Thursday night, Stephen Colbert talked about the latest issues with fracking, and how some companies are imposing gag orders on families sickened by it or paying them off to ensure their silence. This is yet another stellar example of Colbert's amazing talent of combining comedy with serious news content, and achieving both the laughs and spreading important information to his audience:
"These days, I can burn carbon to my heart's content, because America is enjoying a new golden age of flammability."
DAVID POGUE, NYT (12/30/2012): There are 36,000 fracking wells in this country. Thousands more open up every year. The price of natural gas has dropped 86% from its high in 2008. We're actually about to start exporting it.
MONICA CROWLEY (1/9/2013): You could wipe out the unemployment problem in this country overnight by fracking.
ANN McELHINNEY, "FRACKNATION" DIRECTOR (10/28/2012): It's an extraordinary ability now for America to extract its oil and natural gas and, you know, become, you know, energy independent. It's amazing, amazing for America.
"Yes, it's absolutely amazing," the Colbert Report host explains. "Energy is so cheap, I can finally realize my dream of making my furnace and air conditioner fight. Who loves me more, boys?"
"America has found the goose that lays the golden egg." "Unfortunately," notes Colbert, "it is pooping all over our house."
LINK TV INTERVIEW: It killed the pond, it killed the fish, it killed everything in the pond, no frogs, no turtles, nothing.
NATURE ABOUNDS INTERVIEW: They're poisoning you. And they're telling you nothing's wrong. And you're the only one that has a problem.
PAT FARNELLI: My kids started getting sick early on in the drilling process. ... It's sort of like a very bad intestinal bug.
NBC (10/18/2012): The image of water catching fire in the documentary Gasland has come to symbolize the anti-fracking movement.
"Now sure, maybe you can't wash your dishes anymore," Colbert continues, "But, on the bright side, now you've got a kiln to make new ones. And come on, we're trying to throw a fracking party here, and these people are ruining it with their suffering. It's like going to a barbecue and seeing a video of factory farming. I don't want to meet all 400 cows in my burger."
"Now fortunately, folks, there's a way we can enjoy the fruits of fracking without feeling the guilt. And it brings us to tonight's Wørd: Gag Gift."
"Folks, I'm a sensitive guy," said Colbert, "I cried when those hunters shot Bambi's mother. They should've shot his dad; he's a 10-point buck."
"So naturally, I was touched when I heard about a family living near a Pennsylvania fracking site who had to move because "air and water contaminants caused them to experience burning eyes, sore throats, headaches and earaches."
"Ultimately, the family was able to get the company, Range Resources, to agree to an out of court settlement for $750,000 to relocate -- wow -- for that kind of money, you could buy something nice." (Like A Respirator)
"Now in return, the company simply asked for a signed statement from the family saying "that it suffered no environmental, health or safety impact from drilling adjacent to their property". And to agree to "lifetime bans on what they can say". Because if a tree falls in the forest, and you pay the family who heard it not to talk, then it didn't make a sound." (Especially If It Falls On Them)
"Now, no wonder gag orders like this are so common."
MEGAN HUGHES, BLOOMBERG NEWS (6/6/2013): Bloomberg reviewed hundreds of regulatory and legal filings, and found drillers paying for silence over water contamination complaints in at least half a dozen states.
"They're everywhere. Paying for silence is catching on like tap fire! (Who Wants To Wash Marshmallows?!) But folks, the fun part is that this gag order also included the family's two children, ages 7 and 10. Important lesson, kids. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. (First Rule Of Frack Club...)
"But even after they moved, these crybabies are crying about their babies, claiming that imposing a gag order on minors violates their First Amendment rights. But Judge Paul Pozonsky, who approved the settlement, had an airtight rebuttal, saying, "That's a law school question, I guess." Judge Pozonsky has since resigned." (Hopefully To Go To Law School)
"Now the problem, I think, and this might just be me," continues Colbert, "the problem with enforcing a gag order on a 7-year-old is that for the rest of their lives, any time someone brings up fracking, the kids won't talk. But they'll have a haunted look in their eyes, like when you ask Vietnam vets about Agent Orange, or ask NBC executives about Donald Trump." (a.k.a. Agent Orange)
"Now people might start to suspect that the kids think there's something wrong with fracking. We need some way to change what they think. Maybe, I dunno, maybe drill into their skull, and inject new thoughts into their brains under extreme economic pressure to shatter those old thoughts, and then extract positive messages about fracking." ("It's Helping The Earth Burp!")
"Now I guess what I'm trying to say is, I wish there was a way my car could run by burning the innocence of children." (Tear Gas)
"Anyway, in a way, it kinda does, because these companies are just asking for kids to lie for money. And in order to get cheap oil, I think we're all willing to lie to ourselves about fracking. (Gag Gift) And that's the Wørd.