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Bill Maher Ejects 9/11 Truthers From Live Audience

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I've spent a handful of Friday evenings in the Real Time with Bill Maher studio audience and it's a blast. But last night at Studio 33 on the CBS lot (of Price is Right and Carol Burnett fame) was a really weird one. Halfway through the show, four audience members seated individually in middle seats of different sections, challenged Maher to address 9/11 consipiracy theories, namely: "What happened to Building 7?"

In the minutes preceding Real Time, the audience is instructed to laugh and clap at will, but not to boo or "help" the panelists. Shout-outs and heckling are unheard of at Real Time -- nobody wants to get Maher in trouble as he did on "9/17 (as exec. producer Billy Martin calls it)," when he agreed with wingnut columnist Dinesh D'Souza's statement that the 9/11 terrorists weren't cowards and then went too far, leading to the eventual cancellation of Politically Incorrect.

So it came as a surprise when the first heckler, a man of middle to AARP age, jumped out of his seat stage-right, unfolded some sign and started shouting at Maher. But when a redheaded woman in the center section chimed in "who's got a camera? Don't tase him!" and someone (maybe heckler-man) shouted, "Don't tase me bro!" as Maher rushed towards him (since the security guards were too slow) it seemed this could have been a stunt designed by Maher if not a joke staged by his producers. I was just hoping Chris Matthews would cut his cackling.

After the third and fourth hecklers were removed (more aggressively), it became apparent that this coordinated disturbance was most likely plotted by this group of 9/11 Truthers. When all settled down, Maher took a breath: "You see, in that instance, [referring to people who claim the WTC was brought down by a controlled explosion] I'm actually defending President Bush. I don't think President Bush actually brought down the World Trade Center."

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Maher's an entertainer and he loves to stir up shit. He blamed American politicians days after 9/11 when nobody else dared and last night, he vowed to defend Bush, hardly a popular move these days. But the hecklers in the audience got what they wanted -- a shout-out on HBO and a biteback at Maher, who last month recommended psychiatric medication for their ilk. Maher doesn't need to focus on the past. He does a fine job breaking down the injustice, corruption and conspiracy taking place today, without using 9/11 as an excuse.