Political satirist Stephen Colbert took his show to Capitol Hill today, where he testified at a hearing about illegal immigrant farm workers and prevaricated that "the obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables."
"And if you look at recent obesity statistics, you'll see that many Americans have already started," he quipped.
Colbert said that, unfortunately, his gastroenterologist had informed him that they are "a necessary source of roughage." Colbert then offered to enter as evidence into the Congressional record a video of his colonoscopy.
Colbert was invited to testify by the chairwoman of the House subcommittee on immigration, US Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, who had appeared with him on The Colbert Report on Comedy Central to draw attention to the plight of illegal immigrant farm laborers.
The show almost didn't go on. Colbert had barely seated himself and prepared to testify when US Representative John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan, asked him to leave. Conyers mentioned the slew of reporters packing the hearing room and asked Colbert to submit written testimony and leave so the committee could get on with its work.
Colbert offered to go, but Lofgren wanted him to stay, noting that many were eager to hear what he had to say. Colbert stayed, and Conyers eventually withdrew his request that he leave.
Colbert began his testimony by touching on the effect of his presence on the committee proceedings.
"I certainly hope that my star power can bump this hearing all the way up to C-SPAN1," he quipped.
Colbert received five minutes to share what he called his "vast experience" on the subject after spending one day as a migrant worker on a farm in upstate New York.
"It is really, really hard," he said, pretending to choke up.
"Maybe the easier answer is to have scientists create vegetables that pick themselves," he later said.
Colbert's humor drew guffaws from the audience and several Democrats on the subcommittee. But most of the Republicans sat stone-faced.
"Maybe we should be spending less time watching Comedy Central and more time considering all the real jobs that are out there," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
Throughout all the jokes, Colbert did offer one seemingly serious notion.
"Maybe we could offer more visas to the immigrants, who lets face it, will probably be doing these jobs anyway," he said.
Donovan Slack can be reached at email@example.com. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.