Friday marked Bill Maher's last show of the season, and while the BP oil spill has been a subject on "Real Time" from week to week, this time Maher defined it as the subject.
"I have been holding my nose about this oil issue. Every week, I do not want to talk about it and we do. But you know, this is the last show of the season, my last time to vent, so I kind of had a change of heart this week, and this whole show might just be about how much oil sucks," he said at the opening of the show's panel segment. "And I feel oily. Now that those pictures come in of the wildlife, I feel dir-- I feel their shit on me. I feel like someone from Greenpeace should scrub me down every night."
Rachel Maddow, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) joined Maher on the panel, and when he asked what would have to happen for the gulf catastrophe to have some meaning, all three turned to the obvious answer -- a major step forward on a comprehensive alternative-energy policy.
"We're trying to drill all of our oil, or a huge proportion of our oil, from the place where we get all our shrimp and oysters. And that's awkward, it turns out," Maddow quipped.
Maher let loose on a host of villains-of-the-week during the segment, laughing at Blanche Lincoln's claim that her vote was "not for sale" and calling the Houston oilman, lifelong game hunter and recent estate-tax dodger Dan Duncan a "world-class asshole." But the panel zeroed in on the Senate filibuster as the reason why President Obama, in Maher's words, "had to lie, basically."
"I saw this week that Lindsey Graham is pulled out of the global warming bill, and the whole reason Obama was coming out in favor of more drilling was as a sop to the conservatives. To try to get Lindsey Graham on his side, somebody like that, to get a couple of Republican vote, which would not be necessary if we did not have this filibuster nonsense, if you didn't need 60 votes to pass anything. That's why this president said something. That's why he had to lie, basically. And the lie was, drilling has never been safer. And we know for a fact, actually, drilling has never been more dangerous. Not just this spill, but before this spill."
Frist employed several less-than-coherent defenses of Senate procedure and minority rights (most notably: "In the Senate, you can do anything that can't be done"), but Maddow laid the blame at his party's door for paralyzing Congress by procedural means. "And Republicans should have to answer for that," she said, "because it's a really stupid way to run the country."
Later on, Maher targeted the political canard of "running a state like a business," which he and Maddow pointed out can be foolish given the cross-purposes of government and private enterprise. And Arizona won the final showdown in Maher's "Stupidest State" contest, edging out Texas to receive a trophy of a man with his head up his ass. Maher claimed he'd send the trophy to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.