Duncan Hunter, a Republican House representative from California, is in deep doo-doo.
The 41-year-old former Marine—and product of nepotism—is currently under federal investigation for alleged campaign-finance violations. In the midst of the controversy, the congressman braved the Real Time couch on Friday night.
“I’m very impressed that you showed up,” offered host Bill Maher. “You’re a Republican, you’re one of Trump’s first supporters…I’ll let [the campaign-finance questions] go but you’ve gotta answer honestly about Donald Trump.”
It was quite odd for Maher to let Rep. Hunter off the hook so easily with respect to his ongoing investigation, leading viewers to believe that this may have been a potential prerequisite for landing the interview.
Anyway, Maher was more interested in grilling Rep. Hunter on the recent comments made by a Fox News pundit and Trump’s special assistant about Senator John McCain, a war hero. First, while defending Gina Haspel, who’s been nominated to head the CIA despite running a torture-plagued black site, retired Gen. Tom McInerney argued on Fox News that torture worked on “songbird” McCain, implying that he cracked under torture (an unsubstantiated claim). Then, it was revealed that Trump’s White House aide Kelly Sadler said of McCain “he’s dying anyway.” Of course, there was also that moment during the campaign when candidate Trump, who dodged the Vietnam draft, said of McCain, “I like people who weren’t captured.”
When Maher presented Rep. Hunter with all those nasty comments, the military veteran resorted to obfuscation, saying, “It’s pretty rotten. The torture thing is different. You shouldn’t make fun of people when they’re dying but when you and I pass away, I’m sure some people are going to tweet bad things about it. I think with the oversensationalism and everything being on the 24-hour news cycle and the tweets, you’re gonna have people say bad things about everybody that dies.”
“You’re a veteran,” Maher pressed on. “Come on. This doesn’t bother you and other veterans?”
“No. So… to be honest, we make fun… because we’re in the military, it’s hard to ask someone who’s been in the military and has made every crass joke known to man—worse than you’ve made, I mean really bad jokes,” offered a bumbling Rep. Hunter. “I’ve made the same John McCain joke with my friends, who are other Marines.”
Maher then brought up the nomination of Gina Haspel, and whether she should be nominated to head the CIA despite presiding over torture.
“I differ with McCain on torture,” said Rep. Hunter. “[Haspel oversaw torture] when it was needed… I don’t call it torture, let’s call it ‘really mean interrogation techniques.’ They’re not on the medieval rack, this isn’t the end of Braveheart.”
Yes, he actually said “really mean interrogation techniques” and invoked the ending to Braveheart, where Mel Gibson’s character is first gutted and then has his limbs separated on the rack. Rep. Hunter further brought up ISIS techniques, claiming that waterboarding and other inhumane tactics don’t compare to beheadings, which, sure. Yet another head-scratcher of a logical fallacy.
After tussling over Trump pulling out of the Iran deal, with Rep. Hunter offering flimsy defenses of the pullout—citing unknown “top-secret super-underground bunkers” where the Iranians are allegedly generating centrifuges—Maher ended the heated interview by saying, “I think you’re a great guy, I really hope you lose your next election.”