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Colbert Pretends to Testify, Congress Pretends to Listen, and We’re Supposed to Pretend We Care

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Posted on September 24 2010 6:16 pm
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At the best of times there’s not a lot you can say about Stephen Colbert you can’t say about hemorrhoids, and no-one unfortunate enough to have witnessed his latest foray into the public eye will have confused this with one of his best times.

In case you missed the clip, or just couldn’t get through it for sheer embarrassment and pity, Colbert’s self-immolation can be summarized thus:

For reasons best known to his therapist, Colbert chose to use the occasion of his testimony before a House judiciary subcommittee, ostensibly dealing with farm workers and immigration, to recycle a lame and seemingly interminable comedy bit based on the sure-fire premise that American citizens are strangers to hard work and thus shouldn’t complain about illegals picking their tomatoes for them.

No, really, that was the bit. (Video after the jump.)

To a largely mystified audience, Colbert departed from his submitted written statement and delivered a “laugh-I-thought-I’d-never-start” knee-slapper assuming the character of a typical brainless conservative back from a day of working in the fields. To his credit, Rep. John (“read-the-bill”) Conyers, who appears to have actually done his homework this time, tried to nip this thing in the bud, but Colbert would not be deterred.

At the beginning of the hearing, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, tried to pull the plug on Colbert’s testimony in an effort “to get to the bottom” of the issue.

“I would like to recommend that now we got all this attention that you excuse yourself and you let us get on with the three witnesses and all the other members there,” he said. “I’m asking you to leave the committee room completely, and submit your statement.”

[…]

“I’m here at the invitation of the chairwoman, [Colbert replied] and if she would like me to remove myself from the hearing room, I am happy to do so,” he said. “I’m only here at her invitation.”

Colbert’s pitch-perfect approach was only rivaled by the political acumen it must have taken to come up with the idea of inviting him in the first place. After all, what better way to win support a month before an election than to draw attention to an issue 70% of Americans think you’re wrong on, using a comedian reprising a labored and distinctly unfunny routine, effectively making speaker and audience alike seem even more clownish than they did before?

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, subcommittee chairwoman and author of all this merriment, explained it thus:

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

Nancy Pelosi, not to be outdone in inane pronouncements, chimed in with her own superlatives.

“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.”

Not all attention is positive ladies, hence the term … “negative attention.” I can get lots of attention walking down the hall wearing my jockeys like a head-dress but it’s doubtful this will garner me a lot of support–though I’ll probably get more laughs than Colbert.

But never mind, to leftists for whom it’s all gestures and street theater and the spirit of the thing, soliciting counsel from a Comedy Central  laugh-grabber is completely logical, even when he contributes nothing—not even passing amusement—to the debate.

Colbert, who has less to fear from the reviews in November than his hosts, may have had the last laugh after all.

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