Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"West Wingers" Speak Out on Real Politics

Bradley Whitford was on HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher last Friday:
"MAHER: He is an Emmy-winning star of “The West Wing” – I love this show – who will soon be seen on NBC’s upcoming “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” Looking forward to that. Bradley Whitford. Hey. [applause] [cheers]

MAHER: Okay, here’s what Rumsfeld said. He said – when she said, “You lied about everything” – he said, “That charge is frequently leveled against the president. It’s so destructive of a free system when – when people need to trust each other and their government.” Who is he kidding?

WHITFORD: The whole – the whole point of this country, and the whole brilliance in the way it was set up, is that you don’t trust anybody because power eventually corrupts. [applause] [cheers]

MAHER: Right, it’s checks and balances. Yes.
WHITFORD: You know, just hearing – I don’t mean to get off that – but just hearing General Clark, I’m amazed – there’s no military, conventional military solution to terrorism. If there were—


WHITFORD: --Israel would be the safest country in the world.

MAHER: Right.

WHITFORD: It’s not! [applause]

MAHER: Yeah.

WHITFORD: It’s not immune to terrorism. And it feels – I think the whole approach by these bungling…violent – violence-addicted people in this administration, it’s like the “Polish” joke. It’s like you lose your ring in the dark, and so you look for it where there’s light, where you know how to do it.

GILMORE: Yeah, but it’s a violent world. This is a violent world, and America has got to be prepared to defend its people. We saw what happened at 9/11, when—

WHITFORD: But what did Iraq have to do with 9/11?

GILMORE: Well, we took out Afghanistan, which did have something to do with 9/11.

WHITFORD: [overlapping] Yeah, what did Iraq have to do with 9/11?

GILMORE: [overlapping] That – that was – that was the right thing. Look, I think what we need to do—[applause]

WHITFORD: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11! And what’s obscene to me about Iraq—

GILMORE: But – but – but—

MAHER: I do notice you’re avoiding answering that question. [laughter]

GILMORE: No, but you—

MAHER: But why should you? You’re not part of the – you know, you didn’t invade Iraq. This man didn’t—

WHITFORD: [overlapping] I mean, you have to – you can’t – you can’t bat .500 if you’re the leader of the free world, with the military. You can’t make that kind of mistake.

MAHER: Okay, but—

WHITFORD: And he knew it.

MAHER: But that’s how—

WHITFORD: He knew that they had nothing to do with it. And that’s obscene. [applause]

GILMORE: But – but—

MAHER: Okay, if you want to pick nits. But, wait a second. The governor is head of a council called the Council on Readiness and Preparedness, right?

WHITFORD: And I’m a schmuck on TV. [laughter]
WHITFORD: But it is – it is really, genuinely upsetting to me, as a parent, to see how this administration reacted to 9/11. You have a uniform-less, nation-less group and – attacking us, and what do you do? You alienate the world community. You – you belittle the U.N. The U.N. which, by the way, was right. And isolated – whatever you think about those sanctions, at the end of the day, there were no weapons of mass destruction. And if you’re going to rush into a war, you’ve got to have a plan. [applause]

GILMORE: Well, let me – let me set a couple of things straight. Let me – let me—

MAHER: Once again, he didn’t do it!

GILMORE: But let me say—

WHITFORD: No, he didn’t.

MAHER: Thinking he did it.


WHITFORD: I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

GILMORE: Don’t touch.

MAHER: And don’t touch. [laughter]

GILMORE: Don’t touch.

WHITFORD: We’re going to get into that.

WHITFORD: You know, what Kim was saying, and apropos of Rumsfeld, I mean, where was – where has the press been?


WHITFORD: I mean, here is a guy who—

CAMPBELL: Sleeping.

WHITFORD: --a president, an inexperienced president with, admittedly, no interest in foreign policy. What did we think? Did a beam of light hit him on the rubble, and he became the visionary of the new world order, where you don’t need the U.N.?! [laughter] He doesn’t know what he’s doing!

MAHER: Right.

WHITFORD: These guys are incompetent! And it’s—

MAHER: Well—[applause] [cheers]

WHITFORD: And it is – you know, it is your duty to speak up. That’s what our soldiers are dying for in Iraq.

MAHER: Well—

WHITFORD: So they can complain about the government.

MAHER: When he had his highest rating – he had a 90% rating – only two other presidents had a rating that high. One was Truman right after FDR died, and one was FDR right after Pearl Harbor. In other words, people give a president a high rating when they’re just going, “We hope this guy knows what he’s doing.” [laughter]

WHITFORD: “Oh, please!”

