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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Bill Maher

Aired February 4, 2008 - 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 funny. He's smart. He says what he thinks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER: Could I have the writers back please?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The man who's got an opinion about almost everything talks about Super Tuesday the Super Bowl and he's taking your calls.

He's Bill Maher next on "LARRY KING LIVE."

We do not exaggerate when we say he is always welcome on LARRY KING LIVE. Whether we agree or disagree, there's no more relevant, funnier guest than Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time with Bill Maher". It recently kicked off its sixth season on HBO without writers...

MAHER: Kicked off?

KING: Kicked again. Kicked...

MAHER: Oh, I thought we were kicked off again.

KING: No, the game.

MAHER: Jeez, Larry, you scared me.

KING: (LAUGHTER).

He's a New York time best-selling author. In fact, his book "When You Ride Alone You Still Ride with Bin Laden" has been updated.

MAHER: Wow!

KING: It's also available in CDs. It's still a best-seller. And he'll be appearing at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on the 14th and 15th of March.

MAHER: Oh.

KING: First, Super Bowl thoughts.

What did you make of that game? MAHER: Well, that's funny you mention that, because I've been saying to my friends all week that if the Giants won the Super Bowl, Obama would win the nomination.

KING: Meaning -- meaning what?

MAHER: Well, he, to me, was the New York Giants. He was the challenger. He was the guy coming up from behind.

KING: Coming on.

MAHER: He had the momentum. He was getting hot at the right time. Hillary was the Patriots -- the establishment candidate, inevitable...

KING: Couldn't have lost.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: Couldn't lose. And this -- you know, I never bet. And I thought, oh, this was the one game I should have bet on. First of all, I've been a Giants fan since I was on my father's knee, OK?

KING: Yes, sure. You grew up in New York. That was the only team.

MAHER: Yes. And I stuck with it. When I moved out to California -- unlike some of my friends I could mention -- I stuck with the New York teams. You don't switch teams.

Even if you move cities, you stay with who you grew up with, right?

OK. So I didn't bet, but I should have, because that was an exhilarating game.

KING: And do you still now further hook that to Obama?

MAHER: I think that -- well, you know, I mean this is not rational. But I do think there is something to that. And that's why I do think Obama will get the nomination.

KING: You do.

MAHER: (INAUDIBLE).

KING: OK, now give me an overview beyond just that it tied in with the Giants.

Why will he get the nomination?

MAHER: I just think there's something there that we haven't seen in decades -- you know, people getting involved who never got involved before. He's stirring something. You know, he got like 14,000 people in Idaho or some place where there's only 12,000 Democrats. He got 14,000 to come to a stadium. And, you know, it's something that's -- it's beyond politics. And that's, I think, what a lot of this country has been looking for. In the last presidential election, I think, the figure is 79 million people who could have voted and did not. Those are the people, I think, who are getting involved. And I've said this before, I think if the people who don't vote voted, those are basically liberal voters. Conservatives tend to be squares. And I don't say that in a derisive way. They're just the kind of people who get up early and vote. And liberals tend to be in a nightclub at night or, you know, they're -- they're younger, they're poorer. They're perhaps more self- involved. They're a lot of things. But I think if there was hand mandatory voting, if someone went to everybody's apartment and grabbed you by the scruff of your neck and said you have to pick somebody, now get in there and pick, I think you'd find out that this country is lot more liberal than people realize.

KING: We're staying with the Democrats for a while.

Is this a what happened to Hillary or is it a plus for Obama?

MAHER: Yes. I think it's a plus for Obama. I mean, like Hillary. You know, there's nothing not to like about her. People who hate Hillary -- that is so a comment on what's going on inside them. You know, Hillary just is not, to me, not polarizing a figure. She's a centrist. That's what the liberals don't like about her so much.

If you read Ralph Nader's column a couple of days ago, he pointed out that during the '90s, the Clintons had a chance to do some pretty radical things and they didn't. They're awfully corporate. They're awfully cozy with the corporations. This is why she was not my first choice for the nomination.

However, I do think that if she got the job, she'd be an extremely capable executive and it would be, you know, light years better than what we have now.

KING: What do you...

MAHER: But I just think that we're at a point in our history where we need to hear the words "and now for something completely different." We want that breath of fresh air, just like 1960.

KING: Did Bill hurt?

MAHER: Did he hurt her, by -- with his...

KING: Yes.

MAHER: I don't think -- you know, everything people were disliking about Bill Clinton in the campaign in South Carolina, if she did get the nomination, when they went up against the Republicans, they would be loving that about Bill Clinton. Then they would like that attack dog.

But I never saw him as what they were describing him in the media. I mean I know they say that he injected race into the campaign. He said one thing that was a little racially tinged when he said well, come on, Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice in the '80s. Yes. But I think people are so sensitive. And I would hear on the media, you know, Bill Clinton had another meltdown today. I'd be oh, boy, I can't wait to see that tape -- Bill Clinton's meltdown. And it would be like, you know, he raised his finger for one second.

That's a meltdown?

KING: Why do the haters of the Clintons hate the Clintons?

MAHER: That's what I'm saying. It's about them. It's about the haters, not about the Clintons, you know?

I think a lot of people are wall sexually repressed and that's why they hate Bill Clinton.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: Seriously. They'll never forgive him because he likes sex and he got it.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: And they don't like sex or they can't get it.

KING: Are you surprised that your friend Ann Coulter said -- I believe yesterday -- that if McCain gets the nomination, she will for Hillary.

MAHER: Ann Coulter saying something just to get headlines -- that is shocking, Larry. That doesn't sound like the Ann Coulter...

KING: She said that...

MAHER: ...that I know.

KING: She said that Hillary was more conservative than McCain.

MAHER: Well, that proves what I've been saying about Hillary. Well, that's also interesting because it just shows that the Republican base is in the process of slitting the throat of the party. On a number of issues, the Republican base is the worst enemy of the Republican Party. To watch that debate -- the CNN debate last week at the Reagan Library -- and see McCain and Mitt Romney arguing with each other about who wants to stay in Iraq longer, who thinks it's a better idea to be there forever?

To see these two guys fight for ownership of a policy that three quarters of the country thinks is awful, that was quite something to see.

Immigration -- another example of a policy the Republicans are slitting their throat with. You know, they are for a policy on immigration that is alienating every Latino in this country.

KING: Why do you think radio talk show hosts are so against McCain? MAHER: Because they're right-wing kooks. Because they're nuts. Because they live on nothing but hate and carbohydrates.

KING: (LAUGHTER).

MAHER: Really. I mean you're talking about Rush Limbaughs and the Sean (INAUDIBLE) -- because they live in a fantasy world. They want to bring back the 1950s and it's not coming back. And it's interesting that If Hillary is the candidate, all the right-wingers who would sit on their hands because John McCain is not pure enough -- these Rush Limbaugh types, these inquisitors of purity, for whom John McCain is not conservative enough -- if Hillary is the candidate, they'll get over the McCain hatred. They'll come out, I think -- Ann Coulter notwithstanding -- just to vote against Hillary.

But if it's Obama, they kind of like Obama. They don't really like him, but there's something about him that apparently is not so awful to these people. I heard Bill Bennett say he liked Obama.

Bill Bennett likes Barack Obama?

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: There's -- there's something -- I heard it on your station today, Obama Republicans.

KING: Obama Republicans?

MAHER: Obama Republicans.

KING: Bill Maher is our guest, the host of "Real Time with Bill Maher".

We'll be taking calls, lots of other things.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: Now this is who the Democrats brought out last night. James Bond was there, Leo DiCaprio, OK, Diane Keaton, Steven Spielberg. Now, not to be outdone, this is who John McCain was campaigning with last week -- Wilfred Brimley...

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: ...the Quaker Oats dude. They are a little celebrity challenged. John McCain must have said to his staff, OK, find me someone who makes me look young.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Bill Maher.

On the Republican side, did Romney run about as strong as you thought?

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: He's exceeded...

KING: I mean with all that money.

MAHER: He's exceeded my expectations. But, you know, my friend over on MSNBC, "Morning Joe," he said it the best, I thought. He said, you know, this is a guy who is a Mormon and a Republican, and he won the governorship of Massachusetts. So you underestimate Mitt Romney at your peril.

Yes. I mean it's so funny, the Republicans have two candidates they don't really like.

If you saw the Democratic debate at the Kodak last week...

KING: Sure.

MAHER: ...the Democrats are like we love you both.

KING: Yes. They were hand in hand...

MAHER: We're torn. We love you. We are all so great.

Couldn't you be together?

And the Republicans are like we don't really like either one of you. One of you is authentic, but doesn't have the ideas we think are conservative enough. And the other has the ideas, but we know you're just android who's mouthing them...

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: ...and that's Mitt Romney. And that's nothing new for -- I mean, I know people are going to object to this, but Mormons have always been shape shifters.

KING: Shape shifters?

MAHER: Yes. That's what they accuse Mitt Romney of doing, of, you know, shifting his shape whenever it suits him. And he has. You know, he was a certain type of Republican -- by the way, I think he was the type of Republican where the party should move. If you saw that picture of John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger -- that's a reasonable Republican Party.

KING: Better control of the environment and...

MAHER: Environment, more liberal on social issues, it's OK I've you've been married more than once. OK. But Mitt Romney, he became a very different type of Republican when he ran for president -- and sort of in a hurry. But that's what the Mormons have done. I mean the Mormons believe that -- like the guy who just had the funeral, Gordon Hinckley, you know, that was their head of the church. But the head of their church is not just the head of their church, he's a prophet. He's a seer. He's a guy who gets it right from God and can make pronouncements.

And their founder talked -- you know, got it right from the angel, right from God. And God said, you know, plural marriage. It was right from God. But then when they wanted to become a state, all right, we gave up on that. It was just right from God...

KING: But what are you saying...

MAHER: ...it's not like it's...

KING: Romney believes he gets something from God?

MAHER: No. I'm just saying that if people in the religion can say this came directly from God but we're not married to it -- plural marriage, you know, we're not married. You know, it came from God but we're shelving it. Then it makes sort of sense that Mitt Romney would be able to change his positions like that. They did the same thing about blacks. You know, for a long time, when Mitt Romney was a child, blacks, you know, not equal, you know, slave race. Oh, no, we're going to throw that away.

KING: President Hinckley, though, was a wonderful man. I interviewed him a few times and spent some time with him.

Did you ever meet him?

MAHER: No.

KING: You would have liked him.

MAHER: Really?

KING: Really. He was a terrific guy, a great sense of humor.

MAHER: Yes?

KING: Yes.

MAHER: And what do you...

KING: Trust me, he was a good guy. You don't have to agree with him.

MAHER: But based on what?

What makes him a good guy?

KING: I mean just personally -- the kind of person he was.

MAHER: Based on the fact that you sat across him at a table for...

KING: No. I liked...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: He was a nice guy.

MAHER: Oh. OK.

KING: Mike Huckabee -- what do you make of his campaign?

MAHER: A nice guy.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: He is. I've had him on the show many times. He's, you know, but...

KING: Funny?

MAHER: Very funny. You know, he's got a real political sense of humor. But, you know, he did say that he thinks we should change the Constitution to conform with the bible, which to me is so arrogant. It is just so arrogant because it presupposes that we all agree that the bible is the word of God, that that old book of Jewish fairy tales is the word of God.

Well, you have every right to believe that, but I don't. And millions of other people don't. And to go right through that stop sign where the Constitution is separated from what your religious belief is and say that we should amend the Constitution based on the bible and assume we all believe what you believe is -- is terribly arrogant.

KING: By the way, Bill has a movie coming out in a couple of months called "Religilous". It's a combination of religion and...

MAHER: Yes, it's a word we made up.

KING: Religion and what else?

MAHER: Just like religion. It's something made up out of whole cloth.

KING: Religion and what else?

MAHER: Ridiculous.

KING: Ridiculous. And it's a full length feature movie coming, right?

MAHER: Yes.

KING: OK, what...

MAHER: And Mike Huckabee is going to love it.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What happened to Giuliani, who was ahead a couple of months ago?

MAHER: Well, a number of things. One, 9/11 became less of an issue with people. When he first started to run, people, I think, were still crazy kooky crazy about, you know, 9/11, and here's the guy who can protect us from the terrorists because, after all, he was in the city they attacked.

What better credential could you have than that?

OK. But even accepting that, 9/11 became the second, third, fourth issue on peoples' minds -- the economy, the Iraq War and so forth.

But, also, he will go down in history as the jackass who tried to not enter the -- or not campaign heavily in Iowa, New Hampshire -- all the first primaries. He thought he could -- he could somehow not be in the news cycle?

Are you kidding?

In today's day and age, if you're not in the news cycle, you don't exist.

And in a presidential campaign that lives on the day by day news cycle, to be out of it for a month?

I mean just to put it in perspective, Britney Spears has to do something completely insane every day to stay in that news cycle.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: Seriously. I mean there was a time when you could do something crazy once a year and you'd stay relevant with the nuts. She does it on a daily basis, because if she doesn't Lindsay Lohan, Paris...

KING: So Rudy -- Rudy withdrew, basically.

MAHER: Well, he made a stupid tactical error, yes.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO.

By the way, do you believe the writers strike will be settled this week?

That's the quick vote on our Web site, cnn.com/larryking. Head there now and vote. We'll get Bill's thoughts right ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: This week saw some people drop out. Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the race. (APPLAUSE)

MAHER: Please. I will miss Rudy Giuliani, as a comedian.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: I will miss the arguments he had with Mitt Romney. It was like a Halloween costume debating a mannequin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: So nobody has caught your fancy for this election?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean if you want to know the truth...

MAHER: No (OBSCENE WORD OMITTED) me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I'm going to vote for the black guy because he's black.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

KING: "Real Time with Bill Maher".

OK, when are you going to get your writers back?

MAHER: From your lips to God's ears.

KING: The word is like it's imminent.

MAHER: Great. Terrific.

KING: Do you hear anything?

MAHER: I -- no, I don't.

Do you?

KING: I just announced that there's word around...

MAHER: Yes, there's been...

KING: The trades are leaking that it might happen this week.

MAHER: Well, I certainly have no scoop for you, Larry.

Did you think that I was the guy going to come in off the street and, Larry...

KING: Break the strike. MAHER: ...I got the...

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: Just off the wire -- remember those days?

KING: How bad has it been for you?

MAHER: You know, I miss my guys. Love them. Love my writers. I said that on the air. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to sit around a writing room. I said, you know, Paul McCartney -- my favorite quote. He said, "I'd rather have a band than a Rolls Royce." I'd rather have a writing room than a Rolls Royce. That's my luxury. That's my band.

But, you know what?

I'm a comedian. I've been doing this for a long time. They can't stop me from doing a show, as much as they try -- intimidating guests from being on there and so forth. And, you know, this idea that, you know, these other hosts, they can't have writers but, you know, for some reason -- you'll have to explain it to me -- Dave Letterman, he made a separate deal and he can have his writers and...

KING: He made a deal, yes.

MAHER: I don't get that. It's like the United Auto Workers go out on strike, except for the guys who make the fenders.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: I don't get it. But, you know, I don't want to make enemies with the union. I've said it before. I think especially in this age of the corporate stranglehold on America, we needed unions more than ever.

Let's just get it over with.

KING: Let's hope it ends this week.

MAHER: I've certainly got my fingers crossed.

KING: We'll all be a lot better.

An e-mail question from David in Little Rock: "Why do the Republicans have such a fascination with all things Ronald Reagan? Why aren't the Democrats doing more to combat the notion that he was a good president?"

MAHER: A great question, one I've raised myself many times. If you saw that debate last week at the Reagan Library -- and again, you know, the Democrats love their candidates.

The Republicans are like, could we bring the dead guy back?

(LAUGHTER) MAHER: Could we get you people off the stage and just bring the body of Ronald Reagan in here?

He would better, which is so silly because Reagan was not even Reaganesque. He raised taxes. He was for amnesty.

If the Republicans of today were actually facing the Ronald Reagan who really was preaching what he preached...

KING: (INAUDIBLE) in some aspects.

MAHER: Yes. They'd be running attack ads against him. Rush Limbaugh would be saying he'd vote for Hillary Clinton before Ronald Reagan. It's amazing their capacity -- that wing of the Republican Party -- for myth.

KING: What do you think is the power of the political -- of the right-wing talk show?

MAHER: I think it's...

KING: Or are they preaching to the choir?

MAHER: I think it's on the wane. They are definitely preaching to the choir, because no one else could stand to listen to it.

KING: In other words, no one ever listened and said boy, I changed my vote?

