This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Recently, vital water pumps in California were shut down to protect a 2-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, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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, prompting a federal court to shut down vital pumps to farmers to help preserve it.
(on camera) 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.
SARAH WOOLF, WESTLANDS WATER DISTRICT: That is correct.
EARHARDT (on camera): 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.
(voice-over) The pumps were turned off after environmentalists won a federal court case.
REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-CALIF.: What we have today is a manmade brought on by laws, passed by Congress, to where we're starting 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 outspoken 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 fire wood, 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 also 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, the city of Mendota and Firebaugh 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 why. 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 waste 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 — 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 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.
RODRIGUEZ: 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.
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 the San Joaquin Valley where you have the federal food administration looking over it.
This — 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 '40s and 1950s. 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 I believe 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.
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