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Bill Maher Talks Politics

Aired May 25, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, he is back! He says a lot of people hate him because he doesn't hold back. Bill Maher, politically incorrect, proud of it, here for the hour with your phone calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Next Friday, Bill Maher will celebrate his 1,000th show of "Politically Incorrect" on ABC, and before that he did about 500 on Comedy Central. An extraordinarily successful show, with a very successful host, and he is Bill Maher. It's always good to have him with us. He's kind of like an every sixth month Friday night guest in which we get caught up on lots of things. It's a good way to look at the Memorial Day weekend ahead. Hope you have a very safe one, by the way.

Bill, let's...

BILL MAHER, HOST, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT": What does that mean, I'm a Friday guest?

KING: No, we always have -- because you're like...

MAHER: Are you are saying I'm cheap? You got to get me drunk?

KING: You're sensitive aren't you? No, it's like entertaining,


MAHER: No, I love to come to come here, any time, but Friday...

KING: We love having you.

MAHER: Friday is a good day.

KING: OK, let the big news of the day, Jeffords jumps, the Democrats now have the edge in the Senate, what's the Maher read?

MAHER: Well, first of all he didn't really jump. He's an independent, you know. It's like a guy who comes out and says, "I'm bisexual." It's not really saying you're gay, even though we really know you are. But I guess he will vote with the Democrats, but that was a little bit of a cop-out. But, hey, I sent a fruit basket to Vermont because, I think we need more independent thinking, I'm always for that.

KING: Was it gutsy or traitorous?

MAHER: Gutsy, and I also think it is so says about the Democrats, that they are asleep at the switch. That it took a Republican you know, to say about the Bush Administration, you know, this isn't really what we thought it was a going to be, because he is a Republican, I mean, you'd think if anybody could live with it.

But, I have been very hard on George Bush. I'm not going to lie. I think at times I have been too strident and I have called him names, and you know, he is the president. I can't be angry for four years, nobody should. A lot of us -- we threw a little temper tantrum because we thought maybe election didn't go -- like I told you last time, it fell off a truck. They didn't steal it, but it fell off a truck.

OK, so and then, it seemed like he ran as a centrist, compassionate conservative, and it seemed like he ran up the pirate flag pretty quickly after he got in there. And I think it is amazing that it took a Republican to say, you know, this is not a centrist and we are not too happy here.

And, you know, just because you say you are a uniter, his idea of uniting is do exactly as I'm doing, and then we will be together, united. That is not really, a uniter. I mean, he didn't really reach out to the other side at all, and so I think this is the result.

KING: But you think the Democrats then were weak in not taking it on sooner?

MAHER: Yes, I think they are very weak.

KING: They disappointed you?

MAHER: Yes, I mean it is their job, isn't it, to be the -- I mean you can be the loyal opposition. It is OK, if I make fun of George Bush and call him names, although I shouldn't, he is the president. But they should really be substantive and say you know, this is not what we bargained for and we thought you were -- you know, what happened to compassionate part of conservative?

You know, he ran on a lot of slogans. They're great at slogans, the Republicans -- a reformer with results. Wow, George Bush? A reformer? Yes, when I think of reformers, Larry, that's who, you know, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, George Bush, the real skunks at the garden party, the people really lobbing the molotov cocktails.

Washington outsider: George Bush, that's right. Your dad was head of the head of the CIA when you were in college, but you know, you're an outsider. So these words have to be more than words.

KING: But, let's look at it this way. The first thing he tackles, he gets, and you're going to get a rebate check, you, Bill Maher. Probably sizable.


KING: How do you feel about that?

MAHER: I feel like I'm not the guy who should be getting a rebate check. And yes, there is a little bit of, I must say, all rich people who say they don't want the tax cut -- secretly it's like putting insurance in blackjack -- you know, OK, but if it goes through not worst thing in the world, that I get a little raise next year.

But, you know it is interesting, taxes, there is another one with interesting terminology. when they called it the inheritance tax, or the estate tax, only a slim majority was for it. Then they changed the name to inheritance tax. More people thought, ooh, good idea. When they changed it to death tax, three quarters of the people supported it. Which just shows you it's not really about being on the right side of things, it is just about getting the right slogans.

KING: How we phrase it.

MAHER: Yeah, if they called income tax the happy tax, maybe we would all pay that more. So you know, like 20 percent of the people think they are going to pay this thing. Only 2 percent will. So, you know, that is why it pays to learn about the issues.

KING: What about the commencement speech he made at Yale? You know, he had resisted Yale and then he went back.

MAHER: Yeah.

KING: And he talked about being C-student and making it. That is to his credit, isn't it? When you think about it, you're a C- student at Yale, you're president of the United States.

MAHER: But see, Larry, I took the opposite approach. And again, I think I was too -- perhaps too harsh, and a lot of my Republican friends said you know, come on, Bill, have a sense of humor. He is just making a joke about it, and I can see that point of view. However, there is something that bugs me about saying to a bunch of kids, I'm a C-student, it just shows you, you can still become president of the United States.

Yes, but he's is leaving something out. If your dad was president of the United States. If your backed by big oil and big money that you probably couldn't otherwise get, so to say to people you know, I'm a C-student, I make it, you could if you were a C student. Yeah, with these very special qualifications. He's a very special kind of C-student.

KING: Are you angry, Bill? Are you by nature angry?

MAHER: You see that I'm trying -- Irish, all Irish people are.

KING: Why is that? We have never discussed this.

MAHER: Potatoes, Larry. We didn't have enough potatoes in the 1850s. They ran out of them. It has been in out blood ever since.

KING: It does stem back from that? MAHER: But I think we need more angry people, and among them Democrats. That's why Democrats used to be great Irish politicians. And there is not enough of those Irish...

KING: Do you expect much from Tom Daschle?

MAHER: No. He seems like a nice man and that is the problem.

KING: Too many nice guys. Nice guys finish last.

MAHER: Well, they are not good against Dick Cheney. I mean you know, to up against Mr. Dick Cheney who is a formidable foe, you have to really be on toes and you have to like say, no, this is what we think. This is our view of the world, because, you know, since the 60s, Larry, I mean country, it is a really red-blue country.

The red states, the blue states, the people who think like them, and the people who think like the other "them," there is a lot of either you are -- you think Lou Reid or Ralph Reed, you know. People in the Castro district of San Francisco and the people in Branson, Missouri, both fine people. They really have no need or use for the other type of person in the country.

I don't know how we got like that. It didn't used to be like that. In the 50s there were three channels, two genders and one race. Which wasn't good to a lot of people, but it was simple, and we became a very divided country. And when George Bush says, I'm reaching out, you got to do it. You can't just talk about it.

KING: We'll be right back with Bill Maher. We'll take lots of phone calls for William tonight. Don't go away.


MAHER: President Bush met with yet another foreign leader today, King Juan Carlos of Spain. Observers say the president and the king got along great, since neither one of them was really elected.




DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: How many of you have been following the ongoing soap opera, Mayor Giuliani and his wife and his girlfriend?


Today, Mayor Giuliani fired his wife, as official hostess at Gracie Mansion. Fired his wife! When President Clinton heard about that, he said, "You can do that?"


KING: We are back with Bill Maher. Every time Bill is on, we always like to show Letterman and Leno clips, because he, those two, and Bill Maher and Conan O'Brien are what we have at night. They are America's humor pieces.

MAHER: And don't forget your boy Jon Stewart, I know...


MAHER: ... see, didn't I save you, because I know...

KING: Jon Stewart is hysterical.

MAHER: I knew you were a fan of his.

KING: He is on in a couple weeks, I love him. Don't you like him?

MAHER: Yes, I do you, and you forgot him.

KING: By the way, before I talk about Mayor Giuliani, you had lunch today with the president of the ABC television network?

MAHER: Yeah.

KING: You mingled with management?

MAHER: They like to be seen with stars, Larry, what can I do.

KING: Have you ever had lunch with him before?

MAHER: No, and he is a very nice guy.

KING: He invited you, or you invited him?

MAHER: Well, I think I invited him a long time ago, and then, you know, they were moving their offices out here. And when he got out here, he called me and said, let's go.

KING: You had a good time.

MAHER: Yeah. They are not the enemy. I know it's fun to play that, like Letterman always has always played that the network is the enemy, but, you know, they are -- it is -- I always said it was a marriage, and it's actually a better marriage now. And you know, that doesn't mean it's perfect...

KING: That's good.

MAHER: But you know, there are real enemies, and like, you know, we were talking about Bush, and like I have never made fun -- I never did one joke about the daughter with the drinking, even though my competitors do, because, you know, it's like where do you want to save your political capital? I want my powder dry for the president himself, you know, because he's the guy...

KING: So, it's not funny to you, or not -- it's not fair, or what? MAHER: I just think I can be more critical if I stay true to what the issue are, and not veer off. Then you lose some of your credibility.

KING: The Giuliani thing has gotten -- of course, they have made that public. I mean, they both -- what do you make, what's the Maher read on this story?

MAHER: Well, first of all, it's just -- it's like a French farce, because, you know, he was the moralist. He is the guy, you know, the Robin Williams movie where they are gay, and he -- you know, he was the guy who wanted to close down strip clubs, and he wanted to take away paintings, then he has goes to court and say: "You know, it is very unseemly if I can't have my girlfriend over." For the mayor of New York to have to get laid in a car, this is not right.

It's just -- and it is amazing, you know, all the -- the Democrats, you sort of expect sex scandals from. That's their image. What, it is! You know. Gary Hart on the boat, and Ted Kennedy, and -- you know, but these guys, they -- they invite this criticism of being hypocrites because they pretend to be moralists and then they have this kind of situation go on, where, you know, he makes Clinton and Hillary look like Ozzie and Harriet. I mean, this guy is...

KING: What do you make of it, though? I mean, it's not...

MAHER: Well, I think...

KING: ... in type, but maybe the cancer has something do with it, maybe there is a freeing up of Rudy Giuliani of...

MAHER: Yes. But I do think he is right about -- I mean, I think the wife is right about...


MAHER: Yes, keeping her.

KING: The wife is right.

MAHER: It's not classy to have a girlfriend over until the thing is really over. I mean, he is out of office in six months anyway, right? Isn't that when he leaves? OK, can't you wait that long? Can't you just take the high road once in a while? I mean, that to me is the high road. We have all been through split ups. Larry, look who I'm talking to!

KING: Keep it up, Maher.

MAHER: And there must have been times with you on an almost annual bases where there was this situation where somebody was moving out and the next one was, you know -- you wanted to see her, but you had to let go somewhere else. And you know what, instead of being...

