Actor Paul Rodriguez Turns GOP After Farmers Hurt to Save Endangered Fish

In recent months, actor and comedian Paul Rodriguez has made known his defection from the Democratic party because of the party's lack of interest in helping drought-stricken farmers like himself in California who have had water denied to them by court order under the Endangered Species Act to save an endangered fish, the delta smelt. As he addressed the 2009 Annual California Republican Assembly Convention in May, Rodriguez complained that the fundraising support he has given to environmental groups in the past has come back to hurt him and his family: "I always saw myself as an environmentalist. ... I’ve funded many of these things, I guess, because I’ve performed for them. Every time they call, you go there not really knowing what you’re backing, not knowing that those dollars are going to turn around and, and hurt me, hurt those I love the most." The complete audio of Rodriguez's speech can be found here.

As he recounted that environmentalists compare the delta smelt to the canary in a coal mine, he quipped that environmentalists treat the farmer like the canary. Rodriguez quoted his uncle who used to be a coal miner: "The job of the canary is to, you know, we were digging and we’re looking at the canary, we’re digging and looking, when the canary dies, man, you run the hell out of there! That canary’s job is to die so you live, see?”

He continued: "And that really got to me, and I said, 'They got it wrong. They want the farmer to die and the canary to live.'”

Rodriguez, the son of Mexican immigrants, also spoke of his late father's admiration for America, and the good fortune one has in just getting to live in this country: "He had a deep love for this country. He was grateful. He told me that he wasn’t going to leave an inheritance for his children. He was going to leave something more important than that. He was going to leave them in a place with ideals, and a place where you can become someone if you really wanted to, you had a shot at it."

And in contrast to much of the mainstream media's habit of encouraging Republicans to moderate on social issues, he suggested that the Republican party's conservative positions on issues like abortion and family values would be an advantage in attracting Hispanic voters. Rodriguez: "You need to attract more of me, or else you’d be an endangered species. ... You know, we have so much in common. A lot of the values that this party espouses, we espouse. We believe strongly in family. We believe life is sacred."

Rodriguez lamented as he concluded his speech: "It is tragic that in the most fertile soil that God has ever placed on any corner of this blue marble that we should have a desert where there should be a garden."

Rodriguez also appeared on FNC's Hannity show on June 19, and complained that the Obama administration has ignored his pleas for help: "I think that when the Endangered Species Act was put on, they didn't take humans into consideration. ... We tried to get the attention of the administration. Mr. Salazar was gracious enough to fly over our valley but didn't land. I don't know what. There's plenty of places to land, you know, because there's no farming going on. It's pathetic." Video of the interview can be found here.

He soon called on President Obama to reconsider helping them: "They don't understand that, without the food that we grow in the valley, your prices are going to go up. It's not going to help the economy. Putting 80,000 of us out of work is not going to be a good stimulus package. I appeal to Mr. Obama to consider and look at us."

After conveying his history as a Democrat, he relayed that his support for President Obama is fading, and called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to visit the California farmland:

This has not only changed my political point of view, it has changed everyone around me. We have always been lifelong devoted Democrats. I supported Mr. Obama. You know, I'm part of the "I love you, Mr. Obama" group. But I -- that patina is starting to fade. I want -- I want my lover to call me. There's 80,000 of us over here hoping to get some precipitation here. We need to continue to farm, and we need that water open badly. I appeal to Mr. Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, to please land this time, talk to us, come see us, look at the faces that you're affecting.

Below is a complete transcript of Rodriguez's speech from the May 5 Annual California Republican Assembly Convention, followed by a complete transcript of his appearance on the June 19 Hannity show on FNC:

#From the May 5 speech at the 2009 Annual California Republican Assembly Convention:

PAUL RODRIGUEZ: Well, I already got two of you to stand up. I appreciate that. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was watching you on TV last night.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you. These are people that are, you know, they’re giving me, like, a down payment on what you may say. I want to thank all of you. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m still willing to learn. Three years ago, if you would have asked me what my political affiliation is, I wouldn’t have given it too much thought. I would have readily told you, you know, a Democrat. It’s kind of like an unwritten law if you’re a Mexican-American, it’s an inheritance. You know, for the most part, we’re, we are Catholic and we are Democrats. You can’t change. You’ll upset your parents.  (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

I remember many years since, trying to contemplate the idea of joining the Grand Old Party, and I said I better run this through Mom. I said, “Ma, Dad, sit down, I want to talk to you.” Before I could go any further, they said, “Oh, my God, he’s gay. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Ay, Dios mio, he’s gay.” I said, “No, no, no, Mom, I’m thinking of being a Republican.” She said, “I wish you were gay. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Please look, what have we done?”

I went on two years ago – I started this three years ago. Two years go, I wasn’t so sure what I was. Now, I got a vague idea. You know, I didn’t seek this – I guess we can call it a battle now. It came to me, you know. My Mom called me up, and she said, “You hear what’s going on over here?” I said, “No, Ma, what’s going on?” And she lives right outside of Fresno. And I figured nothing goes on there because that’s Fresno. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) In fact, if it wasn’t for Bakersfield, we’d have nobody to look down on. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) God bless you folks here in Bakersfield.

It’s just, it’s just that home is where your mother lives, and she’s there. You know, we came to this country, we came as migrant farm workers, we came very, very poor, but not of spirit. My father was a wonderful optimist. Excuse me, let me help you with that. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) I feel bad, I’m the only Mexican here not working. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) You know, I have found – I hope you continue with that sense of humor when I’m going through things that you may not agree so much on. But that’s the beauty of it all, that we can have dialogue.

This battle was ridiculous. I didn’t believe it. I had to go check it out for myself. That a judge, without the express will of the people, without any kind of consultation or asking, “What do you think if we do this?” should allocate zero water to an industry that solely depends on its survival for that. If anyone has found a way to farm without water, well, then, they should let us know because I don’t know what that is.

You know, if they would have given us 10 percent, there would have been a percentage for us to negotiate, for us to say, perhaps we have been a little piggish with the water, let’s be more responsible, how about five and you keep five? Like the song of my era said, Billy Preston said it best, that “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing,” and there was nothing to negotiate. To try to explain this to my friends in Hollywood or my friends in urban areas who don’t understand why I don’t go to the parties so much now, why my agent has to always explain to me that I picked a dead horse. “But it’s not one of the sexy issues, Paul. It’s not breast cancer. You’re not going to get a lot of media out of this, you know. You’re not going to stand next to George Clooney and get exposed.” But I swear to you that there are many other things that I could be doing to expose myself. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) [UNINTELLIGIBLE] figure out a way without resorting to this.

Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, I did not get into this with any kind of ambitions whatsoever. I will swear on it right now, that I have none, zero political aspirations because, if the Governor had skeletons in his closet, I’ve got bodies in mine. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) And I enjoy my privacy, and I want to quickly return to that.

But this was ridiculous. I always saw myself as an environmentalist. I perhaps have, Hollywood and perhaps [UNINTELLIGIBLE] to me, I’ve funded many of these things, I guess, because I’ve performed for them. Every time they call, you go there not really knowing what you’re backing, not knowing that those dollars are going to turn around and, and hurt me, hurt those I love the most.

You know, it was, it was really ridiculous to try to explain that my neighbors weren’t going to farm this season because they didn’t have any water, or their allocation – and it’s so complicated and the opponents in this issue are quickly to remind you how ignorant or uninformed or downright stupid you are. They’ve said things like, well, oh, they’re misinformed, they don’t really know the issues of it. Well, that’s true, I will never be accused of being any kind of brain trust fund here, but all I know is that we had water last year, and I know what that looks like. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) And I know what a field without water looks like. And that’s what we got there.

You realize that the people that I’d most admired, the people that have shaped me, all of a sudden, I had done something wrong because I didn’t understand. “Where was the United Farm Workers?” I said. “Where are they? They should be on this.” I knew Cesar Chavez. He knew me. We broke bread together. He came to my house. It wasn’t a casual acquaintance. I remember briefly, in Delano, marching with him, I was 12. He came to my home, I’ve got letters, this wasn’t someone that I’ve heard of.

