"We are just waiting for you all to die off," he needled the raucous full house here at Comdex, after pointing out that households with children were leading the PC-adoption pack. Politically Incorrect's Bill Maher hosted the off-beat show with other panelists Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, lady of technology Esther Dyson, and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
The issues discussed covered government regulation of technology, computers in schools, women in business, and -- yes -- alternative PC strategies. Responding to Barrett, Maher exclaimed, "That's your strategy: I die? I DIE?" Barrett shrugged.
Maher, who hosted the hour of comedy, started in on the Comdex crowd right off the bat. "You people are this town's worst nightmare," he said to the more than 3,000 people who packed the room. "You don't like women and you're good at math."
The comedian rambled all over the map -- from Clinton's infidelities to the DoJ antitrust case. Barrett weighed in on most of the topics. While he would not comment on the Microsoft suit, during one of the few serious moments, the Intel chief said, "Let's keep the government out of our lives."
Microsoft's Bill Gates was an obvious target as well. When Dyson called Gates a personality, Maher took a quick swipe: "Personality? When I think of personality, I don't think of Bill Gates." He also lamented the spread of computers. "There's a computer that controls my car's windows," he said. "It broke, and now I have to get the computer fixed to get my window rolled up." Dyson jumped in with a quick jab: "There are also computers that have Windows that stick," she said slyly.
After the hour of sexist and chauvinistic remarks, Dyson also had cause to belittle the boys. Her explanation of why Gates gets the government hot under the collar: "It's a boy thing," said Dyson. "Everyone wants to be Bill Gates."
After Bill sees the tapes of the show, Maher might not want to be in his own shoes. If "Politically Incorrect" goes off the air, you'll know why.