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Larry King Live
What Did Bill Maher Think of the Democratic National Convention?Aired August 18, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight on LARRY KING LIVE, the latest on John McCain's cancer scare. Plus, the mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, talks about living with cancer himself. And then comedian Bill Maher looks back at the Democratic national convention. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani is with us from our studios in New York. As you know, he has prostate cancer. We'll talk about that a bit, and some politics, as well. He's also a very close friend of John McCain.
Here with us in Los Angeles is Dr. Donald Morton, medical director and surgeon-in-chief at the famed John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica.
First, Rudy, have you spoken to Senator McCain?
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: Yes, I spoke to him yesterday, and today, and he...
GIULIANI: He's -- well, he's -- you know, he's John McCain. He's very optimistic. He's very strong. He's very convinced that he's going to be cured. And he doesn't want this to interrupt his schedule too much.
KING: He even apologized for taking away from Senator Lieberman's speech.
GIULIANI: And he's being sincere. I mean, this is -- he sees this as a -- he sees this just as kind of a hurdle he has to overcome, and he's going to overcome it very quickly. And we're all rooting for him.
KING: We've asked Dr. Morton to be with us. And by the way, if Rudy has a question, he can ask it, too. And we're going to ask you a little about prostate, too. But first, the doctors issued a statement today that his two cancerous spots have not spread and are operable. Which means?
DR. DONALD MORTON, JOHN WAYNE CANCER INSTITUTE: Which means these are two new primary melanomas that are unrelated to his prior melanoma and carry the very favorable prognosis... KING: Meaning it hasn't spread previously.
MORTON: That's correct.
KING: Now, what is -- they're going to -- when they do this surgery tomorrow, they will do what?
MORTON: Well, they will excise, remove a margin of normal skin around the two new melanomas. And I understand they're considering removing some lymph node in the...
MORTON: Because melanomas can spread to the lymph glands.
KING: So the fear he has is that, right? While everything else looks OK, so we're optimistic, the possibility, the fear would be that if it spread to the lymph nodes, he's in trouble, right?
MORTON: Well, he could be in trouble. We -- not -- 80 percent of the time, there's no spread to lymph nodes, so...
KING: He's got that on his side.
MORTON: So he's got that on his side. And even if there is spread to lymph nodes, the chances of cure with surgery alone are sometimes as high as 50 percent, and with some of the new vaccine therapies and biological therapies, even higher.
KING: So the odds are in his favor tonight.
MORTON: The odds are definitely in his favor.
KING: You would have worried more if it were related to the previous melanoma.
MORTON: That's right. That was my initial concern, is that this was a recurrence of the first melanoma.
KING: Any significance to the thickness of the spot?
MORTON: Yes. The -- the risk of recurrence is directly related to how thick the melanoma is, how far it's grown into the skin.
KING: And why do you think melanomas are increasing so much?
MORTON: I think...
KING: We hear more -- more...
MORTON: Larry, I think it's two things. First of all, I think that the deterioration in the ozone layer means that the ultraviolet rays that hit the Earth are much more intense. So per unit of exposure, one gets more damage to the DNA in the genes in the skin cells. The other thing is that melanoma is a -- primarily a disease of pale-complected individuals and... KING: There are more of them?
MORTON: Yes, well, I think there are more people have the wealth to go to exotic places and lay in the sun and get sunburned and get melanoma.
KING: Now, your institute is the largest melanoma center in the United States. In addition to the ability of its doctors and yourself, does that also have something to do with the fact that it's in southern California?
KING: More melanoma here.
MORTON: More melanoma here. The highest instance of melanoma in the world is in Australia, and southern California is among the highest incidence in the United States.
KING: How, Mayor Giuliani -- I know you're still getting your radiation. Is that correct?
GIULIANI: Well, I'm -- right now, I'm still...
KING: You're getting hormones.
GIULIANI: ... on hormones. Yes. Right.
KING: And you have a decision coming as to whether you will do radiation or surgery? Is that it?
GIULIANI: Correct. Probably make it in a few weeks, and -- I've listened to all of the statistics and all of the different analysis and -- you know, it's a difficult decision. Even the statistics the doctor was just giving about 80 percent and -- you always keep wondering which side of that percent you're on. But you -- but the main thing is to remain optimistic because I think it has a lot to do with recovery from cancer.
KING: And when you do make that decision, that night or shortly thereafter, we're going to do a whole show on treatment of cancer, as you know.
GIULIANI: Yes, I think the point that John McCain made today, and I'm sure the doctor would agree with, early detection is the key to all of this. So you got to go -- got to go get tested. You got to see if you can pick it up at the earliest possible moment. And in John's case, he had this in '93, and he's been -- he's been looked at pretty carefully since then, so everyone believes that this was caught at a very early stage, which I think is the best news of all.
KING: Good idea, Doctor, to stay out of the sun, right?
MORTON: Don't get sunburned.
KING: Don't get sunburned. How about all these lotions, Q-26, 80-33?
MORTON: Well, they certainly prevent sunburn, but we don't know whether they prevent melanoma for sure. The studies have been...
KING: Not conclusive?
MORTON: Not conclusive, given opposite results.
KING: Do you have many patients at the -- at the John Wayne Institute facing problems like -- decision problems like Mayor Giuliani faces?
MORTON: Yes. Every day...
KING: There are prostate cancer patients.
MORTON: Prostate, but all types of cancer. There are...
KING: You have to decide surgery versus treatment.
MORTON: Right. Therapeutic options.
KING: Do doctors offer their opinions?
KING: Should they?
MORTON: Yes. Most definitely. But what -- the obligation of the doctor is to tell the patient what are the options, what are the alternatives. And then, I believe, should also tell the patient what they would choose...
KING: If they were...
MORTON: ... if they were in that situation.
KING: Did you want that, Rudy, from your doctors?
GIULIANI: Absolutely. And they've been very good about that. The -- the problem is, obviously, in these situations, different doctors have different recommendations.
GIULIANI: So you have to figure out the one that you trust the most. But...
GIULIANI: Yes, I think doctors are very forthright and very candid and very honest about it. And ultimately, it becomes your decision, you know, and it should be your decision.
KING: Before we continue with Rudy, one other thing, Dr. Morton. How important do you think is attitude? MORTON: Well, it's -- it's very important. As a matter of fact, I have two papers -- I'm a surgeon. I have two papers in the "American Journal of Psychiatry" where we looked at the survival and -- in relationship to the optimism score of patients with melanoma and...
MORTON: ... their immune response. And it turns out that people that are optimistic have very active immune systems, and they survive longer than the people that are pessimistic and have depressed immune systems.
KING: There's nothing chemistry could prove in that, right? You can't look at an X-ray and see it.
MORTON: No, you can't. You can't. But it's the -- it's up here. And so I'm a great believer in -- in the importance of an optimistic outlook, and we stress that at the John Wayne Cancer Institute. We have a whole program...
KING: To deal with that.
MORTON: ... to teach patients how to deal with their disease and be optimistic.
KING: Thank you, Doctor. Thanks for helping us out.
Dr. Donald Morton, medical director, surgeon-in-chief, John Wayne Cancer Institute.
We'll continue with Mayor Giuliani. Then we'll give you a check- up on the Russian submarine in peril. And then Bill Maher joins us, a return visit from two weeks ago.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I'm very confident. The doctors are very confident that we'll have this thing done very quickly, and in a very short period of time, I'll be back on the "Straight Talk Express" campaigning for our candidates around the country, as well as for Governor Bush. We expect it to be relatively short, relatively simple. And as I say, I'm very confident. I've been in a number of fights in my life, and this is just another one, and I'm sure we will be able to prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York.
Mayor, does one person's optimism help another? Does John McCain's attitude help you? GIULIANI: Absolutely. It helped me a great deal to talk to people that had dealt with cancer, overcame it, were dealing with it. It gave -- it helped to give me an optimistic spirit. And now every day I get to counsel people in one way or another about cancer. I have people come up to me in the street. They talk to me. They ask me my advice. I had someone on the golf course come up to me about a week ago who had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
And you -- if you've been through it, you can really -- you can really help people have an optimistic attitude about it. I mean, there's no point in not having an optimistic attitude about it. Most forms of cancer can be cured. All of us deal in life with, you know, perilous situation. No one ever knows what's going to happen to you the next day or the day after, so you might...
KING: Why do you think...
GIULIANI: ... as well have an optimistic attitude.
KING: Why do you think, Mr. Mayor, that optimism works? He's writing that piece for the psychiatric journal that it works. He can't explain why it works.
GIULIANI: I -- I...
KING: Why do you think it works?
GIULIANI: I can't explain it, either, except it seems to me it probably releases in your body all kinds of things that help you. You know, it's like -- it's like the benefits you get out of exercising or...
GIULIANI: It just generally makes you healthier and stronger, and you can withstand -- you can withstand the kind of battle you have to undertake with cancer.
KING: And as we've discussed before, it has changed you.
GIULIANI: It certainly has changed me, yes. I mean, it -- I look at life differently. I think I have a broader -- broader view of it. I think it gives you a certain degree of wisdom, gives you a great deal more compassion. I mean, as soon as I heard this about John, my heart went out to him. And I kept thinking this man's been through so much, why does he have to go through this?
GIULIANI: And that's kind of the thing that I think anyone that deals with cancer thinks about themselves, "Why do I have to go through this?" And you get -- then you get past that, and you say, you know,people are given all kinds of difficult things they have to get through in life, some of which are more difficult than having to deal with cancer. And the real question is, how are you going to deal with it? You know, how -- how are you going to deal with it from the point of view of your character and your strength? And nobody could be in a better position there than John McCain.
KING: And he told me he called you as soon as he heard about you.
GIULIANI: Yes, he did. Absolutely. First -- first thing, and -- upbeat, offered to -- if I wanted to continue to run, he offered to go campaign for me while I was in the hospital. I mean, the guy is unbelievable. And he's a terrific guy.
KING: He's the kind of guy that would apologize to Joe Lieberman for taking attention away from his speech.
GIULIANI: And it's for real. This is -- I can't emphasize that more. I've gotten to know him very, very well, and everything you see is the real John McCain. There aren't two John McCains, there's just one.
