In the pantheon of funny folks that dominate political comedy on TV, there’s no comic in my mind better than Bill Maher. Sure, Jon Stewart’s passive-aggressive, self-knowing routine is a riot and Stephen Colbert’s dry, irony-drenched mockcast reached a kind of watershed moment at this year’s White House Press Correspondents Dinner, but there’s no comic more real, more cutting and more square-on-the-target hilarious than Maher.

Why do I like Bill Maher? Here’s a sample of his writing on today:

If you think the worst thing Congress doesn’t protect young people from is Mark Foley, wake up and smell the burning planet. The ice caps are cracking, the coral reefs are bleaching, and we’re losing two species an hour. The birds have bird flu, the cows have mad cow, and our poisoned groundwater has turned spinach into a side dish of mass destruction. Our schools are shooting galleries, our beaches are cancer wards, and under George W. Bush — for the first time in 45 years — our country’s infant mortality rate actually went up.

Amen to that, Bill. This motormouth satirist-cum-libertarian activist tells things as it with a kind of gleeful, righteous anger that those among us who wonder how much worse it can get in the United States of America before the other shoe drops long for his words of wisdom. He’s not for everyone by any means, nor does he let anyone or anything go without a parting shot or two, regardless of your ideological position. But you can’t ignore him. Nor should you.

I used to watch his Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher show on ABC before the network unceremoniously dumped him. You see, Bill dared to question the nature of the 9/11 attacks with a line of thought that curiously deviated from the prescribed norm of “outrage” and “mourning.” He called the U.S. response to the attacks as cowardly, which, looking back on it, probably wasn’t too far from the truth. Today, the attacks were not only cowardly, but grossly ineffective – the Taliban have re-grouped and are now resurgent in Afghanistan, killing NATO (and Canadian) soldiers on a regular basis. The insanity of Iraq? Yup, he was pretty much right on with that one too. The grotesque presidency of George W. Bush, a man who seems destined to be the first U.S. President since Richard Nixon to have earned a place in history as beyond redemption or the bounds of forgiveness? Bill nailed that one too, way before Iraq turned into a black hole or thousands of Americans were left homeless and desperate in New Orleans.

In short, Bill nails the truth of a situation before the average person is ready to digest it. He’s a nasty voice who’s ripe and ready for a culture in desperate need of a harsh, pointed response to the lousy start of this all-too-important century.

It’s just too bad he’s only on HBO.


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