At the end of the busy week that included President Obama’s final State of the Union address and the first GOP debate of 2016, Bill Maher returned to HBO Friday night for his 14th season of Real Time. And as he promised in his recent interview with The Daily Beast, the host came armed with a new campaign of his own.
Maher kicked things off with the Republican debate, “or as I call it, The Hateful Eight.” From his view, the candidates “could not be bloodthirsty enough” and “it’s so comforting that the party of impotent white rage is also the party of concealed carry and stand your ground.”
One contender who stood out to Maher was Chris Christie, who was “trying to burnish his asshole credentials” by calling Obama a “petulant child.” From the man who “needed surgery to give his stomach a time-out,” Maher joked.
“They were all so amped up,” he said of the GOP field, with one exception. “Human screensaver” Ben Carson,” who came off “like a computer that was in sleep mode.”
And of course, just today, Lindsey Graham — “John McCain’s boyfriend” — endorsed Jeb Bush. “I love the way the potty trained Republicans still think they’re in charge of the funny farm,” Maher said. “But everyone knows the party belongs to Donald Trump.
Maher even jumped on the Ted Cruz birther train, noting that the Texas senator was not born in this country. As it happens, he was “born in Hades,” the child of “Satan and a dog.”
The host’s first guest of the night was the man he said should have been the “43rd president of the United States,” former VP Al Gore. Most of their one-on-one conversation concerned climate change, but right off the bat, Maher made a big admission to his guest. He told Gore he was “wrong” for throwing his support to Ralph Nader in 2000, adding, “I fucked up.”
Maher’s first panel of the year featured Dr. Cornel West, The View host Nicolle Wallace, and, remarkably, Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed.
His first question for the group: “What are New York values?”
“I think they just became Donald Trump’s path to the nomination,” Wallace said, citing Trump’s impressively human response to Cruz’s attacks during Thursday night’s debate.
“You certainly couldn’t have said that two years after 9/11,” Maher said, perhaps alluding to the post-9/11 comments that got him fired from his old job at ABC. “Ted Cruz is pretty clever,” he added, “but he walked right into that trap.”
Reed was the only one on the panel willing to defend Cruz, insisting he didn’t mean anything untoward with his insinuations about New Yorkers. Instead, he said Cruz was just trying to remind Iowans that, unlike Trump, he is one of them.
“I always thought Ted Cruz had the most punchable face, until I saw the State of the Union and Paul Ryan, sitting behind President Obama, pouting like a bitch,” Maher said, shifting gears from one of the week’s big events to the other. The speaker didn’t even applaud fur curing cancer. He pointed out the Nancy Pelosi applauded for George W. Bush 33 times in his final address, because she’s “not a dick.”
In the second half of the show, Maher welcomed John Krasinski, who stars in Michael Bay’s new Benghazi movie 13 Hours and told the host it was his desire the tell the story of what happened before politics got involved that made him want to do the film. “It was insane and things were changing very, very fast,” he said of the situation on the ground, suggesting that you cannot blame any one person — i.e., Hillary Clinton — for the things that went wrong.
The Benghazi discussion led directly to the sexual assault incidents in Cologne, Germany and the Syrian refugees who have entered Europe, a migration Maher confirmed he is against. The host called the idea that Muslim men can fit into European society a “fantasy.” But on the other hand, he does believe Trump was “wrong” to propose a ban on all Muslim immigrants into the U.S.
“This is the one issue Democrats are going to lose the election on,” Maher said. Choosing between “demagogue” Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who “won’t even say the words “Islamic terrorism.”
Before wrapping up the show, Maher gave West a chance to praise the “love train” that is the Bernie Sanders campaign. He said Clinton is smart and all, but “the word integrity is not the first thing that comes to mind when we hear her name.”
For his final “New Rule,” Maher turned the focus inward, telling viewers that in just five short days, he will turn 60 years old. On this occasion, for the first time, the host made a request of his audience.
“Before he leaves office, I want to get President Obama on this show,” Maher said, especially since he’s done “virtually every other show in the universe… everything but ultimate fighting and amateur porn.” Someone is a little jealous of Marc Maron and Zach Galifianakis.
If “Sean Penn can get an interview with El Chapo,” Maher said, he deserves an audience with Obama.
“What is it? Is it that I’m a pothead?” Maher asked. Or maybe it’s because he’s an atheist. For his “big 6-0,” the host challenged his viewers to get on the White House’s We the People petition website and force Obama to come on his show before the year is over.
After all, he did give the president $1 million.