Comedian Bill Maher said Thursday it was ridiculous to equate offensive language he used to describe Sarah Palin with the offensive language Rush Limbaugh used to describe Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke.
"He went after a civilian about very specific behavior, that was a lie, speaking for a party that has systematically gone after women’s rights all year, on the public airwaves," he told ABC News' Jake Tapper. "I used a rude word about a public figure who gives as good as she gets, who’s called people 'terrorist' and 'unAmerican.'"
"The First Amendment was specifically designed for citizens to insult politicians," Maher added. "Libel laws were written to protect law students speaking out on political issues from getting called whores by Oxycontin addicts."
Limbaugh created a public backlash in early March after he called Fluke a slut and a prostitute because of her testimony to Congress about contraception. In her testimony, Fluke described how Georgetown’s insurance policy failed to cover hormonal contraceptives that are used to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Facing the threat of a nationwide boycott, more than 140 companies pulled their ads from Limbaugh's radio show. But some conservatives accused Limbaugh's critics of hypocrisy, claiming that there was no public outrage when Maher called Palin a "cunt" during a stand-up routine.
"Of course if you take out of context over 10 years snippets inside comedy bits you can make anyone look bad – and sometimes, I have been!" Maher told Tapper. "Not perfect, but not misogyny. In general, this is an obvious right wing attempt to dredge up some old shit about me to deflect from their self-inflicted problems. They are the kings of false equivalencies."
Although Maher is no fan of Limbaugh, he has opposed efforts to push him off the radio. Maher suffered cancellation of his old show Politically Incorrect after controversial comments he made following the 9/11 attacks.