On his Mullings blog Sunday, Rich Galen recalled being on CNN’s Situation Room to discuss the difference between Rush Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke comments and Bill Maher on Sarah Palin, and Begala “said that the difference was the law school student was defenseless. Sarah Palin is a major political figure and can defend herself.”
Galen confessed “I wasn't quick enough on my feet to ask Paul, ‘So, you're saying if Limbaugh had called Rep. Nancy Pelosi a slut and a prostitute you would have shrugged it off as a fair fight?’ But, I didn't, so a potential moment of great TV theater was lost.”
Galen, like many Republicans on CNN, instead tried to see both sides in the studio:
What I did say was that both Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh make their healthy livings by continually pushing the verbal envelope. Maher is, at base, a stand-up comedian. Dropping the "F-bomb" on his HBO program happens every couple of minutes (at least it did the night I was on).
I wasn't offended, I'm a big boy. It's cable, so the FCC has nothing to say about it. But the audience giggled and chortled at every occurrence because it still sounded naughty, if not forbidden fruit (not the "F-bomb" I'm talking about), on a TV show.
Here’s the actual exchange from last Monday’s Wolf Blitzer show, after Blitzer asked if there was a double standard:
BEGALA: I love Bill Maher and I'm a big fan, but that word is offensive. It's inappropriate in any setting. But it's instructive that that didn't blow up in Bill's face and this did blow up in Rush's.
The big difference is this. A three-second joke about a very, very powerful figure, Sarah Palin, one of the most powerful people in America versus a three-day rant against a very vulnerable young woman, a law student.
I mean, that Bill is poking fun with offensive language, but poking fun at powerful people. That's what he does. Rush is a bully. He's attacking bitterly an innocent woman who's not a powerful person and has no real capacity to respond. Rush is a bully and Bill is a comedian. That's why this thing didn't blow up in Bill's face and it has blown up in Rush's face.
GALEN: I think what they both do there, Paul, is they both used words to push the envelope as far as they possibly can. I've done Bill Maher's show, it was a great experience, but boy, it's not something you want to go home and tell your mom...That's what they do. They use words as weapons and they both use them to their own benefit and they're both very good at it, by the way.
BEGALA: I do have to say, my mom, a faithful parishioner at the Catholic Church, loves Bill Maher. They don't agree on everything, but she loves Bill and she loves his show.
Paul Begala's "faithful parishioner" mom apparently never watches when Bill Maher calls the Catholic Church a "child-abusing religious cult" with a pope that "used to be a Nazi." Catholics go to church every Sunday to fund the "Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia." Did she also love every minute of Maher's atheist "Religulous" documentary?