Maher kept the focus squarely on politics in his opening monologue and in his panel discussion, with particular emphasis on covering the immigration border crisis. The panel was composed of Matt Welch, editor-at-large of Reason Magazine, and Sarah Isgur, senior editor for the online magaine The Dispatch.
The migrants issue has mushroomed into “a national crisis,” Maher noted. Panelists Welch and Isgur talked about the fentanyl plague that’s part and parcel of the loose border enforcement. Welch indicated that the crackdown on opioids is part of the reason that fentanyl has risen in popularity, turning “into a hockey stick” of overdose charting. He later referred to it as “bathtub heroin.”
Isgur advocated for patients in hospitals to suck it up and endure more pain as a way to lessen the desire for drugs in the real world.
As for the sheer number of people crossing the border each day, Maher referred to it as “a disaster for the Democrats.” Their efforts to roll back the tide makes them “look like sanctuary city hypocrits.”
That’s led to conservative ridicule, Maher noted, although he allowed, “I understand a little “I told you so” on the border.
Isgur backed up that idea. “They need to apologize to Texas.”
Welch noted that New York City has lost half a million residents in four years. Thus, it’s not that the city is full, but the shelters are full. That’s because “The way New York is governed, which is really bad.”
The solution to this is far less clear.
“We can never do anything in the middle,” Maher lamented. “There’s nothing between “bomb Mexico” and “Come one, come all.”
As cities get overcrowded in those shelters and people overflow onto the streets surrounding shelters, the problem is highly visible. That’s led to a disconnect on the national level. “What Biden doesn’t understand,” Maher said of laments from the president that things are better than reported, is “that it just doesn’t feel good when you see tents on the street, or have to get a sales associate to unlock the case.”
Welch agreed, noting that pretending it’s not happening is no solution. He suggested that massive shoplifting with garbage bags and mobs of looters should have the existing laws enforced, rather than letting it go unprosecuted.
In his New Rules editorial, Maher took aim at Hasan Minhaj, a comedian who admitted falsifying his stories in order to sharpen his humor because his own life is boring.
Maher had a particular bone to pick with Minhaj, who accused the host of some anti-Muslim comments that Maher insisted he never even thought, much less said.
Telling the truth does matter, Maher said. “If you want to speak truth to power, you have to include the “truth” part. He likened Minhaj’s exaggerated stories to those of former President Donald Trump. “This country needs to make a grand bargain that the bullshit is bad no matter who says it or what you call it.”
Earlier in the show, Maher interviewed the husband and wife team of Keegan-Michael Key and film and TV director, writer, and producer Elle Key, who discussed their book, The History of Sketch Comedy.
Keegan-Michael noted that in sketch comedy, “You want to be a mile deep in the commitment” to the character. Elle Key voiced the hope that some of the giants of sketch comedy – Burns and Allen, Nichols and May, Bob and Ray – may be looked up by fans of the book.