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No wonder they don't have time to read bills before voting on them. Yep, my brainiac Socialist/Fascist Senator has NAILED IT! I have long suspected that one does not need two brain cells to rub together to be in Congress...

Pryor Regrets Role

By Aaron Sadler
Friday, October 3, 2008 10:05 AM CDT
Stephens Washington Bureau •

WASHINGTON — Don’t look for Mark Pryor to win an Oscar for his appearance the new movie, “Religulous.”

Not that he would want to, anyway.

The Arkansas senator is portrayed as bumbling and naive in the documentary as he tries to defend his faith to comedian Bill Maher.

Maher’s movie, which opens today, is a blistering rebuke of the world’s religions.

Pryor said Thursday he regretted participating in an interview with Maher, conducted nearly two years ago in the senator’s Washington office.

“I think he’s trying to make me out to be a joke, and really what he’s doing is attacking people of faith,” Pryor said. “That’s unfortunate. I don’t like that. I wish I’d not been a part of it now that I know how it’s been used.”

The unflattering portrayal catches several awkward Pryor facial expressions and makes a point to expose Pryor’s verbal mishaps — he misused the word “literacy,” and used another, “indigously,” that doesn’t exist.

Pryor was shown saying he was unclear about the details of evolution and defending his belief of the Old Testament story involving Adam, Eve and a talking serpent.

Maher told him, “It worries me that people are running my country, who think, who believe in a talking snake.”

Pryor responded with: “You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate, though.”

At an advance screening of “Religulous” in Washington on Wednesday, that comment from Pryor drew the loudest laughter from moviegoers, nearly all of whom belonged to secular groups.

But atheists and agnostics don’t make up Pryor’s core support in Arkansas, observers said, and the senator’s performance — or lack thereof — may actually serve him well among constituents.

“If Bill Maher is against you, then you’re probably right,” said the Rev. Don Hutchings, senior pastor of Evangel Temple church in Fort Smith.

The senator faces only nominal opposition in his re-election bid this year. If he were in a tough race, sympathy generated from his turn on the silver screen might help him, said Richard Wang, a political scientist at Arkansas State University.

“It would be good for five points in Pryor’s favor,” Wang said. “Just consider the source, Bill Maher. You always consider the source of any kind of criticism.”

For his part, Pryor should have known what to expect from Maher, said Darrel Henschell, co-founder of the Fayetteville Freethinkers, a northwest Arkansas secular group.

“When you go to see a Bill Maher movie, you know what’s going to happen going in, I think,” Henschell said. “You know he’s a comedian. That’s his strategy, I think, and how he wants to do his particular attack on religion.”

The snarky political commentator is no stranger to controversy. ABC fired Maher when just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks he said it was cowardly for Americans to be “lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away.”

Maher now has a weekly talk show on HBO.

Pryor consented to the interview for what he thought would be a discussion related to the annual National Prayer Breakfast. Pryor was chairman of that event.

Instead, the camera rolled for an hour as Pryor and Maher went head-to-head on religious issues, Pryor said.

“It was very hostile,” Pryor said. “It was very hostile toward religion and Christianity in particular. It really almost was like a debate between the two of this.”

The hour of footage was pared down to less than four minutes in the movie.

Pryor was the only American lawmaker interviewed in the 101-minute film.

Pryor has not seen the movie.

“The reality is, if you followed anyone around with a camera, you could get clips that make them look awkward,” said Todd Shields, head of the political science department at the University of Arkansas.

“If anything, I think (constituents) might rally to say, ‘This is a popular senator who’s done a whole lot of good.’ If in fact he’s being singled out, why?” Shields added.

Pryor said a tape of the complete interview would show he was “pretty successful in making a solid counterpoint” to Maher’s arguments against religion.

In the movie, Pryor openly acknowledges his Christianity and that he believes Jesus is the way to be reconciled with God.

“I really felt like I held my own,” Pryor said Thursday. “I’m not afraid or embarrassed to defend my faith.”

The movie opens today at Market Street Cinema in Little Rock.

The west Little Rock venue that specializes in independent films is the only theater in Arkansas showing “Religulous.”

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