Stephen Colbert rallied behind Rep. Jeff Duncan’s (R-SC) call to gut the Census Bureau’s fact-finding powers.
“Every few years they show up on our front porch demanding personal information,” Colbert raged, before bellowing, “It’s like a drunk ex-boyfriend: ‘Susan! Who’s that new guy you’re dating? What’s the highest level of education he’s completed? And is he Pacific Islander or Other?’”
Duncan’s bill, originally introduced in April 2013, would stop the bureau from gathering economic data and limit it to conducting a population survey.
“You hear that, Census? Population count only,” Colbert said. “You have no right to my personal information. That belongs to Facebook.”
Duncan said he introduced the bill, HR 1638, because he felt the bureau was asking very invasive questions of Americans, then threatening them with a fine if they chose not to answer.
“Americans are fed up with these mandatory census surveys and they’re asking us to stop the harassment,” he said in a statement on May 2.
Colbert also pointed to reports from “the highly prestigious ‘The Internet’” — meaning conservative websites — which speculated the Census information would be used to, among other things, build a database of gun owners, offer up information to United Nations troops, or even more frighteningly, tracking the corn harvest.
“It’s like that horror movie, Aggregate Yield of the Children of the Corn,” Colbert offered. “Besides, we don’t need to count corn. I’m pretty sure at this point, Monsanto has genetically engineered corn so much, it can count itself.”
Duncan’s proposal was quickly slammed, as multiple outlets noted that the Census provides data crucial to virtually all U.S. market indicators, like the unemployment rate. The Washington Post also pointed out that Census data was also used by government agencies like the Departments of the Interior, Education, Justice and Housing and Urban Development, among others. The Census Project’s Terri Ann Lowenthal did see one silver lining behind HR 1638, though, writing, “We might not need congressmen, because just about all of them rely on Census Bureau data to justify their existence.”
Colbert, however, scoffed at that line of reasoning.
“Market indicators? Come on. Wall Street doesn’t run on economic data,” he said. “It runs on something much more powerful: cocaine.”
Watch Colbert defend Duncan’s idea, as aired Tuesday on Comedy Central, below.