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UPDATE: Bill Maher, whose past comments about Sarah Palin have once again become controversial in the wake of Rush Limbaugh's inflammatory remarks about a law student, doesn't want to be compared to the conservative talk show host.
Speaking to ABC News, Maher called the comparison "ridiculous," adding: "I’m a pottymouth, not a misogynist."
After Limbaugh calling Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke a "slut" on air resulted in the loss of advertising revenue for the talk show host—and a phone call from President Obama to Fluke—conservative pundits began to compare Limbaugh's remarks to those made in the past by Maher, who, among other things, has called Sarah Pailn a "cunt" and a "dumb twat."
Maher took aim at the "false equivalancey" of the conservative comparison between his stand-up routine and Limbaugh's remarks on the air, arguing:
"[Rush Limbaugh] went after a civilian about very specific behavior, that was a lie, speaking for party that has systematically gone after women’s rights all year, on the public airwaves. I used a rude word about a public figure who gives as good as she gets, who’s called people “terrorist” and “unAmerican.” Sarah Barracuda. The First Amendment was specifically designed for citizens to insult politicians. Libel laws were written to protect law students speaking out on political issues from getting called whores by Oxycontin addicts."
Maher recently donated $1 million to pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action. The Obama campaign has apparently distanced themselves from the comedian (for now), canceling a reportedly planned appearance by David Axelrod on Maher's HBO show.
Wednesday, March 14: Obama senior campaign strategist David Axelrod was reportedly scheduled to make an appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher at some point in the next few weeks, but it looks like the campaign has decided to distance itself from the comedian.
The press secretary for the president's re-election campaign, Ben LaBolt, told Politico on Tuesday night that Axelrod was "not scheduled to go on at this time."* While noticeably vague, those comments suggest the door is still open for an Axelrod visit to the HBO show in the future, but that he's in no hurry to sit down with Maher at a time when the late-night host has become a target of the right.
Maher donated $1 million to pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action earlier this year. But more recently the late-night host has been a target of the conservative backlash over the reaction to Rush Limbaugh's infamous "slut" remark. Fox News' Greta Van Susteren and other critics point to what they see as a "double standard" in criticism of Limbaugh's remarks from the left when Maher has also used derogatory language towards women.
The remarks in question include Maher calling Sarah Palin a "cunt" and a "dumb twat." Maher's defenders, including Priorities USA Action co-founder Bill Burton, say that the comedian uses the terms in the context of satire, while Limbaugh does not. And Tuesday on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart pointed out what he characterized as the false equivalency of comparing Limbaugh's attacks against a Georgetown Law student (intended as metonymy for all women who use contraception) to Maher's remarks about a former vice presidential candidate.
Earlier this month, Limbaugh himself received an unlikely nod of support from Maher during the blowback from his comments about Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke. Maher asked liberals to accept Limbaugh's apology, and criticized the "intimidation" caused by an advertiser boycott of the conservative's radio talk show.
Maher's not the only comedian facing conservative pressure over comments they've made about women. Over the weekend, Louis C.K. pulled out of his hosting gig at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association annual dinner after Van Susteren called for a boycott of the event based on comments the comedian made about Sarah Palin.
Elsewhere in Slate: Over at the XX Factor, Rachael Larimore discusses liberal talk show host Randi Rhodes' call to "take the ovaries" of conservative women who criticize Sandra Fluke; and Katie Roiphe argues that liberals "slut-shame" just as much as Rush Limbaugh does.
*Correction: An earlier version of this post wrongly reported that the Obama spokesman made his comments on Wednesday night.