Via Mediaite, which by now is as weary and contemptuous of this as you are, here’s the flip side to Charles Blow’s denigration of minority tea partiers this morning as putting on a “minstrel show” for whites. (See Conor Friedersdorf for a reply to that.) As lame as it is, I find the clip interesting as a window onto Maher’s place in the lefty media landscape. He’s not quite a comedian — the jokes here, such as they are, are simply terrible — and he’s not quite a serious pundit either, yet not only does he have his own show on premium cable, he’s in demand by cable news nets as a commentator on current affairs. Does anyone else get quite that much notoriety for filling this niche? Coulter and Dennis Miller are obvious comparisons, the former because she’s a provocateur, the latter because he’s a comedian turned pundit, but neither one has their own television show. It’s not like the left is starved for comic opinion, either. Stewart and Colbert run rings around this tool every weeknight and people like Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, and David Cross are both sharply left and (at times) sharply funny. How does “Real Time with Bill Maher” exist but not, say, “Real Time with Zach Galifianakis”? Maybe that’s Maher’s secret — that, unknown to the public at large, behind the scenes he’s simply a genius of self-promotion. That would explain a lot; rarely has someone blessed with so little achieved so much.