There are many in the establishment that still don't "get" Stephen Colbert.
Stephen Colbert freaked out the establishment when he stepped up as the entertainment for the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2006. And the "Colbert Report" has been on the air since 2005.
For those who still didn't get Colbert, his testimony on Friday before a House committee on farm workers probably confused them even further.
Colbert told the truth that night in 2006 and spoke the truth on Friday. The difference was there were a few jokes included.
"He just told a bunch of jokes" — they probably said to themselves. "Congress is serious business."
Leaving aside the validity of the second part of that theoretical remark, these establishment people missed the precious content that Colbert provided in his testimony.
The rest of us who get Colbert's sense of humor understand why he did what he did that led him to be invited to speak before the House committee.
The United Farm Workers (UFW) invited American citizens to take on these farm worker jobs. 7 of them are ongoing. Stephen Colbert and/or his staff saw what the UFW was doing, Colbert interviewed Arturo Rodriguez, UFW president, on the "Colbert Report." Colbert offered to be a farm worker and ran two segments on his farm work last week on his show.
If this was just about a comedy bit, there are plenty of targets that could have taken less time and effort, and been more funny.
Stephen Colbert has been a champion at critiquing the food supply. So his critique of how farm workers are treated is consistent with his previous behavior — consistency that most politicians lack.
But the politicians seem confused. Would Colbert testify in character? Would he make a mockery of the proceedings?
Yes, Stephen Colbert made a few jokes: most of them were funny. But within the jokes, they was a lot of enlightenment. Colbert had a lot to say within his Congressional testimony and in the follow-up questions. And Colbert brought a lot of attention to a group often ignored.
Farm workers are a valuable element of the American food chain, and there have been reports of crops that aren't picked due to a lack of available farm workers.
The UFW initiative to get Americans to do farm work was designed to draw attention to this issue. Colbert stepped up by putting Rodriguez on the air, and by putting in a day as a farm worker.
Just as some in Congress stepped up and tried to live off a week of food stamps, maybe some in Congress should spend a day in a farm worker's shoes. Say what you will about Colbert, but at least he did it.
And those in the establishment — hopefully an ever shrinking minority — who still are confused, they should have drawn from Colbert's response to Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), a statement delivered out of character:
"I like talking about people who don't have any power. And this seemed like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but don't have any rights as a result. And yet we still invite them to come here and at the same time ask them to leave. That's an interesting contradiction to me. And whatever you do for the least of my brothers — and these seem like the least of our brothers right now. A lot of people are least brothers right now because the economy is so hard. And I don't want to take anyone's hardship away from them or diminish anything like that. But migrant workers suffer and have no rights."
Attention, establishment: this is why Stephen Colbert gets it, and you don't.