The host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher unloaded a lengthy political rant in the pages of The Hollywood Reporter last week in which he
Comedian Maher declared that this election year is one in which the rules have been rewritten by Donald Trump — "a petulant child" riding high on "a campaign of braggadocio" — and Bernie Sanders, a guy "so real he doesn't even have a comb."
Maher pities Hillary Clinton as "a Charlie Brown figure" whom he thinks "is unfairly demonized and has been for her entire career":
I personally don't think she is dishonest. And yet the hatred for her is just amazing — the hatred on the right and the abandonment on the left. She's particularly hard to watch as a candidate. (That laugh.) Yes, the hard truth is that Hillary Clinton is a terrible campaigner who is living in a different era.
Maher is also down for a socialist president:
I've told my audience, who are overwhelmingly for Bernie: If you're on a plane and they don't have your first choice — the fish — eat the chicken! That's Hillary; no one is exactly excited, but that's not all her fault... If Bernie doesn't get the nomination, really, eat the chicken. Look, I'm all for a woman president. I love Elizabeth Warren. Warren is very close to Bernie on a lot of this stuff. If he got the nomination, what an awesome vice president pick to really double down on those ideas.
He's a big fan of Obama:
America is in so much of a better place than it was when Obama took office, and history will record that. If it was in a worse place or he had been caught in a scandal, all those people who were — whether they admitted it or not — not thrilled about a black person being president would have ammunition. He gave them none. As far as his second term, he looked more like a free bird than a lame duck to me, just going down the list of stupid things: Gay marriage? Let's cross that off our list. And let's open up Cuba. He visited a prison and started talking about ending the drug war. This is important stuff and will be remembered as such.
And is seriously impressed by Trump:
When it comes to campaigning, he's a natural. He has a sense of what his audience wants and what works for them like nobody I've seen in a long time in politics. He also has a talent for smiting his foes that is very rare, literally anyone who crosses his path. Ben Carson rose in the polls for a while — bam, dead. Ted Cruz, he went right for the jugular: "You're a Canadian, Ted." Hillary? Who even thought to bring back Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky? Everybody thought that was old news; Bill Clinton is an elder statesman now. "Nope, your husband is a rapist, first woman president, and you've been enabling him." Next!
Like many people, I would have thought he would have been out after the first outrageous thing he said, which was probably the John McCain POW comment: "I like people that weren't captured, OK?" Everyone thought, well, that's an ultimate third rail. And the base was like, "F— it, that's what he believes. We like him, he's a winner, he's going to make great deals, he's going to make America great again. It says it right on his hat so obviously that must be true." Carly Fiorina: "You're too ugly to be president." "Hey, wanna see my impression of a guy with cerebral palsy?" What does this guy have to do to get people to turn against him? Fart in Jesus' face or call Reagan a fag?
Then Maher segues from Trump to Islamic extremism, which Maher has been known to discuss in boldly honest ways that drive his fellow progressives to apoplexy (see Ben Affleck's meltdown in conversation with Maher and atheist auhor Sam Harris). After expounding at some length on the disaster of Islamic terrorism and migration to Europe, Maher turns back to Trump:
So no, Donald Trump is not right — but he will win the election if the American people have to choose between his demagoguery and a party that won't even say the words "Islamic terrorism." I think the Democrats could lose on that issue alone, especially if there's another attack.
Maher admits that "I harbor a hint of admiration for Trump, absolutely. I don't think he's the worst — I think Ted Cruz is the worst. Donald Trump can be talked to."
The comedian concludes with this:
But that's why we love politics, right? It's all so crazy, fascinating and unpredictable. When that first debate got 24 million people, that should've been a wake-up call. What gets the best ratings on TV? Sports and reality TV — and now we found something that has both. And this isn't just sport. This is blood sport.