I remember one time, after having him on my television show in Spanish, which cost me that show because I had him on, and all of a sudden the supermarkets that were sponsoring my program didn’t. And I knew that that was going to happen, but I was willing to pay that price because, to me, friendship has very, very, a very high value. And you don’t give it away readily or take it. But when I heard comments that the UFW was not going to support any water towards farmers because they didn’t want to advance or help the white farmer in any way, I figured it was they who had been mis-educated, and they didn’t know what they were talking about because if you can’t have a farmer, you can’t have a farm worker.  (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) You know? I have been both, and I have been lousy at both. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) You can say anything, but you got to admire my consistency. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

You know, I won’t be wordy. There are other speakers here that I want to hear, and I am in a little bit of back pain, but I expect more of it to come because I’m not going anywhere. They think- (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) -whatever accusations they may make of me, bring it on. Before you try to out me, I’ll tell you exactly what I do and what I am. And a lot of it I’m not proud of, but that’s just the way it is. You know, you have to be able to stand on your own two feet

I happen to be the son of a wonderful man that never made the news when he passed, but he’s lying restfully and reedly, and maybe that graveyard is not going to have enough water to water that lawn, but I’ll see to it it’s green because of my Dad. And the wonderful thing about my Dad is when he brought us to this country, he didn’t come here with no demands. He didn’t come here – as a matter of fact, I always used to have to battle for my Dad to vote. And he would tell me, he goes, “No, I better not. I used to vote in Mexico, and look what a mess I made over there. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) You know, the gringos have done a pretty good job here, Paul, just let it be, just let them continue to do that.” It was pretty hard to argue with it, you know. He had a deep love for this country. He was grateful. He told me that he wasn’t going to leave an inheritance for his children. He was going to leave something more important than that. He was
going to leave them in a place with ideals, and a place where you can become someone if you really wanted to, you had a shot at it.


You know, in Mexico, the son of an irrigator, which is what he used to do, he used to irrigate bean fields in Sinaloa. That person does never have a shot at being any kind of celeb or to have the hope to achieve anything. If it does happen, I’ve not heard of it. So whatever I am, in your eyes, it really doesn’t matter. I know what eyes some see through. And all the things that I’ve gotten, I am grateful for. And this is why I’m here. We were migrant farm workers. The Lord smiled on me, and I was able to make a few dollars, and one time, working with Mr. Bob Hope doing his last Christmas Special. I casually asked him, you know, how would I, how would I, I heard that he was very successful, how would I double my dollar, he goes, “Young man, run out to the edge of town, and if you have the money, buy it, anywhere that’s here in these Lower Forty-Eight, or if you can get up to Alaska or Hawaii, anywhere that’s in America,” he says, “Buy a piece of land, sit on it, and you can’t go wrong.” And up to three years ago, he was right. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

So there I am, I bought my mom the proverbial farm, we grew the sweetest oranges, and are still growing them, that the Central Valley can grow, and the sourest lemons and a lot of olives and a lot of things. We are truly blessed to live in a land that’s just like Canaan. Everything that you drop on there will grow. We have everything we need except resolve. You know, the sad part about it is that the more I went to learn, I learned that both parties can’t even agree on how to store water. They can’t even agree, well, should it be underground? Should it be above ground? How do we capture what’s coming from the ground, what’s coming from the sky? Where do we put it? In the middle of a historic drought that’s not going to get any easier, we’re still battling over this. I say that I don’t understand this much, but there are two things that we the Latino Water Coalition want, and that is a short-term solution, open those pumps yesterday- (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) -and a long-term solution, a comprehensive plan, so that we don’t have this fight again.

Now, when I say “Latino Water Coalition,” a lot of you automatically say, “Why 'Latino'? Doesn’t everyone need water, Paul? Why just you Latinos? And, as a Caucausian person, I take offense to that. Why does everything have to be segregated?” I don’t know. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) I don’t know, but we’re using this, we’re using this race card in a positive manner, a cloak. (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE): You know, everybody’s welcome to this. The reason why we call it the “Latino Water Coalition,” because it gives them a pause. “We better not attack these Latinos. We don’t know.” If we called it the “Caucasian Coalition,” you bet they would already been attacking us because Caucasians, sadly to say, who’s defending you? I am. (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) You know, just to put that to rest, there’s no division. They came to me, and God knows, I wasn’t asking for no kind of leadership.

