Bill Maher More 'Real Time' Racism? Makes Popeyes Joke to Black Politician

2/2/2019 9:40 AM PST

Bill Maher Taking Heat for Popeye's Chicken Joke to Black Congressman

Bill Maher's at it again -- he made yet another joke on his show many people are calling racist ... but this time he said it right to a black congressman's face.

Bill was interviewing Rep. Will Hurd from Texas during the one-on-one segment of 'Real Time' Friday night when he challenged Hurd to explain why he's a member of the Republican Party ... especially since he came from the CIA.

Hurd replied, "I was in the CIA for almost a decade. I was the dude in the back alleys at 4 o’clock in the morning collecting intelligence on threats to the homeland," ... to which Maher commented, "That's where they'd collect them, huh?"

It got some laughs, but then Bill added ... "Wow, by the Popeyes chicken."

Neither the audience nor Hurd seemed to really react to the comment, but it's getting a lot of backlash online. Of course, this isn't a first for Maher -- in June 2017 he dropped the n-word on his show while making a joke ... and later apologized.

So far, no sorry from Bill for this joke.