Rod Stewart Reminisced About His Musical Career on “Real Time”

Meanwhile, Bill Maher and guests talked crime, Ukraine and baby formula

Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart appeared on the latest "Real Time With Bill Maher."

Call it apocalyptic; at the start of the latest Real Time With Bill Maher, Maher noted the start of fire season and the fact that it was Friday the 13th. Plus, there’s a baby formula shortage on, “just when the Supreme Court comes up with a formula for more babies.” Maher also raised the subject of inflation, saying, “I’ll say this for Donald Trump — when he was president, America felt cheap.” Both inflation and Ukraine were up for discussion, and they’d be running themes throughout the episode.

Legendary singer Rod Stewart was up first. “I can’t believe he came here!” Maher said. For his part, Stewart was eager to make with the quips as well. “Do you know what the Queen of England and I have in common?” Stewart asked. “We’ve both had the same haircuts for 60 years.”

Stewart then discussed his casino residency (at Caesars Palace) and the time limits imposed on that by the venue. Maher stressed Stewart’s songwriting chops: “I feel like you, as a songwriter, needs a better publicist.” And then, in a deeply Narduwar-eque maneuver, Maher brought Stewart his 51-year-old copy of the “Maggie Mae” single, which prompted Stewart to recall the emotional moment when the song hit number one on the British charts.

It wasn’t the only trip down memory lane, but the others were a bit more awkward. Maher asked Stewart about his relationships with various beautiful women over the years, and Stewart seemed a little reluctant to revel in it. “It was a different era,” he said. One thing that hasn’t changed for him, though, is a work ethic; that was a compliment Stewart was happy to accept.

Ian Bremmer and Jane Harman comprised the evening’s panel, both with new books out this month that tie into current events and political debates. Maher kicked things off by talking abortion. “How can America sustain” shifts in rights from state to state, he asked. Harman was blunt: “It can’t.” Bremmer was critical of the leaked Supreme Court opinion, noting that it read like “a culture war document” as opposed to a legal ruling. 

From there, conversation turned to the future of Twitter — whether Elon Musk would go ahead with his plans to buy it, and what it might look like if Donald Trump’s account was reinstated. Here, things turned a bit more contentious, with Bremmer referring to Musk as “the sh*t-poster-in-chief” and expressing — shall we say skepticism — about Musk’s social media presence. For his part, Maher embraced the idea of Musk potentially returning Twitter to its “irreverent, funny” roots.

In the second half of the panel, Maher and his guests discussed what role the government should have — if any — in addressing online disinformation, and discussed American foreign policy in Ukraine. “What is the Biden Doctrine?” Maher asked.

Bremmer argued that it was about tying the United States to international institutions in the wake of the Trump administration. Harman applauded this, but cited questions going forward about American global leadership.

Maher also returned to a subject he’d brought up in his monologue — namely, the money the U.S. is sending to Ukraine. Bremmer argued that part of it came from partisan negotiations inflating the original figure the Biden administration had asked for.  “It used to be a liberal thing to be suspicious of defense contractors!” Maher said. For her part, Harman raised the point that, should Russia’s invasion of Ukraine succeed, the costs — both literal and figurative — would be much higher going forward.

Overtime found the trio discussing inflation and China’s current policy regarding COVID-19. Harman also explored the baby formula shortage, citing the “concentration” of the industry. Bremmer pointed out that many of the aftershocks the economy is experiencing right now can be seen as the logical extension of the pandemic.

For New Rules, Maher explored whether the Supreme Court is the modern equivalent of a dystopian science fiction trope and pondered the logic of self-cleaning litter boxes. The bulk of the segment was about an increase in crime — or, more broadly, an increase in violations of social norms, covering everything from shopping in broad daylight to brawling on airplanes. “Who needs the metaverse when you can do whatever you want in real life?” Maher asked.

Finding a clear takeaway from this, though, was harder — Maher did note that crime has plenty of underlying causes, and that policing still needs reform. (Though a dig at trans athletes at the end seemed thoroughly out of place, and gratuitously mean.) It ended with a warning to Democrats — that failing to address this would likely end with Donald Trump back in the White House.

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