After a three-week hiatus due to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus and subsequent nationwide lockdown, Bill Maher returned to his HBO show Real Time Friday night.
When we last heard from the comedian on March 13, he was saying that President Trump should be immediately tested for COVID-19 given that he’d crossed paths with a number of people who’d been diagnosed with the virus (Trump has since allegedly tested negative). Like many of his late-night cohorts, who’ve shot their shows from living rooms, bathtubs and mystery rooms, Maher chose to film his monologue in his own backyard, right in front of a giant pool bar.
“Thank you Jesus, I have no symptoms—except if you count shitting my pants every time Trump talks,” offered Maher. “He does this thing every day where he’s bragging about his ratings: ‘I have better ratings than Monday Night Football, The Bachelor’… Yes! Because your viewers aren’t allowed to leave the house. What else are they gonna do? Read?!”
Toward the end of his spiel, Maher attempted to offer some comfort to his viewers. “We’re gonna get through this. We Are. And, stress? It’s the worst thing for your immune system, so try to think a little positive,” he said. “Think about all the celebrities who have this, that we know have this, that are doing OK—Prince Charles, Tom Hanks, Jackson Browne, Chris Cuomo, Kevin Durant. Anybody who’s anybody is getting it! And you know Tom Hanks, of course, was so classy when he got it. He said, ‘It’s an honor just to be contaminated.’”
After welcoming a diplomatic Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, Maher had Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who is still in the running for the Democratic presidential nomination, on via video chat.
Sanders gave his usual bit touting the benefits of Medicare for All, especially during the current crisis, before Maher asked him about how Trump has grossly favored certain states that he won and whose governors treat him well (like Florida) over others (New York and California), when it comes to distributing life-saving medical supplies, including ventilators, that could save thousands of lives.
“One of the most galling parts of this is that the president is favoring certain states over others,” said Maher, branding it “a more impeachable offense than what he did with Ukraine and Russia.”
“It is literally beyond comprehension. We have a president who has done so much harm in this entire process, who has downplayed the crisis from day one… which is gonna cost the lives of many thousands of Americans,” explained Sanders, adding that the “worst part of this $2 trillion [coronavirus] stimulus package that was passed last week…was $500 billion going to the president to allocate to corporate America with nowhere near the kind of strings attached and accountability that should have been required. And now he is saying, I don’t really care about accountability at all, I’ll do what I want.”
He then insinuated the Trump would use the so-called “slush fund” to curry favor in the election, adding, “If you think that during a campaign you’re not going to see a lot of money from the Trump administration going to battleground states—to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida—you would be grossly underestimating the venality of this president.”