Bill Maher had no problem working an insult against middle America into his opening monologue during Friday's Real Time. Reacting to Jussie Smollett's alleged hate crime hoax, Maher quipped: “He paid two men $3500 to assault him for being black and gay, something he could have gotten for free in Texas.”
Maher mentioned that he was just kidding, highlighting that “I love Texas.” But as we saw later in the show, it’s safe to say that the comic might not have been joking.
Closing out the show, he urged Amazon to build its new headquarters in middle America, but he made the case by mocking Flyover Country and the values it subscribes to.
Maher argued that “if liberals are serious about winning elections, they have to start re-colonizing the parts of the country they’ve abandoned.” He added that, in his book: “If we keep leaving the red states behind, they’re going to keep getting angrier and crazier. Because if you’re not invited to the party, the next best thing is to throw a turd in the punchbowl.”
Having previously brought up the concept of “spatial geographic inequality” in which “the most affluent and educated people” live in “just a few cities,” Maher proceeded to read aloud a quote from Hillary Clinton, who said that “I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product…I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.”
The HBO host used Clinton’s quote as a springboard to portray red states as backward, outlining an elitist fantasy of what would happen if Amazon moved to West Virginia; starting off by predicting that “people get better jobs that don’t give them black lung (and) the locals meet people of different backgrounds and races and sexual orientations.” Maher also took a shot at those who still believe in traditional marriage: “They find out gays don’t ruin anyone’s marriage, but they do improve the karaoke scene.”
Continuing to elaborate on this trope, he suggested that, at a hypothetical Amazon headquarters in West Virginia, a gym “that admits women” would open, implying that red states see women as second-class citizens. He later concluded by predicting that in a post-Amazon West Virginia, “there’s legal weed and decent healthcare and the schools are teaching science again.”
In a strange twist of irony, Maher then signed off by announcing that he would soon be visiting the red states of Louisiana and Indiana. Go figure.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Friday’s edition of Real Time is below. Click “expand” to read more.
HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher
February 22, 2019
10:05 p.m. Eastern
BILL MAHER: And of course Trump somehow, he has the time dealing with the national emergency to be tweeting about Jussie Smollett or Smollette, I don’t know how to pronounce that but he was, Jussie, was charged with a felony for filing a false police report because if there is one thing Trump cannot abide, it is a self-serving liar. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] And of course, of course Fox News loves this story, of course, because it proves their stupid theory that racism is a hoax. They are saying, Fox News, that the mainstream media isn’t covering the Jussie Smollett story. Isn’t covering it? Some of them just died in a stampede. But you know, Jussie, he wanted to raise his profile so he allegedly played two men $3500 to assault him for being black and gay, something he could have gotten for free in Texas. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] I kid Texas, I love Texas.
10:50 p.m. Eastern
BILL MAHER: As, as I’m sure you know by now, Amazon has scrapped its plans to build a giant headquarters in New York because the city balked at giving the richest company in the world a three billion dollar tax bribe. So Amazon took their ball and went home, which I guess explains this t-shirt. [LAUGHTER] But herein lies a chance for Amazon to show the world that a tech company can actually do good. We have a problem in America called “spatial geographic inequality,” which means that the most affluent and educated people are clustered in just a few cities. Last year, Hillary Clinton said “I won the places that represent two- thirds of America’s gross domestic product…I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.” Yes, you did, and maybe that has something to do with why Trump voters are obsessed with “owning the libs.” Because the libs own everything else. The blue parts of America are having a big prosperity party, while that big sea of red feels like their invitation got lost in the mail. And they still use the mail. [LAUGHTER] They turn on the TV and all the shows take place in a few hip cities…there’s no “Real Housewives of Toledo” or “CSI: Lubbock.” [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] There are no red carpets in Wyoming, and no one ever asks you “Who are you wearing?” Because the answer is always Target. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] There are two Americas, and it seems like one is where all the cool jobs are, where people drive Teslas and eat artisanal ice cream. We have orchestras, theater districts, world-class shopping. We have Chef Wolfgang puck. They have Chef Boyardee. [LAUGHTER] Our roofs have solar panels; theirs have last year’s Christmas lights. We’ve got legal bud, they’ve got bud. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] We have anal bleaching; they have Congressman Steve King. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] The flyover states have become the passed-over states…that’s why red state voters are so pissed off. They don’t hate us, they want to be us. They want to go to the party. It’s like we’re the British royal family and they’re Meghan Markle’s dad. [LAUGHTER] Now, how do I know this? Because 238 cities and regions submitted proposals to Amazon for the company to locate in their area; all desperate for jobs that don’t involve guarding prisoners or murdering chickens. And Amazon picked two places that didn’t need them at all, places where prosperity already was. Bezos, you’re worth 130 billion…take one for the team! Stop playing cities off against one another, and help a dying one come back to life. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] Now, I know this sounds like a pipe dream…and it’s true, I was smoking a pipe when I dreamed it. But --- [LAUGHTER] But if liberals are serious about winning elections, they have to start re-colonizing the parts of the country they’ve abandoned. Mississippi is the poorest state in the country…Amazon could buy the whole state and rename it Ama-zippi. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] If we keep leaving the red states behind, they’re going to keep getting angrier and crazier. Because if you’re not invited to the party, the next best thing is to throw a turd in the punchbowl. [LAUGHTER] As opposed to what happens when Amazon moves to West Virginia: People get better jobs that don’t give them black lung. The locals meet people of different races and backgrounds and sexual orientations, none of whom kill them. They find out gays don’t ruin anyone’s marriage, but they do improve the karaoke scene. [LAUGHTER] A yoga studio opens up, then an art gallery, a gym that admits women. [LAUGHTER] Then one of those trendy bars where inside looks like the outside. Asians come and open a Chinese restaurant, and then Jews come because there’s a Chinese restaurant. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] And before you know it, there’s legal weed and decent health care and the schools are teaching science again. All right, that’s our show. I’ll be at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans April 6th, the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis on the 7th, April 7th, at the Mirage in Vegas April 12th and 13th.