Anyone who watches Bill Maher’s HBO show ‘Real Time’ even intermittently, has heard his pleas for President Obama to be a guest on his show, sometimes just plain begging, other times griping about other shows that the President has done, and even submitting a petition signed by hundreds of thousands of his fans to the White House.
On Friday, Obama finally granted Maher’s wish. He did not actually come to the set, instead hosting Maher at the White House a couple of days before the show aired.
And it was clear that Maher truly appreciated getting the nod from the President as he seemed visibly nervous during the nearly 40 minute interview at the Roosevelt Room.
Maher seized the opportunity to talk to POTUS about various issues including healthcare, marijuana reform, and, of course, the upcoming presidential election.
When Maher asked him how citizens will vote on Election Day, Obama said that voters “should be really clear” with their choice.
“Every single issue we’ve made progress on in the last eight years is going to be on the ballot in the form of this choice. Anybody who’s sitting on the sidelines right now, or deciding to engage in a protest vote, that’s a vote for Trump. And that would be badly damaging for this country and badly damaging for the world.”
Obama also expressed some sharp views regarding the partisanship of news outlets, saying that the “Balkanization” of U.S. media leaves the public with “difficulty sorting out what’s true and what’s not.”
“If you don’t have some common baseline of facts … it’s very hard to figure out how we move democracy forward. If I watched Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me either.”
The President also gave a serious answer to a subject that Maher often muses about on his show — legalization of marijuana.
“I have always believed that, to the extent that society legitimately wants to guard against any kind of substance abuse, that you treat it as a public health problem. That’s where I think we need to go with pot, alcohol. I don’t think that legalization is a panacea, but I think that we’re gonna have to have a more serious conversation about how we are treating marijuana and our drug laws generally.”
Obama also added that if the current ballot initiatives on marijuana succeed, a serious conversation about drug laws on the federal level will take place.