The last time Bill Maher appeared on “Late Night With Stephen Colbert,” back in November, he predicted that Donald Trump’s appeal was wearing off.
Colbert promised to invite him back to serve him “a big bowl of Trump” after the real estate developer and reality TV star started winning primaries, so that set the stage Thursday night for Maher’s appearance.
“Ugh, what a horrible thought a bowl of Trump is,” Maher said, digesting Colbert’s metaphor.
“Do you know what a bowl of Trump is?” Colbert asked, pulling a glass bowl from behind his desk and dumping two Trump steaks, a half-bottle of Trump wine and bag of Cheetos into it.
Maher said he didn’t recall predicting Trump fading away, but he did remember saying his campaign was serious while many believed it was just a publicity stunt.
“I think everybody was surprised he got the nomination,” Maher said. “But maybe we shouldn’t be.”
He recalled having a guest on his own show, “Real Time,” who said Trump would win the GOP nomination because Americans were not logical.
“It’s not about policy, it’s about a feeling — and that feeling is, ‘You know who has gotten a raw break in America? White men,'” Maher said. “That’s what he’s selling. He’s always saying, ‘Hillary’s playing the woman card, you know that card women always play by being born female?'”
Colbert joked that Trump would be “great for women like never before,” and win the black and Latino votes, as well.
“We have not quite figured out how to defeat Donald Trump yet,” Maher said. “I think what we have to do is what they do in serial killer movies. In serial killer movies, the cops can never figure out how to defeat the serial killer, so they get another serial killer to work with them to figure out how to defeat him. We have to find another narcissistic billionaire — I’m thinking ‘El Chapo’ — to work with us.”
Colbert suggested Vladimir Putin, who has formed a mutual admiration society with Trump, and Maher said flattery and compliments were the only way to get Trump’s attention.
Maher recalled when Trump sued him, and he said the “Apprentice” star blamed their feud on his refusal to appear as a guest on Maher’s talk show.
“Like I gave a f*ck if he ever did my show,” Maher said.
Colbert said he disagrees with critics who say that Trump isn’t smart, saying he thought the celebrity businessman was just using his intelligence in the wrong way.
“He’s smart in a certain way, I’ll give you that,” Maher said, making a face that suggested he smelled something rotten. “He never lost touch with his high school bully. He knows how to brand things, but that doesn’t really make him smart. He doesn’t know he doesn’t know anything.”
Maher recalled Trump’s reaction to a question about Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, and the presidential candidate wasn’t familiar with the topic a couple of weeks before the referendum.
“The idea that someone is going to be president and just learning things, he’s like a baby with a mobile over his head,” Maher said.
Colbert asked him to react to the tragic shootings of 11 police officers last week in Dallas, including five dead, and the killings of two unarmed black men by police just days before.
“I’m a bit of a cynic,” Maher said. “I think civilization is a mile wide and an inch deep. Without the police on the job, you know that movie ‘The Purge’?” It’d be that every day without the police.”
He said the shooting of any police officer was “abhorrent,” but he said he can relate to the anger at unjustified police violence.
“I don’t condone it, but I understand it,” Maher said. “You can only look at so many videos of shooting unarmed black people. I’m surprised it actually didn’t happen before.”
Colbert recalled a quote from John F. Kennedy, who said “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable,” and he said that Black Lives Matter had placed the issue of police brutality in front of the public but no meaningful changes had resulted.
“This goes back to — well, certainly before, but on tape — Rodney King, and Rodney King was what, 1991?” Maher said. “We all looked at that tape and thought, ‘How can these cops get away with this?'”
Maher said violence was wrong on both sides, but he said policing has needed fundamental change for many years.
“We all need the police, I think we respect them, but there is something wrong with police culture,” he said. “I don’t think most policemen are bad at all, I don’t think most policemen would do the things we’ve seen on tape, but there is that ‘thin blue line’ mentality where they protect their own, and I think that has to change.”
Maher said the only difference now is that many of the most egregious violations of public trust have been captured on video that can be shared online.
“The police is kind of like the priesthood, they attract the wrong kind of people sometimes,” Maher said. “I think there’s a lot of people who go into police work because they were the person who, when they were young, they had no authority, they were kind of losers, and now they want to have the ability to lord it over people. The police department cannot be revenge for high school.”
He said police recruits like that should be weeded out, and he said more police officers should recognize and accept that they have volunteered to work a dangerous job.
“It’s like a proctologist getting to the office and going, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m looking at assholes all day,'” Maher said. “When you’re a cop, you’re going to be looking at assholes all day. That is the job you signed up for.”
He said police must stop going immediately for their guns during tense encounters, and he said they must stop shooting unarmed black people.
“You cannot shoot unarmed people continually without someone firing back,” Maher said. “Sorry, that’s just the way it is. I hope it gets better in this country, it should get better, and I don’t want to see any more violence, but yes, I do think police culture has to change.”
He said video had only shown white Americans what black Americans have complained about for years.
“Only recently they’ve even said, ‘Well, this is wrong,'” Maher said. “Before that, it was always, ‘They were doing it by the book.’ By the book? Well, maybe you need a new book.”
Watch portions of Maher’s appearance posted online by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert: