Feathered Bastard

Bill Maher Punks Out, Gives Janet Napolitano a Free Ride on Real Time

by David Shankbone
Bill bowed down to Nappy on Real Time tonight...

Ya think Bill was worried about Janet putting him on the no-fly list?

I've long been a fan of Bill Maher, and, to be honest, I still am. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed with Maher's performance opposite Homeland Security honcho Janet Napolitano tonight. And I know I'm not alone.

Pro-immigrant activists, many of them also Maher fans, mounted a spirited campaign to get Maher to ask Napolitano about her connections to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and why she hasn't ripped Arpaio's 287(g) agreement from his wrinkled fists -- particularly in the face of Joe's continued racial profiling of Hispanics in Maricopa County.

Hell, Arpaio even has a three-day profiling sweep of Chandler going on now, using his federally-trained 287(g) deputies to pull over every brown-skinned person with a cracked windshield they can find -- all as an excuse to dress them down about their residency. Can't get more timely than that.

The National Day Labor Organizing Network urged people to hit up Maher on all the social networking sites, and to make calls to Maher's production office suggesting questions.

Today, about 50 NDLON activists and others appeared at the gates of the CBS Studios, where Real Time with Bill Maher is taped. They waved signs. They even had a band out there singing anti-Arpaio songs.

All to no avail. The production gal answering the phone told demonstrators that Maher would ask Nappy about 287(g) and Arpaio. But that was just part of the blow-off.

Maher rolled over for the Napster tonight. He threw her softballs. He kidded with her, albeit sarcastically, about airline regulations. He kvetched about taking off his shoes before boarding a plane. About not being able bring on vials of shampoo. And how he had to hide his pot in his deodorant. 

Oh, that Bill... 

Then he praised her for how hard she works. Golly, 24-7.

"I want you to know we appreciate it," Maher gushed.

He thanked her for coming on the show via satellite. Crikey, he nearly genuflected.

For her part, Janet was as rough and gruff as a construction worker. All she needed was a steel cap and a red scarf hanging out of her jeans. I think her voice was actually lower than tough-guy Maher's. If they'd arm-wrestled, I would've put my ducats on Janet.

Ironically, Maher spent most of the show talking about racial profiling, the racial profiling of Harvard don Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He even made a joke about Air Force One getting pulled over because of a broken tail light. Har-dee-har-harrr.

Thing is, here in Maricopa County, racial profiling is no joke. Here, Napolitano's partnership with Sheriff Joe in rounding up the brown tears mothers from their children, crushes families, sows terror through whole neighborhoods. The ugliness is, perhaps, incomprehensible to rich Hollywood types who live in bubbles filled with yes-men and women.

Still, I expected more from Maher. Which is why I'm disappointed.

Maybe the whole 287(g) thing is too complicated for Maher to understand on short notice. All the same, that's what he has a staff for. To research such topics, and report back. Also, the immigrant rights crowd was doing their best to tip him off on what's what.

And so Napolitano skates tough inquiry once again, given a free pass by the liberal elite (which includes Maher, BTW, despite his protests to the contrary). The activists deserve kudos for trying on short notice. They are correct to target Napolitano for protest, and they must continue doing so.

Nappy cannot avoid accountability indefinitely. One day, her name will be spoken of in polite circles with the same disdain as is Joe Arpaio's.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons