Nick Gillespie Talks Debt Limit, Legalizing Drugs, Ending Wars, & More on Real Time with Bill Maher


I was on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday, July 22.

Also on the panel were Braddock (Pa.) Mayor John Fetterman, Democratic National Committee member Donna Brazile, and actor John Turturro.

The topics included the debt-ceiling debate; libertarians vs. conservatives; the legalization of drugs, online poker, and prostitution; Michelle Bachmann's husband and gay rights; entitlement spending; military interventionism and compulsory service; immigration reform; and whether socialism provided a model for shared sacrifice.

The conversation is lively and heated throughout. Among the memorable moments: when Fetterman asks me if I want "to take it outside"; when I suggest Maher give up his show if he's serious about reducing his carbon footprint; and whether having a military draft would have precluded the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

About 30 minutes.

Go to the Real Time site for more information about Bill Maher and clips from recent shows.

This appearance generated more response than I've gotten in many years, a testament to the reach of Real Time and, even more so, the intensity of its audience. I picked up about 500 Twitter followers and wonderful new insults such as the following:

Hey, @nickgillespie just bc you look like the Fonze with Aids doesn't mean you can ramble on like a fag

U stupid undercover Tea bagging fuck!

#SuperDouche @nickgillespie on Real Time with Bill Maher wearing his fake Ed Hardy shirt and Pimp jacket. What a tool!

@nickgillespie What was it like to get your ass pounded by Donna Brazile and Mayor Fetterman? For a PhD you're awfully ignorant and wrong. 

Thx @nickgillespie for showing us that Libertarians can interrupt, roll eyes, and fling racist remarks W/O gov't intervention.

The last criticism—about interrupting—is one I take seriously and for which I should apologize (my colleagues can commiserate with the fellow panelists).

The responses tended to balance out, split between hate and love. To wit:

@nickgillespie Great job representing us on a show that never has Libertarians. Thanks for showing the hypocracy

Don't agree with him about a lot, but kind of have an intellectual crush on @nickgillespieafter seeing him on @billmaher.

@nickgillespie You were brilliant on the Bill Maher Attempts to be Relevant Show

@nickgillespie never heard of you until last night, now you are my hero!

@Nickgillespie made 3 liberal heads explode on bill maher's show last night. 

However the show went, afterwards I had nice conversations with both John Fetterman (whose work in Braddock is extremely interesting and worth looking at) and Donna Brazile (who agreed that there's a lot of common ground, especially on issues such as the drug war, the role of the military, and gay rights, between liberals and libertarians). I've been a longtime watcher of Real Time (as I was of its predecessor, Politically Incorrect) and while I rarely agree with much of what's said on the show, I think it's a fun and informative—and certainly one-of-a-kind—contribution to political and media discourse.

Back in 1997, Brian Doherty and I interviewed Bill Maher for Reason. Read it here.