Bill Maher Strikes Back at George Will Armed With Falsehoods and Bill Clinton

After making a fool out of himself going up against George Will on last Sunday's "This Week," Bill Maher dug an even deeper hole five days later trying to strike back at the well-known columnist with a peculiar blend of falsehoods and Bill Clinton.

As NewsBusters previously reported, Maher was humiliated on national television last week when he errantly claimed Brazil was "off oil" only to be corrected by ABC's token conservative.

On Friday's "Real Time," the HBO host countered first by citing an ad that former President Bill Clinton did back in 2006 in favor of a California ballot initiative that would have implemented a tax on that state's oil producers.

Next, Maher absurdly claimed that "part of the reason" America isn't off oil yet is "because of global warming deniers like George Will" (video follows with transcript and oodles of commentary):

BILL MAHER: I want to say one more thing about the oil spill. I was on, I was in D.C. this weekend, and I did "This Week." I did not realize that there are shows like this on in the morning. And Sunday, they were very nice to me. George Will obviously had it out for me and doesn't like me. That's okay. That's not mutual. I've been a fan of George Will, reading, I'm just a sucker for good writing. He knows how to write, he's an excellent prose stylist...Sometimes a guy can be full of shit, but he writes well. And, you know, he got me on something technical. I said Brazil got off the oil and we could too. We were talking about the oil spill. And yes, Brazil did not exactly get off the oil, but after the '70s, the spirit of what I said was correct. After the '70s oil crisis, they tried a lot harder than we do, and like half their cars now run on, on synth-fuel, ethanol.

Okay, what I was remembering was there was an ad out here in 2006 for Prop 87, which was for us to get off oil, and Bill Clinton did the ad. And Bill Clinton said in the ad, "Imagine if we can stop being dependent on foreign oil. Brazil did it. If Brazil can do it, so can California." Now, I'm sure the conservatives are saying, "Well, yeah, there's one mushy-headed liberal listening to another mushy-headed liberal and getting your facts wrong."

The "spirit" of what he said was correct?

Hardly. As NewsBusters pointed out last Sunday:

Brazil is the eighth largest consumer of oil in the world burning 2.372 million barrels a day. That places them ahead of Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Mexico, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Spain.

Furthermore, according to the CIA, Brazil is the thirteenth largest producer of oil in the world putting them ahead of Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Nigeria, Angola, Libya, and Great Britain.

As such, regardless of "spirit," Maher was dead wrong.

As for bringing Clinton in as part of his defense, let's look at what the former President said:

BILL CLINTON: Imagine if we can stop being dependent on foreign oil. Brazil did it 

Take a close look at the word before "oil." As Maher noted, Clinton was referring to FOREIGN oil. What Maher said last Sunday had nothing to do with Brazil getting off FOREIGN oil. He said they were off OIL.

Adding insult to injury, Clinton was wrong in this commercial anyway, for according to the Energy Information Administration, Brazil was a net importer of oil in 2006 when the former President made this pathetic claim:

 

As Maher jokingly implied, this indeed WAS an instance of "one mushy-headed liberal listening to another mushy-headed liberal and getting [the] facts wrong." If I only got a dollar every time THAT happened.

On the other hand, at least Maher was right about something, for as he moved back to Will, he continued to jam his feet down his throat:

Well, okay, so we didn't get it exactly right. But, you know what, the bigger question is why haven't we actually gotten off the oil? And part of the reason is because of global warming deniers like George Will. And he knows better, he knows better. And he uses facts, or parts of facts, way more erroneous than I did. In one of his columns, he said, "According to the University of Illinois Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea levels now equal those of 1979." Well, there is no Arctic Climate Research Center at the University of Illinois, but there are climate scientists, and they said, "We don't know where Mr. Will is getting his information. Our data shows that in February '79, global sea ice was 16.79 million square kilometers, and in 2009 it was 15.45, a decrease in sea ice the area the size of Texas, California, Oklahoma combined."...These aren't views, these are misshapen facts.  

Let's begin with Maher's next misstatement:  "Well, there is no Arctic Climate Research Center at the University of Illinois."

Really? Well, in climate alarmist extraordinaire Joe Romm's rebuttal to Will's February 15, 2009, piece that Maher referred to, he called this group the "University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center."

On the very day Will's article was published, Romm cited the response to Will's claim by the Center which didn't challenge the name Will used either:

The group Will (mis-)cites - the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center - has become weary of having their data misreported by global warming deniers like Will. They just posted a reply on their website:

In an opinion piece by George Will published on February 15, 2009 in the Washington Post, George Will states "According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979."

We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km.

If there is no University of Illinois Arctic Climate Research Center, why did someone from the University respond to Will's piece saying "We," and why did Romm call them the same thing?

For the record, articles associated with this group go to the URL "http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/." The page header reads, "Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois." 

Clearly, this was another example of the "Real Time" host making a statement lacking any factual support. 

