Skip to main content /transcript



Bill Maher Discusses Humor and Politics

Aired July 27, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, if political humor was illegal, this guy is locked up for life! Bill Maher, host of "Politically Incorrect," he's back for the hour, with your phone calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE!

I've had the honor of interviewing Bill Maher on many occasions, back to the old days on radio, and he's always a refreshing voice to have around the scene. It's always good to have him on this program. He's the host of "Politically Incorrect" and next week, the week of July 30th, is "Mob Show Week" on his program. They taped it all at an abandoned warehouse in Brooklyn.


KING: It was all about mobs?

MAHER: Your old neighborhood. Probably your old building, Larry.

KING: Did you have gangster guests?

MAHER: Yes we did. We had Bonanno.

KING: Really?

MAHER: From the Bonanno Republic.


MAHER: We had members of DeFranco family -- no. We had...

KING: Was it fun?

MAHER: It was fun, yes. I mean...

KING: Was it really an abandoned warehouse?

MAHER: It was right on river, Larry. Right on the east river.

KING: Greenpoint.

MAHER: Greenpoint. You know the neighborhood.

KING: I know the tough neighborhood. Tough. MAHER: Yes.

KING: Tough.


KING: But you enjoyed it.

MAHER: We did.

KING: All it'll air all next week.

MAHER: It'll air all next week, and we could talk about it if you want.

KING: Well, let's first go to, as we always do, hopscotching the news for headlines. I don't even have to ask a question. Gary Condit -- go!

MAHER: Speaking of dragging the river...


KING: Gary Condit.

MAHER: Yes. You know, on the show that airs tonight on my show, I am calling for a commission of Hollywood people to clean up Washington.


MAHER: Because, you know, after reading about this every day, doesn't it bother you, as a -- you're sort of a Hollywood person, I mean, you're both, but the fact that Lieberman had another committee meeting this week about how Hollywood is immoral. And for them to point the finger at us about immoral?

I mean, yes, we may be a moral sewer; they're actually dragging rivers, you know? I mean, there is a little difference here, and I'm reporting a commission of Hollywood people: myself, Lil' Kim, Fatty Arbuckle, O.J. Simpson, Robert Downey Jr., Old Dirty Bastard -- we are going to clean up Washington, D.C.

Because Bill Bennett said a stunning statement about Gary Condit. He said, "Hypocrisy is better than no standards at all." I'm not kidding. I'm not making that up. Bill Bennett, you know, the guy who wrote "The Book of Virtues"...

KING: I know, been on this program many times.

MAHER: OK. Talking about the fact that Gary Condit was one of the guys who called for Clinton to resign, right? He's one of those religious types.

KING: Very conservative. MAHER: Very conservative. And that, to me, is a stunning place we are now in America. Hypocrisy is better than no values at all. Isn't this exactly the opposite of what values people should be teaching? Isn't this saying that instead of what we were taught as kids, actions are more important than words -- no, words, actually. Hypocrisy, you know...

KING: Yeah, that's good.

MAHER: This is the guy who said we shouldn't be conceding the war. Can't give needles to drug addicts, because, you know, that's conceding the war. But hypocrisy, that's OK.

KING: Congressman Scott McInnis of Colorado will ask the House Ethics Committee to draft a rule making it clear that sexual relationships between interns and members of Congress are unethical. Do you favor that rule?


MAHER: Yes, as long as I don't have to go to Congress. Well, you know, it's silly. Like a rule is going to change these guys' behavior? I think what's interesting about Gary Condit is that he's random. It just happened that we shined a light on him because a girl is missing. I mean...

KING: It's tragic.

MAHER: It is tragic, but I mean, it could have been really anybody in Congress. I'm not saying everybody...

KING: Is that why you think so few are speaking out?

MAHER: Well, I think that's what happened with the Clinton impeachment. Why did suddenly Newt Gingrich have very little to say about that? Because I think it just shows if you lift up any of their rocks, what do you find under it? I found it -- the funniest thing I thought about the whole thing was the story about the minister's daughter. Remember that story? Because...

KING: He said she had an affair with him, and then he didn't.

MAHER: But he was the neighbor of the Levys. And it was literally one of those suburban, talking over the fence -- "oh, your daughter is having sex with Gary Condit? That's funny. My daughter is having sex with Gary Condit." What a small world you know.

KING: What do you make of the frenzy over this?

MAHER: Well, that's the media. That's a whole different story. Obviously, it's something that...

KING: I mean, it's a good story, isn't it?

MAHER: Yes. It has mystery and it has sex and -- oh -- it has sleaze, you know? KING: You like sleaze.

MAHER: We like sleaze, and I think what's interesting about political sleaze is that it is the most tasteless sleaze. I mean, people in Hollywood, they have taste in their women, at least.

KING: Good sleaze.

MAHER: These people in Washington have no type. You know what I'm saying?

KING: Anything goes.

MAHER: Any -- I mean, look at Clinton -- and I love Clinton. But he also had no type, like Gary Condit. Gary Condit, an 18-year- old minister's daughter, a 40-year-old stewardess, a nice Jewish girl, all these other people are coming out. Clinton, same thing. He went out with Miss America, he went out with Paula Jones. You know, Kathleen Willey, young, old, black, white, it doesn't matter. They just have a net, you know? Whatever gets in that net, they...

KING: You think it's the power of politics? I mean, what is the attraction?

MAHER: I think it's the lack of power. I think it's the fact that the media will expose whatever you do, so you have to go after whatever you can get. They go after whatever pathetic limping animal has broken from the pack, that they can devour.

KING: Why do you think he's not speaking out at all?

MAHER: Gary Condit?

KING: Yes. Why do you think not at all? I mean, that would seem to cause people to think he is involved.

MAHER: Well, maybe he is involved. Maybe that's why. But what could he say at this point? I don't know why he just doesn't go away. Does he think that he could possibly win an election at this point? How do you come back from this?

KING: What do you say?

MAHER: But he did -- I read it in one of the news magazines, "setting a good example," was his campaign slogan in one of his elections. I mean, you can't write material like that, "setting a good example."


MAHER: But the other thing I wanted to say is, I do think, if it turns out that this beautiful young girl is gone, I think -- and he is responsible in some way -- you have to look to Ken Starr for a little bit of guilt.

KING: Why? MAHER: Because, you know, Ken Starr made it so that you -- in the old days, you had an affair with somebody, and you know, OK, you had an affair. The press didn't report it. They didn't make a political criminal case of it. Now it's almost like you have to get rid of them. That is really what...

KING: Ken Starr put that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on them.

MAHER: Yes, I think that's what Gary Condit, was going through his mind, is, you know, I can't get caught with someone. If she's coming to me and saying she's pregnant or she's going to go to the press...

KING: You're going to figure out a way to blame Ken Starr for something, aren't you, Maher?

MAHER: I'm telling you, it's like that's a whole new wrinkle in it.

KING: He always causes us to think differently.


KING: We'll be right back with Bill Maher, the host of "Politically Incorrect." We'll be taking your phone calls, of course. Don't go away.


MAHER: Gary Condit says he has an alibi. I'm not kidding. He was with Dick Cheney, I couldn't make this up.


MAHER: He says he was with Dick Cheney at the time of Chandra Levy's disappearance. The vice president's office immediately released a statement saying Dick Cheney has never been involved in anything close to a sex scandal, unless you count raping the environment.






DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: ... has a crooked brother.


LETTERMAN: This guy could be president, ladies and gentlemen. This guy... (APPLAUSE)


KING: What do you think will happen to Gary Condit in the future? Where does he go with his life?

MAHER: He has got to go away.

KING: Got to go away. There's no -- let's say, this just eventually goes away. Got -- let's pray for the best. She comes back, she has been hidden somewhere and she is OK.

MAHER: Then he still is a -- you know, a guy who will...

KING: Say anything, not say anything.

MAHER: Larry, you are talking to like a confirmed bachelor here, so you know, I'm certainly not the one to speak out against somebody having sex, but I mean you know, even I am appalled by somebody who is having this, like I said, no standards, no type, you know it's like people who do drugs. You know, usually they have a drug, then there's people like Robert Downey, whatever put in front of them, they go for.

An omnivore, is not an attractive personality trait about anything. Be a finicky eater in some way.

KING: You criticized Dick Cheney, but I understand that you like Dick Cheney.

MAHER: Well, no, I don't like Dick Cheney. I defend -- my good friend Ariana, his right to keep working. A lot of people say he should step down. This should be a subject close to your heart because you are...

KING: I work. I have had heart surgery.

MAHER: But you have the charity. Isn't your charity, is giving hearts to poor people.

KING: Correct.

MAHER: You can't get better charity than that, Larry. Hearts to poor people. You are -- I'm not -- I'm just saying, of all the charities in the world, that is the best image you could have. You are giving hearts to poor people. You are the Wizard of Oz, and Robin Hood all rolled into one, Larry.

KING: I try.


KING: But you defend Dick Cheney's right to go to work?

MAHER: Right, that whole administration. He needs a heart, Bush needs a brain, they need the Wizards of Oz over there. But yes, absolutely. I think that is a great example that you can keep going to work. And so what if he drops dead while he is working?

I am always defending the right for people to live intensely if they want to live a shorter life but a more intense life. And also, he has a big job. When you have a big job, you got to go to it. I hate this idea. I think we talked about it, the governor who had twins, you know. You can't be governor and pregnant with twins. You can't be the FBI director who took like 10 weeks paternity leave. You can't have a really big job in this country, like the vice president, or the director of the FBI and then blow it off.

KING: He has to go to work and if he can't go to work, quit, and if he can go to work, go.

MAHER: Yes, you can't have everything, that's what America thinks.

KING: And if he takes that risk, that's it.

MAHER: Right. It's like when Gore was on "Oprah" pandering to the women in the audience, and she said, what's more important, the job or the family? Oh, family. You know, if Tipper is depressed, my schedule just blows off the page. Well then you can't be president. You can't. Your schedule can't blow off the page because your wife is premenstrual. It's not that kind of job. If you want that kind of job, right, work at Kinney shoes.

KING: How's George W. doing -- we're going to take a lot of calls for Bill tonight. How is George doing as a uniter?

MAHER: He is a uniter. Did you see that 178 countries lined up for the against one, us, 178 to one on the Kyoto protocol.

Even Hitler didn't unite people like that. When Hitler used to do what he was doing there were still some countries, Bulgaria, South America, Spain, that were like well, you know, I don't know. A hundred and seventy-eight to one. That is a uniter. You would think -- see that is the arrogance of that administration. You would think that when it -- is if it was 150 to 20, 160, something.

KING: Somebody is on your side.

MAHER: A hundred and seventy-eight to one, they don't go, maybe it's us, maybe we should rethink. But yeah, the countries all around the world are uniting. I saw Putin and Jiang Zemin, China and Russia are hugging. Republicans are becoming environmentalists. He is uniting people.

KING: How do you rate him so far?

MAHER: You know how I feel.

KING: You don't, you don't...

MAHER: I have been so hard on this guy, and...

KING: What do you like about him? MAHER: I like his daughters.

KING: His daughter came to your show.

MAHER: Yeah, his daughter, I thought this was a secret.

KING: She works out here, right?

MAHER: I saw it in "The Globe."

KING: Did -- she visited your show, right?

MAHER: Well she is an intern.

KING: For Brillstein-Grey...

MAHER: For Brillstein-Grey, who is my management company and produces "Politically Incorrect." She seems like a really nice kid. I happen to like that little scamp, and I also saw her out at a nightclub and was -- I was I can't believe she is out there, and then I saw it in the tabloids this week. They had pictures of her.

She obviously doesn't care. I love that, that she is a 19-year- old kid who is going to rebel and make her parents miserable, even if he is the leader of the free world. And I also think it shines a light on an important issue, which is it is so stupid that kids can't drink at 18.

This is the only country in the world where they can't. You can do everything at 18, you can vote, you can marry...

KING: You can go to war.

MAHER: You can rent pornography, you can pay taxes, you can abort your children, right, you can die for your country, but you can't have a beer?

You know why that is? Talk about the Mafia. Our government is a Mafia. That is one thing we brought up in the Mafia shows.

KING: Our government is a Mafia?

MAHER: Totally.

KING: How?

MAHER: I'll give you an example. This is it. Elizabeth Dole, that is who is responsible for the drinking age being 21.

KING: Why?

MAHER: Because Elizabeth Dole when she was transportation secretary probably with an eye on running for office, which, when she did, she said started her campaign by saying, I'm not a politician. Yeah nothing like starting a campaign with an enormous lie. But, she was looking to make some points with soccer moms, so she wanted to raise the drinking age to 21 for every state. And the states didn't want to do it but she threatened them with the highway funding. She said look, either do it my way, or you don't get your highway funding. So that is a Mafia tactic. It would be a shame if something happened to that highway funding. You like that highway funding?

KING: You want to go for the protection or not?

MAHER: Maybe you want to -- raise the drinking age to 21. It's an over you can't refuse. I mean that is strong-arm federal government tactics, and the Republicans are supposed to be the ones who are for the states's rights, and against the federal government being big brother.

KING: Good point. We will be back with more Bill Maher, more of your phone calls coming in too. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Tomorrow night by the way we are going to repeat our interview with Anne Marie Smith, the stewardess who was involved with the congressman. Don't go away.


JAY LENO, HOST: I guess nationalism, Bombay, India, were protesting President Bush after it was found out that President Bush named one of his cats "India." The protesters claim they found naming his pet after their country derogatory. And of course Bush, always the gentleman, immediately apologized. He said look, I had no idea "India" was a country. I just picked this name out of a hat. It is not his fault!



CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST: In an interview yesterday -- this is a little controversial -- in interview yesterday, former President Jimmy Carter, was extremely critical of President Bush. Very critical of President Bush.

That is right. Carter's exact quote was this guy is the worst president since me.


That is what he said. True story. He said that.


KING: Bill Maher is the guest. Lots of things to discuss. Your phone calls coming. Other people he has defended.

You defend Hillary.

MAHER: Well, you know i read Gail Sheehy's piece on Hillary, which I thought was really interesting because she had also written about her before in a very unflattering way. So I tended to believe what she wrote. And people have speculated since the end of the Clinton Administration that you know, first they were going to get divorced -- definitely. Now that they didn't have the White House to hold on to, they would just throw each other away, or that she was a lesbian.

And it turned out, if you can believe this piece, and I do, that the Clintons quietly put their marriage together. They went away together. They seemed to be doing quite well. And it just galls me that the Republicans are always talking about two things, Christianity and family values.

And first of all, isn't the biggest thing in Christianity forgiveness? You know, she forgave her husband. It took time. I'm sure he spent his years in the doghouse, and he probably will again. But she forgave him. I think that is a noble thing, and also she kept the family together. Isn't that what they are supposed to do? Isn't that a more noble thing than discarding your trophy wives, which is what the Republican, so many of those guys did, the Newt Gingriches of the world?

KING: It is concept of forgiveness, you are correct.

MAHER: Yes, who would know better, Larry.

KING: Who would know? Jerry Lewis.

MAHER: The man who gives hearts to the poor.

KING: OK already! Who would you like to -- what did you have to defend about Jerry Lewis?

MAHER: Well, Jerry got into trouble, because you know, he has -- it's amazing to me that his organization, MDA, has this love-hate relationship with him. They love him because he has raised like, you know, billions of dollars for them, and then they criticize him whenever he says something about the organization which they deem politically incorrect, and he was drawn and quartered again.

He said -- I don't remember the quote -- but it was something about if I have to use pity, you know, and, you know, I don't understand this. We talk a lot about on our show sometimes people with handicaps, and of course, you are put in this box where you can't really say or feel anything that you want. I mean, you can't feel pity in this country for someone?

KING: Is that what he said, it's OK to feel pity?

MAHER: He did, and I'm saying it, so go after me. I think it should be. It's bad enough in this country that you can't say anything anymore, now I'm not allowed to feel? What I -- what is the appropriate response? What is the appropriate emotion to someone in a wheelchair? Nothing? No emotion at all? Should I laugh? Should I be derogatory? I think pity is an appropriate emotion, and I think that is how you get money for a charity. And I think... KING: A lot of handicapped people say they don't want to be pitied. They want to be treated a certain way, they don't want to be pitied, though.

MAHER: Not pitied in the sense that we are maudlin about it, but just because you have a bad thing doesn't make you a bad person. And I'm sorry, but, you know, getting at the truth is still more important than sensitivity. I mean, to people who say we are just differently abled -- you know, there are deaf people who don't want to be cured.

They just say no, no, we are just different. Well no, you are not different. What is normal and what is right is to have five senses. If you are missing one, that is not just different. Christopher Reeves is not differently abled than me. It's not like, yeah, I like to play basketball and go swimming and he's very good at sitting still for a long period of time. That is not just different. OK?

And I don't feel bad about feeling bad about people. That is compassion. Compassion is something that we should applaud and not put away in a drawer as if it's something awful. So yes, I defended Jerry Lewis.

KING: He always makes us see things differently. We'll ask Bill what he is doing to do with his refund check and other items in news, and go to your calls after this.


MAHER: I think Hillary Clinton should get a fruit basket! I think she is a role model for marriage in this country! Family values is always talked about, rarely practiced. Here is someone who kept the marriage together, who said, you know what, he makes mistakes, but he is my best friend and I love him, and we are staying together.


MAHER: Isn't that what marriage should be, through thick and thin? Forgiveness.

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: Exactly, exactly, Bill. That is exactly the kind of marriage I want for my daughter.




LENO: As you know, President Bush currently in Europe, yesterday he was in Italy. Reporters asked President Bush how his meeting with the pontiff went, and Bush said: "Well, the pontiff wasn't there, just the pope." He hops to meet the pontiff at some point.


KING: That's funny.

MAHER: That is funny.

KING: What are you going to do with your rebate? You only get 300, right, because you are not married.

MAHER: Exactly. It's burning a hole in my pocket, Larry. I don't know.

KING: Can't wait. Have you got it yet?

MAHER: I am going to take some of it and put it in the safe stocks, and some of it I am going to -- you know, I need some improvements around the yard, and the rest of it, I'm going to play around with the high-risk stuff. You know, when you have that kind of money, you might as well spread it out.

KING: Pawtucket, Rhode Island, we'll start including phone calls for Mr. Maher, hello.

CALLER: Hi. While we are concentrating so much on the Condit story like we did, you know, on the thing with Clinton and O.J. and everything, what issues do you think are being brushed aside and not given the attention that they should be having?

MAHER: Well, I mean, you know -- you are inviting me to talk about my pet issues, which I will be happy to do.

KING: Well, what is an issue that should be talked about and we are not talking about, the big issue?

MAHER: The drug war is, you know, my pet issue, because I have a friend in jail and I will not rest until he is out. And it sickens me that the country that we live in jails -- it's a war on people, it's not a war on drugs, and that we can't somehow reverse our thinking to, you know, tax regulates and treat people instead of put them in jail. And also, the fact that everyone in this country is on some sort of drug.

You know, I watched you -- do you watch the 6:30 news, the evening news -- which, by the way, is only for people of a certain age. Have you ever noticed that young people cannot be watching the news? I know young people want to say and claim they know what's going on -- they must not, because otherwise there would be commercials for them. The most depressing thing in the world is the 6:30 news, the Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw news -- it's every commercial is for gases, and bloating, and diarrhea, and that's like -- people I can't, I can't...

KING: False teeth.

MAHER: With false teeth, and I can't get to the bathroom, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the bus, and I can't get an erection -- it's just the most depressing -- I want to shoot myself at 7:00 every night.

And in middle of these, there are commercials for happy drugs. They don't really say what's wrong with you -- you know what the commercials I'm talking about? It's just somebody in a field, very happy, there is one that a guy dancing on a melting clock, have you seen that one? I don't know what that drug is, I do want that drug. And these -- and it says, you know, ask your doctor. Now, OK.

KING: So, it's these prescriptions that they have.

MAHER: Prescription drugs. Now, shouldn't your doctor be telling you what drugs you need? When you are telling the doctor, isn't he just a pusher then? Isn't he really just a dealer?

