Coming less than 48 hours after the GOP closed out its convention across the Bay in Tampa, fans expecting to hear plenty of bashing of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and company were not disappointed as the HBO comic eviscerated Republicans as essentially non-thinking white people afraid of changes happening in a multicultural America.
Referring to the "bullshit" that took place across the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Maher immediately seized in his opening moments on the bizarre Clint Eastwood performance at the RNC.
He said the scene was a metaphor for the entire Republican Party when it comes to judging Obama: "An old white guy arguing with an Obama that does not exist."
(Make no mistake that the crowd was as liberal as the comedian: A simple mention of Marco Rubio brought a cascade of boos.)
The comic mocked Republicans for their portrayal of President Obama as a Socialist, which he contended most people don't know the meaning of, and fantasized that a second Obama term in office would unleash the pent-up progressive agenda liberals have been yearning for.
Mentioning the president's mixed racial background, he asked the audience to consider that "the first term was the white term. Now, we're gonna get the black term." He said the president should make Republicans "nervous" by growing his hair out and wearing purple suits. But he won't, Maher said, calling him the Jackie Robinson of politics.
On health care, he channeled former (and possibly future) Orlando-area Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, saying that the GOP health care plans are either "Drop Dead" or "Go Fuck Yourself Plus."
Regarding the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate, Maher said that was done clearly to appease the base of the Republican Party, just as President Obama has appealed to gays and Latinos in the past year. "He knows where the base is. For the Democrats the base is minorities, women and sane people. And for the Republicans the base is old white people who make sighing noises when they get up."
Attending a Bill Maher show, you know organized religion is going to get skewered. On Saturday night the target was Mormonism (being in Clearwater, he also mentioned Scientology a couple of times, even calling for a combination of the two faiths: "Mormontology").
He challenged the news media to report fully on the history of the church, making frequent references to Kolob (a star or planet described in Mormon scripture). And because he thinks both Mormonism and America are "stupid," he said he expects the entire country to go Mormon within 100 years.
He parodied the notion of American exceptionalism, which he says the GOP has taken to a new level in the Obama years: "If we have any flaw, it's that we make other countries feel bad because our awesomeness is so overwhelming."
If you missed Maher this time around, he'll undoubtedly be back in a couple of years. This was his sixth appearance in the Tampa Bay area over the past nine years. And of course he can be seen weekly now that Real Time With Bill Maher is back from summer break every Friday night on HBO at 10 p.m.