Topical applied liberally
With his HBO talk show, Real Time With Bill Maher, in its seventh season, his documentary Religulous, and three decades of doing stand-up comedy, political and social satirist Maher has become a comedic beacon for irreverence, rationalism, and cutting through the miasma of corporate media's blind spot of objectivity. Prior to his Austin appearance this week, Maher spoke to the Chronicle by phone from L.A. and was brimming with vim to discuss the day's breaking news story.
Bill Maher: What about the governor of South Carolina?!
Austin Chronicle: You have to marvel at the GOP implosion and hypocrisy.
BM: I find it to be a very cynical attempt by the Republicans to prove that they're heterosexual, because they had a lot of gay sex scandals in the last few years. Remember Mark Foley text-messaging little boys? Then there was the Reverend Ted Haggard and Senator Larry Craig. I think they must have had a little caucus and decided: "Okay, somebody's gotta fuck a woman! Senator Vitter, I see your hand is up. Ensign from Nevada ... Sanford, South Carolina, excellent!" So now they seem at least to be having sex with women again.
AC: You almost have to wonder if the GOP just figured, "Fuck it, it's a team-rebuilding year anyhow." I would otherwise say their private lives are their own business if they weren't so damn pious and hellbent on denying gay marriage equality.
BM: Exactly. The hypocrisy is stunning, especially John Ensign, who was a Promise Keeper – which is a Christian ministry, I guess is what they call it. They believe they can change the world with seven promises. I guess now six. To me, it points out that America really has a problem with sex. It's such a repressed country, and it never really owns up to it. I mean, people all over the world, of course, cheat and fuck around, but they just seem to have a healthier view of it than this country. We just seem to be in such a state of denial. And I guarantee you, with these latest politicians doing this, it will be all over TV: "Why do men cheat?" This is the question that the media always asks, as if it's a mystery. As if there's more to it. I've heard this already on the news today: "Why would he risk it?" I always say: "Well, picture a guy who's hiding in the woods like that abortion [clinic] bomber Eric Rudolph; he hid in the woods for years and escaped capture. And they finally captured him because he went down from the woods and went into a convenience store. 'Why would he risk it?' Because he was starving! People are starving for a little affection." And I'm speaking as a guy who never got married, but, you know.
AC: [What do you think about threats like Senator John Cornyn's of World War III over seating Al Franken in the Senate?]
BM: I must say, in Texas they are not afraid of hyperbole, are they? Because the governor introduced the "s" word, secession, into the debate, because why? Because Obama wanted to give him money? I mean that is pretty wild shit, man – to introduce the "s" word in the 21st century over basically a little budget squabble? I don't know what I would do if Texas seceded. ... Wasn't sodomy illegal in Texas until about 2003? I remember Justice Scalia was all for upholding the ban on sodomy.
AC: And some forget by definition it's not just gay buggery.
BM: No, it's anything fun. We used to say, "Move over, you're on the wrong sodomy."
AC: I'm less worried about airplane hijackers than I am about our hijacked for-profit health-care system. Akin to your recent "New Rule" about Obama needing some of W.'s smug swagger, I do kind of miss Tom "the Hammer" DeLay.
BM: Yeah, what I was trying to say there was if we could just combine the better ideas that Obama has – because you know he really believes in the right thing – with that Tom DeLay, George Bush, Karl Rove [swagger] – they knew how to get things done. They didn't care who agreed with them. They didn't care about Congress. They didn't care about anything. They just knew what they wanted and went ahead and did it, and the Democrats need a little bit of that.
Bill Maher performs Friday, July 10, 8pm, at Bass Concert Hall, E. 23rd & Robert Dedman Drive, on the UT campus. For more information, call 477-6060 or visit www.utpac.org.