A top House Democrat said Sunday that TV comic Stephen Colbert’s in-character testimony at a congressional hearing Friday was “an embarrassment” to the comedian and wrong for the House.
“His testimony was not appropriate. I think it was an embarrassment for Mr. Colbert more than the House,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, on “Fox News Sunday.”
Mr. Colbert testified to the House immigration subcommittee Friday on illegal immigrant agriculture workers, after he took the United Farm Workers’ “Take Our Jobs” challenge and worked a day in the field picking crops. He testified that the work was hard, but he delivered his remarks in the character of his television persona, mocking both parties, the institution of Congress and at times even the immigration issue he was defending.
Republicans have blasted the performance, saying it shows Democrats’ priorities are amiss at a time when the unemployment rate remains close to 10 percent and so much business is left undone, including voting on whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts before they expire at the end of this year.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat and the chairwoman of the subcommittee, who called Mr. Colbert to testify, is also chairwoman of the House’s ethics committee, which has been unable to schedule ethics trials for Reps. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, and Maxine Waters, California Democrat, who were charged over the summer.
Mrs. Lofgren has not commented on the hearing, but her spokesman pointed to remarks by the full Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, who said he “was particularly moved” by Mr. Colbert’s closing remarks.