It's not hard to tell where the host of Real Time With Bill Maher stands on the issue of “animal rights.” As with most topics, the comedian hasn't held anything back since before 2003, when he received the Celebrity Animal Advocate of the Year Award at the Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles.
During the past week, however, the HBO host set his sights on two interesting targets: the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA -- which he said is a “wonderful cause” -- and actor Liam Neeson, who “should just shut up” about his support for the horse carriage business in New York City.
Maher was enthusiastic in his praise of PETA during the “Stand-Up for Animals” show at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles on Sunday night. The online program referred to him as a “comedy legend.”
During his monologue, the animal rights advocate asked his audience: “Is hunting really a sport when you have all the equipment, and your opponent doesn't know a game is going on?”
In connection with the event, the organization released a video interview with Maher, who stated:
Before PETA came along, there was nothing. We have a lot of catching up to do.
I cannot even begin to think where this issue with animals would be without this organization. It would be nowhere.
Maher's effusive praise for PETA was matched by his harsh criticism of actor Liam Neeson, who is best known for his roles as the heroic Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List; Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; and the villainous Ra's al Ghul in Batman Begins.
Nevertheless, the comedian declared:
My life-long Liam Neeson fandom has ended. I can’t stand to look at him, and maybe if I was on a plane, I'd watch one of his movies.
Why a guy would go out of his way to champion animal abuse, I have no idea.
“Maybe you can feel” support for the treatment of horses in that business, “but just shut up,” Maher declared. “I just don’t get making that your cause.”
“That was the first casualty for me,” Maher admitted, “but I've been aware of this for a long time.”
The comedian then remarked: “I used to stay in Central Park, and I would smell the horse s**t and be constantly aware of this abuse going on, and it bothered me, and I had to move” to a hotel “someplace where I wasn’t thinking about it all the time.”
Maher declared that his objection to that business is “obvious. If anyone has ever seen a horse run wild, even in movies or whatever, you know that’s the furthest from the way these animals should be.”
“I mean, they have a wonderful spirit, and to get them to do that job, you have to completely break it,” he concluded.
As NewsBusters has previously reported, this is far from the first time Maher has spewed obnoxious or offensive comments in his HBO program and on the Twitter social media website.
During an appearance on MSNBC's All in With Chris Hayes in late April, Maher declared that conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is worse than Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team who is under fire for making racist remarks.
Maher also confronted Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, but the host was unable to use his “aggressive atheism” to diminish such concepts as traditional marriage and religious faith as put forth by his conservative guest.
Back in April, the liberal host said he was “shocked” to learn that when more criminals are sent to prison, crime plummets.
Of course, the liberal comedian has his supporters, one of whom is Harry Smith of NBC News. His softball interview of Maher aired on Meet the Press with no mention of any slurs or tasteless comedy the Real Time With Bill Maher host is known for.
And if there's no one else to sing his praises, Maher has no problem tooting his own horn. During an interview with a local publication in Jacksonville, Fla., the host called himself an “artist” and compared himself to “a band that puts out a record ahead of its time.”
In a show of blatant partisanship, Maher told his guest, MSNBC's Krystal Ball, on June 13: “Let's be honest. The only way the Republicans win is they cheat.”
Nevertheless, the executives at the HBO pay cable channel renewed Real Time a few months ago for a 13th consecutive season -- regardless of what disgusting and irrational things Maher says about people, especially conservatives and Republicans.
So it all comes down to this: Is Maher as serious about preserving animals as he claims? If so, how long has he been a vegetarian? The answers to these questions would be interesting, to say the least.