1478010283069We’ll call it the “ever-elusive Real Time get.”

Bill Maher has tried for years to land an interview with President Obama—even posting a petition at WeThePeople to try to convince him to have a chat with Bill. At the end of his second term—and after more than 320,000 signatures—the time was right for a full-on sit-down. The above clip is the full version, and I’ll be recapping the broadcast version and the rest below.

Aside from the president, I particularly wanted to recap because it’s the last Real Time before the election; also, Martin Short is a genius beyond all reason and always makes me howl with laughter—plus, he’s a super-sharp and acerbic thinker.

Short had a short-run series with another genius talent, Maya Rudolph, in a series called Maya & Marty. Hopefully we’ll hear if the show got picked up for another season!

Monologue
I’ve seen many of these monologues and I don’t remember Bill seeming so serious and stern at the top of the show. “I hope we’re in this kind of mood a week from now,” he says, chastising his audience for being blasé cocky liberals. “For the first time in my life I smoked my medicinal marijuana for legitimate medical reasons.”

Bill makes a comment about how many people including “sane republicans” are worried about this election. And he missed the obvious joke: “all 10s of them.”

“I know this is a comedy show and I’ll try to keep it on that level, but it’s not fucking funny. There is a slow-moving, right-wing coup going on. Media: do your fucking job. Report on it.”
— Bill Maher

“There are ameba under the ice on Mars who are saying, ‘this could be bad for us.'” Pretty much.

RELATED: ‘Comey & Hatch‘—my post on how James Comey
may have violated The Hatch Act

The FBI is worried about a terrorist attack on Monday before the election but “it would be a shame given all the work Russia has put in to doing that.” The FBI is “too worried about looking at Hillary Clinton’s e-mails from 2009.”

The FBI has become “Trumplandia” (apologies to Portlandia, which is where that reference comes from) and has a rogue cell or cells working within it who think Hillary is the devil. Serious Q: how do you handle something like this journalistically when there are 7,000 other fact-check points that got lost by the wayside? Tax returns, hello?

And this explains his mood, clearly:

“I know this is a comedy show and I’ll try to keep it on that level, but it’s not fucking funny. There is a slow-moving, right-wing coup going on. Media: do your fucking job. Report on it.”

“We’ve reached peak insanity here. The Russians are creating fake documents to discredit Hillary Clinton and the Trump campaign tweets them out as if they’re real. Republicans are trying to elect a sexually assaulting pyschopath who is—if not a Russian agent—unwittingly working as one. And people in America are saying, ‘It’s better than Hillary.’

[Direct to camera] “No it’s fucking not! We have to get a grip on reality. Reality! Remember reality?”

“Trump actually said this: ‘I’m honored to have the greatest temperament that anybody has.’ And then three fact-checkers died.” And then he went on to cite Trump’s claim that Sec. Clinton will, on Day One, bring in 650 million refugees to this country—which of course PolitiFact rated as “Mostly True.”

Kidding. They of course rated it “Pants on Fire,” as they should. But the fact that we’re going to lengths to fact-check a lunatic claim in some ways dignifies the original insane message.

“The fact that we’re going to lengths to fact-check a lunatic claim
in some ways dignifies the original insane message.”

Back to Bill. He starts in on Melancholy Trump (as Stephanie Miller calls her), saying that she said “our culture has gotten too mean. My cause is a crusade against bullying.”

“Before you applaud, remember: she comes from Slovenia, a country too poor to afford irony. You want to stop cyber bullying Melania? Hide your husband’s phone. They’re the perfect couple: she’s a supermodel and he’s always saying things that make you wanna throw up.”

Interview: President Obama (synopsis)
“You must feel a little like David Ortiz. You’re leaving and you might not ever have a job this exhilarating.”

President Obama: “I see the wisdom of the founders: Sometimes you have to let go for our democracy to work right.”

Then Bill launches in to his “somethings shouldn’t be put to the profit motive”—including healthcare, prisons, etc.—and ends on news-gathering. “You gotta get the money out of the news business or we’re not gonna learn anything.”

PO: “There’s a bright line around prisons. The criminal justice system shouldn’t be affected by the profit motive. This is the awesome power of the state: we can take someone’s freedom away because they’ve breeched some part of the social contract. Incentivizing people to keep prisoners there longer? That’s a problem.

