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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Bill Maher

Aired March 12, 2007 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Bill Maher is back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, COURTESY HBO)

BILL MAHER, COMIC, HOST OF HBO'S "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": From now on, if he wants to meet any more sports heroes, he has to get in line behind all the other retarded kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What's America's most controversial comic going to say next about the president, about everyone trying to be the next president and, yes, even about Anna Nicole Smith.

Bill Maher -- always outspoken, always outrageous, always hilarious on all the latest news. And he'll take your calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's always a great pleasure to have Bill Maher with us.

He's the host of HBO's Emmy nominated "Real Time With Bill Maher," now in its fifth season.

They said it wouldn't last. "New York Times" best-selling author. His most recent book is "New Rules: Polite Musings From A Timid Observer."

The last time Bill was here was November 8th, the same day that Donald Rumsfeld resigned and the Democrats gained majority control of Congress.

Do you miss Secretary Rumsfeld, by the way?

MAHER: No, of course not.

KING: I just thought I'd throw that out.

MAHER: And, luckily, the war has gotten so much better since he's gone.

KING: He said...

MAHER: Well, it just shows that, you know, Rumsfeld was not a great defense secretary. Dick Cheney, by the way, said he was the best secretary we ever had -- continuing his streak of 40 years of getting everything absolutely wrong.

Has this guy ever been right about any one thing?

KING: Do you want to clear up the Cheney thing right away so we have it straight from the horse's mouth?

MAHER: Sure.

What Cheney thing?

KING: Did you...

MAHER: Oh, I know what you're going to say.

KING: Did you want him to...

MAHER: Well...

KING: Did you want him to die -- what...

MAHER: No.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

MAHER: Well, first of all, that discussion that was on our show was about first amendment rights. That was what it was. What happened was on the -- my good friend, my great friend, Arianna Huffington, on her blog, people in the comments section had said that, you know, that's what they...

KING: That you wanted him dead.

MAHER: They said that.

KING: Right.

MAHER: They said, you know, gosh, darned that the assassination attempt didn't work. And she took it off right away. And I was just saying this isn't China. You don't have to scrub the wall when someone says that. Yes, it's against the law to say we're having a plot to kill somebody in high office. That is -- you know, I agree. We shouldn't be able to do that.

But this is just lamenting something that didn't happen. You should be able to say that in a free society.

And then it got around to, you know, I don't know, a discussion of more of the particulars of that. And I did say that I had no doubt that if Bush and Cheney were out of office, by whatever means, more people would live. And I stand by that.

I read -- the headline in the "New York Times" today said something about, you know, people for -- coming back from Iraq with grave injuries, have a lot of trouble finding care. There was also in the paper last week something about severe poverty in America, people who are trying to survive with a family of four on less than $10,000 a year.

Is that by, I think, 26, 28 percent...

KING: So all of that means?

MAHER: Did you see "60 Minutes" Sunday about all the people we have used in Iraq to help us, those middle class people, those people who wanted a democracy, who helped us as translators and so forth. We have abandoned them.

We've said to them you know what?

Yes, you want to come to America now, but go back to Iraq and make it work. Now that we've made Iraq a Hobbesian mess that could never support these people because they have a target on their back.

Well, I'm just saying all these are examples of people who are dying or are going to die because of this regime.

KING: If we had, let's say, Walter Reed...

MAHER: And I would -- well that one I would put under the category of what I first said...

KING: Segue (ph)?

MAHER: ... about...

KING: Right.

Are we cruel? Are you saying this is cruel? Are you saying these people running the government don't care about their own people?

MAHER: Yes. I'm saying this does...

KING: Yes.

MAHER: This is a one way -- loyalty is a one way street in this government. We -- they want the troops. They want to say they support the troops. When the troops come home and they're injured, you're on your own, pal.

Yes. This is a very cruel government.

KING: Why, do you think? What led to that?

MAHER: Well, part of it is ignorance. I got in a lot of trouble, also, recently -- not trouble, but there was a lot of media hoo-ha about the fact that I was on "Jay Leno" a few weeks ago and I did a long routine about how stupid Bush was.

By the way, after that -- and Bill O'Reilly grilled me about it last week -- I was reading this excellent article in "Rolling Stone." They did a roundtable of people on Iraq, some very bright people who know a thing or two about it. And General Mixspeak (ph), who was one of the, I think he was part of the joint chiefs during the first Gulf War, he said this country has had an experiment in the last six years about whether it matters at all who we elect president. And he said when you elect the stupid guy, it matters a lot.

So I'm not the only one saying it.

KING: Was Bill O'Reilly angry at you?

MAHER: Yes, but, you know, he was avuncular.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What do you make of the troop surge?

MAHER: Well, I, you know, it's -- it's a horrible idea that the commanders on the ground didn't want, the American people didn't want, the Iraqi people didn't want. General Petraeus himself said the other day there is no military solution to Iraq.

So why are you there, General Petraeus, would be next question?

KING: So...

MAHER: We have to get over this idea that there is something called victory in Iraq. We lost.

KING: So how does it -- where does it go? How does it end?

MAHER: Well, I'm on the page now of three different countries, you know? That's where it's going...

KING: The Biden proposal?

MAHER: Yes, Biden was out front on that, absolutely. And he deserves credit for that. But that's where it's going to go.

When we -- instituted a peace in Bosnia, that's basically what we did. We gave them each their own army. And that's what we have to do now.

The Sunnis are never going to feel secure unless they're in their own little country with their own wall and their own army. Let's get ahead of the curve on this instead of being behind the curve. This idea that there is still an Iraq, that's gone. That's over.

Those people have left. Two million people have left Iraq. Another two million have left where they used to live in Iraq to go to some place safer, where they feel secure, in Iraq.

There is no more Iraq. This idea that, you know, again, the "60 Minutes" piece last night, where we're forcing these people -- these middle class people who we were using to help us -- we are saying to them yes, just because they're targeting you and you're going to die if you go back to Iraq, sorry, you've got to go back and make it work.

It can never work. It's not going to work.

KING: Cheney challenged Congress to prove its support for U.S. troops by approving the budget request. In other words, saying to Congress, you really support the troops?

Put up or shut up.

MAHER: Well, you know, the last time I was here, we were talking about the -- what I think is David Mamet's (ph) great idea, that the Democrats never raised a bet. That's -- that's a good example of that. They need to raise the bet.

When the Republicans say to them, "You are hurting the troops by defunding them," the Democrats need to say, "Un-nnh, we're not the ones who are hurting the troops. You're the ones who are hurting the troops by sending them into an impossible situation and by defunding, who would be bringing the troops home."

Why don't you write it into the law that says nom, we're not going to leave them standing in their underwear hitchhiking home with a B.B. gun. That's not what defunding is all about.

Defunding is just saying we don't want this pointless nightmare to continue.

KING: When we come back, Bill's take on the conviction of "Scooter" Libby.

And later tonight, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, an "ANDERSON COOPER 360" special, "Sins of the Father," an unbelievable story of a Catholic priest convicted of sexual abuse and one of that priest's young victims, now a well known anchor on CNN's "HEADLINE NEWS."

Anderson gets that anchor's firsthand story.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, COURTESY HBO)

MAHER: Yes, everybody but George Bush seems to understand that this war is over. The British are pulling out now, our chief ally in the coalition of the willing...

(APPLAUSE)

MAHER: ... the coalition of the willing. Denmark's going. They're all going. Lithuania -- I'm not kidding about this -- Lithuania said this week they are "seriously considering reducing their force of 53 troops."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, COURTESY HBO)

MAHER: And you heard about the big John McCain gaffe. Now, he was on David Letterman's show announcing his presidential campaign and he -- he pulled a Joe Biden. He, right off the gate he said the wrong word. He used the word "wasted" to describe the lives lost in Iraq. And he, the next day, said no, I should have used the word sacrificed.

But to put it in perspective, when McCain was a prisoner in Vietnam, George Bush was wasted. And -- oh, I'm sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We will get to things McCain and Giuliani and the like.

But first, your thoughts on the Libby verdict.

MAHER: Well, you know, it obscured the real crime for a lot of people, those who were following that to begin with, which was not that many. But, yes, I mean Libby was a guy who lied us into a war and he worked on commission. And he got his war.

But I think people forget that the reason why we haven't gotten to the bottom of the real crime was because he was lying. Patrick Fitzgerald said that. He said he threw sand in the umpire's face. So we never got to the bottom of the real crime, was who outed this CIA agent?

And I know the right-wing likes to say ah, well, Valerie Plame, you know.

Did she work for the CIA?

Yes.

But was she really covert?

You know what?

You work for the CIA. You work for the CIA. It's not CAA, OK?

If she wasn't undercover, it wouldn't have been a controversy that she was outed.

KING: Do you think it was because Bush mentioned in the State of the Union message about getting the nuclear materials?

Why did they seem to overreact to this op-ed article by a kind of obscure ambassador?

MAHER: Well, it would be the same as if I pulled a little string out of your sweater. They were afraid that it would unravel the whole thing. And it sort of did.

It's so interesting, yes. Bush mentioned that in his State of the Union speech in January of 2003. In October of 2002, George Tenet told the president -- he was about to mention that in his speech three months before in the State of the Union, and Tenet said you've got to take that out. We don't think it's true.

So something that was not true in October of 2002 became true again in January of 2003.

KING: Is "Scooter" Libby a fall guy?

MAHER: Yes, of course. Yes, because he was not the only one who was spreading this to reporters. They had some meeting and they said OK, guys -- Karl Rove did it; Ari Fleischer did it; somebody at the CIA did it; and "Scooter" Libby did it. And they said look, fan out, find some gullible reporters -- you know, Pulitzer Prize winners -- and tell them this...

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: ... tell them this about Joe Wilson and his wife, who works for the CIA -- whoops. Oh, I forgot. I guess I let that slip. Anyway, you tell them all what happened.

And -- and some time after that, they must have had a meeting after the you know what hit the fan and said ooh, this has not gone as well as we hoped.

Who should we pin this on?

Well, Karl Rove is Bush's guy and he's the president. We can't do that. Ari Fleischer is the press secretary. Oh, "Scooter" Libby. Yes. He's the guy.

So this is why "Scooter" Libby, of course, has to have a pardon. He just knows way too much. You can't have him ticked off.

KING: So you have to pardon him?

MAHER: Yes. I mean you heard what his wife said after the verdict came in. I can't say it here on CNN, but she said, you know, we're going to -- we're going to BLANK them. And I don't think she was talking about the jury. I mean she was angry but I don't...

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: ... I don't think she's John Gotti's wife.

But who was she so angry at?

I think it's at the people who threw her husband to the wolves.

KING: Let's go to things political.

What do you make of the incredible league -- lead that Giuliani has over McCain?

He's like two to one.

MAHER: Yes. Well, but it's a fake lead. I mean it's so...

KING: Is it?

MAHER: Well, come on. It's so early. It's so early.

KING: Yes, but you don't think that's significant? MAHER: I don't think it's significant, no. I really don't, because, you know, they're just reacting, you know, a year-and-a-half before the election to somebody who they have a sentimental affection for because he was the mayor on 9/11.

We talked about this on my show Friday night. Nobody has really looked into Giuliani's credentials of homeland security, a terrorism fighter. This is why he's so popular, because he was mayor on 9/11 when it happened.

KING: And he did a hell of a job.

MAHER: He did a hell of a job -- well, let's examine that.

Why did he do a hell of a job?

Yes, he was very strong on that day. By the way, Giuliani is the one who said, at the Demo -- at the Republican Convention in 2004, "When 9/11 hit, I said to Bernie Kerik" -- another, you know, great guy who was having sex with people other than his wife in an apartment that overlooked ground zero, because that's hot.

OK, he said, "Thank god George Bush is president."

Giuliani also said, "George Bush is one of the greatest presidents we've ever had."

So if right away there you think he has the judgment to be president, good luck to you.

But, OK, why were there so many great shots of Giuliani that day leading the troops?

It's because he put the command and control center in the World Trade Center. The day that should have changed everything was not 9/11, it was February 23rd, 1993. That's the first time terrorists attacked the World Trade Center.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: And they said they were going to do it again, until they brought it down. But Giuliani put the command and control center in the World Trade Center. They told him not to. His police commissioner told him not to.

KING: Why would he do that, then?

MAHER: Well, they paid up a wazoo for it and that's, you know, some people would say that's because some of his campaign contributors benefited from that.

But, OK, let's just say it was just a bad discuss. But, again, he doesn't have any sort of credentials as a terrorism fighter. After 1993, when they -- in his city -- attacked the World Trade Center, they also foiled a plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel.

Remember that?

KING: Um-hmm.

MAHER: Giuliani -- Mary Jo Beth -- Mary Jo White testified to this. He was not interested in terrorism, even after that. He was interested in the squeegee guys and dirty paintings in the Brooklyn Museum. But he didn't lift a finger to fight terrorism after that.

So he has no credentials in the one area where he's supposed to have credentials.

KING: When we come back, more hot button political topics, including a certain political commentator and button pusher's use of the "F" word.

MAHER: Ooh.

KING: Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, COURTESY HBO)

MAHER: Among the best picture nominees, "Letters -- Letter from Iwo Jima," which is a gut wrenching tragedy about an army sent to die in a hopeless cause by a fanatical government.

Or, as George Bush calls it, the feel good comedy of the year.

Now, up against -- up against that is "The Queen," the story of a woman born to rule but hated because she is unable to show human emotions, which Hillary Clinton calls the feel good comedy of the year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, COURTESY HBO)

MAHER: But I didn't blame Hillary for being a little jealous. Barack Obama, he is treated like a rock star. He was out here.

And you know what?

