Welcome to an HBO podcast from the HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher. Oh, thank you. Oh, you're so kind. That is a fantastic impression of an audience. Really, it sounds like a real audience, you know, with a lot of the people didn't show up. But now I think we have a good energy here today because, you know, when California finally lifted some restrictions, it's been a yeah, we are now.
We are now allowed to get the mail and flee wildfires.
So these things are really loosening up out here. And and that's just locally. I mean, on the national level, boy, Biden boy, he said he's president now. You hear that? That's good. Yeah, and he's ready, he's reversing everything Drub did, who reversed everything Obama did. It's a great way we govern this country by undoing. But he like doing some good things. Trump had a ban on transgender people serving in the military.
Biden undid that.
But to. But to avoid confusion now, drill sergeants would no longer say, drop your socks and grab your socks, that's out because who knows who even has a cup.
And oh, and the Navy's new policy is whatever floats your boat.
This is great. We're putting Harriet Tubman on the 20 the twenty dollar bill.
I I cannot wait to go into the strip club and make it rain with 20 kids and scream, it's all about the Tubman's. I'm going to do that as soon as this pandemic is over, I. But Harriet Tubman on the 20, that's great, not a surprise in America because America is always respected black women on paper.
Oh, yeah, that's right, boo first then think about it. OK, that's right, that's always but first it's safe even when I'm with you.
But over in the Senate, the Republican senators have listened to this, voted against even holding the impeachment trial a couple of weeks ago. They were all about maybe we should impeach Trump. No, no. They say no impeachment. We don't even want the trial. We're going to acquit him anyway, not even censure. But they say it will go on his permanent record.
And, you know, Trump has been very quiet. Doesn't that alarm you a little? It's like in Jaws when the shark went out to sea for a little while, it's like I think it'll be back.
So he's down there in Mar a Lago and he's off Twitter. I guess that's a lot of it. You know who else is off Twitter, Mike?
Lyndell, the my pillow guy was being banned from Twitter for tweeting out repeated lies about the election being rigged, which, you know, I think is right.
But what about the repeated lies about his pillow being more than just a goddamn pillow either?
I tell you, the Republicans, they have a little bit of a lunatic problem in that party.
They they have people like that. And then they have somebody in Congress actually working in the building. Marjorie Taylor Green, we've talked about it here on the show. She's a freshman congressperson and she's deleting all her tweets this week, but is only from a couple of years ago that she's liked a lot of things on social media about murdering Nancy Pelosi and has threatened to do so. How how does that work? How do you call for murdering Nancy Pelosi and then you're working together?
What do you say to her when you see her in the elevator?
I love your shoes. When we hang you, they're going to look great and Kevin McCarthy is the head guy in the House he's heard about Marjorie Taylor Green has been saying, and he's like he's he's very disturbed.
He's disturbed, she's disturbed, he says he plans to have a conversation with a conversation. Marjorie, we've been getting some complaints from co-workers that you want to kill them.
I think if you look at your freshman orientation guide, you'll see plainly on page 16 inches, we don't kill our workers. Thank you so much for coming in. This is this is the America we're living in Margaritaville, Taylor Green believes, I mean this she had never met a conspiracy theory she doesn't like. She believes in something called frazzle drip. I'm not make I couldn't I frazzle drip. It sounds like something Lil Wayne uses to get high with frazzle drip.
This is listen to this. This is a real theory that they have there in the town, that there is a video out there that shows Hillary Clinton cutting the face of a teenage girl, wearing it like a mask and then drinking the girl's blood so that she can obtain a certain chemical that gives her special powers what we hear in Beverly Hills called the vampire facial.
Wow, I. I've come to tell you, maybe I'm just getting old, but I remember when the nuttiest thing Republicans believed in was trickle down economics.
Franscell drip, I'm sorry, I am not watching this video, I'm going to wait till it comes out in the theater.
That's where I want to see it. I understand. Anyway, we've got a great show, Van Jones and James Bulgar here. But first up, their evolutionary biologist, my old job and visiting fellow at Princeton University who co-host the Darkhorse podcast and co-author of the forthcoming book One Hunter Gatherers Guide to the 21st Century. Please welcome Heather Hying and Brett Weinstein. How are you two doing? Well, how are you? Thank you so much for being here.
I must tell you, I've been watching your podcast and seeing you talking about vaccines, which, of course, is on everybody's mind, number one these days. And it is so refreshing to see people have a nuanced conversation. You're I mean, among obviously medically sophisticated people who know a lot about this. You've had a lot of vaccines yourself, right? We have. I mean, because you've been to the tropics, this is your life.
We're as well vaccinated as anyone. Right.
And but it's interesting you constantly interrupt yourselves when you're talking about this and say, oh, shit, I hope you don't get in trouble for saying this just because it's our job.
It's but it's troubling you just having a nuanced adult conversation as opposed to mere cheerleading. That's not a good place for science to be, right, when you're worried, when you're always looking over your shoulder like that. Well, there's a there's a problem built into the question of vaccines, which is that there's a difference between the public health analysis and the private decisions that people have to make about their own vaccinations. And the problem is one of game theory, where the best deal, given that vaccines are very effective but they carry some risk, is for everyone else to get vaccinated.
But you're not to be. And if that happens, then you get the benefit of their immunity and you don't suffer any of the risk. But of course, that makes you a free rider. And so there is a tendency to underrate the risks of vaccines in order to get everybody on board with getting them. And then people who raise questions get demonized. So having that nuanced, nuanced conversation is not an easy thing to do, especially when you know what's coming.
You're going to be called that.
But it's science. We have to do it right. I mean, I understand what's going on now. The free rider thing, I get it. And I would say, look, we're in a bad situation. We do need these vaccines. But just don't gaslight me, right? Just don't treat me as a child who can't hear the truth because it might scare me or scare other people. Just tell me the truth.
That's all I want.
And when you discuss this, I know if you both believe I know you've said this, that you would prefer the AstraZeneca one, which is the old school one where they give you a piece of the old the real virus as opposed to the new MRSA one, which is exciting new technology, probably an improvement. But you say I've heard you say that you would just like the older one because the new one is just so new.
Well, so just to be clear, AstraZeneca is not a fully traditional virus. It uses a method of delivery that is more traditional. It has been used for longer.
It's a piece of the real virus. Right. Well, the you have the delivery mechanism, which is an adenovirus, but the adenovirus is completely unrelated to sars-cov-2. So they're just simply using it to get a piece of DNA into the cell. And then the cell manufactures pieces of the coronavirus, the spike protein, which then hopefully the immune system learns to recognize. But there's no danger of getting sars-cov-2 because the virus being used to deliver it suddenly comes back to life.
This virus doesn't carry that capacity. Right. And, you know, we have a long evolutionary history with adenoviruses. They caused things like the common cold. So it's not very serious, even if something were to occur. So in some ways, just the simple fact that it's using a virus to deliver the DNA rather than a novelty manufactured coat of lipids, these nanoparticles, which is what the the Mirinae vaccines are using, that's a novel technology.
We don't know what its implications are because it hasn't been used in humans for just just recreate a little bit of that conversation for me about just the new I mean, you're a scientist. You know this stuff real well. You're just saying, right? I mean, I've heard you I've heard you say it's not science. Fact, fiction, it's science fact, the old one. So just just to be clear, again, the AstraZeneca vaccine is not a traditional vaccine, it uses a new a new technology, but it also uses an older technology that we have more experience with.
So it is not a fully traditional vaccine. I would you know, there are also some of those, but that's the one you would prefer. But the the older it is, the more commonly we have already used it, the more likely we all should be to trust it simply because the data already exist. Right now, Imani, vaccines are brand new until twenty twenty. They had never been in humans before. And we are hoping both of us, as you said, we are scientists, we've got we've got more vaccinations than almost anyone given that we've got your yellow fever and rabies and all of these things because of the worry that we have done.
Yep. Just you know, we actually has worked on bats. And so in order to work on bats in the tropics, we have you know, we've been vaccinated against rabies and yellow fever and a number of things that most Americans never run into.
So you mentioned bats. Let me ask you about this, because we've heard a lot recently about the fact that maybe the virus did start in the lab. Let's talk about that, the fact that there is this lab, I think it's the only one in the world quite like it in Wuhan where it started, it would almost be a conspiracy theory to think it didn't start in the lab. Right. And and that theory was demonized at first that, oh, come on, that's conspiracy.
Thinking that it would started in the lab. But it it certainly is a 50 50. Would you say that?
Oh, it's far more likely than that, as a matter of fact. Right. That I think in June that the chances that it came from the lab look to me to be about 90 percent. OK, so this was never a conspiracy theory. In fact, that term is simply used to make it go away. It's a an obvious hypothesis that is in need of testing. And we are only now a year in getting to the point where we can discuss it out loud without being stigmatized.
OK, part of the problem, of course, is that we are so politicized, we're so polarized and partisan now right country that if the wrong guy proposed this to begin with and for half the country, it was the wrong guy, then the rest of the country says, no way, no how. We're going to call that a conspiracy theory and and we're never going to revisit it. And the fact is, that's not how science works. That is not science.
You need to you need to say, I've got a pattern, I'm going to make some observations and I'm going to consider every possible explanation on the table. And did it leak from a lab that was clearly from the beginning a possibility?
OK, so let me ask you this. At first I was going to say, when they make me get this, I'm going to I want them or not because it's new. I feel like it's an improvement over the old ones that I heard you say no, even though you're a little squirrelly about it tonight. I heard you say that you want the one where they have a little piece of the virus, the the way they did it for many, many years.
Then I heard about the lab.
And I was like, wait, if they made that one in the lab, do I really want a little piece of that virus in me? Is it possible there's something in a lab made virus that is different and would make a vaccine different than the ones we've had for decades, which were made from viruses that occurred in nature?
Well, this is a this is a complex topic.
The Ardino virus, why you're here right now, the adenovirus is one that you have history with or at least viruses in that family. You are very unlikely to have any evolutionarily evolutionary history with beta coronaviruses, which are the ones that sars-cov-2 comes from. So just from the point of view of what unexpected might happen, if we give you the adenovirus vaccine, it's much less likely to be dramatic than lipid nanoparticles, which is what the Mirinae vaccines are packaged in.
