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Interview With Bill Maher

Aired February 14, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Bill Maher. He's back, America's most controversial comic. He's always outspoken, always outrageous. He's going to take your calls on the news of the day, from the Iraqi elections to the president's second term, to the Grammys, and of course, Valentine's day, the battle of the sexes. Moore for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We've figured this out. He's with us every -- he's with us quarterly, every -- some time within the four months, he returns. Within three months, actually. So he's on four times a year. He's the comic and best-selling author, Bill Maher. His show, "Real Time With Bill Maher," one of my favorite TV programs, returns for a new season on HBO this Friday night, February 18th, at 11:00 Eastern and it's repeated frequently during the week. The opening night guests are Robin Williams, Senator Joe Biden and secretary of Health and Human Services -- former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. But other than that, who's he got?

He'll be doing a new book called "New Rules," based on that segment of his show that is hysterical. It's coming out later this year. His next appearance will be at the Grove of Anaheim, March 12th, doing his standup. We couldn't think of a more appropriate guest for Valentine's Day.

BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: Now, you should tell me why I...

KING: Look, you're single. You're heterosexual. You're...

MAHER: But that's not...

KING: You're famous for being...

MAHER: But Valentine's Day is about commitment. Why -- I am the most inappropriate guest for Valentine's Day.

KING: You'll never get married, will you?

MAHER: Actually, you're one of the most inappropriate -- no, you're actually a good one, because you've found love.

KING: I did.

MAHER: Right.

KING: You've never found love?

MAHER: Oh, yes, I have. That's my problem. I keep finding it.

KING: What is it about commitment? We never really delved into -- what is it about it that...

MAHER: I think the question is put in reverse when you say it that way. It makes it sound like there's a problem with someone who doesn't want to commit. Very often I've been referred to do as a commitment phobic, which I deeply resent, and I think thousands, millions of single people should resent it along with me, and I think they do. It implies that there is a problem. Phobic means it's a disease. I have a disease, Larry. I can't commit.

No, no, no, maybe other people have a disease, because they're co-dependent. I'm not co-dependent. It took me a long time to get over that. When I was younger, I certainly was. Up until I was into my late 30s, I was always trying to bond with someone. I've been much happier since, when I've, you know, shed myself of the need to pursue that fairy tale.

KING: If that someone you would bump into around the corner, though, would you make that commitment?

MAHER: To someone I bumped into around the corner?

KING: No, no, if you met Ms. Right?

MAHER: You know, that's implying that there is something about Ms. Right. I think that...

KING: What is the implication? What if you meet someone who flips you?

MAHER: I've met many people who've flipped me. And there is one more Ms. Right than any -- I was with someone for five years between the ages of my life of 32 and 37. That's probably the person I should have married if I was going to marry. I always get people who say, why didn't you marry her? I say, you know, that's my problem, is that I was dealt a 21 and I still asked for another card. I hit on 21, Larry. That's the summation of my love life.

KING: And, of course, never want children, never.

MAHER: Not children, no. Children -- but I do not hate children. People say I hate children.


MAHER: I hate babies.


MAHER: I don't want to be around children for a long time, but they can amuse me for a short period of time.

KING: Let's run down things since the last time you were here.


KING: The president was reinaugurated.

MAHER: What? I've been off.

KING: A new term.

MAHER: The president was.

KING: Were you surprised at Ohio? That was the difference.

MAHER: No, I'm not surprised. Well, you know, I guess I was surprised that he won. I did predict a Kerry victory, and I didn't think that that was just wishful thinking. But that's why we have elections, to straighten this out, to let us know where the country really is. Although I don't -- I'm not of the belief that the country is really as conservative as people say it is. Lots of people still didn't vote. The big story in the media -- not that that means it was true -- was turnout, passion, yeah, slightly more than in 2000. Not a hell of a lot more. Not more with the young people. That was a big story. No, they actually voted in about the same numbers as they did the previous election. And I think the figure I read was that 79 million eligible voters did not vote. That is an awful large pool for the Democrats to be able to start fishing in, and yet they still seem to want to fish in the pool that will never bite on their bait. They still want to inch closer to being Republicans.

KING: Who are these people who don't vote?

MAHER: I think they're people much like myself and other people. Single people, perhaps. People who feel left out by the conformity that is America, and they feel that the one party that is in power doesn't speak to them at all, and the other party doesn't speak to them very much either.

And I don't blame them for not voting for a candidate who never mentioned the environment. The environment is a huge issue. People are so worried about their safety, terrorism, their health. If they're so worried about that, and I think many of them understand this, then it is the environment that is the ticking time bomb, just as much as terrorism. So to have a candidate who never even raised this as an issue, who never even raised the drug war as an issue, who never mentioned the incompetence of the war being conducted in Iraq. Even though he was saying, basically, look, I would do the same thing in Iraq. The difference with me is that I'm John Kerry and foreigners would like me better. That's not enough of a reason to go out and vote for somebody.

KING: Do you think Howard Dean is a good pick to be the head of the...

MAHER: Yes, I think he's a guy who gets people excited. And Lord knows, he gets excited. I don't think that was really ever a big issue. A truly Republican-created issue, that he was suddenly a madman, that the, quote, "liberal" media picked up on.

KING: He had a moment.

MAHER: He had a moment. And even when you look at that moment -- and, of course, as soon as he became the DNC chairman, they used every opportunity to show that moment over and over again. I can't quite find in that moment evidence of certifiable insanity. Yes, he got a little excited. So what? I'm glad the Democrats have someone to energize them. They don't need someone who's just a maverick, they need a defibrillator, Larry. They have something -- I mean, they have lost every election in the last seven times, except for the two times when Clinton ran. OK? They need somebody really in there to boost them, and also to encourage them to appeal to the people who were not, as I was just saying, having their voices heard, not having their issues raised.

These are big issues. President Bush, and if we talk about Iraq, I'll give him credit for the election and even more there...

KING: That's next.

MAHER: ... but he has left under the table, in my view, three ticking time bombs. One is the environment. One is the debt. And one is homeland security. So these are the things that are going to come home to roost in the next 10, 20 years.

KING: And homeland security, what do you fear?

MAHER: I fear that we haven't done nearly enough to make ourselves safe. I don't think that has been his focus. I think it's a lot easier to fight a war in Iraq overseas. It's a lot easier to show people what you're doing with the military invasion than it is to actually play a defensive game and shore up the ports and the chemical plants and all those boring, tedious governmental developments that would actually make us safer. I think the reason why we haven't been hit since 9/11 is, perhaps, the 19 suicide volunteers they had. Maybe they didn't have a lot of other guys who were willingly to actually take it to that degree.

Remember I got in trouble for saying they weren't cowards? Well, even if you're a religious nut, it takes a lot to strap on a bomb and kill yourself. But I think the war in Iraq has served to recruit a lot more Muslims toward that end.

KING: In other words, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

MAHER: To a degree it was, yes.

KING: We'll take a break. We'll be back with more. Bill Maher returns to "Real Time With Bill Maher." It's an alternate show with the Bob Costas show, right?

MAHER: You know, I don't know if that's still true. I hope so, because I love Bob, but we had been.

KING: We'll be right back. He's got a super lineup too, for Friday. Your calls later. Don't go away.


MAHER: Stop saying that blue-state people are out of touch with the values and morals of the red states. I'm not out of touch with them; I just don't share them. In fact, and I know this is about 140 years late, but to the Southern states, I would say upon further consideration, you can go.


I know that's what you've always wanted, and we've reconsidered, so go ahead and -- and take Texas with you.




MAHER: I kid religion, but I go back to the church often. I find it very comforting. And you know this, they're modernizing some of the things. Amazing. For instance, when you go back now, I don't know if you know this but when they serve the wafer in communion, they also have a salad bar.


KING: It was funny then. It's still funny. That was his first appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.

MAHER: You showed that clip the other time I was here.

KING: I don't pick them out. I know.

MAHER: You like that suit.

KING: What wishes -- what do you have to say about Carson? So many words, I haven't heard yours.

MAHER: I stayed off when they -- they did ask, but I wanted to be private. He meant a hell of a lot to me. I mean, when I was a kid, he was a hero to me. I don't think I missed one "Tonight Show" between the ages of 12 and 22 and those first couple of years, 12, 13, 14, a lot of that was sneaking to watch Johnny Carson. I was not supposed to be up that late. A big victory in late high school is when I got a TV in my room and then I could watch Johnny Carson as much as I want. When he was on vacation, which he often was, I would count the days until he got back. I used to have a little Wallensack (ph) tape recorder. I would tape his tea-time movie sketches. If you watch my monologues today, I'm still doing his monologue style, his rhythm. Many people have pointed that out, and I'm happy to admit it.

