Saturday, July 20, 2013

HBO Real Time with Bill Maher #290 “Smart-Stupid People”

by Catherine Giordano

HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher”, episode 290, airing on July 19, 2013 was a slog. Except for Dan Savage, who was the special guest, the guests were dull. Bill did “new Rules about “smart-stupid people.  Some of the guests, like Dan Savage, are super-smart smart people. 
Dan Savage wore a red shirt on the Bill Maher show to "gay it up" 
Dan is best known as a sex columnist and for founding the organization “It Gets Better,” to help gay youth cope. He has a new book of essays, American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love and Politics. (Click on the link to learn more about the book)

Dan spoke about his husband of 20 years and their teen-aged son. The child was adopted as a baby. This gave Dan his opening.  “I’m going to keep inseminating my husband, because anything is possible with God.” Everyone laughed except for Grover Norquist, who had an expression of angry condemnation on his face. He’s definitely smart stupid—in his case, I think he says stupid things on purpose. It’s his brand.

Dan’s son by the way, recently came out as straight, thereby proving wrong the canard that gay parents make their children gay.  

Dan’s other really terrific line last night was about fidelity in marriage. A gay couple has the highest rate of infidelity, a male/female couple is second, and a lesbian couple has the lowest rate. “It’s not gayness that leads to infidelity,” Dan concluded,” It is dick.” Men are less likely to remain faithful.  Dan shattered another myth about gays being promiscuous—it is not because they are gay, it is because they are men.

Another panel member was the afore-mentioned Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.” I call him “One Note Norquist. No matter what the topic, he’s talking about taxes being too high and Obama being a really bad president. Give it a rest, Norquist. You are boring.

Another panel member was Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian, journalist, and political commentator. She was the liberal on the panel. She was a little too shall I say “enthusiastic.”  It made me think she had ADHD; she spoke loudly, rapidly, and animatedly—a lot of finger wagging.

The third panel member was Connie Mack, the former Republican senator from Florida, now a lobbyist. (What else?) I can see why he was a successful politician—he’s smooth.  He gently deflects any question that is contentious and speaks in banalities.  He is as laid back as Jebreal is fiery.

During the discussion about Obamacare, Bill brought up the fact that Congress repealed Obamacare for the 39th time. Bill pointed out that the health care insurance premiums had come down by half in states like California where people want the plan to work. One-Note Norquist insisted Obmacare should be abolished. Savage retorted, “So you want to drive the costs back up.” Mack said, “It kills jobs.” Bill refuted that with facts. Savage said, “Obamacare was the conservative Heritage Foundation’s plan but as soon as it came out of the black man’s mouth, conservatives were against it. We need single payer! “  (I say, “amen.”) Bill said, “It was Bob Dole’s plan.” Norquist gut all huffy. “Bob Dole was no Ronald Reagan!”  Jebreal excitedly chimed in, “Ronald Reagan raised taxes eight times.” And then the discussion moved to a new topic.

The interview was with John Hargrove, a former trainer at Sea World who has collaborated on a documentary, Blackfish. He was very low key and spoke about how he feels the marine animals are abused. “What right do they have to take the lives of these whales for our entertainment and to line the pockets of the corporate owners.”

Bill began his monologue with comments about Obama’s speech about race earlier in the day. (Another history-making speech by Obama, delivered extemporaneously and without advance notice during a routine press briefing with Andrew Card. A black guy popping up like that”, Bill said, “Good thing it wasn’t in Florida.” Bill mentioned that Obama said that he had personal experience with women clutching their purses around him. Bill said, “That was just last week at Fox News.”

Bill also joked about George Zimmerman and the people who say he is not really free because he will always have to be looking over his shoulder for some vigilante who might want to kill him. (Zimmerman’s brother said this on TV without any sense of irony.). Bill did not miss the irony. He said, “Yeah, people might see an obviously guilty man and want to take matters into their own hands.” Then he joked that Zimmerman would end up on Fox News with a show called “Stand Your Ground with George Zimmerman.”

The comedy segment was about the Pope’s tweets. Pope Frank (as Bill likes to call him) is now on Twitter. If you follow the Pope, you get time off from purgatory. (This is the” is-this- for-real?” moment of the show.) Bill gave us some joke tweets like “red shoes go with everything. #infallible)” and “ Who wore it best? #be honest” (The latter has a picture of the Pope next to the retired Pope, each wearing their robes.) and “Listening to confession right now. Like I care. Yada, Yada, Yada. Five Hail Marys. #OpusDayJob)”

In New Rules, Bill did on riff on “smart stupid people”. For instance, a neurosurgeon, Eben Alexander, wrote a book, Proof of Heaven, because of visions he had while in a coma. Bill said, “He made a day trip to heaven. No dude, you were just tripping… That was not heaven, that was a Lunestra commercial.” (Click the link to learn more about the book.)

He mentioned that Arthur Conan Dayle was a surgeon and wrote the Sherlock Homes stories, but he believed in fairies. William Mckenzie King was Canada’s Prime Minster for 22 years and spoke five languages, but he believed that he could talk to the spirits of dead Irish Setters. Dr. Ben Carson was a neurosurgeon who performed the first successful operation to separate conjoined twins joined at the head. Discussing how a smart doctor can be so smart and so stupid at the same time he suggested a duality, “He doesn’t just operate on conjoined twins. He is one.”
  
Bill saved his most vicious attacks for members of Congress. It seems there are a lot of “know-nothing” doctors in Congress and for some unknown reasons they all happen to be ob-gyns. One thinks the earth is only 6,000 years old, one thinks that women can’t get pregnant from a rape, and so on.  The fact that they are ob-gyns led to a joke—if we want people who have had their head between women’s legs, why not Congressman Michael Douglas?  (You have to remember what Douglas said about his throat cancer to get this joke.

Bill, by the way, is “smart-ass smart” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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