KING: Luckily, it all changed four years ago for me.

MAHER: Of course it did.

KING: It did. Big leap. But yes...


KING: ... and that would have -- that would have been -- and so you think the mayor is dead wrong in having her?

MAHER: Yes, it's not classy. Take the high road, and use it to your advantage. It can be romantic not to be able to go to your house. It's kind of like when you are a teenager, you know, you have to sneak around and...

KING: Maybe.

MAHER: I think someone's coming!

KING: How about other side has said maybe the wife should move out. I mean, it is the city's house.

MAHER: Yeah, but it's also their residence. Larry, that is silly. That's the same dumb sort of sentimental stuff that they put over on Clinton that he had some how defiled the Oval Office because he had sex there. That is where he -- where else do you go to cheat on your wife when you are president? You can't go to sky bar.

KING: You can't go to Marriott, right? You don't...

MAHER: Right. I mean, the fact...

KING: I never thought of it that way.

MAHER: The fact that, you know...

KING: Where do you go.

MAHER: ... they are oil executives -- did you see that fund- raiser they had the other night?

KING: Twenty-three million.

MAHER: Is that what they raised? I knew they were expecting 20. OK, well, that's OK. And they wouldn't release the seating chart, I noticed. They didn't want to say who exactly sat next to who. You know, because when you get to sit next to them, you can slip some of the cash right under the table.

KING: Exactly.

MAHER: That's OK. But Clinton is the oily one? No. To me, I think people are missing what the big picture is, on where the corruption is. I know Clinton left office in a way that people criticize, and the pardons are very corrupt. You know, they are robbing Fort Knox there, and the Clintons are selling Rolexes on the sidewalk. I mean, that's what it amounts to. There's really big corruption. KING: The -- do you think the pardon was unexcusable, though, unexplainable?

MAHER: Stupid. Not unprecedented. Bush's...

KING: A felon.

MAHER: A felon?

KING: A fleeing felon. A fleeing accused felon, a fugitive.

MAHER: Felon. We are talking about Clinton or the other guy?

KING: No, Rich was a fugitive.

MAHER: Absolutely. And a bad guy, and should not have gotten a free pass. But presidents are allowed to do that. That is one of the perks, apparently, of the office, as you are going out the door.

KING: Take some people with you.

MAHER: I was much more mad at Bill Clinton because also as he was going out the door, he gave an interview one week before he left office, saying I think marijuana should be legalized. And I -- all I could think of, gee, it's too bad you weren't in a position of power any time in the last eight years, where you could have done something about that gross inequity.

KING: Are you surprised of the Supreme Court ruling on that?

MAHER: Very surprised.

KING: Disappointed?

MAHER: Very disappointed. I mean, you know how I feel. This is one of my big issues. One of my friends is in jail for using medical marijuana, but the Supreme Court is on to that lame excuse, just because you have bone cancer -- don't think you are going to get away with relieving that pain with a little marijuana. And I think it is a terrible hypocrisy that we go through in this country.

Even something like the Aaron Sorkin bust -- I know he doesn't like it mentioned too much, but he is a great, brilliant man, and he was going to Las Vegas with mushrooms. What sort of country makes (AUDIO GAP) especially ones like him who obviously can handle it? When you are -- that's what I said to my guests -- yeah, I said, when you can do as good as him, maybe then you could criticize him. Until then, why don't you try mushrooms -- and by the way, mushrooms in Las Vegas doesn't sound like a bad idea.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Bill Maher on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We are going to go to your phone calls too, don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE") DARRYLL HAMMOND, ACTOR (as Rudy Giuliani): But I want to assure my constituents that in spite of all this controversy and negative press, I'm very focused on my job. Just today, I attended the dedication ceremony for Judith Nathan Park, formerly known as Central Park.





MAHER: Tonight, President Bush hosted his first major fund- raiser at the White House, which is expected to rake in -- get this -- $20 million, much of it from energy industry officials who, of course, love the Bush white house. Or as they call it, the self-service pump!



KING: Good stuff, Maher. I want to ask you about the coverage of the Robert Blake case. There was something you mentioned during -- what -- oh, by the way, before I get to that -- campus -- on the campuses now, there is definitely stomping out of free speech, right?

MAHER: I believe so.


KING: ... David Horowitz who wanted to take ads concerning the black and white situation...

MAHER: You saw that story?

KING: Yes, and they kept the ads out of some papers.

MAHER: Right. And this has certainly been going on for a long time. This is not your father's fascism, this is a new kind of...

KING: Liberal fascism.

MAHER: Liberal censorship. And it comes from the fact that we have pampered our kids, coddled them, not challenged them, told them that they were the equivalent of adults, and now they don't understand the concept of the other side having a voice. To silence, or try to silence someone saying that the Horowitz, which -- ad you're talking about -- all he was saying was he didn't think blacks should get reparations.

KING: Right.

MAHER: Now, you might agree. You might disagree. I tend to agree, It's been seven or eight generations. No -- I'm for affirmative action. I think there are a lot of ways to address the racial inequality that still exists, and it is wrong to say it still doesn't exist. But, you know, a pretty black girl born in 1980? I don't know if she's faced the kind of horrors that would -- and of course it would cost...

KING: But opinion aside, Horowitz took some ads.

MAHER: OK, it's debatable, is the point. For college kids to say no, you can't even talk about this? It's ridiculous. Ward Connerly, who is a black man who is against affirmative action, he tried to speak at a campus. They said he gave up his first amendment rights when he said there shouldn't be affirmative action. Who is letting these -- who is not slapping these little spoiled brats?

And at Brown University and others, they have redefined "rape" to mean if a girl is drunk, and the guy has sex with her, that's rape. That's kind of a big change. And when John Stossel tried to investigate this for ABC News, they wouldn't let him ask the question, unplugged his camera -- this is scary stuff, when you can't allow a debate on an issue. Especially when you're changing the definition of rape. I mean, it was always one thing, and now not to even have a discussion? I mean, it's one thing, and drunken cheap sex that you regret later, that's something else. I don't have to tell you that, Larry, you were married eight -- I kid.


KING: I've never been drunk. Never drank, see?

MAHER: A-ha. You never have been drunk in your life?

KING: Never been drunk.

MAHER: We've got to go out, Larry.

KING: Never liked it. I never like...

MAHER: We've got to go out.

KING: I never liked it. I just hate it. I never liked the taste. What am I going to tell you?

MAHER: Stay away from my water.


KING: I know, I feel sorry. What -- Joey Lewis once said, "I feel sorry for people who don't drink because when they get up in the morning that's the best they're going to feel all day."

MAHER: That's right. Sammy Davis, too.


KING: We'll be right back with Bill Maher. Don't go away.


JAY LENO, HOST: How about this? In political news this weekend, the Reverend Al Sharpton announced he is going to run for president of the United States in the year 2004. Well, finally, a Democrat who can restore some dignity to the Oval Office, yeah! Yeah!





DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: But you know, it's not unusual for senators to change parties. For example, last night, Ted Kennedy went from a party at Bennigan's to a party at Houlihan's.



KING: We're back with Bill Maher. Before I ask about the Blake case, what do you make of this -- blackouts, the energy crisis?

MAHER: Bad here. We've escaped a lot. People pitching in -- I know Pamela Lee is having sex without videotaping now.


MAHER: Only kidding. But -- it was so dark on a street the other night here, Larry, Robert Blake, you mentioned, he walked up to the wrong parked car and almost shot Hugh Grant's hooker. I'm telling you...


MAHER: You wanted that, Larry.

KING: Oh, now, why is -- I was going to ask about Blake because everyone -- people are talking about it. Is that a "story" story? I mean, is that a big story, when you think about it?

MAHER: You know, what was the last year in this country when something people weren't interested in wasn't a "story" story?

KING: So it's a story.

MAHER: Come on, that line was lost a long time ago, you know, a show business personality involved in a murder. And we do -- we are already making jokes, O.J. kind of jokes. And O.J. advised him. You saw that?

KING: You can't comment, right? What do you say to that?

MAHER: Well... KING: What do you say, Bill?


MAHER: O.J. said he should not talk to the press, that he should let his lawyer do the talking, don't take a lie detector test. He also said it was a good idea to go back to the restaurant, because sometimes when you don't go back to restaurant, you also have to kill a waiter.


MAHER: That's all I'm going to say about it, Larry. See, these jokes -- I don't know if these jokes -- these are borderline unfair, because we don't know for sure.

KING: Of course. That's the...

MAHER: You know, O.J. seemed a little more...

KING: Definitive.

MAHER: Yeah. This looks worse by the week, but you know, I would like to say they're just jokes, in case I...

KING: Mel Donovan, nuclear families -- something may back up the Maher standpoint, here. Latest census figures show that households consisting of married couples with kids -- just 25.6 percent of all households have kids. That was 45 percent in 1960. What do you make of this?

MAHER: I make good, because I think it helps...

KING: You don't like kids.

MAHER: Larry, that is not true.

KING: Then tell us -- set us straight

MAHER: OK. I don't like kids around me.


MAHER: And the problem is, neither do their parents.

KING: No, they don't.

MAHER: If the parents would take care of the kids more, if they would...

KING: Well, I saw you. You got -- you entertained at one of my functions. You were delightful. You flew across the country, you were hysterically funny. My little son, Chance, was there. Cannon -- Cannon wasn't there. Chance was there. You were afraid to stand next to him.


KING: He's a 2-year-old kid!

MAHER: OK. You said "you don't like children." I don't mind children, and I can actually enjoy a conversation with a child. That, you're talking about infants. Yes, I hate babies. Babies are disgusting. I don't -- I'm sorry.

KING: Disgusting? They're cute and adorable and sweet and funny, and they make...

MAHER: To you, and that is what the great part of this study -- this nuclear family thing, I find it so liberating. It explains a lot, why a lot of people...

KING: Don't want babies.

MAHER: Don't get -- don't get mad at me. It's because...

KING: Do you know why you don't like them? In other words...

MAHER: It's so -- that's deep. I have -- I mean, we have this therapy session every few months...


KING: Were thrown out of the crib. Did something happened to the little Maher family?

MAHER: No. I had great...


KING: Did they pin you with a diaper once, and something went wrong?

MAHER: You know, I've had a pain in my...


MAHER: No, but it's just personal taste. And I think that is such a big problem in this country, is there's just a lot of busybodying about what personal taste is OK, and what isn't.

KING: We put ours on you, that my taste should be your taste.

MAHER: And I think this study shows that, you know, if 3/4 of the country are not involved in the traditional nuclear family, it just says that people want to be independent. They want to be who they are. That can mean a family. I have nothing against kids or marriage. I know many very happily married people, like you, are just thrilled to be married. And I don't doubt it for a second.