As far as the the little fragment of DNA in question or the fragment of RNA, they produce the same proteins. So the target is the same. The the virus is rapti sars-cov-2 virus is wrapped in spiked proteins. And the idea is to give those spike proteins to the immune system so that it recognizes them immediately if you ever get infected. And from that point of view, the the the vaccines that are currently available are equivalent. They're all delivering.
You're not worried if it was made in the lab, but it would be different that a vaccine would be different made from that.
That was that came from a lab instead of nature itself, which I mean, the lab is taking nature itself, of course. Yes. All of that doesn't concern all of our best tricks. We are borrowing from nature in case we are just simply taking that spike protein and figuring out how to get it into your cells so that your immune system gets a chance to see it.
So if. But let's assume that the Chinese were not trying to create a bioweapon, it's possible that they were if they were, they did a hell of a job because they shut down the world.
But let's assume they were just studying this for LMR scenario reasons we want if we want to have them. But it got out maybe like on a workers, you know, it's like when the busboy doesn't wash his hands before he goes to the bathroom and, you know, then you get food poisoning. But for the whole world. Right. Right. That's what.
OK, so OK. So that got out. It raises the question, should we ever be studying viruses in labs this way if we're just going to create the problem that we're trying to. Well, that battle was taking place before the covid-19 epidemic, and there was there were two factions, there was a faction that said we had no choice but to study these viruses and in fact, to engage in what's called gain of function research, where we turbocharger the viruses and make them much more dangerous than they are in the condition we find them.
And the argument was that we had to do that in order to know what they would be like in their dangerous form and could perhaps prepare by generating a vaccine. And then there was another faction that said, actually, we're likely to create exactly the disaster we fear. And what was missing from this discussion was a proper evolutionary analysis. And the fact is there are lots of viruses that can escape from nature and infect people. But in general, they don't have a second trick.
That is to say, they can infect you, that can make you sick. Maybe they can kill you, but they can't jump to the next person. And so what's really conspicuous about this virus is that it had both tricks from the get go. It infects people and it went from one person to the next with no explanation.
Now it seems to be having a third trick, which is it's mutating, which, of course, is not new. Viruses are always mutating. That's why flu shots are very often so ineffective, because you're getting the vaccine for why I never wanted a flu shot for the one that was around last year. So they're there as little as 10 percent effective. But OK, so this one is definitely mutating. We have a lot of them know the South African one, the British one.
They're all over the world now. I heard at the beginning of this that they usually get milder.
Viruses as they mutate because they want to survive, they don't want to kill anybody, then they got no host, you might suspect that a virus that did emerge from a lab that was doing gain of function research would precisely not do the thing that wild type viruses would do. But it might exactly do what we seem to be seeing, get more virulent, get more pathogenic.
You think it's getting more virulent mutations?
If you think about it, the the expectation amongst those who have been seriously investigating the question of whether this is a gain of function lab escape virus is that the virus would have been passed through either animals in the lab or tissues in the lab in order to use evolution to rerig it. And that means that effectively tension was put on the virus, pulling it in the direction of certain things. Some of those things were intentional, like infectivity of human cells, which may have given it extra capacities like this, this and cleavage site that no other virus like this has.
But sars-cov-2 does so in any case, in an attempt to give it these extra capacities, lots of things will have been inflicted on the virus, including things that we don't think about. So many of the characteristics, the fact that this virus attacks so many different tissues in the body does not seem natural. The fact that it does not, at least at the beginning, did not seem to transmit outdoors nearly at all is very conspicuous. I mean, after all, most animals live outdoors.
So a virus that seems to be adapted to indoor transmission is a bit conspicuous in this case. But I think Heather's point is, all right, you take the tension off of it, you let it go into the human population, it spreads out. We've now got many millions of individuals with infections. It's now going to move in the direction that makes the most sense for it rather than the most sense for the researchers. So, yes, I think there's every possibility that what we are seeing is a response to this virus now being free to explore evolutionary space.
And the common theme is we didn't evolutionary perspective on the research that's being done. It seems that there is there are certainly perverse incentives to once you start doing research to try to keep doing that research, regardless of whether or not it's still good for humanity. Right. And excuse me, whether or not this virus emerged from the lab or not actually has implications for how it is likely to behave now that it's out in the world and how, therefore, we should we should imagine how likely these things are going to be going forward.
So we should have been paying attention to the lab theory at the beginning, but we didn't because it was politicized. Really is the moral there?
Well, in fact, if we had paid attention to it and recognized just how likely it was, then we would have surely put pressure on the Chinese to reveal what they knew about it. And if we had had that information, we would have been in a much better position. We would have known what to expect and we might have had a better approach on the vaccine front. Instead, we've been fighting a clearly false notion. All the things that we were assured were true at the beginning, that this was a bad virus that infected pangolin and then escaped through a wet market that's all known to be false.
The only part of that that stood is that originally this virus or the major part of it clearly came from a bat, but the rest of it has just come crashing down. Well, I was hoping to end on a happier note, but I really I thank you for the nuance in the conversation. All right, Brett and Heather, thank you very much. Time to meet our panel. OK. Yeah, I know. I'm sorry, that was a bummer.
We got to get the information I got I got to talk to, you know, about. All right. He's a CNN political commentator and CEO of Reform Alliance, our friend Van Jones. And the man is a. He's a journalist and contributing editor to Harper's magazine, James, James, great to have you here. All right.
