Aug 17, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
(POLITICO) Seems like, everywhere you look, comedians are apologizing for offensive jokes about the day’s news.
Not Bill Maher.
“You’re not going to find me apologizing,” Maher told POLITICO. “I have been doing this for so long and, having gone through so many tribulations, including the firing, I’m inoculated. I’ve been through this. You cannot scare me anymore. I’m playing with the house money, and I’m not going to apologize.” The host of HBO”s “Real Time,” which returns from its summer hiatus tonight, has found himself, his comedy and his opinions in the spotlight more than ever before, thanks, in part, to having inserted himself into the political process in a major way. In February, Maher contributed $1 million to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supportive of President Barack Obama’s reelection. As a result, he’s been billed as a campaign operative of sorts, and, accordingly, the White House has even had to field questions about Maher and the appropriateness of some of his remarks.
Deterred? Hardly. Maher’s putting his foot on the gas pedal.
About Obama, he told POLITICO: “In many ways — especially for progressives — [Obama] is too white for them. He plays golf, he’s too cozy with bankers. But when it comes to knowing how to fight, he’s black” — referring to the tough campaign Obama is running against the Republicans. About Paul Ryan, Maher says: “He’s not an intellectual. They said the same thing about Newt Gingrich. Somehow Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan — these giant intellectuals — somehow they had the same great idea: Give more money to the rich people. What’s his big idea? Rich people should stop paying taxes and poor people should start looking for food in the woods. Can you name one area where he and Sarah Palin disagree on anything? So how come he’s this giant intellectual? The Ryan budget is a budget in the way that my doodle on a cocktail napkin is a blueprint for NASA.”
Maher says he finds the increased scrutiny that he’s now facing rather humorous.
“Part of it is that anytime somebody on the right says something that garners controversy, they want to have a false equivalency,” said Maher. “So I’m an easy guy to trot out. It’s never equivalent, of course. But that’s the game they play.”
And it’s a game that means more publicity for Maher. “It certainly doesn’t hurt me,” said Maher. “I know that Fox News is obsessed. Sean Hannity is obsessed. I should get a f—-ing restraining order, he’s practically stalking me. I pull fewer punches and therefore they have more fodder to work with. I think it’s a symbiotic relationship.”
Still, Maher finds the current environment for his brand of edgy political humor to be a frightening one.