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Interview with Bill Maher

Aired August 28, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight he's back, Bill Maher is back. America's most controvertial comic, outspoken as ever. We'll get his take on Arnold Schwarzenegger, the California Recall, how President Bush is doing and all of the news of the day. And we'll take your calls. Bill Maher here for the hour, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We just repeated an hour we did with him last Sunday. It did so well and people like hearing from him -- they either love him or hate, you sure watch him.

BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: They don't hate me Larry.

KING: Disagree, then. Bill Maher, it's the kids hate him. Bill Maher is our special guest. He's the host of this weeks...

MAHER: Actually kids like me. I don't like them. There's a big difference.

KING: I know they like you.

MAHER: They do.

KING: He's the host...

MAHER: They like honesty.

KING: ...let me finish. He's the host of "Realtime With Bill Maher." This week comedian Dennis Miller and Bay Buchanan will be on the panel. Senators and others, people running for California governor will be on the show. His book -- Joe Biden's on. His book, "When You Ride Alone You Ride With bin Laden", there you see it's cover -- was a big seller -- is now out in trade paperback, and the tape "When You Ride Alone You Ride With bin Laden" is also available.

MAHER: Why couldn't Fox News have attacked that?

KING: On New Millenium Audio.

MAHER: I'd have made a million dollars more.

KING: On that note, let me start with a bit of an interesting note. One week from Sunday, September 7, Al Franken's book will be No. 1 in the "New York Times" "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair And Balanced Look At The Right." No. 1 and that's not in bulk sales, nobody buying 20,000 copies at a shot. What do you make of that? No. 1. MAHER: Fox News will say, September 7, a day that will live in infamy.

KING: What do you make of it?

MAHER: Not that Al's books don't sell anyway. But I'm sure it would not have happened without Fox News making such fools of themselves. I have no idea why they did that. I mean, I don't agree with a lot of what they say, but they usually are media savvy. That particular quality seems to have abandoned them in this instance doesn't it. It's like when they made "Last Temptation of Christ" a big movie for Martin Scorcese when it wouldn't have been otherwise.

KING: Why is that? Well you draw attention when you...

MAHER: People can't help themselves from protesting.

KING: What's your read on the recall? I know you are apposed to the recall. What's your read on how it's going? This whole campaign?

MAHER: First of all, I've been saying that no one should be allowed to vote in the recall unless they voted in the original election. It is a recall. You can't bring your Ford Esplanade back to the dealer because it exploded unless you bought one in the first place. So I don't think people should get to vote unless they voted the first time.

KING: Still, you're governor you have the right to say you don't want him?

MAHER: Yes, but if you didn't vote the first time, no, you don't have that right.

KING: OK Bill, all right. So you have to have voted.

MAHER: That's not going to happen. The other thing I don't think people realize about that is that the number of people who you need to recall the governor gets less and less each time they do this. Because eight million people voted in the actual election we had. And a percentage of that needed to be on a petition to recall him. Which was something like 900,000.

They predicted for the recall election only two million people will vote. So the percentage of two million who now have to sign a petition is only 250,000. You can get 250,000 people to sign a petition to legalize crack. So the idea that this is over?

KING: They're going to recall the new governor?

MAHER: I would bet on it. I would.

KING: Start a movement to recall whoever's elected?

MAHER: I mean, this state is just insane with how our government is run. No other state runs a government like this. I don't think the people realize what goes on in Sacramento. The fact that, for example, 44 percent of this budget, and the budget is the problem, is from voter approved initiatives.

In other words, the people of California wanted more power for themselves. They wanted to write the laws all by themselves. And now they don't like what they have. Because they realize that, you know what government really doesn't work well this way. Except they don't really realize it. They're voting for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

KING: Was Davis a victim?

MAHER: Well, you know, he's such an unappealing politician in so many ways, it's hard to think of him as a victim, but yes. As I said many times, I think he deserves to finish his term.

KING: Assuming the recall is not defeated, who do you think will be the next governor of this state?

MAHER: I think it will be Cruz Busta-move-a (ph).

KING: Busta-move-a?

MAHER: That's what I call him. I want him to do a little disco dance. I want to do the name Cruz Busta-move-a...

KING: Why do you think Busta-move-a will win?

MAHER: He was popular in commercials with his mule where he was selling coffee. No, that's not him. Because Frank Luntz told me that. And he's the best pollster in America.

KING: Does Luntz say that?

MAHER: I think in this Schwarzenegger situation, actually the people were underestimated, as they often are. As I say many times, the media is stupider than the people, and that's not easy. But they thought that if Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped in the race, he was a shoe in. And what we find out Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a shoe in.

Just because you get used to something, doesn't mean that it's not still absurd. It's still absurd that Arnold Schwarzenegger is running for governor, we've just gotten used to it.

KING: Okay, what do you make of this fuss over an interview he did many, many years ago with a magazine no longer published we in which he discussed group sex, penis size, and things. Here's what he said this afternoon.

