As the star of Judge Judy, Judy Sheindlin presides over the No. 1 show on all of daytime television (23 seasons, 10 million daily viewers, two Emmys) and historically she’s steered clear of political endorsements or partisan stances that might alienate any segment of her vast audience. That personal precedent went out the window on Friday night, however, with Sheindlin’s first-ever appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and her vigorous courting of voters to get behind Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, was present in name only during Friday’s live show in Los Angles but his (apparently) ramping presidential bid earned a singular spotlight during Maher’s one-on-one interview with Sheindlin, the top-of-the-show guest. The episode also included Judd Apatow, the Hollywood big-screen comedy king, and Rahm Emanuel, who is the former mayor of Chicago and one-time White House Chief of Staff.
When the prickly Maher implied that Sheindlin was promoting a billionaire buddy the former family court jurist swatted the notion down. Her personal connection to Bloomberg? A single (and somewhat abrasive) exchange on a TV show set a decade ago. Still, Sheindlin was emphatic that Bloomberg would reestablish an executive branch with decorum, effectiveness, and integrity.
Maher questioned whether another self-made New York billionaire is what the White House really needs. Judge Judy objected to the simplistic characterization: “There is nothing wrong with a man that came from nothing realizing the American dream… To define Mike Bloomberg as a billionaire is an injustice.”
Maher noted that Bloomberg is also a fresh option that clocks in at 77 years of age.
“This is gonna be by far the oldest Democratic field ever – it could come down to Bloomberg, Biden, Bernie, and Tom Steyer. I don’t know what the debates are gonna be like, but it won’t be a pissing contest.”
There was also a sharp bit on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook that started with some harsh comments about the social media titan’s Vulcan-ish visage (Zuckerberg looks like “the first attempt at whittling a puppet”) and widened into a freedom-of-speech riff that actually dovetailed with Facebook’s in-house inclination to stay clear of content approval on political ads.
Emanuel at one point contested Maher’s suggestion that Democrats should take a page from the GOP playbook and consolidate power through gerrymandering. Emanuel seemed surprised by how casually Maher had toggled from professionally cynical to politcally unethical. (Maher’s approach was endorsed emphatically by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a presidential hopeful.)
To lighten the discussion, perhaps, Emanuel used an old injury as a sight gag. He fanned both hands, revealing a right middle finger that stops at the second knuckle.
“As somebody who has practiced the dark arts of redistricting – which is why I only have nine and a half digits left here,” Emanuel deadpanned. (The finger was actually lost on the job: Emanuel part-timed it with an Arby’s meat slicer in high school.)
Maher also had a message for Paramount Pictures, James Cameron and the other producers of Terminator: Dark Fate. That message: It’s time to pull the plug.
“New rule: stop making Terminator movies,” Maher said as a photograph of Linda Hamilton was shown. “We can watch Grandma fight the machines at home. This week she had to change the clock on the stove.”