Humorist Bill Maher, host of HBO’s long-running Real Time with Bill Maher program, on Friday “honored” former U.S. House Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) with a new award for unheralded public service—the Baldy. Waxman was a driving force behind the enactment of the 340B law and one of its staunchest defenders in Congress.
“Making progress—real progress that actually changes the lives of real people—comes mainly from dull patient plodders who put in their 10,000 hours mastering the details of public service,” Maher said. “It comes from people trapped in tiny rooms at 3:00 a.m. with stale pizza and cold coffee, crafting laws line by line that few will ever read or thank them for. I know it’s not the sexy answer but change comes from people who look like this,” he said, holding up a golden bust of Waxman, who is bald.
“So tonight I am introducing in honor of our first recipient Henry Waxman the Baldy Awards,” Maher continued. “And the Baldy each year will go to the most Waxman-like Congress-person and hopefully it will become the most coveted award a politician can earn. We need to bring un-sexy back. Congratulations Henry. This is for you and all the unheralded grinders who pushed the boulders up history’s hill.”
Waxman played a lead role in many major federal legislative accomplishments in health care in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, including the Affordable Care Act, the Waxman-Hatch Generic Drug Act, the Orphan Drug Act, and the Ryan White CARE Act. Waxman also played a key role in the anti-tobacco effort and is famously known for holding a 1994 hearing where cigarette company executives all denied that tobacco was addictive. He currently is Chairman of Waxman Strategies, a public affairs and communications consulting firm.
Waxman, appearing by video to accept the award, shot back in jest: “Thank you Bill for this award. I’m honored to be the first recipient of the Baldy Award. I know there’ll be other baldies that will follow me who will also be deserving, but I’ve got to get back to work, there’s a lot of work to do, so thank you very much.”