Ever say something you wish you could take back? Ever tell an off-color joke that fell flat? Ever suffer consequences for speaking before thinking? Or wish you could turn back the hands of time to just the moment before you made that unfortunate remark?

Well, if you had your own show on HBO and “jokingly” used a word that your network executives (and most the world) called completely inexcusable and tasteless to describe a protected class of people, it could all go away.

Poof, the magic of the editing booth.

If you’ve missed Friday’s controversy, Bill Maher, host of the HBO’s Real Time, used a vile word – the N word – to be exact – while interviewing Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

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Over the weekend, there were calls to HBO demanding his head. But just today, it released a statement, “Bill Maher’s show will air as regularly scheduled Friday night.”

The show began with the two men bickering and chatting, as is standard custom, but then things went cockeyed.  

At one point during their exchange, Senator Sasse invited Maher back to his home state by saying: “We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.”

Maher immediately fired back: “Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n*****.” 

There was an uncomfortable pause by the Senator and those in the audience. It was clear they didn’t know what to do, so Maher assured the groaning audience, “No, it’s a joke.” He got a pass, but not for long.

Thankfully, the backlash was quick –calls for his termination came from the left and the right. Twitter was atwitter.

HBO put out a formal statement condemning Maher’s use of the n-word, calling it “completely inexcusable and tasteless.” They are removing his “deeply offensive comment” from any subsequent airings of the show.

Maher followed with his own apology: “Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show.”

His blunder will just be expunged, as if it never happened. Why because he’s part of a protected class too – those on the left who can say whatever they want with impunity.

Since HBO is funded by paid subscribers, there is no threat of advertisers boycotting Maher’s show like they had done with Laura Schlesslinger, Don Imus, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and the-now-target, Sean Hannity.

But we can “unfriend” HBO from our cable lineup.