So let's move to a somewhat related topic, the environment, because Joe Biden's writings signing executive orders on that, which is good. Thank God. Yeah. Moving in the right direction, putting it on the front burner. I really wanted to talk about this tonight because this I want to remind people this was your portfolio. Thank you. The world knows about Van Jones because you were the Greens are and got fired. So before we get to the environment, I just have to say this, because this bothered me all week.
I'm thinking about you being on the show and getting fired. I don't remember what it was, but I know it was nothing. And then watching this, not Marjorie Taylor Green. Yes, OK. Who is talking about killing her co-workers, you know, like in the break room kind of stuff, like I'm going to kill you and. But they don't fire her. Yes. Who is responsible for this double standard I of of what you can get away with.
Al Franken has to go. You know, the things that Democrats have apologized for, the slightest little things and then they get away with anything. Who is responsible for allowing this?
I think the Republicans have essentially profited from the same kind of stuff that she's talked about. If you look at Republican retail politics, you go to Republican rallies, you go to the town halls, you go to all this stuff, this stuff that she's saying is not that crazy.
And they've encouraged her previous to that. Right. And they've encouraged this kind of behavior. We understand, I guess, tonight his 999 take about this is very important to establish. The guest is not a nut. OK, we'll get there. We'll get there.
But what I was going to say is that if you look at the way Republican retail politics works, like this kind of stuff is fueling the energy. This kind of stuff is what gets people all across the country elected. And then you get into Congress and they refuse to work together. They refuse to even countenance the idea that a lot of Democrats are not socialist, treasonous, crazy people. Right. And then you get the Republican constituencies that are fed this idea that, hey, we don't work together, everybody on the other side is evil and you're going to have this stuff fester up.
It seems logical to me, but it's a different it's a different kettle of fish. I'm sorry to talk about it in the abstract versus having actually threatened these. I mean, this was only a couple of years ago that she was threatening Nancy Pelosi. Kathy Griffin just did a picture of it. She's gone, gone, gone, gone. It was a photo shoot. It was a joke. It was Trump's head. It wasn't real.
And of course, look, I first of all, it is remarkable to me I was caught on tape saying that Republicans were being assholes. Gone, gone.
Is that what it was? Well, there was that there was the false thing around the time of 9/11 and stuff like that gone. Now you have somebody who's saying there are Jewish space lasers starting fires in California. Wait, wait, wait.
Yes. I didn't see that in your side. What are you talking about?
Jewish space, Jewish space, lasers. That's the most recent thing that the Madame Margerie has been caught.
What does a Jewish Jew, you know, don't you know that Jewish leaders are you know, she's an anti-Semite?
You mean she thinks that this is a plot by Jews? Yes. To start fires. Yes. Yeah, well, I thought I was like, I don't even know what I was like, I don't know what's going to go on. So I think aliens progress and her brains fell out. I think that's what happened. So so what I'll say is Article one, Section five, Congress can throw out, they should throw our ass out and we should move on.
Should have should and boats were big enough know have a hell of a party. But that's not going to happen. It's not going to happen. But and that's one of the chants we have now is how much attention do you give somebody like her this week? We probably giving her more attention than some of the good stuff that Biden has done. We did that with Trump. So what I'm saying is that we need to make sure people understand this is the direction of some people in the Republican Party is despicable and it's terrible.
They have a remedy. They can censure her with only a majority or they can throw her out with two thirds. Congress should act and the media should move on. I don't want to make another Trump out of this crazy person.
But even he just said, lock her up. He didn't say hang her. I just feel like this is something a bridge too far.
I don't I don't know how you I have a kind of hot take on this, which is that I think a lot of this stuff is focused on what she liked on Facebook. And I do think that, like, if we're going to be principled people, if we're going to talk about, you know, I'm a leftist, I've liked a lot of stuff about revolution. Does that mean that I endorse seditious conspiracy against the United States or something? If I ran for office, would I then?
But still interested in Castroville? Different, and it's totally different, but it's something I've been thinking about, like where do I sign on this stuff? OK, but can I say this is she. In February twenty nineteen, Margerita Legrain led a group of Trump supporters into the Speaker's office. I need to find out how that happened. But something with Facebook, I don't know.
Facebook can get anywhere where she accused Pelosi of treason and suggested she shall suffer death or I mean a Facebook competitor the year before comment. And now do we hang them referring to Obama and Hillary? And she wrote back, stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient.
Yeah, it's it's a different level. It can't, you know, remember George Bush. This will not stand just cannot stand to have someone again. Like I said, it was a joke.
But what do you say when they're in the middle of my question about this and I think I've sort of come around, as I was mentioning, I've sort of come around to thinking I think censure is a good idea for her. Some things some things that Republicans can say, hey, look, we actually don't think that these people are truly evil, crazy lizard scorpions.
But on the other hand, what's crazy about it is if you censor her and throw her out. And or throw her out, all of a sudden you end up in a situation where she becomes the martyr, right? It's almost it's almost an unkillable virus. I don't have a good answer for it.
But I wonder sometimes, like if we're OK, but that can't be the whole thing. You couldn't do it on that one. You couldn't do it on the street. You know, you can't threaten people like that. And certainly you can't elected officials. Well, and we just and words really do have consequences.
