In a segment on last night's edition of MSNBC's "Countdown," comedian Bill Maher, host of the HBO show, "Real Time," went to great lengths to explain how he's not gay, but former Congressman Eric Massa, D-N.Y., probably is. Maher's comments were made in response to guest host Lawrence O'Donnell's sarcastic opening question to Maher: "Are you gay?"
O'Donnell's reference was to Tuesday night's appearance of Massa on CNN's "Larry King Live," during which King asked Massa the same question.
Instead of responding to O'Donnell by taking on the inappropriateness of King's question, Maher told O'Donnell that he wasn't good-looking enough to be gay, and that he wishes he were mistaken more often for being gay. Then he went on to say that closeted gay men always chalk up their ostensibly gay-driven deeds to their having sinned, as if all men had those same desires but simply didn't act on them. Maher then went through the litany of Massa's reported sexual misdeeds, saying he would never be inclined to do the same.
The problem with the whole segment -- and with King's question -- is that the ethics investigation that Massa escaped by resigning his seat was not an exploration of whether or not the former congressman is gay, but whether he's a sexual predator who subjects subordinates to unwanted sexual advances -- a practice unbound by the limits of sexual orientation.
The sexual orientation of a closet lawmaker only becomes relevant if that lawmaker has a record of voting against civil rights for LGBT people.
As for Maher's performance on last night's "Countdown," it's difficult not to wonder if he doth protest too much. Judge for yourself:
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