Tonight's installment of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, which airs at 9 on Showtime, asks, "Why does our government still support the archaic, primitive, cruel and costly BULLSHIT known as the Death Penalty?" Helping to answer that question will be SMU human rights professor Rick Halperin, one of the country's most outspoken opponents of state-sponsored killing and the former head of Amnesty International.
Penn Gillette, the talkative tall one, and Teller, his always quiet assistant, take on lots of issues on their cable show, which has little to do with the magic act for which the team is famous. Past episodes have looked at American attitudes toward "safety hysteria," prostitution and gun control.
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Halperin, who had never heard of Penn & Teller, either for their magic or their libertarian politics, says he got a call from a producer for their show several months back. When he heard the name of the series, "I hung up, thinking it was a practical joke," says Halperin. But the producer called back, saying, "Wait! It's for real!" The interview was conducted in Halperin's office on campus. --Elaine Liner