This happened back in 2002, and I wrote about it in 2010, my excuse being that there was at the time a big to-do about having a comedian (Stephen Colbert) testify before Congress, which seemed a little odd given that Congress once heard testimony from a muppet. See Elmo Testifies Before Congress (Sept. 29, 2010). Recently I was having trouble finding a transcript of Elmo’s testimony (and that’s a phrase I think you’re not likely to read anywhere else), and once I found it, it seemed important to preserve it here.
Here it is in a PDF, text obtained from the GPO and reformatted by me to some extent, but left in the original Courier font to preserve that old-timey 2002 feeling:
And here it is in a different format, from the Tumblr site of the Center for Legislative Archives:
So yes, it is already preserved somewhere, that’s true. But who are you going to trust, me or the National Archives?
To date I haven’t found a video. While Elmo does appear four times in C-SPAN’s video library, including in this 2002 video of a speech he gave in the East Room of the White House (skip ahead to about 12:08 unless you want to hear George W. Bush talk about the importance of education), I couldn’t find the congressional testimony. Nor does YouTube appear to have it.
To my knowledge this is still the only time a muppet or other non-human has testified before Congress. So should you happen to come across a video of this, please let me know so I can fully preserve this important piece of American legislative history.
Interestingly, one of Elmo’s questioners, former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, was a highly decorated U.S. Navy pilot and Top Gun instructor, but his congressional record was somewhat tarnished when he pleaded guilty to bribery, fraud, and tax-evasion charges in 2005, and resigned from the House. He was sentenced to and served more than eight years in prison before being released in 2013.
To the best of my knowledge, Elmo’s record is clean.