KING: You had that down.

MAHER: He was doing Benny, and I'm doing him. To this day, I say to people all the time, sim halabim. You know what that is? Carnac. Remember Carnac? She used to come out and the first thing he would say was sim halabim. And it meant nothing and it means nothing now but it is the most valuable conversational (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Larry. You can always say to people sim halabim and they just take it to mean whatever you want it to mean. It means thank you for what you said, go away or it means...

KING: Get out of my face.

MAHER: Whatever. It's just sim halabim. You too, sir. Whatever it means. But I've heard so much since he passed away about how Johnny Carson was unhappy. I don't think he was unhappy. I think this gets back to what we were talking a minute ago about with Valentine's Day and co-dependency and neediness. Johnny wasn't needy. That doesn't mean he wasn't happy. He liked being with Johnny Carson. I don't blame him.

KING: He liked being alone a lot.

MAHER: He liked being alone a lot. That's not synonymous with unhappy. That's needy co-dependent people having to project that on to somebody else. He didn't need a lot of people around him all the time. So he was unhappy. No, he was probably happier than you.

KING: Well said. Let's run down some things. The new attorney general, Alberto Gonzales. What do you expect? Are you excited?

MAHER: I expect to cross myself and stay out of jail, if I'm lucky. I don't know. He wouldn't have been my choice. Again, I found it so sleazy that this administration, as soon as there was criticism of this man and there was a lot of justifiable criticism of this man, of course, they play the race card. What do you mean you're against the Latino attorney general, you racist pigs. Same thing with Clarence Thomas. We weren't against them because they were black or Latino, we were against them because they were either way unqualified or wrote memos advocating torture. That's a whole different thing than being against somebody for being Latino.

KING: Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state.

MAHER: Inevitable. You know, if she could just be a little more forthcoming about how entirely lame she was pre-9/11, she would win me over a lot more. The truth is, for someone whose job was national security adviser, she did not -- and there's no way they can spin it otherwise -- she did not pay attention to terrorism the way a national security adviser should have. Richard Clark was writing memos, knocking on her door, begging her, look, this is the problem of our age. Let's address it now. She didn't want to hear it. And anything she says now is just after the fact, OK? So maybe she'll be a good secretary of state, but she certainly will never go down in history as a good national security adviser because that was the issue of her time, and she just blew it off.

KING: Is Iran next?

MAHER: No, we don't have enough troops. Who's going to fight them? You're going to have to get mall cops involved.

KING: Mall cops.

MAHER: That would be crazy. Iraq, look...

KING: We have got enough mall cops to create havoc.

MAHER: And they're mad. If you ate at the food court every day, believe me, you could take down on an Ayatollah. But Iraq, we attacked because we could. That's what the historians will write eventually. They'll write, why Iraq? No weapons. They didn't attack us on 9/11. We could. We needed to do make a statement to the Arab world and I don't think it's the worst idea in the world to make that statement which was, you know what? You attack our country like you did on 9/11, I'm not only going to kick the asses of the people who did it, I'm going to kick your cousins ass too. They had nothing to do with it, that's just how ticked off we are. There's something to be said for that method of diplomacy.

But Iran, that's a different story. That's a big country. I know a lot of Iranian people. They're not Iraqis. They're not backwater people. I taught school in Switzerland in 1978.

KING: What?

MAHER: Yes. I was -- this is a good Valentine's Day story. When I was at Cornell finishing up my studies, I was in love my senior year. And my girlfriend at the time went to Switzerland over the summer. She was a linguistics major and she taught school at College De La Main (ph), where you taught foreigners, rich foreigners by the way, who came in and she taught the summer session. And I followed her there. She got me a job, and at that time, this was 1978, the kids who could afford this school were mostly from the Middle East. This was oil money. And the Saudi Arabian kids, they would come with a suitcase full of $100 bills. They would go home on the weekend and then come back literally with rolls of $100 bills. They would go shopping, they would buy shirts and suits, they would wear them once and throw them away. They were straight out of the Middle Ages. The boys would hold hands, teenage boys. We'd take them to the park. There would be a boy with another boy's head in his lap. Things that would look a little askance.

But the Iranian kids, they were not out of the Middle Ages. They were out of the 50s. They were only 20 years behind. They were tough with the leather jackets and the hair. I'm telling you, they were 20 years behind.

KING: Won't be easy?