MAHER: I don't think so. No. I think those are people who want to hear it. And by the way, Rush Limbaugh brags all the time that he's listened to by 20 million people a week. That's true -- for an average of 11 minutes at a time.

Do you know that?

That's how much they listen.

KING: Yes, but it's not 20 million in total at 11 minutes. It's -- it's spread out over that.

MAHER: Right. But I'm saying people...

KING: (INAUDIBLE) radio show (INAUDIBLE).

MAHER: Well, that's what they say. But, you know, what I'm saying is people, you know, lunchtime get in their car. Ah, Rush is on. I'll listen to that. Oh, now I'm at the sandwich shop. Off.

KING: Yes, that's the way most radio listeners -- yes, sure.

MAHER: It's not exactly appointment listening. OK. So he is influential. But I think this election could put an end to that. Because like I said, I think the future of the Republican Party is not with the purity inquisitors. I think it's with McCain, Giuliani and Schwarzenegger. KING: An e-mail question from Scott in Kirkland, Washington: "Will Ralph Nader hurt the Democratic nominee if he decides to run again?"

MAHER: I don't think he's going to run again. It's too late. And I think he understands that, you know, that that bus has sailed for him.

KING: Why would he even think of running?

MAHER: Well, because no one is carrying the banner. John Edwards was closest to carrying the banner that was Ralph Nader's platform. And I've said it before, Ralph Nader's platform is not wrong. You know, corporations do have much too heavy of a stranglehold on this country at this point. And that was his big theme and that was John Edwards' theme, was that you can't negotiate with these people, you have to take it from them.

But I don't think Ralph Nader -- even Ralph Nader, as pure as he is, I don't think he thinks that it would be helpful to do that. The best we can do is hope that the guy with the hope message, also, when he gets in there, is going to do something.

KING: Do you think Edwards will endorse somebody?

MAHER: Well, it's a little late. He should have done -- if he was going to do it, he was going to do it today, before Super Tuesday. Now is when it matters.

But I think it's a shame that he's even out of the race. I mean it's -- you know, it's amazing the way the media talked about John Edwards, like something happened to him -- you know, like it was a tragedy, like, oh, boy, John Edwards, he's very angry. Oh, yes, something -- something happened to John.

Yes, he read the paper. He saw where this country was going. Everybody should be as angry as John Edwards. Everybody should be as fired up about those issues.

And, by the way, Hillary and Obama are stealing his platform and his issues.

KING: Our latest pod cast is available for downloading -- "The Reagan I Knew," available at CNN.com/larryking or iTunes. It's a special look at Ronald Reagan's presidency with the people who knew him best.

"The Reagan I Knew" pod cast at CNN.com/larryking.

And more with Bill Maher right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN," COURTESY WORLDWIDE PANTS INC.)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has endorsed McCain. (APPLAUSE)

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: All right, settle down.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, Giuliani said he's going to stay active. He said he will endorse John McCain, whereas Edwards surprised everyone by saying he will endorse Herbal Essence Fruit Fusion Volumizing Shampoo.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man has beautiful hair, why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He does. He really does.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: Is it just me, or do they look like the local weekend news anchor team?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE with Bill Maher. Tomorrow night, by the way, we're on at Midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific following all the shenanigans. We'll have the follow up to Super Tuesday. And then Wednesday, we'll have a big wrap-up show back at our regular time of 9:00 Eastern, as we complete 40 hours of programming on CNN.

Our guest is Bill Maher. We have a call from Reno, Nevada. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. I have a question for Mr. Maher.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: When ex-president Clinton fell asleep twice at the ceremony for Martin Luther King for his birthday, do you feel that was a slap in the face for every African-American in the United States? If he was too tired, he should have stayed home. And how is Hillary going to handle him in the White House?

MAHER: I feel it was a slap in the face of Lunesta. I showed that clip on our show because I thought it was so funny. And I thought, you know, everyone is so mad at Bill Clinton for everything else he said, every little finger wag and parsing every word he said. Here's a shot of him falling asleep at a black church. Why didn't that get more traction?

KING: That should have been a biggie.

MAHER: I thought so. You know that the guy that was up there speaking thought, oh, boy, the president is not even listening to every word I say. But, you know, Bill Clinton famously never slept. I guess he has kept that habit.

