The Truth Hurts — Especially When Bill Maher Dishes It Out

Back in 2013, I got a call from Bill Maher.

He was being hit with a lawsuit by Donald Trump and thought it would be “comedy gold” for my column. The host of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” had joked that Trump was the love child of a human woman and an orangutan — what else could explain the tangerine hair? Maher offered to give $5 million to charity if he could see the birth certificate of Trump, who had offered $5 million to charity for records to verify the birthplace of President Barack Obama.

Trump failed to see the parody and thought the joke was mean. The flamboyant mogul told his lawyer to answer Maher with a letter: “Attached, hereto, is a copy of Mr. Trump’s birth certificate, demonstrating that he is the son of Fred Trump, not an orangutan.” Then Trump sued Maher for $5 million, before dropping the suit eight weeks later. (The Trump representative who threatened to refile the suit was none other than Michael Cohen.)

“He’s not even a real person,” an exasperated Maher told Conan O’Brien about Trump at the time. “He’s just like a pop reference from the ’80s.” It was like beefing with J.R. Ewing from “Dallas,” he said.

I told Maher that it wasn’t worth writing about Trump and his silly lawsuits and risible presidential aspirations.

“Forget it,” I said. “Trump doesn’t matter.”

Oh, well. Nobody gets it right all the time.

At 68, the comedian is still a thicket of thorns in Trump’s side. He led the pack in 2015, taking the threat of Trump seriously. He led again in 2020, warning that Trump would not accept the results if he lost. And he predicts the same this time if Trump loses again — two grooms showing up at the altar on Jan. 20 (which happens to be Maher’s birthday).

“It’ll be disputed and it’ll be ugly,” he said over a recent dinner at Craig’s, a Hollywood show business canteen.

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