Tomorrow night comedian and political pundit Bill Maher descends on the Cullen Performance Hall for a night of stand-up. The Real Time With Bill Maher host and former star of the influential late-night roundtable show Politically Incorrect is currently on tour in between tapings of new episodes of Real Time.
There is no dearth of material for Maher and his brand of staunchly libertarian point of view. When you are an outspoken libertarian standing outside the death match going on between Republicans and Democrats, the world is your oyster if you are in the position that Maher finds himself in with his following and his television show. Every week on HBO's Real Time you can expect to hear wildly varying viewpoints from a panel of celebrities, authors and politicians. It's good stuff when a member of the Wu-Tang Clan is sitting next to a senator from the Midwest duking it over health care reform or legalization of marijuana.
We talked to Maher about Houston, our vast world of strip clubs and pioneering ecstasy habits, our new mayor Annise Parker and the coming Tea Bagger Apocalypse of 2010 that is sure to put a dent in Obama Nation.
Hair Balls: What does the rest of the world think about Houston's new mayor, Annise Parker?
Bill Maher: It's about time we had a gay mayor in Houston! I think it's great and wonderful that the country is becoming more diverse. I think Houston has always been one of the more liberal places in Texas, certainly. I always had a great time in Houston. I mean I don't party the way I used to, which is a shame. Didn't Houston not only give the country strip clubs but also the idea of the high-end strip club, like Rick's? That and ecstasy came out of Houston. Houston has done a lot of the heavy lifting in keeping American hard and happy.
HB: For this tour, what are you rapping about? There has to be an almost magical trough of material this past year for comedians.
Maher: I have had so much fun this past year. It's funny because when Bush left office the media was "Oh my God! Can comedy continue?" Yes, I think it can. In fact it's more fun than ever now. After eight years we got tired of having President Larry The Cable Guy, but now there is so much else to talk about. There's the economy, stopping terrorism in America, the airline attacks, Michael Jackson, the drug war, and trying to get out of Afghanistan. Why are we there? Why is President Peace Prize still in that one?
HB: What do you think about Twitter? Is it enlivening the national dialog or just dumbing it down?
Maher: I don't think Twitter is bad, as long as people understand that it is just a taste of something. I hope they don't think 140 characters can educate someone on a subject. Like when we were in school, you were supposed to read the book and the Cliff's Notes. Not just the Cliff's Notes. As far as a method of whetting people's appetitive for a subject, that's how I use it. Most people use it to talk about the inane trivialities of their life. I will never be the guy who says "Well, I just ate a banana and took a dump." I mean, who gives a fuck. I do like it as a sort of little thing to get stuff off my chest. Like the other night I did one about Haiti. If I hear one more person talk about how great God is. It amazes me at what an easy job God has. When something goes right he gets all the credit and when something goes wrong he gets all the blame. It's his mysterious ways!
HB: How do you see this new right-wing conservative movement, the Glenn Beck folks, panning out for Barack Obama for the next three and a half years or so?
Maher: The smart money is on these tea baggers becoming the future of the movement. This is the future of the party. The tea baggers are really taking over the Republican Party. I don't think it's a movement that has legs in the long run, but I think for a couple of election cycles they have a lot of energy. It's just that demographically they are on the wrong side of the war here. It's a movement of older white people who can't articulate why they feel like they are losing their country. Call me crazy, but I think it has something to do with a black president. What freedoms has he taken away? You're losing your country? I mean to what? Houston having a gay mayor and the Supreme Court having Puerto Rican woman, those are things that never happened when they were growing up. The key to the tea baggers is this nostalgia for the 1950's America. That was a great time for being a white man. It wasn't such a great time if you were black, Hispanic, gay, disabled or a woman. So it's a little insulting to those people to be nostalgic for that era.
HB: What do you think about the next four years with President Obama and the Democratic Party? Even the elections this fall look hairy. Do you think that the Dems will take a hit?
Maher: I think they will and they will do terribly. They have not fulfilled the promises to their people. All those extra votes who came out for Obama, believe me they will be sitting on the couch. It's all about exciting your base. The Republicans always understood that. They have almost always been the minority party, but they win a lot of elections because they understood to be loyal to who got you there. Cater to the people who really like you and believe in what you are doing. That's the mistake the Democrats always fuck up on.
The mid-term elections are traditionally the early bird specials of elections. They cater to older white people and that's who votes in mid-term elections and that's who hates Obama the most. He's going to get his ass handed to him in 2010. This was the time. They missed a giant golden opportunity in my view to effect change in this country. They should have done it before the Republicans knew what hit them. They could have used that energy from November 2008 and right when they got into office they could have passed health care in the first month.