Bill Maher would "bet the house" Mitt Romney will win the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
More surprising, Maher — one of liberal Americans’ beacons — thinks Romney has a "50-50" shot at beating President Barack Obama.
Maher thinks Romney is a dumb "bimbo." So why him?
"They’ve got nobody else. He looks like a president. He ran last time, and Republicans are big on giving the nomination to the guy who has stood in line. They gave it to (Bob) Dole. They gave it to (John) McCain.
"And who’s going to beat him? I don’t think (Mike) Huckabee. I don’t think Sarah Palin. Even Republicans know she’s a joke," says Maher, who performs Friday and Saturday at The Orleans.
Obama seems beatable now because:
"The country is very unhappy, and people are very dumb, and Obama has been a disappointment in a number of different ways," Maher, HBO’s "Real Time" host, tells me.
Maher credits Obama for signing three laws: health care reform, financial reform and economic stimulus.
"He did stave off a depression this country was heading straight towards. Those are three pretty big accomplishments," Maher says.
"If he could get some kind of climate bill passed, and move us in that direction, I would have to say it’s a pretty successful first term."
On the other hand, Obama (as Arianna Huffington puts her finger on it) trusts everyone from banks to BP to do the right thing. He seems to have zero skepticism of authority figures.
Plus, various Obama policies mirror Republican policies.
"It amazes me the press is always obsessed with this idea of: ‘There’s too much partisanship, and we’re too polarized.’ Too polarized? Quite the opposite! We’re too alike.
"If both parties are for oil drilling, if both parties are for using the army to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, then we’re not polarized. We have one party."
This oil spill has depressed Maher "more than any story I’ve ever covered," he says.
"It’s not only the destruction of nature, but also the futility — this constant reminder that we can’t solve problems — I just find so depressing.
"I don’t see this giant tragedy changing peoples’ minds enough. People are still for drilling," he says.
One of those people, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., keeps saying it could be devastating if we stop drilling, even though the oil spill is, actually, already devastating.
"Only a Republican can look at a dead ocean and say, ‘Boy, I hope the government doesn’t turn this into something bad,’ " Maher says.
Yet, it’s not like Democrats in office are coalescing behind a replacement energy plan. No major politician in either party will say: Maybe it’s time to focus heavily on other resources and phase out oil-drilling jobs.
"If your job is in some industry that’s killing things — maybe you’re in the wrong line of work! Maybe we shouldn’t have those jobs," Maher says.
"They’ll never say that because oil is macho and windmills are ‘gay.’ Better to die in a manly fashion than to live by getting your power from wind," Maher mocks.
Maher wishes Obama would clean his environmental house and fire Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and EPA chief Lisa Jackson, for starters.
But he’s not hopeful.
"Since BP turned the Gulf of Mexico into the pit at Jiffy Lube, I’m a little cranky."
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 383-0391 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.