The namesake host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher has some rules for the Democratic Party to memorize as they ramp up for a 2020 rematch with President Donald J. Trump. “I want all Democrats to memorize these two words: Message Discipline,” Maher said with the tones of a weary teacher addressing a remedial class. “Republicans win for two reasons: teamwork and cheating. And they’re really good at both.”
The 2020 presidential race, the Mueller Report, and the ongoing Trumpifcation of the national conversation were meaty topics for the night’s episode although the most memorable gag was directed at Roy Moore of Alabama and the legal limits that affect his viability as a elected public servant. “It looks like even if Roy Moore won, he would not be able to serve his term,” Maher said, “because the Senate is within one mile of a school.”
Maher’s description of Mueller at one point had a Biblical cadence to it: “Mueller finally came down from his cloud and spoketh…what he said was, word for word, ‘The report is my testimony.’ I shall not want.”
Maher’s top-of-the-show guest was presidential candidate William Weld. Back in February, Weld became the first Republican to step forward to challenge the reelection of GOP incumbent President Donald J. Trump in 2020. Trump is the first sitting president in 27 years to face a notable same-party challenger; the last was George H. W. Bush who fended off Pat Buchanan in the primary elections before losing to Bill Clinton in 1992 general election.
Fiscally conservative but socially liberal, Weld defected from the GOP and pledged his ongoing loyalty to the Libertarian party in the lead up to the 2016 election. As a running mater to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, Weld represented the bottom half of the party’s 2016 presidential ticket. The 73-year-old Weld returned to the GOP in January of this year, less than a month before announcing his intra-party bid to oust Trump.
On Friday night, Weld told Maher that the stature of the country has been hurt by Trump’s histrionics and he implied that the Oval Office might need to be outfitted with a diaper-changing table. “I think that the cracks are beginning to show in the government-by-tantrum style of the president in Washington.”
Weld has spoken out about strident new abortion laws in states like Georgia and Alabama and wrote in a recent USA Today op-ed piece that the new laws “actively promote a sinister culture of fear, persecution, stigmatization, secrecy and hiding.”
Weld joined Maher and other guests in the “Overtime” after-show, streaming-only segment as well and emphatically stated that he would never consider endorsing Trump: “I would not support Mr. Trump under any circumstances. I love the United States too much. Anyone but Trump.”
Sardonic filmmaker John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray) was the mid-show interview guest and had some acidic opinions on politics and a line that was acidic in a different way. “I’m not telling young people to take acid – you have your pussy micro doses. But old people? Take it! Nobody can say it’s dementia – you’re trippin’!”
The filmmaker sometimes called the Pope of Trash saved his best zinger for the show’s “Overtime” portion when a viewer asked if he thought Trump was the trashiest commander-in-chief in history. “He’s the worst,” Waters declared before adding: “And he looks like a white James Brown impersonator now.”
The roundtable portion of the show brought together a trio of guests: CNN political analyst and author Kirsten Powers; Australian journalist Jonathan Swan who covers U.S. politics for AXIOS Media; and defense analyst Lawrence Wilkerson, the chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell during the Iraq War era.
Wilkerson suggested that Republicans may be made of sterner stuff than their rivals on the other side of the aisle. “I agree that the leadership of the Democratic Party is composed of gutless cowards. They’re not like Mitch McConnell, who will stick a knife in your back at any time and twist it.”
The Executive Producers of Real Time with Bill Maher are Bill Maher, Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths, Dean Johnsen, and Billy Martin with Co-Executive Producer Chris Kelly; Producers Matt Wood and T.J. Baldino; Associate Producer Miles Leicher; and Director Paul Casey. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Maher’s first HBO comedy special (he’s had another 10 since then). This is the 17th season of Real Time With Bill Maher. The show has been renewed through 2020.