Maher (Still) Chasing Obama InterviewCandidate doesn't write, he doesn't call. Is HBO host a political outcast? 9/21/2008 08:00:00 PM Eastern
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Bill Maher, the acerbic host of HBO's Real Time, has welcomed guests from both sides of the political divide including Ann Coulter, Ralph Nader, Bill Kristol and Howard Dean.
But the major presidential candidates have mostly remained elusive including Sen. Barack Obama, who, says Maher, "promised me he would do it way back when."
"When I saw him on [Fox News] with Bill O'Reilly," he continues, "I e-mailed my producers and said, you know if he'll go on with Bill O'Reilly who treated him like such shit, what does it hurt to throw out [an invitation] one more time?"
But Maher still hasn't heard from Obama.
Maher surmises that his new movie Religulous, a satirical documentary about one of Maher's favorite targets: organized religion, has further spooked the Obama campaign. Probably Maher's comments following 9/11, when he said the hijackers weren't cowards, could be used against Obama, too.
"I think they're very afraid of me at the moment," he says. "I'm sure Obama doesn't need an attack ad saying, he went on Bill Maher's show and Bill Maher is a godless avatar of Satan. I think that may be part of the problem also."
Of course, John McCain and Sarah Palin aren't likely to stop by the Real Time studios anytime soon.
Maher has been withering in his assessment of McCain and took aim at Palin immediately after she was announced as McCain's running mate. He called her a "stewardess" in his opening monologue, a comment that earned him the "sexist" label from Republican surrogates.
"It's not sexist," he argues. "Because she's a woman, anytime you criticize her you're a sexist?"
For the record, Maher, who also blogs for The Huffington Post (Arianna Huffington is a frequent guest), would welcome Palin and McCain. He says, "We always go after everybody that's in the news."
But he's not holding his breath. Maher adds that both Bill and Hillary Clinton refused invitations to come on the show.
People running for high offices are generally cautious about whom they're seen with. And while Obama has appeared recently on David Letterman's CBS program, Maher's persona as a far left political satirist who rails against the Iraq war, George W. Bush and conservative ideology makes him somewhat radioactive.
The no-holds-barred format and obvious ideological leanings of the host and his audience can be alienating.
"The nature of our show, and why people like our show, is probably why we have trouble getting guests," Maher explains.
"But I would rather do a show with really smart people talking about the people in the news than have the people in the news come on and give me their bullshit and I can't question it."
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