The Plank

The Problem With Bill Maher

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If I were a conservative bent on converting the country to my ideology, I'd make sure more people watched Bill Maher's HBO show, Real Time.

The audience, which is clearly chock-full of robotic liberals, breaks up every potentially good conversation by mindlessely clapping for even the most negligible talking point. It's similar to The Daily Show's audience except much, much worse.

The most telling/pathetic moment on a recent episode occurred when Ayaan Hirsi Ali blasted the Bush administration for attacking Afghanistan rather than Saudi Arabia after 9/11 (she apparently misspoke: Hirsi Ali was clearly in favor of military action in Afghanistan, too). Sure enough, the audience burst into applause. Why? I'd like to believe it's because the House of Saud runs an autocratic state and funds terrorism. I think it's a bit more likely, however, that the real reason has to do with America's closness to Saudi Arabia and the Bush family's closeness to the Saudi royals.

Still, you can be sure if Bush had attacked Saudi Arabia after 9/11, the same audience would be clapping for whatever guest was speaking out against the war.

Can't these shows function without a gallery of tiresome fans?

P.S. Maher, who I actually like, has a tendency to say things like (this isn't verbatim), "I get attacked for saying this, but I believe that a society that has habeas corpus and freedom of speech is better than a society that doesn't, not just different." Way to be bold, Bill.

--Isaac Chotiner

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