Bill Maher has a theory on why Republican Sens. John Ensign and David Vitter and Gov. Mark Sanford all have been outed for cheating on their wives.
"This, to me, looks like a cynical attempt by the Republicans to convince America they're not the homosexuals we all thought they were -- after the Larry Craig and Mark Foley and Rev. Ted Haggard standards," the comedian jokes.
"It looks to me like they had a caucus and they said, 'All right, we need some senators to step up and (do) a woman: David Vitter, John Ensign, Mark Sanford -- come on down! Do your part for the party!' "
Maher, who performs stand-up Friday through Sunday at The Orleans, singles out our Nevada senator.
"John Ensign -- this guy is a piece of work, even in the big leagues he's playing at -- the big leagues of hypocrisy and (screwing) around," Maher tells me.
Maher is fascinated by the story of Ensign admitting to cheating on his wife with his best friend's wife. Ensign has signaled that the then-best friend, Doug Hampton, asked for money.
"Of course we don't know if Doug Hampton was blackmailing John Ensign, but that's what John Ensign says, and you know you can believe him, because he's not just a politician, he's a serial adulterer from Las Vegas."
THE BIG MAN
Las Vegas poker champ Doyle Brunson is the most legendary player alive, but he had brushes with death plenty of times when he was young and winning money in illegal card games.
As poker fans know, Brunson, 75, was born and raised in Texas. He was so good at basketball, it looked like he was headed to the Minneapolis Lakers until he broke a leg lifting sheetrock. Then he earned a master's in education, but there was no money in teaching.
So he started playing illegal poker games around the South. He was a natural and won a lot. But he never knew if he was gonna get robbed or cheated in those illegal games.
One day, about 51 years ago, he was playing Lowball when he saw someone shoot the guy next to him, blowing the man's head off.
"We were playing poker in the back of a pool hall, and there were two tables. And this guy was sitting at this table right next to mine. This guy just walked in with no warning and shot the guy. I think it was over a woman," Brunson says.
He doesn't remember if he was winning or losing. He remembers fleeing.
"We didn't want to be grilled by police, so we went out the back door."
He was robbed, too. One time, he says, "a guy came up behind me with a knife to my throat.
"I know how lucky I've been. I do realize that."
Yet it wasn't fear for his life that brought him to Vegas in the 1970s.
"No, I came to Vegas because the games were drying up in the South," Brunson says. "Plus, I had been playing there a few years, and when you win most of the time, which I did, you get to where people don't invite you back as often. So I came to Vegas, where it was at least legal."
Brunson ended up winning the World Series of Poker twice, plus multiple other Series events, and he wrote the first huge poker book, "Super/System."
He's been involved plenty with online poker, specifically through DoylesRoom.com. Sometimes, he plays bounty tournaments online.
"There's a lot of differences playing online and in person," he says. Online, "you can't see your opponents, so you have to play basic poker."
He hasn't earned nearly as much money through his association with DoylesRoom as he has playing poker, he says. "Not even close."
And he never plays other games in Vegas -- no video poker, no blackjack, no roulette.
"I'm a professional gambler. I'm not playing house games, because obviously the house has the advantage."
Brunson will be a guest of honor Thursday at a party at Wynn's Blush, with the red carpet starting at 11:15 p.m. Also planning to appear: Jack Binion, Mickey Rourke, Annie Duke, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Kevin Connolly and Nicky Hilton.
Brunson's not a nightclub kind of guy, but he expects to have some fun.
"It's supposed to be a big-time party. I'm sure it will be."
Contact Doug Elfman at 702-383-0391 or e-mail him at delfman@reviewjournal. com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.