MAHER: I'm just saying that that is an Indo-Aryan culture. That is not a kind of country you could kick over. By the way, they are ripe to join the modern world. Most of their people want to. They are truly oppressed by their mullahs and I think they'll be able to undo that on their own.

KING: Bill Maher's Friday night "Real Time with Bill Maher." His guests are Robin Williams, Senator Joe Biden, and former secretary of health and human services Tommy Thompson. He's doing a book on new rules, a collection of new rules which is hysterical and his next public appearance other than on TV will be if you're in the L.A. area at the -- the Anaheim, the globe of Anaheim. When are you in Vegas?

MAHER: I'm in Vegas March 5. I'm at the House of Blues again.

KING: The House of Blues in Vegas where you performed last year?

MAHER: Unless they told me wrong.

KING: We'll be back with more of Bill Maher, and in a little while phone calls.


JOHNNY CARSON, ENTERTAINER: Every Lincoln's birthday, I -- it reminds me of my old girlfriend back in Nebraska, Gina Statutory. Name was Gina Statutory, and she went to Lincoln High and she was voted Ms. Lincoln because every guy at school took a shot at her in the balcony.




DAVID LETTER, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": All right. Now, let's check in with our president. It's the George W. Bush Iraqi update. Take a look. Time for the Iraqi update.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And so, uh, uh, look, I -- the notion -- that somehow we're not making progress...


KING: That's funny.

MAHER: That's found gold. That's a comedy bit that literally wrote itself.

KING: North Korea, can we take them?

MAHER: No. I mean, we could, I guess. We could just nuke them. But, no.

KING: So what do we do about hostile nations that might have nuclear weapons? What do you do?

MAHER: I guess try to be nice to them. I mean, I don't know.

KING: Hey, fella.

MAHER: That's a -- that's a country that administrations of both parties have messed up over the years, haven't they? Not that probably you could do anything about it.

KING: It's a closed society. Really closed.

MAHER: Amazingly closed. And also great amounts of starvation going on there. If George Bush is so adamant that the situation in Iraq had to be rectified because it was morally intolerable, we have to spread freedom around the world and we can't stand it one more day that people are living in tyranny and torture chambers, then why doesn't he go to a place like North Korea?

I mean, if that really is the reason, seems to have become the reason in Iraq. And also Africa, you know, that situation in the Sudan is ongoing. Everybody was applauding "Hotel Rwanda." Oh, gosh, we didn't -- didn't act 10 years ago in Rwanda, when we should have, because the thing was going on. Well, there's another one going on now. Do we have to wait until -- do we have the make "The Hotel Sudan"? Can't we do it before the movie comes out?

KING: Social Security. Are you worried? You may not get any.

MAHER: That's, OK. I'll give mine to a poor person. I'm not worried, but that's just me.

KING: Should we worry?

MAHER: You know, there are so many bigger looming problems. It just amazes me this is the one. I don't understand how George Bush's mind works, that is this is the one thing. It's one of the few government programs that is solvent right now. And this is the one he's, like, Laura, get my flight suit right now, because this is going to go broke in 2042. We have to -- again, I'm much more concerned about what the environment is going to look like in 2042. I'm much more concerned about Medicare. That's the bigger entitlement program, because it's not just that we're living longer, we're living sicker.

We've talked about this before. That's what really is going to break the bank, the fact that people are sick and they're getting sicker because of the way we live. And that is the elephant in the room that they will not address. But that's the real problem.

And I must say, on the other side of the aisle, look, I don't think people probably have in their minds the actual facts about Social Security, which is every time you get a paycheck, your employer takes out 6.25 percent, and you lose 6.25 percent to Social Security. They put it in an account that gets 1.6 percent interest. There just has to be a way -- come on just on a common sense level. Your money can do better, especially over you're life time, over 50 years you can't get better than 1.6 percent interest? If my broker called me up and told me that's what my money was getting, I would fire him the next day.

Now, if he said, lets put it in some high risk stuff that gets 20 percent. But there's got to be something between 1.6 percent, which is way too safe. And also they're only suggesting that they take one- third of your contributions, so, you know, it's not the worst idea in the world.

And also the Democrats were touting this five years ago, just like the Democrats were all over the idea of spreading freedom in the world. Woodrow Wilson, make the world safe for democracy. John F. Kennedy, pay any price, bury a burden. Somehow when Bush takes over these Democratic issues, the Democrats have to remember, OK, don't work backwards from "I hate George Bush." So now we're against the things we were always for? You know, if he stole your issues, that's your fault for not backing your issues to begin with.