"I have no idea what they're talking about, I don't know what they're talking about, on top of that I'm here to push my economic agenda. I'm here to listen to the people. I'm hear to have a rally in Fresno. That's what I'm doing. I'm not paying attention to all of those things. I have no memory of any of the articles I did 20 or 30 years ago."

MAHER: Well, I don't doubt that. I mean, do you remember what you did 30 years ago? Would you like to have an interview you did 30 years ago thrown in your face? KING: No, but I might remember if it dealt with group sex. I might remember that.

MAHER: What about that glue sniffing problem you had, Larry?

KING: Do you think this should be an issue?

MAHER: Of course not. But this goes back to the thing I hate the most about the media. Which is their annoying habit of distancing themselves from what they are doing. I heard Paula Zahn just before I came on here -- I was in make-up -- and she said, what is being talked about today is the Arnold -- what do you mean? Don't put it in the past tense, you're talking about it. Don't say it like, I don't know how it got to be an issue. It got to be an issue because it's what you're reporting.

KING: It's a circle. How do we deal with that?

MAHER: Report on something else. It is not only your right but your duty. The media used to report on different things. They've changed. The "New York Times" a couple of weeks ago on the day arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Warren Buffett as his advisor, and they wrote, on a day when Mr. Schwarzenegger did not even make an appearance, he dominated the news.

I'm like, wait a second, once again he dominated the news because you are writing it. It wasn't some sort of no-brainer, like when planes hit a building. That we all know has to go on page one but Arnold Schwarzenegger, appointing Warren Buffett? Who cares? Why is that such a story that it dominated the news?

KING: Because we say it's a story.

MAHER: Exactly. So this is not a story.

KING: Is California a laughingstock?

MAHER: Well, yes. But it always was, wasn't it? But I mean, I don't think this is the worst thing that is going to come out about Arnold Schwarzenegger. I mean, after all, we've been hearing a lot of rumors for a lot of years. We're talking about an egomaniac movie star who spent much of the last 20 years on location, away from his wife who was a Kennedy wife. If that is not a perfect storm for marital infidelty, I don't know what is.

KING: So do you think any of that will matter? Should it matter?

MAHER: It shouldn't matter. But it will.

KING: You defended Clinton throughout his presidency over charges like that.

MAHER: Right.

KING: Saying that it was irrelevant. MAHER: It is irrelevant. Especially what somebody did 20, 25 years ago. I mean, there are so many other, better reasons not to vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor. I would imagine the people who are going to vote for him -- it wouldn't matter if he had sex with a horse. I mean, they're not voting for a politician, they're voting for a movie star. And that's what they're going to get.

KING: What to you make of your friend Arianna Huffington running?

MAHER: Well, you know, I'm a big fan of hers and I think she has the right platform, because it's mine.

KING: You're going to vote for her?

MAHER: I am.

KING: You are going to vote against the recall and for her.

Our guest is Bill Maher, "Realtime" returns again. It's on every week, Friday nights on HBO at 11:00 Eastern. It's a terrific view. We'll be right back, don't go away.


MAHER: Arnold Schwarzenegger has a whole bunch of catch phrases, "Hasta la vista, baby", "Pump Up Sacramento", he's the Terminator -- you need some catch phrases. I wrote -- let me read a few. Tell me if any of these would appeal to you "I know how a bill becomes a law."

GOV. GRAY DAVIS, (D) CALIFORNIA: I give that about a 4.

MAHER: "Who really knows the long terms effect of steroid abuse".

DAVIS: That's good.

MAHER: "I could have told you about the deficit, but I didn't want you to worry."




MAHER: I know you're a governor and a politician, so you can't really show emotion. And I know that, you know, if, look, if anyone I think has that covered, we don't expect you to fly off the handle and do something exciting. But doesn't -- come on.

DAVIS: Is there a question? I'm waiting for the question.

MAHER: Very good.


KING: The governor's best line of the night.

MAHER: Right. One more catch phrase he could have used that I think really would have been good, which is, someone has to raise taxes, why not the guy you already hate? Wouldn't that work?

KING: All right, Bill Maher is with us. His book, "When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden" is now out in trade paperback. He's the host of "Real Time With Bill Maher" on HBO Friday nights at 11:00.

Let's turn to Iraq. More American troops have now died since May 1, when Bush declared the major combat over, than the 138 that were killed during the war. What's your read?

MAHER: Not surprising. I mean, my read is, I'm just so surprised that this administration, which is in many ways efficient, Republican administrations often are efficient, sometimes not for good but for evil. But how they could not have just foreseen what was going to happen. Did they think that once the fighting was over, they were really going to just have a situation where the Iraqis were blowing kisses?

KING: Well, they thought they got rid of a very evil guy, who was terrible to his people...

MAHER: They did. Yes, but...

KING: Like Hitler and Tojo (ph). We didn't have Germans killing us.

MAHER: But it's more complicated than that. And you know, I've said many times Americans have a hard time keeping two opposing thoughts in their mind at the same time. Like during the run-up for war. If you were against the war in this country, they said you were pro-Saddam. Well, no. Sorry, people who can't mentally chew gum and walk at the same time. Being against the war didn't mean we were pro- Saddam. So we can't do that, but they can. They can keep two opposing thoughts in their mind at the same time. We hated Saddam, and now we hate you.

KING: Why do you hate me if I took Saddam away from you?

MAHER: Because now we're the boss. Now we're the guy. I mean, you see it on the news. Last night I saw on the news, a patrol, it was -- they were looking for somebody, and they went into somebody's house and they brought out a guy and they put him on the ground and the Marine put his boot on the guy's back. That doesn't look good. I understand we have to do it, but this is the situation we've put ourselves in.

KING: So what should we do?

MAHER: Well, I mean, first of all, we can't leave. We can't be quitters, because we've done that enough. We started Afghanistan, and didn't finish that. We have to finish this. But the president should at least be honest about what it's going to cost. And it's always one of those situations, it's like when you're building a house, or doing construction and the estimate keeps going up.

KING: By the way.

MAHER: Just like clockwork, you know, it's like we're putting in a bathroom there. Just tell us what the final bottom line. Because it just keeps going up. It's like, well, it's going to cost $10 billion, oh, $20 billion the next month, $40 billion, $50 billion. It's, you know, it's a money pit. And it shouldn't be.

KING: But the public continues to generally support the president, and he continues to -- he's over 50 percent. He's gone down a little.

MAHER: But he keeps changing the story. You know, first we went in there because we had to, because Saddam Hussein was about to fire missiles at us -- that he didn't have. And then when nobody bought that, it was much more about, well, he's an evil tyrant, he's torturing his people, how can we let this go on.

Now I notice, it's funny on the Friday show we did with Woolsey, the ex-CIA director, I said to him, you know, is there anything to this theory that we purposely went into Iraq so that Iraq would be kind of flypaper for terrorists, it would attract them, because that's what's happening now? And he said, I don't think we're that clever.

Well, sure enough, right on cue this week, President Bush said we went into Iraq so that we would fight the terrorists over there, with our army, so that we wouldn't have to fight them in Los Angeles, New York and St. Louis. Which is a dumb theory to begin with, as if there's some sort of terrorist headquarters and they're going, you know, we'd like to put some people into St. Louis but they're all in Iraq. We just have so many people, and you know, it's...

KING: It's been a slow month.

MAHER: It's a gold rush, we have to close the St. Louis office because they're all going to Iraq. You can't get a reservation in a cave over there.

KING: What do you make -- there's a baby George Bush in Baghdad. An Iraqi couple have named their newborn son after the president, the name is George Bush Abdul Khadaf Fares Abed Al-Hussein (ph).

MAHER: Right. Because that kid couldn't string a coherent sentence together either, so they named him after George Bush.

KING: Is he defeatable?

MAHER: He's very defeatable.

KING: You think so?

MAHER: The kid? No, you know, I would have said no. And I think I have said no on your show before. But I think things are changing. And I think not only the war, but I think people are catching on to the fact that this is a bipolar presidency. He says one thing and does the exact opposite thing. You know, he says we have a clean, clear skies initiative. And my clear skies initiative is to wipe out the 25-year laws we had about the clean air. I mean, this happened this week. He said all these old power plants, they don't have to come up to form like we've always expected them to. He just throws that out the window. His healthy forests initiative is to cut down all the trees so we don't have forest fires, because there's no trees to start the fires. I mean, he really is a master at saying one thing and doing the exact opposite.

KING: This media that you don't like, do they scrutinize him well?

MAHER: They don't. But I think some of this is so blatant that it's going to catch on with people. I think people are going to catch on that their tax rebate that they got, that they're all so happy about, they got a $400 check, is really a pretty chintzy bribe for what he's buying with it. Because I think it was also in the paper this week that the deficit is now $500 billion. Again, this -- about a month ago, it was $250 billion. So there's another thing that goes up and up like rebuilding a bathroom.

And I think that people will realize that, you know, that's actually going to cost me money. Because when you cut taxes on the federal level, it just gets passed on. He's just shifting the burden. Here's a guy who gets up there and says, I became president to solve problems, not to pass them on to other generations, and other leaders. But really what he's doing is what Reagan did, he's taking all the money he can and using it in every which way to get himself elected. He's buying us a brand new, big Medicare entitlement program for the people who do the most voting, the old people, with absolutely no means to pay for it. Huge tax cuts. A war that is not even in the budget. Spend all the money now, let the next guy clean it up.

The next guy after Reagan was his father. And that's what got his father thrown out of office. And the next guy after Bush is going to be in that position again.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of Bill Maher, and in a little while we'll go to your phone calls. Don't go away.


MAHER: The Bushes gave an interview, it comes out this week, with the "Ladies Home Journal," where they said their marriage is stronger than ever since they moved into the White House. Because they don't argue about little things, because like he used to leave the towels lying around; now there's someone to pick them up.

And that's the great thing about being president. You have someone to make up your room, and your foreign intelligence.



DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: How many folks remember Bill Clinton? He's in California, helping the Governor Gray Davis campaign. You know? And because nothing makes more sense than a recalled governor getting advice from an impeached president, I think you can't go wrong there either.


KING: Congratulations, Mr. Letterman, 10 years.




KING: This week. Bill Maher is our guest, the host of "Real Time With Bill Maher," the author of best selling book now in paperback, "When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden."

Alabama has taken out the Ten Commandments, the two and a half ton Ten Commandments from the courthouse. What do you think of that story?

MAHER: It's embarrassing for America that we even had that story. And I read today in the paper, 77 percent of people think that the Ten Commandment should have stayed. That's not 77 percent in Alabama. That's the whole country. I think the country, not just California, is in danger of becoming a laughing stock in a lot of the civilized world. Because we are going backwards religiously with our silly...

KING: Do you have an argument with the Ten Commandments?

MAHER: I don't have an argument, but certainly it doesn't belong in front of a courthouse. I mean, I made the point on our show Friday night that I think only two of the commandments have anything to do with the law. Thou shalt not kill. I'm good with that one.

KING: Good one?

MAHER: Yes, that's a good one. Thou shalt not steal.

KING: Good one.

MAHER: Also. But the only other commandment that even comes close to a law is, thou shalt not bear false witness. Don't lie. Well, that's true in court. Other than that, the rest of it has nothing to do with the law. Honor thy mother and thy father. A nice idea, I wouldn't argue with it, but it's not the law. Keep the sabbath holy? Not a law. You know, no other gods before me? So it's embarrassing. But what do you expect when you have a president of the United States, who, if you ask him, and he's commented on this, what he thinks about evolution versus creationism. And he will say, jury's out.

KING: He's a born-again Christian.

MAHER: Jury's out on that, needs more study. Like global warming. You know, we just don't know. Maybe God created the world in six days. It's 2003.

KING: What do you make of Mr. Ashcroft touring to promote the Patriot Act, which is getting a lot of criticism left and right? Some strong conservatives are against it.

MAHER: Yes, absolutely. Bob Barr, we had him on last week, and he's one of the chief voices in this country against it. Against it. I understand that. I mean, a lot of it is some pretty creepy stuff. And Ashcroft is in many ways a creepy, scary guy.

KING: But Ashcroft said on this program, what do you do with danger? Hey, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus.

MAHER: Right. And I'm not sure about everything Ashcroft is doing, but I would bet that the reason why we have not had another attack in this country since 9/11 has more to do with Ashcroft than anybody else. Because of all the things we could have done, like getting the civilians involved. That's what my book was about. We didn't do that. Putting the money we really need to put out there to shore up ports, nuclear facilities, first responders. Didn't do that. Somehow we have all this money for everything else, but we didn't have...

KING: So you say he's the reason we haven't had an attack?

MAHER: Right.

KING: That's a praise?

MAHER: Another thing we could have done, knocked bureaucratic heads together. You know, the FBI, the CIA. We couldn't even get the FBI and the CIA to join up inside the Homeland Security Department. What does that tell you? So all those things we could have done. We didn't do any of them.

The only place I think where it's really being fought is with Ashcroft. And Ashcroft goes around saying, you know what, I'll be as politically correct as you want, I'll give you all the lip service, we can all pretend that it could be anyone who's the terrorist. But really, what am I going to do? I'm going to check every Muslim guy in this country. I'm going to knock on every door of every Muslim man I can find. And I'm going to keep them under my watchful eye. And you can all talk about me as much as you want, that's what I'm doing. And you know what? I think that's actually what has kept us out of trouble.

KING: Bill Maher actually has his own Web site, And he also says in an article in out today, that DVDs are for losers. What's your argument with DVDs? MAHER: Well, my argument with DVDs, you'll probably appreciate this, because we probably are both the type who want to go see a mature movie, as opposed to what they show, especially during the summer. I mean, this stuck in my craw, because it's been so many weeks since I've wanted to go see a movie. You've had that experience when you pick up the -- let's go see a movie, and you look in the paper...

KING: Well, we had "Seabiscuit."

MAHER: Larry, I'm a PETA board member. I don't go to see movies where they put a bit in a horse's mouth and get on his back. Anyone who gets on a horse's back deserves to be thrown off.

KING: So if he were a trotter, you'd have gone?

MAHER: Horses were not meant to serve as gambling icons.

KING: Anyway, back to DVDs.

MAHER: I know, you love "Seabiscuit." Off my list.

