these struggling immigrants, I have been granted a sliver of insight."

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As ABC's Devin Dwyer has reported, Colbert's involvement in the issue dates back to July when United Farm Workers president Arturo Rodriguez appeared on Colbert's show, "The Colbert Report." The next month, Colbert traveled to pick vegetables at a farm in upstate New York, part of a campaign by the UFW to invite U.S. citizens and legal residents to replace immigrant farm workers. To date, only seven people have done so.

Colbert's appearance on the Hill has drawn fire from Republicans, who have argued that his testimony will be a joke. On Thursday, Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, called Colbert a fake newscaster who will be speaking at a fake hearing.

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