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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Bill Maher

Aired December 15, 2005 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, he's back, Bill Maher, always outspoken, always outrageous on all the news of the day, America's most controversial comic. Bill Maher is here for the hour. We'll take your phone calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Since first appearing on this program, Mr. Maher has become a veritable industry, HBO shows, he's on hiatus now. The new book is "New Rules by Bill Maher, Polite Musings from a Timid Observer," hell of a read, also a hell of a listen from Phoenix audio "New Rules Bill Maher." The man also has a DVD, "Bill Maher, I'm Swiss and Other Treasonous Statements." Welcome back, William, always good to see you.

BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: Thank you.

KING: Let's get right to it. Iraqi elections, big turnout, everything, no violence, what do you make?

MAHER: Well there's always a big turnout when they have those elections there. This is the third time we've done that and the reason for that, of course, is because that's the day they actually provide security. It does show what was possible in that country if we really had enough troops and we really secured the country as we should have from the very beginning.

KING: So, where do all these people go the day after the elections, the security people?

MAHER: Well, I guess, you know, it's like there are certain days when they call all the cops out, you know, everybody's vacation is...

KING: Parade in New York.

MAHER: Yes, stuff like that and you don't get to have your day off. But, if we had twice as many troops or whatever we needed, I don't know the figure but I know people in the Pentagon have run those figures by the president, probably we could have had maybe not peaceable like this every day but I think it does indicate something.

KING: What do you make of the president's tour, the victory tour, making speeches, media appearances, et cetera, and he's gone up in the polls?

MAHER: Yes, well because he's finally admitting that he made some mistakes. He showed a little humility, which is nice for a lot of us who didn't like him from the beginning to see and those people who have over the time he's been in office realized he wasn't the man they thought he was. It's nice to see that.

That doesn't mean it fixes anything, you know. He's just admitted what we all knew from the beginning. You know this administration is always kind of a, you know, they do the right thing after they've exhausted all the possibilities of doing the wrong thing. I saw a meeting with Senator McCain today.

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

MAHER: Torture, we're against torture as we always have been since about 8:30 this morning when we finally cut this deal. But they do that with everything. Remember the 9/11 Commission? We were against that and OK we're for the 9/11 Commission now.

So, I'm glad to see that finally a little reality is coming into his life but, you know, it's like in a relationship when people say if you're just honest. Well, no, if you're dishonest you're going to really mess up the relationship but honesty never cures anything. He's being more honest about Iraq. It's not going to fix it but it will be better.

KING: What would fix it now?

MAHER: Well, I mean if I had that answer I'd be not here. You know I said months ago on our show that I thought what we should have in Iraq and the people I'd like to see in power. I put up a picture of Allawi and Chalabi, who I called Joe Pesci and Tony Soprano and these are what I call transitional strong men and I think that's what this country needs. I mean America...

KING: In other words a Saddam Hussein type you're saying?

MAHER: Well, a little better than Saddam Hussein, right.

KING: OK.

MAHER: We would not like the torture rooms anymore, first of all that's our franchise. No, I just think that this country is not ready for anything. That's the best we can hope for.

And, if you look at a lot of the countries around the world, Musharraf in Pakistan, Mubarak in Egypt, Putin in Russia, these are what I would call transitional strong me because obviously democracy it's not an exact science. We do not have a perfect democracy, far from it.

So, to expect these people to arise from the ashes of theocracy or dictatorship right into Jeffersonian democracy is ridiculous. The best we can hope for I think is people in suits. When I see the guys in a suit I feel more comfortable.

KING: Than in?

MAHER: Sheets. Sheets and I know that's -- people are going to say, oh Bill you're prejudiced. I'm not prejudiced. I'm just saying when it's the people in the sheets I think they're going to keep the women in the beekeeper suits and when it's somebody in a shirt and a tie it's like, OK, we can be a little bit reasonable. And, I do think the majority of Iraqis really want that, whether they can overcome the fear and the terrorism to get it another story.

KING: By the way, we will go to calls at the bottom of the hour. We move through a lot of subjects with Bill Maher, the host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher on hiatus. When does it come back?

MAHER: It comes back in February.

KING: OK. Governor Schwarzenegger rejected Tookie Williams' plea for clemency. Is that -- did you favor that?

MAHER: Well, you know, I am for the death penalty.

KING: I know you are, one of the few on the left.

MAHER: Yes, well that's why maybe I'm not on the left but I do think there is a lot of merit to the death penalty. I always say we should have a moratorium on it, as ex-Governor Ryan said in Illinois, until we get the DNA testing right. My motto is let's kill the right people. Let's kill the right people. I think I could run on that, Larry. So, I don't...

KING: But if you've already killed someone who didn't do it, maybe in the Texas case, how do you make up for, how do you (INAUDIBLE) that grievance?

MAHER: You don't but you know as...

KING: It's rather final.

MAHER: As Jack Webb once said on Dragnet, "We only recruit from the human race." You know we can't have...

KING: Good line.

MAHER: Yes, Dragnet was a great show. We can't have perfection and, you know...

KING: In his case did you favor it?

MAHER: The failure of justice is more damaging to society than crime itself, said Clarence Darrow, a pretty bright guy and I think that's what you have here. Now, on this particular case I don't know. You know our country has lost its way as far as being able to discern good from evil, right from wrong because we're not -- we're not confident in our own ability to think anymore.

That's why we have things like zero tolerance. That's why we have things. Judges don't have the discretion they used to have because there are mandatory laws put into place, mandatory strictures.

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

MAHER: Because we don't -- we don't seem to be able to trust ourselves. In this case, it's a shame because this guy obviously is a little later on in his life. Crime is generally a young man's game. He seems to have genuinely turned over a new leaf.

It's a shame that we don't trust our judgment to go, OK, you know what, maybe you'll spend the rest of your life in jail but you don't deserve to die at this moment, as opposed to some unrepentant thug who I think...

KING: We don't believe in redemption?

MAHER: We don't. We really don't and we certainly don't believe in rehabilitation in prison. But when I saw the picture of this guy with the, you know, this Tookie guy was a bodybuilder, I thought maybe he'd get professional courtesy from the governor, a former Viennese weight lifter himself.

KING: All right. What will happen to those who are -- what's in New Orleans? How do you see a way out of here with FEMA and people still out of their homes and back and forth on sending invoices?

MAHER: You would think that the president, man, he has got to come up with some sort of strategy to get his head out of his ass. You would think that after the debacle of the immediate storm when FEMA didn't show up that they would be so on the case in the follow up.

But even that didn't happen and it just shows you that, I'm sorry, but these Republicans, I wouldn't say all Republicans, but this crowd in this administration they don't know how to govern. They never did. They know how to take money from people and turn it into votes. That's what they're good at. They don't know how to actually govern.

Bill Clinton, who has a reputation and I'm sure will go down in history in the minds of many people as an evil man because he had sex in the White House. I can't even deal, Larry. But that was such a small part of who Bill Clinton was.

Who was he as president? A wonk, a policy wonk, a detail- oriented person and that is what you need in office, especially for a situation like this. Does anybody really doubt that if Bill Clinton and the people he put in charge of FEMA had been around that this whole thing would not have gone down the way it did?

He would have been on the case. He would have not have slept for five days straight. That was who Bill Clinton was. He would have been down there. He would have seen that everything possible that could have gotten done would have gotten done and he would have had some excellent etouffee.

And he would not have had to deal with the situation we had where Fidel Castro, of all people, had to offer aid to America. I mean when Fidel Castro is offering you aid maybe you're a redneck president. When Fidel Castro has to step forward to say some president in this hemisphere must do something, you are really a mess up. KING: We'll be right back with Bill Maher, the author of with the record out as well, "New Rules" and he's everywhere. He's Bill Maher and he will take calls at the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: I kid New Orleans, you know. I love doing it. They're vowing to hold the Mardi Gras anyway this year come hell or, no pun, high water and it's interesting. They always had a Mardi Gras drink called the Hurricane. I'm not kidding. They're not going to serve that this year. But they have a new one called the FEMA. It's strong and it hits you about a week later.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: I'm not impressed by what college your kid is going to. George Bush went to Yale, the end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is that tough writing every week?

MAHER: Yes, I mean we work out butts off on this show because it's on for an hour, you know, and no commercials.

KING: But that segment is that tough?

MAHER: New Rules?

KING: New Rules.

MAHER: It's so much fun. Yes, it is. I mean I...

KING: It's very creative.

MAHER: ...throw out 20 for every one I do. You know it's got to be funny. It's also got to make some sort of statement I think and it's, you know, I like to have things that are topical.

KING: OK, here we go. Mr. Alito he's going to get on the Supreme Court?

MAHER: Probably, yes. I don't see how they could stop it.

KING: Do you have any questions about him?

MAHER: I certainly don't have a question that he's going to overturn Roe v. Wade, which is the big issue for most people.

KING: Think he will? MAHER: Of course he will. I love what his 90-year-old mother said. "Of course he's against abortion. Are you kidding? I brought him up. He's a Catholic. It's been his whole focus for his whole life." I mean she...

KING: So what did he do lie or what?

MAHER: No, but you know what it's funny like he is -- he's like that relief pitcher in baseball that the manager brings in to strike out one batter. That's all the Republicans want, the conservatives want. They want that one guy to come in and just knock that guy down. They want that Roe v. Wade overturned and they're going to get it I do believe.

And, you know what, I'll tell you something else, Larry, I think it's going to be the best thing for the Democrats and the liberals. They are the lazy party. They are the party that just can't be bothered. They're too hip to vote. They're too hip to care. The other side they know how to energize their base. They know how to get their...

KING: So, why will overturning Roe v. Wade energize the...

MAHER: Super (ph).

KING: ...Democrats?

MAHER: Yes, of course. You know the voting block that turned out least in last election was single women but also I mean young people in general are too hip to vote, you know. It's funny they have every sort of access to the news. It's in the iPod. It's on the radio, the TV, it's everywhere but they don't really care.

They don't really listen enough. I'm not throwing a blanket. After all there's millions of them who do. But, I think that actually would be the best thing to happen to the liberals. Get them off their duff because something that they finally care about, their own bodies, their own choices, their own freedom is being affected.

KING: Scooter Libby?

MAHER: Ugh.

KING: Tom DeLay, others, the whole mix of what's going on here? What's going on here?

MAHER: That's a good indication of how lame the Democrats are that the entire Republican Party seems to be under indictment. You left out Frist and you left out...

KING: He hasn't been indicted.

MAHER: What's today? It's coming. Well, you know, but certainly he was doing exactly what Martha Stewart was doing, even worse so I think if there's any justice he'll get his. I mean they're all separate instances. KING: I know.

MAHER: You know, Tom DeLay I think there's a good indication already.

KING: Bush said yesterday they think he's innocent.

MAHER: But, you know, Bush said a lot of things about people who were not innocent. He also said that, a while ago he said in the Valerie Plame case he said if anybody is involved in this they're gone and then when he found out they were involved he said, well if they're actually indicted or, you know. He changes. He flip-flopped on that one.

So, you know, the Tom DeLay case indicates to me more than anything it's the system because Tom DeLay was a guy who knew how to work within the system. Did he break the law? The real tragedy is probably he didn't. That's the scandal is that that's what the law allows.

You can get rid of Tom DeLay but the funnel of corruption will still be in place. How does a bill become a law in America? Well, you have your lobbyist call your congressman. They make sure it's happening because K Street is just a complaint desk for American industry.

KING: What do you make of Libby and possibly Rove?

MAHER: Well, you know, I hope they get what they deserve. I thought it was disgusting and despicable the way so many conservatives pooh-poohed the idea of outing a CIA agent, Valerie Plame.

It's so funny. Obstruction of justice and perjury are the two charges against Mr. Libby. When they were the charges against Bill Clinton in a private, consensual sexual matter every Republican talked like this was the end of the empire. If we let this stand, a man lying, a man obstructing justice even about this matter, well then the pillars of our civilization will just fall.

But somehow when it's about this matter, which is a lot more serious, suddenly it's well stuff happens. She wasn't really that involved. She wasn't really that much of -- are you kidding? She led a completely double life. She had a card that said Brewster Jennings (ph). That's where she went to work every day, this fictitious company.

Do you know what it takes for someone to lead a completely fictitious life? I would think a lot. I would think that that's a very patriotic thing to do to pretend you're someone. It looks glorious in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." It looks like a lot of fun and you get to be with Angelina Jolie.

KING: And you might get killed.

MAHER: Right, but in real life...

KING: You can get killed on either job.

MAHER: In real life this is serious stuff and it is an incredible sacrifice that any American patriot makes and they -- these conservatives, the people with the flags on their lapels, if they really have the courage of their convictions they would stand up for her and not Mr. Libby. But, as usual, Republicans are generally loyal to people before principles.

KING: We'll be -- we'll be -- try to come forth with some things. Every time we have him on the wishy, the washy, hate dealing with people like this. We'll be right back with Bill Maher. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: The White House tried to get back on track. This week they nominated their new Supreme Court guy Judge Samuel Alito, who is a widely agreed conservative, widely agreed to be intelligent, qualified and competent. The president said in this case he's willing to make an exception and overlook those things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: Here we go, top ten signs you're a gay cowboy. Number ten, your saddle is Versace. Number nine, instead of Home on the Range you sing It's Raining Men. Raining men, there you go buddy. Number eight, you enjoy riding, roping and redecorating. Number seven, sold your livestock to buy tickets to Mama Mia. Number six, after watching reruns of Gunsmoke you have to take a cold shower.

Number five, Native Americans refer to you as Dances with Men. Number four, you've been lassoed more times than most steers. Number three, you're wearing chaps yet your ranch is in Chelsea. Number two, instead of a saloon you prefer a salon. And the number one sign you're a gay cowboy, you love riding but you don't have a horse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's David Letterman. That's funny.

MAHER: Oh, yes.

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

MAHER: That bit is always funny.

KING: Let's run into some other major news of the day.

MAHER: And you love that movie, Larry.

KING: I loved it. MAHER: You were telling me in the break.

KING: It's a terrific movie. Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays, does it bother you?

MAHER: No. I think that's so silly. I mean people need to pick their battles. If the people who are upset about the use of the word Christmas are picking this battle, again lame Democratic tactics. You know, I'm not surprised that Republicans are making this an issue because they're the champions of fake issues.

Bush's father ran on the Pledge of Allegiance for crying out loud. His son won in 2004 based on gay marriage. So, I'm not surprised that we have an election, not an election but an issue, you know, part of their strategy to scare and fool the super Christy rubes, excuse me.

KING: Super Christy rubes.

MAHER: That's right. You can get the letters.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: They don't like me anyway, so what does it matter.

KING: Right.

MAHER: But, you know, but to have a battle about naming a tree it's a tree. It doesn't come when it's called. It's just a tree. It really doesn't matter what we name it. But the serious part of this is that, you know, it's all well and good to fool people with this kind of stuff but down the road these people are actually going to think at some point that you mean it, that you mean all this get rid of the separation of church and state stuff that you talk about and then the next stop is we're Iran.

KING: Four veteran players on the Minnesota Vikings football team were charged today with misdemeanors for inappropriate sexual behavior in connection with that boat party on Minnesota's Lake Minnetonka in October. By the way, they lost one game and won every one since.

MAHER: Yes.

KING: Any thoughts on that boat party?

MAHER: Player haters.

KING: What?

MAHER: Player haters that's all this is. What do they -- I read this story. What are they charged with? What did they actually do?

KING: Having sex on a boat.

MAHER: So? What is the illegal -- was anybody raped? KING: I don't think so.

MAHER: I don't think so either. So what is it? It's just player hating. They are rich athletes and, you know, I mean athletes today, you know, they just use a lot of hookers. I mean I don't know what they call them. I heard that the phrase now is pay girlfriends or girlfriends for pay or something like that.

KING: Not hookers, yes.

MAHER: Well, I mean if you're paying somebody, if somebody doesn't really love you and they're having sex with you they're a hooker.

KING: What do you make about this new website to let people know they have sexually transmitted disease or I just fax you?

MAHER: You?

KING: Or not fax you, I -- not me, no, I just send you a note.

MAHER: You can tell me, Larry. I'm here a (INAUDIBLE).

KING: It usually goes to the website and anonymously sends the formal partner a notice that he or she may have a disease.

MAHER: Look, Larry, I was a cowboy for a couple of years. We were on the range. We got lonely. A few things happened. I don't expect anything to come from it. Yes, I'm for anything that obviously mitigates the terrible scourge of sexually transmitted diseases but, you know, why do you have to...

KING: It's a cold way to get the news though isn't it?

MAHER: Yes, but, you know, it's probably effective because I mean talk about a discussion that's hard to have. I would imagine that that's top on the list. I think a lot of people don't say anything just because, I mean people don't say anything about a lot of things that are less calamitous than that because they're afraid. We live in a very passive/aggressive society.

KING: Worried about Avian flu?

MAHER: Not the least. You know my theory about health.

KING: What?

MAHER: Well, we've talked about it. I'm not into western medicine. That to me is a complete scare tactic. It just shows you, you can...

KING: You mean you don't get a -- you don't get a flu shot?

MAHER: A flu shot is the worst thing you can do.

KING: Why? MAHER: Because it's got -- it's got mercury.

KING: It prevents flu.

MAHER: It doesn't prevent. First of all, that's...

KING: I haven't had the flu in 25 years since I've been taking a flu shot.

MAHER: Well, I hate to tell you, Larry, but if you have a flu shot for more than five years in a row, there's ten times the likelihood that you'll get Alzheimer's disease. I would stop getting your...

KING: What did you say?

MAHER: That went better in rehearsal but it was still good. Absolutely, no the defense against disease is to have a strong immune system. A flu shot just compromises your immune system.

KING: So you don't take any western medicine, don't take an aspirin?

MAHER: Never, an aspirin no. Thousands of people die from aspirin every year.

KING: How do you treat illness?

MAHER: I promise you that if you get a headache the reason for that headache is not aspirin deficiency. The reason...

KING: No, of course not.

MAHER: Right, so you're taking -- so it's not...

KING: Something to take the pain away. Why is that bad?

MAHER: But why don't you find out the real root of that pain?

KING: Well, while you're finding take the aspirin.

MAHER: But that's what we do. We have immediate cures that address the symptom and not the root cause of anything. I have no worries about bird flu whatsoever. First of all, it's not going to happen. Second of all, the fact that it is mutating shows that if you did come up with a vaccine tomorrow, it wouldn't be effective against the disease when the disease comes because the disease is always morphing and mutating. It's just a way to funnel money into the pharmaceutical companies. Follow the money. You'll find out where the bird flu is.

KING: You wouldn't say the Salk vaccine was a bad idea.

MAHER: That's somewhat of a different case, yes.

KING: Polio was eliminated. MAHER: Yes but, you know, there are many books out that will -- that will -- and I'm not well enough versed on it to talk about it that will indicate that there are other reasons why it was.

And a lot of diseases that have been they say, whoa, this was eliminated because of a vaccine, they find out well no actually the country got toilets and that's what happened.

KING: You're a Christian Scientist?

MAHER: No, I'm not a Christian Scientist.

KING: They don't go to doctors (INAUDIBLE).

MAHER: So that makes me a Christian Scientist?

KING: You agree with that philosophy part of their concept.

MAHER: You know I also agree with a lot of things that the Unabomber said but I'm not sending bombs on the mail either.

KING: All right.

MAHER: But the point is, Larry, people can be scared about anything. If you choose, if you threw a dart into a map, you could scare somebody about something in that country that's coming over here. I've said this before, if Bush had wanted to make a war again Gadhafi instead of Saddam Hussein they could have done that. They would have the PR department go to work on Gadhafi just the way they did on Saddam Hussein.

They were both dormant Arab dictators who had caused us trouble a long time ago. And, if they wanted to have attacked Libya instead of Iraq, we would be there today and the reasons would be just as bogus as the ones we went into Iraq for.

KING: The book is "New Rules, Bill Maher, Polite Musings from a Timid Observer." It is...

MAHER: And then I'm Swiss. I have to tell you there's about a half hour more of material that wasn't on the HBO special.

KING: Oh, really?

MAHER: It broke my heart to have to cut it from the HBO special. I've been depressed ever since. But it's here in this one.

KING: And that's in "I'm Swiss" out now.

MAHER: Very funny.

KING: And there's interviews on it right, an interview with you on it?

MAHER: Oh, well there's a Q&A, yes.

KING: And you can also get the CD version from Phoenix audio of "New Rules."

MAHER: And I will be selling jams and jellies in the lobby.

KING: That's right. And you'll see him next week on one of the buying services on one of the networks.

MAHER: Christmas Tinsel.

KING: Christmas...

MAHER: I have my own as you can see Christmas tinsel, Larry.

KING: And the book was reviewed in Good Housekeeping. We'll be right back with your calls. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART: But nobody takes the Christ out of Christmas quite like the private sector. Some conservatives are calling for boycotts against retailers who ask employees to wish customers Happy Holidays, like this store seen here blatantly disregarding Christmas.

So far, concerned Christians have urged boycotts of both Target stores and Lands End catalog, though in the latter case the Satan's minion flannel doggy bed on page 21 doesn't help. Who is Satan's minion? You. Who is Satan's minion?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: Hey, you all saw Saddam Hussein in court this week, full beard, right? Put on a little weight, and insisted he was still president. I thought it was Al Gore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Bill Maher is our guest. Funny stuff now. He's funny.

San Marco, California. Hello?

CALLER: Hi. Hi, Bill.

MAHER: Hi.

CALLER: I have been watching you since Comedy Central '92.

MAHER: Wow.

CALLER: Wow, yeah. We go way back.

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: And I saw you in Escondido right before the fires broke out.

MAHER: Oh, sorry they broke out.

CALLER: But here's my question. Down here in north San Diego County, October of -- October of 2003 when the fires broke out -- but here's my question. What did you think of the press conference the other day of President Clinton's finally -- I mean, President Bush finally acknowledging the civilian casualties in Iraq? In kind of an offhand, to quote Jon Stewart, manner of the way you count the beans in a jar. You know, ah, 30,000, give or take.

MAHER: Right. Well, we were mentioning this before, that he's on this sort of...

KING: Yes, but he did say 30,000 give or take.

MAHER: Yes, he said a lot -- he said today that the intelligence, we went to war on faulty intelligence. I mean, he's been -- you know, it's like...

KING: But he would still have gone?

MAHER: It's like the old joke about the cats on the roof. You know, that old joke about, you know, you want to tell the guy his mother's dead but you do it in a very slow manner.

You know, he obviously got the message at some point. You cannot live in this parallel universe of what's going on in Iraq while the rest of the world's discussing it in a completely different way, that's much closer to reality. But he's not that kind of man. He's a stubborn man. He's proud. I don't know of what, he's not that intelligent. But OK, he's proud. He doesn't want to admit his failings. So they kind of like let it out slowly, over four speeches. Little bits.

So finally he can sit back and go, OK, now I'm at least a little bit more on the same page as everybody else in America. But as I said, does that really make up for the problems and the pain that has been wrought by this incompetent going to war?

KING: Brighton, Colorado, hello?

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi, I was wondering if -- what your opinion was on the rehabilitation of child molesters?

KING: Of who?

CALLER: Of child molesters and rapists.

KING: Oh, can child molesters be rehabilitated? The general thinking is they can't.

MAHER: I was going to ask that person a question, like maybe -- she sounds like...

KING: Oh, stop it.

MAHER: That sounded like a child.

KING: Yeah.

MAHER: Right? That's interesting. I never heard a child on your show before. You are letting children in through the switch board?

KING: I guess -- it was a good question.

MAHER: Let's not talk about Santa Claus while they are listening to this question, because they may not know about that. Anyway...

KING: You don't believe?

MAHER: Yeah.

KING: Can they be rehabilitated?

MAHER: Santa Claus? Child molesters. Probably not. I mean, they themselves admit that they can't. They themselves. I've heard this many times, read it that a child molester will say, you know what? If you let me out, I am going to do it again.

It's such a sick thing that that kind of makes sense. I mean, if that is what you really want to do, it doesn't seem like that is something that is going to go away. It's much like the right wings thinks that you can reform homosexuals, that if you send them away to camp and get them to pray enough about Jesus, that they'll start to like women again.

That's just silly. People have these -- I mean, that's a tough question. Because what do you do with a child molester after they've served their time? If you send them back into society, you're almost asking for it. it.

KING: New York City, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hey, Bill. I have really enjoyed the book, but there is one new rule I would really like you to reconsider, and that's the one about the child changing table in men's room. As a father of a 2- year-old, they come in real handy in restaurants.

KING: Bill does not like 2-year-olds.

MAHER: He's talking about the baby changing station.

KING: Yeah, what's wrong with that? You don't like them?

MAHER: No, it was just a joke. We said we might as well get rid of them, because they have never been used and never will be used, and they're just tempting a homeless person to use it as a murphy bed. But, yes, I'm sure -- look, if there is a 2-year-old in a restaurant, I would rather have that happen offstage, than right there at the table. Because I know people nowadays think that children are so precious that everybody would probably enjoy watching them, you know....

KING: Are you weakening in your attitude about children?

MAHER: No.

KING: No? Because you were one.

MAHER: Larry, you say that every time.

KING: I say it all the time because I can't believe that you can't like children. How could you not like them? They're innocent and wonderful.

MAHER: Well, first of all...

KING: And bright.

MAHER: ... they're not innocent. As a matter of fact, they're a lot more feral than a lot of adults. I was, like many children, scared. And, therefore, did things that I'm not proud of when I was a child to survive. It's a scary part of life. You're not in control and you're very small and a lot of people are bigger and stronger than you and telling you what to do.

I didn't really learn morality until I was older. I became a much better person as an adult than I was as a child.

KING: Tucson, hello?

CALLER: Hey, how's it going?

KING: Fine.

CALLER: Huge fan of your show, Bill.

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: I just wanted to ask you, down here in southern Arizona, we're dealing with immigration issues.

MAHER: Yes.

CALLER: People worried about terrorists getting through the border. And they want to put up a wall up like in San Diego. I wonder what you think about that.

MAHER: Well, a wall, I think everyone knows will not really keep people out. I think -- I don't know where I heard this statistic, it may have been on something fictional like "The West Wing," but I think I heard that if you doubled the Border Patrol, that 90 percent of people who get in now would be reduced to 80 percent. I think that's -- I think even the politicians on the right really know deep in their heart that that's not the way we're going to....

KING: But somebody's hiring them. They're hiring them.

MAHER: Exactly. And there's a need for them. And, you know, they...

KING: They do jobs that...

MAHER: They do that we don't want to do anymore, because Americans are (INAUDIBLE) exactly, and we don't want to wipe grandma's bottom, and we don't want to pick kids from school, and we don't want to do landscaping, and we don't want to do all these crummy jobs.

And you know, I think it would be a nice thing to look to the future at this point, when they didn't have to do these crummy jobs and we could find some other minority who is even further down like the line, like the Filipinos. What are they doing? I'm kidding, Filipinos, don't write me!

KING: We'll be right back with more of Bill Maher right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: For Halloween, President Bush must go as either a cop or an Indian. This week, Bush dressed up like a construction worker. He's also been a biker. A Navy man. And of course, a cowboy.

You know, for a guy who's anti-gay, he spends an awful lot of time dressing...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: Down in front, at the World Series, someone put George and Barbara making out on the jumbo-tron. Please don't encourage them . Science is doing amazing things with reproductive health, and we need to make sure they're done breeding.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: "New Rules" in book form or tape form. And the CD "Bill Maher: I'm Swiss," with a lot more than was on the HBO special. Chicago, hello?

CALLER: Hi, how are you tonight?

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Great. Bill, love you to death, and was wondering if you -- what your opinion was with the new FAA ruling about allowing knives up to four inches, scissors, as well as seven-inch screwdrivers on board aircraft? MAHER: I'm all for it. That was never the problem. I don't think any terrorist plot was ever foiled because we couldn't take our little nail scissors on board. You know, I'm for an airline called Stuff Happens. That's, I mean, you can bring your scissors, you can bring -- you can bring a gun. You could show up five minutes before the plane leaves.

That's what it says on the back of the ticket. Stuff happens. Because I don't think any of that ever really made a difference. And when, last week, the incident at (INAUDIBLE) in Chicago...

KING: The air marshal.

MAHER: ... the air marshal and shot the guy and..

KING: Orlando.

MAHER: Was that where it was? Wherever it was, it was the most encouraging thing I have seen to happen at an airport since 9/11.

KING: The guy was just a sick person.

MAHER: I know, but he said he had a bomb, and that's -- I was glad to know that there is really an air marshal there, and they are really not afraid to shoot somebody who is crazy and says they have a bomb. Yes, after the fact, we found out he didn't, but too bad. This day and age, you run around on a plane saying you have a bomb, I'm sorry, you're going to get a bullet for Christmas.

KING: You would allow people to carry guns on the plane?

MAHER: Well, I'm just exaggerating there. But obviously we have fought that battle in a silly and ineffectual manner. My nail scissors? You know, every time I get to a city, the first thing I do is go to the gift shop. I wish I had bought stock in cuticle scissors before 9/11 or right after, because I am sure it went up. Just from what I've spent.

KING: Megargel, Texas, hello?

CALLER: Yes, Bill, I was just wondering if you still smoked pot and whether you think it should be legalized.

MAHER: Of course I -- that's ridiculous. Are you talking about a jazz cigarette? No, no. I -- if there are any air marshals or a federal marshals listening in now, I can assure you, gentlemen, that I'm no Tommy Chung. Because you know, they put him away, so who knows.

KING: You want to legalize it?

MAHER: Of course it should be legalized. This is -- you know, again, where are the Democrats on this issue? Where are the Democrats on any issue that really matters to people? You know, where are they on the environment? Where are they on corporate stranglehold on this country? You know, I know Ralph Nader could never win in this country. But if a Democratic candidate adopted more of what his program was, you know, if the big party would really embrace that true progressive agenda, let's just see. Let's just see how many of those 79 million people who didn't vote and could have in the last election might come out for that. Give us a real choice.

When I see Hillary Clinton, who we've talked about many times, getting on the bandwagon with flag burning, this is exactly what I said to you about Hillary every time you asked me. I said, she is the worst of both worlds. Because she is, I said, she's going to do exactly this, tack to the center. And she will win nobody, because the right wing is not fooled by this. They see Hillary Clinton coming out against flag burning, and they throw up because they see that is an opportunist who doesn't really believe it, and the left wing looks at it and just throws up.

KING: But they didn't blame Scalia, who said it was an example of free speech and was the deciding vote that flag burning is permitted.

MAHER: Because -- yes, but...

KING: Scalia is the key vote on that.

MAHER: Yes, well.

KING: He said it was free speech.

MAHER: Yes, OK, well, you know, sometimes even Scalia comes to his senses. But for Hillary Clinton to take -- you know, just like her husband did with Sista Soulja, remember that?

KING: Yeah.

MAHER: You know, attack something that can't fight back. Video games. This kind of nonsense -- but the flag burning stuff, I'm telling you, Hillary Clinton's going to wind up with nobody, because both sides are going to be turned off by that.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Bill Maher on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. A legend in comedy tomorrow night, Carol Burnett. We'll be right back.

MAHER: Wow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: Jennifer Aniston must start dating Osama bin Laden. Our government has spent four years and billions of dollars trying to find him. If we put the job in the hands of the real professionals, the paparazzi, Osama probably would be on the next cover of "Us Weekly."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before we continue with calls for Bill Maher, let's check in -- big day in Iraq -- Anderson Cooper is hosting all this week, "AC 360." He'll be with us at the top of the hour. He's with us now with a preview -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, AC360: Yes, hey, Larry. Hey, Bill. Yes, a remarkable day here in Iraq. Millions of Iraqis braving the insurgents, coming out to vote. We were here in Baquba at a polling station. We will show you what it was like. Just a really very emotional day.

Also, some chilling news about something that happened in the recent past. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, terrorist mastermind, it turns out he was once in U.S. custody and he was let go. We will take a look at exactly what happened, at the top of the hour -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Anderson. We will certainly look forward to that.

What do you make of that, Bill?

MAHER: I'm not surprised. First of all, you know, that's -- you know, I read the other day that Zarqawi is literally turning away applications. Seriously. There are not enough slots open. We're full. And you know, I know that people are upset with the present administration because they said they lied about the weapons of mass destruction. But really, there is an argument to be made on the other side. Yes, they hyped it, of course they did. But a lot of people who weren't the Bush administration thought that Saddam might have weapons. That lie, I'm less concerned about -- or I should say, less angry about, than the lie that there were terrorist links to the Saddam regime. That was really the most ridiculous lie. That's the one that the media should have exposed even more.

There was no terrorist links, and now it is terrorist central. I mean, what did bin Laden not get since 9/11 that he wanted? He got us out of Saudi Arabia. That was his main gripe. He upgraded terrorist central from Afghanistan to Iraq. And he turned -- or we turned the idea of jihad from a base that he had and a group to a worldwide idea. It's a franchise now.

So, you know, even if they caught him tomorrow, who cares? Everything he wanted has come to pass.

That's not to say that this still couldn't work in Iraq. A day like today is encouraging.

KING: Ellijay, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Thank you, Larry. Great show. Bill, who are you really fired up about voting for president in 2008? Thank you.

MAHER: Nobody! Thank you.

KING: Nobody?

MAHER: Well, you know what, I think the Democrats have some people. I mean, I like, you know, Biden. I like John Edwards. I like Wesley Clark. But again, they're going to have to come out and be the liberal progressive party. They can't go down the road that the last two elections have led to their disaster. They can't try to be just Republicans of a different name.

KING: You're doing that as an analyst, because earlier you said you weren't a liberal.

MAHER: Yes. Well, I'm not -- what I said is I'm not liberal on everything. But I do think that we need to have the balance that we used to have in this country where there is a liberal party. We used to have a liberal wing in both parties. There was a liberal wing, as you will recall, of Republicans.

KING: Toronto, hello?

CALLER: Hello. I have a question for Bill. I would like to know what his response would to be the American ambassador saying that Canada was headed down a slippery slope because of all the constant criticism from Canada vis-a-vis U.S. policy, especially Paul Martin lately saying that America was ignoring the global conscience, vis-a- vis global warming.

MAHER: I think America needs to hear more of that. I think America's big problem, and I bet you most Canadians would agree with this, is that America needs to get over itself. Really. I mean, this nonsense I hear constantly coming out of Americans about, it's the greatest country in the world. First of all, how would you know it was the greatest country in the world? Have you done a study of the health care program in Denmark compared to ours? Or the tax program? No, you haven't. You're just saying that. You're just pulling it out of your behind. It's so silly and it's so childish to have to be the greatest country.

Maybe it's just the greatest for us. I'm not moving anywhere. I like it here, but to say it's the greatest country in the world -- it's like saying, I have the greatest wife in the world. Not just the greatest for me, but everybody else. If everybody else could get rid of their wife and have my wife, they would do it in a second! Because I've got the greatest wife in the world! It's silly. It's childish, and it leads us to bad places when you have that kind of hubris.

KING: Supernationalism?

MAHER: Yes, and that certitude, I mean, this administration, which I'm sorry to say, I know you don't like to talk about this, but only comes from a religious background when you are that sure of things. What does that lead to when you are so sure of yourself? When you are so sure that everything comes from God? Well, it leads to smear campaigns. It leads to outing CIA agents. It leads to torture. It leads, in other words, to anything where you can justify that the ends justify the means, because you know you're right. You're starting off with the premise, I'm pure and I got it from God.

KING: We'll be back with more moments with Bill Maher on this edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAHER: Saddam Hussein's trial must be moved to Los Angeles. We are fiending out here for our next big celebrity court case. Local news stations are so bored they have resorted to reporting real news. If we don't get another circus trial soon, Pat O'Brien is going to start drinking again. So what do you say, Saddam? Who doesn't want to have their trial in L.A. anyway? It's always sunny, our juries are stupid, and you can show up in court in your pajamas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: OK, so you went over and spent the day with Dr. Greg Harman (ph) and Sandra Belmont (ph) at the Department of Ophthalmology of New York Presbyterian Hospital at the Weill Cornell medical center. Take a look. Here is Biff, folks.

BIFF HENDERSON: You know who needs their version corrected!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who?

HENDERSON: This lady.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was funny.

MAHER: That was mean.

KING: Oh, you're not mean.

MAHER: I'm very protective of you, Larry.

KING: Thank you. Lake Bay, Washington, hello?

CALLER: Hi, I was thinking about the situation in Iraq. And as we're being perceived as imperial invaders, wouldn't the solution be to have Muslim countries who are also democracies replace the American troops there as the American troops are lightning rods for insurgent attacks?

MAHER: Absolutely. Yes.

KING: Sounds like a good idea.

MAHER: Yes. One of the many good ideas, and you know, again, we've been talking about this, this hour that President Bush is now slowly coming around to some ideas that other people have been saying.

But, again, we all paid the price for him learning on the job. And maybe the next time Americans go to vote, they won't vote for the guy who they want to have a beer with. You can say what you want about Al Gore and John Kerry, they were readers. They read things. They knew things about other countries that he didn't. Maybe he would have gotten that idea before this caller did.

And the Bush administration idea in Iraq has always been, there's the bad guys. Well, it's not really good guys and bad guys. It's Sunnis and Shiites, right? And the people there seem to have a loyalty to their tribe and their religion much more than to democracy or another way of life. It's sort of like asking the Red Sox fans to vote for the -- to root for the AL East, you know? That's just not where they are.

KING: We only have 30 seconds.

MAHER: Oh.

KING: The loss of Richard Pryor.

MAHER: Well, he was one of the -- to people like myself who, you know, everyone does comedy differently, but some of us like to take it to that edge, like to be naughty. To people like me, you know, he's one of the Mt. Rushmore ones, you know? He's up there.

KING: He went to the edge?

MAHER: Went to the edge and over it. Time and time again.

KING: Thank you, as always, Bill.

MAHER: Pleasure.

KING: It's always great having him with us. Bill Maher. The book is "New Rules." The tape is "New Rules," and the DVD is Bill Maher "I'm Swiss," with additional footage not shown on HBO.

Tomorrow night, Carol Burnett is our special guest. Let's check in now with Iraq. It was a big day in Iraq. Anderson Cooper has got lots of news from there. Lots of other news as well about a mistake that might have happened here. Anderson Cooper, it's yours, in Iraq. Take it away, my friend.

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