KING: Let's get us up to date. We've been with you a couple times in the last couple weeks -- at the Republican convention. It was nice seeing you and then having you on with the Lieberman nomination. How did you think the Democratic convention went?
GIULIANI: Well, I didn't think it went as well as they would have liked. I thought it -- I thought it left them sounding and looking more like the party in the 1980s. It seemed like -- more like a Dukakis convention than a Clinton convention, more -- more liberal themes, a lot of throwback, you know, to the Kennedys and to Jimmy Carter and -- didn't seem to have much of a sense of the future. And it wasn't very different than prior Democratic conventions. So I thought, compared to the Republican convention, which was inclusive, attempted to be inclusive -- they were even criticized for being too inclusive. It was a very different kind of Republican convention. And it seemed almost like this was a throwback to before -- even before -- before Clinton.
KING: What will the race be like -- before we ask you about Lazio-Clinton -- the race between Gore and -- and Bush in your state?
GIULIANI: Very, very...
KING: I mean, Gore is now the favorite, right?
GIULIANI: Oh, sure. Very tight. I mean, if George Bush wins New York -- and I hope that he does, and I believe he can -- then it'll be a landslide. I mean, this is a state that generally votes Democratic in the presidential race, although we did vote for Ronald Reagan twice in the '80s. So I think this can be a real battleground state. I mean, the polls are very, very close in New York right now. They're, like, 3, 4 percent, which between Republican and a Democrat in New York...
GIULIANI: ... is not good news for the Democrats. This is a -- this is a place where Al Gore is going to have to hope that he doesn't have to campaign. KING: And therefore, you would advise Governor Bush to campaign there.
GIULIANI: Absolutely. And he -- my theory of winning elections -- and I've been in a few -- is you fight for the other person's vote. You don't fight for your own vote. And that's another reason why I thought the Republican convention was more successful. It was a convention that reached out to the middle more, whereas the Democrats seemed to be working on shoring up their base. Well, you don't want to be shoring up your base. You want to be sure of your base. And then you want to be reaching out for the moderate voter, the voter that can go either way, Democrat or Republican.
KING: The base for either one never elects, right?
GIULIANI: The base -- you need it and you better be sure of it, but then you got to go for the middle. And right now, I think George W. Bush has a lead in that department.
KING: We'll ask Mayor Giuliani about the man who replaced him in the race, Rick Lazio, and his opponent, Hillary Clinton. And then we'll get an update on the submarine, and then Bill Maher.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Most Americans should be confident that early detection means a very, very high probability that everything's fine. I've had -- I had another malignant melanoma taken off my shoulder, and it's been fine. The whole -- the whole key is early detection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with some remaining moments with Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
How goes the -- the Lazio-Clinton fracas? You would have been -- you have to think about it a lot. You would have been there.
GIULIANI: It's very, very tight, just the way it would have been if I was there. It's...
KING: Why? Why is this such a close race?
GIULIANI: Well, it's a Democratic state, so it's going to -- you know, the Democrat's going to be favored generally in the race. Mrs. Clinton is very famous, very well-known, and her husband is very popular in the state of New York. He won the state by huge margins twice. At the same time, she's not from New York. New Yorkers, a lot of them -- at least half of them, or about half of them -- resent that very, very much and don't see any rationale for her candidacy for the Senate. They don't understand what's she doing here running for the Senate? She never lived here. She never worked here. She's never really been connected with the issues that really come out of New York.
And Rick Lazio has been a very effective member of Congress. He has -- he has a resume that suggests running for the Senate. She doesn't. So I think -- I think you have a lot of very complex issues. And then the...
KING: Does she, like -- like Robert Kennedy in 19 -- back in 1966, does she need -- 1964 -- does she need a huge victory by Gore to pull her in?
GIULIANI: No, I don't think she's going to get it. This is -- this is going to be -- the race between Al Gore and George W. Bush in New York is not going to be, you know, Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater, which is what you had in that year, which was, I think...
KING: Two million.
GIULIANI: ... almost two million -- two million victory. This is -- this is going to be -- you know, you'd have to favor Al Gore, basically, because New York is Democratic, but George W. Bush can win New York. And in any event, it's going to be a close race. And I think that means that New York is going to go with a native son to the Senate, Rick Lazio, and not -- and not someone who's -- you know, who's coming in here and running for the Senate without much of a rationale.
KING: You did tell us two weeks ago that Lieberman will help her.
GIULIANI: Absolutely. No doubt about it. In New York, he's going to help both Al Gore and he'll help Hillary Clinton. But I don't think, ultimately, it'll make the difference. I also think, as I said then, that the vice presidential candidates -- and I don't mean any disrespect to them, but they kind of fade away. It really does come down to who do you want for president of the United States, particularly after the two men debate each other.
KING: All right, Rudy. You've obviously got some health questions in front of you...
GIULIANI: I do.
KING: ... and some decisions to make. Will that keep you active in this race?
GIULIANI: It will...
KING: Are we going to see a lot of you or not?
GIULIANI: As much -- as much as -- as much as I can, and as much as they want me.
KING: Well, they're going to want you. The question will be -- you will always put health first, as you told us.
GIULIANI: Well, you have to, right? But...
