Update - Maher Takes Another Jab at Reagan

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

1st add-on: includes polling data and quotes

(CNSNews.com) -A joke by the host of a national television show about former President Ronald Reagan's bout with Alzheimer's Disease has an Alzheimer's Association chapter and the former president's oldest son angry. This is now the second time the host has made a joke about Reagan's condition and has outraged the former president's family and Alzheimer's activists.

According to a transcript of Wednesday's broadcast of the "Politically Incorrect" program broadcast by ABC television, host Bill Maher said, "President Clinton's approval rating, 57 percent, one of the highest ever for a second-termer. That just came out today. People made big news of this because it was higher than Ronald Reagan's approval rating in his second term. It was only 52 percent, so Clinton, higher than Reagan. Another big difference between Reagan and Clinton, Clinton wets other people's clothing."

Maher was probably referring to a recent CBS News poll showing Clinton's approval rating at 57 percent. An ABC News poll showed 47 percent thinks America should elect a president who can set the nation in a new direction.

The Alzheimer's Association, Greater Washington Chapter found the joke to be in poor taste. Karen Lubieniecki, a spokesperson for the Association chapter told CNSNews.com, "Alzheimer's is a serious disease that takes a terrible toll on the person with the disease and the people who care for them."

Lubieniecki went on to say, "There are more than 4 million people with Alzheimer's disease in the United States and to make fun of the struggle that someone such as President Reagan is going through is unfortunate."

The former president announced he was suffering from Alzheimer's in 1994 in a letter he released to the public.

Meanwhile, when a transcript of the "Politically Incorrect" broadcast was posted on the Free Republic website, a site that bills itself, "A Conservative News Forum," many readers were outraged.

Among the many comments the posting received were, "the guy's (Bill Maher) about as funny as a child molester."

Another respondent said, "I'm sure all 5 people who actually watched the show laughed right along with them." While another said, "Bill Maher recently had a private meeting with Clinton. He's never going to dry clean his suit again."

Reagan's son, Michael, was livid at Maher's remark. It was the second time that Maher had joked about the former President's Alzheimer's disease. Maher last year called Reagan "nuts," prompting an apology from Maher to Michael Reagan.

"Last year, he called my dad nuts, now he's making fun of his bodily functions," said the younger Reagan, in an interview with CNSNews.com. Reagan went to say, Maher's apology "didn't do didly squat." "I wouldn't even accept an apology by Maher," said Reagan. I'm just done with it."

The off-and-on dispute between Maher and Reagan also resulted in a new policy by the president's son regarding the booking of guest's on his own program. Reagan vowed to not allow anyone on his nationally syndicated radio talk if they have also been a guest on Maher's late night program after the November 3rd broadcast of "Politically Incorrect," when he first called his father "nuts."

"It's just stupid for any conservative to do Maher's show," said Reagan. " I don't care who it is, they won't be on my show." ABC had no comment on Maher's remark when contacted by CNSNews.com.

When asked if Maher plans to apologize for the latest Reagan remark, Maher's publicist Jeff Abraham told CNSNews.com, "I guess that's an issue between Michael (Reagan) and Bill (Maher). As far as I know, I haven't been contacted by Reagan Junior about any type of apology. It's up to Michael. I'm not aware of this. This is the first I've heard of it."