On a recent episode of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, the host suggested President Bush is stupid, drew out a former chess champion-turned-political candidate's fears for his life and shouted down hecklers who believe American saboteurs, not suicidal jihadists, brought down the twin towers on Sept. 11.
Such lively conversation on all manner of hot-button topics is all in an evening's work for Maher, a comic and satiric pundit whose few-holds-barred, no-opinion-is-sacred approach to political and cultural conversation makes his weekly program one of TV's current-events lightning rods. With Maher himself never reticent about espousing his libertarian views, and his three-guest panel encouraged to let loose on whatever pops into their collective heads, Real Time may be the one discussion program on TV that deserves the adjective "free-wheeling."
ON STAGE Bill Maher. 7:30 tonight. Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave. $30-$60. 410-547-7328 or ticketmaster.com.