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Larry King Live

Bill Maher Discusses the Republican National Convention

Aired August 4, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, CO-HOST: Tonight, the Republicans' party may be over, but the fun's just begun. Bill Maher, the host of "Politically Incorrect." He's here for the full hour. We'll take your calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We're back in Los Angeles after two shows nightly at the Republican National Convention, and the suspense is over. The ticket is Bush and Cheney. It was a long week, and we waited it out. Now the question now is whom they'll be running against. And what a great way to follow that week. No better way than Bill Maher as our guest, the host of "Politically Incorrect," who by the way, will be participating in the shadow convention in Los Angeles, Arianna Huffington's event, which took place -- she did one in Philadelphia.

What did...


KING: I -- CNN, I think, went by it.

MAHER: Yes, good.

KING: Where they have people who are just complaining basically.

MAHER: Well, Larry, they're people who feel they are locked out because the two parties are so much alike, and the two parties are not answering their issues. I mean, my issues are the issues of that shadow convention, campaign finance reform. You notice that was noticeably absent. Even John McCain, whose issue it was...

KING: Were you disappointed in that?

MAHER: Very much, because he decided, you know what, I might want to be president in four years, so I'm going to eat crap right now, and talk about George Bush, not mention my issues. So he's a little more of a politician than he lets on.

KING: But he did address the shadow convention when he did discuss it...

MAHER: He walked off.


MAHER: No, he got booed, but...

KING: He did?

MAHER: He walked off. He didn't -- yes, they booed him, because he wasn't talking. He was talking about Bush even there. I mean, somehow this guy who hates Bush -- I mean, let's be honest, he hates him deeply, I mean with an unabiding fervor, he is...

KING: Campaigning with him in California this weekend.

MAHER: Yes, they all play the game, you know.

KING: So the shadow convention is the purpose is to not play the game, right?

MAHER: It's to call attention to the real issues, which the convention -- and I would agree are, one, campaign finance, two, the drug wars. Those are two things I will be speaking on when they come out here at the shadow convention, and...

KING: And you will be speaking about legalizing it, right?

MAHER: Yes, well also about how the drug war is such a debilitating factor in our nation's life right now, I mean, how it's taking away our civil liberties and putting lots of people in jail who don't belong there, things like that.

KING: Let's get back to that in a while. What did you think, what's your overview, Maher, give your thoughts on convention in Philly.

MAHER: Well, first of all, we were all shocked to see that many minorities, blind people, handicapped mountain climbers, Indian chiefs, gay people up there, I mean, it was hysterical. I mean, the first night, I couldn't -- it was just endless black people at Republican convention. It reminded me of the NBA -- all white people in the audience, all black people on the stage. I mean, the last time the Republicans had this many black people on the stage, they were selling them. I mean, John Rocker turned it off, and put on the WB network. So you know, we...

KING: Starting good, OK.

MAHER: We've talked about this all week on the show, and we had Republicans on there defending, and saying, well, you know...

KING: Can't they be new. Can't the Republicans...

MAHER: Exactly. They were saying, we can't we -- we can't win. When we do it...

KING: That is right.

MAHER: And what myself was saying, not on the behalf of the Democrats, because I'm not a Democrat either, thought, is that, is it real? Is it sincere? KING: You question it?

MAHER: Yes, a little bit.

KING: Don't you think that George W. Bush is basically a good guy? Forget what your politics are or what you may think what kind of president he is -- he's not a bigot.


KING: He's certainly open, and in areas of immigration, he has been wildly open about open integration, the Mexican-American, always has been.

MAHER: He speaks Spanish. That's different than having a policy that is actually friendly to immigration. I happen to agree with the Republican policy. They are for single-language education. They are not for bilingualism. And yet when they need votes, they're not above talking in Spanish, but they don't want people to speak Spanish in the schools, and I happen to agree with that.

KING: What impress you about -- what...

MAHER: His speech.

KING: You liked his speech?

MAHER: Yes, his speech was -- whoever wrote that speech was good.

KING: It sounded sometimes Democratic.

MAHER: Well, that's the thing, the Democrats stole the Republican ideas eight years ago -- you know, they ended welfare, they balanced the budget. Now it's the...

KING: Tough on crime.

MAHER: Tough on crime, exactly. Now it is Republicans' turn to steal the Democrats' image making, and they did a hell of a good job at it.

But I mean, George Bush I'm sure is a nice guy. You know, I'm sure he's a good family man, I see all that. But what I object to is this idea that the Bushes have to get a pass on integrity, just because they're Bushes. That's what they seem to be saying, is that...

KING: You can't question our integrity?

MAHER: Can't -- that's what he said in his campaign ad is, you know, fight with me on the issues, but don't question my integrity. Well why? Why is their integrity off limits? Just because they look like they belong on the Quaker Oats box doesn't mean they have more integrity. I mean, the old man ran on Willie Horton and one grand non-issue after the other, like the flag and the pledge, and Lee Atwater ran his campaign, and he appointed Clarence Thomas, and bold-facedly lied to us and told us that he thought he was most qualified guy for the Supreme Court. They don't have any more integrity than anybody else. I know that's very precious to gather around that warm thought that the Bushes oh, oh, they're so honorable, but they're not any more honorable than anybody else. They will sell themselves off as he did, like any politician does, to get the job.

KING: The Cheney choice.

MAHER: I thought that it was so ironic that they had Billy Ray Cyrus singing on the night of Dick Cheney. Billy Ray Cyrus' big hit was "Achy Breaky Heart." That's a bad -- Gerald Ford is in hospital with a bad heart, Dick Cheney has bad heart, Bob Dole is not in good health. These guys are only slightly better off than Bob Hope at this point, and they're singing "Achy Breaky Heart." You know...

KING: Well, it gets the white vote, doesn't. It helps get...

MAHER: Right.

KING: That was Jon Stewart's line. They lock up the white -- the Protestants.

MAHER: I mean, look it's too men, you know. That's what I worry about. I had a Democratic congresswoman on the show last, Sheila Jackson-Lee, and she was going on and on about how Democrats are great and the Republicans are evil, and I said, wait a second, the Democrats, the only difference is, is that they are bought by a slightly less scary group of special interests, OK, and I think that is the difference. I mean, you have to make a choice about which party do you want to be bought by. The Democrats are bought by trial lawyers, and the unions and the Teachers Federation; the Republicans, by the tobacco lobby, and the oil industry...

KING: Which you want to be gored by.

MAHER: Exactly. I mean, MTV should choose their slogan to "choose and lose," because all these guys are bought and sold. I mean, that's why Bush got the job. How do you think he got that $167 million, or whatever he has, to run the country? He collected it from people who expect something in return.

The only two guys who ever went up against people who gave them money, Huey Long, Standard Oil, and John F. Kennedy with the Mob, and they both got shot. Everybody else does what they're told.

KING: We'll be back.

MAHER: Am I holding back to much, Larry.

KING: We'll try draw you out a little more. We'll be back with more of Bill Maher. We'll be including your phone calls. He's with us for the full hour. Don't go away.


MAHER: Did you watch the convention, the Republican convention? No, of course you didn't, no one did. I had to, it is my job, and I resented it. I tell you, but if you didn't see it you didn't -- let me tell you, it looked like the WB. I have never seen so many -- it was endless parade of black people. I'm telling you. It was -- I'm not kidding.

It was like "Showtime at the Apollo." There was blacks, Hispanics, more blacks, Native Americans, more blacks. You wouldn't have known it was a Republican convention except for all the rich white guys in the audience checking for their wallets.




GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If my opponent had been at the moon launch, it would have been a risky rocket scheme.


BUSH: If he had been there when Edison was testing the light bulb, it would have been a risky anti-candle scheme


BUSH: And if he'd been there when Internet was invented...



KING: Funny stuff.


KING: Was that good?

MAHER: It was a great speech, I mean, I've got to give him that much. He gets a lot of credit for just reading a prompter without stumbling. I mean, really, that's what they're saying, and...

KING: But he must believe what he's saying, because -- you question...

MAHER: Yes, well, I mean, that kind of speech is not really about beliefs; it is just about getting those people to...

KING: Are you saying your anger is based on both parties are lying, just which is lying less?


KING: Which do you agree with more based on -- if you like the teachers and they give money, you go with them, if you like tobacco, go with them?

MAHER: Yes. One of the points I kept trying to make this week, and again, nobody cares, but, is that we have what I would call misplaced outrage. Do you remember in '96, Bob Dole kept saying, where is the outrage? And he had a point, there maybe should have been some outrage. But we're outraged, or least this crowd is, at Bill Clinton, because he, you know, he's got that horrible thing with his penis, just too much to -- but meanwhile, these guys are perhaps selling out to oil interests who will increase global warming. That's what we should be afraid of. That's where the outrage is.

It's not whether they lie. They all lie. It's about what? We're not going to Vietnam, that's a lie. The Warren Report, that was a lie. Iran-Contra, Watergate, how about the campaign finance lies, that we can't reform campaign finance, because it's about the First Amendment? What a bunch of lie that is. What about the one that says, you know what, these guys who give us money, they're not expecting anything in return. Really? Businessmen, giving millions and millions of dollars, but there's no return on the investment.

KING: In fact, don't you think it's just the moral question, you have to take the call. If I give you a lot of money, you have to take my call or you're a bad guy.

MAHER: You know what, money talks. They don't have to discuss what they're going to get. You give a guy half million dollars.

KING: He's going to take your call.

