One week after he announced his petition to get President Obama on his show before the end of 2016—currently approaching 300,000 signatures—Bill Maher opened Friday night’s Real Time with some obligatory comments about Winter Storm Jonas, which is currently blanketing the East Coast in white. As the host joked, “It’s like the whole place is covered in Oscar nominees.”
Soon, Maher moved on to the upcoming Iowa Caucus and the “all-out war” between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. As Maher put it, it turned out all along that Trump’s “secret weapon” is Cruz, who is so hated by Republicans that “he’s the one guy who makes people go, ‘Tell me more about this Donald Trump.’”
Of course, this was the week Trump proved he’s “in it to win it” by bringing out the big guns: Sarah Palin. “They made quite a team,” Maher said, “Trump and Gump.” And he suspects Trump wasn’t thrilled with Palin’s nonsensical speech. “Somewhere in Arizona, John McCain is going, ‘You should have called me, dude.’”
But worse than all the rest was the moment when Palin blamed her son’s domestic violence arrest on Obama’s poor treatment of veterans. “And that’s what makes the Republican Party the party of personal responsibility,” Maher said. “If Obama would just secure the borders, maybe Bristol would stop getting knocked up all the time.”
After some fear-mongering by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), who heads up the House Committee on Homeland Security and agrees with Maher that Islamic terrorism is scarier than any other threat to the United States, the host welcomed his panel to the set, where they began with a conversation about who’s worse: Trump or Cruz.
Republican consultant Liz Mair, who recently launched an anti-Trump Super PAC, said she would opt for “a dry dog turd” over Trump, while Senate candidate Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), author Jon Meacham, and Maher all agreed that Trump, sadly, is the lesser of two evils.
Moving on to the Flint, Michigan water crisis, Maher made the case for more regulations, comparing environmental disasters to gun shootings in America. According to him, most people think, “I might get killed, but it probably won’t be me, so fuck it.” As Grayson said, “There’s no money to be made in safety.”
While Mair reluctantly agreed that regulations could have stopped the Flint pollution, she said she’s generally against the government doing much of anything. And while she believes in climate change, she said what Obama wants to do to combat it is “not going to achieve anything, so it’s basically pointless.”
Things didn’t really heat up, however, until Maher’s mid-show guest, Seth MacFarlane made his way to the table to tackle America’s political correctness epidemic. While you once had to make a racist joke to get hissed out, Maher said, now all you have to do is mention race.
A former Oscar host, MacFarlane defended Ricky Gervais, who was accused of making “transphobic” jokes at Caitlyn Jenner’s expense at this month’s Golden Globe awards. But on the topic of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, MacFarlane was unwilling to point fingers at anyone, saying all arguments at this point are pure “speculation.”
Maher was less coy, pointing to Hollywood’s “dirty little secret”: movies need the foreign market to succeed and Asians “really are racist.” When his panel protested, he said, “I’m just honest.”
“They don’t want to see black people in their movies,” Maher said of Asian moviegoers. And because studio executives are “capitalists,” they end up adopting racist practices as well.
“We’ve always hungered for a buffoon to lead us,” MacFarlane said of Trump when Maher eventually changed the subject. He blamed the rise of social media, “giving voice to the voiceless,” for helping catapult the candidate to the front of the pack.
Finally, Maher returned to the topic of Palin and her attempt to blame her family’s problems on Obama. He wanted to know why in the world the “most morally sloppy person” in Iowa tried convincing evangelicals to vote for Trump. Had it ever occurred to her that the Obamas are just “much better parents” than she is?
Correction: A previous version of the story indicated that Liz Mair would prefer a “dry dog turd” for president over either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. She would only prefer the turd to Trump.