Bill Maher is taking Donald Trump more seriously these days. While continuing to use the Republican front-runner as an ever-ready punchline, the HBO host seemed more angry than bemused during last night’s Real Time with Bill Maher when talking about the increasingly amped-up anti-immigration rhetoric used by Trump and some of his supporters. Maher was particularly outraged by the recent dust-up between Trump and Jorge Ramos, news anchor for the Spanish-language Univision.
“The racism out of the Trump camp is getting kind of nasty,” Maher said. Earlier in the week, Trump ejected Ramos from a rally after the anchor attempted to ask a question, with Trump saying, “Go back to Univision.” In video that quickly went viral, an aggressive Trump supporter approached the ejected Ramos in a hallway outside the conference hall saying “Get out of my country.”
“These are not-that-coded code words,” Maher said. He also cited a recent Trump rally in Alabama at which a Trump supporter, as quoted in The New York Times, said he hoped Trump would “make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill.’”
Turning to guest panelist Dana Rohrabacher, Republican congressman from California, Maher said, “If that was my party, I’d feel a little ashamed.” Rohrabacher agreed in condemning the comments, but added that Trump “is wrong in several of his solutions but he’s right in addressing the issue.”
Maher also lambasted CNN’s extensive Trump coverage, including a televised “55-minute brag-a-thon” during which Trump accused China of stealing American jobs. “That’s the way Hitler used to talk about the Jews,” Maher said, adding that China “didn’t steal anything – we gave them our jobs because rich people like (Trump) sent them overseas.” Maher used an obscenity rather than the candidate’s name.
An earlier segment of the program, featuring a one-on-one interview with Republican candidate Rick Santorum, didn’t produce as many sparks as might have been expected – largely because Maher didn’t give the smiling conservative much elbow room. The most contentious moment came on the subject of climate change, with Maher pointing out that, unlike the climate change skeptic (and Catholic) Santorum, Pope Francis has “made made a very strong statement in support of my position, not yours.”
“I’m an atheist and I like the Pope better than you,” Maher sniped. “He’s the vicar of Christ – shouldn’t you have the humility to say ‘If the Pope thinks climate change is a problem, maybe I should?’ He’s not just another guy.”
When Maher pressed Santorum about what he’d do if the Pope invoked infallibility to demand action on climate change, Santorum bristled. “He wouldn’t,” Santorum said. “He’d speak about the infallibility about protecting human life and abortion and the sanctity of marriage before he would dare walk into this other minefield.”