On the 2009 debut of his HBO show Real Time on Friday night, Bill Maher proposed his new solution for the economic crisis: legalize marijuana. In an interview with Rep. Ron Paul, he lectured: "When FDR came into office in '33, one of the first things he did was repeal Prohibition. He said we can’t afford this any more."
Paul was puzzled, so Maher continued: "When he was making radical changes, he said ‘look, we’re serious now. We’re gonna get serious, and people like liquor." Well, in this country, people love pot...[applause]...and if we ended that Prohibition, it’d be a giant boon of money."
He had an utterly straight face, no smirk. Paul denounced all the drug laws to such effect that Maher went back to joking. "Amen, stoner," he said to Paul.
Maher ended his show with another stirring solution to the financial crisis: executing two random rich guys to set an example: "If we killed two random, rich greedy pigs; blew them up at halftime at next year’s Super Bowl. Or left them hanging on the big board at the New York Stock Exchange, you know, as a warning, with their balls in their mouths, I think it would really make everyone else sit up and take notice."
When it came to Maher’s panel discussion guests, Chrystia Freeland of the Financial Times sounded more leftist than fellow guest Maxine Waters. First, she denounced Ron Paul’s economics: "There is this very extremist economic view, they call it the Austrian School – ‘these companies got in trouble, we should be absolutist free marketeers.’ But would you like to live in a country where economic activity ground to a halt? I think it’s too risky an operation to try."
That’s not to say Freeland wasn’t for a radical solution, but she wanted it to be socialist. "We have an insufficiently radical economic policy, particularly vis a vis the banking sector," as she wished for nationalization.
Then, after she praised the president for talking in dark terms about the economy, she followed with this stunning journalistic admission: "It’s important to prepare the ground for radical government action. It’s a radical problem....It’s really time for the government to come in and radically clean things up, and that’s what people were expecting Obama to do."
Maher’s show had one bright spot, perhaps due to Maher’s loathing of all religions. He talked about the man who created a TV station to improve the image of Muslims beheading his wife in Buffalo. He interviewed author Brigitte Gabriel, and agreed with her that the media was under-covering the story.
All three of Maher’s panelists thought new Attorney General Eric Holder was too harsh in describing America as a "nation of cowards" on race relations. Tina Brown of the Daily Beast called Holder a "total idiot" for projecting the opposite of Obama’s racial-healing tone. Maher found the most remarkable thing about it how much it riled conservatives.
"There’s a lot of seething hate out there. Did you see the HBO documentary this week called Right America: Feeling Wronged? Wow. There’s a popular black president and a minority of white people with a lot of guns. It’s not a good situation." Brown suggested some people hated George W. Bush, too, but Maxine Waters insisted "It’s not the same thing at all," and Maher agreed. "All that hate’s not gone away. It’s just gone under their tinfoil helmets."