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The wild antics and unusual nature of the 2016 presidential campaign could be seen as good fortune to a comedian. And on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” Bill Maher covers the politics and policy with levity and wit.
Maher has never been shy about taking sides on political issues, and in 2016 he is publicly supporting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders but says he’d be “ready for Hillary” if she wins the Democratic nomination.
Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks with Maher about covering Washington, D.C. - and our political process - from the West Coast.
Interview Highlights: Bill Maher
On what sparked his interest in politics and political analysis
"My father was a radio newsman back in the days when radio stations had news on the hour, every hour, no matter what station it was, even WABC with Cousin Brucie counting down the top 20, which my ear was glued to from the ages of 11 to 14, even they had to interrupt the top 20 so at the top of the hour we could hear about some idiot talk about the news for five minutes. My father was that guy for another station, a number of other stations. News and talking about news was always in my house, but it was always what interested me. And so it was sort of natural when I got into comedy that that would be the subject I was drawn to."
On covering politics from California
"I do think we see the same media wherever we are, but California is by far the largest state and, in many ways, the state that is leading the nation in so many areas, because it's the only state that is completely run by liberals. We shouldn't have two senators, we should have 28. Rush Limbaugh does his show in his underwear from Florida, doesn't he? Would it really matter if Rush Limbaugh was in Florida, New York, California, or on the moon? He'd be the same idiot wherever he is."
"I do think we see the same media wherever we are, but California is by far the largest state and, in many ways, the state that is leading the nation in so many areas, because it's the only state that is completely run by liberals."Bill Maher
On Bernie Sanders' chance to win the Democratic nomination
"Slim. But it's the weirdest year ever in politics, so I don't blame him for staying in. She could have a health issue, and he would be left standing. Something that we don't foresee with the email situation. I've always said the email thing is a big nothing burger, but it matters to people. And the more you hear about it, it becomes a little less of a nothing burger... I don't think it's anywhere near disqualifying, but it did give me pause as a comedian to keep doing jokes about how much of a nothing it is."
On Donald Trump and political correctness
"What we do have in common is politically incorrect. I said that from the very beginning. This country has been choking on political correctness for over two decades, because after all, I had a show called 'Politically Incorrect' that started in 1993, so obviously it bugged me back then, and it was something that was bubbling up in America. And obviously I did a miserable job driving a stake through its heart because it's never gotten better, and only gotten worse, especially with the internet."
"As far as recognizing Donald Trump as someone from my childhood, yes. Because if you're an East Coast person, you knew this guy, the guy who's going to get you a deal. That is a salesman, and that's what he is. Maybe the election will have enough time for people to catch on to this. I think they should read his book or at least excerpts from it, 'The Art of the Deal.' He does a lot of that in the book, tells you how you can fool people and maybe, before the election, they will realize, 'Oh, that is what this con-man is doing to us.'"
"All these people all these years who say to me, 'Oh you're such a turncoat. You're not a real Libertarian.' Who would want to be with those morons? These people who were booing the fact that Gary Johnson said he supports the 1964 Civil Rights Act. So somewhere along the way the Libertarians were taken over by a bunch of kooks for the most part, and I don't want to be associated with that. There's a reason that party doesn't do well. We already have a party for all the kooks - it's called the Republican Party."
This segment aired on June 6, 2016.