Farmers in California's San Joaquin Valley are languishing in
drought, but environmentally-minded water restrictions limit the amount
of water that can be pumped into the region. Sean Hannity has championed the issue
as a case of government inaction and environmentalism gone awry. His
reports from the valley carry a simple plea: "We came here tonight with
a message for Washington and President Barack Obama," he said recently.
"Please, for the sake of the farmers where unemployment is now near 40
percent, please turn this water on now." But Jon Stewart won't have any of it. He devoted a long segment to vivisecting Hannity:
- Hannity: Government Should Let Farmers Farm
Hannity slammed "the government's decisions that are responsible for
drying up this once fertile area." He said from an outdoor stage in
California, "This land was once considered the breadbasket of America.
Roughly 12 percent of our nation's agricultural output came from this
valley between Bakersfield and Sacramento," he said. "Today, their
water is gone, shut off by the government." Hannity framed it as "the
story of how a government has failed its own people, how radical
environmentalists threaten the American dream, and how a liberal agenda
that promised so much has left so many great Americans behind." Hannity
insisted, "Farmers want to work hard, they don't want a government
- Stewart: Government Created That Reservoir
Stewart pointed out that the reason there is any reservoir at all in
the region is due to Roosevelt-led government projects designed to
stimulate the economy. He mocked Hannity's position as: "The government
should stop meddling in the business of the farmers, who would actually
still be living in a desert if not for government meddling." He added,
"History! History! Ahh! History hurts my brain."
- Hannity: Environmentalism Hurting Farmers
Hannity explained that the cause was a "two-inch fish," the delta smelt, which environmentalists say could be wiped out by pumping water from the Bay Delta as the farmers demand. "They have
decided that the farmers come second and the delta smelt comes first,"
he said. "I would like to put aside politics because if
Barack Obama allows — tells his environmental extremists in his
administration to stand down and turn the water on, he will get the
first credit from me, OK?"
- Stewart: Delta Smelt Crucial for Fishermen
Stewart argued that eradicating the small fish would devastate the food
chain and thus fishermen, a class similar to the farmers Hannity
defends. "You wanna saved the whales? Kill the plankton and the krill,
whales will have more room," he joked. "But wait! If we destroy the
lower rung of
the food chain, larger fish would be hurt, which would hurt blue-collar
fishermen, who are also hardworking Americans who want the government
off their back. Who will save them?"
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.