I’ve been in front of many, many audiences over the 30 years of pretending to work. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) I seldom have been as nervous – I think even the pain that I have in my back might be psychosomatic. I’ve been – performed in front of prisoners of San Quentin and both Afghanistan and Baghdad more than four times back there-  (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) -and I swear to you, on the way over here, I almost had pause and think of my words, and, to show you the truth, here’s my idea of a speech that I don’t seem to need now because I’ve connected with you. I want you to know I’m speaking off the cuff, I’m telling you this, that you have become allies of mine because all the things that I’ve heard about you, like most of the things that you might perceive about me, more than likely, they more than likely are wrong. The reason why these things exist is because of fear.

When I was a young man, I was indoctrinated, believe of the evil, the incarnate evil of the white farmer who mistreated his workers and cared more about his John Deere than Juan. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Although I never met that person. Although if we ever received kindness was from farmers who treated us decently with respect. That’s what I can remember. I never heard my father complain. And I’m not defending or kissing or becoming a coconut or whatever label you want to put on me. I’m simply telling you what happened to me. I’m not speaking for the other 40 people in my house. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) Me.

I won’t be too long. What it is, is this. The more I try to learn, the more I realize that the people who are our opponents, the environmentalists, I believe in their sincerity. This is what makes them dangerous. They’re sincere in their beliefs, they’re dedicated, they have the tenacity of a Jehovah Witness. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER): That’s what makes them formidable. We must have even more tenacity than them. We must be able- (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE): -the kind of fear that they’re able to instill in politicians and elected officials. When I first started to knock on doors, you know, they would say, “Well, who is this guy?” You know. “He doesn’t even have a hit show.” But I wasn’t there as the comedian, I was there as a citizen, the same rights that you have.

I wanted to see. It happened that a lot of those politicians there, I had helped to elect, but I’d knocked on doors for Fabian Nunez. At one time, I was the only game in town. Every time they needed an entertainer for a banquet to raise money, I was Juan on the spot. I was happy to do it. I felt that was the most I could help my community, to give to them, you know, but when I knock on the door, and it wasn’t to have a parking ticket fixed or anything like that. It wasn’t something for me, it was for my area, “You know, Fabian, the people over here, they need water, I got a farm, what’s up?” Wouldn’t see me. Wouldn’t see me. The first people that saw me were Republicans. And I said- (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) “What’s going on? Why are they so slow on this?”

I’d been friends with Cruz Bustamante. I remember traveling with him places to go to casinos to raise funds, and I told him, I said, “You know, be careful, Cruz, they’re going to turn and use this on you.” And he said, “Oh, it’s legal.” And I said, “There’s a lot of things that are legal that might look immoral.” And I don’t know anything about politics. It has never been my favorite topic. I couldn’t begin to tell political jokes. They’re just not funny to me because, I mean, most of them are in office. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) And that way, it’s terrible to talk of. But this has really been personal, you know. When all the mayors, when all the elected officials of the valley I call home came to me with a petition, and I said, “Why me?” they go, “Why, the Governor is in show business and you’re in show business, you guys got something in common. You’ll see each other” We don’t have anything in common other than we both mangle the English language, you know, that’s it, the fact that we would probably need an interpreter to communicate, we don’t have nothing in common. But if I could help, I would. The more I started to learn about this, the more I realized how something so simple as turning on a pump can be so cumbersome with red tape and, “You don’t understand the politics,” and, “It’s going to take more of this, it’s going to take more of that.”

You learn that there are two pumps – one is state and one is federal. I don’t really care. Does a farmer – if your house is on fire, do you care if that fire is being [put out] by federal or state water? You want the fire off. They don’t seem to understand the urgency. “Wait, you know, it’s going to take, it’s a slow process, we’re going to get there.” I – my trees can’t wait, the cattle can’t wait. You don’t wait – water is not, water is way up there with, like, breathing. Water is not a, it’s not a privilege, it’s not a right, it’s something, it’s life itself if you’re going to function. I can give you statistics and examples, but that would be just a waste of time. I’m sure you’re educated. I’m sure you know. I’m probably preaching to, well, I know I’m preaching to people who are more allied in my views because I can tell you folks know something about farms.

You know, when you go to the U.S. offices of the Latino caucuses, the representatives, all those people that weren’t there some 25 years ago when myself and several others started to work towards that, and now they proudly have flags of the UFW here and there, and they all espouse, “Oh, you know, I used to pick grapes and, you know, the apples, and the things-" You can tell that if they ever did that, they’d picked it at a supermarket, you know. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) We all pretty much knew each other, and I don’t remember them.

