Comedian Bill Maher doesn't sound worried about that $5 million lawsuit Donald Trump filed against him last Monday. If anything, he's more concerned about the Donald's combover.
"I wanna see the paperwork on whether that ferret on your head has had its shots," Maher cracked during a deliciously irreverent, often insightful and occasionally raunchy 70-minute performance Sunday night at the Plaza Theatre.
You may recall that Trump has subscribed to the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, thus making him ineligible for the office. The birther often suggested that the president had something to hide. When Obama's official birth certificate didn't placate the blowhard, Trump offered $5 million to charity if the president would provide his college transcripts.
The feud began last month on Jay Leno's show when Maher sarcastically offered Trump $5 million to provide a birth certificate proving he's not the son of an orangutan. "It all started because I called him out on his racism," Maher said, earning an ovation from the crowd of about 1,700.
The suit represented "a whole new brand of insanity," Maher said, since the comedian made his tongue-in-cheek offer on a talk show. Cutting wit that he is, Maher used the bizarre controversy to make another topical joke at Trump's expense.
"It's 1956. You're at Penn State. Donald Trump is 10 and you see him get into the shower with Jerry Sandusky," Maher teased. "Do you save Jerry?"
Of course, Trump wasn't the only right-winger the famously liberal host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" picked on Sunday, his first El Paso show in nearly three years. "It's great to be in liberal Texas," he kidded.
With the presidential election only three months ago, Maher schooled the audience (about 300 people more than his last show here) in the three Rs — Republicans, Romney and religion — in an evenly paced performance that had fewer peaks and valleys than his 2010 show, and few holdover jokes.
The Republicans lost, he said, because of failed ideas, not failed candidates. "It's that the country is changing and they don't like it," he said.
Conservatives, especially Tea Party types, see minorities (including a second-term black president), gay marriage, gun control, global warming and abortion as threats. "It's all about fear," he said. "They've gotta keep that myth going."
He thinks the country doesn't treat its poor people well, either, suggesting we rethink how we view immigrants,. "Whether they're legal or illegal, they're people," he said, to applause. Maher got one of his biggest laughs when he stated that over the last 30 years over 30 million Mexicans had come to America ... "in three cars."
Maher compared the way Obama deals with Republicans to "watching a really good special education teacher," and noted the prez, like fellow blacks, has "a lot of patience with stupid white people."
He praised Obama for getting Osama bin Laden, but criticized the president's recent decision to release of a photo of himself skeet shooting to assuage his critics on gun control. "Don't pander to the people who hate you," Maher insisted.
He called failed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney "a robotic tax cheat from a polygamy cult" and said Tea Party people didn't care about huge deficits and ginormous government spending until a black man was elected president. Before that, Maher cracked, "they were biting off their toenails and spitting them at the TV."
Conservatives' insistence on quoting the Bible or using religion to justify fighting gay marriage, denying global warming, eliminating legal abortion and protesting birth control in healthcare reform is about as insightful, he said, as asking gynecologists to discuss the economy.
Even 98 percent of Catholics use birth control, he noted. "The only Catholics who don't are the priests, who would if altar boys could get pregnant," Maher cracked, laughing at his own cheap, but funny shot.
Maher's never hidden his distrust of organized religion, which he accused of "selling an invisible product." He made the 2008 comedy documentary "Religulous" about religious extremism. He noted the irony of poking fun at religion on Sunday, but wondered how "otherwise intelligent people could be religious."
Plowing through potentially treachorous material in a Catholic town like this, the Catholic-raised Maher dismissed the Bible as "old Jewish fairy tales" and poked fun at the ornate costumes worn by many religious leaders. "When the Pope comes out in that pointy hat," he asked, "how do you Catholics keep a straight face?"
The audience laughed almost as hard at that stuff as it did the political material.
Obviously, a lot of people like me love Bill Maher's sometimes impish brand of reasoned, sometimes cringe-inducing sarcasm. Love or hate him, his mission in life seems to be to cut through the BS.
One of the problems he has with conservatives these days, he said, is their insistent use of the Bible to justify their politics. "I know it's not in the Bible," he said, "but can't we use facts every once in a while?"