LOS ANGELES – Sears and Federal Express have both yanked ads from ABC's Politically Incorrect after acid-tongued host Bill Maher characterized recent U.S. military actions as "cowardly."
Overnight carrier FedEx was first to jump ship from P.I late Tuesday and Sears announced a day later that it too would stop advertising on the popular, late-night political talk show.
"It comes down to our sensitivity at this time," said Lee Antonio, spokeswoman for Sears, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill. "We're sensitive to our customers and the issues we're all facing."
Angry viewers began calling advertisers after P.I. went back to work on Monday, for the first time since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Conservative author Dinesh D'Souza, a panelist on Monday's show, said he disagreed with the terrorists being labeled as cowards.
"These are warriors," D'Souza said, "and we have to realize that the principles of our way of life are in conflict with people in the world."
Maher agreed, and took the rhetoric one too many politically incorrect steps ahead, according to Sears and FedEx.
"We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away," Maher said on Monday. "That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."
P.I. and ABC officials said they're trying to be sensitive while still engaging in lively political debate.
"We remain sensitive to the current climate following last week's tragedy, and continue to do our part to help viewers cope with unfolding events, there needs to remain a forum for the expression of our nation's diverse opinions," according to a statement by show producers.
They said Maher would address the controversy himself during last night's show.