June 05, 1998 12:00 AM

“Politically Incorrect” host Bill Maher, who turns 45 on Saturday, as well as ABC have issued formal apologies for remarks that he made on the Jan. 11 edition of the network’s late-night show regarding the mentally disabled. On the often-satirical program, he compared his pet dogs to “retarded children,” suggesting “They’re sweet. They’re kind. But they don’t mentally advance at all.” ABC, in the face of criticism from advocate groups for the mentally disabled, said on Wednesday that the TV host had “gone over the line of ‘political incorrectness,’ and we apologize profusely for the insensitivity of the remark.” Maher went on to tell The New York Times: “I make no excuses. I was wrong and what I said was hurtful to people, and I feel terrible about it.”

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