KING: Clinton took some Republican issues.

MAHER: Absolutely, and they hated him for that. So, the Democrats shouldn't make the same mistake.

KING: We'll take a break, come back and include your phone calls for Bill Maher. Don't go away.


JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Expatriate Iraqis living in the United States can vote on an absentee basis in five U.S. cities, Washington, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and Nashville. Apparently Nashville home to a large Kurdish community, as well as beloved Iraqi exile country band, the Islamic Brotherhood of Oak Ridge.




MAHER: Stop claiming you have an agenda. It's not an agenda, it's a random collection of laws that your corporate donors paid you to pass.


The American people were not clamoring for a cap on medical malpractice awards. If a surgeon leaves an Altoids box in my chest cavity, I want to see him in debtors' prison.


KING: Bill Maher. His show, "Real Time With Bill Maher," returns for a new season this Friday night. It airs every Friday thereafter, live, at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, and they repeat it frequently through the week. This week's guests, the opening week, are Robin Williams, Senator Joe Biden, and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. That will be an interesting panel. He'll be doing a new book called "New Rules," based on that segment of his show. It comes out later this year. He appears in Las Vegas on March 5th; in Anaheim on March 12th.

We now include your phone calls. Tucson, Arizona, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.

KING: Hi. CALLER: Hello, Bill.

MAHER: Hello.

CALLER: I'm a huge fan of both of you. I am looking forward to the new season definitely, and the new book.

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is this, I know we were still talking about Social Security, but I'm in my mid 30s, what do I have to look forward to as far as Social Security and even Medicare?

MAHER: Well, who looks forward to it? It's an insurance -- you know, it's an insurance program. And that really is the crux that I don't think people get yet, is that this has been an insurance program, and Bush is trying to turn it into a 401(k) program.

KING: In essence, that's right.

MAHER: Right. And look, at some point people are going to have to give up something. In 1936, when this was founded, there was 41 workers paying in for every one that received it, and it was paid out at the age of 65 when people lived to 60. So it was a very easy program to maintain.

Things have changed. It's astounding that you cannot sell anything in this country, be it the war in Iraq or Social Security, without lying to people. You know, you just have to lie to get -- it's like get them into -- oh, Larry, I'm so sorry.

KING: It's OK, it's only water.

MAHER: I know, but it's Valentine's Day and I've made you all wet before you went home to your wife.

KING: It doesn't bother me in the...

MAHER: You are going home to your wife, aren't you?

KING: Didn't actually -- well, it did reach me. I got a little wet on the shirt. Hey, it's OK. He'll never be back.

MAHER: That's how upset I am about Social Security.

KING: I could tell, it gets to you.

MAHER: Sorry.

KING: But we'll clean it up on the next break.

MAHER: Wouldn't it be funny if we were electrocuted now?

KING: That would be a riot.

MAHER: Highest rated Larry King ever! Bill Maher! KING: That's how they got him! They finally got him!

Orlando, Florida, hello. I think you made your point. Orlando, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello, Bill. When George Bush was governor of Texas, he told his friends that God wanted him to be president, and many of his supporters believe he was chosen by God. So is there a danger that this president could justify or condone anything he does because he believes he has God's stamp of approval?

MAHER: Where have you been the last four years? What do you think he's been doing?

KING: Is this an evangelical presidency?

MAHER: Well, I think it is. I mean, George Bush makes no secret of the fact that he is a born again.

KING: So was Jimmy Carter.

MAHER: Yeah, but Jimmy Carter wasn't a drunk before he was an evangelical. There's a real difference, I think, when a guy has the kind of story that George Bush has, which is that he was...

KING: But he's recovered, so isn't that...

MAHER: Yes, but when you think you recover through the love of Jesus Christ, then you owe him. Then you owe Jesus. He got you off the sauce, you know, and he wants payback. So you're going to have to give up something, you know? You're not going to give up a thumb, Larry. So policy I think is the next best thing. And by the way, Americans love that story. They love a comeback story, don't they?

KING: Sure.

MAHER: They really do. They love the idea that a guy who was drunk until he was 40, but then through the love of a good woman and Jesus Christ, he found his calling of his life.

KING: But why is he...

MAHER: Destroying the ecosystem of planet Earth. But go ahead.