But it's been weeks and weeks and weeks since there's been a movie that I would want to go see. I mean, it's all "Tomb Raider 2," and "Bad Boys 3," "Terminator." So I read this article which said the reason why movies are in the state they're in is because movie studios now make 60 percent of their entire profit from DVD sales. And what sells on DVD? It's not quiet chick films. Trust me. It's the action, shoot them up, car explosion movies.

And who buys those? It's that young, dumb, "Maxim" reading male demographic. So they control the entire entertainment medium, as always. And you know, I was saying, a good movie for a middle-aged person, it's like good sex. You don't have to put one out every night, but when the whole season goes by, you do get a little horny for entertainment.

KING: We'll take a break now and we'll go to phone calls. We always have a problem drawing him out, but we keep inviting him back. Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time With Bill Maher," Friday nights on HBO at 11:00 Eastern. It's repeated frequently during the week. We'll be back with your calls after this.


JAY LENO, HOST: The heat is back. What was it, 92 or something in the Valley today. In fact, it was so hot, Kobe Bryant bought his wife a $4 million air conditioner. That's how hot it was. And this is nothing compared to the Middle East. Do you know what the temperature was today in Iraq? One hundred twenty-two degrees. Unbelievable. It was so hot, Saddam Hussein offered to turn himself in for a Klondike bar. That's how hot...



MAHER: Hey, a new survey says that Oslo, Norway is the world's most expensive travel destination. Except, of course, for Kobe Bryant where it's still Eagle County, Colorado. That's very expensive.


KING: Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time With Bill Maher" on HBO, the bestseller book "When You Ride Alone You Ride With bin Laden" is out now in trade paperback.

His guests on this week with "Real Time," he's got a full panel of conservatives tomorrow night. Larry Miller, Bay Buchanan and Dennis Miller.

MAHER: Right.

KING: You don't that often.

MAHER: I think that's the first time we've ever had an all- conservative panel, which is great because I can let my freak flag fly.

KING: Idyllwild, California, as we go to calls for Bill Maher, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Mr. King?


CALLER: Mr. Maher, a question, please. What are your thoughts or feelings about -- about Roger Moore?

MAHER: I thought he was the best James Bond.

CALLER: No, I'm sorry I got nervous. Michael Moore, I beg your pardon.

MAHER: Well, I don't think he'd be a very good James Bond at all.

KING: What do you think of Michael Moore and what he...

MAHER: He's much too fat to be a spy.

KING: What do you think of him?

MAHER: I think people would...

KING: Do you like him as a gadfly and... MAHER: Well, I do. I think we need more Michael Moores. I don't agree with everything he's ever said or done. I mean, he is left. He is way far left. And that's OK. But boy, a guy -- I've said this before -- not afraid to get booed. The people who are -- and he was at the Oscars. You saw that.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: The number of people who have that kind of courage who are not afraid to be booed. Ann Coulter -- people always ask me why is she you friend? And I always say, not afraid to be booed. Chris Rock. Not afraid to be booed. I get booed myself sometimes. You said at the top of the show, people hate me. But that means you're at least keeping it real.

KING: Queens, New York, for Bill Maher, hello.

CALLER: Yes, first I'd like to tell you it's a pleasure to speak with you and I love your show.

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is, on the upcoming presidential election, do you believe or hope that people will wake up to what we -- you know, the president we have now, and hopefully we will get possibly a Democrat in office, sir?

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: What is your opinion of the next election? What is your -- what is your insight? Let me ask you that.

KING: All right. Is there a frontrunner? Let's put it this way. Is there a Democrat you're saying -- is Howard Dean the man?

MAHER: That's why people hate me, because you're mean to them.

KING: I'm not mean to them, I want to get to the point.

MAHER: I know. I know. I'm kidding.

KING: I've got a show to run, Bill.

MAHER: Imagine if you said that to your wife. OK. What was the question? You're right. I...

KING: What Democrat do you see?

MAHER: Well, you know, personally, you know, I voted for Dole in '96. I voted for -- didn't vote for, but I was for McCain in 2000, before Bush ran those disgusting ads and wiped him out of the race. I always say, all other things being equal, I go for the guy who served in the military, who went to war.

KING: Bob Kerry (sic). MAHER: Bob Kerry. All other things being equal. Sometimes things aren't equal. I voted for Bill Clinton the first time. He ran against George Bush. George Bush, obviously...

KING: War hero.

MAHER: A war hero. But in '88, Dukakis was also in the army for two years. So I thought -- otherwise I would have voted for Bush. So all other things being equal -- but, you know, I don't think -- I think Dean is really running away with the race at this point. And he's proving that there was a Democratic base out there.

He's proving that not only the Republicans can run to their base, because that's what they do better than anybody else. They serve their base. They know where the votes are. That's what George Bush learned from his father. Don't alienate the base. And now I think Mr. Dean, Dr. Dean, I think, is showing us that the Democrats can do it too.

