CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Bill Maher
Aired February 15, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, if squeezing comedy from current events was a crime, he'd be on America's most wanted every week. Bill Maher, politically incorrect, proud of it, next, with your calls on LARRY KING LIVE.
It is always a great pleasure to welcome him. He's one of our Friday night regulars. Bill Maher, the host of "Politically Incorrect." That program, one week from tonight, February 22, will celebrate its fifth anniversary. Congratulations.
BILL MAHER, HOST, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT": On ABC.
KING: On ABC. How long has it been on all together?
MAHER: By the end of the year, it will be 10 years.
KING: On Comedy Central?
MAHER: Yeah. Isn't that amazing?
KING: Is that the only cable show to move intact to network?
MAHER: That's a good question, Larry, I'm going to have to pass to my partner.
KING: He doesn't know.
MAHER: But you know, I think you wonder why more cable shows don't.
KING: Yeah, because there are a lot of good ones.
MAHER: Because what they do is actually just steal. They steal the idea. Why buy the show when you can just steal it? That's how TV works.
KING: As we always do with Bill, we take a lot of calls, of course. But let's run into the news and the big topic this past week is our Canadian pair, the Russian pair, the figure skating. How interested are you in this?
MAHER: Not at all. I don't watch the Olympics. I think most of the Olympics is not sports. They have things in there that I've never heard of, I've never seen. I don't know why people do them. Just because a lot of people don't do something doesn't make it a sport, is what I would say.
KING: You think figure skating is not a sport?
MAHER: No, figure skating has been around for a long time. I'm talking about people in the luge, which is really just staying still and praying, as far as I can see. There's one where they (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and they have to do shooting at the same time. Why not be on a cell phone also, make that -- I don't understand the Olympics.
KING: OK. What do you make of this figure skating controversy, though? Today we now have two gold medals?
MAHER: It reminds me of what they call the trophy syndrome, you know, in schools, where they give everybody a trophy, you know, make everybody feel very good, because it's much more about self-esteem than winning or losing. But they were robbed, because the Olympics is political. And America certainly has not helped that problem.
MAHER: By first of all carrying in that tattered flag.
KING: Oh, you didn't like that?
MAHER: No, I didn't.
KING: Because it's an international event?
MAHER: Yeah. And also, that's why they hate us, Larry. I think, you know, in the five months -- has it been -- since the attack, I think it's really, for me, anyway, and I hope for a lot of people, has come into a lot clearer focus that question that we've been asking, why do they hate us? Well, it's stuff like that. It's us showing the world, you know what, we're more important. Because let's face it, Larry, lots of countries in the world have had bad things happen to them. Lots of them could carry in flags that were tattered for one reason or another. But this is just America looking like, look, something happened to us, and that's more important.
KING: Would it have satisfied you if the American team just used -- if it wasn't a separate flag, but the American team chose that flag to carry in?
MAHER: No, because the Israeli team could certainly carry in...
KING: Yeah, I think they could carry in whatever flag they want.
MAHER: But that's -- then you have an Olympic of tattered flags.
KING: The tattered flag Olympics.
MAHER: Bad looking people with injuries.
KING: But why does that make, do you think that offends people? MAHER: I think it offends other countries around the world, because I think they say America has to always be the exception, that Americans feel that their lives are more valuable than other lives. You know, we're richer and we're more powerful, and we uses our riches and our power mostly for good, compared to other empires -- not that we're an empire, but I mean, other preeminent powers.
But we do have this sort of arrogance about our lives are worth more than yours. And human life -- we're supposed to be a religious country -- is human life. It's not an American life. And whenever there is an accident overseas, you always hear, you know, 150 people were killed, two were Americans. Two were Americans! That's what gets us interested in.
KING: You know what's fascinating -- one of the many things fascinating about you is you always force us to think.
MAHER: I'm sorry, Larry.
KING: In ways we haven't thought. No, whether we agree or disagree, on focus on things.
OK, what's your read on the Enron mess? Which grows since you last were here. It's getting out of hand.
MAHER: Well, I mean, of course, I think it's actually a blessing in disguise, because it's moving along campaign finance finally, isn't it?
KING: The House passed it. The Senate is going to filibuster it, though, they think. Some people may filibuster.
MAHER: I think the pressure is building. It's going to be hard for these guys to not do this now, because, you know, Dick Cheney, the whole thing about why does he have to meet with these people secretly? He says we have to protect our executive privilege. I'm talking about the Enron executives and other energy executives. And Dick Cheney says, well, you know, we have to be able to talk to these people in private. Why? This is the government. This is not the board room. Your business is our business.
Executive privilege. Yeah, it's more like the privilege of executives. His executive privilege is working for us? We should know what's going on, especially when he's meeting with the people who bought the negative ads that put him in the White House.
KING: So you favor like the Sunshine Law like Florida has? If it involves a public official, the public must know about it?
MAHER: Absolutely. You know, the guy -- the congressman who said that this was a bank robbery and Enron robbed the bank, and Andersen, the accounting company drove the getaway car -- what he left out was and Congress and the president are the cops who were paid off to look the other way. Because, let's face it, almost everybody in this investigation has taken Enron money already. Even somebody like Lieberman, who doesn't even use electricity, Larry. KING: That's right. He doesn't. How do -- how did this happen, though, to this company? I mean, why would a giant company doing very well -- can you explain greed?
MAHER: No, but it is a really big issue. Because...
KING: Well, what do you need more for?
MAHER: Exactly. I don't understand. But we still are living in a greedy country. And I think if there's one obstacle to our overcoming this terrorist threat that we now have it is our greed. I think we are still trying to do this sometimes on the cheap. And I think Enron isn't exactly part of that problem, but it's certainly part of a problem of a country that is gluttonous. You know, some is good, more is better, too much is just right. That's really the American credo. How many houses did the Lays have? Seventeen?
KING: They just sold the Aspen one.
MAHER: Oh, no!
KING: Yes, $10 million.
MAHER: That's why I'm announcing the concert for Ken.
KING: You're doing -- oh, I've heard about it.
MAHER: I want to do a charity. I've seen his wife on TV crying, Larry, and I just can't let this go on.
KING: So a concert for Ken.
MAHER: A concert for Ken.
KING: Rock stars, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
MAHER: Oh yes, I want them all there. And I want to raise some money for this poor family, Larry.
KING: How about the workers at Enron?
MAHER: You know, I took...
MAHER: ... them to task on my show a little bit. I feel bad for them.
KING: You took them to task?
MAHER: Well, just for this.
KING: Only you, Bill.
MAHER: Only me. But here's my reasoning. First of all, they were in a company that was an energy company. I mean, they weren't exactly working for Mother Theresa here. I can think of cleaner ways to make a living. And let's face it, if they were invited into the top of the pyramid scheme that was Enron, do you think they would have turned it down? I mean, they lost out because they were not on the top of the totem pole. But it doesn't seem like if they were invited in...
KING: Did they know it was a pyramid scheme?
MAHER: I think -- well, I think some people knew something was kooky in that company. And also, a lot of the money that was made at Enron was made on the backs and out of the wallets of people here in California, who saw their energy bill go up 10 times. I mean, that's a little suspicious right there. And when they said they lost their whole savings, I'm out $1.5 million. You're not out $1.5 million. You're out the $20,000 you put in that was inflated on paper to $1.5 million. Let's not get ridiculous.
KING: It was all funny money.
MAHER: It was funny money to begin with.
KING: So you think even with the threat of a filibuster, they're still going to pass the campaign finance stuff, because of public pressure?
MAHER: You know, if the public doesn't take them to task for not passing it, if they are able to sweep this one under the rug, then the people in this country do not deserve democracy, which they're certainly not getting right now. I mean, this is a huge stinking turd in the middle of the room. If they can't deal with it now, they never will.
KING: We'll be right back with more of Bill Maher. We'll be taking your phone calls. The program celebrates its fifth anniversary on ABC next Friday, its 10th anniversary overall.
Tomorrow night on LARRY KING WEEKEND, Mike Medavoy, film producer, Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and Don Rickles.
KING: Love him.
MAHER: You hockey puck.
KING: We'll be right back with more of Maher. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")
JAY LENO, HOST: Here's an odd fact. You know, they're giving out over 250,000 condoms at the Olympics, 250,000.
And most of those are expected to be used by athletes getting screwed by the pro-Russian judges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT")
MAHER: Mr. Dick Cheney, Vice President Cheney, is 61 years old today. He had a nice party. Karl rove brought the food. Dick Armey brought the liquor. And, of course, Enron brought the confetti.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Good line, Maher. Bill Maher is our guest. He's with us for the full hour. We'll be including your phone calls. Earlier, Jay Leno had a pretty good joke there about condoms.
Something that's not being treated as a joke is Colin Powell, goes on MTV, the secretary of state. He's fielding questions from young people around the world. Someone asks him about people not being married who are engaged in sex, should they use condoms. And he says, absolutely they should use it to engage in sex. Now there's an uproar. The White House backs him up. What is the Maher read?
MAHER: Yo, the state department raps, and gets rapped, yes. Well, you know, it reminds me of -- who is the -- who was it -- yes, Clinton's health czar who suggested masturbation. What was her name?
MAHER: Jocelyn Elders, right. I don't know why there's a war on sex in Washington. I don't know why they read this country as being so anti-sexual because that's all it can be. To think that you could ever stop teenagers, especially from wanting to have sex or why is sex...
KING: But the question wasn't do you recommend condoms for all teenagers. The question is if they're already having sex.
KING: So what is the controversy?
MAHER: There shouldn't be a controversy. But as I say, you know, the Bush team always has relied on co-mingling monogamy and sexual abstinence with integrity. I don't see the Bushes as any less of a gutter fighter when it comes to the political game, which is what you have to be, than any other politician. But they surrounds themselves with this shield of integrity which really has to do with the fact that, you know what? We have sex with our wife. I have my sex with my wife. My dad had sex with his wife. That's who we are. We're the people who have sex with their wives, not like certain other politicians I could mention. I mean, isn't that how he got into the White House? He's going to restore integrity. By the way, he often said that while he was standing in front of an Enron jet because they gave him the jet that he took around the country. OK, but, yes, I don't understand why this war on sex because you can't seal the border against sex. You can't stop the flow from Mexico. You can't sniff it out with dogs although I've seen it tried. It's just a dumb idea. And it is also against science. It's another thing that bothers me about this administration, they're so selective about science...
KING: But they backed up Powell today?
MAHER: They did not back up Powell today.
KING: The press secretary said that the president -- didn't he say the president supports Powell's remarks?
MAHER: That's -- my understand was the opposite. My understanding was that they were going against that because they had just come out with their budget, which had a 33 percent increase for abstinence funding, for telling kids, just say no.
KING: Yes, but I think they -- I'm pretty sure -- our crack staff will check this. They backed him up on the area of people already having sex using condoms.
MAHER: But why does that, of all things in the budget, get a big increase?
KING: Abstinence. You mean, programs to influence it?
MAHER: Right. Because it's been proven, the facts are in, that abstinence alone does not stop teen pregnancy. You have to have the condoms available, too. But that's where they read science so selectively. Global warming, we're not sure. You know, that's a myth, that needs more science.
But the missile shield, that one we know, which never had worked, that one we know we can go forward on. Marijuana, another thing that they've done tests on, you know, every administration does the test. It always comes back the same thing. It makes you eat cookie dough. OK, that one needs more testing. We can't go ahead on legalization there because, as you know, we fight terrorism by fighting drugs, Larry. You heard that in the State of the Union speech and in the commercials on the Super Bowl.
KING: You didn't buy that, huh?
MAHER: I think that is such a cynical effort to piggyback their former agenda onto the fears of 9/11. That to me is really a low blow. Yes, because first of all, it is not all drugs. I don't thing the people who are smoking a joint to relieve their bone cancer pain are really the people we want to be targeting on the war on terror. It is mostly heroin. But if the theory is that terrorists get some of their money from drugs, well, let's go to where they get their real money from, oil. They get a lot more money from oil and diamonds than they do from drugs.
KING: A comic last night, it may have been Drew Carey at the Love Rocks Concert, said, if that's the case, then why don't you legalize it? And we won't go to Paris anymore.
MAHER: Oh, God. We could probably solve a lot of problems if we had that kind of money just from Woody Harrelson's house.
KING: All right. Now we move to other things. Now we know you're pro military. So, everybody who thinks that you are wildly liberal, now we do a little swing here. How are we doing in Afghanistan?
MAHER: Great. I mean, I think -- I said the last time I was here I think it was just a great effort. I think it's -- the administration does get a lot of credit for that, but I think we have to guard against the idea that, you know, because we're able to beat Afghanistan, every other place is going to be a cakewalk. I mean, let's face it, Afghanistan was easy because they were able to take over Afghanistan, OK? You know, the Taliban, those Arabs that they keep talking about over there who took over our country. They were able to do it.
So obviously, we come in with our night goggles and our -- we must look like the Terminator to these people, a guy in sandals in a cave and the guy with all the equipment. I'm glad we have it. I'm glad we kicked ass. But, you know, now the next thing they're talking about is Iraq. And Iraq ain't no bandleader, if I may quote "The Godfather." Iraq is a whole different story. And I think we should do it. I mean, I think we should have done it back when we had the chance.
KING: Oh, you want to go in?
MAHER: Absolutely. Oh, yes, Larry. I mean, you know, the only reason why Islam gets a bye on this is because it's a religion. It is called a religion.
KING: It is a religion.
MAHER: It is. Of course, it is. But it is also an ideology, the way Communism was an ideology. And if Islam is not expansionist, and I'm talking about, of course the fundamentalist wing. But I do not separate Muslim fundamentalism from terrorism. They're two wings on the same bird. And they have a -- you know, the analogy I make, it's like they have a rotten teenager living in their house, Islam does, which is terrorism, which is fundamentalism. That's their rotten teenager that set our lawn on fire. And it is really their job to take care of it. So when President Bush says, it's an axis of evil, I say, you go girl, good for him. When he says, if you don't take care of your terrorism...
KING: We're coming.
MAHER: Right, that's your rotten, surly teenager with the ring through his nose...
KING: Why don't you go to Iran, North Korea and take them all in one day?
MAHER: Well, North Korea is certainly not part of this. I mean, I don't know why he lumped that in there. But Iran and Iraq certainly are. I mean...
KING: Iran has been -- haven't they tried to be a little friendly of late?
MAHER: Well, they send mixed messages, but they also had a huge anti-American rally over there a few days ago.
KING: So, you would move toward Iraq?
MAHER: Yes, I would. And I think we're going to because he certainly made a lot of noises about it. If he doesn't not do it now, we're all going to be disappointed. My God, it is sweeps month, Larry. We've got to do something. We've got to have some war.
KING: Where is Osama?
MAHER: He's with Dick Cheney.
KING: We'll be right back with more of Bill Maher. We'll be including your phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Speaking of Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney will be here on Tuesday night to answer the remarks. We'll be right back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
TINA FEY, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Dick Cheney appeared at his birthday party Wednesday with a bruised lip after one of his dogs bumped into his mouth while playing, leading many to ask, what is up with this administration? Cheney's got a bruised lip. Bush has a huge scrape on his face. Ashcroft has burn marks all over him. Tell the truth, do you guys have a fight club?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: I know you've been doing a lot of jokes about a pretzel. So I thought I would actually show everyone in the United States what the pretzel looked like. You can tell it isn't really a sissy pretzel.
JAY LENO, HOST: No, no, not a sissy pretzel. Only Texas would have a word like sissy pretzel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Bill Maher. What do you think of her?
MAHER: I always liked the first ladies.
KING: You like all of them, huh?
MAHER: Yes. In fact, I defended him once because "Newsweek" in their conventional wisdom, a little thing when they have the up arrow and the down -- when they were overseas on a trip to Europe and they gave him a down arrow and her an up arrow. And I was like, you know what? It is not really a fair comparison, is it? I mean, he's got to tell some people, hey, we might have to bomb you. She has to wave and get on a boat. You know, I mean, come on. It is not that hard a job. She seems like a very nice lady. And it's not our job.
KING: By the way, Bill Maher will be honored at an upcoming U.S. comedy arts festival in Aspen. This is a yearly event. This is a great honor. He's part of a celebration of free speech. Also being honored are Whoopi Goldberg, George Carlin, Dick Gregory, Lily Tomlin, the Smothers Brothers, Norm Lear and the creators of "South Park." You're in good company.
KING: I'm very, very happy for you. All right. You mentioned about their teenager, our lawn. OK, what about John Walker? Whose teenager, whose lawn?
MAHER: Good segue, Larry. Yes, John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban, the angel with the dirty face. Well, you know, if it was any other country, he'd have been hung already as a traitor, which is what he is. I think it is so funny that in this country, kids -- you know, kids, when they're even just four and five years old have to be treated like an adult, right? I mean, parents negotiate with them for everything. There is no more just telling them what to do. They go to school. They can make their own curriculum. They're not children, Larry. They're just shorter. But when one of them gets into trouble, he's just a boy. Then suddenly, he's just a kid.
KING: Why do you think he's a traitor, though?
MAHER: Well, because he sided with the people who have sworn to annihilate us. What more evidence do you need? You know, what happened to dad when he said, you know, I'm going over to Pakistan or Yemen to study Islam in its purest form with a minor in theater? You know, what do you say to all of that? OK, son. Good luck to you. You know, I just don't understand that. I also don't understand the outcry about the people in Camp X-ray, in Guantanamo Bay.
KING: Why? You want people treated inhumanely?
MAHER: I don't want them treated inhumanely, but I don't think we have to kiss their ass either, which seems to be what we're doing. We cater to all their religious needs.
KING: Like food.
MAHER: Food. They get the wakey, wakey 5:00 call to pray. Yes, you know what? You lost. Eat what we eat, snausages and bacon bits and cheese-filled hot dogs. You don't like it? Eat the bun. You don't want to eat, fine. You'll join the virgin sooner. You won't be missed. I don't understand why we have to tiptoe around this situation.
KING: Now, you said earlier you wonder why the world doesn't like Americans.
KING: And then now the world, we're being seen around the world is seeing an American say treat them the way they treated us. Get even. And how does that make us look?
MAHER: I'm talking about the terrorists.
KING: Yes, I know. How does it make us look, though, when you want to be a terrorist in return?
MAHER: That is certainly not being a terrorist, Larry. I'm not saying we abuse them. I'm saying we don't have to cater to them. You lost. Eat our food. OK? I don't think we have to make a special Muslim kit just because we're not in a war against Islam. We're not in a war against Islam, but these are the people -- this is the rotten teenager. Yes, they need a slap across -- and I think it is good that the rest of the world understands that we can scare them. You know, we got a good scare thrown into us. We need to scare them, the bad guys.
KING: Do you at all feel sorry for John Walker's parents?
MAHER: No. I mean I think parents raise -- you get the kid you raise. Yes, occasionally, you can do a good job as a parent and somebody's just a rotten kid. But I don't think in this situation that's what's going on. I think they let him just do what he did. I mean, you know, he's typical of what goes on in this country with children. We confuse making our children happy with loving them and raising them properly. We don't have to be their friends and we don't have to cater to their every whim.
KING: The State of the Union address, what did you make of it?
KING: You like the axis of evil except for North Korea.
MAHER: I like the axis of evil. I like that kind of talk. I thought it was interesting that he didn't mention Enron. But he said...
KING: He made a passing reference.
MAHER: He made a passing reference which was really a lot of empty words about big business has to be held to the highest standards. Well, what a bunch of emptiness because big business is not held to the highest standards because of people like the president who have opposed campaign finance reform. So that means nothing.
KING: Let's take a call for Bill Maher. We'll take many. Los Angeles, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Bill, you're a great animal activist. I just want to ask you, today a cat was cloned and now people are saying they're going to have their pets cloned. And how do you feel about it?
KING: Ah, cloning.
MAHER: Yes, I don't feel -- well, we kill too many pets as it is. I mean, my theory is always to, you know, make your dog happy while he's alive because they kill something like six or eight or 10 million puppies, you know, that they can't find a home for. I'd rather have -- people say, you know, don't make your dog fat. I say make your dog fat. If he lives one year less, then I'm going to get a puppy a year sooner. I'd rather start the cycle sooner.
KING: They're things to you then?
MAHER: What do you mean things to me?
KING: Let them live a year less.
MAHER: Well, yes. A dog has one pleasure, that's eating. They're all spayed and neutered. And by the way, they don't like sex anyway.
KING: They don't like sex?
MAHER: Have you ever seen dogs have sex, Larry?
MAHER: It is rape, OK. It's not like they go to a dinner and have a snausage and then there's some, you know, talk and a box of chocolate. No, it is rape, OK. So I don't feel like I'm robbing them of a great pleasure by denying them a sex life. No, their pleasure is eating. It's the thing they look forward. From the minute I get up, that's what -- when do we eat? So like, I feed my dogs whatever they want. If they are a little less healthy and they die a year sooner, so be it because then we get a puppy sooner, so less puppies. I'd rather have an old dog die happy a year earlier than kill a puppy.
KING: When you have a dog -- have you had dogs die?
MAHER: Yes. It is terrible.
KING: The worst?
MAHER: It is.
KING: Because they definitely are a part of the family. MAHER: They are. And we don't need cloning.
KING: Why wouldn't you want to clone? You love a dog, have two of them.
MAHER: I don't understand this moral outcry against it, especially in a world where you can take a lot of goop from a pharmaceutical company and inject it in you to have a litter of seven babies who are born not really full and, you know, able to have a life. So we're already playing God in a tremendous way there. I don't understand why cloning is such a horrible thing except why do we need it? It's this -- you know what? I think people want it because they think they're going to live longer, they're going to have some organs that can be harvested. And that's really what it is all about because in this country, death is the worst thing that can happen to you, which is a silly way to look at things, because death is not the worst thing that can happen to you.
KING: What's worse?
MAHER: Dishonor, loss of personal responsibility. You know? That's why I'm against the attack on the smoking companies.
KING: Yes, we'll get to that. Bill Maher marches to his own drummer and sometimes the drummer ain't in the band. We'll be right back with the host of "Politically Incorrect."
Rickles tomorrow. We're on a roll. Don't go away.
MAHER: Rickles? Oh, I got to see that one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: The Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show ended last night. How many -- yes.
But there was a lot of trouble there because when the judges announced that a French poodle had won the competition, an angry Canadian poodle went and trashed his hotel room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a place where every sunset is beautiful and every night is magical. Where is this wonderful place, you ask?
It's Camp X-ray, the U.S. detainment facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. DARRELL HAMMOND, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Take it from me, Dick Cheney. If I'm ever been convicted of wrongdoings, I would like to disclose this location as first-rate Caribbean imprisonment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: They do good work.
MAHER: He's does a great job.
KING: Bill Maher is our guest, the host of "Politically Incorrect". It marks its fifth anniversary on ABC February 22, a week from tonight. And it's been on the year 10 years altogether, earlier on Comedy Central. The contract is up in December. Are you going to be renewed? I'm rooting for you. We're all rooting for you. Going to be renewed? Any word? Have they said anything?
MAHER: No. But if I'm not, I'm not going away, Larry.
KING: Naturally, but I mean...
MAHER: The people who like call into your show and watch your show when I'm on, those are my people. And I'll be some place where I can say these kind of things because Lord knows no one else is.
KING: Is it true you're thinking about doing a radio show?
MAHER: Everybody keeps asking me that. Yes, I mean, I've had a couple of meetings and...
KING: Why not?
MAHER: Because it's a good place where you can expand.
KING: You'd be a hit.
MAHER: Yes, I think I can do good on radio. And my father was in radio.
KING: I know. For years.
MAHER: Yes. And I think it might be something that I find enjoyable.
KING: OK. Before we get back to the calls, every time people think they read you a certain way, they find there's another side to Bill Maher. You are against the anti-smoking campaign.
MAHER: Oh, horribly, yes. I think it is just -- I thought among the things that would go away after 9/11 would be this silly obsession with smoking.
KING: Silly obsession with a killer?
MAHER: A killer. Yes, well, there's lots of killers out there, Larry. It is someone's choice to put that killer in their mouth. KING: That's your position?
MAHER: That's a fact. Is there anyone in America who does not know that smoking is bad for you? Anyone?
MAHER: OK. They even awarded someone money last year -- I think it was last year maybe, or a couple of years ago, who started smoking after they put the warning on the pack. Before it had only been before. I could understand that. But after the warning was on the pack? Apparently, they didn't mention her by name.
So, you know, I saw these Super Bowl ads. I thought it was incredibly ironic that there was two Super Bowl ads.
KING: The American...
MAHER: Well, whatever it is. You know, there's people on a beach and they look up and there's a sky-writing plane that says something about how bad smoking is. The fact that they chose the beach, that they are so blind to the fact that the beach itself is...
MAHER: Cancer. They're in the rays of the sun while they're gorging themselves on nitrate-laden hot dogs, OK. I think it's, you know, breathing next to an SUV or in Houston is probably...
KING: Do you agree that if cigarettes had never been heard of and were proposed to be legalized, they wouldn't have a prayer?
MAHER: Right. Well, cigarettes kill how many people?
KING: They think 400,000.
MAHER: 400,000. What about alcohol? That kills about 150,000, 200,000.
MAHER: Those are legal. But marijuana has so far killed none that I've ever known. So I keep saying if we want to legalize marijuana, we have got to start having people drop dead from it.
I also think it is interesting on the Super Bowl, the beer ads. Now, have you noticed that in beer ads, in the last couple of years, they're all the same. The guy chooses beer over a hot girl. Have you noticed that? It used to be that the guy drank the beer and then he'd get the hot girl. You went into the suburb, you ordered the right beer, that got you the supermodel.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) MAHER: Right, that was stupid. But at least the idea behind that was if I use this product, it will get me sex. Sex is something natural which you have an urge for. When someone prefers the beer over the woman, that is the definition of addiction, Larry. When you choose the drug over the girl -- so they're advertising addiction. In the same breath they're saying, but don't do it too much.
KING: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for Bill Maher. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, good evening, Larry and Bill. My question, Bill, I was wondering who you wanted to have on your show that you have never been able to get?
MAHER: Oh, that is a long list. It would include probably almost every big movie star there is. It would also include...
KING: Certain politicians?
MAHER: Yes. And people who -- you know who my favorites are are always the people who are literally politically incorrect. You know who I would say my No. 1 guy right now? Ted turner, because I love Ted Turner. He is one of us. He is one of those people who just speaks...
KING: No cutoff between here and here?
MAHER: Exactly. Remember when Ari Fleischer said the Americans need to watch what they say. Well, he's on the page with me and a few other people who say, no, Americans shouldn't watch what they say. That's not what this country is all about. Let us say it. And he got in trouble just the other day for saying the same thing I said.
KING: They were brave. Crazy but brave. Birmingham, Alabama, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Bill. Love the show.
MAHER: Thank you.
CALLER: I was going to ask you, given the current state of the world since September 11, and given the fact that I know you along with myself are not a big Republican supporter, do you think we're in better hands now with Bush than we would be with a Gore administration?
MAHER: Well, that's what we hear all the time, is that oh, gosh, we dodged a bullet there by getting President Bush because Al Gore would have just, you know, appointed Pee-Wee Herman and Posh Spice to his cabinet and everything would have been -- I mean, that's silly. I mean, you know, they both probably would have done a similar good job with the war overseas.
I think Al Gore would have done a better job -- and I'm not a Democrat either -- but with the domestic agenda because, again, I think the president has piggybacked a lot of his prior agenda on the 9/11 events. And I also think that we can't afford this tax cut right now. I don't understand why giving -- I don't understand why people aren't more upset about that stimulus package which is only going to stimulate rich people.
KING: It didn't pass.
MAHER: It didn't pass, but he's running attack ads in five states against Democrats who opposed it, saying that they were being partisan. I mean, that's just crazy. I mean, he's the one who is being partisan about this. He travels so much to the swing states. I mean, he goes from Florida to Pennsylvania so much, you would think he was running cocaine.
KING: You think Gore would have done as well or better?
MAHER: I think he would have done better domestically.
KING: And internationally, about the same?
MAHER: Well, I don't know. You know, the military did a great job overseas. That's the military. I mean, to tell your generals to point to a map of Afghanistan and say, destroy that, I think is something Al Gore could have done also.
KING: We'll be back with more of Bill Maher on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. More of your phone calls, too. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT")
MAHER: Big speech tonight, President Bush did not mention the word Enron, although he alluded to the scandal by saying he is condemning corporate irresponsibility. He said those who practice corporate irresponsibility are not friends of mine. We just went to school together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")
LENO: A lot of politicians who got donations from Enron are giving the money back, they're giving it back to funds to help Enron's investors. You know, like those people that lost their life savings. Because a lot of politicians got money from them. Even Senator Hillary Clinton now. She' giving back the $6,000 she got -- she's giving the money back, because you know, she doesn't want the Clinton name associated with a scandal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Back with Bill Maher. That's pretty funny stuff going on in America.
MAHER: Yeah. He's a great (UNINTELLIGIBLE). KING: Yeah. Take a call, Seattle now. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry and Bill.
KING: Hello. Hello. It sounds like Arthur Godfrey and his friends.
MAHER: Sounds like you're on Xanax. You're not hanging out with that Bush kid, are you?
KING: Oh, stop it. Go ahead.
KING: I'm only kidding.
CALLER: Without mentioning the fact that the Supreme Court elected our current president, I really want to know what, Bill, is your current opinion on George W.'s 87 percent, I believe it is, approval rate?
KING: Yeah. What do you make of that?
MAHER: I -- I...
KING: A defeat for you?
MAHER: He couldn't be anymore popular if he fell down a well.
KING: And was rescued after 13 days.
MAHER: You know, I mean, what can I say? That is America. They either like you or they don't. It really isn't as much about what you advocate, because I saw him recently, he was out here about three weeks ago, and he was saying that this speech he said about the taxes, "over my dead body." And he said, I'm not going to repeal that tax cut. And the people rose up and cheered.
Why? Why are they cheering? They're cheering a bunch of bribes that are going to the corporate rich fat cats that are going to pay for his next election. That tax cut isn't going to help the people who rose to their feet and cheered. That's all going to the richest 1 percent. So people just don't pay attention. He's just the kind of guy that they want to have over for pot roast. And if he wasn't in politics, I'm sure I would like him, too.
KING: Satellite Beach, Florida. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Bill and Larry. Bill, you always talk about our dependence on foreign oil. I understand you've bought a hybrid car recently. How does that compare to driving a regular car? Is it really as good? And also, how come never more than one conservative?
KING: Is that true, you never have more than one?
MAHER: No. That's ridiculous. I mean, I would say that on many nights, there's an imbalance because, after all, we're doing a show that combines pundit type people with celebrity type people. And celebrity type people tend to be liberal. They also tend to be dumb and don't know what to say. So it really kind of evens out. And half the time I take the conservative side of it. So that doesn't bother me so much.
But yes, it's a shame that there aren't more conservatives around to do this kind of show, but there just aren't. So we try our best.
KING: The car.
MAHER: The car. Yes, it's a terrific car. I saw "60 Minutes" -- you know, I always get in trouble for saying things before most people do.
KING: Yes, you do.
MAHER: And then everyone comes around and sort of says the same thing. And you know, in other societies I think that would be sort of a good thing to say things early. But I get beaten like a rented mule.
Anyway, I saw on "60 Minutes" Sunday they had the exact thing I've been talking about for six months, and they had my car. Lesley Stahl drove that car. And she said, well, it's no race car. Well, you know, it has got a lot of pep, it's got a lot of zip. What people don't understand is you don't have to plug it in. You don't have to recharge it. You don't have to do anything.
KING: What does it run on?
MAHER: It's a hybrid. It has a gas engine, but that's really only to make sure that the electric part kicks in. I mean, I'm not a mechanic, I don't know what the hell...
KING: So what do you do when you start it?
MAHER: It's just like -- forget that it's not a regular car, because, trust me, Larry, I'm the last guy in the world...
KING: Do you have to charge it?
MAHER: No. I just told you, you don't have to charge, you don't -- nobody believes me!
KING: You don't put fuel -- when you say hybrid, you don't put fuel?
MAHER: Well, of course you put fuel in.
KING: What fuel do you put in?
MAHER: Very rarely do you. I've gone like over 1,000 miles, I filled it three times. And it only takes 10 gallons. I mean, it gets over 50 miles to the gallon. It's like a good European car. It's not a huge, big car. KING: Why do they call it hybrid?
MAHER: Because it's half electric and half gas. Yeah. So it's sort of the best of both worlds.
KING: And it's a nice ride?
MAHER: It's a great ride. I mean, it's not one of these gluttonous cars that people drive. That yes, I've heard people say, well, I would get one, but you know, it's not going to be as safe if I have an accident. You know what? You're right. But if that's how little you are willing to sacrifice, then we haven't changed at all. Then all this rhetoric and nonsense, this pity pageant we had about 9/11 meant nothing.
We wallow in what happened, instead of focusing on what we can do. And when someone presents an idea of what we can do, oh, I'm sorry, that's too much of a sacrifice. It's not as luxurious and it's not as safe as my other car. Well, it's not, but the world isn't as safe either.
KING: Brooklyn, New York, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Bill, it's a pleasure speaking to you.
MAHER: Pleasure being spoken to.
CALLER: I'd like to ask you a question. What is your opinion on Giuliani being knighted this week?
KING: Yeah. What do you make of that?
MAHER: I'm surprised they haven't made him pope yet. Well, I mean, Giuliani did a great job. I was touting him for the job that Tom Ridge has. I think he'd be great in that job, because I don't think Tom Ridge is great in that job. I think Giuliani needs to get back in the game when we need him. I think he's great.
Having said that, we talked about it last time, I didn't think he should have been man of the year, because that was kind of -- you know, that was pussyfooting around the issue. The man of the year is not the one we like the most, it's the one who affected things the most, and that certainly wasn't Mr. Giuliani. But he did a great job at what he did.
And you know, I think people in the media always go overboard. There are a flock of geese, they find one story, and they all have to go to it and pound it into the ground. OK, we know, he did a great job. He's not mayor of the world. You know. Oh, is he going to have a fight with the pope of Greenwich Village now? I mean, just leave it alone.
KING: OK. Let's move to some social area. You tell "TV Guide": "The feminine view is that sensitivity is a great virtue. And it is a great virtue, but in my view it's not a greater virtue than truth."
MAHER: That's right.
KING: What were you getting at?
MAHER: Well, I was talking about the fact that I think we live in a feminized culture. This has certainly been going on before the attack.
KING: As opposed to a male-lized culture?
MAHER: Well, yes, I mean, the pendulum has swung too far the other way. It's true.
KING: Was it wrong when it was the other way?
MAHER: Probably it was, yes. But a feminized culture is one where, as I said, sensitivity is esteemed greater than truth. I don't think that's a good thing. It's one where compassion is more important than common sense. Compassion is important, not more important than sense. It's one where children are elevated beyond...
KING: One of your least favorite topics. Children are elevated beyond.
MAHER: Beyond just normal people. What happened to people, as opposed to everything for the children? It elevates family above the individual. I mean, I can't imagine Humphrey Bogart acting like he did in this day and age. He just wouldn't fit in.
KING: We'll be right back with some more moments with Bill Maher. Tomorrow night, Don Rickles. I'm Larry King. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW")
JON STEWART, HOST: The event was the 23rd anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution, and the day was filled with much chanting and anti-American rhetoric.
But perhaps the biggest insult was this banner, declaring that America is extremely nothy (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
WILL FERRELL, ACTOR, "PRESIDENT BUSH": That will be Rumsfeld. Hello?
HAMMOND, "AL GORE": Well, hello, Mr. President.
FERRELL: Oh, hi, Al. How are you? HAMMOND: Wonderful. I finally got through.
HAMMOND, "DONALD RUMSFELD": Who is it?
HAMMOND, "RUMSFELD": Get off the phone.
HAMMOND, "GORE": May I ask to whom I'm speaking?
HAMMOND, "RUMSFELD": Donald Rumsfeld. Get off the phone.
HAMMOND, "GORE": Okay, bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Have fun with this group.
You also tell in "Sex and the Single Guy", as we refer to it, you tell "TV Guide" concerning "Playboy", I get that all the time about being a Playboy mansion regular, that I go out with bimbos. I couldn't go out with bimboes if I wanted to. I scare them off. The women who like me are smart. So I go to the mansion maybe four or five times a year, but people think I go there all the time. Why do they think you go there all the time if you only go there about four or five times a year?
MAHER: Because I'm single and middle-aged, which of course is against the law in America. It means you're evil and wrong and commitmentphobic.
MAHER: Yes, which makes it a disease. You see, Larry, I'm not just different. I have a disease.
KING: Wait a minute. There are a lot of single guys.
MAHER: Not at 46.
KING: No? There aren't a lot of single...
MAHER: Are there? You think there's a lot of people -- men 46 years old who have never been married, who aren't three feet off the floor? I mean, you know, that's what they...
KING: What do you like about the mansion?
MAHER: The food. It's out of this world. Those little hot dogs.
KING: Are you like one of those regulars, a Sunday night movie... MAHER: I have never been there for -- that's a regular, the people who go there on Sunday nights to watch the movies. And I go to -- there's a few big parties a year.
KING: New Year's Eve.
MAHER: New Year's Eve is a great -- it's a very safe environment. Once you're up there, you know, you know no one's going to break in and take pictures and do stupid stuff. But I certainly have never seen anything untoward up there. If they're having huge orgies, they're not inviting me. And it's just a fun place where a lot of people I know go. It's an older crowd among the men anyway.
KING: Is it?
MAHER: Yes. It's the one place I can go and feel young. Oh, yes, it's a lot of older men and then younger women. But the type of women -- I've never met girls up there that anything ever happened with either then or in the future. Those kind of girls don't like me. People think that you're a celebrity, that all celebrity is equal. That's ridiculous. If they want to go after some kind of a celebrity, they'll go after somebody younger, a rock star, something like that. I'm just not what they want.
KING: Are you a confirmed...
MAHER: Nor do I want them.
KING: Are you a confirmed bachelor? I mean, does it look that way at 46, that it's going to be never?
MAHER: You make it sound like I'm terminal.
KING: Well, we all are. Indications are that...
MAHER: I would never say never, Larry, because I think every decade you change. I think every decade you grow and, you know, I'm not going to know when I'm going to do it.
KING: Is there anything about marriage that you at times say I wish I had that?
MAHER: Not much, because I do have a wonderful set of friends. I do have a great support system. It is not like when something hits the fan, I'm all alone, you know?
KING: You're not lonely?
MAHER: I'm not lonely. I'm very busy. I got my two dogs. And also, you know, I don't like to talk to people when I get up in the morning which you have to do when you're married. I don't like to talk to people when I get home at night, when I get home from work. I hate that every day, how are you? You know, how was your day? Same as yesterday. You know, it's just a day. When I'm with someone, I like it to be special. And I think it is hard to do that within the context of marriage.
KING: And of course, children, you are not interested in.
MAHER: Children, I am not interested in. I am never interesting in imparting basic knowledge to a small child. I'm so over all of that. You know, the ocean is blue, fire engines are red. I've learned that. I'm done. I find no interest in imparting that to a, you know...
KING: So you don't think if you happened to meet with someone who flips you and she happens to be with child, your child, and you happened to have a child...
MAHER: With child?
KING: ... that you might not go flippo? You know, you get well with this attitude, but you might not say, wait a minute.
MAHER: Right. Let's be clear this is hypothetical. There's nobody there with child.
KING: That you're going to enjoy. Not with -- you know, but you meet someone and you...
MAHER: You know, Larry, my whole orientation is adult. I do a show for adults. I like adult pleasures. I was never happy myself as a child. I'm not that fond of children now. I think they're pampered to in our society. Can't there be something left...
KING: You like adult conversation? You don't like hey, Barney, come here?
MAHER: Can't we have something left for the adults? Some proponent, some champion, some tribune of the grown-up people in America? Let me be that.
KING: Would you call yourself optimistic? I never asked you that.
MAHER: I think I'm optimistic. I certainly should be because I've had a really fortunate life. And I think despite what I see as great problems in this country, and as I've said before, I think it is a patriotic thing to do to point them out, not to run away from them and just wave the flag, you know, I do think it's a great country and I think it's certainly the place we want to work hardest on to improve. So I think there's reason for optimism. There is also a reason for fear. If we're not vigilant, I mean, things could get a lot worse. And I would like to do my part to wake people up to that fact.
KING: So, you are sort of Mark Twain. I mean, you really -- a great mind. You take a serious view of things and you're funny.
MAHER: Well, thank you. That's a great compliment. I appreciate it. I don't know if I'm as great as Mark Twain. I don't think many people ever could be. But if there's a place in this world for someone who can make a point and make it with humor, but keep a point of view, that's the place I would like to have.
KING: You always got a place here, man.
MAHER: Appreciate it, Larry.
KING: Bill Maher, celebrating next Friday his fifth anniversary on ABC and let's hope that's a long time -- that's a marriage for a long time for Bill Maher and put him on in Washington. Geez. We'll tell you about tomorrow night after this. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night, LARRY KING WEEKEND returns with Scooter Libby, who is Dick Cheney's chief of staff, also a pretty good novelist; Mike Medavoy (ph) has had a lot of successful films, I think over 30 Oscars; and Don Rickles. What can we say? Mr. Warmth will be aboard.
Speaking of warmth, we turn now to New York and "NEWSNIGHT" and our Mr. Warmth, Aaron Brown. Aaron, be warm.
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