The Wall Street Journal's John Fund on Friday night had a number of interesting battles with Bill Maher as well as Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).
During the panel segment of HBO's "Real Time," Fund found himself needing to defend Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Clarence Thomas's wife from the at times totally illogical attacks by the perilously liberal host and Congressman (video follows with transcript and commentary):
BILL MAHER: As long as you brought that up about people not learning, there's been a lot of talk this week about maybe the anti-intellectual forces in this country, and I speak specifically about Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, have peaked. You know, they seemed to be going up for a while, and this seemed to be the week when Glenn Beck went off the rails. I mean, even Fox viewers I think were embarrassed at what he was saying. Sarah Palin seems to have jumped the shark. Do you think the fever has broken on crazy in this country?
REPRESENTATIVE ANTHONY WEINER, (D-N.Y.): Well, he has -- he has less than 300,000 viewers. So that's about 150 shoes in his audience. You know, I think that frankly what's happened is that
MAHER: Wait, I don’t
WEINER: I was going to go, I could have gone two ways: the number of teeth or the number of shoes. I wasn’t sure what kind of audience we had.
JOHN FUND, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I’m interested in more math education.
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST, DIRECTOR OF HAYDEN PLANETARIUM: Yeah, we need a, new math.
Readers are advised to recall the absurdity of Weiner's comments above as well as his abysmal math skills as they watch and/or read what ensued:
WEINER: You know, but there really is, I think there's a limited, there's a limited universe and a limited number of people who are just into crazy right now. There are too many important problems to solve.
MAHER: It has gone down, though, right? I feel like that fever has broken.
FUND: Glenn Beck’s audience is 2.5 million households a night, not 300,000. It has gone down. I think the best explanation is the election in November convinced a lot of people, oh, you know, Obama’s going to move, probably moving to the center. You find this deal extending all of the tax cuts. He brought in Bill Daley, Bill Clinton’s commerce secretary. There's less angst, there's less fear of Obama. Therefore the fever goes down.
Indeed. Beck's audience was 2,359,000 on Thursday. Where Weiner came up with 300,000 is anyone's guess, although those familiar with him know he makes stuff up whenever he feels the truth will get in the way of the point he's making.
I only wish someone would have asked him to explain what kind of math he learned in school whereby 300,000 people equates to 150 shoes. But I digress:
MAHER: Yeah. That’s partly true. Yeah, I don't say they’re right, but you're right. Let me ask about Clarence Thomas because this to me is outrageous. Clarence Thomas, last week his wife, she's some piece of work. She's the one who called up Anita Hill a few months ago at seven in the morning asking for an apology on her phone machine. Okay, turns out that she has worked for the Heritage Foundation a right-wing think tank for many years getting almost $700,000 in compensation. Clarence Thomas, there's a box right on the tax form that says, you know, outside income from your wife. He said he didn't know about it. Should he really be on the Supreme Court if he can't even check the box?
[Cheers and applause]
Okay, she wrote, she wrote an editorial…
TYSON: Don’t underestimate how much a man does not know about what his wife does.
MAHER: Very scientific, Doc.
TYSON: I’m just trying…
WEINER: Is it a news flash there’s a lots of stuff that Clarence Thomas doesn't know. That’s pretty clear.
This from a man that moments earlier underestimated Beck's audience by over 2 million viewers while demonstrating deplorable math skills. But I once again digress:
MAHER: No, but to me, to me this is, I mean this borders on corruption.
WEINER: Well he, I gotta tell you this, he should definitely recuse himself from any decision about the healthcare plan, because he’s clearly in the tank.
MAHER: His wife wrote an editorial called, I mean, she’s extremely political, called "ObamaCare Unconstitutional." And her husband is one of nine people who’s going to vote on it.
So if a judge's wife writes an opinion on a controversial issue coming before his court, he should recuse himself? Doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?
Fortunately, Fund was there to provide some sanity:
FUND: But Bill, since the 1960s and the feminist revolution, we judge people’s careers independently. Now, obviously…
MAHER: So if Elena Kagan got married and her husband was working for MoveOn.org, you'd be cool with that?
FUND: There is a, the leading senior judge in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals here in California, Stephen Reinhardt, his wife was the head of ACLU in Southern California for 30 years. He heard lots of cases about the ACLU in those 30 years.
WEINER: Hold on a second. But there's a reason they ask on the form, what is the income of your wife. And that is because they want to be steer clear of conflicts of interests. She is a walking conflict of interest. He should recuse himself from these cases plain and simple.
[Cheers and applause]
TYSON: Wait, wait, wait. Just to analyze this with full disclosure. Suppose he did say I know about the $700,000. What would you then have said in that sentence just there?
WEINER: I said he should recuse himself in this case because his wife is making enormous amount of money trying to defeat a healthcare plan. That money is not going into some kitty in their living room. It’s going into their household.
FUND: So should the judge whose wife works for the ACLU, which has cases before the court, also recuse himself?
WEINER: He does the questions, buddy. Let him do the questions.
FUND: Because you won't give me answers.
Exactly. Weiner would never answer that question because the hypocrisy would then be apparent for all to see. At least Maher was willing to:
MAHER: Yes, I’ll give you the answer, yes.
FUND: You won’t give me an answer.
MAHER: Yes, he should.
FUND: Yeah, okay. So then we're done.
MAHER: So, you think, so you’re good for this, too?
FUND: No, because I believe careers could be judged independently if there's a clear conflict of interest in a specific case.
MAHER: Wait a minute. She’s now heading a firm Liberty Consulting. It brags on its website it is “using her experience and connections to help clients with governmental affairs efforts.” She says she met with nearly half of the 99 Republican freshmen in Congress. She calls herself an ambassador to the Tea Party movement. So, okay, she's sleeping with 1/9 of one branch of government. She's sharing a coke can with a guy…
FUND: I don't remember these complaints when Hillary Clinton was in the White House as first lady.
MAHER: But Hillary Clinton…
FUND: She should have recused herself…
MAHER: Everybody assumes the President is sleeping with his wife, although it’s actually rare.
FUND: Hillary Clinton had a problem, because, at some times she would march into court and say, "I’m not a federal employee, therefore I don't have to give you records, and I don’t have to be transparent." And other times she would say, "I should be treated like a federal employee so I can hold my meetings secret." The point is I agreed with Hillary Clinton then. She should have had, she had her own independent life. She had her own independent policy decisions. She was running the healthcare task force. That was fine. Just like it was fine for Hillary Clinton, it’s fine for Ginni Thomas to have her Tea Party activities.
Exactly, but this matter isn't going to die here. As we move closer to the Supreme Court hearing the case concerning the constitutionality of ObamaCare, the Democrats and their media minions knowing full well it's going to be a 5-4 decision are going to push harder and harder to force Thomas into a recusal.
Fortunately for the future of this nation, I seems very unlikely Thomas will cave into the pressure.
Nicely done, John. Bravo!