My uncle, Figueroa Pantoja, he was a legend in that area, Pantoja Trucking, he had trucks and he knew about that, and so, he was a contractor, some very, very hard work, and there were so many other issues that we would talk about, you know, that we might have disagreement or agreement on, but I’m not worried about that. I knew that if I could get you or whoever to listen to me, to agree on one, just one issue, water, put all issues aside, and this march that I called for, because I didn’t know any better, I was afraid I was expecting maybe myself and, I don’t know, three or four other people out there marching, you know. To my amazement, this swelled to 5,000 the first day, the middle days we went 1,500, the lowest we had was 1,000. And the last day we topped 10,000 people. (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)

And marching out there, unlike the other marches that I had saw, I was marching next to white farmers, next to Sykh businessmen, next to Mexicans like ourselves, Americans first. We were all marching along, and there were no Mexican flags because I don’t want no Mexican flags. We don’t live in Mexico. It is not my country. I was not in the Mexican Air Force. I don’t know if they have one. I’m tired of apologizing for a country I don’t run.

And this is where you have to also distinguish. Until you can see Hispanic-Americans with the same interest, and we can see you in the same way, we will both wither. We need to coalesce. We need to fight the Endangered Species Act. (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)

And you – look around the room – you need to attract more of me, or else you’d be an endangered species. (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) There’s no shame in that. You know, we have so much in common. A lot of the values that this party espouses, we espouse. We believe strongly in family. We believe life is sacred.
(AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) It might not be the popular belief, but this is what we believe.

And we believe – we have the right to believe, you know, and when I was in Baghdad, when I was in other places, when it’s all said and done, the conflict there is religious conflict, that’s all, I know some people are against this or for this. I don’t even go there. All I know is, I was in the service, and when I ... saw a USO show, and it sure made me feel good. Now, I have an opportunity, I’ll go there. I’m not pro-war, I’m not against war, as I watch these young kids, Marines, here, they weren’t too much older than that, the ones I saw in the hospital. Let’s just make sure that that blood was shed for a reason. (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) Let’s make sure than when they come back, there’s a reason why that price, the highest of all prices, was paid. Not frivolously send someone there.

You know, as I close, I’ll tell you this.  It’s – I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I know I’m going to do something because I’m not going to sit there and see a canal with plenty of water go right by my property, and my property has no water. I’m not going to sit there and see my family suffer needlessly. And if it’s illegal for me to take a back hoe (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE) and open up and make a canal, then I’ve already been accused of being illegal once before. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

The most wonderful thing that I’ve gotten from this march is the friendship, the camaraderie, a sense of importance – not self, but our cause is just. I talked to farmers that were vilified. I talked to farmers that realized that, hey, this was my neighbor, man, and we had something in common, and we might, we reserve the right to disagree on a lot of things. So what? We found something to agree on, and that is a foundation. That is something we can have communication. We can talk about that. And we realize that they have the same fears we do, perhaps some of the prejudice that we have to look inside ourselves. We have to also look to the fact that, whether we like it or not, we’re here, you’re here, I’m here. And it’s not such a bad deal. If you realize that, and if you can understand that, whether you like it or I like it or it doesn’t really matter, facts are facts. When they want to cut this water off, I’ll say to myself, “What ulterior motives could they possibly have? How do they want to revert this pristine country back to how it was? They want to return the salmon back to the Sacramento. They want to do all these things. At what price? At what price do they want to do that?”

They tell me that the delta smelt is the canary in the mine, they say, a wonderful metaphor, the canary in the mine. And I said to myself, well, I’m not a miner, but my uncle was a miner. He mined coal in Chihuaha, and I’ll ask him, and he said, “Oh, yeah, yeah, there’s a canary, oh, yeah. The job of the canary is to, you know, we were digging and we’re looking at the canary, we’re digging and looking, when the canary dies, man, you run the hell out of there! That canary’s job is to die so you live, see?” And that really got to me, and I said, “They got it wrong. They want the farmer to die and the canary to live.” (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) That’s not going to happen. You know, damn, I wish I would have closed with that one! (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER) But it was.

