Sunday, February 17, 2013

HBO Real Time with Bill Maher #272 "Bat-Poop Crazies and Popes"

by Catherine Giordano

The last several episodes of “Real Time with Bill Maher" have been weak on comedy. I was thinking, “Well, I can’t really blame Bill. What’s he supposed to do now that Mitt Romney has gone into hiding? Mitt Romney has still “gone dark,” but Bill Maher was really funny on the February 16th, 2013 episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” (Episode 272).

The humor began with the opening monologue. Bill said that Obama proposed universal pre-school in the State of the Union speech. He said that Obama got that from Congress. It seems more than a few Congressmen need to learn “how to play well with others.” (Pow!)

Bill said that there is talk about getting rid of the penny. Bill suggested that we get rid of something else that is bronze and useless. John Boehner!  (Pow!) Bill said that during the state of the union speech Boehner looked liked “a man listening to a long story from a men’s room attendant.” (Pow! Pow!)

Personally, I find that I can’t keep my eyes off Boehner during Obama’s State of the Union speeches. He so clearly does not want to be there. He squirms and grimaces. He looks like a man trying to hold in gas. (Maybe he’s just dying for a drink and a cigarette.  I hear he’s a heavy drinker and smoker.)

Now that Pope Benedict is going to retire, Bill asked, “What’s next for Benedict? Dancing with the Stars?”

The interview was with Robert Zimmerman, Jr., the brother of George Zimmerman. (George Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Florida last year. He claimed that the 17-year-old boy, who was just walking home from a trip to a 7-11, “looked suspicious.”) George’s trial is coming up soon and Robert is on the “rehabilitation tour” to try to get some good press for his brother.

There is no question about whether or not George Zimmerman killed Trayvon. The only question is whether or not George killed him in self-defense. From what is known about the case, George called 911 and reported Trayvon as “up to no-good.”  He also said that “these ass-holes always get away with it.” Trayvon happened to be on the phone with his girlfriend at the time, and she reported that Trayvon told her that a man was following him and he was scared. The girl says she told Trayvon to run, and then the phone connection was lost.

Trayvon is not around to tell his side of the story, but George claims that the teenager attacked him, knocked him down, and was pummeling him, slamming his head into the ground as he sat on his chest. This has been called a “stand-your-ground case” and that initially was the Zimmerman defense. Now Robert says, it is not “stand-your-ground” because ‘stand-your- ground” states that a person does not have a duty to retreat (if possible) when threatened. Zimmerman claims that he had no possibility of retreat and that he acted in self-defense. I believe Zimmerman initiated an attack on Trayvon. (The 911 operator heard George breathing heavily as if he was running and told him not to follow Trayvon.) I believe that the kid was the one acting in self defense when Zimmerman shot him. I hope we can learn the truth during the trial.

The panel included Donna Brazille, a Democratic strategist, John Meacham, an author (most recently, Jefferson: The Art of Power) and Jamie Weinstein, the Senior Editor of “The Daily Caller”, a online magazine covering politics.  (“The Daily Caller” was founded by Tucker Carlson, a conservative wise-ass pundit, and that is all you need to know about that.)

Brazille and Meacham were fine guests—Brazille knows a lot about politics and Meadham knows a lot about history. Jamie Weinstein doesn’t know anything about anything.

I had never heard of Weinstein before or “The Daily Caller” for that matter—I had to look them both up on the internet—so I had no preconceived notions.  Weinstein reminded me of an over-eager puppy that jumps into your lap wagging his tail in your face while you are trying to talk with the grownups. He struck me as an over-eager kid. The kind of kid that was always waving his hand in the teacher’s face back in fifth grade while she was still explaining the lesson, before she even asked a question. The kind of kid had all the answers as long as it was an answer that could be memorized and regurgitated. He displayed no ability for critical thinking, you know, the ability to take in facts and arrive at conclusions.

Weinstein interrupted the grown-ups in the room to regurgitate Republican talking points. One of his mainstays, typical of conservatives, was this response that I am labeling the “I-am-rubber-you-are-glue” moment of the week. The grown-ups were discussing how Republicans were attacking Chuck Hagel, Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, a man with medals for heroism in the Vietnam War—the senators with no military service at all were criticizing Hagel as unfit to be Secretary of Defense. Jamie butted in, “What about the criticism of General Pratreus by Democrats?” This happened ten years ago and the criticism did not come from senators, but from an independent group who took out a newspaper ad. Hardly even relevant to the discussion.