Don't forget. Don't forget, you know, Gabby Giffords. Don't forget Scarless. We've actually had I never thought I would say forget January six. I mean, yet you had the insurrection. I never thought I'd say this. Actually missed the Tea Party.
Remember the Tea Party? They remember that they were they were just sort of like, you know, mean and be you know, they were like they were murderous traitors. It was just it was just government.
I think if you were at Tea Party rallies, you heard murderous traitors all the time. Right. That's where they started.
And and frankly, as I was saying before, Republicans encouraged that at that time that this is where this all began, this kind of.
No, I think it's like doing I think it's slightly different to go to a Tea Party rally where they say stuff. And then what we saw on January six. In other words, I do think that everything seems to be mutating in a worse direction.
The virus is much the same with the show, the things mutating in a worse direction.
The only good thing that's happening is Joe Biden, who I'd love to talk about Joe Biden. Well, OK, let me let me. Is he is the vaccine.
OK, well, let's not forget Superman's cape up on him. Yeah. I mean, he's yes. We're very glad he's. But let's talk about environment. Your old portfolio, your big government is about priorities. That's what elections are about, government is about we have never been named, but now it's great that he's signing executive orders. But at a certain point, my executive orders feel great. The first week, at a certain point, you have to legislate to get anything real done.
OK, so how do you get.
The Trump voter to feel that the environment is a priority. I know the people who think it's a priority, they were there before Trump, they're there now. But we have again, I said this undoing Trump comes in here and does everything Obama does. Now, Biden comes in his undoing. Trump, it's just lateral movement. The country doesn't move forward. It's good for conservatives.
How do you get we have to get the other half of America to believe that climate change is is how does that happen?
But believe it or not, I have I actually have some good news for you on this, which is I was actually there's something called common ground on climate bipartisan.
Chris Coons and Mike Brown, Oborne hard, hard core liberal, hard core conservative are actually trying to get something done. They got 14 senators. But here's here's the crazy thing is happening on the right.
You've got red state farmers, ranchers, people who are involved in the fishing industry who are losing their everything because of floods, fires, droughts, rising temperatures. So you starting to have a constituency in the Republican Party saying, oh, excuse me. Also, you've got these young libertarian conservatives who say we don't necessarily believe in Aoki's economic policy, but we believe in the climate science. So there is an opportunity to get something done, believe it or not, even on climate, it's so bad now that even grassroots conservatives think something's got to be done.
That's a good that's a positive. Yeah, and I think that, you know, one of the things that Tom Vilsack has been talking about, one of the things that people were really mad, Tom Vilsack, Tom Vilsack, the and acting when we need ag secretary of agriculture to speak to regular people.
The Senate bill, one of four people out there. So when he was appointed, a lot of liberals were pretty, pretty, pretty angry.
And I think part of that had to do with the fact that a big tenet of the push for the Green New Deal has been to try to bring rural people along, try to get these kind of hard core Trump people to understand that environmental policy can help repair land and water, can help rebuild the American family, farm economy, things like this.
And but are they connecting? I understand that you're saying they're seeing these these deleterious things happen in their own life. Are they connecting it to the right thing as opposed to just Lazar's?
You know, I mean, if they think, oh, you know, if they think, yes, I don't have as much water as I used to in my cattle are dying because Hillary is eating babies, then where are we making this connection that the thing we look at what I'm saying is that we often give the attention to the Jew Lazarre crowd. We don't talk about the American Conservation Coalition. Right. Concerned there's plenty of Republicans who are not exactly in these groups, I do think have a shot under Biden because we could put forward something that would get their attention because jobs also can come out of this thing as well.
And that's fine. But I think that the flip side here is that maybe you can't bring them along. Right. And if the question is, do we save the planet? And if we have to save the planet, do we try to steamroll people, you're going to have to end up trying to steamroll people. And, you know, at a certain point, at a certain point, for example, Joe Manchin is somebody who, you know, shot.
He is the Democrat Democrat from West, from West Virginia. So he's the one like he very often votes with the Republican because he's from like the most Republican state. So the Democrat, he's a Democrat. But you can't count on him as a Democrat. Right.
And you can learn a lot about how you got to really pander to him on climate policy. I mean, he shot with a hunting rifle for a campaign ad, the 2010 climate bill.
And at some point, people like that are going to have to get pressured, whether it's from the White House, whether it's from the streets, like Democrats are going to have to use unconventional means if we only have, as they say, you know, they had to say we have 10 years. We're already behind that schedule.
Oh, they said that in 2000. Right. I mean, we're you know, I don't want to be the pessimist here, but yes, I mean, that that we passed that a long time ago. But look, we have to try. And we also saw that at the beginning of the pandemic, when we all stayed and hid under the bed, the environment got better, like in a week.
It was it was amazing. You saw a butterfly. It's like nature was like, just give us a week. It was amazing. I live in Los Angeles. There were literally coyotes and skunks walking down the street just like, you know, the witch is dead.
The humans are gone. Right. And it can come back. It can heal. But we have to have we have to have some breakthroughs here.