KING: But if that's true, he believes it to be true, stopped him from drinking, saved his marriage, why is that bad?

MAHER: It's not bad. Except that he's the leader of the free world. I don't think the rest of us should have to undergo the same sort of conversion, and I don't know if it's the best guiding principle for policy. You know, I read very disturbing things about how in this country they're not even teaching evolution anymore, or they have to teach two versions of evolution. You know, the one that is agreed by every scientist in the world, and the other one that has to do with snakes and naked ladies. What century are we living in? What country is this? We have to pretend in this idea of what do they call it? Some -- I can't remember the phrase, but they have some word for -- intelligent design, which is a sneaky way of saying, OK, you know, we sort of believe in evolution, but really it's God. God's involved.

Whatever. You know, why don't you just tell me that water boils at 400 degrees? It's a nice, even number. It's just not scientifically true. Why can't we have a country that's run by science? Why can't we have just one of those parties? That's what I mean about the Democrats. Why can't we have one party that says, OK, we're going to run it by God and religion and one party that says, you know, we have another way, science and rationality. That's who we are as Democrats. But I don't see...

KING: Who would win?

MAHER: ... the Democrats doing that.

KING: Who would win, God versus science?

MAHER: I think if you made the case, if you weren't afraid to make the case, which Democrats have been, I think science would win out. I don't think that people in this country by and large are as benighted and religious as they've been made out to be. They're just the ones who go to the polls. They are the ones who are energized, they are the ones who are reported on. But the other ones, they are out there. They're just not being...

KING: But if they don't go to polls, they don't count.

MAHER: Well, they don't go to the polls because the party that should get them to the polls doesn't energize them.

KING: So it's the party's fault.

MAHER: It is.

KING: By the way, one other thing before we take the next call, Alan Keyes' 19-year-old daughter Maya came out publicly today as a lesbian. Keyes, of course, the highly moralistic conservative...

MAHER: Which is a big disappointment to me, because I've wasted three dinners on her now. I'm joking, of course.

KING: He's angry at her.

MAHER: Well, I read that he kicked her out and is not going to pay her college tuition anymore. There's the face of compassionate conservatism, Larry! There is the hate the sin, love the sinner. Oh, wait. Hate the sin, throw the sinner out of the house. Yeah.

You know, you can't have it both ways. That's what they always try to do on the right, have it both ways, hate the sin, love the sinner. That's just a B.S. way of saying... KING: But Dick Cheney handles it differently. And Dick Cheney -- well, Dick Cheney is not quite into that -- much of that Christian ethic as the others.

MAHER: Yeah, but he has a lesbian daughter, and he came out for Bush's proposal. I mean, he fell in line with the administration.

KING: No, he didn't. He said he favors states. The one time he didn't applaud in the State of the Union is when it was mentioned.

MAHER: Yeah, but he's also against the amendment against gay marriage. He doesn't think his own daughter should have the right that every other American has, to get married. So obviously we know what's more important to him.

KING: Columbia, South Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Hello, Larry.

KING: Yeah.

CALLER: Hello, Bill.

MAHER: Hello.

CALLER: Bill, I was wondering, the entire South practically used to vote Democrat.

MAHER: Right.

CALLER: And my question is, do you believe your denigrating statements about the South is -- will somehow win us over, or what is your purpose in perpetuating stereotypes about the South? Thanks.

MAHER: Well, excuse me, but I have a saying, you are what you do. OK? I'm not perpetuating stereotypes. The stereotypes are there. OK? And also, it's not my job to win them over. I'm not running for anything. I just try to say things as I see them.

And this is sort of the argument I had with Allan Simpson. You know, denigrating. No, you are what you do. If you have Civil War reenactments, excuse me, then you obviously are pining for a day when you had slavery. OK?

KING: Some people have Civil War reenactments.

MAHER: Yes, but there is a great sympathy in a lot of the South for the Stars and Bars, which was a symbol of keeping people in slavery. There is a lot that goes on in the south that I don't think is very progressive, and I don't think that's denigrating the south to call them out on that. And I think it's terrible that in this country you have to always every, politician does, has to try to attract that sort of southern -- excuse me, very often redneck way of thinking. John Kerry with his goose hunting outfit, OK? I think hunting is stupid. I think Civil War reenactments are stupid. If that's denigrating, I'm sorry. That's my opinion. KING: We'll take a break and we'll be right back to Lake Larry -- Lake.

MAHER: I've got a little (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

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


LETTERMAN: Top 10 excuses why they did not win. Although, it was a pretty close game, three point, you can't sneeze at that for heaven sakes, but people do. Top 10 Philadelphia Eagles excuses.

Number 10 spent two weeks practicing the coin toss.

Number nine discouraged by halftime's lack of nudity. See that's exactly what I was talking about.

Number eight, we were missing desperate house wives, who can think straight.

Number seven, we were overwhelmed by the all inspiring metropolis that is Jacksonville.

Number six, oh, suddenly, referees are too good to take bribes.

Number five, who really wants to get Gatorade dumped on them?

Number four, should have campaign harder in Ohio.

Number three, it's totally unfair, the Patriots are really good.

Number two, maybe being from the land of cheese steaks ain't a good thing.

And the number one Philadelphia Eagles excuses, when Tom Brady looked at us with those gorgeous eyes, we just melted.



MAHER: Brittany Spears has to perform with Justin Timberlake at next year's Super Bowl. I don't care what the FCC fines ends up costing, I'll pay it.


KING: Good stuff. Bill Maher is back Friday night on "Real Time With Bill Maher." Among others, Robin Williams.

MAHER: Let me just follow up with your question about the south. I just want to read a quote that George Bush said in his inauguration a few weeks ago. He said from the day of our founding we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights and dignity and matchless value. Do you find anything wrong with that statement.

KING: Yes, the Constitution had three-quarters...

MAHER: From the day of our founding we have proclaimed every man and woman on this earth? I mean, this is the president of the United States. This is all I'm just trying to say about certain parts of the country. I'm not saying they're bad people. I'm saying they're a little bit oblivious to people who are not like them, white. For a president to put in his inauguration speech, from the day of our founding, when plainly from the day of our founding, we were living a huge lie. He had just finished -- finished, just started on an enormous campaign of genocide of the Indians, and we were still keeping a huge segment of our population in slavery.

Hardly from the day of our founding. On the day of our founding, we made a deal with the devil to put off the slavery issue. So, like I say, if the president doesn't see that in his inauguration speech, then obviously there is a problem with people being aware of what's going on with people of color.

KING: Atlanta, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Hey, Larry, thanks for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Bill, I agree with you, George Bush has to go. In question -- yes, I live in the south. I'm sorry. But any ways, I just want to know what your opinions is on UFOS and E.T.s and do you think the government is telling us the whole truth?

KING: Do we -- are they're UFOs. Do you think that if the government has been dishonest on others things, do you think there's somewhere...

MAHER: I think it's possible, but it's not something that...

KING: You dwell on.

MAHER: I dwell on or I think is very likely. I really think it's one of those self-distracting mechanisms like a bad back. It's not really your back, it's something else. But you know, you concentrate on your back and you don't have to worry about the real problems in your life.

KING: Colorado Springs, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, Bill, thanks for having me.


CALLER: I have a question regarding lies for you, Bill. I watched our former president Bill Clinton tell a lie, get caught and subsequently go on television and I heard him apologize for it. And admit a mistake. I heard recently Dan Rather do the same thing. I have yet to hear George W. Bush apologize for the absence of truth in the WMDs.

Why do you think it is he's able to operate with such impunity?

MAHER: Because he's Bush the resolute, the one people think is going to protect them. He's sold the story and they bought it. Like I said, you can't work backwards from our disdain for George Bush. I never liked this guy either, but I have to admit, he pulled off a pretty good election victory there in Iraq, and it could work. It could work. I think that was a huge moment for the Iraqi people. I don't think as so many liberal friends of mine are finding ways to dismiss that. Oh, anybody can have an election. They really didn't vote for anything. Who cares what they were voting for. The point is, it wasn't about voting. It was about them going outside their homes. It was hands across Iraq. It was showing each other, we're real people who want a real country. And these insurgents, they're not part of us. That was a huge moment, and...

KING: People were knocking the election.

MAHER: Oh, poo pooing it. Making it seem like it wasn't a big event. And it really was a big event. Now, of course, what it proves is that freedom is so powerful that it could even work when you've screwed everything up until the day they had the election, as much as you possibly could. I think the question is, does this absolve George Bush, even if it works in Iraq. Does this absolve George Bush of all the mistakes he's made leading up to it? Does it cab absolve Abu Ghraib Prison. Does it absolve freezing on 9/11. Does it absolve ignoring the warnings leading up to 9/11, all of his other mistakes. And also, does this administration get the fact that even if Iraq works, al Qaeda, which is, let's not forget, the real enemy, has morphed and evolved now into a sort of different kind of enemy. It's more of a lifestyle than it was before. And there's no denying that fighting the war in Iraq has energized the Jihadis. Those are the people we really have to fear, and really attacking us. Even if Iraq works, I would give him credit for it, does not necessarily make us safer and that's the issue.