KING: You're not going to risk that.
GIULIANI: I very much -- I very much want to help, and it'll be a little bit limited because I have to go through these treatments. But consistent with that, I certainly want to make sure that George W. Bush is elected president. I feel very strongly about it. And then there are a group of other Republican races where I know people and want to help them.
KING: And by the way, would you be an attorney general in a Bush cabinet?
GIULIANI: No. I've -- I've decided...
GIULIANI: I've decided one of the -- one of the great benefits that came out of all of this is that I get a chance to be mayor of New York City for what turns out to be an additional year and a half, and I want to finish this job the right way. IT's -- I love this job. I mean, I can't tell you...
KING: I know.
GIULIANI: ... how much I love it.
KING: I'll see you in a couple of weeks, Rudy.
GIULIANI: All right.
KING: Best of luck.
GIULIANI: Thank you.
KING: Thank you. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York. He's got a decision coming about radiation and surgery. When he makes that decision, we're going to do a major show around it.
We'll come back with Commodore Nick Harris and Vice Admiral Einar Skorgen and get us up to date on the Russian submarine. And then Bill Maher.
I'm Larry King. Don't go away.
KING: We've been doing this every night, getting you an update on the tragedy that could befall the Russian submarine, the Kursk.
Joining us now, as he did last night by phone, is Vice Admiral Einar Skorgen. He's commander of the joint forces of northern Norway. He's a submariner. And he's coordinating Norwegians' part of this effort. And in our bureau in Washington is Commodore Nick Harris, British embassy Navy defense attache, a submariner himself.
According to Russian television, gentlemen, Russian rescuers successfully docked with the Kursk on Friday, but the escape hatch could not be opened because the platform was so damaged. And a British sub is on the way with Norwegian divers, and they're going to go down to look.
Is that the correct information? We'll start with Admiral Skorgen. Is that what's going to happen?
VICE ADMIRAL EINAR SKORGEN, COMMANDER OF JOINT FORCES OF NORTHERN NORWAY: Yes. Certainly. That is what's going to happen. We hope we will have our divers down at that submarine maybe in the next 20 hours. Both ships are now steaming along the north Norwegian coast towards the area. And we are starting up having meetings between the Russian diving specialists, the British and the Norwegians within six hours. I'm -- I'm organizing now to get them together out on one of the ships.
KING: Commodore Harris, what is Britain's role here?
COMMODORE NICK HARRIS, BRITISH NAVAL ATTACHE: Well, the admiral -- good evening, Admiral. The admiral is...
SKORGEN: Good evening.
HARRIS: ... very much closer to the scene of the action than I am here in Washington. I've been tracking very carefully what's been going on, and I know well that the coordination between the Norwegians, the Royal Navy effort and the Russians now is becoming very close. And I think the admiral will agree that they are now moving into a very, very complicated and potentially dangerous part of the mission. Everybody is very optimistic and keen to do everything they can to help, but I don't think we can overemphasize at this stage how difficult this mission is going to be, as our support units reach the area.
KING: Admiral Skorgen, they're going to go down, as I understand it, to examine the damaged hatch, shift away any debris that could impede further efforts. Is that correct? That's the role of the divers?
SKORGEN: That's the way I see it for the time being. There's certainly something wrong there, since the Russians couldn't mate, and if the British LR5 is going to do its job, there has to be some -- some job done at the submarine before they can mate.
KING: The American team is going to remain in Norfolk, ready to be dispatched, if asked. Commodore Harris, should the Americans, do you think, be involved?
HARRIS: I think...
KING: Should we -- should the Russians ask us to come, as well?
HARRIS: I'm sure the Russians are doing whatever they think is right, as far as asking for assistance is concerned. And I think you will have to ask the U.S. government how they're going to react to that.
KING: Admiral, if we're not hearing anything -- Morse code, sonar, nothing -- are we really just doing what we have to do against a futile concept?
SKORGEN: Well, I'm not quite sure. Certainly, time is a factor here, and the time is running out for all of us. But there is still hope, in my mind, and we never know what actually is the situation down there before we are there and inside the submarine. And we will go on carrying through this operation until we know.
KING: There is a code, Commodore Harris, among all submariners, no matter what country, right, that binds them?
HARRIS: Absolutely right. And throughout this entire tragic circumstance, we have all been very much with the Russian submarine community. We're very, very upset for them, and we have offered their condolences throughout this sadness. I think that also we hear an awful lot of speculation as to conditions on board. Certainly, by now, people will be lying very quietly, trying to conserve their energy for all the escape efforts which are going to continue. But our hearts are very much with them.
KING: So the British mini-sub comes Saturday. The Norwegian divers go on. They go down. We'll know a lot more after they go down. By the way, Admiral, are they in any danger, the divers?
SKORGEN: Certainly. The situation is unclear, and I don't know what they will meet down there. The current situation down there is difficult, and they will certainly also have to take care of their own security.
KING: And Commodore, the British -- this is a special sub, this mini-sub?
HARRIS: It's a very special submarine, specially designed for this kind of work, well-tried and proven in north sea operations. And as part of the entire NATO submarine rescue effort, we have used this submarine in many exercises before. And I think this should be seen as a NATO-coordinated rescue response.
KING: And Admiral, you will remain in Norway at your post?
SKORGEN: Certainly. We will -- I will remain in this post and try to -- try to support now both the Brits and our own divers there, see to that they have all the equipment in the area that they need, and also see to that exchange of people is going the way they want it.
KING: The whole world wishes you all luck. Thank you so much. We'll be calling on you again.
SKORGEN: Thank you.
KING: Commander Nick Harris and Vice Admiral Einar Skorgen.
We'll take a break and come back with Bill Maher of "Politically Incorrect" to get a look back at the Democratic convention, and include your phone calls.
Mr. Maher is next. Don't go away.
KING: He's back by popular demand, our favorite, Bill Maher, the host of "Politically Incorrect." He's become one of the top political analysts in America. We call him a modern day Mark Twain. How did the Democrats do?
BILL MAHER, HOST, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT": I thought they did pretty good. He got a little bounce, right?
KING: Today, yes, apparently, poll bounce.
MAHER: A little bouncy, bouncy. I saw him kiss his wife real hard.
KING: What was the reason for that, do you think?
MAHER: That's because, I've been saying on my show for the past week, that this election is still about sex. That's what the Republicans tried to make it about. Come, on they're still trying to make Gore and Clinton locked together.
KING: So this was -- what we're seeing now was done to confront Lewinsky?
MAHER: Right, this was -- oh, oh, get a room, you two. Whoa, get the hose. Yes, that's Al Gore's way of saying, look, I'm having sex with my wife, as opposed to some people we know.
KING: You have a way of looking at things, Maher.
MAHER: I'm serious, I think what this whole election is still about.
KING: You mean Lewinsky is in the background in almost everything we're going to see?
MAHER: Exactly. That's why he picked Joe Lieberman.
MAHER: He needed a holy man, he did. He would have picked Ghandi if he could of. He needed somebody to sanctify this. I'm not kidding about this.
KING: I know you're not, but it's still funny. MAHER: It is funny, but it's not made up. I think it's very ironic that Monica Lewinsky, a Jewish person, really is responsible for getting the first Jewish person...
KING: That is an unusual way of looking at things.
MAHER: ... on the ticket.
KING: A Jew did it for another Jew?
MAHER: That's exactly right, Larry.
KING: In a sense, if that ticket is elected, it will be her doing?
MAHER: Her doing. And you know, Larry, if your vice president who's Jewish, according to Jewish law, you're really Jewish, I don't know if you know that.
KING: The whole country becomes Jewish at that juncture by...
MAHER: By association.
KING: So since that's part of it, what's this campaign going to be like now? Will there be a lot of kissing, a lot of hugging of husband bands and wives?
KING: Tell me, what's it going to be like?
MAHER: I don't know about that. I mean, I think what Gore has to do now is find out why he's not popular. I mean, it's amazing that a guy with the record that he's running on is still fighting for his life. I mean, wouldn't you think that somebody with the prosperity that this country is enjoying -- we're not at war, we haven't had any wars -- except for the East and West Coast rappers -- that should be enough, but it's not. And I think one reason is because the expectations for Bush were so low, right, when he started, that when he proved to be, you know, not a total moron, just a partial, that people thought he was some sort of a master politician.
KING: Every poll will say, if you ask about issues -- guns, abortion, health care, right -- patients rights, pharmaceutical industry -- the Democrats are on the right side in the polls. But why isn't he ahead?
KING: So what's your analysis?
MAHER: One is that, that the Bush expectations were low. Two, I think is that the Republicans have been very good at defining the election, linking Gore with Clinton, like I said.
KING: The bad part of Clinton. Why isn't he linked with the good part? The man has a got a 62 rating.
MAHER: Why should he be linked with the bad part at all? I heard Republican analysts say the other day, it's going to be very hard for Al Gore to explain; either he was with Clinton or he wasn't. Well, no, he may have been with him during meetings, but they make it sound like he was holding Monica's hair when she was servicing the president. I mean, they want him to express some level of outrage that's ridiculous. Should he throw the man's clothes out on the front lawn and go say he's going to live with his mother? I mean, it's just a ridiculous guilt by association.
KING: But why isn't he getting the benefit that gives Clinton a 62 rating? I mean, you've got to find the wacko element and a few others. This guy is regarded as a good president.
MAHER: I think part of it is because Gore's problem is that people keep saying, you know, be yourself. However, when he's himself, people don't like that. So then he has to go and reinvent himself, and then they criticize him for that. So he's sort of like damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
KING: Rock and a hard place.
KING: So what does he do?
MAHER: Well first of all, he's got to answer a lot of these charges. They have done a very good job of defining him in a way that I don't think is true. There's a lot of phony scandals that have been hung about him, the Buddhist temple.
KING: You think that was phony, that he didn't know?
MAHER: Well, no, I think he is a politician, who shouldn't have been there, but, Larry, I mean, when it comes to scandals and lies, if it's one thing that worries me about this country, it's the power that Buddhists have, you know what I'm saying?
KING: Not a big -- not the oil companies?
MAHER: No. Also, a guy who can squeeze money out of a monk, I don't think that would be the worst guy to have in office. So I think he's got to distance himself from that and define himself a little better as to what really is important, and I think he will, because you know, he is a tough fighter, Al Gore.
KING: And he will be favored in debates. Another question of expectancy, George Bush will not be expected to do as well, right? So debate could benefit him if he merely holds his own.
MAHER: Right. I think George Bush is feeling a little cocky about the debates, but I think he's going to find out that they're not as easy as the "Hollywood Squares."
KING: How about the Quayle-Lieberman debates? Looks like they'll be two of them.
KING: I'm sorry. I went swept back in time. I was back in '88. No, the Cheney-Lieberman debates?
MAHER: Those should be a little more interesting. I think that's...
KING: More cerebral?
MAHER: Maybe a little more cerebral. You know, what's interesting about Lieberman is that they can't attack him because he's this holy man, he's the rabbi. I mean, there's a very interesting alliance between the Christian Right, and they love him, the Christian Right and the Orthodox Jews, because they're both judgmental, because they're both people who believe...
KING: You're right -- You're wrong, I'm right.
MAHER: Right. Right. I mean, all that stuff that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson get about homosexuality being evil and stuff, that's not coming from Jesus Christ; Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. That's coming from the Old Testament. That's the old, you know, "saber rattling, God the father" guy.
KING: Orthodox Jews in the field of condemning homosexuality, and so you think that's going to help Lieberman, hurt Lieberman?
MAHER: I think that's going to help Lieberman, because I don't think they can go after him the way they could go after other guys in that position.
KING: And he is very moderate, if you could be very moderate. That's not incongruous.
KING: Bill Maher. It's been a long week. I've been doing two show as night.
We'll be right back.
We'll be back with Bill Maher and more on the passing scene after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT")
MAHER: You know, actually some unprecedented things about Al Gore's speech. One, he claimed that he wrote it all himself. Politicians don't usually do that. He said he wrote the whole speech himself. Then he got carried away and said that he invented spell check. I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We knew you love to talk to Bill Maher. We're going to go to calls in just a moment. But we've got to ask him about the fact that the independent counsel Robert Ray has impaneled a new grand jury. They did on it July 11, but the story broke yesterday.
MAHER: Right, that they're finally going to get to the bottom of this Monica Lewinsky scandal. Thank God, we're going to finally get some information. Larry, what went on there? To me, it's like why don't they just bring a dead horse and beat it at the -- just bring an actual dead horse and start beating it.
KING: So who leaked this, do you think?
MAHER: You know, I wouldn't be surprised if it was Clinton, if it was the Democrats.
KING: You're kidding.
MAHER: And good for him if he did. You know what? These guys will never learn.
KING: If they're doing it, why can't he leak it, right...
MAHER: They keep screwing around with Bill Clinton and you're always going to lose. But it doesn't matter who leaked it. But the point is that they are -- that they impaneled the grand jury to begin with after we went through this entire scenario for two years.
KING: If there's information you could indict, they will indict him when he leaves office if he lied under oath.
MAHER: But we went through this once. And you know what the big lie in this, Larry is: the idea that they put forth that, you know, well, we're just following orders. We have to do it. We're prosecutors. What a bunch of nonsense. Prosecutors everyday...
KING: Make decisions.
MAHER: ... make decisions about what they are going to bring. They have to discard most of the cases that come to them. They can't do everything. There already is a precedent for not doing this, which would be for example, Gerald Ford, pardoning Richard Nixon for probably far greater crimes. But Gerald Ford said: Look, the nation was through an ordeal. We went through it. It's much better to leave it. That's the precedent these guys should follow in any conscience.
KING: And you're saying there's a genius in reverse here that Clinton could say, if I release it...
KING: ... people will say they will get angry like I have knocked them off before with
MAHER: Right, because people have shown that they're tired of this. They were tired of it about three months into the whole thing. Before he was even impeached, they were tired of. I think yes, there will definitely be a backlash. And the Republicans, who tried to show themselves at their convention as the new party, the party of Chaka Khan and we love Mexicans really now looks like the old party of...
KING: CNN by the way is...
MAHER: ... we can't stand that people have sex. And we're not going to get over it.
KING: CNN is reporting that, apparently, a federal judge inadvertently leaked it. But you're not saying who -- you're saying who leaked it is unimportant. The fact that they're doing it is weird.
MAHER: That is what's important.
KING: San Diego, as we take a call for Bill Maher, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hi, Larry.
Bill, if the Republicans try to make the morality and virtue an issue, couldn't that rebound on them and raise the issue of hypocrisy?
KING: You mean, the thoughts of Gingrich and the like?
MAHER: Yes, I think it will. That's why I think -- I wouldn't be surprised if Clinton was behind this. I think it only serves them, because Clinton isn't running. And no one is going to find anything new about him, you know. What this brings to the forefront is this idea that democracy works by reelecting people and then putting them on trial. And that's the doing of the Republicans.
KING: How did he -- how was he able to - I mean, let's look at it. He has got every radio talk show host, save for a few in America, knocking him every day.
KING: Yes. He has got Congress, elements of Congress -- and he's got people that hate him.
KING: Not dislike, hate him. And then he commits acts that would play right into them and has a 62 percent rating of approval.