It was unbelievable. It was pandemonium. One awkward moment -- the city gave him a police escort and the cops beat him up on videotape.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Funny. That's funny.

How's your friend, Ann Coulter, and the faggot word?

What do you make of that? MAHER: Oh...

KING: By the way, I want to...

MAHER: ... you can't say that here.

KING: That's what she said.

MAHER: Oh, I see.

KING: I'm quoting her.

MAHER: OK.

KING: I didn't say it.

Where did it -- where does John Edwards -- how is that funny?

MAHER: You know what?

I think...

KING: John Edwards is a gay?

MAHER: Yes, you have to...

KING: Where?

MAHER: You have to think like a right-winger. First of all, it's interesting to note that she made that comment in front of that right-wing convention. She was not booed. There was actually a moment of ooh and then they all burst into applause. It went over like a cross on fire.

They actually liked that comment. And to people, normal people, you know, people who think like human beings, it was just confusing.

It was like why is John Edwards gay?

He's good looking.

OK, is that equivalent with gay?

No. And then she explained it and I kind of thought about it and I see what she's saying, is that, no, she really meant to say -- what she was trying to say, it's code word for the Democrats are -- I hope I can say this -- you said faggot -- pussies.

Can I say that?

KING: That's code word for -- I never read that. That never came through.

MAHER: No. No, but that's what they mean, is that he's a faggot because he thinks and speaks in complete sentences and reads whole books and doesn't just go off to war without thinking about it twice. And he cares about poor people and the environment, you know, poof stuff, Larry.

KING: Do you still like Ann Coulter?

MAHER: I haven't talked to her in so long. I don't know if she still likes me.

KING: Really?

She used to come on your show a lot.

MAHER: A lot. Yes.

KING: Would you have her back?

MAHER: Yes, I'd have -- of course I'd have her back. I mean I like her -- I like what she says less and less. I never agreed with her. But she never was like out there. But this was a joke, in her defense.

KING: Right.

MAHER: I mean she was making a joke.

KING: A bad joke.

MAHER: I don't know. You know, for that crowd, it was apparently the right joke.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MAHER: As a comedian, I know that's the crowd it got a...

KING: The Democrats have pulled out of the Fox debate.

MAHER: Well, and this is why she has a point.

They're pussies, OK?

Do you remember when Bill Clinton went on with Chris Wallace a few months ago?

KING: Yes.

MAHER: And he showed everybody in that Democratic Party how it should be done.

KING: Get mad.

MAHER: He took on Chris Wallace.

These guys were like oh, no, Fox News, un-nnh, no, I'm sorry, we can't do that. We -- we didn't like the joke.

KING: Well, were they mad at a bad joke, right?

MAHER: They were made at a -- who cares what they're mad at? Instead of withdrawing, which says to everybody in the country oh, typical Democrats. They don't call people out, they just walk away. They don't raise the bet.

Go on there. It's just Chris Wallace. If you can't stand up to Chris Wallace, can you stand up to the terrorists, let alone the Republican Party?

KING: So, a mistake, in your opinion?

MAHER: Yes.

KING: OK.

MAHER: Take it to their house. Win an away game.

KING: All right. Are they ever going to -- the odds are going to close in to make the Giuliani thing closer.

How do you make -- what's your read on Obama and Hillary and that getting close?

MAHER: Well, I think Hillary Clinton is the beneficiary, now, of a vast right-wing conspiracy. We all remember when she was a victim of it. But now I think they want her to run. I read recently that Richard Mellon Scaife, who orchestrated the Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, all that stuff, you know, Whitewater, the evil things the Clintons were doing -- getting a haircut on a plane, using the Christmas card list for donors, the Lincoln Bedroom -- all these scandals, yes, compared to Abu Ghraib and the scandals that the Republicans have had.

OK.

He's laying off this time and I think it's because they want her to be the candidate. And I don't blame them. That's the one that they can beat.

KING: She came out today for a date certain to leave, March of 2008, to leave Iraq. She had, in the past, had said she would not come out for a date certain.

What do you make of that?

MAHER: Well, you know, these are, you know, all the Democrats have a date that they're all just pulling right out of their behind.

What it -- March '08, you know, what is all that?

You know, somebody -- Dennis Kucinich will come out tomorrow. I'm more left than the other ones. You know, we -- again, get on the page of this thing is over. We lost. Let's get out. Democracy is not on the menu in Iraq. Democracy in Iraq equals theocracy. If they could vote, that's what they would vote for. That's what democracy is.

So the choices we have are dictatorship or a theocracy.

I go for a dictatorship.

KING: (LAUGHTER)

We have an e-mail from Marina in Ithaca, New York.

MAHER: Oh.

KING: "What are the chances of you hosting one of the presidential debates in 2008? You would bring wit and fire to the proceedings."

MAHER: I went to college in Ithaca, New York.

KING: Yes?

MAHER: Right.

The same chance that it will not...

KING: Cornell?

MAHER: Yes.

The same chance that it will not snow in January in Cornell.

KING: You will not be asked?

MAHER: No, of course not.

KING: Why? Why don't they want you?

MAHER: Have you heard the first part of this show? Have you been listening to anything I've said, even just in this half hour, let alone the last 15 years I've been on television?

KING: When we come back after the break, we will take phone calls, as well, for the always welcome Bill Maher, the author of "New Rules" and the host of "Real Time With Bill Maher," now in its fifth season.

Lots of great topics.

Coming up, we'll find out what Bill thinks about Newt Gingrich's confession of infidelity as he was leading the charge to impeach Bill Clinton.

I can't wait to hear that.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, COURTESY HBO)

MAHER: New rule -- Hillary Clinton will never be president as long as women keep acting crazy. Now, I know this is not fair. Men don't have to answer for every time Mel Gibson gets drunk and channels Hitler.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: Or Charlie Sheen hits a hooker over the head with another hooker. But...

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: ... the truth is there are too many misogynists out there just itching for any excuse to say that women are too emotional and unstable to be president. I mean you know how these guys think -- women are ruled by their hormones. As opposed to what a president should be ruled by -- the oil and gas lobby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Bill Maher will be in Las Vegas in April, May and June. He's appearing at the Hard Rock, at the Joint, that's the name of the room in the Hard Rock Cafe, April 20th and 21st, on May 4th and 5th and June 15th and 16th. Show times 11:30 p.m.

MAHER: Yes. It's a hip late night thing.

KING: Back to late night in Vegas.

MAHER: Thank you so much for Larry, for doing that Larry.

KING: Three times in Vegas, April, May, June. All right. Gingrich, while he's out to impeach Clinton is having an affair on his wife.

MAHER: And it's so unlike the Republicans to be hypocritical like that.

KING: But he admitted it.

MAHER: He admitted it years ago. I don't know why this was even a story.

Look, the Republicans hate sex because they're bad at it. If you had to have sex with one, it would be over in an excruciating three minutes. But let's not talk about that because we're on the esteemed LARRY KING SHOW.

Let's focus on the idea that none of this would be a subject of conversation if the Supreme Court hadn't made that awful, awful decision to allow Bill Clinton, the president of the United States to be deposed in the Paula Jones case. That's what started all that and there was a special prosecutor at the time. That law also has elapsed.

Could you imagine what would be going on if there was still a special prosecutor to talk about all the things that have been going on. Just this week, we had two more scandals in the Republican administration. The Alberto Gonzales situations with the eight prosecutors that got fired. With the FBI tapping people's phones.

KING: And admitting it.

MAHER: And admitting it. There are so many real scandals they could go after.

KING: Windsor, Ontario, as we take a call for Bill Maher. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: What a wonderful show. Listen, Larry, I want to ask both you and Bill a question. What are the soldiers paid to fight this terrible war?

KING: What is the salary? Don't know, do you?

MAHER: It's -- I'm quite sure I couldn't cite figures. I'm quite sure it is as cheap as you can possibly get away with. It's virtually nothing.

KING: They don't make good money?

MAHER: They don't make good money.

KING: You get extra if you're wounded, though.

MAHER: You get extra, but you don't get very good care, do you? That's such a scandal. And again, if you look at why that is a scandal, because of that philosophy in this administration everything can be handled better by the private sector.

They basically outsourced the care at Walter Reed to the private sector because of that idea that began with Ronald Reagan, the government isn't the solution to our problems, government is our problem.

Well, government isn't perfect, I agree with that. But I think what we learned from this and also, by the way, the outsourcing of so many jobs in Iraq, to people who charge five times as much for the same job and do the job the job 10 times as worse is that, yes, there are problems with government workers but they're not nearly as bad as corporations.

Corporations only care about one thing, money, greed, corporate shareholders, the bottom line. And that leads to a lot more corruption and inefficiency than government work does.

KING: We have an e-mail Eva from Helsinki, Finland. "What do you think about George W. Bush as a private person. Would you like to go out and have a beer with him?"

MAHER: No. Well, yes. So I could get drunk and punch him in the nose. But that's about it. As a private person. You know, yes. Because he should have been the bartender at a 19th hole at a golf club. That was his calling in life. If his name had been George Bushler, that would be what he was doing. That's what he's capable of.

It's just because he was the son of a president is why he was able to rise to the heights he was able to rise to. So I'm sure he's OK as a guy to have a drink with.

