On Friday, Bill Maher, the host of HBO’s Real Time, invited Republican Congressman and former CIA agent Will Hurd to appear on his show. Ostensibly, Hurd was brought on the show to discuss his home turf, Texas’ 23rd district, a region of the state that runs along the Mexico-US border for 820 miles, the longest in the country.
In Hurd’s own words, the 23rd district, which encompasses San Antonio, acts as Texas’ only 50-50 district (i.e., 50 percent Republican and 50 percent Democrat). Was Maher interested in what it’s like to be the only Republican legislating a district that’s on the border with Mexico? Did he want to talk about how a GOP rep managed to secure victory over a region that’s 71 percent Hispanic?
No, Maher was mostly interested in the fact that Hurd is a Republican who also happens to be black.
Fifty-eight seconds in, Maher implies that most people probably think Hurd is a Democrat at first blush; the host doesn’t doesn’t offer a reason for this speculation, but the inference is clear.
At 2 minutes 56 seconds, Maher calls illegal immigration a win-win scenario because undocumented workers get to work the shitty jobs Americans are too good to work.
Three-and-a-half minutes in, Maher flat-out asks Hurd why he’s a Republican. He followed up this half-question by suggesting race had nothing to do with it, but let’s be honest: do you think Mitch McConnell would be asked the same question if that turtle who lost his shell was in Bill Maher’s hot seat?
Four minutes and thirty-one seconds in comes the capper; Bill Maher suggests that Hurd gathered CIA info “in an alley by a Popeye’s Chicken.” There was no prompt, no segue, nothing from prior in the interview to build on. Hurd said he gathered info in a back alley, and Maher said, “a back alley by a Popeye’s Chicken.”
Far be it for me to come down on someone who’s dissing a Republican, but Maher’s bigotry effectively buried the fact that Hurd knows his stuff backward and forward. As a former intelligence agent (one of only three serving in Congress), Hurd has some smart things to say about Russia, China, Trump’s intelligence briefings, and perhaps most importantly, what it takes to secure The United States’ southern border.
Here is a guy with insight into one of the most pressing issues in America today, and all Bill Maher could talk about is the fact that Hurd is both black and Republican. When Hurd failed to take the bait, Maher steered the conversation to his favorite topic, “Why on Earth would you ever support Trump?” (Of course, once again, the emphasis in Maher’s question was less, “Why would anyone support Trump?” And more, “Why would Will Hurd, a black man, ever support Trump?”
When it comes right down to it, we expect nothing less of Bill Maher. The guy has excelled at being a professional asshat for a few decades now. The real surprise, here, is Will Hurd.
Not only did the legislator demonstrate real restraint and poise in the face of some monumental douchebaggery, he stayed on point and delivered some fascinating perspective. Even as Maher pressured Hurd to say something overtly anti-Trump, the Congressman stuck to his guns, providing an eloquent response to Maher’s unrelenting attacks.
Even as Maher’s snark reminds us that stupidity and bigotry lurk everywhere, Hurd’s measured response is a clear reminder that there is intellect to be found on both sides of the aisle.