Maher and Real Time in Need of a Reality Check

The host of HBO's Real Time, Bill Maher, needs a reality check. And not just because he keeps bringing back P.J. O'Rourke, who last night touted his seminal book on the cars that he loves, and then acknowledged that the one thing that Obama is doing right is opening up relations with Cuba so that O'Rourke could obtain his beloved Havana cigars. Of course, this and all of O'Rourke's other self-referential witticisms were supposed to be in good humor. But the constant invitations to the jabbering of O'Rourke are not the reason that Maher needs a consultation.

As the curtain came down on last night's segment, the irreligious preacher took to the pulpit and railed that Obama has done nothing since coming to office. Nothing but trying to save us from a depression with a gazillion dollar stimulus package, nothing but try to bail out the banking and automobile industry, nothing but stop the use of torture and try to close Guantanamo, nothing but mend fences with nations to whom the US has for years been anathema, nothing but trying to get health care reform rolling.

The comedian who, his bongs aside, has little sense of irony about himself, lectured that Obama should start acting more like Bush. To listen to Maher, the president should stop fretting about his popularity, and just jam through his promised environmental and health reforms.

I know that Maher has long been looking for an angle of comic critique into this presidency, but the suggestion that Obama has been sitting on his hands or that he could single handedly drive change down the throat of a Congress that would not even fund the closing of Gitmo is a laugh -- though not of the sort that Maher is groping for.