Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Stephen Colbert's testimony: Mocking Congress?

Colbert House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer confirmed Sunday that Democrats can be just as cranky as Republicans when being made fun of on their own turf. According to the New York Daily News:

Even some Democrats thought Stephen Colbert's Capital Hill routine was more gaffe than goof.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called the Comedy Central star’s bit, which had some laughing and others groaning last week, "not appropriate."

"I think it was an embarrassment for Mr. Colbert more than the House," the Maryland politician said on "Fox News Sunday."

"What he had to say was not the way it should have been said," Hoyer added.

The "Colbert Report" funnyman was invited to testify before the House Judiciary Committee by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a move that rankled some.

"I think that he mocked the hearing process," Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, said after the hearing on Friday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supported Colbert.

King's reaction is in line with the Beltway consensus that Colbert made a "mockery" of Congress with his satirical testimony on immigration reform. King, who confessed he had never watched "The Colbert Report" in the past, was evidently so unprepared for some face-to-face humor that he ordered his staff to flag any unflattering footage Colbert may have aired of him.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) preempted everyone else's crankiness by inviting the comedian to leave the House Judiciary Committee hearing before he could speak. Conyers and his colleagues looked every bit the part of elderly curmudgeons protecting their lawn as they sat poker-faced during Colbert's act, while their younger aides, seated behind them, cracked a few smiles and laughs.  

I'm not a regular Colbert viewer; I probably take in more hours of early-morning rebroadcasts of congressional hearings on C-SPAN than late-night Comedy Central. But I'll give Colbert this: If there's any issue for which Congress deserves some face-to-face mockery, it's immigration reform.

-- Paul Thornton

Photo: Stephen Colbert. Credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters


Comments () | Archives (14)

The comments to this entry are closed.


Stephen Colbert is a moron, going before Congress and cracking jokes really makes us all look bad. When we have idiots such as Mr. Colbert pulling stunts like this, it affects how we are viewed by the world. Colbert is just another Hollywood moron!


It goes to show that Zoe Lofgren is not just a social drinker...

J. Gravelle

Mocking Congress?! Have you seen who's IN the Congress?

Colbert might not have been funny:


...but he was pretty damned entertaining...


Thomas Chi

I liked Stephen Colbert, but not anymore. Stephen Colbert's recent testimony was poor comedy timing. Can I say inappropriate? Comedy helps us escape. These terrible economic times call for a journey away from Washington. Colbert urinated on an electric fence and I found the attempt at comedy dangerous, not funny. Humor plays a role in politics. Stephen Colbert overstepped his character. In Hollywood, producers look for actors. Actors play characters. There is nothing worst than a character who can't act. Colbert is a character. I can't watch him anymore.

Thomas Chi
Selling Sex with Sarah Palin



Let us make it very clear that anti-illegal immigration groups--the majority of them are not racist. The Tea Party is certainly--NOT--racists, as one can see in the mix of demonstrations; it’s composed of everybody who believes in the "Rule of Law." Which doesn’t mean just white people? In the 1986 an Amnesty was proposed in Congress by the late Ted Kennedy, who promised implicitly--NO--MORE—AMNESTIES prior to being enacted. Since just the 1990's there have been six small amnesties, under the radar, hoping that the general public didn’t realize it? Senator Harry Reid, speaker Pelosi and the mob of pro amnesty politicians, thinks the American people are stupid when attaching an immigration rider to the the War appropriations bill ten days ago. The Dream Act (The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) had a limit under the house bill, but there are—NO- restrictions under Senator Reid, Dick Durbin who said nothing about people being able to be processed up to the age of 35, as being considered for citizenship under the Dream Act.

My guess the majority of either parties, didn't read the Dream Act attachment? By the time it would be passed, somewhere between 2 to 4 million students of illegal alien Mothers would be involved. The quality of high school performance didn’t seem to be a pre-requisite? It would be a grand award for parents who fraudulently moved to the United States. One thing Reid didn't mention at all are those students legalized over 21 could sponsor their parents and immediate family circle. In addition even up to the age of fifteen you could still claim a visa under the Dream Act, even if you had just slid through the border. Senator Reid and top leadership cannot be trusted, as they will do anything to attract votes from the illegal minority population. Any promised Amnesty will attract people who didn't even think of leaving there home country, until they heard that the generous American politicians were implementing another green card rush.

