Any time he pays a visit to late night TV, Bill Maher can be counted on to court a little controversy. True to form, Tuesday on “Conan” he managed to weigh in on virtually every hot-button issue of the day, including Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, gay marriage, the drug wars, gun control and, of course, Donald Trump’s genetic origins.
Apparently unfamiliar with the concept of “satire,” Trump is currently suing Maher for not following through on a promise to pay him $5 million if he could prove that he is not the love child of an orangutan.
Maher helpfully pointed out that making a joke on the air is not the same thing as a contract. “In the world of late night talk comedy, there are no binding agreements. You of all people should know this,” he told O’Brien, a sly reference to the host’s messy “Tonight Show” battle.
He expressed irritation at having to engage with someone who is more a “pop reference from the ‘80s” than a real person -- “It’s like having a spat with J.R. Ewing” -- and scolded the Donald for clogging the legal system with frivolous lawsuits. “It’s not a toy for rich idiots to play with, it’s not a collection agency for billionaires,” he said.
Asked whether he thinks Trump will proceed with the lawsuit, Maher fired off his sharpest insult of the night: “How do I know what’s in this man’s head? It’s like they took Lenny from ‘Of Mice and Men’ and made him a billionaire.”
With the subject of Trump sufficiently exhausted, the conversation turned to other matters. Maher riffed for a while on President Obama’s inaugural address, which he insisted was not quite as liberal as many pundits seemed to think.
While he was impressed by the president’s resounding endorsement of gay marriage, he didn’t understand why the same open-minded attitude didn’t extend to his own relationship with pot.
“I just wanted to say, ‘Well, Mr. President, I’m gay for marijuana. I’d like to be treated equally under the law,” Maher (sort of) joked. “We met in high school and we’ve been together ever since. Sometimes we forget each other’s sentences.”
Somewhat more seriously, he suggested that Democrats had made a mistake by shying away from the issue of drug legalization. “This could be a wedge issue, something that would get a lot of new voters into the booth … probably on the wrong day.”
Leaving no controversial stone unturned, Maher also managed to squeeze in some cracks at the Roman Catholic Church (“98% of Catholics use birth control. Apparently the only ones who don’t are the priests”) and gun enthusiasts (“I always say I’m not a proud gun owner, because that’s stupid. That’s like saying I’m a proud remote-control owner”).