Hours after Senate Republicans voted to block any witnesses from being called in the impeachment proceedings against President Trump, a morose Bill Maher welcomed Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg to his HBO talk show but also wondered aloud several times if things like the upcoming election really have relevance now.
“I don’t know if voting matters,” the comedian said at one point during Friday night’s edition of Real Time with Bill Maher.
Maher also described the Senate’s cynical move as a finish line moment for American experiment that began in 1776: “I feel like anything we talk about tonight is almost moot. We’re going to talk about politics in Iowa and who’s going to win and I feel like we’re talking about a world that doesn’t exist anymore.We’re in a post-democracy world.”
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Maher had already opened the show with a downbeat welcome: “Good news: the impeachment trial is almost over. The bad: so is rule of law in America.”
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It was a drumbeat for the night. Among Maher’s other appraisals of Trump’s America in the shadow of the now feckless impeachment:
On his own mood: “Okay, I’m going to try not to cry during the show because we lost Democracy this week. I feel like I’m standing over a casket and thinking: ‘Hmm I should have been nicer when it was alive.”
On the GOP: “It’s a done deal. This is going to happen. Trump will be acquitted on Wednesday. Republicans have nothing left to do but dot the i’s, cross the t’s, and f*ck the u’s.”
On ethics: “We always knew Trump was corrupt but now we found out the Senate is too.”
On cronyism: “In the future when Donald Trump shoots somebody on 5th Avenue Mitch McConnell will be there to lick the blood off his shoes.”
On national identity: “We are officially living in a dictatorship and not even one with good rail service.”
On Trump’s credibility: “A guy who lies like raccoons eat trash.”
On a lighter note: “In happier news, the coronavirus is spreading…”
Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was featured as Maher’s top-of-the-show guest but beamed in from Iowa. Maher asked the candidate what he would do if the incumbent decides to invalidate an unfavorable election result — a scenario that Maher has described as a near certainty,
“Well, it’s going to be a little awkward when Chasten and I are moving into the White House,” Buttigieg said to gales of approving laughter from Maher’s Los Angeles audience. The reference was to Chasten Buttigieg, the gay candidate’s husband.
Buttigieg closed out his appearance by asking Maher’s viewers to consider a $5 or $10 donation to his campaign. Then the candidate deadpanned: “Actually, this is HBO, so feel free to do $100…”
The mid-show guest was Michael Eric Dyson, author of Jay-Z: Made in America and The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America. Late in the show Maher moderated a round table discussion with Louisiana’s former Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu; New Jersey Congresswoman and former U.S. Navy aviator Mikie Sherrill; and GOP strategist and Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson.
Democrats were chided for championing fringe causes in a time of existential crisis ( “Don’t run for boutique issues in a Wal-Mart country”) and Elizabeth Warren was jeered in particular (“Is she running for president of Berkeley?”
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