KING: Canton, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Thank you, gentlemen. Bill, you mentioned a couple of times the gay issues and the freedom issues, and Mr. Bush has watched -- in every speech he's made he's talking about freedom and dignity for everyone, as you mentioned. We do not want the rites of marriage, we want the rights of marriage. What threat is that putting to the government. He is putting gay issues above national security. They are discharging people from being gay that know the Arab languages in Iraq. You know, what -- when are they going to get their religion out of our halls of Congress?

MAHER: You're asking the wrong guy. I mean, I don't know.

KING: Preaching to the choir.

MAHER: Yes. I would think not soon since they just won the election and they feel they have a mandate and an obligation to repay the loyalty of their hard-core supporters who are certainly against things like gay marriage. But I noticed here on Valentine's Day, I think it's the governor of Arkansas, Huckabee who wants this covenant marriage. Have you heard about this? People who are married -- they're trying to reduce the divorce rate so he wants covenant marriage which is like we're married, but now we're super married to make it harder for people to get divorced.

KING: Super married.

MAHER: That's what I call covenant marriage, super married. This is the wrong approach, of course, once again, to get the government more involved in your personal life. I don't understand this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) dance the parties do. It seems like just in my lifetime, the Republican party was a semi-libertarian group. And it has become so obviously the reverse now. I don't know how they could get government more in our lives than they have been advocating in the last ten years.

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


LETTERMAN: President Bush, bless his heart, is trying to cut the federal budget. You know it's $2.5 trillion. $2.5 trillion! And he's trying to cut wherever he can. He's going to get rid of unnecessary White House employees, so apparently he's resigning.


KING: Wish we had more time. Chicago, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. How are you?

KING: Fine. What's the question?

CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. Bill, I enjoy your show quite a bit.

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: You seem very sensitive to a lot of the social issues facing us today. But one thing that I find somewhat disappointing is your bashing and prejudice for Arabs and Muslims. Now, there are some bad people out there that do very bad things that should be punished for, but do you think it's fair to be bashing a billion Muslims because of what some idiots, a group of idiots...

KING: Now, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as we only have about a minute. I just want to remind you Bill Maher returns to "Real Time" on Friday night.

MAHER: I never bashed all Muslim people. I understand why Muslims are sensitive now. I also understand why they need to step up and fight the battle with us that we're fighting. I've only tried to keep it real about Muslims. If you're going to go after me for saying that it's much more likely that someone at the airport who is a young Muslim man from Jersey City be the one carrying the bomb, I cop to that, yes because it is more likely. And profiling is not a dirty word more than discrimination is a dirty word. It means to tell unlike things apart. And so I keep it real about the Muslims like I try to do about everybody else. I'm sorry you're going through a hard time, but you know, we need your help more than anyone right now...

KING: You don't think they're any lesser than anyone else?

MAHER: Of course not, but I think that they allowed their religion and a lot of their culture to be hijacked by a virulent, radical strain of people who are absolutely bent on our annihilation. So I'm sorry if we can't treat them with political correctness and kid gloves anymore, but that hour is just too late.

KING: Welcome back, Bill.

MAHER: That mosque has sailed.

KING: We'll see you in a couple of months. We'll see you when the book comes out. We'll see you before that and of course "Real Time with Bill Maher" returns this Friday night. Among others, Robin Williams.

Before we go, a book we want you to check out. It's called "The Meaning of Life with Wisdom and Wonder from 65 Extraordinary People."

OK, I admit I'm one of the 65. But hey, I've been around for a while. I've had the chance to find out some important stuff. The book is really terrific. It's compiled from "Esquire" magazine's very popular "What I Learned" column. There's essays from the late Chris Reeve and Ray Charles, Oscar winner Al Pacino, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump, me and others. That's "The Meaning of Life" published by Hearse Books. It's available right now. I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, more on the evangelical movement in the United States. Remember that "TIME" cover. We're going to continue looking at that. Right now there's one continuing thing on CNN that we applaud and we've come to know and love, and that's "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown.


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