California Farmers Demand Obama's Help
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 11, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Now tonight, we bring you an update on a story we covered back in May.
The Central Valley of California was once considered the bread basket of America. But now farms all over that region have been allowed to dry up. Now why? Because of a 2-inch minnow on the endangered species list.
Now, environmentalists claim that the fish was getting caught in the water pumps that provided the farms with water, so to protect the tiny fish, the pumps were turned off. And farmers, well, they were left high and dry, and entire communities are now feeling the impact.
Some towns in the area are now facing unemployment rates of up to 40 percent. And many residents are now forced to visit food banks. But the people of that great area, they've had enough, and they're speaking out tonight.
And joining me live from California is Congressman Devin Munes and comedian and activist Paul Rodriguez.
Guys, I don't know if we can get a shot. It looks like you have over a thousand people there. Is that right?
PAUL RODRIGUEZ, COMEDIAN/ACTIVIST: Well over a thousand, Sean. This is a testament of your message is getting to these people. They've been out here for hours. The only water this field has seen is our sweat. But it's more than we've gotten from the government.
HANNITY: Well, Paul, we have had you on about this before. I want you to tell the entire story, because it's almost unfathomable. Literally, farms are drying up.
RODRIGUEZ: People don't believe it.
HANNITY: Go ahead, tell them. Tell everybody.
RODRIGUEZ: Well, the problem is the environmental laws, they're not flexible at all. The very judge that pushed this order to cut off the water said that there was no swivel room to make accommodations for human beings. You know, this fish apparently takes high priority. All the water has been held back.
And we're left with nothing but — right where we're at, this used to be an almond orchard. We grew some of the sweetest almonds ever. Now it's firewood. Do you want some? Nobody believes that how I got involved my mother is from here.
HANNITY: These farmers, their farms are now dried up. There's no water; there's no production. People are losing their jobs. How many people are out of work there?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, you know, the system varies but a lot of people here aren't working. That's why we're here. We're here to show America this is our own town hall meeting here, Sean.
This is — you know, we're so wrapped up in this issue we don't have time to worry about health care, because everything around us is dead. Our way of life is dying here.
We really — we tried to have the administration come to see about us. We haven't heard. They sent the secretary of the interior here. He gave us some nice lip service and said, "Oh, we're going to do this and do that." But at the end of the thing, we didn't get no water. Our fields are drying out. Something has to be done.
HANNITY: Now Congressman, first, Paul, you were an Obama supporter. You...
RODRIGUEZ: Yes, absolutely. Like everybody else, we wanted change. We didn't think it would be this kind of change. But you know, he kept his promise, we got change.
HANNITY: All right. But where are you now? I heard you want to call Fresno County an Obama country? Or...
RODRIGUEZ: We want to name — we would like to name it after someone who is responsible for this.
Look, we have signed a letter signed by every mayor in this whole area to President Obama, telling him that we tried to go through the chain of command. We saw the secretary of interior. We saw his assistant. We went to Sacramento. We went over there to Washington, D.C.
We've gone everywhere. Everybody is paying lip service. At the end of the day our trees can't wait. Our trees are going to wait for a law — maybe passing might open. Two gates, one gate, no gates, at the end of the day, nobody is bringing us water.
HANNITY: Congressman, I mean, how is this possible? I mean, this isn't an endangered — this is — go ahead.
REP. DEVIN MUNES, R-CALIF.: It's unbelievable, Sean. This is — we tried on the House floor this summer about five or six different times, and we only got a handful of Democrat votes every time. Weave tried to pass something.
And look, Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the House. She's from California. We have over 10 percent unemployment in California. We're sitting in trees with trees that are only 8 years old right now that are now sitting here dead, dried out.
There's a half a million acres of farmland — it's bigger than the size of Rhode Island — that's now dry because of these fools.
HANNITY: I've got to — go ahead, Paul. Go ahead.
RODRIGUEZ: You know — you know, the loser here is the American people. Because when we live in the most fertile valley on this planet. Everything you put on the ground here grows. Yet, you're going to eventually — by next spring, you're going to get your vegetables from China. And I understand they make great baby milk formula.
MUNES: And Sean, let me add something on this. This is, you know, in China and India, and Brazil, they're building water infrastructure projects. In California, not only are we not building projects here, we're taking the projects we have, and they're shut off. They're shut off, and they're starving this valley of water.
RODRIGUEZ: We'd like to have the same consideration that they have for the plants that they're building in Iraq. For crying out loud, they are getting — they're getting the water projects.
Here in this valley, look we have no other recourse, but we want to thank you a lot, Sean. Because nobody else has pointed their eye on this problem. To us there's a lot of — we understand that the president has serious problems, you know, with health care and all these other things. But to us this is our livelihood.
MUNES: All you got to do is turn the pumps on.
HANNITY: Listen, I want everybody — I don't know if anybody is going to hear me out there, guys. But I want to say this to the crowd. You know what? The people in this area need jobs. They need their farms. They need the water for their farms. And the federal government, where is Barack Obama, where is Nancy Pelosi, where is Harry Reid?
Turn the water on and let the people in central California eat. I can't believe I'm even debating, to be honest, Paul.
RODRIGUEZ: It's ridiculous. You know, we — I have not lost faith yet. Maybe I'm a knucklehead. We have sent the letter. We're still hoping that Mr. Obama will see it in his busy schedule to come down here and visit us.
We believe that — seeing is believing. If he sees the faces on these people. Look, we're not just white or brown. We're everybody here. This is a microcosm of America here. We're farmers. We bring food to your table.
HANNITY: Let me ask you the last question. Are you going to run for office?
RODRIGUEZ: Who, me? The only thing I'm going to run is from the cops.
No, this — this area needs someone with an education. I'm not smart enough to be that. I just want water to my mom's farm, and I'm back to telling jokes.
MUNES: I'm working on him. I'm trying to get him to run, Sean. We'll keep — we're going to work on it.
RODRIGUEZ: You should run, Sean. You're the man.
HANNITY: No, no, no. Listen, I mean this sincerely. I think this is really important. And I hope the president is watching or somebody will bring this to his attention, and somebody has got to turn the water back on. We've got to save these farmers. We've got to save these farms. We've got to do it for the people out there.
RODRIGUEZ: Either that or put us on the endangered species list.
Thank you so much.
HANNITY: All right, guys. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. When...
RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.
HANNITY: Guys, I hope your water gets turned on soon. Thank you, all.
Unbelievable. Whatever happened to the government working for people?
Folks, this is an amazing time in our country's history. And I just can't believe we find ourselves, you know, even having to debate some of these things. But we're going to stay on that story.