KING: I think we went by it. Do you think Obama could get this nomination?

MAHER: Yeah, I do.

KING: What do you think of him?

MAHER: I think a lot of him. I think he's a very capable guy. Somebody in the "New York Times" recently wrote a very interesting column. I'm sorry, I can't remember who, it might have been David Brooks but I don't like him so I don't think it was him. Maybe Nicholas Kristof, one of their op-ed writers wrote a great article saying he doesn't have the experience we are used to when we talk about experience.

He's only been in the senate a couple years. But he has a different kind of experience. For example, he lived overseas. That might be helpful, since we're in so much trouble overseas. He understands the Muslim world compared to our present president, who had to ask, at the time we were invading a Muslim country, when he was told that Iraq was made up of Sunnis and Shias. He said, I thought they were Muslims over there.

To me. This is an impeachable offense. To me, this is an insult to me, when Bill O'Reilly say, you really think he's stupid. Yeah, somebody who invades a Muslim country and doesn't know there's a potential civil war between the Sunnis and the Shias brewing, that's stupid and that's impeachable.

KING: Have you lost faith in your country?

MAHER: No. I've lost faith in my government. But I still think a lot of what this country is built on is still there. Yes, I criticize it a lot but I just spent a long time overseas on this last break. And I couldn't wait to get back home to the country that I make fun of so much.

KING: Where were you?

MAHER: I was in Israel, I was in Holland, I was in Britain, I was in Vatican City.

KING: Fun or working.

MAHER: Working.

KING: On? MAHER: We were doing -- the great Larry Charles, the director who did "Borat" and "Seinfeld" and so many great things, he and I got together to do a documentary on religion which if he's busy in the editing room will be out later this year.

KING: For movies?

MAHER: Mm-hmm.

KING: Got a title?

MAHER: No. We don't have title yet. I do but I don't want to say it.

KING: Go ahead.

MAHER: No, no. Come on. It might be called "Religion is Stupid" but I don't want to give away the ending.

KING: Still to come, I'll ask Bill which potential presidential candidate would likely give him the best comedy and satire material. Don't forget that special ANDERSON COOPER 360 tonight at 10:00, focusing on a former Catholic priest, he is convicted of abusing young boy, one of who is a well known CNN anchor, Thomas Roberts. Stick around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: It's a little different in our country and Great Britain. Prince Harry, second in line -- third in line to the royal throne, he's going. He's going to Iraq. He's going to be in a tank unit to try and stabilize Basra.

On the other hand, the Bush twins are getting tanked. And they're going to reinvade Margaritaville.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: In other slave owning news this week. I don't know -- It's a big week for slave owning news. I couldn't make this up, I'm not making this up. One of Al Sharpton's ancestors, you heard this, yes, was owned by one of Strom Thurmond's ancestors, but they sold him because his medallion kept getting caught in the cotton gin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: Wrong. That is wrong, that joke. I don't know who would do a joke like that.

KING: Anyway, we did the promo so I'd better ask it. Which of all the candidates, if elected, would be the most fodder for America's late night comics. MAHER: Well, I'm rooting for Mitt Romney because he's a Mormon and I don't think people know very much about the Mormons. And when they find out they'll be delighted.

KING: He'll be here Thursday night. Tune in, we'll ask him.

MAHER: When Mitt Romney was growing up in the 1950s the Mormons taught black people could only get into heaven as slaves. Where do you get the moderate position on that. I'm interested to know how Mitt Romney is going to spin that.

KING: He would be the most fun for the ...

MAHER: For me he would be the most fun.

KING: E-mail question from Scott in Seattle, Washington.

"What do you think about all the coverage the media has given Anna Nicole's death and its legal fall-out?"

MAHER: Horrible. I love you and love CNN but CNN needs CNN 2. When MTV stopped showing music videos which is the original reason people watched MTV, they got MTV 2, OK, here are the videos back.

When something like this happens, it's very hard to find news on a news channel, not just this one. And that is very disturbing.

KING: Why?

MAHER: Because the news division is now a division that has to make a profit. It didn't used to be that way. William S. Paley didn't care if the news division at CBS made a profit. It was any loss leader. That was the point.

KING: CNN can't be a loss leader, it is a news product. CBS wasn't 24 hour news.

MAHER: It is part of a giant corporation which also pays my check.

KING: Right. HBO is owned by the same people who own this.

MAHER: Also I think what was interesting about the Anna Nicole Smith situation, nobody seemed to make a big deal of the facts she died from prescription drugs. Again, this is a big pet peeve with me. Street drugs, you go to jail for, they're awful, they kill you, but marijuana, which is illegal, never killed a single person that I know of. But as long as your name is on that little bottle, it's OK, no matter what you're doing, what you're mixing with other drugs. A lot of people die from prescription drugs. But that's OK because they have a lobby in Washington, the Partnership for Drug-Free America. Which of course does not want a drug free America, they want an America free of the drugs that are their competition, like marijuana.

Because if they had to go up against Prozac, they'd lose.

KING: On a somber note, Richard Jeni died of apparently a self- inflicted gunshot wound, only 45 years old.

MAHER: Forty-nine, yeah ...

KING: He had the most watched show ever on Showtime. His one hour special on Showtime.

MAHER: He's a funny guy.

KING: There he is.

MAHER: It's hard to stop thinking about it. I knew him from jump street, as we say. We were young comics together, we came up together. I don't know why he did it. He had a lot to live for, but what it made me think of was - and again, I'm not sure if this is related to career, but this country loves to talk about dreams, especially show business dreams.

And everyone who makes it in show business says, oh, just follow your dream, you can make it. No, you can't.

Every time - and I'm not picking on her, I love Jennifer Hudson, she is a great star, but she is like everybody who makes it and they say, I had a dream to be a singer.

No, you had a dream to be a star, OK. When you tell everybody your dreams can come true, too, somebody needs to be there to say, no, they can't. You know what, you have as much a chance of becoming a star in show business as you do of winning the Powerball lottery.

KING: But Jeni, you think it might have been he wasn't a star? Because he was certainly a fixture, wasn't he? He wasn't a superstar.

MAHER: Everyone who starts in show business has a picture where they're going to end up. It's not working the improv in Chicago when you're 49 years old. If the reality doesn't match that picture, it's a great disappointment.

KING: More with Bill Maher in a minute. Right now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper who as you'll know from all the promos we've been running has an extraordinary show tonight. Anderson?

COOPER: Yeah, Larry, we're calling it "Sins of the Father." Anchor Thomas Roberts talks about abuse that he endured at the hands of a Roman Catholic priest, how he was trapped by a man admired by so many.

Now two decades later, after a long difficult fight for justice, Thomas Roberts is finally telling his story. You'll hear it here on 360 at the top of the hour, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Anderson. That is going to be something. 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. When we come back, more of your phone calls and e-mails for Bill Maher, stick around.

Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, the Spade who shovels the dirty on Hollywood. The celebrity who loves to trash other celebrities. Comedian David Spade joins me tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: They're going after Al Gore, he's not even in the race yet. They're going after him. He had won the Oscar Sunday. Not even a day goes by when they busted him because apparently, listen to this, his house in Tennessee uses 20 times the electricity of the average house in Tennessee. But that's because Gore's house has electricity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: I kid Tennessee. Love it. I played Nashville last year. It was great.

KING: Great town.

MAHER: Yeah. Great town, the Opry house.

Crockett, California, for Bill Maher. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, bill. When your show was on ABC, I heard you say racial profile is OK when a sweaty Arab sits next to you holding a briefcase. Just the other night, you said Islam is the religion of peace, piece of someone over here, piece of someone over there.

I'm Jewish. My name is Eduardo Cohen. You could have said the same thing about Israel dropping cluster bombs on Lebanon or our Christian war against Muslims. This is religious bigotry on your part. Do you really think that this is what the world or our country needs now, bigotry against Muslim and Arabs?

KING: Bill?

MAHER: It's religious reality, it's not bigotry. There are two kinds of people in this country. The people who are onto Muslim fanaticism and keep it real about it and people who are not.

I'll stop making those kind of jokes. The other joke that I liked on the show was that we were talking about whether Islam is a religion of peace.

I said, I would never say it's not a religion of peace because if you do, they'll kill you. I'll stop making those jokes when the vast majority of Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism start denouncing the people in the Muslim world who do have something to do with terrorists.

KING: A Muslim who boards a plane should not be offended if he is more searched than a non-Muslim.

MAHER: I think -- What the guy just quoted, this is elementary police work. The people going after us mostly, again, 99.99 percent of Muslims are not terrorists but among the people trying to hurt us, almost 100 percent are young Muslim men. If you see a sweaty Muslim man in an airport, please, call me back and tell me all the people who actually wouldn't be alarmed at that.

I know 9/11 was supposed to change everything but 9/11 didn't change anything. And when history is written, 9/11 will not be seen as the date that didn't change anything, 9/11 will be lumped in with all the snooze alarm dates.

That's what we say now. We say oh, we took look out when the World Trade Center was attacked in '93 and the Cole was bombed and the African embassies. All those things that led up to 9/11, we should have - no, 9/11 was just another one of those, it goes right in that category with the Cole and embassies and first World Trade Center bombing. The thing that changes everything hasn't happened yet, but it will.