MAHER: Because people don't care about....
KING: They don't care about a president having sex in the Oval Office? MAHER: No, Larry, they don't.
KING: They don't.
MAHER: They consider it a private matter. They don't admire it. But they don't care about it. And I'll tell you something else. I don't consider Bill Clinton any sort of huge liar compared with some of the other lies -- we talked about last time I was here -- that have gone on in this country from politicians. I mean, he tells other lies, like the era of big government is over. That's lie I'm much more concerned with, because that's a huge lie.
But the fact that he lied about this, a private affair in a civil case. Would anybody else bring this to trial? No. This is ridiculous. And he didn't lie. He came into office, he said: I'm going to focus on the economy like a laser. Well, he did. And he succeeded at it. And he also said, I've caused pain in my marriage. Well, you know, unless you're a moron, you should know what that means. I mean, that's saying look, I diddled with a lounge singer, or whatever it was.
He was saying: That's the kind of guy I am. And you can kind of read that about him anyway. So I don't thought -- I don't think that we were every sort of misled by this guy.
KING: But how did the Republicans that opposed him get sucked in so much that they played into his hand? They wanted us to see the deposition, which turned out into four hours of people generally thought he did pretty well.
MAHER: Right, because he...
KING: How did he get them into that taking their issues and making them his?
MAHER: You mean...
KING: How does he do that?
MAHER: You mean stealing their issues?
KING: Yes, didn't he?
MAHER: You mean like cutting crime.
KING: That's a Republican issue and the deficit.
KING: Environment used to be a Republican issue. The little old ladies in tennis shoes, they were Republicans.
MAHER: Right. OK. Well, first of all, the parties were always stealing from each other. I mean, you saw it this year. The Republicans are now the party that's Chaka Khan. And the Democrats are the family values party. Look at the way they are trying to steal the God issue. I mean, the Republicans had the God issue.
KING: They had God.
MAHER: Well, now with Lieberman, the Democrats stole God. He's our running mate. You know, that's what they -- they like to make you think that God is on your -- is on their side. They stole God.
KING: Memphis, hello. Memphis, hello.
CALLER: What do you think about the curse of the people elected in a year ending in zero, like Kennedy, Roosevelt, Lincoln?
KING: Oh yes, do you buy any of that, you know, that there's some sort of -- bad things happen to people with presidents who are elected in even number -- those years that end in zero, '60, 1860, 1960?
MAHER: Yes, right.
KING: Buy any that?
MAHER: No. I mean...
KING: You're not into Voodoo? Voodoo is the wrong word. I mean, happenstance.
MAHER: I'm into Voodoo Economics, Larry?
KING: What ever happened to that?
MAHER: It was revived. Well, no, I don't believe in that. But I have heard that theory. There's also all those coincidences with Kennedy and Lincoln. Remember that, that...
KING: In some cases though, you are very conservative, right?
KING: You're not a big government guy.
MAHER: No, exactly.
MAHER: That's why I'm saying that's the Clinton lie that bothers me, when he said the era of big government is over. That's one that I don't think -- because I'm a Libertarian.
KING: Toronto, hello.
Bill, do you feel the economy will continue to grow with the Republicans in office?
KING: If they win? MAHER: Ma'am, you'll have to ask one of the Jews running for office. I mean, that's not my -- that's not my field.
KING: Wait, you think Jewish people own the economy?
KING: Is that what you're saying?
MAHER: No. I...
KING: I could take umbrage. Ask a Jew about the economy? What do you mean by that?
MAHER: Well, Alan Greenspan, Robert
MAHER: I mean, I don't think I'm telling any tales out of the school, that the Jews are good with money.
KING: You wouldn't have said that if they asked about skiing.
KING: Or hockey. It's OK.
KING: I'm offended. I'm only kidding.
MAHER: No, I'm half Jewish myself, Larry. I was raised Catholic, but you know, my mother is Jewish.
KING: That's right.
KING: So, were you proud when Lieberman was selected? Did you feel a touch here? Come on? A little goodness?
MAHER: No, I...
KING: A little nachas?
MAHER: A little sphilkess (ph), Larry? Um, no, I...
KING: Sphilkess is nerves.
MAHER: Oh, sorry, whatever it is. You know, when he said it was one small step for man, one giant step for my mother, I thought...
KING: We'll be right back with Bill Maher. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT")
MAHER: I think that's very interesting, our first Jewish vice presidential candidate, we know that. There you go. And the speech seemed to be very well-received. I don't know if this is indicative of anything, but George W. Bush reacted to it, taking a page out of his father's book, he said we need a kinder, more Gentile nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Niagara -- on to the lake -- Ontario, hello.
CALLER: Good evening.
CALLER: Mr. Bush leads. With that in mind would you agree, Mr. Maher, the obsession with personality of Mr. Bush versus Mr. Gore's successful record is a reflection of the shallowness of the American nation? Sorry, Sorry.
KING: No, it's good. Don't be sorry, Canadian. Are we shallow because personality matters?
MAHER: Absolutely. I think we are. I think she is very right. We're a shallow country. I think the conventions proved that, just the fact that the candidates always get a bounce right after the convention. That shows me that...
KING: From what?
