Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communication director whose hot head and foul mouth got him ousted from the Trump Administration – ponder that for a moment – presented a whole new persona on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher tonight, calmer, nicer and imperturbable.
Until he wasn’t.
An increasingly personal face-off with anti-Trump neo-con David Frum brought out the old, if slightly modified, Mooch, a return Maher likened to “quiet killer” Michael Corleone.
By the heated episode’s YouTube-0nly Overtime segment (watch it below), Scaramucci, in cool, even tones that didn’t match his eyes, was snarling at Frum, calling him mean and angry and suggesting a suppository.
So how did they get there?
Scaramucci, the episode’s mid-show guest, joined the already-in-progress panel of Frum and former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile, initially presenting a relaxed demeanor, waving off audience boos, even joking about his brief White House tenure (“11 days, or 954,000 seconds”).
There was some even-keeled, partisan-line chatting about the Nunes Memo, tax cuts, how his working class background was “aspirational” (he went on to attend Harvard – with embattled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, no less) not to be confused with today’s “desperational” working class. He complimented Maher’s orangutan Trump jokes, and at one point even agreed with the MeToo movement, hoping for a “safe space” for his daughter and wife.
“You’re being so cool, baby,” Brazile marveled at one point.
But then about five minutes into Scaramucci’s segment (watch it above) things got weird when Frum, out of nowhere, said, “I have a question for you. Before you went into government, you received an enormous offer from a Chinese group, for the purchase of your company, $90 million, and after you came out the purchasers lost interest. How am I to understand that?”
As Scaramucci protested that the question was “factually inaccurate” and started to explain something about Treasury Department approval, Maher tossed him a lifeline and said, “Okay, this is a different show…nobody knows what you’re talking about and nobody cares.”
The Mooch would not let go of the bone. “It’s a set-up question,” he continued, despite Maher’s attempts to steer the course. “He’s trying to suggest that they were buying into the lobbying…I curse a lot but I don’t curse on TV but that’s b.s.”
“You don’t curse?” said Maher. “You’re the one who said Steve Bannon sucks his own c*ck.”
“I don’t think he’s anatomically capable of it,” Scaramucci joked, but then went right back to Frum. “What David is trying to say is that the Chinese company bought my business as a favor to Trump.”
“Why are we going back to this?,” asked Maher. “I see why you and Trump get along.”
Later during the conversation, when an exasperated Frum asked Scaramucci that, as a fellow Republican (“I’ve spent more time in the Republican adminstration than you”), does “it not stick in your craw that Vladimir Putin wanted to help your guy so much?”
“Your level of anger and sanctimony is not coming across very well,” said the Mooch, only to be told by Frum that this was “not a show or a performance,” to which Scaramucci charged “cultural elitism,” and Frum retorted, “You’re going to play that card or you’re going to name-drop Harvard, one or the other.”
Much cross-talk ensued, broken by Brazile’s “I went to LSU, all right?”
Maher’s New Rules segment – usually the show’s place for amped-up rants – got things back on a steadier course.
But then came Overtime, when further discussion about Trump prompted the Mooch to turn back to Frum.
“Your anger toward Trump is clouding your judgment, by the way,” he said. “A good anger management class would help you think a little more clearly.”
Responded Frum, “Don’t let anger cloud your judgment – but don’t let your ambitions cloud your judgment.”
“What does that even mean?” said Scaramucci. “You talking about my ambition? I’d already lived a great life. I went in there to try to serve the country and help the middle- and lower-class people that are struggling in this country.
“You gotta wake up, brother,” he continued at Frum. “You’re living in an ivory tower. Snap out of it. Drop the anger.” Then, after suggesting a suppository, he said, “You’re, like, a mean guy.”
“I’m not a weak guy,” said Frum.
“You’re mean, and you’re angry,” said the Mooch.
Eventually Maher could abstain. “I want to know what drug you’re on,” he asked Scaramucci. “He is very Michael Corleone, he doesn’t raise his voice, he’s a quiet killer.”
“I’m a little bit too honest, though,” the Mooch said calmly, then shooting his eyes at Frum, added, “I’m not the typical backstabbing Washingtonian.”
At which point, Bazile, who maybe thought she’d been lumped in with the backstabbing Washingtonian crowd, offered – and let’s give her the last word – “I’m like Tina Turner. I’m a Private Dancer, baby, but I don’t dance for that kinda money.”
Watch the Overtime segment here: