Bill Maher has made a career out of vivid insults and fearless political putdowns but the HBO star said Friday night that watching the nation’s political divides deepen is making him reconsider the language of his comedy.
On the season finale of Real Time with Bill Maher, the host used the show’s concluding commentary to extol the principles of political tolerance — and to express his genuine anxieties that the current path of politics is leading toward “a sh*tstorm” for the country.
“Lately we’ve been hearing more and more about a second civil war which sounds impossible in this modern, affluent country,” Maher said “It is not…when both sides believe the other guy taking over is the end of the world, yes, you can have a civil war.”
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At one point in the show-ending monologue, Maher listed some salty pejoratives used to bait the left and the right, including a few that regular viewers might have heard Maher himself invoke on previous episodes.
“Yes, I have said things like that but I’m going to try to stop because I have learned that the anti-intellectualism on the right doesn’t come primarily through stupidity it comes from hate. Telling people that you think they’re irredeemable is what makes them say ‘You know what, I’d rather side with Russia than you.'”
Maher also used the show’s concluding commentary to extol the value of political tolerance and specifically cheered on the public palling-around between liberal-minded celeb Ellen DeGeneres and former President George W. Bush.
“Home is where you learn that the three magic words in any relationship aren’t ‘I love you’ they’re ‘let it go’…we are going to have to learn to live with each other or else there will be blood,” Maher said. “So don’t freak out if Ellen [DeGeneres] sits next to George Bush at a football game. Bush was not my idea of a good president but I never worried that he was going to lock up his political opponents or reporters or me.”
Maher’s viewership has included the Commander-in-Chief in recent months and the talk show host has expressed concerns this season that President Trump’s administration has encouraged malice toward his outspoken critics and partisan foes.
Maher on Friday night predicted that the incumbent would invalidate any election that he doesn’t win. Trump is incapable, Maher said, of following the conciliatory example of Bush, who encouraged incoming President Barack Obama with words of support.
“If you can’t see the difference between that and Donald Trump then Democrats are doomed,” Maher added, underscoring his view that Trump is singular “existential threat” to the country.
Maher said the shameless Trump doesn’t compare favorably to another GOP predecessor, either. “I’m sorry, but this is no Watergate. Nixon said, ‘I am not a crook.’ Trump says, ‘I’m a crook, so what?'”
Maher offered a holiday message to his viewers: “This year, just celebrate Thanksgiving. Don’t try to “win” it. And never forget the single, shining truth about democracy: It means sharing a country with *ssholes you can’t stand.”
The episode’s guests: former DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, New York Times Op-Ed writer Frank Bruni, Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group, and Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison.
The executive producers of Real Time with Bill Maher are Bill Maher, Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths, Dean Johnsen, and Billy Martin. Chris Kelly is the co-executive producer. Matt Wood and TJ Baldino are producers. Miles Leicher is the associate producer. Paul Casey is the director.