But you would think that he would have done something the first time he fell off his hand to just go, OK, fellow, you know, whatever I have to do. Think about Paula Jones. But I have to stay up now. He just kept falling asleep.

KING: An e-mail from Massachusetts; "where would you rank" -- it's hard to ask -- "where would you rank George W. Bush among other United States presidents?"

MAHER: How many presidents have there been, Larry?

KING: Forty three.

MAHER: I would rank him at 45. In other words, someone who is yet to be president, I know, no matter who it is, will be better than him. Yes, I mean, the worst. I would not say I'm a scholar of American history. I was a history major. I have studied history. I certainly know the administrations of every president.

KING: What was his biggest failing?

MAHER: Oh, let me count the ways. Oh, gosh, where does it begin? Probably, it will be a toss up in history between what he did to the economy, what he did to the environment, and, of course, what he did in Iraq. You know, he certainly -- the environment, well that's been a bipartisan disaster over many years. Nobody has really moved to fix that situation. And that might be ultimately our undoing. You can't blame him all for that.

At a time when that issue became obvious that we had to do something, he was still dragging his feet. And it's so infuriating the way, as he did in the State of the Union Address a week ago, talks now about global warming like, you know what, come on, folks, got to get off the oil. Hello! That's what is killing us. Some idiot around here has been dragging his feet on this issue, and when I find out who it is -- you know, it's ridiculous.

Iraq, I think, obviously is the issue that he will either be known as a great president for, an awful president for. Anyone who thinks it is going to be great I think is deluding themselves.

KING: Of all these candidates, who is strongest on the economy?

MAHER: I don't know even what that means. They don't really talk about the economy. They all say -- even the Democrats back this stimulus package, which to me is like throwing a bum money to get him to go away. You know when a homeless person comes up and it's like oh, god, you stink, little animals crawling in your hair. Here's five dollars, ease on down the road and talk to somebody else. That seems like what we're doing. Here's 600 dollars, please go away. Maybe you'll forget about the nine billion that we lost in Iraq.

Where's John McCain, Mr. Straight Talk oversight, when it comes to that? We lost nine billion dollars in Iraq. Nobody even knows where it is. We have to find out about that. You know, it's interesting, 9/11 happened, the government said what's the answer? Spend, go shopping. War in Iraq, keep spending. Now we're in recession, spend again. That's all they can tell the people, spend money. That's the only solution to every problem.

Well, at some point it's going to come around to hurt us I think.

KING: Has Iraq been semi-forgotten?

MAHER: Thanks to the TV media, which I don't think does the job they should do in a democracy. I've been screaming about this every week on our show, that somehow the administration has been able to morph this war in Iraq totally into a war against al Qaeda. Now, it was only six or seven months ago that the American military said that the people we're fighting in Iraq -- and the names of those people changed constantly. It's insurgents, extremists, the enemy sometimes, sometimes just the bad guys. You know, very vague.

But they said, quite specifically, that al Qaeda was about two percent of the people who were shooting at us. So somehow two percent got to be the whole case now. Every time I hear reports from Iraq it's al Qaeda. Well, al Qaeda wasn't even in Iraq before we invaded. And certainly it's not the majority of people who are shooting at us now. But somehow we were attacked by al Qaeda, and they were able to morph that right into the people we're fighting in Iraq now. It worked out very neat and clean, except that it's not true.

And when John McCain says the important thing is not American presence in Iraq, it's American casualties. Well, that's dead wrong. The important thing is American presence. That's why bin Laden was crazy to attack America, because we had an American presence in the Middle East, in the Holy Land. And we got those troops outs of Saudi Arabia. What did we do? We moved them right back to the part of the place -- art of the world that they consider holy, where you cannot have a Christian army. You cannot have the infidel in places like Saudi Arabia and Karbala and Fallujah, and that heart of the Middle Eastern world. That's what drives them completely nuts.

The idea that we're going to have a presence there, military bases there, for -- McCain said up to 100 years -- that ensures that we don't have this victory that he speaks of. Victory in the war on terror is not getting young Muslim men to come over here and try to kill us. And that's what's going to make them do it.

KING: Bill Maher is our guest, the host of "Real Time with Bill Maher." Don't forget, his book is out. They have been -- a new introduction for "When You Ride Alone, You Still Ride With bin Laden." It's also out in CD form as well. Terrific books. We'll be right back.

