Even before Colbert delivered his opening statement at the House of Representatives hearing on farm labor and illegal immigrants in the guise of the ultra-conservative host of "The Colbert Report," Democrat John Conyers tried to put a stop to it.
"I would like to recommend that now we got all this attention that you excuse yourself and you let us get on with these three witnesses and all the other members there," Conyers said at the hearing. "I'm asking you to leave the committee room completely and submit your statement."
But Colbert declined, stating that Rep. Zoe Lofgren had invited him to speak, and Conyers backed down. Then Colbert launched into his routine. Watch:
Not long afterward, critics pounced on Colbert's performance.
"Painfully awkward and pointless, it made the committee's majority members look ridiculous," Yuval Levin wrote at The Corner. "Colbert can be very funny, but his kind of sarcasm only works in some contexts, and a House committee hearing room does not appear to be one of them."
"As John Conyers notes, the media and spectators turned out to see whether Colbert would address the panel seriously as an expert on immigration and make the panel a joke, or stay in character and make the panel a bigger joke," Ed Morrissey wrote at Hot Air.
"As Stephen Colbert asked committee members if he could enter into the Congressional Record a video of his colonoscopy as evidence of the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, I realized that decorum is dead," Dave George wrote in an op-ed at AOL News, "celebrity rules and maybe bringing a clown into these proceedings is just what's needed to show the extent to which our Congress has become a circus."
Republican Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who is a member of the subcommittee that conducted today's hearing, gave the event a miss and, on his Twitter page, excoriated Democrats for allowing Colbert to testify.
He is the best fake newscaster, so if Dems want a fake hearing, I guess he is the right guy.
Of course, Colbert has experience delivering satirical speeches on serious events in our nation's capital. His address to the White House Correspondents Dinner, during which he skewered the mainstream media for what the comedian considered their failure to ask tough questions of the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war, became a viral hit and a best-selling selection at iTunes.
Still, today's routine did not have many in Congress or in the media rushing to Colbert's defense. Before Colbert's testimony, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was asked by Fox News whether it was appropriate to have the entertainer appear.
"Of course I think it's appropriate," Pelosi said. "He's an American. He can bring attention to an important issue. I think it's great."
With Colbert and fellow Comedy Central host Jon Stewart set to hold their own Glenn Beck-styled rallies on the Washington Mall on Oct. 30, the odd sensation of watching satire morph into a real-life version of the thing being satirized in the first place is poised to continue.
Yet, with Facebook RSVPs for Stewart's decidedly more earnest "Rally to Restore Sanity" currently outpacing Colbert's more mocking "March to Keep Fear Alive" by a total of 147,838 to 59,717, perhaps even fans of the comedy duo are yearning for a bit more seriousness.
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