KING: That's not you.

MAHER: And we're not -- just because we're not the same doesn't mean we're wrong. We're just different. When people say a "commitment-phobe," OK, "phobe" means it's a disease. No. It is just a choice.

KING: Sarasota. Let's get a call in for Bill Maher. Hello.

CALLER: Hello?


CALLER: Larry?

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm watching the TV, too. I'm Shannon, in Sarasota, Florida, and Bill, I watch you all the time.

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: ... just love you to pieces. I'm Irish, too. And my question is -- well, one comment: You're too cool. But the other is, what you do think about Jeb Bush's private life and the tabloid frenzy?

KING: Now, is that our business? Is that our business? Jeb Bush, and a rumor.

MAHER: It is not our business, but neither was Bill Clinton. I can't really blame the other side for going after the same kind of stuff that led to their guy being so crippled, and probably caused Al Gore to miss the White House. But, no...

KING: In Clinton's case, it was true. In Bush's case, we don't know.

MAHER: Oh, does it matter?

KING: Does it matter?

MAHER: Does it matter that Bill Clinton was having sex with an intern? Does that matter? If you hadn't found out -- that's the...

KING: Well, it would matter -- if it's true, it matters...

MAHER: Why? Why? In what way? If we had never found out about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, would anything in the world be different? FDR, you could say, you know, we didn't know he had polio, maybe it was affecting his thinking. Reagan, his thinking -- those are things that affect someone in office.

That's why I was saying, about Bush at Yale making jokes about "C" student -- well, you know, when the trait that a president makes fun of is that -- Ford, I'm clumsy; Gore, I'm stiff -- it doesn't affect being president. This affects being president. That is the criteria. Jeb Bush having sex on the side, or Bill Clinton, does in no way affect them being president. It probably helps them. People who run for office and like power are alpha males. KING: Jeb Bush has denied it and said it never happened.

MAHER: So did Bill Clinton. Look how good that worked out for him.

KING: We'll take a break and back with more phone calls for Bill Maher this Friday night. Next Friday, they will celebrate their 1000th show on ABC. Over the weekend, on Saturday night, we'll have a little tribute to the 10 years hosting "Face The Nation," of Bob Schieffer, a wonderful reporter. And on Sunday night a compilation of interviews with Mr. Giuliani. And Monday night detective Lou Smith, who thinks that the Ramsey's have been falsely maligned in the death of their daughter. We'll be right back.


JAY LENO, HOST: And over the weekend President Bush, gave the commencement address at Notre Dame. Yeah, well, I guess Bush figures if O.J. can give advice to Robert Blake, Bush can give advice to college students, what's the difference here?




MAHER: President Bush in New Jersey, today, no real reason, he just wanted to get an idea of what Alaska would look like when he got finished with it.



KING: Buddy, that was funny. Before we deal with other subjects here, I'm going to ask you about gasoline prices and take some more calls, I have to bring this up. In April of this year you had an exchange with Arsenio Hall on your show. Let me quote this. Arsenio Hall said you were a "Disney lackey, that this is Michael Eisner's show, Disney runs the show, and there'll be another Bill Maher tomorrow if you don't admit it."

You said, "I fight everyday to keep the integrity of this show. This show fights harder to be real than any other show on television, and no one tells me what to do."

What do you make of that? What happened there? What upset...

MAHER: Honestly, I made fun of his hair, is what I think it all came -- that is where it all came. Because he -- and I called him, I left a message on his machine after I got home from that show, saying I think it was my fault because I made that joke. He had a, you know, corn rows. I have known him for all these years and now he is in his 40s and I didn't see him before the show, and when he walked out I said, "Are you having a midlife crisis?" It was a harmless, I thought it was a harmless


MAHER: ... I really do. Because I think people are our age get, I would be same way. If I walked out and somebody said, boy you haven't got a nose job yet? I might just go off.

KING: So, did you apologize?

MAHER: I did. He didn't call me back, but I still think we are going to be friends. I think it is OK. But yeah he really went after me in a way that...

KING: Did it happen near the beginning of the show?

MAHER: Right at the beginning.

KING: So, how did you react the rest of the show?

MAHER: Well, it was like, I went like more over on that segment than I have ever gone, because I had to finish this discussion. It was an oddly timed show. It was like 18 minutes and then 3 commercials. It was weird.

KING: What about the other guests?

MAHER: They had a tough time.

KING: New York City, hello.

CALLER: Hi, my name is Barbara

KING: Hi, Barbara.

CALLER: Yes, hi. I'm a great big fan of yours, and I wanted -- both of you -- and I wanted to know if I'm not saying this, or I'm not a -- or someone in the Republican or something like that, how could one get on your show?

KING: How does one get on "Politically Incorrect?" You have to be well-known, right?

MAHER: In general. Once in a while, a couple years ago we did it every week, had a citizen panelist. I have to travel the country to meet people to do that. We have to find the right ones. You can't just phone it in.

KING: We've had recommendations of the same thing and the producers consider it, you know, just four regular, every day people.

MAHER: Yes, we did it and it worked, one a week, mixed in with the regular panel but, we might do it next year, but other than that, you can't. I could lie but...

KING: Collinsville, Illinois, hello. CALLER: Hi.




CALLER: I used to be one of your biggest viewers, but recently I have been feeling that you have been taking advantage of your position as host in that you use it more as your personal soap box, telling people what to think rather than what I think you did more at the beginning of your show as more of a moderator. It seems like you have been weighting too liberal instead of equally balancing the show. For examples...

MAHER: That's OK. You know what, I'm going to stop you just because...

KING: Have you become an agenda?

MAHER: No. That I don't think is true, but you are right. That's what I said at the beginning of the show. When George Bush got in office, I think there was a lot of anger. And I think a lot of people in the country felt the same way. Like somebody who really wasn't the qualified one, and you know, kind of slid through, and wasn't happy about election and then very quickly abandoned centrist part of it and went to the right and I think...

KING: Do you think you changed, Bill?

MAHER: Yes, I did. I think I threw too much of a little temper tantrum about George Bush.

KING: Are you less a moderator, more a...

MAHER: I recently had a day where I just got real drunk, and had a crisis about it. And, realized yes, I'm a little too intense on this, and I can't -- and so I'm not denying what this lady says and she -- a good part of it is true. And, but you know, this show has always been a difficult show to pilot because it is half comedy, and half commentary. And, look I'm admitting, I sometimes veer off a little bit. But, I monitor it pretty closely, and you know..

KING: But you are part...

MAHER: I've always tacked back to where it should go, so yes.

KING: You are the anchor. You are more than just the moderator?

MAHER: Yes, that has always been true. I mean this was never a show that lacked my opinion.

KING: Kingford, New Jersey, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, gentlemen. KING: Hi.

CALLER: I would like to direct my question to Bill. I just want to tell him first of all, the show is not long enough. It should be on for an hour every night.

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: Secondly, what do you do about these people that go on your show and kind of showcase their personalities, or themselves?

MAHER: I hope so.

CALLER: It's very annoying though. They miss the whole point of the question.

KING: Oh, you mean they're more interested in self promotion than answering the question. Do you get a lot of that?

MAHER: Well, I hope someone showcases their personality. God knows I'm trying here. As much of a personality as I have I'd like to showcase it.

KING: Do you have people that try to dominate panels? Are there people who try to?

MAHER: Yes, yes, and that is difficult, because you owe the audience more courtesy than the guest, you know. In a normal situation with four people and no one watching you, let someone finish their point. But if someone is just determined to go on and on and on, you have to be rude as a host, because I'm hosting it for them. And I have to be able to say no come on, we heard your point and we want to hear from him and him.

KING: Do you still go out weekends do dates? Do you still do colleges?

MAHER: Absolutely.

KING: You're still a monologist, right? You're still out there?

MAHER: Yes. I couldn't live, that is what feeds this.

KING: We'll be back with more of Bill Maher, more phone calls. Don't go away.


JENNIFER TILLY, ACTRESS: Some perception that he slid into office on his daddy's money and that he sort of accidentally became president, and I think for him to joke about that, is sort of calling attention to the fact that he is not a brilliant genius, driven man.

I mean, isn't the whole thing that he says, which I think he thinks is very entertaining, is like now that I'm in the White House, I'm going to kind of take it easy, I'm going to go out to the ranch every weekend, I take naps in middle of the day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you not want any C-students ever to strive to become great?

TILLY: I want C students to strive to become great, but I don't want them to actually get there.





JAY LENO, HOST: I guess you heard about this, former President Clinton was hit by an egg thrown by a protester as he was walking down the street in Poland. Hit by an egg, isn't that something! And his reflexes are so quick, he was able to fertilize it like that! Amazing. Just like that.



KING: We are back with Bill Maher. America's humor is happening on these shows at night, right? I mean, this is the focal point of all political humor. That's nowhere else in the country, right?

MAHER: That's pretty much it.

KING: "Saturday Night Live" and this.

MAHER: Yeah.

KING: Before we take the next call, what do you make of gasoline prices? I think they say they may level off.

MAHER: Again, this is something I get a lot of hate mail about, because I say I hope they go up to $5, whatever it takes. I'm not with the little guy on this one.

KING: Why?

MAHER: Well, first of all, people are paying like $1.80 for a bottle of water. They are paying $4 for Starbucks, you know.

KING: But they don't need the Starbucks.

MAHER: Well, that is what...

KING: They can drink tap water, but they need to go somewhere in the car.

MAHER: But what you are getting for a gallon of gasoline, you shouldn't complain about it. And also, it is a finite resource that is destroying the planet. So, there is a little more here than just your convenience. The little guy is not such a great conserver. He could do a lot better. He -- you know, SUVs, and on and on, and it is not all his fault.

The leadership of this country -- again, why are we mad at the Bush administration? That is pretty bad when leadership tells you, conservation what the heck, we are just going to feed your addiction. That is what their position on gasoline is, that this hoggish, unquenchable thirst we have for our resources that our finite is an unalterable constant. The best we can do is to just feed your addiction more. Well, that really isn't good leadership, and that is not going to put us in good stead environmentally.

So, you know, I do think gasoline should go up, and yes, it would be a hardship...

KING: So, you would taxes -- more taxes to it?

MAHER: Well, that is what Europe does. I mean...

KING: Sure do.

MAHER: Yeah. It is going to run out at a certain point. And before it does, it will probably kill us.

KING: Garden City, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry and Bill.


CALLER: I just wanted to ask Bill, his opinion of what he thinks about Hollywood actors and actresses in politics. I mean, if he makes the claim that big business and oil companies are in the back pocket of Republicans, couldn't the same claim be made about Hollywood and Democrats?

MAHER: Yeah, but, how is being influenced by actors going to hurt people as much as politicians being influenced by oil companies? One has the opportunity to drill in the Alaskan wilderness and our wild parks and you know, strip mining, and you know, pretty much destroy the earth. I don't know what Streisand is going to do -- even if no matter how much in her pocket, what is she doing to do?

KING: Are you concerned about the attempt at stamping out of -- the question of free speech and violence on television? Joe Lieberman, for example, one of the leaders in trying to put a stop to a lot of what occurs on night-time television?

MAHER: Yeah, I mean, there will always be people who are influenced by what they see in the media. There are borderline personalities out there, and I don't think you can stop them by censuring. They are going to find something, and we don't want to live in a country where there is no free speech.

KING: Lakewood, Florida, hello. Lakewood, go ahead.

CALLER: Hi, this Lakewood, Florida.

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: This call is for Bill. I just -- I have been a fan for a long time. And I just find you incredibly bright, and...

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: ... along with witty. My question to you is, why don't you run for a political office?

MAHER: Because I couldn't win. I'm the anti-politician.

KING: Why couldn't you win?

MAHER: Because I never pull a punch. If I did, then I would be a lot more popular, you know, I mean...

KING: So, in other words, you are saying politicians have to pull punches.

MAHER: Have to lie, always.

KING: Have to lie. They know the real thing, and they'll say the other thing.


KING: And left and right, right? I mean, you're saying...

MAHER: Absolutely. I mean, they have to tell people what they want to hear. I mean, this is not new. If you told the truth, you would not be -- I mean, what is being political mean? It means spinning things.

They do focus groups. I think I told you this. I think 14 percent of the people agree with me most of the time. Well, that is not the kind of numbers you want to build a party around. I mean, you can't really be true and...

KING: I think the thing that comes through about you that people would agree is that it's not an act. With some people, it's schtick, right? This is not a routine. You are funny, and you are a comedian, but this is not a routine. You are not saying something for effect.

MAHER: I never say anything I don't believe. I never will take a side just to promote debate. Some people say that, you know, they go: "Oh, you are just playing devil's advocate to get the argument started." Well no, but if they think that, good, because then they won't hold it against me.

KING: So you win either way in that one?

MAHER: Well, I hope they think that.

KING: Why do you think the show is so successful?

MAHER: Because it is unique. I mean, there is isn't really anything like quite like that on. It is for people who like something that is truly spontaneous. I mean, I think television in general is too overproduced. You know, it's one of the reasons I like this show. It's like, I don't know what you are going to say, and I mean, you just...

KING: When it was on cable, did you ever think it would go network?


KING: Because you would think networks would have resisted this like the plague?

MAHER: Yes. And they would have if they hadn't been -- I mean, I have said this before, but if Comedy Central hadn't had it on for those years, I don't think network like ABC would have bought just sight unseen, like, you know, let's see if this works.

KING: But it was still gutsy to take it.

MAHER: Still gutsy and gutsy to keep it on.

KING: We'll be back with more of Bill Maher. Next Friday, they will do their 1,000th show on ABC. Don't go away.


LETTERMAN: Now, this is kind of fun, former Attorney General Janet Reno is talking about running for governor in Florida.

Janet Reno is so unpopular in the state of Florida, they will not need to use the crooked voting machines! They will just give it a shot and go.





MAHER: This Chinese plane incident is so far the biggest foreign policy crisis for the Bush administration. The Chinese apparently do not have high regard for President Bush, or his father President Bush the elder. In fact, the Chinese refers to the younger Bush as dim son.


(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: That is a cheap joke. Good joke, but -- OK. All right now, I mean that complimentary.

MAHER: Yeah.

KING: You get them coming from all corridors.

MAHER: Yeah.

KING: Are we going to get that plane back? Apparently...

MAHER: Do you care? Not at this point. I mean, they have obviously taken everything they want from it. What do we getting back, scrap metal? I didn't think we should have apologized in the first place. That made me furious. That's -- and we talked about this last time, Larry, the feminization of America.

KING: Come on, we didn't say it was an apology.

MAHER: We didn't say it was an apology, but it was. We totally apologized, and then denied we apologized. That was even more wimpy.

KING: But what do you mean -- why is that feminization?

MAHER: Because what is more feminine, Larry, than women always saying, it doesn't matter who is right or wrong, just say you are sorry. That is what women say.

KING: Women say that?

MAHER: You've married eight times, and you never heard that?

KING: I have not been married eight times.

MAHER: Whatever you've...

KING: That is a fallacy.


KING: And my wife has never said to me, don't matter say you are sorry.

MAHER: The good wife never said that, but all the others -- come on, you don't think that is a feminine point of view, to say it doesn't matter who is right or wrong, just say you're sorry? And it's more of a male point of view to say, no, it matters, and you shouldn't say you are sorry.

KING: Montreal, with Bill Maher, hello.

CALLER: Hi, I watched your show for some time, and I usually enjoy it. But you had one where you said that the t-shirts that said "wife-beater" was funny. You know, it was meant as a joke. I know that no one is going to start beating their wives because of a t- shirt, but I felt it trivialized wife-beating, and my question is: would you have felt the same way if the t-shirt had said "child abuser"?

