A couple of Bill Maher’s guests tried to wipe the egg off of their faces when the comedian fooled them with a quotation from Michelle Obama that they initially considered racist. W. Kamau Bell and Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden were surprised to hear the first lady make remarks similar to Paul Ryan’s allegedly racist point about cultural indifference toward work.
At the start of the discussion, Maher suggested that Ryan’s critics were injecting race into his comments, but Bell and Tanden refused to cut the congressman any slack. Maher then offered another quotation, saying it came from the Wisconsin congressman:
When it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered. They’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.
“Oh wait — that wasn’t him: that was Michelle Obama,” a smirking Maher revealed. He argued that the first lady was agreeing with Ryan, if not going further, yet received no criticism.
Bell tried to justify Obama’s remarks, saying that “this is not a Republican or Democrat issue.” When he learned that she said it during a commencement speech at Bowie State University, a historically black university, he absolved the first lady.
“She was talking to black people — we talk to each other differently than how we talk in front of you,” Bell explained.