And we are also going to have to have a conversation at some point about whether a society that's oriented around infinite economic growth, infinitely spiraling use of resources and energy, is actually going to ever be able to get to a point of being sustainable. That's not something we can hope to have. Joseph R. Biden fixed now, but it is going to have to be the conversation down the road. But do you think we are going to get to a tipping point like we did with gay marriage or pot, you know, where forever it seemed like people were not budging and then they got the message, OK, you know, gay people, they should be able to get married, have full equal rights, marijuana, not the devil's weed, certainly not in my bathtub.
And and, you know, they changed this.
I think the way this is more abstract, I think the way the way you get there is America's military. Every single now scenario at the Pentagon has catastrophic climate chaos as a threat to U.S. interests. Right. So if you have the farmers and the ranchers and the generals and other people, not Van Jones and Al Gore, the people who are going to be heard given give them a chance to speak. Right. You may be able to deliver.
You know what? They're coming out with an electric Hummer truck that has 11000 pound.
It has eleven thousand pounds of torque.
I have no idea what that means. But I know gave people in the Midwest an erection.
That's what we need.
Yeah. Hummer Electric and. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Let's make it an everybody issue instead of a liberal issue. So the Biden's dogs, I like to move right into a feel good issue since we've had so much downers stuck to the Biden's dogs. Champ and Major are their names. They moved into the White House on Sunday, beating Melania by six months.
That took her six months to move. And the dogs are there already. One of them is the first rescue. And this is a new day in America. You know, of course, with Joe Biden. And, you know, he was the moderate in the race. And so he's always trying to, I think, you know, kind of heal with the progressive wing of the party. So he has two of the most progressive look at me trying to sell this for real progressive dogs in the nation.
These dogs, champ and major, a really progressive, for example, their pronouns are he and good boy, these are very progressive out of Shepherd, a German shepherd, but he identifies as a Doberman.
Boy, these little dogs, they only chase electric cars. These are very when they stiffener the dogs, but they don't judge and major only smiles asses that are gluten free.
These are they refer to cats as deplorable. Before Champ humps your leg, he asks for consent. That's. Major wants to defund the mailman, the dog, and they feel really guilty about wearing fur.
I thought I would go over a little better with the people who wrote it, but I don't understand this phenomenon. All right. So something else Biden did this week, not going to renew the contracts for for profit prisons. Why are we ever we got we have some bad ideas, you know, like no knock searches, fucking three strikes. You're out for profit prison. Just if we just get rid of the bad ideas, you know, bad ideas lead to bad policy, lead to people suffering it just so.
But that's a step. Now, of course, this is in federal prison, which is not where most of the prisoners are.
But, you know, you worked with Trump and the administration on this and you've said before I got beat up by liberals by saying he did some good things. I always commended you for that. This is what we need so much more of people who are willing to say, let's just get to what the truth is, not, as you were saying, what side we're on. The same thing we were talking about with the virus. It's always about what side you're on.
And so what did he the first step back was? Is that what it was called, the Trump past? Yeah. Look, I mean, people didn't want to deal with this, but we got 14000 people at a federal prison earlier than they would have gotten, which is a very good thing.
And, you know, some of the stuff that Obama was able to do on the crack cocaine disparity, that wasn't retroactive. So Trump actually made Obama's policy getting, you know, a distinction between crack and powder cocaine done retroactively that got a lot of people home.
So, listen, here's the deal. That's a good thing. That's a good thing.
My view on this is, you know, Trump did that for his own political reasons. You know, Democrats like myself would do it for a different set of reasons. But the fourteen thousand people who came home were happy to come home. They didn't care about the politics in the White House. They want to go home to their mother's house. And we got to be we got to be able to focus on that sometimes.
Well, OK, so that was the first step back. What's the second step? Well, I mean, that's 14000. Yeah. You know what? We've got to have more than. Well, listen, I'm a part of the Reform Alliance. We've got, you know, legislation in multiple states to deal with the probation and parole reform and a lot of stuff can get done. What I like about criminal justice is that Democrats like it for racial justice and social justice, but Republicans like it because it saves money.
The libertarians don't like the government having this much power. And some of the Christian conservatives and another religious conservatives actually ask the question, where is the redemption? Where is where does a fallen sinner get a chance to rise again? Not in our system. And so it is an opportunity for us to come together to have a second, third, fourth and fifth step. And we're going to fight for that this year.
And you think you think Biden will find people to work with on this on criminal justice? Absolutely, absolutely. Because this is what I hear. I mean, you know this but he could have said that for the last four years and it didn't happen. Well, no, it's very expensive. We spend like three hundred billion dollars policing and incarcerating people in this country and it's not working out.
So. So here's what I would say on this in particular, it's 80 billion dollars, literally just locking people up and making them worse. You couldn't come up with a better way to waste money than to take some kid off the street and spend one hundred and twenty thousand dollars a year brutalizing them and then sending them home. Take the hundred thousand dollars, give it to a black grandma and give and give that black grandma with that money and see what she does with that kid that kids that are lined up at Harvard.
OK, so if you really want to make our community safe, stop spending money, hurting people and use money to help people. That's possible. And what you're seeing is in states like Texas and Georgia, they're actually doing it in red states and it's beginning to work.