MAHER: Well, that is a good question. That would have been a great question for our panel, to really.

KING: Stumped Mr. Maher.

MAHER: Yeah, that did. That is a stumper, I mean, could child -- yeah, I mean, you can't really -- you are caught, because you can't really say, well that is worse, well no, they are all bad. I think in general my answer is that, you know, once you start chipping away at what we can't say and what isn't funny to some people -- because everybody thinks stuff is funny, except when it's about them.

You know, we can make fun of everything, but not bulimics. We can make fun of everybody, but not the French. We can...

KING: No. Oh no. You fall down a manhole, it's funny, I cut my finger, it's a tragedy.

MAHER: Yeah, exactly.

KING: Palm City, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, thank you very much for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Bill, I have been wanting to talk to you for a long time. We need you in talk radio. We have too many conservatives in talk radio. Rush Limbaugh is on for three hours; your little TV show is only on for half-an-hour.

MAHER: Right.

CALLER: Please consider coming to talk radio. Have you been approached? That's my question, and would you consider doing it.


KING: You would be a smash hit. Would you do a show every day? You would be a smash hit.

MAHER: How many hours would it be?

KING: Two, minimum.

MAHER: What time of the day?

KING: That would depend. You have to sit down and talk to them. But you would be a smash.

MAHER: You know, my father was a radio man.

KING: I know.

MAHER: You know. KING: Mutual.

MAHER: I once gave my father for Christmas a microphone -- like, that isn't really on, is it? Is that...


MAHER: That's a prop.

KING: But it was a real mike once, yes.

KING: I went to, like, some sort of old antique shop in Greenwich Village, and I saw a mike like this, and I gave it to him. It was close to near when he was dying, it was one of the last Christmas gifts I ever gave it to him, and he just loved that. And it looked just -- and those -- and he was in that era, and I always thought it might come full circle at some point.

KING: You ought to talk to someone.

MAHER: They'll throw me off TV.

KING: Not throw you off, but...

MAHER: You could do both. You do.

KING: Of course. I used to do it. Now we are simulcast, but I used to do a separate show.

MAHER: Right.

KING: But you would be great, because there is a need always for spirited talk.

MAHER: And I don't really have enough time. I think one of the problems is that on my show, sometimes you start something, and you don't really get out your opinion, because the other guests talk, and then people get like a fraction of what you were trying to say, and it is misleading.

KING: I think ABC radio would jump at you. You are already in the family.

MAHER: Yeah. I think we asked -- I think it is hard to get -- I think it's hard to get going.

KING: We'll be right back with our remaining moments with Bill Maher. Don't go away.


LETTERMAN: Bush said that he is not worried about the Republicans having less votes in the Senate. And why should it? Having less votes never stopped him before, did it? No!



KING: Time, we hope, for two more quick calls. Laingsburg, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Bill, who would you like to see run for president in the year 2004?

KING: You've got someone out there that you said, boy, that would pep up things?

MAHER: John McCain I think is going to make another...

KING: You think he'd kind of come back at it? He was very critical yesterday of his party.

MAHER: Yeah.

KING: With the Jeffords thing.

MAHER: Yeah. I mean, I certainly don't agree with him on everything, but, you know, he is...

KING: You liked him.

MAHER: He's one of -- yeah, I mean, we were talking before about how you have to lie when you are president, and even running, and he has had his share, you know. I especially like the one "Cindy would make a better president than me," that covers the two lies, the marriage lie and the political lie.

But I do think he is a guy that more than anybody else is willing to say what he believes, and to hell with the political winds, and that's why he got 13 percent of the vote.

KING: Pasadena, California, last call, hello.

CALLER: Mr. Maher, thank you for your wit and your intelligent insight. Honestly, 18 puny minutes doesn't do it for me each evening. Whom can I call to get you a program where you can get more than that pitiful thing? And I hope the head of ABC is watching. Give us more Mr. Maher!

KING: Yeah, why not an hour? By the way, what's the -- what do they follow you with?

MAHER: Yeah, I would like an hour, because I need like a half- hour just to clean up what I said.

KING: What do they follow you? MAHER: Humanize me.

KING: There is no network show following you.

MAHER: I'd like five minutes with the babies, Larry, just babies around me, so that I could...

KING: That would be neat! There is no network show following you, right?


KING: They give it over to local.

MAHER: Yeah. And that is probably why it will never happen, because I think the local stations make a lot of money with that time. It is all local, and if it was me, then it would have to be split with the network, it's probably something like that, you know. It's amazing they let me have the half-hour, considering, really -- if they watched.

KING: Another question, do they watch? Does management watch?

MAHER: Oh, please don't.

KING: Please don't watch.

It's always great. Have a great holiday weekend, Bill.

MAHER: You, too, Larry, thank you.

KING: Bill Maher. Always enjoy having him, he is always a great pleasure, and causes you to think.

Tomorrow night, we're going to have a tribute to Bob Schieffer, including highlights of interviews with Mr. Schieffer. On Sunday night, a composite of interviews with Rudy Giuliani; and Monday night, Lou Smith, the very interesting former Boulder police detective who thinks the Ramseys did not kill their daughter, were not involved in that at all. He thinks it was an intruder, says can he show you why. That will be Monday night.

We thank you for joining us. Stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT." For Bill Maher and the whole crew, have a safe, happy weekend. Good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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