Bill Maher can’t understand what has happened to the world he once knew, as he lamented during Friday’s Real Time on HBO.
Several times during the show, an exasperated Maher threw up his hands and questioned the craziness of life in these United States. Cases in point: “It used to be a liberal thing to be suspicious of defense contractors,” he said during a discussion of the decision to send $40 billion to Ukraine. Later, during a discussion about the kvetching over Elon Musk’s Twitter bid, “Free speech was important to liberals in this country at one time.”
In his closing rant, he complained about “The audacity of it all,” noting it appears there are no lines that can’t be crossed, like running on stage during a live show (a la Dave Chappelle’s recent brush with a nut), or messing with Mike Tyson. “Who needs the metaverse when you can do whatever you want in real life?” Maher asked.
He noted that 11 Walgreens and six CVS stores have closed in San Francisco in the last year as that city descends into virtual anarchy.
“When did they legalize shoplifting? There used to be shame, or at least a skill to it.” Now, “CVS isn’t a store. It’s a zoo for teeth whitening strips.”
Maher allowed that while there are issues with policing, “We can’t allow them to be hunted and targeted.” He added that the public can’t get so wrapped up in what the police shouldn’t do that “we become El Salvador.” He pointed out that Democrats like to point out that crime has been worse before. “And who gives a f***,” Maher said. “I’m living now.”
Democrats can tell voters that it’s not so bad, but their opposition knows the truth. He then cut to a Donald Trump speech where the former president promised that crime chaos “stops right here, and right now.”
“That’s a powerful campaign theme when things feel like everything is descending into every man for himself,” Maher warned.
During the panel portion of the show, Maher talked with Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and author of the new book The Power of Crisis: How Three Threats – And Our Response – Will Change The World, and Jane Harman, who served for six terms in the House of Representatives and is now a Distinguished Fellow and president emerita of The Wilson Center.
After the obligatory Roe v. Wade discussion that produced little dissent, the talk turned to Twitter and Musk’s bid for the social media service.
Bremmer said he’s taking the under on whether Musk can restore civility if he buys Twitter. He pointed out that he loves to stir things up in his own tweets.
Maher noted that accusing Musk on that basis is similar to people attacking him for making fun of the left. “It’s where the comedy is.”
Harman acknowledged that “Elon is brilliant,” but cautioned he should be careful what he wishes for. If Musk’s promise to restore Trump and others banned from the service happens – “all the crazy stuff comes back there,” as Harman characterized it – “his shareholders will sell their stock.”
Maher called such fears “Straw man arguments.” He cited Musk’s recent joke tweet that he was going to buy Coca-Cola and put the cocaine back in. “When I read that, I felt, okay, ‘Daddy’s home,’” Maher said. “That’s what Twitter should be.”
Earlier, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rod Stewart stopped by on his way to a Las Vegas residency at Caesars. Maher is a longtime fan, and brought out a cherished single of “Maggie May” to prove his fanboy bonifides.
The chat was mostly surface level pleasantries, although Maher tried to steer the talk to Stewart’s legendary love life, talking about an incident in Stewart’s memoir where he made use of the bathroom at Le Dome for a between-courses quickie. “Looking back, it’s nothing to be proud of,” Stewart said. “It was just an era.”
However, he did allow that he enjoys being a rock star.