Bill talked about Karl Rove trying to rein in the “ bat-poop crazy” Republicans (Bill did not say "poop"; you know what he said, a word I can not use if I want a "G" rating for this review.) so the party can go back to just “regular bat-poop crazy” Republicans. It seems like some Republican said, ”baseball bats and hammers kill more people than guns.”  Besides not even being true, it is “bat-poop crazy” talk. The craziness has become so prevalent because there are so many gerrymandered “safe districts” for Republicans that the politicians don’t worry about losing the general election; they worry about losing a primary election to someone who is more “bat-poop crazy” than they are.

Bill did a great comedy segment this week. He did a parody of the David and Harry catalog (the company known for the Fruit-of-the-Month Club).  He called it “The Dirty Harry and David” catalog. Some examples of the offerings in this catalog:

·         The St. Valentines Day Massacre Basket:  She’s sure to make you her Bushmaster.

·         Pistol Farms Sample: Guns and cheese. Everything a cracker could possibly want.

·         The New York Gift Basket: Ready! Aim! Nosh!

The humor of this episode was amped up when the special guest ,Joel McHale, host of E!’s “The Soup,” came on. Joel is an easy going guy with a quick wit and an even quicker smile. Bill mentioned that “The Soup” used to cover talk shows, but now they cover reality shows. Bill said that there was “something sick” about reality shows. It is looking down on people.  Joel said that there were a few good reality shows. He mentioned “Deadliest Catch,” “Dirty Jobs,” and “Intervention.”  (I’m not familiar with any of these shows since I don’t watch reality shows. If you want my attention, you can take the trouble to script a TV show.)

“New Rules” was very funny this week. Bill lampooned those who complain about Obama getting secret service protection “like he was the manager of the local Pep Boys. These are the same people who complain about fire trucks going through red lights.” He then mimicked a whining child and said, “I don’t get to go through red lights. Why does he get to go through red lights?”

Rubio got a drubbing for his “quick-drink-of-water” moment.  Bill joked, “Someone needs to tell Mark Rubio something I learned years ago. Don’t get high before a show. You’ll wind up making no sense, and you will develop a bad case of cotton mouth.”

[My thoughts on Rubio: The Republicans are so desperate to put someone forward who doesn’t alienate half the country that they pushed Rubio out before he was ready. I do public speaking. You keep the water next to you, and if you need a drink, you wait for a place in the speech where a pause seems natural, then as if you were pausing for emphasis, you take a quick drink. You never touch your face, and you certainly don’t try to slink away from the podium as if no one can see you.)  

However, that moment did not ruin his speech. His speech was already ruined.  He attacked Obama for not talking about the very things that he did talk about in his State of the Union speech. Again, an experienced speaker knows that you have to be able to think on your feet—you need to make on-the-spot changes to your speech when the need arises.]

Bill can never resist taking a poke at religion.  Bill said, talking to the Catholics of the country, “If the Pope can leave, so can you.”  He said the church is dying off “like Moose lodges, Masons, Blockbusters, and moderate Republicans.” He said the pope is just a figure head “like Queen Elizabeth in a better dress.”  He asked, “If you are Catholic, but don’t follow anything the church says, what are you staying for?  The stained glass windows?" 

He had a barb for those who say “It doesn’t say in the rules that a Pope can’t resign.”
Bill said, in an incredulous tone, “It doesn’t say in the rules that there even is a Pope.  There is no Pope in the Bible.”

Next, Bill suggested that we should have a woman Pope. He proposed that Hillary Clinton should be the next Pope because “she knows how to handle men who can’t keep their hands to themselves.” Or what about “Pope-prah?” Bill asked. “Jesus turned water into wine and Oprah whines about retaining water.”

Still doing comedy, but striking a serious note, Bill said that any culture that excludes women always descends into sexual deviancy. And I would add that without the civilizing influence of women, men are prone to excessive violence and deviancy of all kinds.  [Read Men in Groups by Lionel Tiger first published in 1969.] I will also add that God didn’t give Eve to Adam for a companion; he knew Adam needed a woman around to keep him in line, to keep them from going bat-poop crazy.

Finally, Bill suggested that he should be Pope.  He was born and raised Catholic.  He wants nothing to do with children. And he can provide his own white puff of smoke.

I titled this review “Bat-Poop Crazies and Popes.”  Who were the the bat-poop crazies this week? Everyone who was the butt of one of Bill’s jokes -- John Boehner, the “bat-poop crazy” Republicans, Marco Rubio, reality TV “stars”—and Jaime Weinstein. 

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