“Why Is This Guy Picking A Fight With Mickey Mouse?” Bill Maher Asks Ron DeSantis On ‘Real Time’s Post-WGA Strike Return

“Why is this guy picking a fight with Mickey Mouse?” Bill Maher asked Ron DeSantis on Friday about the poll-lagging Florida governor’s ongoing jurisdictional and legal battles with Disney over the past year.

“Well, first of all, they picked a fight with us,” a literally suited and cowboy booted DeSantis replied in Real Time With Bill Maher’s return from the just-ended writers strike. “This idea of ideology-corrupting institutions, I see it in Los Angeles with the amount of crime that’s here and the homelessness,” the deflecting Sunshine State governor went on to say, bashing so-called “woke ideology” and the Center for Disease Control.

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Letting DeSantis off the Mouse House hook and the company’s claim of “retaliation” over eventually opposing Florida’s “don’t say gay” parental rights law, a clearly flattered Maher told his guest “we are on the same page.” He then went on to slam the New York Times and more in what became a bromance over the pandemic, with a jab or two at DeSantis over voting rights and abortion restriction in Florida.

See the interview above.

Recoded earlier today in Los Angeles, the softball sit-down had been preceded by Maher essentially ignoring another elephant in the room (no, not Donald Trump).

“We’ve been off long enough, let’s do a f*cking show,” Maher said to a standing ovation from the studio audience at the top of Real Time’s return from the five-month strike against the studios and streamers.

“Been a long time, let’s not ever be apart this long,” the comic added before making a San Francisco crime joke on the back of Dianne Feinstein’s death at the age of 90 earlier in the day. More barbs about Joe Biden’s age, the looming government shutdown, Senate dress codes, gold bar hoarding and indicted New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, foreplay in a Colorado theater by Rep. Lauren Boebert, and of course the “sh*t show” of the most recent GOP debate.

Maher said nothing in his monologue directly about the WGA strike.

Much later in the show, just before the panel discussion, Maher did note: “I want to thank everybody who made this possible, to be back. You know, I’m talking about my brilliant staff, writers and non-writers, who scrambled the jets so we could be on in two days. And the union folks who expedited the paperwork so we could get back so quickly, so thank you.”

Union antagonist DeSantis, on the other hand, almost as soon as he sat down as the show’s first guest referred to the time Real Time was away due to the strike as a “hiatus.” The governor then put in a self-described “plug” for Florida’s lack of state income taxes and vaccine mandate.

In the Golden State for this week’s Trumpless GOP debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley and a speech to a less-than-packed California Republican Party convention in Anaheim, DeSantis was touted by Maher as recently as this spring as the only real threat to the former Celebrity Apprentice host becoming his party’s standard bearer again.

Things are sure different now.

“You are trying to thread this needle that will never happen,” Maher informed a constantly laughing DeSantis regarding the likelihood he will be able to beat Trump for the GOP nomination. “Let’s face it Ron, if the campaign was going well, you wouldn’t be on this show,” he added in a rare moment of a reality check on Real Time tonight.

Months before the first primary, Trump is the faraway favorite of GOP voters with a 62% approval rating, according to a recent New York Post poll; the stumbling and awkward DeSantis was at 10%. Looking for any cable foothold he can get as his numbers and appeal crater, DeSantis also will go head-to-head with California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a debate on November 30 in the purple state of Georgia on Fox News. Golden State Golden Boy Newsom punked the GOP on debate night earlier in the week, showing up in the debate’s spin room and all over cable as a surrogate for Joe Biden.

“You know he is taller and better looking,” Maher quipped to a guffawing DeSantis about Newsom at the end of their basically aimless interview.

Tonight is actually the 14th episode of Real Time with Bill Maher’s 21st season. Having debuted on January 20, the season was suspended between May 2 and today because of the Writers Guild strike – which finally saw a deal made September 24 just as the sun was going down.

After a heavy-handed and short-lived attempt September 22 by Maher, a WGA member, to bring Real Time back “sans writers,” the host took to social media on September 27 to bellow “My writers and Real Time are back!” The post came literally right after the Writers Guild of America declared their nearly 150-day strike against the studios and streamers to be over thanks to a tentative deal – a strike that contrarian Maher had been very critical of.

Real Time is the first of the late-night shows to return now that scribes are getting set to conduct a ratification vote on the deal with the AMPTP. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers, and CBS’ The Late Show With Stephen Colbert are all back on October 2. That other HBO late-nighter, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, debuts its new season October 1.

With SAG-AFTRA still out on strike and preparing to sit down with the studios on October 2, there will be almost no big-name actors appearing on the late-night shows promoting their latest projects.

Following tonight’s opening monologue that really reminded everyone of the importance of writers, Maher had “Making Sense” podcast host Sam Harris, and Mary Katharine Ham, author of End of Discussion: How The Left’s Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters and Makes America Less Free (and Fun), on with him. Rolling out a familiar trope, he went on again about his dislike of the hugely successful Barbie movie and its feminist POV.

Real Time with Bill Maher, which has been renewed through 2024 by HBO, is exec produced by Maher, Sheila Griffiths, Marc Gurvitz, Dean Johnsen and Billy Martin. Chris Kelly is co-EP, Matt Wood is producer and Paul Casey is director.

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