Stephen Colbert Testifies in Washington
"I certainly hope that my star power can bump this hearing all the way up to C-SPAN 1."
Stephen Colbert did his trademark shtick in the halls of Congress and caused a firestorm by playing it for laughs.
"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this country overrun by immigrants. He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland," Colbert joked.
Colbert, host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, was testifying at a hearing on illegal farm workers.
He'd been invited to speak on the strength of his having spent a day picking beans and boxing corn for his show.
But if lawmakers expected him to be serious for once, they miscalculated.
"When you're picking beans you have to spend all day bending over. It turns out, and I did not know this, most soil is at ground level. If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we make the earth waist-high? Come on! Where is the funding," asked Colbert.
Colbert had this to say about the effectiveness of a bill pending before Congress: "I don't know. Like most members of Congress, I haven't read it."
Colbert also worked in some off-color remarks.
"The obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately my gastroenterologist has informed me in no uncertain terms that they are a necessary source of roughage. As evidence I would like to submit a video of my colonoscopy into the Congressional record," he joked.
Reaction to his testimony was swift.
A FOX News anchorwoman said, "A remarkable moment on Capitol Hill [as] comedian Stephen Colbert basically mocked the issue and the hearing and the lawmakers sat there and took it."
One observer called his performance a "disaster" and said he was "making a mockery of Congress."
One Congressman wasn't amused, saying, "I think it's an insult to the time and an insult to the intelligence of the American people that Congress is conducting itself in this fashion."
At least Colbert finished on a message that both sides could agree on when he said, "USA number 1!"