Last week, in those halcyon days before 6/30 Changed Everything, I took Ann Coulter's side in a partisan pissing match. My bad.
Basically, Coulter refused to walk back her "faggot" insult of John Edwards in an interview with Chris Cuomo. One of her reasons was that "about the same time [as my joke] Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished [Vice President] Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack."
I figured it was fair for Coulter to say that and unfair for Elizabeth Edwards to Dowdify her quote and attack her with it. But Maher never wished upon a star and crescent and never said Cheney should die. Here's the transcript of the show, where Maher clearly 1)defends a dude in a blog comment thread who said that without endorsing the comment and 2)proposes that if Dick Cheney wasn't in office, or was dead, fewer people would die. Here's how he defended the commenter:
MAHER: What about the people who got onto the HuffingtonPost—and these weren't even the bloggers, these were just the "comments" section—who said they—they expressed regret that the attack on Dick Cheney failed. [laughter]
FRANK: [overlapping] They said the bomb was—they said the bomb was wasted. [laughter] [applause]
MAHER: All right, but, seriously, if this isn't China, shouldn't you be able to say that? Why did Arianna have to—my girlfriend, I love her—but why did she take that off right away?
Here's when Maher talks about Cheney:
MAHER: [overlapping] But I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn't be dying needlessly tomorrow. [applause]
RIDLEY: Okay, but-[voices overlap under applause]
SCARBOROUGH: But, let's talk—let's talk about your show for a second, very quickly. If somebody on this panel said they wished that Dick Cheney had been blown up, and you didn't say-
FRANK: I think he did. [laughter]
SCARBOROUGH: Okay, did you say–?
MAHER: No. No, I quoted that.
FRANK: You don't? Oh, you don't believe that?
MAHER: No, I'm just saying that if he did die-
SCARBOROUGH: [laughter] Okay, but if—oh, let's just say-
MAHER: [overlapping]-other people—more people would live. That's a fact.
So Maher, as is his shtick, played devil's advocate to heat up a discussion, and Coulter twists his words to cover her own ass. Classy, especially since Maher regularly defends Coulter from blow-ups like this and invites her own his show.
*I can't believe I originally got the title wrong.