“Why is this guy picking a fight with Mickey Mouse?” Bill Maher asked Ron DeSantis tonight of the poll lagging Florida Governor’s ongoing jurisdictional and legal battles with the Walt Disney Company over the last year.
“Well, first of all, they picked a fight with us,” a literally suited and cowboy booted DeSantis defensively replied in Real Time with Bill Maher’s debut return from the now concluded writers’ strike. “This idea of ideology corrupting institutions, I see it in Los Angeles with the amount of crime that’s here and the homelessness,” the deflecting Sunshine State governor went on to say, bashing so-called “woke ideology,” and the Center for Disease Control.
Letting DeSantis off the Mouse House hook and the company’s claim of “retaliation” over eventually opposing Florida’s “don’t say gay” parental rights law, a clearly flattered Maher told his guest “we are on the same page,” He then went on to slam the New York Times and more in what became a bromance over the pandemic with a jab or two at DeSantis over voting rights and abortion restriction in Florida.
Recoded earlier today in LA, the softball sit-down had been preceded by Maher essentially ignoring another elephant in the room (not Donald Trump)
“We’ve been off long enough, let’s do a f*cking show,” Maher said to a standing ovation from the studio audience today at the top of Real Time’s return now the Writers Guild’s nearly five month-long strike against the studios and streamers is over.
“Been a long time, let’s not ever be apart this long,” the comic added before making a San Francisco crime joke on the back of Dianne Fienstein’s death at the age of 90 Friday. More barbs about Joe Biden’s age, the looming government shutdown, Senate dress-codes, gold bar hoarding and indicted New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendrz, foreplay in a Colorado theater by Rep. Lauren Boebert, and of course the “shit show” of the most recent GOP debate.
Maher said nothing in his monologue directly about the WGA strike.
Much later in the show, just before the panel discussion started, Maher did note: “I want to thank everybody who made this possible, to be back. You know, I’m talking about my brilliant staff, writers and non-writers, who scrambled the jets so we could be on in two days. And the union folks who expedited the paperwork so we could get back so quickly, so thank you.”
Union antagonist DeSantis on the other hand, almost as soon as he sat down at the top of the show, referred to the time Real Time was off HBO due to the strike as a “hiatus.” The governor then quickly put in a self-described “plug” for Florida’s lax of state income taxes and vaccine mandates
In the Golden State for this week’s Trumpless GOP debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley and a speech to a less than packed California Republican Party convention in Anaheim, DeSantis was touted by Maher as recently as this spring as the only real threat to the former Celebrity Apprentice host becoming his party’s standard bearer again.
Things are sure different now
“You are trying to thread this needle that will never happen,” Maher informed a constantly laughing DeSantis of the likelihood at this point he will be able to beat trump for the GOP nomination. “Let’s face it Ron, if the campaign was going well, you wouldn’t be on this show,” he added in a rare moment of a reality check on Real Time tonight
Months before the first primary, Trump is the faraway favorite of GOP vote with a 62% approval to the stumbling and awkward DeSantis’ 10%, according to a recent New York Post poll. Looking for any cable foothold he can get as his numbers and appeal crater, DeSantis is also et to go -head-to-head with California Gov. Gavin Newsom on November 30 in the purple state of Georgia on Fox News. Golden State Golden Boy Newsom punked the GOP on September 27, showing up in the spin room of their debate and all over cable as a surrogate for Joe Biden.
“You know he is taller and better looking,” Maher quipped to a guffawing DeSantis of Newsom at the end of their basically aimless interview tonight.
Tonight is actually the 14th episode of Real Time with Bill Maher’s 21st season. Having debuted on January 20, this season was suspended between May 2 and today because of the Writers Guild strike – which finally saw a deal made on September 24 just as the sun was going down
After a heavy handed and short-lived attempt on September 22 by WGA member Maher to bring Real Time back “sans writers,” the host took to social media on September 27 to bellow “My writers and Real Time are back! “The post came literally right after the Writers Guild of America declared their nearly 150-day strike against the studios and streamers to be over with a tentative deal – a strike that contrarian Maher had been very critical of.
Real Time is the first of the late-night shows to return now the scribes are getting set to conduct a ratification vote on the deal with the AMPTP. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers, and CBS’ The Late Show With Stephen Colbert are all back on October 2. That other HBO late-nighter, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver debuts its new season on Sunday, October 1.
With SAG-AFTRA still out on strike and preparing to sit down with the studios on October 2, there will be almost no big-name actors appearing on the late-night shows promoting their latest big screen or small screen project.
Following that opening monologue that really reminded every one of the importance of writers, Maher had ‘Making Sense” podcast host Sam Harris, and Mary Katharine Ham, author of End of Discussion: How The Left’s Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters and Makes America Less Free (and Fun), on with him. Rolling out a familiar trope, Maher went on again about his dislike of the hugely successful Barbie movie and its feminist POV.
Real Time with Bill Maher, which has been renewed through 2024 by the Warner Bros. Discovery-owned network, is exec produced by Maher, Sheila Griffiths, Marc Gurvitz, Dean Johnsen, and Billy Martin. Chris Kelly is co-EP, Matt Wood is producer and Paul Casey is director.