Last month, in honor of his sixtieth birthday, Bill Maher started a White House petition to get President Obama to appear on his HBO show, Real Time With Bill Maher. The reasoning was that Obama has done nearly every press appearance possible during his time as president (including Between Two Ferns) and that, once a White House petition gets over 100,000 responses in 30 days, the office must respond in some way. After recruiting more than 320,000 signatures, Maher has his answer, and it's not the birthday present he wanted. According to the official response, "we'll keep in mind Bill’s open invitation for a presidential appearance and give it the respectful consideration that Bill and his large audience deserve."
Maher took issue with the "basically non-committal answer" on his show last night. "It would have been easy just to say yes," Maher said. "This is not the Syrian peace talks." The message was "nice and complementary blah blah blah," Maher joked, but it didn't attend the specifics of the petition itself, which asked the president to come on the show or give a reason why he wouldn't. (Apparently, according to Maher, the lexical equivalent of a shruggie isn't a reason.)
At least the White House did wish Maher a happy birthday, writing in the post script of its response: "Before we forget, happy belated 60th birthday, Bill! You haven't lost a step, and the gray hair makes you look, dare we say it, presidential. We hope our card didn't get lost in the mail."