MAHER: And you know, the sick thing is, all these companies, if you look down the donor list, they give to both parties. So obviously, there is no ideology going on here. They're just covering their bets. This guy might win, this guy might within, we will give a bribe to both to cover the bet.

KING: What about all the Bushes? We had them all on. It was really nice to see. This is a family dynasty. The grandfather was the United States senator and founded Planned Parenthood. The father was a president, ran the CIA, was an ambassador, congressman, two sons are governors.

MAHER: But that's not good. This isn't England. They're not royal family. We shouldn't be having a president, because we pass it on to his son. That's what they just did in Syria. That's what they do in countries like that. The president was father for a long time, and then we give it to the son. That's not enough reason to be president. George Bush has the thinnest resume of anyone who's ever run for this office, and that's what they want; they want an empty suit, because they want to fill in the colors just the way they want to. He just belongs to the people. KING: What's your read on Colin Powell?

MAHER: Well, I wish...

KING: He made a statement you would have made.

MAHER: What?

KING: He complained about affirmative action for a few thousand blacks to get a break, but you don't complain about it when big companies get affirmative action by buying their way in.

MAHER: Right.

KING: That's a gutsy statement, and they applauded.

MAHER: Some of them applauded, you know.

KING: Some of them looked around, like what are you talking about?

MAHER: Right. A lot of that stuff really didn't play in the hall. I mean, when the gay spoke, did you see that. They were praying, please get the of gay guy off the stage, no more, please; we'll got with the Indian, the blind mountain climber, OK, but not a gay guy.

KING: Cheney's daughter...

MAHER: Cheney's daughter.

KING: ... is gay. So? This is an open party.

MAHER: It is open.

KING: So give them a little credit.

MAHER: And apparently she loves Bush.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: Anyway...

KING: I'll just let that one lay there.

MAHER: I heard the crew go, oh my God.

KING: The band got it.

We'll be back with more of Mr. Maher in his last appearance on LARRY KING LIVE. following these words.


MAHER: There is truly a feud now going on between the two shadow people in this, which is of course President Clinton and former President Bush. Barbara Bush said we are going restore "honor and dignity" -- wink, wink, you know what that means -- to the White House, and she rued the day that Bushes left, and said it would all be better if we could just go back to a presidency where all lying was about taxes and all the stains were about vomit. So, all right...





WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Near as I can tell, the message of the Bush campaign is just that, I mean, how bad could I be? I've been governor of Texas, my daddy was president, I own a baseball team.


CLINTON: I -- they like me down there, everything is rocking along hunky-dory. Their fraternity had it for eight years, give it to ours for eight years because we're compassionate and humane and we're not like what you think about us from watching the Congress for the last five years. That's the message, isn't it? Blur, blur, blur -- blur all the distinctions.


KING: They were complaining he was out of line to do that during their convention, and it was not presidential.

MAHER: Right. Well you know, they come from country club crowd where you play by the Marquis De Queensburry rules and you don't a talk about the other club, Maureen Dowd, the brilliant Maureen Dowd, had that great column the other day, which said that basically this is an election between the older Bush and Clinton, and the other two guys are just stand-ins. And you can tell, he is itching to get into this fight. He doesn't think Al Gore is quite up to attacking Bush the way he should, and I mean, if this guy was running, he would win again. I mean, let's get real...

KING: With all that's happened?

MAHER: What all that happened.

KING: Well, he had a sex scandal in the White House, Bill. That's not light.

MAHER: But see, this is so amazing...

KING: You -- it's not heavy, but it ain't light.

MAHER: It is light. It's incredibly trivial. There is no other country in the world that would have given it even credence on the front page. We had on Jerry Falwell the other night and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Both of them believe that global warming was a myth. They thought it was just crazy, a rumor, and they were very upset about oral sex. And to me, this is the country, either you think that global warming is the big threat our you think that kids getting hummers in grade school is the biggest threat, and I just...

KING: Values are interesting.

MAHER: Values are interesting. And what you choose to be scared of. What you think is a threat.

KING: Let's discuss -- who do think Gore is going to pick? Does it matter? According to you, it may not matter.


KING: Because of what you're here. Since they're going go to give the teachers and the unions, they're going to give to that ticket and the others are going to give to this ticket, and...

MAHER: Well, that's true.

KING: Same old, same old.

MAHER: It is true about the teachers. I mean, the Democrats who go on and on, and the Republicans, too, but even more the Democrats, about how much they care about the children. Everything is about the children, and let's not get into our children thing. I'm just...

KING: You don't like children.

MAHER: No, it's not that I don't like them, I just don't want to be around them, and neither do their parents. Either way, the point is that they talk all a big talk about how much they care about their children, but they will never go up against the teachers union. George Will wrote a column that said, you know, Clinton wants to hire 100,000 new teachers -- we should fire 100,000 incompetent teachers, and I'm not against teachers, but because the Democrats have the Teachers Union.

