Maher Show: Tea Partiers Fall for 'Brilliant Magic Trick' of Associating Corporations with Capitalism

Bill Maher invited comedian Patton Oswalt to his table on HBO's Real Time on Friday night and saluted his small film from 2009, "Big Fan," in which he plays a superfan of the New York Giants, even after a Giants linebacker beats him up severely. Maher turned this analogy to politics and leftist Thomas Frank's book "What's the Matter with Kansas?" which argued that poorer Americans are duped into voting for conservatives against their own economic interests.

"He will not go against the people who are hurting him, and it just seems so typical of the Joe the Plumbers of the world," Maher said. Oswalt replied, "It just seems to me that a lot of the people who are in the Tea Party movement and those other groups, there's been this brilliant magic trick where people are confusing capitalism with corporations, and those could not be more opposite, but they're made to root for these giant corporations as if they're rooting for free enterprise."

"My point," Maher insisted.

This is a little like arguing that those benighted liberals are people who confuse socialism with giant governments, when they're actually opposites. Clearly, large corporations are not synonymous with free enterprise. They often lobby for regulations that will strangle their competitors, or advocate socialist policies that will lighten their labor costs (like Chrysler or NBC parent General Electric favoring the Clinton health plan). But that's not to argue "they could not be more opposite."

In his opening monologue, Maher also attacked the BP oil spill and compared it to the Catholic Church: "And to nobody's surprise, we found out this week that BP has been lying -- who'd have thought, a corporation, an oil company, lying, what's the world coming to? They've been lying about the amount of oil that BP has spilled so far into the Gulf.So far they have spewed, get this, six million gallons of goo -- just beating the record set by the Catholic Church."

Maher's strangest anti-religion line of the night came in his show-closing rant against conservatives thinking "adults" need to be running the government. He said conservatives had bizarre beliefs like tax cuts close the deficit. At one point, he ranted "And I'm not even mentioning the stuff about how Jesus rode around a pterodactyl and just hated it when homos ate wedding cake."

In comparing Rand Paul's discussion of property owners having the liberty to use their property (like owners of public accommodations) to discriminate against blacks, Maher repeated the 1987 claims in a campaign-style mudslinging commercial of the liberal interest group People for the American Way against Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court.

"He was for literacy tests. He was for a poll tax," Maher claimed. He reread the nastiest bite of Ted Kennedy's infamous "Robert Bork's America" speech. He questioned John Fund, "If we look back, would you say Robert Bork was a racist who wouldn't have been on the Court?" Fund denied he was a racist.

In his book The Tempting of America, Bork protested the People for the American Way ads, narrated by actor Gregory Peck. While Sen. Joe Biden touted how widely the PFAW ad had run, Bork wrote, "Peck, in a deep, sonorous voice, informed Americans that I 'defended poll taxes and literacy tests, which kept many Americans from voting.' The implication was as clear as it was false: I favored keeping blacks away from the polls."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis