Common Sense: Presidential Potshots

They say what's said in jest is meant in earnest. Make no mistake, a zinger dipped in humor, is still a zinger.

Just ask Bill Maher, who loves to zing George Bush.

Consider these choice lines from his Politically Incorrect show. On President Bush's rejection of the Kyoto environmental treaty:

"He will screw the world for Exxon because they gave him the money, and that's why I love him."

Or this little ditty from Valentine's Day:

"President Bush was going around sharing a box of chocolates and somebody said, 'gee, that reminds me, I've been meaning to rent Forrest Gump.'"

The audience laughs. They've heard it before. I've heard it before. We've all heard it before. And we'll all hear it again. And not only from Maher, who all but calls the president a buffoon, but from Martin Sheen who does call him a buffoon and Alec Baldwin, who keeps calling him a buffoon.

These guys are free to say what they want about whomever they want, pretty much whenever they want. And they do. But I have a problem with the platform they use to say what they want. Maher's platform is pretty big — a national broadcast audience on ABC.

And, here's the kicker. I'm criticized — this network is criticized — if it looks like we go the other way. I don't, we don't. But here's what I do — what we do — or at least try to. I try to give a shot to the side that's getting shot. I try to present the views you're not getting without the filters you often are getting.

No one gives Bill Maher flack for going after President Bush or Republicans. That's apparently OK. Everyone gives us flack if we point that out. And that, my friends, is a double standard. That, my friends, is not fair and balanced.

I'm no Bush apologist. I've heard from some of you that think I'm either a flag-burning kook, or a right-wing hatchet job. That's fine, as long as I've made you think and presented more than the pabulum you're getting elsewhere.

You're big enough to judge which way you want to go. I should be smart enough to let you decide.

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