KING: I want, blank.

MAHER: Right. I mean, so that's where your drug war is. There is a drug called Oxycontin -- have you covered this?

KING: The pain killer.

MAHER: It's a very, very powerful, morphine-like pain killer meant only for people who were, like, in crippling accidents, and of course celebrities.

And like 100 people have died from this already. I mean, marijuana has never killed anyone to my knowledge, but Oxycontin -- and why? Because, you know, doctors will get taken away on little weekend trips by the pharmaceutical companies. I mean, this like the campaign finance mess with doctors, it's the Lincoln bed pan.

KING: Please prescribe this.

MAHER: Right. Well, first the pharmaceutical companies take them away to the Bahamas, they get them drunk, they get them girls, whatever -- suddenly, on Monday morning, everybody needs Oxycontin.

KING: We are going to take a break -- that's funny! We are going to take a break. We will be right back with Bill Maher and more of your phone calls. We will talk about his -- what his feelings are about the stem cell controversy as well. Don't go away.


LETTERMAN: Hey, here is exciting news: President Clinton is moving into his new office in Harlem. Yeah, he's moving into his...


LETTERMAN: Clinton is very excited. He has not had office sex in about seven months.




O'BRIEN: According to latest poll in Northern California, 60 percent of voters -- 60 percent say they will not vote for Congressman Gary Condit in the next election. Sixty percent, that's right. Yes, apparently the other 40 percent are dating Gary Condit.




KING: That's funny.

MAHER: That is funny.

KING: Do you guys -- hey, listen, I'll give you a lot of credit there. Stem-cell research, what do you make of it?

MAHER: I'm for it.

KING: That's right. You think Bush should sign off on it?

MAHER: I love it that it has put him in this box that he has to decide between, you know, Michael J. Fox could benefit, people that Americans love...

KING: Nancy Reagan.

MAHER: Nancy Reagan, quietly, I love that, quietly lobbying for stem cell, because it could it help her husband. That's a very...

KING: Well, it could it help future people. I don't think it could do much for anyone with advanced Alzheimer's now, but it can help people...

MAHER: Right, I guess...

KING: A lot of them. Mary Tyler Moore with diabetes, it'd help her diabetes.

MAHER: Oh, it's so silly. I mean, for the longest time, I must admit, I really didn't understand what stem cell, and I finally read as much as I could about it, and I was trying to explain it to the audience the other night, as only someone who was crummy at science can. And -- but people should know what we're talking about, because I think when they hear it they hear it mixed in with the abortion debate, and they really think that it's part of an abortion problem. Only in the most radical way of thinking about it.

What it is, is a couple wants a baby, they can't have it. Now, I think they should take a hint and not have it. And that's what the pope says. The pope is consistent. The pope says, "Don't start it, don't end it. Just let it happen. Go to bed with your wife, see what happens."

KING: I got it.

MAHER: I don't know why he's Italian now. He's living in Rome a long time...

KING: Most of them were. OK.

MAHER: So the couple wants to have a baby, so they do the lab thing, with the turkey basters and the coats and the people from Pfizer. And they get a little bit of his ding and they put it in a petri dish with her egg or whatever, you know, so...

KING: And they get a lot of samples, sometimes, and they break it down, and they...

MAHER: OK, but we're talking about 30 or 40 cells in a petri dish. Now. of course, they have to do this to four or five because some of them might not take. It's like potting a plant.

OK, so they want one or two kids. Oh, that one looks good, that one looks good. And then there's three or four left over that took, but now they don't -- because they don't want six kids, so they're going to throw them away, anyway. It's, again, 30 or 40 cells. This is what they're saying is the potential for life.

KING: What would happen if you didn't throw them away? Would you just leave them? What's the other argument?

MAHER: Just don't defrost it, Larry. Just leave it in the freezer with the popsicles.


MAHER: But wait a second, I mean, it's just so ridiculous to say that this is life. It is not life. It is -- it is the rawest potential. You know, a bunch of steel is not a car. And you know, if you paid $20 for a chicken dinner and they gave you a hard boiled egg, you'd be ticked off.

KING: Good point. You said it well.

MAHER: OK. So, I mean, again, this is the Catholic church, and their allies, fighting progress.

KING: But they are consistent. The pope is consistent. For example, he's against abortion in all cases.

MAHER: That's right.

KING: He's also against capital punishment in all cases.

MAHER: And what I like about it is what I said, he's also against starting life artificially, not just ending it. But he's against that kind of stuff. He was not for, like, the McCoys, those people, that litter of puppies in Ohio -- in Iowa, remember the seven children -- who then go, "It's a miracle from God."


MAHER: God and pharmaceuticals. (LAUGHTER)

KING: Fresno, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. This is Rick from Fresno. I live a couple hours south of Chandra. Last week -- all last week I've been watching your show and all the attorneys on your show have all had something bad to say about Gary Condit.

KING: Right.

CALLER: OK, now...

KING: Except the one. Go ahead.

CALLER: You're right, except the one. Now, what does Bill think of this?

KING: Oh, that everybody's jumping on Gary. Yes, that's true. You can't find defenders of Gary. That's true.

MAHER: Right.


MAHER: Hello, your point is what?

KING: Correct. You can't find a defender, because it's hard to defend.

MAHER: What -- that's the best call they could have put through?

KING: How about sympathy?

MAHER: Sympathy? What about it? What are you talking about? For who? For Gary Condit?

KING: Got any sympathy at all?


KING: OK, all right. It's well answered. OK, there's no sympathy.

OK. The "Mob Week," whose idea was this? Was this your idea? Let's do five nights on "Sopranos" type stuff?

MAHER: Yes. Well, I mean, "The Sopranos" certainly revived, I think, an interest in the mob. It's interesting, you know, a lot of people have never seen "The Sopranos" because they don't have cable. I mean, it's...

KING: Or they don't pay for HBO.

MAHER: Right. Or they have cable and not the paid channels. So, you know, if you've never seen "The Sopranos," it's kind of seventh heaven with ice picks.


MAHER: And I shouldn't -- see, now I'm going to get in trouble again. One of the guys we had on, actually, was one of those people who says "The Sopranos" should go off the air, and all the other shows about the Mafia, because he says -- and I can understand that if you're an Italian-American...

KING: That it defames Italian...

MAHER: Well, it's the idea that everything that they do about Italians is about the mob, and gives people the impression that everything Italian is organized crime. And of course, that's not true. But when they say it's discriminating, no. I mean, it's discriminating against something that's interesting, from something that wouldn't be interesting. A show about Italian accountants and dentists would not...

KING: So your shows discuss things like? This week...

MAHER: Oh, well, like that. Like I said, the government being a Mafia themselves, which they are. I mean, they profit from vice, they make you offers you can't refuse.

KING: Did you bring a bunch guests out who -- were most of the guests Italian next week?


KING: They were?

MAHER: Oh, yes.

KING: Did you have people who were in the mob, really.

MAHER: Yes, Bill Bonanno.

KING: Did you have "Soprano" people on?

MAHER: Yes, we had two guys from "The Sopranos."

KING: Did you have pro and Congressman? Were there people attacking the concept of putting Italians -- "The Sopranos" critics.

MAHER: Yes, always pro and con.

KING: And major discussion about crime?

MAHER: Yes. This was...

KING: I'm covering everything. You covered everything.

MAHER: Yes, well, this was a whole week about the Mafia. We covered every aspect and we did have people on who were arguing. We had people who were victims of Sammy the Bull. Their father or brother had been killed by him, on with the prosecutor who gave Sammy the Bull his walking papers.

KING: That's good stuff.

MAHER: Yes, that's good stuff. Lots of good stuff. I mean, we had issues about women, I thought were fascinating, because I was making the case that if you're a woman in this country, you're married to a rich CEO and you get divorced, you want half the money. And they always say, "Well, I deserve half that money because I made the home that allowed him to go on and do his job so well." But if you make a home that allows a guy to go out and kill people, well, then shouldn't you get half the penalty that he gets also? I mean, if you're going to get half the money, it's only fair.

KING: Maher, you always -- Maher, you're interesting. We'll be right back with more of Bill Maher and your phone calls after this.


MAHER: Last night I saw someone on the street being put into a car trunk. Now, either this was an informant going for a last ride, or it was Mayor Giuliani trying to sneak his girlfriend into Gracie Mansion. One of the two, I don't know.




COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE (singing): Love is strong and it pushes me onward, down off the hill to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I go. Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


KING: That's our man, the secretary state, my man Colin Powell, at the close of the big conference that was held in Vietnam, and his first trip back since he was fighting a war there. And that was a song, "El Paso," was this big popular song when he was in Vietnam and he used to sing it, so they sang it on stage. They have a standard closing night show like that.

MAHER: I was listening to the radio in the '60s, I don't remember a song like that.

KING: You don't know "El Paso?"

MAHER: When was that a big hit song?

KING: Late '60s, come on!

MAHER: Really? Maybe...


KING: Out in West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with -- you don't know that song?

MAHER: I don't. I'm sorry. I never listened to...

KING: But what did you think? Did you think he did our country proud there?



MAHER: He is the secretary of state -- why does everyone in politics have to be entertaining?

KING: OK, he is trying to be human and you criticize him.

MAHER: He doesn't need to be human. He is the secretary of state, he doesn't have to play to us like that.

KING: Irvine, California for Bill Maher, hello.

CALLER: Hello, I am so glad to get through. I wrote Bill a letter after the election, asking him the answer to this question -- naturally, I never got -- I never heard from him, but, Bill, for years I have listened to you talk about being a libertarian, yet before the election, you were very vocal about voting for Ralph Nader. That's like saying you are an atheist and God is your role model. Talk about being politically incorrect! I mean, how -- obviously, you don't know what it means to be a libertarian and vote for Ralph Nader -- it's just such a contradiction. I'd like to...

KING: She says Nader was certainly not a libertarian. Well, she made her point, and now we get the answer.

MAHER: That's how six of Larry's marriages ended. They were talking...

KING: I mean, you could have -- you had to wait 42 minutes to get that in. Usually it comes in the first 10 minutes.