As for the rest of Maher's claim, Will addressed critics of his February 15 article with a follow-up on February 27:

Citing data from the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, as interpreted on Jan. 1 by Daily Tech, a technology and science news blog, the column said that since September "the increase in sea ice has been the fastest change, either up or down, since 1979, when satellite record-keeping began." According to the center, global sea ice levels at the end of 2008 were "near or slightly lower than" those of 1979. The center generally does not make its statistics available, but in a Jan. 12 statement the center confirmed that global sea ice levels were within a difference of less than 3 percent of the 1980 level.

So the column accurately reported what the center had reported. But on Feb. 15, the Sunday the column appeared, the center, then receiving many e-mail inquiries, issued a statement saying "we do not know where George Will is getting his information." The answer was: From the center, via Daily Tech. Consult the center's Web site where, on Jan. 12, the center posted the confirmation of the data that this column subsequently reported accurately. 

This is the Daily Tech piece Will referenced:

Thanks to a rapid rebound in recent months, global sea ice levels now equal those seen 29 years ago, when the year 1979 also drew to a close.

Ice levels had been tracking lower throughout much of 2008, but rapidly recovered in the last quarter. In fact, the rate of increase from September onward is the fastest rate of change on record, either upwards or downwards.

The data is being reported by the University of Illinois's Arctic Climate Research Center, and is derived from satellite observations of the Northern and Southern hemisphere polar regions.

 

 Here's what the Center wrote on January 12, 2009, in response to Daily Tech:

On January 1, 2009, an article by Michael Asher entitled "Sea Ice Ends Year at Same Level as 1979" appeared on the Daily Tech website. We have received many requests for confirmation and clarification on this article from media outlets and interested individuals regarding the current state of the cryosphere as it relates to climate change and/or global warming.

One important detail about the article in the Daily Tech is that the author is comparing the GLOBAL sea ice area from December 31, 2008 to same variable for December 31, 1979. [...]

Observed global sea ice area, defined here as a sum of N. Hemisphere and S. Hemisphere sea ice areas, is near or slightly lower than those observed in late 1979, as noted in the Daily Tech article.  However, observed N. Hemisphere sea ice area is almost one million sq. km below values seen in late 1979 and S. Hemisphere sea ice area is about 0.5 million sq. km above that seen in late 1979, partly offsetting the N. Hemisphere reduction.

The dates here are important, for what Asher claimed on January 1, 2009 -- and what Will referred to about six weeks later -- was that global sea ice levels were the same on December 31, 2008, as they were on December 31, 1979.

Yet, what Maher read from the Center -- referred to in Romm's piece -- was a sea ice comparison of February 15, 2009 and February 15, 1979.

Readers are advised that sea ice conditions around the world fluctuate daily. To drive home this point, the website Global Warming Hoax compared such levels observed on January 31, 1980 and January 31, 2009 (one month after Daily Tech's comparison dates respectively):

1980 Southern Hemisphere = 4.7 million sq km

1980 Northern Hemisphere = 15.0 million sq km

Total = 19.7 million sq km

2009 Southern Hemisphere = 5.8 million sq km

2009 Northern Hemisphere = 14.1 million sq km

Total = 19.9 million sq km

January in the year 2009 showed 200,000 sq km more sea ice than 1980.

Taking this a step further, recent data show sea ice levels in the Arctic returning to historical norms since satellites first began such measurements in 1979.

Add it all up, and ice levels represent another part of the great debate between climate alarmists and realists, one that Maher was foolish to delve into on Friday, especially in an attempt to strike back at Will for calling him out on "This Week" five days earlier.

But Maher was on his home turf now, and knew he'd be safely unchallenged, even though guest David Frum did fight the host on some general points regarding climate change dogma.

Yet, the real problem with Maher is his absurdly extreme conclusions like blaming what he disgusting refers to as "global warming deniers" for America still being dependent on oil.

America has been talking about foreign oil independence since the first energy crisis in 1973. To claim the global warming debate, which has really only heated up (pardon the pun) in recent years as a result of Hurricane Katrina and Al Gore's schlockumentary "An Inconvenient Truth," has at all hindered this goal is preposterous.

Were "global warming deniers" responsible for the Senate unanimously voting in favor of an amendment in 1997 instructing former President Clinton to not sign the infamous Kyoto Protocol?

Did "global warming deniers" force Gore when he was vice president to say in 1997, "We will not submit [the Kyoto Treaty] for ratification until there`s meaningful participation by key developing nations?"

Certainly not. But Maher on Friday, in his zeal to do something to save face after his humiliation on "This Week," chose to point such a finger of blame without any factual support.  

Which leads to a final point: as much as Maher hates religion, his opinions regarding global warming, along with his blind faith in the views espoused by those that preach its scripture, are amazingly similar to that which he outspokenly despises.

Talk about your inconvenient truths! 

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.