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November 21, 2017

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Should Trump or orangutans be insulted by comedian’s joke?

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Somebody needs to speak up for the orangutans.

They don’t have a voice in the ongoing feud between comedian Bill Maher and the ever-bashful Donald Trump. Maher, while appearing on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” last week, lampooned Trump’s ridiculous birther fantasies regarding President Barack Obama by making a ridiculous birther fantasy of his own about Trump.

Maher said it just might be that Trump is half-orangutan.

“The color of his hair and the color of an orange orangutan is the only two things in nature of the same color,” Maher said.

Echoing Trump’s questioning of Obama’s birth, Maher joked that he was only trying to get to the truth of whether Trump’s resemblance to an orangutan might be genetic.

“I’m not saying it’s true. I hope it’s not true,” Maher told the TV audience. “But all I’m saying is that unless he comes up with proof, I’m willing to offer $5 million to Donald Trump that he can donate to a charity of his choice — the Hair Club for Men? ... Whatever charity.”

Trump seized on the bet, getting his lawyer to send off a copy of his birth certificate to the comedian as proof of his double-human parentage.

Which only made Maher’s satire of him more effective. After all, it was Trump who discounted the release of Obama’s birth certificate as less than dispositive evidence of where the president was born.

“Nothing has changed my mind,” Trump had said on CNBC after Obama’s birth certificate was released.

“I was able to get him to produce a birth certificate — if we assume it’s a correct birth certificate,” Trump had said. “A lot of people as you know have very serious doubts about that.”

But now on the basis of his own birth certificate as ironclad proof, Trump has threatened to sue Maher for the $5 million if the comedian doesn’t pay up on the bet.

Since when does a birth certificate equate to proof in Trump’s world?

Even more laughable, though, is that Trump is acting victimized by Maher’s joke.

“Why is it that somebody can go on a show and call me an orangutan?” Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News.

Trump obviously thinks it’s demeaning to be compared to an orangutan. But has anybody considered how demeaning it is for an orangutan to be compared to Trump?

“Trump is too mean-spirited to be an orangutan,” said Richard Zimmerman, the founder of Orangutan Outreach (, a charity dedicated to preserving the dwindling habitat for orangutans in the wild.

“Orangutans are tolerant, calm and have a good sense of humor,” Zimmerman said. “They chill out. They’re big Buddhas.

“They have their lives and are very peaceful. They’re not looking for trouble,” Zimmerman said. “That’s not how I would describe Mr. Trump.”

But orangutans share 97 percent of human DNA. There must be some similarities to Trump, right?

“One similarity is that Trump owns a beauty pageant and the big male orangutans love the ladies,” Zimmerman said.

Ron Magill, Zoo Miami’s wildlife expert, sees other similarities, too.

“Trump likes high rises, and so do orangutans,” Magill said. “Orangutans are arboreal.”

“And they’re driven by visual sensory things,” Magill said. “You can put a television set in front of an orangutan and they’ll pay attention to it.”

As for the hair?

“Their hair grows long, especially in the males,” Magill said. “But I’ve yet to see one do a comb-over.”

Frank Cerabino writes for the Palm Beach Post in Florida.

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