MAHER: Wouldn't it be great if marriage could be like that?

KING: He gets hearts for poor people!


MAHER: ... OK, I think I get your point, and there you go. Just push a button and you are gone -- thank you very much, OK.

KING: Don't avoid the topic!

MAHER: Can we have the meatloaf?

KING: How could a libertarian support Nader?

MAHER: Well, she is right. That was a protest vote. I'm sure that the -- that this woman who is obviously a student, follows politics, understands a couple of things about that. One, Ralph Nader was not going to win, it was party building, you know. We are trying to build the idea that we should have more than two parties in this country, because we don't really have two...

KING: No self-respecting libertarian would vote for Ralph Nader.

MAHER: No, but first of all, there is no definition of libertarian that is uniform, just like...

KING: Well, it's mostly leave the government out of everything except the fire, police and Army. That pretty much sums up the libertarian viewpoint.

MAHER: Well, yes. I would say -- I define it as a person should be allowed to do anything he wants or he or she wants to do, as long as it doesn't hurt somebody else. But I do think the government does have a role. You know, I'm against, for example, funding for the NEA, not because the art is dirty, just because why is the government funding art to begin with? You know, I'm an artist.

KING: A conservative position.

MAHER: Government -- yeah, well, exactly. Not really what conservative is now -- conservative now is more a moralist, this is the old conservative, the old Barry Goldwater conservative was truly about getting the government out of your life.

KING: Toledo, Ohio, for Bill Maher, hello.

CALLER: Hi. My question was about the Atlanta strip club that the athletes were caught in?

KING: The athletes.

MAHER: Yeah, I was never there! I swear!

CALLER: When I was listening to the news, this story, I was wondering why I was hearing this. Like, why is it news that athletes are in strip clubs? And I know that there was a mob connection or something, but I just thought it was ridiculous that they were using these athletes and trying to make a big story out of it that...

KING: OK, that's a fair question, a good question. Why is that?

MAHER: Actually, I think they missed the big story.

KING: Which was?

MAHER: Well, the story was that the athletes were not just in strip clubs -- we know that -- but they were actually getting sex in strip clubs.

KING: Right. While people viewed them. Some people viewed them, the owner of the club viewed them, sometimes special guests -- according to the testimony.

MAHER: Well, if you had those sky boxes, sure. Talk about a box seat.

But anyway, Larry, the point is that -- see, I think there was something going on here that the press has not uncovered, and actually we talked about this on our mob shows next week. Now, the owner of the club said his reasoning was we wanted the athletes to come into our strip club, so we had the strippers -- we paid them to actually have sex with them.

KING: Right.

MAHER: Now, why would you have to pay the strippers to have sex? Wouldn't they come into the strip club anyway? I mean, here is a bunch of jocks and 100 gorgeous naked girls. What is the enticement? How do we get these guys to come into this place? What could we do? You need an angle! I think -- and this was -- I think that this has -- they have to look into a little bit of either point shaving -- I mean, nobody does anything...

KING: Well, you go all the -- you stretch it.

MAHER: Well, you don't think when Patrick Ewing, or whatever -- whoever was there comes into this club, and either they are going to keep these guys up all night so that they don't play well the next day, or when you get -- when you are providing a service like that, I think people expect something in return. Again, it's like campaign finance and the pharmaceutical companies, nobody does nothing for nothing, Larry, and something was going on there.

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


LENO: Well, "Newsweek" magazine is reporting now the reason a lot of congressmen are not speaking out about Gary Condit is that as many as 87 congressmen are currently cheating on their wives. Isn't that unbelievable? "Newsweek" wants us to believe that there are 348 congressmen that are faithful? Shut up, come on! Nobody is buying that, get out of here!




LETTERMAN: George W is at the big thing, the G-8, the conference in Europe over there, and -- oh, as a matter of fact, earlier today, he had lunch with Queen Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth! And I was thinking, the two of them have a great deal in common. They are both conservative, both heads of state, and neither one of them have ever actually won an election.


KING: We're back with Bill Maher. Before we take our next call, what do you make of apparently a liberal approach the president is taking with regard to immigration, Mexicans and amnesty?

MAHER: Well...

KING: For -- for illegals.

MAHER: I don't know if that's liberal, I think it's...

KING: Open-minded.

MAHER: You don't think it's -- he is doing it just to get the votes of those Spanish people?

KING: Well, you put him between a rock and a hard place -- he does something that might be good, and he's trying to get votes. Do you dislike him giving amnesty too?

MAHER: No, no, no, not at all, but I just don't think it comes from the heart. You know.

KING: Oh, so you are questioning motive.


KING: I see.

MAHER: I think it's political, but that's OK. Whatever -- whenever we can do to get him to do the right thing. Yes, I think this country -- I read this book "Nickel and Dimed," you should you have Barbara Ehrenreich, she wrote a great book about -- it really changed my ideas about what goes on in this country with the underclass, with the people -- you know, we are like Ancient Rome now, Larry.

You know, we have this class of people who does everything, who washes the cars, and does the gardening, and does the laundry, and takes care of our children. We are getting to that fat and effete place in civilization, and I believe, the woman was asking me about libertarian and the government, yeah, but I do think that we should have a huge raise in the minimum wage. These people always say, you know we'd have to charge more, we'd have to pass it along to our customers, good. They are paying 12 dollars for a stupid Arugula salad.

