Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Bill Maher, Billy Bush
Screenshot: Real Time With Bill Maher

With most late-night talk shows traditionally taking Fridays off, viewers are often left to contemplate getting their daily dose of Trump takes from HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, hoping that the professionally “provocative” Maher host won’t use a racial slur, belittle the #MeToo movement or an entire religion, or find smirky solidarity with a self-promoting white supremacist. On Friday’s show, Maher presented his signature stew of self-impressed Trump jokes, interviews with interesting political figures (like Texas Senate candidate Beto “the anti-Ted Cruz” O’Rourke), and pugnacious panel discussion. This week, he also invited former Access Hollywood accomplice, political/showbiz fraternity legacy, and man desperately hoping for a comeback from well-documented ignominy, Billy Bush. And, despite Maher’s attempts to brush off that whole “delivering your female colleague up to a powerful predator who just bragged about grabbing women against their will” thing to panel member, standup, and talk radio host Pete Dominick, he ran into resistance in the person of Dominick’s SiriusXM colleague and former White House adviser Nayyera Haq.

After having Kathy Griffin on his last show, Maher called Bush’s invite the second part of his “rehabilitation for people who should not have been made to go away.” You know, despite the fact that Griffin was drummed out of employment for criticizing Donald Trump (albeit grossly), and Bush was caught on tape infamously chuckling along with Donald Trump’s even more-infamous admission of being a pussy-grabbing sex creep. Still, Maher pitched softballs to the grinning Bush about the “irony” of Trump being elected president while fellow millionaire Bush has had to spend time, as he said, taking his daughters on trips around the world. Maher also bemoaned the fact that “bad things happen to good people,” a statement of debatable relevance, before Haq interrupted the pair’s bro-out to take Bush to task. After Trump bragged to Bush on an Access Hollywood bus about planning to kiss actress Arianne Zucker, who they were traveling to meet (even asking Bush for a Tic Tac, which Bush proudly claims he didn’t provide), Haq called Bush out for leaving the actress in the position of “coming in afterwards and not knowing everything said in the room before her.”


After Haq and Dominick continued to berate the uncomfortable Bush (Dominick stating that “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”), Maher rushed to Bush’s defense. (“Locker room talk.”) Haq, however, quoted Maya Angelou in pressing Bush to take the responsibility his continued self-pitying rationalizations appeared to belie, telling him that, should he want his ongoing attempts at career rehabilitation to gain any traction, he should follow Angelou’s advice, “When you knew better, you did better.” She also countered Maher’s complaint that our so-sensitive-all-of-a-sudden society’s desire is to make men accused of shitty behavior “go away forever.” Noting that that’s something women who have been on the receiving end of such shitty behavior have been expected to do all this time, Haq told Bush and Maher, “I’m so glad you’re worried about going away. Welcome to the party.”

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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