Bill Maher uncorked a spontaneous remark Friday that some are taking as racist—not the first time his "I'm-cool-enough-to-joke-about-racial-stereotypes" humor has sparked such an accusation, says Deadline. The Real Time With Bill Maher host was interviewing GOP Congressman Will Hurd from Texas when an exchange about the Republican Party and the CIA somehow led to Popeye's Chicken. Hurd, who is black, said he disagreed with President Trump on some issues (like the border wall) but aligned with him on fundamental GOP philosophy about "limited government" and "the rule of law." But Maher said Republicans don't come through on those issues.
"What’s in it for you?" asked Maher. "What is in the Republican Party for you? You were in the CIA!" There, they agreed: "I was in the CIA for almost a decade," said Hurd. "I was the dude in the back alleys at four o’clock in the morning collecting intelligence on threats to the homeland." And that's when Maher cracked, "That’s where you'd collect ’em, huh? Well, by the Popeyes Chicken?" The audience groaned, per the Daily Beast, but all remained quiet until Maher's critics opened fire on Twitter. And no one's forgetting his use of the N-word on Real Time in 2017, for which Maher apologized. So was Maher just "trying to suggest an urban setting," as Deadline puts it, or is a fried-chicken reference out-and-out racist? We'll see how Maher—and perhaps Hurd—respond to this. (Maher's blog about Stan Lee also rankled some readers.)