Let them pay 13, they can obviously afford it because we are living in this country off this stolen labor from people, and I think it is just rotting out country to the core.

KING: Victoria, British Columbia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, gentlemen, how are you doing tonight?


CALLER: Just wanted to say, good show tonight. And I just wanted to compliment Bill on speaking his mind, because I'm sure he gets a lot of flack and criticism for doing this. MAHER: Yes.

CALLER: Quick question, just wanted to see what you thought of Al Gore's silence since the election.

KING: Al Gore, quiet Al Gore.

MAHER: And fat I understand. Fat and quiet.

KING: Fat and quiet.

MAHER: Well, I think that is smart. I mean if you start yelling right away after you lost you look like a sore loser. I think at some point he will start speaking out. And that is going to be the problem. Yes, of course he will run again.

KING: Before we take our next break, did you or did you not say when you were in New York, New York has more politically correct and sensitive people than most places. New Yorkers enjoy the image of being known as gritty and real, but people here aren't any grittier than they are anywhere else?

MAHER: Absolutely. I've always said this about L.A.

KING: And the paper took off on you.

MAHER: Yeah, that great headline...

KING: "New York Daily News"

MAHER: ... "Host to City, Drop Dead."

Well I have a love-hate relationship with New York like a lot of people who are from that area do. But I have always said this about L.A., I said we are honest about being phony.


MAHER: It is true. I mean in L.A. if you are on the phone with someone and another call comes in, people in New York will lie about it. Here we will go, I got a bigger name. I've got to go with the bigger name. You know, we are honest about being phony, and you know, New Yorkers are not any more real or gritty than anywhere else.

KING: Well said. We'll be back with our remaining moments with Bill Maher. Get another call in or two. Don't go away.


LENO: You went from having a president who embarrassed his daughter to two daughters who embarrassed a president, I mean it doesn't make any difference.


KING: I want to get these remaining callers in. Lancaster, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Hi, I love your show, Bill. You are the best.

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: Why don't you support the death penalty and war?

MAHER: Why do I support the death penalty and war?

KING: Support both, right?

MAHER: Yes, I do. I also support what the governor of Illinois has done which is call for a moratorium on the death penalty until we can find out who we are actually killing. We are just doing it badly. I always say let's kill the right people.

KING: Good idea, Bill.

MAHER: Let's kill the right people. Now war, let me address that, because this is something, I don't want to say, only a woman would say, but women are fond of...

KING: Oh, Bill -- go ahead. Never mind.

MAHER: Well, I just think, you know, Larry, I have a big thing about the feminization of society, and I think women are always saying things like, you know, we are more spiritually advanced, and killing is never right, and there is no reason to go to war.

Well, they don't really feel that way. Killing is right, they don't want to do it. You know when killing needs to be done, when it's a wino in bushes or a spider or a bad guy out there taking over the world, they just want us to do the killing for them, and yes, sometimes you do have to go to war. Certainly, Larry, someone of your generation understands that better than most. That is why you are the greatest generation, because you did not shrink from the task and...

KING: I was only eight years old, when the war broke out, Bill.

MAHER: Well, I know, but...

KING: I didn't shrink. I would have gone. Stratford, Ontario, hello.


MAHER: You are still the greatest, Larry, you give hearts to the poor!

CALLER: ... why don't you have a child and pass on your passions and ideas?

KING: That's right. Good idea, great question. You don't like kids very much, we know this.

MAHER: You set me up for that one.

KING: I did not. They just call in. I don't set up anyone. We have never set up anyone. Well maybe twice. But, why don't you have a child and pass on this energy and intelligence so that when Bill Maher leaves us, there will be another Maher to carry on?

MAHER: Well because I'm not really amused by children, you know. I know people like it when they are relearning things, I guess through the eyes of a child. But I am so over blue, and fractions, and anything else the child might learn. I have already done that. I have already been there. I don't have that kind of mind that could like again appreciate, ooh colors. You know.

KING: Don't you ever say parenthood might be fun?

MAHER: Parenthood might be fun. I would never say what is in the future, but...

KING: Aha!

MAHER: ... right now...

KING: A breakthrough!

MAHER: ... well no, but...

KING: Wait a minute!

MAHER: No, but, I mean single people are sort of -- seen as second class citizens and the fact that a child is in your life makes you sort of more deserving of our resources, and I always say that is not really true. You might want to go see your twins in the school play, I might have twins in my jacuzzi, Larry, it's all a matter of what people want to do with their spare time.

KING: Thank you Bill, a great close. Bill Maher, next week "Politically Incorrect" is in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It's "Mob Week" on "Politically Incorrect" with their host Bill Maher. Tomorrow night, Anne Marie Smith. We are going to repeat that interview with the stewardess.

And on Sunday night Sir Paul McCartney, who today announced he got engaged. We are going to repeat that interview with him and then we are going to be back live Monday. From Los Angeles, for Bill Maher, the whole crew here, have a great weekend and good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

Back to the top