We must be on our guard, as senator Reid may try to slip this law into the Senate once again, before November. Use the empowerment of your vote to demand that your US Senator does not vote for this Sen. Reid Dream Act by calling the Washington switchboard at 202-224-3121. The Public servants we voted into power, doesn't seem to exhibit any compassion for the 15 American workers out of work. This week-- a charade of summoning a comedian Stephen Colbert to Washington, to promote a path to citizenship for farm workers was madness and with better things to discuss? I think the whole situation was a prime embarrassment to all citizens. What did they hope to accomplish? If American non-skilled labor was paid wages they could live on, using more new generation machines to do the work of fifty, they would get more citizens hired?

My grandfather picked grapes before the Second World War and his two boys also helped out during the harvesting season in the hot sun. One thing none of should forget that the farmers do not pay for the health care treatment and the farm workers children's education, the US taxpayer does. Then while there here picking our fruit, vegetables any child born becomes an instant citizen. Females with multiple births can then claim citizenship for their infants and collect a whole lot of welfare benefits. This part of the 14th amendment has become a very expensive proposition for taxpayers. While citizens wait years to get on a list for low income housing, our government supply housing under section 8, food stamps, health care and a generous supply of welfare cash for each child. According to Pew Research Center there are approximately 8.5 million foreign nationals in jobs, citizens and legal residents should occupy.

The only way we can ever take back America, for the people is sending a resonant message to Congress that we mean--BUSINESS! NO MORE AMNESTIES! We must dismantle the old boy political power network, starting with the removal of—ALL-- incumbents. If you want to pay fewer taxes--we need to remove Sen. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Janet Napolitano, Sen. Barbara Boxer and a list of incumbents on both sides of the aisle in Washington. Keep an eye on Senator Reid as he stealthily nearly tabled E-Verify and has been singularly involved in blocking the 287 (g) local police illegal alien detainment and other immigration power plays. Outside of the main corruption in the Capitol, state assemblies are out to build a nest egg for themselves. That’s why we need to view carefully the Governors, Mayors and other elected officials who are supposedly representing us and should be under the gun. Finally--it’s a repeat performance that if we vote in the same old lot, nothing will change.

There needs to be a contract with all new candidates, of no more "earmarks." These things are in most cases taxpayer money, which is squandered on many incomprehensible projects. In November be assured that unknown numbers of illegal aliens will try and keep their pro-amnesty endorser in power, so all States with low security in polling stations should be scrutinized. The absentee ballot is specifically easy to forge without officials addressing this situation. As I said previously, the "honor System" cannot be trusted as today we must demand government picture ID to prove you are a citizen and have a right to vote—not just a utility bill.

Texas and every other state needs to upgrade there security when it comes to voting, for as early the early seventies? Acorn, was involved in the a voter fraud controversy, but was batten down and seemed to have died out. High population of majority ethnic communities have been caught in undermining our voting system. for those citizens interested should GOOGLE--voter fraud and illegal immigrants. The Liberal press will suppress any articles about voter fraud, but their is a mass of evidence that this goes on around the country.

. $113 Billion a year says (FAIR) along with another $60 billion out the country, to foreign families. Nobody believes the lawmakers any more, as all the promises of enforcing illegal immigration has turned to bitter waters. The Sanctuary Cities and states like California are allowed to thrive, driving up taxes for its citizens. Even the Judicial branch is not fulfilling its duties to detain and deport all illegal aliens, they are just removing the criminals that taint America.


Why shouldn't he mock congress? The leaders, Reid and Pelosi, as well as the rest of them, are already the laughing stock of the nation. Like Will Rogers said "This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer."



Charley Reese has been a journalist for 49 years.

By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason.. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.
What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall.. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi. She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red ..

If the Army &Marines are in IRAQ , it's because they want them in IRAQ

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems..

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.


Personally, I think the controversy over this event is absolutely ridiculous. Time and time again, Stephen Colbert has made fun of political leaders, policies, and the lawmaking process in general. It was he who stood during a dinner with President George Bush and tore him apart-- yet no Democrats seemed to be upset with the roast then.

The idea that Congress is unable to laugh at itself is ridiculous. Stop taking things so seriously-- it's a Congressional Meeting, not the second coming of Jesus.

Sandra Harnisch

I believe Mr. Colbert might be suggesting to Congress (as shown in the picture above) to READ BETWEEN THE LINES! Lighten up people...Both Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are comedic genuises and I believe that will become even more apparent on October 30, 2010 when they have their opposing rallies on the Washington Mall. Suck it, Glen Beck!

Joe M.