KING: Beholden to them.

MAHER: Right, beholden to them, they will never go for testing. So you have incompetent teachers all over this country.

KING: So there's hypocrisy all the way around.

MAHER: Right. So that's how much they care about children.

KING: So it's who's hypocrisy can you put with less?

MAHER: Right.

KING: In that sense, who do you think he's going to pick? Back to that.

MAHER: I think he should bike Bill Clinton. But it's never going to happen. I don't know, they're all -- there's four on the list, right? Kerry.

KING: Bob Kerrey -- no, John Kerry.

MAHER: John Kerry, there's a guy from North Carolina, who...

KING: Edwards.

MAHER: ... I don't know who that is.

KING: Lieberman.

MAHER: Lieberman.

KING: Gephardt is still on the list.

MAHER: Lieberman can't work on Saturday.

KING: What's wrong with that?

MAHER: He's an Orthodox Jew.

KING: You making fun of that?

MAHER: I'm not making fun of it. What happens if there's a nuclear war on Saturday?

KING: He will put it off.


KING: I think he will get rabbinical dispensation.

MAHER: I don't like it when they -- that's one thing that Bush and Gore have in common that I don't like about either one of them.

KING: Which is?

MAHER: They haven't invoked Jesus. You know, Jesus is my adviser, Jesus is the political philosopher I care most about. Gore said I consult that, saying what would Jesus do? I don't want my president asking what would Jesus do? When you're voting on the stealth bomber, you know, that's a decision for Caesar, not for the religious leader. So, you know, these guys are not above bringing in anything to get a vote, including Jesus.

KING: Therefore, it's going to be a nasty election.

MAHER: It's going to be a very nasty election, because they're both gutter fighters, they really are. And if...

KING: Bush is not Mr. Nice Guy.

MAHER: Are you kidding? Remember how he beat John McCain in New York to polish him off? "The New York Daily News," which is not a liberal paper, in their editorial said, "The stench from his swine- like campaign has become unbearable." And that's a conservative Republican paper. He accused John McCain of being soft on breast cancer. And Gore used cancer. Remember that speech about his sister. So these guys are not above using cancer to get elected. That's what we have in this country.

KING: So it's come to this. You've got a choice. Well, if it's going to be no sense picking it then, if it's going to be this close.

MAHER: I mean, the only reason I would favor Gore is because, one, he is smarter, not hard, and, two, the environment. You know, again, he doesn't think global warming is a rumor, he is not going to open up the Arctic wildlife to drilling. He really believes that, as he said, that the internal combustion engine, that is the device that is our biggest threat, and I would agree with that. But of course guys from oil company are going to ridicule that, as they already have.

KING: We'll be back with more of Bill Maher. We'll be including your phone calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE. He's our guest for the full hour. Tomorrow we'll repeat an interview with Gerald Ford, who by the way, we can report to you is getting much better, may go home from hospital Sunday,

Don't go away.



RICHARD B. CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And now as the man from Hope goes home to -- New York, Mr. Gore will try to separate himself from his leader's shadow. But somehow, we will never see one without thinking of the other.



KING: The line about going to New York was brilliant, delivered brilliantly.

MAHER: Well delivered, yes.

KING: Beautiful pause, nice timing, had it down.

MAHER: But I'm sure they're working on one about man from Casper, because only Casper the Ghost is whiter than him.

I also thought it was interesting, as long as we're looking at Cheney, to note that the day after Bush picked him, they opened their campaign in Casper at his high school, Dick Cheney's high school, with high school sweetheart he married, the high school sweetheart, and they make a big point of the fact that he was the captain of football team. See, that plays to the kind of America I think is that is traditional Republican Party.

KING: The kind of America people miss some. MAHER: I think the captain of the football team was the biggest jerk in the school. That would not make me want to vote for a guy. The captain of the football team was the guy I hated.

KING: You have a unique way of looking at things.

MAHER: Oh, come on. You don't think most people...

KING: Americans tend to look up to the captain of the football team. That's the high school hero. He may wind up a gas station attendant in 20 years.

MAHER: See what the callers say, I don't think -- I think Americans remember their high school and remember the jocks were a bunch of jerks.

KING: OK, Quincy, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Bill, how do get any conservatives on your show in Hollywood? With you leaning left that is usually four against one every night?

MAHER: You're wrong. And I don't. Next call.

KING: No. You don't lean to left. You're not liberal.


KING: Some think you're very conservative.

MAHER: No, I just said I was, like, with the Republicans on the bilingual thing.

KING: And not the teachers union. You are very big on you don't fire teachers.

MAHER: Right.

KING: Your show usually, if not always, balanced, isn't it? Well, it can't be totally balanced.

MAHER: It does.

KING: Because there are five.

MAHER: It does skew more toward having liberals, because we have to have celebrities on -- I'm sorry, I mean, we like to have celebrities on, and they tend to be liberal. So there are nights when there is one conservative going against a bunch people who aren't conservative. But I'm very often the factor that evens it out.

KING: Now there's the controversy over there is a big party that Hugh Hefner is giving for the Democratic Party. He's is a big contributor to the Democratic Party...

MAHER: Also tomorrow night he's got a big party -- the pajama party, the midsummer night's dream party.

KING: Yes, you go to that.

MAHER: Only sleeper. I'm going to that one, yes.

KING: And you go to "Politically Incorrect," you broadcast from there.

MAHER: We did. We did a whole week from there.

KING: Mr. Gore is not going.

MAHER: Well, I think you're talking about the Latino fund- raiser, because they're having a fund-raiser their on the 15th which when they planned it, I think they thought all the top Democrats would go. But they got wind that it was happening at the "Playboy" mansion, and they thought that would be a very bad message to send.

I noticed Patrick Kennedy, who is one of the big Democrat fund- raisers, said, I'm not going. He distanced himself from it, said it would send a very bad message. I mean, Patrick Kennedy? Both his uncles had sex outside of their marriage with Marilyn Monroe, who was the first "Playboy" playmate. There is a little bit of a hypocrisy and an irony there.

KING: "Iron eye" Maher finds little prunes in there.

We'll be back with more calls and more of Bill Maher, the host of "Politically Incorrect" on LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.




There's still time for a recount.



KING: You voted for him. The man in Quincy, Illinois, may be shocked to learn this.

MAHER: I did. In '96, I voted for Dole, but it was a sentimental vote. I will say that. I do not think he would have been better president than Clinton. I don't, but Clinton was going to win anyway. And I thought that that generation, that greatest generation -- and that is not an exaggeration, that is the greatest generation -- and my parents, both fought in World War II. They met in World War II. My mother was a nurse. My father fought under General Patton. And this was the last chance I could vote for somebody who was of that stature. And I don't know if we'll see that again, you know.

And I do like Bob Dole, but you know, he is a politician, too. He is fully capable of a lie. In '96 when he ran, remember what he said about tobacco. He said, I don't know if cigarettes are bad for you, I'm not a doctor. I know, but can you cough? Can you read side of the pack, you know?

KING: Do you like Al Gore?


KING: You don't.

MAHER: I don't.

KING: You don't like him.

MAHER: I don't. I don't like Al Gore. I'm sorry.

KING: Your kind of politician would be Bob Kerrey, probably?

MAHER: I don't know enough about him. I'm sure if I learned more about him, I'd hate him.

KING: John McCain is your kind of guy.

MAHER: John McCain was my kind of guy, until he -- I told you last time I was here -- he promised to do my show over and over, and then lied and didn't. So, and I said, it doesn't -- that's a small matter and -- putting in comparison to national interests, so I'm not holding that against him. But it did tell me something about him. And then when I saw him do that at the convention, I said, OK, his ambition at this point is a little greater than convictions.

KING: Now before he we get to some more calls, what are your thoughts on -- there was program on last night that beat all the networks, and the cable networks combined, carrying the Bush speech -- "Survivor." What do you make of reality TV?

MAHER: Well, I'm not a big fan, first of all, because I don't think it's reality, because these people know that they are on camera. "Gilligan's Island" was more real than that show. There was a great picture in one of the newsmagazines of them of them on the beach, the principals, the people on the island, and around them is this enormous film crew. I mean, it takes a lot of people to film something. You know, so when all of these people are around...

KING: You can't be you.

MAHER: You can't be you. These people are improving their lives. They know that they're on camera all the time, same thing with those idiots in the "Big Brother" house.

KING: Idiots? You think they're -- they get chance to get a million dollars. It's American.

KING: But that shouldn't be what America is, and it shouldn't be about exclusion. I don't like that idea.

KING: Throw them off.

MAHER: It's all about throwing them off.

KING: You lose.

MAHER: You lose, you're not good enough. It's that "velvet rope" society we have.

KING: That's even an argument about "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"


KING: This quest for money, right?

MAHER: Yes. And also, I don't know if this is coincidence, but they seem to kick the black people off right away from these endeavors. And also, it just always happens, like in the "Real World," the "Big Brother," that somehow, they room together the people who are not going to get along. Somehow the drunken lesbian always ends up with the Amish vegetarian, you know, just by coincidence. Somehow the black guy they invite into the house is really obnoxious, and then -- I mean, to me, that is very subtle racism. Just pick one black guy...

KING: Why do we watch?

MAHER: I think people watch because scripted television is so awful, that's why. Yes, I would rather -- there's going to be show now of people just watching "Big Brother."


KING: Putting junk together, that's the next thing to come, taking people to junkyard and see what they come up with.

MAHER: It's watching paint dry. I mean, you see them cutting up celery in the kitchen. It's -- if somebody said to me that this was going to be what TV was 10 years ago, I would have said, I don't want to be part of it.

KING: Orlando, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: I just got to say that I don't think Mr. Maher is very funny. I think he's about as funny as a broken foot, and just I disagree with everything he said. I love George Bush, and you are a communist little jerk.

MAHER: Suddenly I'm on "Howard Stern."

KING: Someone said get rid of her. Why are you getting rid of her? That's a fair call. You are a communist little jerk.

MAHER: Well.

KING: A person has the right to feel that way. That's the thought of an American, and I regret if you were hung up on that. I apologize. You have your right to your opinion.

OK, respond, communist little jerk.

MAHER: Well...

KING: America speaks.

MAHER: OK. I can't help but think you are getting me back for last time all the calls were good. So this time, they went OK, we've got to balance that, and get...

KING: No, they got mad that call for some reason. To me, the spirit of this show is the diversity of the call. If every call said, we love you, we're boring.

MAHER: OK, all right.

KING: So let's say, the complaint of the woman thinks you're not -- she's angry.

MAHER: So what she's saying is, because I don't like George Bush that I'm a communist.

KING: I haven't heard that charge in a long time about anyone.


MAHER: By the way lady, communists -- I don't know if you heard, but we knocked that wall down.

I would say a lot low about communism, mostly that this country, I think, is in danger of becoming a quasicommunist country, because we have reeducation in this country. We talked about John Rocker. We talked about even Dr. Laura, who I don't like at all. I think when they are trying to shut people down from what they want to say, when the liberals do it, that's pretty close to totalitarianism, and I don't think we have free speech in this country.

KING: Take note lady. They may change you, like Dr. Laura.

MAHER: And by the way, lady, you're a poopy-head.

KING: And we'll be back with more of Bill Maher right after this.


MAHER: Democrats are bought off by a slightly less scary group of special interests.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me bill, the special interests of working mothers.

MAHER: That is my assessment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The special interests of women who need to have choice, the special interests of...


MAHER: Teachers unions, unions, trial lawyers, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody out there is lying, and the only difference between Clinton's lies...

MAHER: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and anybody else's lies are his are a little more erotic.




KING: We're back with the host of "Politically Incorrect" nightly on ABC, and he'll be participating in the shadow convention in Los Angeles. The convention comes -- the Democrats come to this city.

Lansing, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hi there, how are you?


CALLER: Hi, Bill, I wanted to tell you I saw your special on HBO several times. It's the funniest thing I've ever seen. I hope you do another one. My question is...

MAHER: I'm a communist, you know.

CALLER: That's fine. And I'm a liberal Democrat and very proud of it. But I -- and the other lady was totally dead off. You're not communist. If that is, then I'm socialist.

MAHER: I'm not.

CALLER: But my question is, if the election were held today, would Bill Clinton win again. And two, when did Republican Party become the party of education, health care and inclusiveness?

MAHER: Thursday. But...

KING: You think Clinton would win? MAHER: I do. I've said that all along. I think people have to put on a front that they are so morally offended by his horrible crime, you know, what about the children? What are we going to tell children about Bill Clinton? You know as if children care about oral sex and the presidency.

KING: Well, you don't think there is any moral standards?

MAHER: It's a private morality. It's so much.

KING: But he made it public.

MAHER: He did not make it public; Ken Starr made it public. Ken Starr was looking into Arkansas real estate in the '80s, which is a real threat to national security. Let's make the world safer for real estate in Arkansas. He was looking into that. He stumbled upon Paula Jones, used her as an excuse to wire up Linda Tripp, to entrap Bill Clinton to lie about Monica Lewinsky. So don't say that President Clinton made it public. Do you think he wanted it public? Do you want he wanted his life out there like that? Of course not. I mean, any time you put a prosecutor into someone's personal life, you're not only violating the Constitution, you're guaranteeing...

KING: All right, how about -- and you'll a hear the word a lot in the campaign. Bush used it last night. Since it is known, dignity in the White House. There is something, you've got to admit, there is a little undignified about this episode in the White House. You have to say that.

MAHER: It is. But I mean, if you looked into any single person's personal life, the way they did with Clinton's life, they would uncover. something. I mean, Larry, we'd find out you may have been married before. People cannot stand that kind -- it pushes the button.

KING: Go ahead, no.

MAHER: People cannot stand that kind of scrutiny, and in our history, we never had that kind of scrutiny. When FDR was president, he was a cripple, right? They didn't even ask about -- they knew it, but they didn't...

KING: Knew it, but didn't know it.

MAHER: Exactly. The president's legs were too private to talk about. We've gone from the point where the president's legs are to private to talk about to his private parts being fully OK for front page of "The New York Times." It's not Bill Clinton who put that on the table. That's a bad choice of words. What I'm saying...

KING: Atlanta, hello. You made a good point. Atlanta, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi. CALLER: I'd like your opinion and Bill's opinion on when Bush had his speech last night about tax cuts, he had 5 percent for the low income, he had 5 percent for the highest income, but nothing for the middle people, and I my thought was that the audience was a little taken back last night, too.

KING: Tax cuts -- you think that is a big issue in this campaign? I mean, they'll drive at it, but do you think the public is clamoring for tax cuts?

MAHER: No, they're not, because we have this incredible prosperity going on, and they probably don't need a tax cut. I think that's probably misguide. I don't know how the Republicans -- that lady before asked about how the Republicans got to be party of this and that. How did they get to be the party that isn't for fiscal sanity, and the Democrats are the ones who want to pay down the debt, you know?

KING: It's a turnaround.

MAHER: It's interesting the way they always keeps do-si-doing (ph) around each other.

KING: What about the missile defense proposal, the "Star Wars" system returning?

MAHER: I mean, it's never once worked in a test, right. They never able to shoot it down. It seems like it's a preposterous idea. But you know, that party is so insane about Ronald Reagan. I mean, Ronald Reagan, I have nothing against him and he did some very good things as a president. But these people are cuckoo about Ronald Reagan. I mean, they think he's some sort of a demigod. He's just more than human to them. They want him on Mount Rushmore. They want to put him on a coin. They want him on license plates. I mean...

KING: Popular.

MAHER: I know, but could we let a little time pass? The only people on coins are Roosevelt -- Teddy Roosevelt, no. That's Mount Rushmore. It's George Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, OK. And Reagan is going to be with that company? Before he's even gone, before we've even had chance to test him. I think that George Washington coin and that George Washington commercial is blasphemous. That bothers me. George Washington was truly great leader who, by the way, would not allow himself to be put on a coin. They wanted to, and he said no. That's what we rebelled against. We are not a monarchy that put ourselves on currency. And they have that commercial, where you know, he's just -- he's a yuppie now. He's a self-involved narcissist who cares only about whether he's on a coin or not. Talking about rewriting history, how come Lincoln is gay and Jefferson was banging his slaves and Washington is a yuppie. Why can't we at least leave those people way from the Ken Starrs?

KING: Stewart, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hello. KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi. My question was, what would he think of the debate between Gore and Bush? And secondly, I just happen to agree with everything he says on TV, and my sister in Toronto watches him every night as well. He's wonderful.

KING: They love you, Bill.

MAHER: Thank you very much.

KING: OK, what are the debates going to be like?

MAHER: I'm going to quit the communist party. I'm doing so well with the people right now.

The debates -- well Al Gore is a tough debater, because...

KING: Sure is.

MAHER: He speaks -- somebody said, he speaks as if he's dictating a letter. But that's a very cagey strategy, because he doesn't leave anyone behind.

KING: Bush has something going for him. You can't bottle or -- he's likable. Don't discount that, as Ann Richards has pointed out many times in this program.

MAHER: I think...

KING: Don't overlook him.

MAHER: If he wins, and he may very well, I think that's what will carry him, is that he is a likable guy and people don't really care about investigating the discrepancies in his past. You know, he talk about integrity, and nobody is going to say, well, how come you have integrity, which comes from the word integer, means oneness, and have spoken at Bob Jones University and the NAACP within three months time? How can you be both those people? They're are not going to ask those kinds of questions. But Al Gore may bring them up. And I think when you see in the debate, it's not going to be a prepared text. He's not going to be able to just read it. He's going to have to think on his feet. That could affect him.

KING: We'll be back with more of Bill Maher, more of your phone calls after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before the oil industry gave us the gave us the ability to do so, our cities were filled with horse manure, and flies and all kinds of diseases.

MAHER: You know, I would rather have horse manure in the streets than a hole in the ozone layer. You people have got to be kidding, if you don't that... JERRY FALWELL: I think global warming is a myth, and I don't think the ozone layer is going anywhere. I think God made whole thing right, and it will stay right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reverend, let me take your pulse.



KING: Our guest has changed his garb, and we will now ask -- I guess some explanation is in order. As a good interviewer, I think I should ask about this.

MAHER: There, you get the whole thing. Well, this is my this is my solution to the campaign finance problem. We've all seen the tennis players, and other athletes, race car drivers, when they're sponsored by McDonald's, they wear the McDonald's logo, they wear the Nike swish, whoever pays for them, they have the decency...

KING: Automobile racers, it's on the car.

MAHER: Exactly. I think the politicians should do the same thing. They should wear -- they should have to wear on their clothes whoever is buying them, and this is an example of what they would have to wear in the halls of Congress, and then you'd know, OK, this guy...

KING: GM, Pepsi, GE, Coors.

MAHER: ... is bought by these people, and that's OK. Then you'd know exactly where they stand.

KING: So this should be required.

