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Bill Maher

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Some of you may remember that I told you in Friday's MULLINGS that I was going to be on Bill Maher's HBO program, "Real Time." I said that I was going to be on with, among other people, Keith Olbermann.

Then I typed:

"Olbermann & Maher v Galen. I think that's a fair fight, don't you?"

Turns out it wasn't. I kicked butt.

The show is produced at the CBS studios in Los Angeles, and I got to the Studio at about 4:30 Pacific (it goes on live at 7 PM), so I had plenty of time to poke around and look at stuff.

One of the stuffs I looked at was flipping through the channels on the TV set in my dressing room and I came upon the closed circuit channel showing the camera rehearsal in the studio downstairs.

They ran through the segments with writers and other staffers filling in for the "talent" so I had a pretty good idea what was going to be in the show. After a while Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann appeared on the set to run through a "bit" they were going to do: Embarrassing a "typical Republican voter" who, as it happened, was being played by a writer on the show.


They tried too hard, it ran too long, and the bit wasn't that funny.


During the chit-chat someone came up to Maher and showed where each of the three panelists would be sitting. I would be closest to Bill; Jennifer Donahue, a Fellow at the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College would be In the middle; and Olbermann would be on the far end.

Maher wanted to switch Keith and me because he would introduce the person closest to the audience first. He said, "You'll get a lot more applause than … Rich Galen," as if he were saying, "You'll get a lot more applause than a used brick."

I Tweeted (you should follow me at @richgalen): "Haven't even been on the #BillMaher set yet and was dissed already."

About 12 seconds after that Tweet hit, one of the producers came racing into my dressing room to explain that I wasn't being dissed at all; that Bill and Keith were going to be doing that Republican Voter bit and Bill wanted to show Keith how much he appreciated it.

Later, I was told that the real problem was Olbermann and Maher (and Jennifer Donahue, by the way) had gone to Cornell University and Keith kept trying to tell Bill that, while they weren't best friends, they had met on a number of occasions while in Ithaca.

Maher didn't remember ever meeting Olbermann, and it was getting more awkward by the second. It dawned on Maher that and all he had to say was something like, "Oh, yeah. Of course!" And give himself a Leroy Jethro Gibbs smack to the side of the head.

He finally said, "Oh, yeah. Of course!" And everyone's sensitivities were salved. Never got a good readout on the LJG smack to the side of the head, though.

The one-on-one guest was war correspondent Dexter Filkins, whose book, "The Forever War" about Iraq is now available in paperback. I've been there, I've read the book, and the book scared the you-know-what out of me.

I'm a big fan of Mr. Filkins which I said during the "Overtime" segment (also available on the SDR). I am now also a big fan of Jennifer Donahue whom I had previous met, but hadn't realized how smart she is.

Both Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann were courteous and decent. Olbermann and I have known of each other for a long time and there was no reason to take out after each other on Bill Maher's show.

However, while we were backstage waiting to be led onto the set I Tweeted:

Backstage at #BillMaher show with #KeithOlbermann. Superglued him to his chair. He doesn't know yet.

In the end, my pre-game nerves were unnecessary. It was an enjoyable experience. Bill Maher is a stand-up comedian who does political satire for a living. I'm a hack who does political counter-punching against people like James Carville for a living.

One of the producers warned me not to try to sound too funny or "Bill might turn his comedic talents against you."

I know James Carville. James Carville is a friend of mine, Bill Maher is no James Carville. 

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