Seth Rogen Just Had a Weird Moment With Sen. Tom Harkin

At a Senate hearing.

Seth Rogen attends Columbia Pictures' 'This Is The End' premiere at Regency Village Theatre on June 3, 2013 in Westwood, California.
National Journal
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Matt Berman
Feb. 26, 2014, 11:23 a.m.

If you’re go­ing to bring act­or Seth Ro­gen in to testi­fy at your Sen­ate hear­ing, you should prob­ably be fa­mil­i­ar with his ma­ter­i­al.

Ro­gen, who was testi­fy­ing at a Sen­ate Ap­pro­pri­ations sub­comit­tee hear­ing on the rising costs of Alzheimer’s dis­ease, had a pretty funny ex­change with Health, Edu­ca­tion, Labor, and Pen­sions Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Tom Har­kin, D-Iowa.

“Thank you for the op­por­tun­ity to testi­fy today and for the op­por­tun­ity to be called an ex­pert in something, be­cause that’s cool,” Ro­gen began. “I don’t know if you know who I am, chair­man. I know you nev­er saw Knocked Up, which is a little in­sult­ing.”

Har­kin’s re­sponse: “I want the re­cord to note that this is the first time, I will wager, this is the first time in any con­gres­sion­al hear­ing in his­tory that the words ‘knocked up’ have ever been spoken.”

As it turns out, those words have ac­tu­ally been used be­fore on the House floor, back in Ju­ly 2012 by D.C.’s Elean­or Holmes Norton in a floor speech about abor­tion. But the sen­at­or is prob­ably right to think that the phrase hasn’t really come up much dur­ing con­gres­sion­al hear­ings.

Ro­gen, while not a con­ven­tion­al ex­pert, did come to the com­mit­tee with per­son­al ex­per­i­ence. His wife’s moth­er was dia­gnosed with the dis­ease when she was just 55, and Ro­gen foun­ded a char­ity to be­ne­fit the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­ation. “I came here today for a few reas­ons,” he told the sub­com­mit­tee. “One, I’m a House of Cards fan. Had to be here…. Two, is to say people need more help.”

“I’m sorry you had to un­mask me,” Har­kin later replied. “I’m really Kev­in Spacey in dis­guise. Not too many people knew that.”

The hear­ing, of course, wasn’t just for laughs. It also fea­tured testi­mony from Fran­cis Collins, dir­ect­or of the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health, who picked up some of Ro­gen’s sci­entif­ic slack.

Up­date: Feb­ru­ary 27, 5:23 p.m.

As it turns out, Del. Holmes Norton’s use of the phrase “knocked up” was in quot­ing a Ju­ly 27, 2012 Wash­ing­ton Post op-ed (big h/t to @BeeStapler). The phrase also did ap­pear in the pre­pared re­marks of a Re­li­gious Co­ali­tion for Re­pro­duct­ive Choice rep­res­ent­at­ive at  Sen­ate Ap­pro­pri­ations Labor, Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, and Edu­ca­tion sub­comit­tee hear­ing dur­ing the 111th Con­gress (again, big h/t to @BeeStapler).


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