Space may be the final frontier but, according to Bill Maher, it’s the last place the United States needs to be going right now. The realpolitik host of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher mocked, minimized, and maligned the Trump administration’s extraterrestrial ambitions on Friday night’s show while also taunting the “nerd” citizenry who clutch to the space program despite its exorbitant impracticality.
Maher said with national math scores these days he doubts America has the brain power to handle “the countdown” much less a new mission launch: “There’s lots of talk about space forces and manned-missions and going back to the Moon and onto Mars and…please, have you flown coach lately? We can barely put a man on the surface of LAX. I don’t know if Mars is full of methane but we’re full of shit. We’re not going anywhere.”
More Maher on misguided deep-space ambitions:
“Stop telling me every time you find evidence there might be life on Mars,” the host said in the closing sequence of the show during a space-dedicated editorial. “You want to find water on Mars – how about first we find water in Flint, Michigan?” (The reference, of course, was to the poisoned water scandal in the mid-Michigan city that sits 66 miles northwest of Detroit.)
“Here’s an idea: instead of going to Mars, how about we just stop treating Earth the way Led Zeppelin treated hotel rooms?”
“[My] position was deemed completely unacceptable by a number of experts who live in their mother’s basement who accuse me of being anti-science. I’m not anti-science I’m just a big fan of oxygen. It’s my second favorite thing to inhale.”
“We do know what’s up there. Nothing! Nothing! And even if comes to that…why not the Moon instead of going all the way to friggin’ Mars? Why travel tens of millions of miles when he have our own desolate, lifeless s—hole only 250,000 miles away? I have more frequent flyer miles on Delta.”
“It takes six months to get to Mars…missions can only happen during a two-week window every two years. If you get in trouble on Mars you’re on you’re own. It’s like living in Puerto Rico. But we can get to the Moon in three days. Amazing will be delivering there.”
Sitting next to Maher during his deep-space diatribe was the big guest of the night, Seth MacFarlane, the comedian, actor, producer, writer, singer and (ahem) impassioned champion of space exploration, science education and interstellar imagination. MacFarlane is best known for Family Guy but he’s also the executive producer and star of The Orville (the science fiction TV show about space exploration) and a key figure in the revival of Cosmos (the science fact TV show about space exploration).
I thought MacFarlane looked a bit pained as the whole space-bashing sequence unfolded but I can’t say for sure. The only comment MacFarlane tweeted after the show was answering a fan who asked why he had two cups on stage. “One bourbon, one water. I’m a walking chemistry set,” MacFarlane tweeted, subtly underscoring his support of the sciences, no doubt.
MacFarlane earlier in show dissected the many failings of the Democratic debate including its tenor, priorities, format, misguided theatricality, and, at the top of the list, its inclusion of a studio audience whose reactions to “gotcha” moments gobbled up valuable time and encouraged the abrasive behavior of the candidates.
Maher, meanwhile, said the debates did illuminate a major issue in the country:”I watched two nights of debates and I finally know America’s biggest problem. Overcrowding.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was among the 20 Dems who paraded on stage in two waves over two nights. She was the first guest of the night and she said the debate format was a vexing one for any substantive discussion or debate. Gabbard said the most trenchant factor for Democratic voters is to pick the candidate who will have the best chance of ousting Trump in the general election next year.
Gabbard, a military veteran, said that she and Trump likely share just one political viewpoint in common — they both have campaigned as non-interventionists who want to dial back U.S. military operations abroad. However, Gabbard told Maher, the president has loosened his resolve on that issue recently.
“If Trump really doesn’t want to go to war with Iran,” Gabbard said to a skeptical Maher, “he’s got to swallow his pride and get back into the Iran nuclear deal.”
The show was the last before a summer break. Real Time with Bill Maher returns with new episodes in August.
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