It wasn't an especially strong edition of Real Time with Bill Maher, but Bill Maher himself was in pretty good form, though with a sharp monologue and a weakish "New Rules," it did feel a little frontloaded.
North vs. South
I didn't hear anything about it, but apparently that Alexandra Pelosi video from last week, in which she interviewed people from the poorest part of Mississippi, was some kind of controversy. I guess everything is, these days. In any case, Pelosi returned with a video of poor black New Yorkers collecting their government program benefits. The most offensive thing about the video was its presentation, as it seemed to suggest an equivalency between the poor rural whites and poor urban blacks. Thankfully, Maher delineated the differences between these people and their situations.
The guests included Republican Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett and conservative news anchor Amy Holmes, from "GBTV", which turns out to be crazy old Glen Beck's network. To be honest, I had no idea it existed. I guess I have spent the past year trying to pretend that Beck never existed. In any case, the panel also included MSNBC anchor/author Dylan Ratigan, and things were surprisingly civil. At one point Holmes accused Maher and Ratigan of "besmirching" the troops while they were discussing the recent massacre in Afghanistan, but that was as close as they came to genuine antipathy.
Celebrities Who Say Little
The Office's Ed Helms was the guest, and aside from seeming like a perfectly nice guy, he didn't have much to add. The panel discussed the right wing's response to The Lorax, how higher gas prices are hurting President Obama, Civil War re-enactments, the continuing horror of Afghanistan and former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith's op-ed in the New York Times, in which he decried the investment company's willingness to rip off its own customers.
Maher can be smug and obnoxious, but he does make a good point occasionally, and this week, his monologue made me laugh out loud a couple of times. Still, I would rather people watch somebody like Bill Moyers, who roots all his views in a staunch morality, as opposed to Maher's more self-involved worldview.
"Today Mitt Romney said, "It's a flat piece of white plastic. If you can love it, why not me?""
--Maher monologues about the popular new iPad.
"You know who really hates March Madness? Rick Santorum. It combines the two things he hates most: College and putting something in a hole."
--Maher mocks Santorum in monologue form.
"When I see the toothless guy, I say, "I wanna help you get teeth." Why does that make me an ___hole?"
--Maher wonders why those Mississippians hate liberals so much.
"Being lied to by a man in Arizona is not just how women get pregnant; it's how they stay pregnant."
--Maher on a proposed state law allowing health care providers to lie to women if it prevents an abortion.
"If you watched that video of Joseph Kony and were shocked to discover such terrible people exist in the world, you need to fire whoever's home-schooling you."
--Maher mocks the apparent naïveté of today's young people.