The Right Shift

By Bill Maher

Good news: last month, for the first time in weeks, Congress passed a bill! And wait until you hear what you get: by a vote of 78 to 20, the Senate voted to extend the life of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. …People, please! Control yourselves!

Yes, the Import-Export Bank. It’s been around for 80 years. They re-upped it for another three. Now, what do you 80% of Americans who disapprove of the job Congress is doing have to say about that?? Hit the links, Speaker Boehner! You’ve earned it.

Now, if I were a Washington pundit, I’d launch into some boring speech about how both sides are equally to blame, and then I’d call it a day and we’d all meet at Katherine Graham’s house for cocktails. Which is weird because Katherine Graham is dead. But this is why you never see us booking George Will and Peggy Noonan on my show (besides the fact that they wouldn’t do it): Because the same old Washington pundits haven’t said anything interesting since disco. Also because the idea that the blame for our government’s dysfunction is equally shared by the parties just is a giant, steaming mound of horseshit and anyone who has paid attention to politics over the last 20 years knows it. Or as I like to call it, “The Rise of the Party of the Apes.”

In fact, recently Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, two old wonks who have been in Washington as long as the Potomac, wrote a book called “It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism” in which they basically say, flat out, what I say every week: it’s the Republicans who are crazy. And they wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post to go along with the book called, “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.”

They write: “We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.” And they’re not saying Democrats are blameless and perfect. We all know there’s only been one perfect man in human history. And that’s David Beckham.

But it reminded me of something Barney Frank recently said: “…people have said to me, well, why can't you work things out with the Republicans, and my answer to my friends has been: Exactly on what issues do you think Michele Bachmann and I can compromise?” Basically Barney is saying, look, how do you expect me to work on the 2+2=4 bill when their side believes math is a liberal plot to turn your kid queer?

Take Dick Lugar. Who was always a staunch conservative, just not the modern-day insane variety. He was just throttled in the Republican Senate primary in Indiana by a Tea Party guy named Richard Mourdock. And after Mourdock won he said this about working with the other side: “I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.” Which is sort of like saying to your girlfriend, “I think both our sexual needs will best be fulfilled by you blowing me.”

Or take Allen West. Seriously, take him to the padded cell and give him 20 CCs of the high test. Ornstein and Mann start off their Post op-ed by noting that recently Rep. Allen West said that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. And not one Republican said, “Allen, come on. You’re making us look dumb.” Not one of the Republican candidates for president said anything. Because in today’s Republican Party, that’s not even edgy anymore. They probably saw him later on and were like, “Word, Allen. Word.” Because that’s how they think black people talk.