“The media is a tougher call,” the President continues. “How do we create a space where the truth gets eyeballs, and is entertaining?”

Excellent question. We live in a post-fact society where Fox News continues to be the most-watched and least-trusted news operation in the country—where just yesterday Bret Baier had to apologize for and retract his taking the FBI story and running way, way too far with it.

“When I leave here one of the things I’m most concerned with is the Balkanization of the media. Where you’ve got 800 stations, websites—people have difficulty sorting out what’s true and what’s not.

“We can have a disagreement about Climate Change,” he adds, “but if we have a big chunk of the country that discounts what 99% of scientists say completely? It’s very hard to figure out how we move the Democracy forward.”

“Isn’t it time that the federal government caught up with” the states that have legalized weed?

“I don’t think legalization is a panacea but I think we have to rethink how we deal with that issue.”

Food purity. Interesting topic and I’m so glad he brought this up. (Sidebar: I’m also noticing that Bill is doing this interview without any notes, which is impressive—assuming he’s not being cued by cards off-camera.) “Shouldn’t food purity be put more at the top of the agenda of healthcare?”

“AgriBusiness has had a prominent seat at the table in Congress. some of the reforms we’ve made at the school lunch level, and Michelle deserves a lot of credit on that. It’s important to look at the science of this: we pump our animals full of antibiotics. The GMO debate: there are some areas there where it helps.”

RELATED: Doubts About the Promises of Genetically Modified Crops

Good on Bill for pointing out that a recent study showed GMOs didn’t increase crop yields and actually caused a spike in pesticide use. Which turns the argument of sustainability on its head.

“We should follow the science,” the president says.

“Eat better, vote more, learn something.” Bill is totally right about that.

“When I say ‘I want a government as good as the American people,’ I mean: what they want out of life is actually pretty good. the question is how to we get the right information in front of them so that they can make the right decisions?”

“If I watched Fox News I wouldn’t vote for me either,” the president continues. “You’ve got this fun-house mirror through which people receive information. How to break through that is a big challenge.”

“You’re off to Ohio—you’ve got an election to rig!”

“The stakes are high. The choice in this election should be really clear. Anybody’s who’s watching your show, is a supporter of mine and Bernie’s—this idea that somehow ‘both of them have problems.’ All the progress we’ve made—healthcare, Wall Street, Dodd/Frank, CFPB, Immigration Reform—ever single issue is on the ballot in the form of this choice.

“I’ve worked with Hillary Clinton, and she’s someone who cares about these issues and has done her homework. Her policies are aligned with yours and mine. Anybody sitting on the sidelines right now or engaged in a protest vote is a vote for Trump. And that would be badly damaging for the country and the world.”

Panel: David Frum, Jennifer Granholm, Martin Short
The introductions were pretty funny. “Frum just voted for Hillary Clinton, which was a very studly move!” There is precisely 0.0% of David “Axis of Evil” Frum that I find studly, so we’ll agree to disagree on that one.

After Bill repeats his statement about the “slow-moving right-wing coup” involving Russia the FBI and other actors:

“If Trump wins, it will take us in to an authoritarian nightmare,” Granholm nails it right off the bat. “And there are a lot of people who appreciate a strong leader.”

“Yes, they’re called fascists.” Bill retorts.

“I’m curious if he wins or doesn’t win—what happens to the GOP that we knew?”

“I’m not worried about the Republican party post-Trump. I’m worried about him winning.” yup, pretty much.

137-october-17-2008-1024
Martin Short on a previous episode of Real Time

“The fault lies with the media,” Martin Short says, accurately. “What does the media want? The media wants us to watch on election night. They don’t want something that’s in the bag, it’s not good for ratings. I don’t trust anything when it comes to the media.”

Can we start a petition that calls for Martin Short to take over The Daily Show? Moving on.

“Since the Voting Rights Act was struck down 868 polling places in the south have been shut down.” That’s a staggering, infuriating number. Texas makes up roughly half of that, with 403; North Carolina, which is suffering through excruciatingly long lines, shut 23 locations.