I want to show you what happened. I want to show you what happened. Give me a second. I want to show you what happened. So you can look at that, and you look at that and you say, you know, maybe I’ll join them next time because there’s going to be more. This time, we’re going to go to Washington. We’re going to try to do it the legal, the proper way, but, you know, desperate men do desperate things, and this is – I’m not exaggerating this – you got it, because I know where the pumps are. And I know that somebody out there could be my friend, someone out there knows how to run those pumps, someone out there has a blow torch, someone out there knows how to make this water run. (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) All we’re missing is resolve and a friendship that we must promise to each other that one day, when this is over, and it will be, because summer is coming, and I don’t expect to go without water, maybe you and I and our families can get to knoweach other and we can have a park and we can barbecue and we can eat all the things we grow because it is tragic that in the most fertile soil that God has ever placed on any corner of this blue marble that we should have a desert where there should be a garden.

(AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)

#From the June 19 Hannity show on FNC:

SEAN HANNITY: Recently, vital water pumps in California were shut down to protect a two-inch minnow. Now, since then, farmers and workers have been protesting that decision and appealing to lawmakers to reverse it. Our own Ainsley Earhardt visited the region in May. Take a look at this.

AINSLEY EARHARDT: California's Central Valley is considered by many to be the richest and most productive farmland in the nation. But this land is being threatened by the small, harmless-looking minnow called the delta smelt. Recently, it landed on the endangered species list, causing a federal court to shut down vital pumps to farmers to help preserve it.

SARAH WOOLF, WESTLANDS WATER DISTRICT: All of the farmers along all of this land, 2/3 of the state of California have depended on water to grow their crops. The water is turned off here, so none of these farmers can expect to get any water.

WOOLF: That is correct.

EARHARDT: Two years ago, I wouldn't have been able to do that. This was a canal full of gushing water irrigating the farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley. But as you can see, it is all dried up. The pumps were turned off after environmentalists won a federal court case.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What we have today is a manmade drought brought on by laws, passed by Congress, to where we're taking the breadbasket of the world and starving it of water to save little fish, which is outrageous.

HANNITY: And joining me now is actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez. He has been an outstanding opponent of shutting down the pumps. Paul, good to see you.

PAUL RODRIGUEZ, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: Thank you, Sean. You know, we're not going to be farmers any longer. We're going to be selling firewood, because our trees won't last another six months without any water. It's really a sad situation that those of us who chose to farm, my mother and my family in the central San Joaquin, perhaps the most fertile soil in the world, are now just sitting there getting ready to go on welfare or some other kind of support because we can't farm.

HANNITY: Paul, this is so serious, and it's almost mind numbing that this could happen. All right. So we showed the little delta smelt, this little minnow fish that is now on the endangered species list. Now, they literally have shut down -- you are getting and farmers are getting zero percent water. Their trees and their farms are dying. Is that right?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, in other years they've given us less allocation, and we've put in drip irrigation. And we've tried to compromise to try to continue to get our crops out. But now the second opinion from the federal state fisheries commission has come out, and they're saying that our actions were like 300 or 400 miles inland. Our actions is actually threatening the killer whale, the steel head, and also the green sturgeon. Now, these fish I've never seen.

HANNITY: But the killer whale is, what, 60 miles away?

RODRIGUEZ: The killer whale -- I've never seen one on the highway, you know, but apparently we're affecting -- we're affecting their reproduction, you know. I don't know what to do. It's so ridiculous. They might as well put -- they've taken 80,000 jobs. Mendota -- city of Mendota and has 41 percent unemployment, the -- unemployment the highest in the nation.

How I got involved is simply because there was no water coming to our farm, and the problem here is that there isn't a drought. There's plenty of water. We've tried everything from doing bubbles and lights to prevent the fish. We've asked for a peripheral canal. They closed all these ideas.

I think that when the Endangered Species Act was put on, they didn't take human -- humans into consideration. I don't know what they want us to do. We tried to get the attention of the administration. Mr. Salazar was gracious enough to fly over our valley but didn't land. I don't know what. There's plenty of places to land, you know, because there's no farming going on. It's pathetic.

HANNITY: This is not -- but this is not funny. This is a little minnow fish, and literally farmers are -- they are -- their farms are becoming worthless, their crops are dying, their trees are dying. You can't bring these back. How about the endangered human list here? They're willing to wipe out the economy in this important vital growing area of our country.

