“History was made,” Bill Maher smirked Friday as he led off an epic post-conventions Real Time episode filled with Trump shade, Hillary critique, and love for special guest Bernie Sanders. “One of our major parties nominated a woman, and the other nominated a pussy.”
A day after Hillary Clinton officially accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for President, Maher welcomed her runner-up, live via satellite from Burlington, Vermont. “He didn’t quite make it to the nomination,” Maher gushed, “but in my lifetime I have never seen a candidate as beloved.”
Hailed as a “patriot” by Maher—“unlike some of your supporters,” the HBO host snarked (shout out Bernie Bros!)—Senator Bernie Sanders dutifully stumped for party unity.
Bernie’s review of the tumultuous, balloon-filled 2016 DNC?
“I think it was a good convention. I think it brought together people with different points of view within the Democratic Party—the progressives, the more conservative, the moderates,” he said. “But I think what comes out of that convention is the understanding that Donald Trump is the most dangerous presidential candidate in the modern history of this country.”
Sanders blasted Trump’s “absurd” views on everything from climate change to tax breaks for the rich to his stint as an anti-Obama birther. “But above all of that, this guy is running his entire campaign based on bigotry, based on trying to divide us up, based on trying to insult Mexicans, Latinos, and women, and African-Americans.”
“This,” Bernie continued, underscoring the urgent need to thwart a Trump America, “is a guy who is dangerous.”
Bernie agreed with Khizr Khan, the Muslim-American father of a fallen Army captain, who slammed the Republican nominee on the DNC stage over his inflammatory anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric. “Somebody like Trump does not understand the Constitution of the United States,” Sanders said. “This is a guy who must be defeated.”
Bernie is only 74 years young, Maher pointed out. He asked Sanders point blank: why not run for President again?
Well, Sanders didn’t say he’d never run again. He gently smiled. “Thank you very much, but four years from now is a long time from now… my term ends in two years as a United States senator from Vermont. Everything being equal, I intend to run for reelection from Vermont, a state that I love very, very much.”
“Whatever my political future may or may not be I will be fighting as hard as I can to stand up for a declining middle class, to take on the grotesque levels of income and wealth inequality that we’re seeing right now,” he added. “To demand that the United States join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people, as a right to make public colleges and universities in this country tuition-free. Those are the issues we have got to continue to fight for.”
Bernie promised to keep fighting for those issues… from Hillary’s corner, to make sure she sticks to the lane he nudged her toward over the course of the Democratic primary.
“What I intend to do the day after Hillary Clinton is elected President of the United States is to do everything that I can to make sure she goes forward as progressively as she can, maintaining a very strong Democratic-progressive platform that we passed together,” he vowed, drawing applause and whistles from the studio audience.
Sending a subtle message to his most vocally anti-Hillary supporters, Bernie encouraged his people to keep stoking the energy they put into backing his movement, even with him out of the race.
“It’s not just the right thing to do for the moment,” he urged. “What we have got to do is we must continue the political revolution. We must continue to bring millions of people into the political process to stand up, to take on the billionaire class, to fight for economic and social and racial and environmental justice. And that fight must continue the day after the election because fundamental changes—transformational changes—take time to happen. They don’t happen overnight.”
Later in the show, a lively panel dissected the presidential field as it now stands, with guest Barney Frank tangling repeatedly with Dr. Cornel West over Hillary, Bernie, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
“Jill Stein doesn’t go to jail,” Frank shot at Stein booster West, “she goes to dinner.”
“Hillary is brilliant, she’s smart—she just doesn’t have a whole lot of integrity,” West shouted.
Maher got into it with West, skeptical of Stein’s draw as a third-party nominee, and described backing Trump as boarding a train to utter destruction.
“Let me give you an analogy,” he said. “You’re at a train station right here in L.A. You want to go to San Francisco. There’s one train that goes to San Francisco, but it’s a little slower than you want. There’s one other train leaving, but it’s not going to San Francisco—it’s going to hell.”
In the end, it was Trump who brought everyone together. Frank decried Trump’s “playing footsie with Putin,” describing Russia’s president as “one of the worst people in the world.”
“The notion that he’s going to sit back and… encourage this vicious thug to impinge on new democracies… is a disgrace,” said the co-chair of the DNC’s rules committee.
Maher closed out the show with a suggestion for Hillary, whose stiff politician act warmed up Thursday night when she unleashed the beast and started dragging Trump: give up on the nice grandma act and lean into every scary image the GOP has conjured around her.
“Hillary has to embrace all the nasty things the haters say and run as the Notorious H.R.C.,” Maher said. After all, it’s working frighteningly well for Trump. He even wrote a tagline for Hillary’s new PR campaign. “I’m Crooked Hillary, and not only do I approve this image—I will cut a bitch.”