WHITFORD: Listen, the reason – look, the reason you can’t put a flag – and I just had a friend who went to Europe, and I gave her a Canadian flag to put on her bag. And I had to – how do you explain that to my children? The flag—

CAMPBELL: Did you just sing the anthem in both languages? [laughter]

WHITFORD: “Oh, Canada…”


WHITFORD: But this – our policy has desecrated this flag! Treating the rest of the world with contempt—

MAHER: Yeah.

WHITFORD: --dropping bombs on people who don’t need bombs on them. Killing civilians who have nothing to do – and a policy based on an assumption that an Iraqi life is worth less than hours. It’s obscene. [applause]

CAMPBELL: But I think it also – it also goes to this question of whether Americans are safer. If Americans have become the target, then they’re not safer. They’re not safer traveling as a team. They’re not safer traveling individually.

MAHER: [overlapping] Well, they – they think they’re safer now because we put this guy, Moussaioui, in jail. [laughter] You know—

WHITFORD: Too crazy for Al-Qaeda.

MAHER: Because he’s a guy who wants to annihilate America. And so I’m happy he rots in jail. But, to think that we actually did anything by putting this guy in jail. Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, nobody disputes he was the guy, even more than Bin Laden, who really planned 9/11.

WHITFORD: But not – right.

MAHER: Well, what about the people who knew about global warming? [applause] You know, this guy—is it not the same thing? Lee Raymond – am I getting that name right – I talk about him every week, I should – the head of Exxon, who I call “Fat Bastard.” [laughter]

WHITFORD: [overlapping]--McPherson, yeah.

MAHER: In 1998, at the American Petroleum Institute, Exxon representatives made a decision to fight the science. The memo leaked, this is what it said. It said, “Victory will be achieved when uncertainties in climate science become part of the conventional wisdom.” Is that not exactly doing what Moussaioui did? Not warning people of a pending disaster? [applause] Just a question.

WHITFORD: No, and by the way, it does drive foreign policy. We’re funding both ends of the war on terror now. And unless we have the imagination to deal with that issue, we’re going to be guarding shipping lanes all over the world, spending money right and left, and we’re going to be under water. [Maher laughs]

WHITFORD: After 9/11, when they were – they were debating the CAFÉ standards in the Senate, and Trent Lott is out there saying, “They want to take away your car!” Shame on you. People are – people are dying to keep – you know, to keep this oil flowing. It’s obscene.

MAHER: And I see it now that we’re making this move toward ethanol, that’s going to be the big – that’s going to be the big answer. But we’re going to go to corn ethanol, because that’s what America grows, and that’s where the lobbying is, the corn lobby. We’re just exchanging the oil lobby for the corn lobby.


MAHER: Because I have to tell you, if you do a little research about corn ethanol, it’s no better, really than oil.

WHITFORD: Takes a lot of energy.
WHITFORD: And why did – why did it take six years for the president to acknowledge that – what everybody else knew – that apparently the science wasn’t in on global warming.

MAHER: Right.

WHITFORD: But it was on weapons of mass destruction, so we went. [laughter] [applause]
CAMPBELL: Well, I – there was an interview with an American soldier in Iraq who talked about being flirted with by one of the Iraqi soldiers who told him he was pretty. And he said, “Girls are for making babies, and boys are for fun.” So I think these expectations are maybe a little misplaced.”

MAHER: Who said that?

WHITFORD: Is it weird? Did it get weird?

CAMPBELL: An Iraqi soldier to an American.

MAHER: Yeah, yeah. Well, I’ve heard that saying before in the Muslim world. Not firsthand. [laughter] But, yes.

WHITFORD: Is Mara a Dutch name?

MAHER: No. It’s Irish. And speaking of the Irish, how about that Patrick Kennedy? [laughter] Look, we don’t know all the facts about this case. But as a topical show that’s on live Friday night, the day the story broke, we would be remiss not to pick over it like vultures. [laughter] So what I love about this case, as I was mentioning in the monologue, this guy gets stopped. He says, “I wasn’t drinking,” when, you know, I think he might have been. We have a waitress at a restaurant who said he was drinking earlier. The cops said they smelled liquor.

WHITFORD: You know, just – I guess I’m sort of representing the Hollywood community here – but, first of all, just – you know, I have spent my life as an actor taking showers with gay men.

MAHER: What? [laughter]

WHITFORD: I’ve always been in plays! I’ve always taken showers. There’s nothing to be afraid of! Just say no. What are you afraid of?! [laughter] [applause]

MAHER: Wait a second. Wait.

WHITFORD: I’ve never had a problem. And one more thing—

MAHER: I don’t know—

WHITFORD: One more thing.

MAHER: No, wait. Before you go on, you’re going to have to explain to me, why, when you’re in a play—[laughter]—do you have to shower with gay men?