RODRIGUEZ: We mean nothing, apparently. You know, America doesn't do much of anything that -- really good anymore, apparently from what you know.

But we are the best farmers in the world. We grow the most food at the least expense. If people are happy with foreign oil, you're going to love the foreign food here, coming from China.

What we're saying here is why do this? You know, they don't understand that, without the food that we grow in the valley, your prices are going to go up. It's not going to help the economy. Putting 80,000 of us out of work is not going to be a good stimulus package. I appeal to Mr. Obama to consider and look at us.

HANNITY: I hope he does. He's certainly not going to listen to me. Maybe you'll have more of an opportunity to speak to him. Let me ask you this-

RODRIGUEZ: Let me remind -- let me remind everyone that fish, they have powerful lobbies, but they don't vote. Fish do not vote. We do, and we're going to remember this. We need those federal pumps open yesterday. We need this water desperately. This is so un-American. They didn't put into consideration our lives. We live there.

HANNITY: Paul, this is serious stuff. This is not a laughing matter. You're known for being a great comedian. Listen, in the past, it's very interesting. I always thought you were more left of center. And as a matter of fact, I think I remember some years ago you taking a shot at me somewhere. I don't remember laughing, but this has changed your political-

RODRIGUEZ: This has changed not only -- this has not only changed my political point of view, it has changed everyone around me.

We have always been lifelong devoted Democrats. I supported Mr. Obama. You know, I'm part of the "I love you, Mr. Obama" group. But I -- that patina is starting to fade. I want -- I want my lover to call me. There's 80,000 of us over here hoping to get some precipitation here.


We need to continue to farm, and we need that water open badly. I appeal to Mr. Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, to please land this time, talk to us, come see us, look at the faces that you're affecting.

HANNITY: Listen, Paul, this is serious. These are 80,000 jobs. You're right; the price of food is going to go up. This is one area in the country -- for those that don't know this area around the Fresno area of California -- where you can grow just about anything. It is some of the most-

RODRIGUEZ: We are blessed.

HANNITY: Totally.

RODRIGUEZ: We are blessed.

HANNITY: And we're blessed because of the hard work of the farmers because we get to eat the great food which is now dying. And it's because of a little minnow fish, and this crazy endangered species.

RODRIGUEZ: They have to decide. You know, they have to decide, Sean, whether you want fresh vegetables coming from China or Chile or someplace else or they come from the San Joaquin Valley where you have the federal food administration looking over it. This problem could be solved. They could open these pumps. There's enough water for the fish and for people. What there isn't is will, the will to do the right thing here, for whatever reasons.

You know, California is functioning with an antiquated system that was built in the '40's and 1950's. This would be a great idea to create jobs, widen the canals, in could serve everybody, it's a win-win situation. I don't know what the reasoning is, but we don't have any water, and desperate people do desperate things. Yesterday some truckers wanted to stop the highway. Things are going to get worse. We're not moving, we're not going anywhere, and we're going to get this water.

HANNITY: These farms are doing, Paul, and I've got to tell you, anything we can do to help you.

RODRIGUEZ: You have.

HANNITY: I wish you all the best in this effort. And I hope -- President Obama don't do it for me, do it for Paul Rodriguez. Do it for the 80,000 jobs. Do it for the farmers.

RODRIGUEZ: Come and visit us. I want to extend a visit to you, Sean. Come and visit us in the valley. The odds of having Mr. Obama down there are slim. Of course he's open to come and see us, but you should come. Focus this powerful microphone on our dilemma like you have. We truly appreciate that.

HANNITY: I'm not going to -- I'm not going to let it go. I promise you.

RODRIGUEZ: God bless.

HANNITY: I will do everything I can do. And when we talk, we'll talk about who we with get to influence this administration. We cannot lose these jobs at this time with our economy. We cannot raise the price of food this way over a ridiculous issue like this.
But I admire what you're doing. By the way, I fully have completely Hannitized you now.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, you have, and I apologize. There are no more jokes about Hannity coming this way.

HANNITY: Don't worry, there's a whole list of other comedians out there that are taking plenty of shots.

RODRIGUEZ: I'm going to have to work on some material for Colmes now. There's plenty to work there with.

HANNITY: All right. Paul, good to talk to you, and we'll be following you.

RODRIGUEZ: God bless, be well.

HANNITY: God bless you and the farmers. Thank you.