RELATED: Read The Nation’s piece on post-VRA voting malpractice

So. You’re not “protecting voting integrity,” you’re just fucking cheating so that the electorate is made up of people who agree with you. All of those states are GOP-controlled—either in the legislature, the governorships or both.

This is just so basic, but it must be screamed from the rooftops: VOTING SHOULD BE EASIER, NOT HARDER. All that’s happening here is a cabal of assholes—fueled and funded by outside groups like ALEC and any group with “prosperity” in their name—cloaked in a pretense of “protecting voting rights” are actually waging a war on black and brown people whom they know will not pull the lever for them. And that’s not just unamerican—it’s illegal and should cast a pall of shame over this entire country.

A party out of ideas, devoid of effective policies, is a party that blocks people’s access to the polls, full stop.

The topic shifted away from those voting points, but I’m very glad to see Bill and David Frum getting into it at this point in the panel. “There’s not a right-wing coup going on,” Frum says. Yeah right.

“If the FBI is capable of taking leaks from Russia and using it against one side—can you imagine what’s in the Republican e-mails?”

“Chris Christie, are you gonna finish that pickle?”

“Politicians can say anything because people don’t know anything.” Bill says it too strongly there—people watching Fox just want their worldview confirmed, bolstered. Chosen ignorance is worse than systemic ignorance because it involves work to be that dumb about a given policy position.

Maher: “When you say that Hillary is gonna let in 650 million people in, the press doesn’t right there throw the red flag as say this guy cannot be president.” Exactly right.

Frum defending the political system is dead wrong. “Dave: they don’t believe in politics or elections.”

“Why aren’t they standing up” against him? Granholm to applause.

Bill jumps in with an argument about Ron Johnson saying Hillary will testify in her inauguration ball gown—in other words, before she even gets to work. “Fascists decide that you’re a criminal. Then they find the crime. This is what they’ve done with Hillary Clinton.” Nailed.

“And they haven’t found anything in Anthony Wiener’s dick smorgasbord.”

David Frum droning about the plight of the GOP is both hilarious and semi-correct. I know he’s in love with his positions, but he’s not completely right—and part of the problem.

“Once Donald Trump is elected, your sharply worded editorials in The Atlantic are not going to restrain these people.”

“He doesn’t want to concede the election. Russia is not our friend. is plainly in collusion with the republican candidate. Why isn’t this the story every night? This is a giant, GIANT scandal. This is insane.”

New Rules: Trump & Evangelicals

“It’s hard to bring up the 10 Commandments when your candidate breaks all of them. He’s the world’s Least Godly Man.

“So with four days left before this election. For once, religion wasn’t dragged in to the debate. After candidates trying to out-Jesus each other, the Republican wasn’t trying to summon their prayer warriors—we were spared the sight of Hillary Clinton trying to clap on the beat with a black congregation.”

“We need an explanation from the Values Voters on how they can line up behind Trump?” He knows nothing about the Bible: “Even Sarah Palin said ‘For fuck’s sake it’s not a newspaper.'”

“Trump once accepted Jesus Christ as his lord and tailor.”

The GOP primaries were resplendent with evangelicals, “but they went with the foul-mouth, thrice-married pussy-grabber.”

“Let’s hear it for the Mormons. they’ve abandoned him.”

That’s a wrap guys. Next week’s post-election Season Finale will be a big deal, with former AG Eric Holder and—a guy I totally love—the Liberal Redneck.


Will Pollock is an Atlanta-based freelance multimedia journalist and author of two books (Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), with more on the way. Sign up for the mailing list, follow on TwitterFacebook and Instagram—and check out the book links below.

Will covers “Real Time with Bill Maher” on a semi-regular basis as a self-deputized RT Reporter, until Bill comes to his senses and has him on to talk about Pizza for Good. For more on Will’s Real Time and twitter philosophy, click here

I do not agree with Bill on his radical, authoritarian view of Muslims and the Islamic faith, but I continue to watch and cover the show because the guests are always awesome I always learn something. And hopefully you do, too.

CrankyYank is Will’s wholly independent news source, not beholden to corporate profits or any other such bullcrap. Please subscribe, share and comment to support this effort.

And make sure to comment often—cranky loves company.

 

 

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