KING: You have on also the California assemblyman, right?

MAHER: Tom McClintock the guys who says, Hey...

KING: I'm conservative.

MAHER: I'm conservative, and I'm not dropping out. Arnold should drop out. I'm going to make him a girly man.

KING: What do you make of many conservatives coming out for Arnold, who should be for McClintock, based on philosophy?

MAHER: It just shows that they're so hypocritical. They try to pretend to be about ideology and purity but really they only care about a winner. I mean, what was George Bush when he started to run in 1999? A complete Tabula Rasa. Nobody knew what he was. Half of the people who were voting for him in the primaries thought he was his father. They just smelled a winner.

And also it's hypocritical because, you know, the right wing always goes nuts whenever any sort of left wing celebrity gets press. If it's Streisand or Susan Sarandon. It just shows when a conservative celebrity gets in the race, they're positively giddy. We've got a movie star now!

KING: Hiroshima, Japan, hello.

MAHER: Wow. Hiroshima.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hello. Go ahead.

CALLER: Hello. Good morning.

KING: Hi. CALLER: This is Japan. My question on Bill Maher, which I really admire him deeply. He's really a fair and open guy. And he has a lot of European thinking.


CALLER: My question is, I'm a German living in Japan. Now after all this negative reports from U.S. about my country, now asking us to come into war, what do you think about that?

KING: She's talking about Germany being asked to come in to help in Iraq.

MAHER: A German living in Hiroshima. I'm not going to even touch that, Larry. Just because I love you. I could picture it. The switchboard lighting up.

About -- well, you know, if George Bush would learn a little humility, we would have an easier time in Iraq, I think. I noticed the other day he said -- instead of saying, You know what? We bit off a little bit more than we can chew here and maybe we were heavy-handed when we were running up to war, and now we need your help. He didn't say that. He said, I challenge some countries. And all the other countries are like, You know what? You can challenge all you want, my friend. You aren't very nice to us six months ago.

KING: Think the U.N. is going to send more people in?

MAHER: I think it's inevitable. I don't know how -- because...

KING: Have to.



MAHER: I mean, other countries, I think, will be soon sending targets -- I mean troops -- into Iraq to help us.

KING: Yokohama, Japan, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Bill?

KING: Killing in Japan tonight. Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Earlier you mentioned that the media tends to make headlines out of nothing. Do you think the viewing audience bears any responsibility for the behavior of the media?

MAHER: They do.

KING: Good question.

MAHER: Yes, but I don't think it was ever not thus. In other words, I think the media always understood that it was their option to pander to the lowest common denominator. I think William S. Paley knew that he could do that if he wanted to. You know the old thing, if you put Shakespeare on next to "Baywatch," of course people will watch "Baywatch." But in the old days, you know, those media guys they had all the money they needed. They didn't seem to think that they had to have another bonus year of $100 million.

KING: They stayed with shows longer. They...

MAHER: They -- they -- they used some discretion. It's like prosecutorial discretion. A prosecutor could prosecute almost anybody. We're all doing something wrong.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: He makes a decision based on facts.

KING: Are there no Murrows around?

MAHER: Well, there's certainly no Murrow. But what we need is more Paleys. What we need is people who say, You know what? We could make extra money going after this story. We're rich. We're doing fine. Let's keep it this way. I mean, how would they have reported Clinton's impeachment and Monica Lewinsky in 1944? They didn't even tell us that FDR's legs were in the shape they were in. And now they're telling us about a president's penis. You know, things have changed.

KING: Effingham, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Bill, Larr.


CALLER: I just wanted to ask, earlier, Bill, you talked about controversy selling books and movies. Do you think that will be the case with the Mel Gibson movie "The Passion"? Or do you think that it will just be the quality of the film that will sell that?

MAHER: No, I think that will be a...

KING: That will sell the movie?

MAHER: Well, I don't if it will -- yes, I think -- well, I think the movie is going to do well in a lot of places anyway because I think people want to go see Jesus. He's always done very well at the movies.

But I think what's interesting about that -- we may be talking about this on the show tomorrow night -- is that people like Mel Gibson, and Tom DeLay I know is one of them -- Pat Robertson is another one -- they're very pro-Israel. You know that? There's a very strong...

KING: Yes, I know.

MAHER: ...strong. But do you know why they're pro-Israel? They don't want what President Bush is trying to push for in the Middle East. They don't want a peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Because then, if you had a peace then the Palestinians, the Arabs would have part of Jerusalem.

And we can't have that, because when Jesus comes back, which he's going to any day now, it has to be the way he left it. It has to be that the Jews control Jerusalem, because when he comes back to take all the good people up to heaven, the Jews have a place in that situation. Which of course, Larry, is to die. Or to convert. So in other words, they want the Jews to retain all of Israel. Because when Jesus comes back down, the Jews have a job to do, which is to die.