KING: We have an e-mail from Michelle, Texas City, Texas.

What's your take on Halliburton moving its corporate headquarters from Houston to Dubai. I think they are going to stay in Houston, keep one in Houston and one in Dubai.

They haven't moved completely.

MAHER: Right. Well, Dick Cheney used to run ...

KING: Halliburton.

MAHER: Halliburton. Used the run the white house out of Halliburton. Now, he runs Halliburton out of the White House. What's the difference?

KING: What do you make of the move, though?

MAHER: Dubai, isn't that the place that Bush was trying to sell the ports to, remember that one a couple years ago, Bush said we need to sell the ports to an Arab country with ties to Muslim extremism and 9/11.

What if John Kerry had said that? What if John Kerry stood up at the debates in 2004 and said, I have a different plan. Let's sell our ports to an Arab country. What would Karl Rove have done there?

KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments with Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time with Bill Maher." And he'll be in Vegas April, May and June at the Hard Rock Cafe. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: As of five minutes ago, Britney Spears is back in rehab. Two weeks ago, I did not think it was possible to lose a custody battle with Kevin Federline. But five years ago, I didn't think it was possible to lose a war with the Sunnis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Tomorrow night, join us for funny man, David Spade. Our text vote question for the night is, which do you like comedians to cover more, celebrities or politicians? Text your vote from your cell phone to CNNTV, which is 26688. Text KINGA for celebrities, KINGB for politicians. We'll reveal the results on tomorrow night's show when our guest is David Spade. You can always e-mail us. Go to cnn.com/larryking. Another call in for Bill Maher. Estes Park, Colorado. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Bill. I am an American refugee from New Orleans, still not back home. The tragedy is 17 months old and they are still not searching -- completing the search for bodies. I'd like to know in your opinion, how is it that Bush and Chertoff can slip through like greased monkeys and not respond, have a discussion or take responsibility or take action. Thank you.

MAHER: Well, an electorate that's asleep at the switch, elections that were based on fear. That's why these guys are in office.

Again, going back to something we were saying earlier in the show. When you put political hacks in important jobs, people die. I know people got mad at me about what I said about Cheney. The truth is bad regimes just get people killed. That's fact.

Would a lot of people have died in a huge storm like Katrina anyway, yes, a lot of people would have. But I have no doubt that not as many people would have died if FEMA was on the case.

Under Clinton, FEMA was a very effect agency. Under Bush, it's not, the same thing with Walter Reed veterans -- the guy in charge of Veteran's Affairs, and Walter Reed is an army hospital, I know the difference, but that guy was, again, he's a political hack. His background is in real estate and raising money for the GOP.

That's the kind of people they put in charge of important agencies. Yes, when you do that, people are going to die.

KING: I only have about 30 seconds. What's taking so long with Katrina, though?

MAHER: Right now? I assume it's because they're still trying to repair the damage from putting these people into these jobs. George Bush doesn't know how to run a government. That's the bottom line. He's the top guy, the buck stops there. But Republicans always run on the idea government is ineffective and then as someone once said, they let elected and prove it.

KING: As always, thanks, Bill.

Bill Maher, you will see him in Vegas in April, May and June. His new rules book, "Polite Musings from a Timid Observer," "New York Times" bestseller. And "Real Time with Bill Maher," of course, on HBO.

I've been telling you a little bit tonight about a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360 coming up next. I thought I'd wrap things up this hour with a visual preview.

It's the story of CNN Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts and how he was victimized as a child by a Catholic priest that he and his family trusted. Take a look at a riveting expert of Anderson's special presentation entitled appropriately "Sins of the Father."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS ROBERTS, CNN HN ANCHOR: I was robbed here. My self- respect and my own image. Part of my soul even. This place paralyzed me into thinking that I would die with this secret. I would die with this secret.

COOPER: At 15 years old, Thomas Roberts was trapped. Trapped by the one person her was supposed to trust. His counselor, his priest, Father Jeff Toohey.

ROBERTS: It's probably the worst place you can be in your life because there is so much shame that goes along with this. There is secrecy. There is shame. There is self-hatred, self-doubt. Every mixed up emotion can have that you don't feel you can talk to anyone about. It was a prison. It was like backing me into a corner with nowhere to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's coming up at the top of the hour.

Tomorrow night, David Spade is our special guest. Don't forget, Thursday night, Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who headed up the Olympics in Salt Lake City will be our special guest as well.

Right now let's turn it over to Anderson Cooper in New York, the host of AC 360 and this extraordinary hour coming up. Anderson?

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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