WHITFORD: That’s what – that’s what “ensemble” means. [laughter] [applause]

MAHER: Oh, I see, that’s what “ensemble” means.

WHITFORD: They’re – they’re going to have to – they’re going to have to pry my fluorescent ass grease and my time-release butt plug out of my cold dead hand! They’re not taking it. [laughter] [applause]

CAMPBELL: I didn’t get it, either.


WHITFORD: It’s amazing—

CAMPBELL: [overlapping] And that’s what it seems like.

WHITFORD: [overlapping]—how inverted, how the definition – on “The West Wing,” you can – you can show somebody getting shot. You can turn on the TV any day of the week—

MAHER: You got shot.

WHITFORD: I got shot. And you can show a semen-splattered corpse. But you can’t show a baby nursing. I mean, our definition of profanity is the act of creation, and violence is entertainment. It’s – it’s a very strange reversal. [applause]

MAHER: Why would there be a semen-splattered corpse? [laughter] Again, is this an “ensemble” work that I—[laughter]—what does that mean?

CAMPBELL: It takes a lot to splatter a corpse—

MAHER: What?

WHITFORD: You know, that’s “CSI.”

MAHER: What – what branch of show business are you working in, that I have never—[laughter]—gotten apparently anywhere near?

WHITFORD: It’s very intense.

MAHER: Okay. [laughter]

WHITFORD: But, you know, where – where is the Christian right on poverty? The New Testament is a pamphlet on helping the poor. [applause] Where is the president on poverty? Where is the president on – where is the Republican Party on insuring children who are uninsured? [applause] Where are you on the death penalty if Jesus died in a bogus death penalty rap? [applause] It’s a complete inversion of Christian values.

MAHER: Well, I’m for the death penalty, I have to say. I think they should get the DNA testing correct, but I am for killing – my motto is, “Let’s kill the right people.” [laughter]

WHITFORD: Unless you—

MAHER: “Let’s kill the right people.”

WHITFORD: Well, we can all – we can all—

MAHER: I could run on that, couldn’t I?

CAMPBELL: You could run on that.

WHITFORD: We can all agree that this system now is not working and should be stopped immediately. [scattered applause]

GILMORE: What? The death penalty?

WHITFORD: Yes. Is it administered equally?


WHITFORD: No. If I – If I say I’m going to kill him and I shoot him – “actor boy/white man” is going to be put to death? No.

GILMORE: Maybe. I’ve—

WHITFORD: I don’t think it’s going to happen.

MAHER: And in L.A.—

GILMORE: I’ve stood in courtrooms on death penalty cases. I’ve been the attorney general of Virginia.

WHITFORD: Now, are you a Christian?

GILMORE: Certainly.

WHITFORD: And how do you resolve – Jesus died in a bogus death penalty rap. It says, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” No, I’m serious. I’m curious. How do you resolve that?

GILMORE: Because we – we put people to death who have committed terrible, heinous crimes and have broken the law of the land. And, frankly, we should, at the appropriate time for the appropriate people.

WHITFORD: Are you pro-life?

GILMORE: Am I pro-life? Sure.

WHITFORD: Does that not seem hypocritical? [laughter]

CAMPBELL: [overlapping] The death penalty is a policy—

GILMORE: Sure. [applause]

WHITFORD: Wait a minute. It makes no sense—[applause] [cheers]

GILMORE: Well, Governor Ryan said it was. But the fact is that we have – we have a trial system in this country that upholds the rule of law. At some point, you can just throw out the entire rule of law and just say anything goes. But that’s not—

WHITFORD: Nobody is saying that.

GILMORE: Well, yes, you are, because what you’re saying is you have to have a perfect—

WHITFORD: [overlapping] No, I’m not. I’m saying that it’s not Christian to put people to death."


Lawrence O'Donnell, "West Wing" Writer, contributed to the Huffington Post about Karl Rove's newest deposition.

From April 20th 's New York Times:
"The overhaul of the White House staff intensified on Wednesday as Karl Rove, one of the president's most powerful and feared advisers, gave up day-to-day control over the administration's domestic policy to concentrate on the midterm elections and Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said he would step down."

From Season 5's "Disaster Relief":
"Leo has a private talk with Josh.

"Nobody's happy you lost Carrick, but we're all about moving forward and we can't do that without you. I do, however, have to take you out to the wood shed and whack you with a two-by-four---"
Josh unwisely interrupts with a defense and then thinks better of it and says, "...Whack away."
"The President and I think you have been spread too thin. We're going to scale back your portfolio, probably some of the legislative stuff. I'll let you know the details as soon as I take the temperature of the caucus. But you keep your title, your staff.""

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