Most people don't think that a battered woman is fodder for punch-line material.
But most people aren't Bill Maher.
The comedian — and we use that term loosely — stooped to a new low on "AC360" recently when he expressed his opinion that Mitt Romney would get the Republican presidential nomination, "and then I think (President Barack) Obama is going to beat him like a runaway sister wife."
One assumes Maher's thought process flowed something like this: Romney = Mormon = polygamy = dirty old man and young sister wives = sister wife running away and being abused for it = funny.
Or something like that.
Never mind that the abuse of women and children in contemporary polygamy is a real and serious problem. Forget that Romney's faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, abandoned the practice of polygamy 120 years ago. Never let the truth get in the way of a good joke.
Or a bad joke, as the case may be.
Program host Anderson Cooper was obviously flustered by Maher's reference. But rather than challenge the comment, he smiled weakly and noted that he hadn't heard "a FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) punch line in quite a while."
Well, at least Cooper got the FLDS part right.
"Maher is know for being a provocateur, which he seems to think gives him an unlimited supply of mulligans," wrote Tommy Christopher on the Mediaite blog site. "But this is just the latest in a string of over-the-line remarks, many of them having to do with women. This one is particularly scummy, and like so many of his misfires, devoid of even dark humor."