But I mean, you're you're talking about saving money. So you're saying the answer is with money. But that's also the problem because, again, we started with for profit prisons. Where are the for profit prisons? So usually in rural counties. Am I right? You know, you're taking people from urban areas and putting them in prisons where people's jobs depend. I mean, they're not they're not prisoners. They're customers. You need the continual supply of customers.
That incentive is the problem.
Well, first of all, with private prisons, I mean, it's even greater incentive in the state's prisons. Right. And that's what drives most of this going on. Right.
But second of all, I mean, I think that the moral argument that you're talking about is something that found a lot of purchase and it's something that's like brought people together across political lines in a way, particularly with regard to religious conservatives, that something like I do a lot of reporting on that.
And it's amazing how often people talk about redemption, how often people talk about the ways in which the prisoners.
Yeah. And the ways in which the church has failed to lead on this issue. And that's something that I actually I'm working on a piece about. And I found it sort of to be a kind of shocking sea change. And I think that I think that the idea that Biden and particularly because this is where this is going to have to change is at the level of state governments. The idea that we can't do this, is it a kind of roadblock that's been thrown up there?
I don't think really has a lot of purchasing reality.
And you actually said something much more radical, though, in that it's not just the private prisons. Also the public prisons have that same incentive to keep the doors open because then you have the prison guards union, the prison guards union. They want the customer.
Once you have the profit motive, whether it's public or private prisons infecting your justice system, you're not going to get justice, especially for people who can't afford a great lawyer. And so what I would say is, let's just reverse the whole thing, pay the wardens when somebody gets out of prison and gets a job and stays home. OK, so now that Ward is going to work hard to actually make sure that something good happens in there as opposed to just wait for the customer.
That's the same philosophy we should use with health care that really was tried to be written into Obamacare. Exactly. Reward, but ward health instead of sickness, health and keeping them out.
If we don't, we we just we just don't do anything right anymore.
But we do have bitin which. Oh, Jesus Christ, your champion made no plans.
So where is where is Trump? It's like he's in the where are they now been. I am so sure, Waldo, that this guy has been so quiet, are you not?
Did you get that email that he sent out from the office of the former president?
That I constantly. Well, it's crazy.
They say every now and every journalist I know wacko, this kind of batch email from the office of the former president announcing that somewhere in Florida they're rebuilding and he's going to constantly work in the service of the American people. What he's going to be doing, I don't know. But it was a really fascinating email to get right.
Well, there is a little I see that South Florida now is the new Argentina.
So there's a lot of a lot of the people, you know, in that orbit now, I guess it's around. Mar a Lago is the center of it. And I just don't trust that, you know, it's just so not like him. Radio silence It's just never a term I associated with Donald Trump. He's actually Garbo esque as fading away gracefully.
Well, he's not going to be happy. McCarthy is Kevin McCarthy out there right now? Right. Kevin McCarthy is Kevin down there trying to make amends after all of this noise of saying, oh, maybe we don't want this kind of thing, maybe not the number, the number one Republican, the number one Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy.
Goes down and basically kisses the ring, it is he's kind of more kind of quiet like The Godfather in a way, and you see he's not giving up control of the Republican Party. And I think that that is going to put a lot of pressure on Republicans who thought they were going to be able to turn the page when Kevin McCarthy, who knows better, decides that he's going to continue to allow Donald Trump to run the party into the ground. That's not good.
And we're going to have this trial. Where the insurrection took place with a jury of the co-conspirators and the jury that's already indicated by a vote that they're not going to convict him. So it's going to be another big pantomime that's going to end in another wash.
But but what I will say is there have been four impeachments in the history of the country and Trump has half of them.
So let's look at it like it does. It does. And at the end of the day, it does begin. You know, no one else came even close. And the greatest amount of impeachment of anybody. No one could deny that. All right.
I just I just want to say one more thing before we go to new rules. We're about to have a recall in this state. Don't do it. Don't do it. I have my frustrations with California. I've certainly been not shy about voicing them on this show. But Gavin Newsom is a smart guy. Yes, a good guy. I would love to talk to him in a room and convince him a few things. But he's please don't do this.
It's stupid and conspiracy to take over the state. That's all it is you can do in a state of 40 million. OK, I can't get a million people. I'm working on a story right now about rural California.
And I'll tell you whatever you think. It is not a conspiracy. It is it is something that is a real groundswell. It feels like. No, no, I don't think Ohio frustrations with this state. I'm telling you, I've I've said them. We get it. But this is not helping. And he's a good guy. He I think everybody in politics, it's a tough job. You need a minute to get your feet and to get the ship righted.
You know, Kennedy fucked up at the beginning. Everybody fucks up at the beginning except Joe Biden. He's all right. I got to go to new rules. New rules. All right, well, now that Dr. Fauci says wearing two masks is more effective than just one, let's not stop there. Let's wear the same number of masks as we have blades in our razors.
Five. The first mass and gently lifts the virus from the skin, the second traps the virus so that it can escape, the third mask sits on the virus shoulders and makes it start hitting itself. The fourth squirts your face with Purell while it sings Happy Birthday twice and the fifth hides your face so nobody knows who that idiot is wearing five masks. Well, now that we know nasal swabs are more accurate at detecting covid than oral swabs and anal swabs are even more accurate.