MAHER: We're babies, just like babies -- whatever put in front of them, that's what they want.
KING: We like him tonight -- we root for him.
MAHER: The very last thing they see, that's what they want.
KING: But should Bush be faulted for having a good personality?
MAHER: No, but I think there's something a little more sinister there, not that it's his fault. But Bush has a kind of ironic personality, whereas Gore is the boring old taskmaster. I think Bush appeals to that Gen X crowd that sort of see that smirk on his face as his way of saying, I don't take this governing stuff that seriously, I'm a fun guy like you.
KING: I don't buy all that.
Virginia Beach, hello.
CALLER: Mr. Maher, how you doing?
CALLER: Listen, I caught your show last night, and they bleeped you a couple times. Do you regret leaving the freedom of cable TV to the constriction of network television?
KING: Excellent question. You left cable, where they probably never bleeped you to go to ABC.
MAHER: No, wrong.
KING: They bleeped you on cable?
MAHER: Of course. I was on basic cable, where you have the exact same structure...
KING: Like CNN.
MAHER: Yes, like CNN. I forgot we were live last night, and I should not have said that bad word.
KING: So they were right?
MAHER: Oh, yes, yes. And I apologized. I mean, sometimes I say something and I'm not so sorry about it, but...
KING: Normally, you're taped, right?
MAHER: Normally we're a few hours before it goes on the air, right. We tape at 5:00; it goes on at 12:05.
KING: One show had a sniper. What did you make of that?
MAHER: A sniper?
KING: What show was that?
Greg Kilborn. Did you hear about that? They used the like -- Greg Kilborn.
MAHER: Craig Kilborn.
KING: Yes, Greg Kilborn.
KING: I didn't see the show.
MAHER: You don't know the guy?
KING: I met him once. Do you know what he did?
MAHER: What did he do?
KING: I don't know. You know what he did?
MAHER: Sound like Abbott and Costello. KING: OK, we'll be right back, and we'll you what he did right after this. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT")
MAHER: Tonight was what they call "liberal night" at the Democratic convention. Four Kennedys spoke, including a Ted Kennedy. Ted spoke.
MAHER: He made an impassioned speech. I thought he took a little bit of a cheapshot. He blamed Chappaquiddick on those damned Firestone tires.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: This is from our producers, who know much more than I -- and I have not heard this -- Craig Kilborn on his "Late Show" had shown a picture of George W. Bush with a sign underneath saying "sniper wanted," and there have been a lot of condemnation of that, and he ha apologized. Was that poor taste?
MAHER: Yes, it's beyond poor taste; it's actually against the law. You can't make any sort of joke about wanting to kill the president.
KING: It's not funny also.
MAHER: It's not funny, and to those guys, who actually might get shot, it's super-duper not funny. You ever see that sign at the airport, no joking, literally, they do not want you to joke about a plane going down.
KING: That's not funny.
MAHER: And then after you get through it, there's a sign that says "resume joking." I think it's fair.
KING: How does a libertarian, which is the kind of the purest of the philosophies -- this is what we think -- exist in a society like this, where you see so many things happening, right and left, that are opposed to what you believe in?
MAHER: It's very difficult, because there's been at least three generations now that have been brought up on the concept that the government is just an ever-growing tit on which we can suckle and libertarianism is the opposite belief. It says the government should be shrunk down to its smallest size possible. I mean, this is what Republicanism used to be, this is what Reagan was saying, that government should be...
KING: You were a Reagan admirer? MAHER: I was an admirer of that, yes. I mean, he didn't actually do it. He wound up quadrupling the deficit. That's the opposite of what he said he was going to do. But I understand what he was trying to do and why it was difficult to get it done. But Libertarians basically believe that anybody should be able to do anything they want as long as it doesn't hurt somebody else, which is why I...
KING: So if you want to take a drug that only hurts you, as long as you don't hit the car, get in a car and hit me with it?
MAHER: Right. But alcohol is certainly a drug where we don't prescribe that. People are allowed to have alcohol, and then it's their problem if they commit a crime on it. But yes, this shadow convention, Arianna Huffington's shadow convention that I spoke at this week, was trying to make this point, and this is going to be -- even though the two parties will not face up to this issue or even mention it, the drug war, the failed drug war, and is that why I hate Gore and Bush -- Bore and Gush -- so much, because you know, they understand that the drug war is a failure and they won't say anything about it.
I could forgive the old man, George Bush Sr., or people from that generation, not understanding drugs, because they really didn't understand what marijuana was, it was not part of their life. But you know what? Bush and Gore, they could have a debate about drugs. They know about drugs, you know. And pot did not make Gore any dumber and coke did not make Bush any smarter. And these guys, they understand drugs, and they will not come out and say what is the right thing to say, which is that hundreds of thousands of Americans should not be in jail for it.
KING: Always great having you with us.
MAHER: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Every time we try to draw you out, we keep trying to get him to have some opinions. One day it will work, classic moderate.
Tomorrow night, we'll repeat our interview with Catherine Denueve.
We'll be back Monday night live. Have a great weekend.
Stay tuned for a special CNN "NEWSSTAND" with Bernie and Judy, a wrapup of the Democratic convention. Good night.
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