Hearing that former president George W. Bush went on a motorcycle ride with a group of disabled Iraq war veterans did not sit well with Real Time host Bill Maher on Friday.
“I found this to be nauseating,” Maher said of Bush’s appearance at the Warrior 100K Ride in Texas. “First he sends them off to war to get their limbs blown off, then he has them over for a barbecue. This is like the Cleveland guy having a pizza party for those girls he had in his basement.”
“That’s a little much,” protested Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden.
Another panelist, actress Brit Marling, went further, calling the display “sadistic” while noting that several of the veterans involved lost limbs during the conflict.
“The technology that’s allowing them to do this is somehow something to celebrate?” Marling said. “People shouldn’t be over there losing limbs in the first place.”
HuffPo Live producer James Poulos challenged Marling’s statement, saying he had dealt with members of the Wounded Warrior project as part of his job and “almost lost it” on different occasions, before pointing out an interview with Bush by Jon Ward.
Bush, Poulos said, told Ward, “I don’t pity these guys, because they don’t pity themselves.”
“That doesn’t transcend the fact that the Iraq War was a colossal shitshow,” Poulos said. “But it does transcend the fact that there’s kind of this uncomfortable irony between Bush’s relationship and these guys. They’re all out there biking together, and that’s okay.”
The jarring thing about Bush’s interview with Ward, Tanden said, was that he seemingly told himself that he tried democracy before invading Iraq.
“That is complete bullshit,” Maher interjected.
“It’s sort of a weird thing that he has to look back and make up things to justify he did,” Tanden continued.
“Certainly doesn’t sound like the George Bush I remember,” Maher said in response.
Watch video of the discussion, posted by Mediaite on Friday, below.