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Bill Maher Begins ‘Stupidest State Award’ Brackets, Descends Into Painful Self-Parody

It’s that time of the however-many-years! Bill Maher has decided to bring back his Stupidest State Showdown, an awards ceremony of sorts for the states he thinks are the dumbest. The award is a man with his head stuck in his behind, because that’s both edgy and funny! Can you guess which states Maher has elected as finalists? (Hint: probably not Massachusetts).

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On his program last night, Maher revealed his brackets for the Stupidest State Award (yes, this is like everything you hate about both the Oscars and March Madness, plus Bill Maher trying to be funny), and they included two divisions– the Bonehead and Braindead Conferences– and eight states: Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, and California.

Today’s “game” (yes, Maher uses a painfully bad “jock/sports announcer” voice through this entire shtick) was Arizona vs. South Carolina, and the jokes are even worse than you predicted. “Arizona– the state for old people who think Florida is ‘too Jewy’!” Maher laughs, “the only state presided over by a delusional cat lady!” He mocked not only Governor Jan Brewer, but Sheriff Joe Arpaio as well, who Maher joked didn’t think the President’s birth certificate was real because “it has a space for mother and a space for father, but none for owner.” As for South Carolina, Maher mocked a man who died ingesting a cocaine packet that had been hidden in his brother’s body and a woman who was conned into buying a piece of wood thinking it was an iPad. He also called Sen. Jim DeMint a “teabagging morons,” because Maher didn’t get the memo that “teabagger” stopped being funny in summer 2009.

In a sense, Bill Maher is one of the most intelligent culture commentators America has today. He has, on occasion, given very clear and nuanced political arguments and assessments of the way the American process works, and the way the culture progresses and evolves. His consistent highlighting of the schism between social authoritarianism/Puritanism and libertarianism contributes much to the dialogue that can easily be lost, and his masterful choice of guests for the program offers us moments with well-known personalities no one else could. Maher would be a better political commentator than most people on cable news.

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Unfortunately for everyone, he insists on trying to be funny, and the result is a cliche salad of insecure bile seemingly designed only to comfort those who are so unhappy at themselves all they can do is call Jan Brewer a “delusional cat lady” and hope it improves upon their mood. And this is precisely because Maher isn’t in the business of making jokes, exactly. He never was, though there was a time he wasn’t beyond parody– looking back at MadTV’s take on Politically Incorrect a decade ago, a skit that does Real Time justice seems impossible (yes, that is a young Taran Killam as Toby Maguire). “Other people are stupid, haha!” is a pathetic attempt at intelligent humor. His mission is not to simply make you laugh at an observation about the world or to stop taking something traditionally considered dogma so seriously– though his PR team would gladly have you believe it. Maher is in the business of making a point– namely, that he is better than you, no matter who you are, with no prejudices aside from his own insatiable need to feel superior.

Feel better about yourself by mocking the poor sods who have to deal with Sen. Jim DeMint (via HBO) below:

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