Someone must open a testing facility that does all three swab lobby. Where where you can open up and say, oh, or bend over and say.
Neuro, now that there's an app that lets you rent your garage to strangers and another app that lets you rent your swimming pool to strangers. Tell me again why prostitution is illegal?
Because I would rather sell my ass to a stranger than let a stranger bring his kids over to piss in my pool.
Here's a conversation I never want to have. Hey, Bill, you want to hang out? I can't. I rented my pool to a baptism. New rule, if you own more than two funny t shirts about wine, get help.
Here's a good test for you.
If your wine T-shirt is actually sad, replace the word wine with crack like mama needs crack or oh, look, it's crack HACLA or. I tried running, but I kept spilling my crack. Another good rule before you buy an I love wine t shirt for your mom, imagine Jeanine Pirro in it.
Old ladies, before you say beer, yoga, where you do yoga while drinking beer is not for you. Just think of how handy it'll come in when you get hammered and need to piss in an alley.
And finally, new rule when you're writing against Donald Trump and he loses, stop.
This month, radicals in Portland and Seattle took to the streets in a protest against the president, who for far too long has presided over corruption and criminal behavior. Joe Biden.
That's right. Joe is president for one day when protesters went to town on building storefronts, garbage cans. And, of course, they broke windows at Starbucks because, well, it's like they say in that insurance commercial, it's what you do, you know.
I understand the impetus for street fighting at times and done peacefully, it can move the needle on how the public sees an issue important. But while I'm sure it's fun to cosplay V for Vendetta every night, let's be clear as a means of actually effecting change. It's right up there with holding your breath till you get a pony.
And now that normality is back and there's at least a chance that government can function again, we need to be reminded of something really important that making progress, real progress that actually changes the lives of real people comes mainly from dull patient plotters who put in their 10000 hours mastering the details of public service. It comes from people trapped in tiny rooms at 3:00 a.m. with stale pizza and cold coffee, crafting laws line by line that few will ever read or thank them for.
I know it's not the sexy answer, but change comes from people who look like this.
What if I told you there was a single member of Congress who brought the tobacco industry to its knees, paved the way for less expensive generic drugs, expanded Medicaid to include pregnant women and children, put the teeth into the Clean Air and Safe Water Drinking Act and wrote most of Obamacare. You probably wouldn't know who it was, even though I just showed you his picture.
You thought that was your pharmacist? No, that's Henry Waxman, you always hear things like the insurance companies wrote Obamacare. Well, sure, they had their input, but no, most of it was written by Henry Waxman and not just the Affordable Care Act, nursing home reform, food safety reform, AIDS research. Basically, if you ate and drank it, breathed it or fucked it and it didn't kill you, you have Waxman to thank.
When it came to actually making people healthier between nineteen seventy five and twenty fifteen, he did everything to get the cigarettes out of firing squads.
As one top Republican said, 50 percent of the social safety net was created by Henry Waxman when no one was looking. And that's the thing about being a workhorse instead of a show horse. No one's looking. Waxman never went on the Sunday talk shows. He didn't do TV at all. The camera didn't love him and the feeling was mutual.
We we asked him once to do our show and he said, no, I'm too busy, he even put himself on the cover of his own book. He could have published Relentless Taking back America from the takers who took it.
But that wasn't his style.
His style was getting stuff done. Liberals, to paraphrase Ted Kennedy, see wrong and try to right it, see suffering and try to heal it, see war and try to stop it. We see this and want it to become this. But how does that actually happen? It's easy to spray paint fuck you on a federal building.
It's a little harder to work inside and actually make it happen. This this lady just wants someone in the government to take responsibility and clean up that toxic waste dump that's so close to where she lives, who actually gets that done? Baldy's over here.
I hate to have to put it this way, but mostly you have to make Republicans do the right thing.
I'm sorry to have to say that, but you do.
And this guy doesn't do that. This guy has people. People don't live in the world of political philosophies and endless intersectional theorizing, they live in the world of is there going to be a hot lunch at school? No, let in the toys, getting minimum wage and helping the victims of human trafficking.
John Kerry always looks tired because things like the Iran nuclear deal or the Paris Accords don't just plan themselves. The irony of Hillary Clinton being done in by her emails was that if you actually read them, they bore you to tears because that's what a policy wonk meticulously doing her job looks like.
John Kerry, Hillary, Barney Frank, John Lewis, Nancy Pelosi, Obama, this is the time for people like that, the wonks who never satisfied the radicals but know how to actually make progress as opposed to doing progressive theater. It's not the screamers and the tweeters. It's the worker bees with the nametags and the binders. They deserve an award.
And so tonight I am introducing in honor of our first recipient, Henry Waxman. The Baldie Awards. And the baldie each year will go to the most Waxman like Congress person, and hopefully it will become the most coveted award a politician can earn. We need to bring unsexy back.
Congratulations, Henry. This is for you and all the unheralded grinder's who pushed the boulders up history's hill.
All right. That's our show. I want to thank Van Jones, James Bone, Brett Wainstein and Heather Hying. We'll see you next week. Thank you, folks. Thank you, Bill, for this award, I'm honored to be the first recipient of the award. I know that the other baldies that will follow me will also be deserving, but I've got to get back to work.
There's a lot of work to do. So thank you very much.
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