Stephen Colbert actually said something profound in congress and people are upset? Do you realize the crap that people spew in the halls of congress daily? I understand that some people have trouble understanding irony but that doesn't mean you have to get mad at other people. Perhaps you come from bad stock and your parents probably shouldn't have bred. Maybe your education lacked a richness needed for enlightenment.

If one listened to the whole testimony, especially the responses to questions, one heard a succinct message that needed to be said. unfortunately, most "news" shows only showed the opening shtick. At the end he spoke with simple eloquence in a way reminiscent of how Jesus wanted his followers to believe. It's so rare if nearly impossible to hear someone who professes a religion (Colbert is Catholic) and actually speaks about the most important traits of that belief system. I was raised Catholic, but I consider myself to be a devote agnostic (really, who can know?) and I have always been bothered by the overwhelming hypocrisy of the supposed disciples of christ. Most pursuit their own personal gains with little consideration to their fellow men, women, animals, or environment. They seemed more concerned with sacraments and judging who should be allowed to marry whom.

Any hooters...bravo, Colbert. Shame on you America.

Mitchell Young

When Colbert mocks over the top 'conservative' commentators and the short-attention-span vacuity of modern television pundits more generally, i.e. people who can defend themselves, he is funny. When he performs as a white Step-n-Fetchit , mocking the American (particularly white American) working class, he is spectacularly unfunny.

Colbert's whole collaboration with the UFW was ill informed. He obviously had no clue as to the history of the farm labor movement; back when it was a real labor union (i.e. the Cesear Chavez days), the UFW opposed illegal immigration and guest worker programs for the sensible reason that both drove down union workers' wages. Moreover farm laborers are a miniscule part of the immigrant population, even the illegal immigrant population, as surely anybody living in SoCal must recognize. Granted the hearing was about the 'Ag-jobs' bill, but I doubt that nuance was caught by most of Colbert's audience, and he did nothing to dispel the common illusion that most illegal immigrants are toiling in the fields. His testimony did nothing to promote policies that might make American agriculture better in terms of working environment, wages, and productivity -- if that was his goal he should have been promoting Ramsay-Highlander's equipment for mechanizing great swathes of supposedly unmechanizable crop harvesting.


I’d like to think that Colbert, who is pretty serious about his Catholicism (that’s the same Church that holds that homosexuality is ‘objectively disordered’, but we won’t go there.), was simply parroting lines he heard from the heirarchy. But I doubt it . I think this was more about being down with the Latino elite that runs concerns like the UFW these days. Its all about status-seeking -- any kind of white person, but particularly the kind of white person that works with his or her hands, in difficult conditions, for a living. Say, these blood worm diggers up in Maine.


At any rate, here's my offer to the UFW/Colbert. Guarantee me $35.00/hour, and a room (nothing fancy, the equivalent of US army housing in Iraq/Kosovo, will do) for a month and I'll go anywhere and pick crops. That is, after all, only $70,000 a year, not much above the median household income for a job that is supposedly unbearably difficult. And as labor costs are only about 10% of total produce costs, even that amount across the entire workforce wouldn't effect consumer prices that much. The people that manage this website have the email addresses. They can get in touch with me if the UFW or Colbert decide to take up my offer.

Mitchell Young

I commented on the basis of descriptions of Colbert's schtick. I still think that he is ridiculing white Americans in particular, if only because he is one and is acting the fool. But the thing that really stands out is the patronizing attitude he displayed towards the farm workers.

Every 'college boy' (or girl) that has worked a summer blue collar job knows the semi-good natured hazing that they get from the regulars, esp. in the first days when still inept at the job. There was none of that working class ribbing here -- there probably couldn't be given the differences in language, cultural background, and status in American society.

Even Sam, Colbert's 'boss' didn't really fully comprehend the joke, he didn't laugh or smile the whole time. The woman packing corn next to Colbert whom he basically propositioned wasn't in on it either, nor were the guys picking beans where Colbert was 'working'. They all looked seriously annoyed, and why not? Who wants to have what you do made fun of? Who wants to be obstructed from carrying out tasks by some joker who you don't know from Adam.

Mark Sheard

The joke IS our political system.


Funny that "America" could be so unamerican (and moronic herself) as to hate humor and Congress -- you out there burning Mark Twain's books? The real joke is the racist Teabaggers pretending to be Americans -- they need to be treated as the clowns they are. Good goin', Colbert, keep sticking it to the stick-up-the-butt GOP.



In Case You Missed It...



Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

In Case You Missed It...