Bill Maher facing bipartisan criticism over Ann Romney remarks

Published April 16, 2012

| FoxNews.com

Bill Maher is facing bipartisan criticism -- most recently from one of President Obama's former top advisers -- for controversial comments he made last week about Mitt Romney's wife. 

Maher, while a comedian, has endured a surge of political scrutiny since donating $1 million to the super PAC supporting President Obama. 

He got himself into trouble Friday when, on his HBO show "Real Time," he ratcheted up a comment made earlier in the week by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. Rosen had said Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life," and later apologized under pressure from top Democrats. 

Maher, though, took Rosen's comments a step further. 

"What she meant to say, I think, was that Ann Romney has never gotten her ass out of the house to work," Maher said. 

Republicans have used the incident to once again pressure the super PAC Priorities USA to return the Maher donation -- or at least condemn the comments. Supporters of both Obama and the presumptive GOP nominee have worked feverishly over the past several weeks to appeal to women, and portray the other side as inconsiderate toward those voters. 

Maher's remarks fed that fire.   

"Bill Maher's degrading comments on Ann Romney not easily dismissed -- he's a $1m donor to Priorities USA," Mitt Romney confidante Eric Fehrnstrom tweeted. 

But Obama's former domestic policy adviser also voiced concerns on Sunday. 

"You know, the language, the sentiment are problematic," Melody Barnes said on ABC's "This Week" when asked whether the president needs to distance himself from the comments. "And the campaign has -- and the president has said, look, the civility ... it matters. The way we talk to each other matters. And they're going to have to, as you said, make a decision." 

Priorities USA co-founder Bill Burton previously has dismissed concerns about Maher's comments -- particularly when his criticism of Sarah Palin came up amid the backlash last month over Rush Limbaugh's degrading comments about a college student who testified on contraception coverage. Maher said in an interview at the time that it's "crazy" to suggest any "equivalence" between comments by a comedian like Maher and comments by Limbaugh. 

A representative from Priorities USA has not returned a request for comment from FoxNews.com. 

Republicans directed their latest Maher complaints directly at Burton. 

Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer took to Twitter to ask him: "now that Maher is on the attack against women again, dont u finally think u have to give the million back?"

Maher on Friday elaborated a bit on his Ann Romney remarks. 

"No one is denying that being a mother is a tough job; I remember I was a handful," he said. "But you know there is a big difference between being a mother, and that tough job, and getting your ass out the door at 7 a.m. when it's cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, or even if you're unhappy you can't show it for eight hours." 

Maher complained on the show, and earlier in a New York Times column, that both sides of the aisle have been manufacturing political controversies. 

"If it weren't for throwing conniption fits, we wouldn't get any exercise at all," he wrote in the Times column in March. "I have a better idea. Let's have an amnesty -- from the left and the right -- on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, play-acted hurt, insult, slight and affront."

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