MAHER: Absolutely.

KING: And we will therefore be honest an up front. Even on the back?

MAHER: If John McEnroe and those guys can do it -- yes. I think there's...

KING: Yes, Heineken.

MAHER: Right. And I even got this. This is for the -- if you really want...

KING: So, Mr. Vice President -- it could work -- senator.


MAHER: I'm not bought and sold; I'm my own man. those contributions didn't mean anything to me.

KING: Senator, but as based on the new requirement of the jacket wearing, it appears you have received money from various American industries.

MAHER: Bullpucky. That's just a rumor started by my political enemies. Why can't the politics of destruction come to an end?

KING: Bullpucky.

MAHER: I cleaned it up for, Larry, after that other comment.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Bill Maher after this.


KING: Seattle, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hello. Go ahead -- you're on.

CALLER: Yes, I think Bill is great and certainly not a communist. That woman who called is an idiot. My question is, if people really get to know W., who does Bill think has best chance of winning?

Thank you.

KING: Do you mean the more they -- I guess she's implying more they know about the Texas governor, the less he'll be liked, do you think, or will he grow on you?

MAHER: But they never will, because the elections aren't about getting to know a guy anymore than the conventions are. The elections and the conventions are about putting forth a commercial of who that guy is.

KING: In other words, that was an infomercial in Philadelphia.

MAHER: Oh, it was a complete infomercial. And that...

KING: But yet we have to report, we have go there. These are important people. Out of this will come man who could effect directly -- directly affect your future. Absolutely.

MAHER: Really?

KING: Justice is on the court, alone.

MAHER: That's right. You mean the abortion issue?

KING: Or any issue?

MAHER: I'm sweating already. Yes, although I've said before on my show that I'm not so sure if you never read the paper, which of course many people don't, you would not know which party was in power, you know.

KING: Then you're buying the Nader concept -- they're re the same. Ralph Nader says they're the same.

MAHER: They are so much the same, they're switching parts, they're switching roles. Yes.

By the way, I have to thank you for letting me wear this for two segments, because my network would not let me wear this two segments, can you believe that?

KING: Because?

MAHER: You got me. Because I don't know. Because apparently it would...

KING: Is there a Disney competitor on there? No.

MAHER: Yes, Time Warner right here.

KING: Time Warner, we made it.

MAHER: Yes, but you notice I'm keeping it under the desk.

KING: But yet it's a great country, Bill, say it. You could admit that. It's a country that says to Bill Maher, you can be on every night, you can have these opinions.


KING: We don't stop talk.

MAHER: Yes -- no, oh, that's not true either. This is -- there is not complete free speech in this country. And there is not anything close to justice in this country. It certainly is better, yes, I understand the perspective around rest of the world, but people who think they live in a free country are just diluting themselves with a bunch sentimental claptrap.

KING: Would you, would you, if you put tobacco on the FDA -- we're in our closing moments here. They would probably throw it out, right, as a dangerous drug?

MAHER: Oh, I've said on show before that if ketchup had 1/20th of the carcinogens in a cigarette, they would rip it off the shelf tomorrow. But you know, ketchup doesn't make...

KING: You can't throw out an industry that people like.

MAHER: But on the other hand, shouldn't people be entitled to, if they want to smoke, smoke?

KING: Absolutely. It's their breath. It's their life.

MAHER: I am completely against these lawsuits.

KING: See, there's another side of Bill Maher. I mean, because people might think you'd be for the lawsuits. MAHER: Absolutely not. I think that is part of our moral slide, to blame what we are doing to ourselves on somebody else. The -- for the first time about a year ago, an award was given to someone who started to smoke after they put the warnings on the pack, I'm -- a woman won a lawsuit who started smoke after 1964, and her reasoning was, it didn't mention her by name.

You know, I mean, but I mean seriously, I would rather die with a sense of personal responsibility than to live without one. But I'm a communist.

KING: That is beautiful. You know what I did at end when I was still smoking and I stopped 13 years ago? I would buy the packs that says "can affect pregnancy."

MAHER: Because?

KING: Couldn't help me, ain't going to bother me. Give me that one.

MAHER: And yet, somehow now you have a little boy and...

KING: Two little boys.

MAHER: Two little boys. So apparently it didn't affect pregnancy.


KING: Did you ever smoke?

MAHER: I smoked for 20 years. And I quit four years ago, and you know, millions of people have quit smoking. It is possible. This idea that the tobacco companies are somehow forcing this stuff right down our throats is ridiculous. They're a pusher. We're buyer, and the government is a Mafia that wants a cut.

KING: On that note, thank you once again.

Bill Maher, it's always great having him with us, the host of "Politically Incorrect," and he'll be participating in the shadow convention here in Los Angeles next week.

Tomorrow night, we'll repeat our interview with former President Ford.

Thanks for joining us. From L.A., good night.



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