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Bill Maher mocks 2012 GOP presidential field on CNN

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Asking Bill Maher his opinion on something is like asking a child his or her opinion: what you get is an unvarnished two cents. So when Anderson Cooper interviewed Maher Tuesday night on his CNN show, seeking his reaction to the Republican debate, he knew he just had to light the fuse, and the ensuing verbal fireworks would take care of themselves.

Maher asserted that Republicanism has become a kind of religion in that right-wingers have "a series of baseless assertions that they cleave to," like the idea that tax reduction will "magically increase revenue," or that keeping the profit motive in the health-care system will fix everything.

Maher unsurprisingly said if he had to choose, he would vote for Ron Paul (who always strikes me as the end result of some kind of weird Timothy Leary-Sir Ian McKellen cloning experiment), a non-panderer who wants to get our troops home ASAP, and, according to Maher, cut from a different cloth than the other candidates, who are "selling their souls to corporate interests," and have "horrible, society-killing ideas about America."

Maher, I think, made a good point about the possible sexism that hovers around Michele Bachmann, manifested by people taking Bachmann's ability to speak in short, complete sentences as a kind of victory. (What she really should be applauded for is taking on the burden of 874 foster kids.) Maher used the inevitable comparisons of Bachmann to Sarah Palin as an excuse to do some of his characteristic ridiculing of the mama grizzly, calling her an "airhead," "ditzy housewife," and "stewardess," which last insult I don't think flight attendants will take too kindly to.

The Real Time host seemed to think that Mitt Romney was the big winner. But he skewered Newt Gingrich as the greedy nutjob "professor" of the party, arguing that just because Gingrich's ideas are "out-of-the-box" doesn't mean they're automatically "smart, clever, or workable." (And here I was thinking that Gingrich's half-million-dollar revolving line of credit at Tiffany's was a brilliant masterstroke in convincing America that he's serious about this debt crisis.)