KING: You lump Mel Gibson in that group?

MAHER: Oh, yes. He's even further to the right than that. He's truly in the wacko. He's in part of that group, I forget what they call them, not conservative Catholics or something, but they don't believe in Vatican II. In other words, Pope John and the reforms are no good. Do the mass in Latin. The Jews are the Christ killers.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of your calls for Bill Maher, host of "Realtime" on HBO Fridays at 11:00. The author of "When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin laden."

Tomorrow night, Jerry Lewis. Don't go away.


CONAN O'BRIEN, LATE NIGHT TALKSHOW HOST: It's been reported that one of the contestants on "Survivor: The Amazon" contracted malaria while filming the show. That's too bad. When asked to comment, the guy said, that's nothing, you should see what the girls caught from Joe Millionaire.




DAVID LETTERMAN, LATE NIGHT TALKSHOW HOST: About ten days ago we had the blackout in New York City. A week and a half. People are still -- how many of you were here for the blackout? I don't think people around the country understand how bad this was. It was so dark in Central Park, the squirrels were actually feeling for their nuts.


KING: Risque. Ottawa, Canada for Bill Maher. Hello

CALLER: Hello. Larry, I love your show, especially when you have Bill Maher on.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: Bill, my question is for you. Do you think a major network like CNN would pick up your show soon?

MAHER: CNN's a major network?

KING: Yes!

MAHER: I'm kidding, Larry. Why, am I fired?

KING: What happened to HBO? We're all part of the same family, by the way. You know you work for the same family.

MAHER: If I don't check my machine for an hour...

KING: We're all AOL Time Warner.

MAHER: That's right. But there's not exactly synergy in this company. As there is in no big company. Remember when merger mania was going on in the late '80s and they all were talking about synergy.

KING: Why didn't it work?

MAHER: Because people are petty. People have their own turf. The same reason why they couldn't get the FBI and CIA to get into the Homeland Security Department.

KING: Good point.

New York City. Hello

CALLER: Hi, how're you doing guys. Bill, I love your new show. I just wanted to say that. My question is, how do you feel about the news that just came out, that this bunch in the White House instructed the EPA to tell the first responders and people who live in New York City as I do, that the air was just fine down there, and now we're finding out it was toxic?

MAHER: Well, this is what I was saying before. I mean, you asked me, is Bush invulnerable? Not if people catch up to some of the stuff they have been pulling. And that's just a good example of it. I mean, why the opposition doesn't make more of that, why they can't get those stories...

KING: There isn't one opposition yet. They're fighting with each other first. You've got a primary system. Mount Caramel, Illinois. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. I was wondering, after the big backlash about your views after the 9/11, what would you like to say to the people that kind of gave you the cold shoulder now that you're successful again?

MAHER: Well.

KING: Do you bear ill will toward those who knocked you publicly?

MAHER: Not especially. At the time, I was angry at the media because they did not present the story accurately. But I'm sure I'm not the only one to feel that way, that they didn't have their story told the right way. But it's true, they didn't.

But I was never that mad at the network because I always knew the network was what it was, and they would make a kind of corporate decision, and a corporate decision was to pretend I didn't exist, let me twist slowly in the wind, then fire me. That's the way corporations act.

KING: That's just -- goes with the game?

MAHER: The thing I was most -- I told you this -- the things I was most angry about, was when people twisted my words to make it a criticism of the military. Which it never was.

KING: You're never a critic of the military.

MAHER: No, I think you can be a critic of the military.

KING: You're basically pro-military.

MAHER: Right. And we were talking a few weeks ago about the fact that President Bush has a flight suit doll. He doesn't, he didn't put it out but a toy company put out of him. Which I find infuriating. He was a draft dodger. The same as President Clinton.

KING: No, he was in the Air National Guard.

MAHER: That's draft dodging, excuse me. When you fight Communism in Texas, that's draft dodging. Look, when there's a war on and they're collecting every available young man, you either find a way out, or you go. Now whether you go into the champagne division of the Air National Guard, which is where he went, flying an obsolete plane to ensure he would never be sent to the war zone, and he was AWOL the last year. His commander in Alabama says he never showed up. Why is this guy such a hero with the military? I have no idea.

KING: San Diego, hello.

CALLER: Hi, good evening, Bill. Good evening, Larry.


CALLER: I have a question for Bill, more of a comment. A comment about what I'm about to say. If Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction, and I think we can look at his campaign and he promised in his campaign that there's going to be no nation building, no expansion of government, which of course is the exact opposite. Well, now I'm confused, because wouldn't he have known for sure that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction, so why would he even possibly take a chance of killing all those troops?

KING: Do you believe he knew they didn't have the weapons, sir?

CALLER: He must have known there's no way they can have those weapons. Because, if there's any way to detonate a chemical warhead over there, how many troops would have died? There's no way you take that chance MAHER: That's what I said. And I've admitted that I was...

