Once again, CNN welcomed liberal comedian Bill Maher despite the vitriol he has spewed about conservative women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Maher, an Obama donor, actually guest-hosted for CNN's Piers Morgan last summer during the presidential campaign.
New host George Stroumboulopoulos let Maher bash Fox News viewers and the GOP in Friday night's interview. Maher implied that Republicans are "knuckle draggers" and lambasted the ignorance of Fox News viewers. Stroumboulopoulos then accepted that premise by asking what could be done about their "intellectual impasse." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
"And the people who watch Fox News live in a bubble I can't even describe to you. They have -- the facts never get in. It's like the airlock in an alien movie, you know, that you can't let the alien in or else you have to blow up the ship," Maher mocked. Stroumboulopoulos built off that premise, asking "So this is – there's this intellectual impasse that's going on. Is there a way around it?"
"[O]ne party is a bunch of knuckle draggers, I won't say which," Maher quipped. Presumably he was referring to Republicans, who he has called in the past "the party of apes" who are about "paranoia, greed, and racism," have "horrible, society-killing ideas about America," and who "don't care about dead Mexicans."
Yet despite this vitriol against Republicans, Stroumboulopoulos praised Maher on Friday, saying that he has risen above shallow television to dwell in the league of liberal Jon Stewart and ultra-liberal Tavis Smiley: "Is there a place where you found your way of John Stewart as – these great. Tavis Smiley still does it in his way. There's this group of people who have been able to find a real footing by not having to be shallow."
Later in the interview, Maher praised socialism and ridiculed Americans for fearing it:
"[E]very modern country is now a quasi-socialist country. That's not a dirty word, but in America when you say socialist, you know, most people, they don't know what it means. They just know it's something super bad like pedophilia or atheism or something like that. Meanwhile, they do nothing but take money from the government. They're such hypocrites. They hate socialism but they live on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, unemployment benefits. All this money, but they hate socialism."
Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on Stroumboulopoulos on June 21 at 11:07 p.m. EDT:
BILL MAHER: One party is a bunch of knuckle draggers, I won't say which. But the fault does not go around equally as the media would like to portray it, and it's partly the media's fault because they're not very bright either. And they promote things like false equivalency which are wrong. We should put the blame where it is and tell the truth where it lies.
MAHER: You know, politicians will always say if we only had a government as good as the people. Well, our big problem is that we do have exactly a government as good as the people. Our democracy is very representative, I mean we get to choose these people and these are the people we put into office.
So it does come back to the people. They're very easily fooled and they're horribly misinformed about everything. And the people who watch Fox News live in a bubble I can't even describe to you. They have -- the facts never get in. It's like the airlock in an alien movie, you know, that you can't let the alien in or else you have to blow up the ship. That's really the situation we have in this country is you have a hard time passing legislation that means something if people don't understand what's in it. They still don't understand what's in ObamaCare. They still don't know what that is and we passed that three years ago.
GEORGE STROUMBOULOPOULOS: So this is – there's this intellectual impasse that's going on. Is there a way around it?
MAHER: Well, not a quick fix. I mean I think it would start with education but we don't really concentrate on that in this country. We don't have a sense in this country that it's every, it's -- we're all in it together. It's an every man for himself philosophy that governs this country much more than most other western democracies.
And that's not a good thing for a country because every country asked – every modern country is now a quasi-socialist country. That's not a dirty word, but in America when you say socialist, you know, most people, they don't know what it means. They just know it's something super bad like pedophilia or atheism or something like that. Meanwhile, they do nothing but take money from the government. They're such hypocrites. They hate socialism but they live on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, unemployment benefits. All this money, but they hate socialism.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Is this a natural place for a country to be at this age? You know, it's not the youngest –
MAHER: You're saying we're a teenager. And we're about as bright as one.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Oh, I'm just saying that, it may be as a reactionary as one. Canada is about to enter that space as well, that we don't have the same history.
MAHER: That certainly is part of it. I mean civilizations literally do grow up. I mean, Europe is the old civilization and then in some ways they're jaded and that's not great, and they're worn out in some ways in their feet and there is energy here that maybe you don't have in the old world. but they also do have that sort of wisdom and that savvy and they understand that. They don't get excited about, "Oh, my God, we're becoming a socialist country." So what? If it works, that's all that matters, let's just do what works.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How much of this guy, the version of you that has strong – not just a strong belief system but the ability to stand behind what you say, and go out and say it. Is it from your father?
MAHER: Father and mother, I would say, yeah, I mean, they were both political. My father certainly did it for a living. Which was different, you know. I mean, he was newsman in the days of radio news, when there was radio news at the top of the hour on every radio station. And it's something we talked about in the home, which I think is different than most kids. I mean, I think most American families, if they have dinner together at all, if the family is together at all. You know, they're probably watching TV at dinner, or talking about reality TV or whatever. I don't –
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But to think of the stuff that your parents would have talked about, the stuff you would've seen in your life, growing up where you did.
MAHER: Yeah, I do remember the riots in Chicago when there were -- the Democratic Convention was there in 1968, I was –
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It was a big moment.
MAHER: – 12 years old. Yeah, I remember the "Summer of Love". And then the '68 was like the "Summer of Hate". It was just the opposite. It all turned. You know, the people who were on drugs were now sketchy characters who were in the gutter and they were OD-ing and then the police were beating people up and the country was at each other's throats. It was a fun time, assassinations.