Leftist comedian Bill Maher found a receptive audience with MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Tuesday. The HBO comic trashed the United States as "not sophisticated" when it came to sex scandals and derided, "We are a childish country and if somebody has their peepee in the news, then it's going to be a top story for a lot of people."
The Hardball host prompted the attack by wondering if the revelation that Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child with another woman while married was really a big deal. He mused, "Is this a political story? Does it say anything about American politics?...Can you compartmentalize?"
The snide comedian mocked, "Well you can you do that but not in America. You can do that in sophisticated countries. We are not one of those."
[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Earlier in the show, Maher offered praise for non-candidate Mike Huckabee as "someone that could unite what I called the indoor and outdoor wings of the party." The HBO star predicted that the Republicans would nominate some "empty suit like Pawlenty with a frothing loon like Michele Bachmann."
A partial transcript of of the May 17 segment can be found below:
BILL MAHER: Huckabee is a big one.
MATTHEWS: Is he a big one?
MAHER: Absolutely. That's who the White House thought they would run against. That is the most talented party in the party and when I had him on my show, people would say to me the next day, "You know, I didn't agree with anything he said but I liked him." He was someone that could unite what I called the indoor and outdoor wings of the party.
MAHER: Without him, they don't have that. They are going to have to nominate some, just empty suit like Pawlenty with a frothing loon like Michele Bachmann.
MATTHEWS: So, let me ask you about this thing. Do you think it's political? I mean, the guy didn't do anything on public time. He didn't do anything with a public employee. It wasn't like Clinton. He didn't lie under oath. He told the story eventually.
MAHER: Are we talking about Arnold?
MATTHEWS: Yeah. Arnold.
MATTHEWS: Is this a political story? Does it say anything about American politics? Can people, you know, we went through this with Clinton, you and I. Can you compartmentalize? Can you say, "yeah, but he was great on fiscal policy." Yeah, he had a great foreign policy. He kept us out of war. Bush, clean marriage but a war we should never fought.
MAHER: Well you can you do that but not in America. You can do that in sophisticated countries. We are not one of those. We are a childish country and if somebody has their peepee in the news, then it's going to be a top story for a lot of people. I mean, many people never accepted Bill Clinton because they said things like "if he cheats on his wife, what would he do to the country?" You know like he is going to start working for Belgium instead of us. You know, they conflate cheating in your personal life or somehow being immoral.
MATTHEWS: But, Clinton has turned out to be- and I was wrong over this overinflating it in terms of a story, I think- but he had the problem with the law, of course, in the impeachment process. But, you know, he's turned out to be this incredible good guy on solving the diseases of the world, fighting malaria, fighting AIDS, doing all this effective stuff in Africa.