Meghan McCain appeared on Bill Maher’s show the other night. One of the other guests was Democratic strategist Paul Begala. The following exchange took place:

McCAIN: The Obama administration really has to stop completely blaming everything on its predecessor, completely. And I’m really sick of hearing, oh, we were handed this we were handed this. I know. Everyone knows. But we need to move on.

MAHER: Do you think that’s what Obama is doing?

McCAIN: I do, to a degree.

BEGALA: Not to enough of a degree, Im sorry. Not nearly to enough of a degree. Ronald Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter every day for eight years. In the speech one of the things President Bush said …

McCAIN: I wasn’t born yet, so I don’t know.

BEGALA: I wasn’t born during the French Revolution but I know about it.

Zing! As always, the transcript doesn’t do it justice. Watch the video to get the full effect.

Actually, this reminded me of another great debate zinger, this time from the big Firing Line debate on evolution back in 1997. Ken Miller was facing off with David Berlinski.

BERLINSKI: Let’s turn to the question I so vainly tried to prompt an answer from Dr. Scott. How many morphological changes do you think were required to effect the transition on those charts of yours were sent to document.

MILLER: Okay, now you are — I will give you a straight answer. And the straight answer is that when you look at two species that are separated by five million years —


MILLER: — of geological time, the number of changes must be very, very large.

BERLINSKI: Give us an estimate.

MILLER: However, recent studies of speciation — I am sorry to pick this specific species, but it’s relevant to your question — recent studies of speciation in sunflowers have shown conclusively that a new species can be establshed in terms of a speciation isolation mechanism with as few as ten genetic changes.

BERLINSKI: Yes, I have read the same science papers you have, but those are very close. A dog-like mammal and a whale are very far.

MILLER: Ah, that’s right, and the other side of the room is very far away and it should not surprise you that I get there with one step at a time, and that’s what we’re talking about.

Zing, again!


  1. #1 SLC
    June 21, 2009

    This was also an argument made by Prof. Behe in his piece of crap book, Darwins’ Black Box.” Behe argued that no intermediates had be found. Now of course, several years later, at least 11 intermediate forms have now been discovered leaving whale evolution as one of the most complete of all transitions. Of course, Prof. Behe only grudgingly acknowledges this.

    I had not watched the debate on Firing Line but it is certainly nice to see a pompous windbag like the faux mathematician Berlinski zinged like that.

  2. #2 Gerry L
    June 21, 2009

    Less than 6 months into the Obama administration and “they have to stop blaming Bush”?!?!? Eight years into the Bush administration, they were still screaming “But it was Clinton’s fault!”

  3. #3 Bob O'H
    June 22, 2009

    McCAIN: I wasn’t born yet, so I don’t know.

    I hadn’t read the first word of this post (before my first coffee), so I thought this was John McCain speaking. You can imagine my confusion.

  4. #4 Gingras
    June 22, 2009

    You should have posted her response, something petulant along the lines of, “well, you’re smart, you know everything.”

    Then there was another moment when Maher was talking about the Letterman-Palin “controversy,” and he brought up Bush’s hateful smearing in N.C. in 2000, and asked if McCain had forgiven Bush, shouldn’t Palin forgive Letterman. The ditz said she couldn’t see how the two matters were related. Even with Maher going out of his way to be nice and gentle and protective, she came of as a vapid teenage stereotype. I’m assuming her book was ghost written.

  5. #5 SLC
    June 22, 2009

    Another excellent put down of Berlinski was delivered by Richard Dawkins after listening to a lecture by the former. Anyone who denies the Theory of Evolution is either ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked (but he didn’t want to consider that). Berlinski is neither ignorant, stupid, or insane.

  6. #6 Zippy the Pinhead
    June 22, 2009

    For Gerry L: not only did the Bush admin blame Clinton for being easy and sleazy and for everything wrong with the government, but whenever they were caught doing something sleazy, the excuse was “But Clinton did it!”

  7. #7 Bezoar
    June 23, 2009

    I saw that program. She wants to be taken seriously, well, don’t talk like and airheaded Valley Girl. Also don’t play the “I’m just the blond on the panel“ card (which she actually said). She’s better off blogging in annonymity because as soon as she opens her mouth, the only thing that comes to mind is, “I wonder if she’s a good lay”. That’s the seriousness with which I take her after seeing that show.

  8. #8 Science Avenger
    June 25, 2009

    I had a much more positive impression of her than many of you did. The GOP is desperate to get a young face out there who isn’t losing their mind over destroyed blastocysts and can relate to the way younger voters think. What sounds like “airheaded valley girl” to some of us relative geezers sounds familiar and approachable to those who think Bohemian Rhapsody originated in the Wayne’s World movie, and who associate “Here’ssssssssssssss, Johnny” with Jack Nicholson from the shining.

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