KING: You believe that he knew that...

MAHER: No, I thought he did have weapons. Everybody thought he had weapons. Clinton thought he had weapons.

KING: And Bush and Clinton, absolutely.

MAHER: We all did. I made the prediction when we went into Baghdad, it would look like Waco. That the nutcase at the center of the compound would set off all his stuff. Well, I was wrong. I don't know why he didn't, if he had them and I guess he didn't.

But that's why I defended Bush on the 16 words and said, you cannot try to make a scandal out of this. The Democrats voted for that war. That war was based on Bush's selling us on the idea that he might have weapons...

KING: But when you say selling us, that implies that Bush knew there weren't? Selling us? What do you mean, selling us?

MAHER: Even when you...

KING: He believed isn't it

MAHER: He did believe it. I don't think he's that cynical. I really think -- look I think these guys had an itch about Iraq. Because it's the crowd that fought the bar in '91. They knew in their hearts they did not finish the job. They did the wrong thing. The old man did the wrong thing by pulling out before he finished the job. They just could not wait to get back in there and do it. And they found an excuse and that excuse was 9/11. And yes, they told us a bunch of lies to get us there. But they really did believe, I think, that this guy is a bad guy, which he was. He might have weapons. He might sell them to terrorists. I mean, it was all trumped up, we agreed. But again, the Democrats voted for it. They could have stopped it and they didn't. So now it's a little late to say Oh, he's the liar.

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


MAHER: New rule. Enough with the flash mobs. If you haven't heard, flash mobbing is the latest e-mail inspired craze where random groups of Web surfing losers arrange to all show up somewhere and do something pointless. Back in my day we had a name for that. It was called a Star Trek convention.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Well, a number of candidates now are complaining that Arnold's getting so much of the spotlight that it's drowning their message. In fact, Arianna Huffington -- she said she hasn't been this ignored since her honeymoon. So, it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that...


KING: Good line. Omaha, Nebraska, hello.


KING: Hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Mr....

KING: Maher.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: What's your question, ma'am?

CALLER: I list your views regarding -- to legalize marijuana. And I'd like to know, if legalization would happen to pass, you know, legalizing marijuana, how many more years would it take?

MAHER: You know what? That's a depressing question. Because I don't think it will ever happen in my lifetime. I mean, we've got -- in the 30 years we've been fighting this battle -- I say we. I haven't been fighting all 30, but people have been. We've made zero progress. The only way anyone apparently can take the very daredevil step of saying they should be for marijuana being legalized is if they're leaving office.

Governor Gary Johnson in Nevada (sic) was able to say it because he wasn't running again. Because it's such a third rail in politics. It's so ridiculous in this country where our priorities are about health. That marijuana should be illegal?

There were stories in the paper this week. One, you'll be interested in this, because I know your passion is hearts for the poor. Heart disease -- did you see that thing? That article? It said, heart disease. They said, it's all on you. It's not genes. It's what your putting into your body. It's all behavioral.

KING: Yes, I saw that.


Another one, they found out that it's not cell phones while driving that is causing most accidents. It's eating while driving. People can't stop stuffing their piehole long enough to make themselves safe on the road.

Another interesting story I saw a few weeks ago -- feet, Larry, are getting much bigger. KING: What?

MAHER: Twenty years ago, the average size of a woman's foot was size 7. Now it's 9. In 1900, it was 4.

KING: What does that mean?

MAHER: I means that We are so fat, that our feet are having to get bigger to support us.

KING: Maher, you're an expert in this?

MAHER: Well, that's what it said.

KING: We're fatter so the feet is spreading?

MAHER: Well, how do you explain to go from size 4 to size 9 in 100 years?

KING: I don't know. We're taller.

MAHER: It means we're evolving into a whole new species, a tub- shaped, big-footed thing that is somewhere in between life as we know it and Ruben from "American Idol."

KING: Lenny Bruce once said...

MAHER: And we're worried about marijuana as the health problem.

KING: Lenny Bruce once said marijuana will be legal because every law student I know smokes it.


KING: What happened to all these...

MAHER: Cops too.

KING: What?

MAHER: I mean, cops think it should be legal. Even conservative Republicans, when you get them behind closed doors -- because I did this once -- they think it should be legal. People in surveys think it should be legal. If everyone thinks it should be legal....

KING: Why ain't it legal?

MAHER: I'll tell you why. Because of attacks ads, Larry. Because people are stupid and they fall for attackheads.

KING: We're out of time, Maher. It's great having you. You are never dull.

Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time with Bill Maher." Watch him tomorrow night at 11:00. And his best-selling book, "When You Ride Alone You Ride With bin Laden," is now out in trade paperback. And you also can get the audiotape as well.

And I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow and the weekend. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, our annual Friday night Labor Day weekend visit with Jerry Lewis.

And over the weekend, Johnny Cash and the cast of "Everybody Loves Raymond."


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