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JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Did you see Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sitting behind President Bush? I thought this was strange. She was reading something. Ellen, can we go to that last night? She's got a book in her hand. Can we see what she's reading? Botox --

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MAHER: Who was the first president you ever voted for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been so long ago I don't remember.

MAHER: Andrew Jackson, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My first vote was for President John F. Kennedy.

MAHER: That was a good first one. Sorry about what happened to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roosevelt.

MAHER: Not Teddy. And what about you, Lois? Lincoln? Who was the first one you voted for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father took me to vote when I was 21, and insisted we all vote Republican --

MAHER: What year was it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was before Santa Claus.

MAHER: Before Santa Claus?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Nothing like a geriatric group.

MAHER: The old people are the greatest, because they're the least politically correct.

KING: They don't care.

MAHER: They've earned the right to not care what they say.

KING: Las Vegas for Bill Maher. Hello?

CALLER: Hi, how you doing, Bill?

MAHER: Good, how are you doing? CALLER: Good, I have a question and I also have a comment. But the question is; if Obama, who happens to be a qualified black presidential candidate, was not in the race, would Hillary Clinton still face the vicious and sometimes incorrect criticism? That's my question. However, I did have a comment to make about what Obama's wife did say about Hillary Clinton and that if she cannot take care of her own personal household how can she run the country.

KING: Did Mrs. Obama say that?

MAHER: I didn't understand the question.

KING: I didn't understand.

MAHER: I'm glad it wasn't just me.

KING: Did Miss Obama make a comment about Hillary?

MAHER: If she did, I missed that. She said a number of things that were controversial. She said things like, he's not all that. His socks are stinky. I remember my mother said she didn't like that. She was old school. She did not like it when a wife publicly said something about her husband that wasn't positive, which is interesting. She also said that people should vote for them now, because they weren't going to go through this again. You get one shot at this. That's not a good thing to say, especially when you're 46 years old. Now, if John McCain's wife said that, that would make sense. He's 100 years old. This is our only shot. Do it now. We're not coming back.

KING: What do you think of John McCain saying he might be just a one-term president?

MAHER: Terrific.

KING: That's a good thing to say?

MAHER: He said that?

KING: No, he didn't.

MAHER: Wow, self-appointed term limits. I doubt if it's true. First of all, I think he's got a lot of energy. I don't think age matters. I would never use that against him. You know, to run for president is a grueling endeavor, and he's obviously holding up very well. And I think if you are president for four years, it's the last thing in the world anyone would ever voluntarily give up.

KING: You're right. Bill Maher is our guest. Let's check in with Anderson Cooper. What's up, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, thanks very much. Candidates making final day, final hour pushes before the Super Tuesday voting. Barack Obama is going to take the stage soon in Boston. We hear there are thousands of people lined up to get to that event. There you see Teddy Kennedy speaking. We hope to hear from Senator Obama live tonight.

Also Senator Clinton is live, holding a town hall meeting online and on the air. We'll hear what else she is saying today.

And the leading Republican candidates still trading shots; John McCain and Mitt Romney looking for an edge heading into tomorrow's contest. We'll bring it all to you. We'll also go inside the undecided voters' mind to find out what they said and what they mean may come down to how they feel.

We'll also get up to date -- the best political team on television will give us up to date analysis. putting it all in focus. That's at the top of the hour on 360, Larry.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper, "AC 360," 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. Right back with Bill Maher. Don't go away.

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MAHER: New rule; you don't have to recall things that would make people sick anyway. General Mills has recalled five million frozen pizzas because they may be contaminated with e. Coli. Couldn't they just as easily say they were recalling five million strains of e. Coli, because they might be contaminated by Gino's pizza?

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KING: Back with Bill Maher. You're going to be at Loyola Marymont University this week, part of its First Amendment week. What kind of shape do you think the First Amendment is in? Do you think it would pass today?

MAHER: Well, they proved that it wouldn't. People have gone out as an exercise, as a stunt with the constitution as a petition, and people would not sign it. So I don't have confidence any of it would pass. I think it's in fine shape. I think it's something you always have to fight for. But I think I'm living proof that if you do fight for it, it's still there.

KING: College Park, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: I'm a left-leaning independent. I've been following the Republican race very closely. I don't know if you followed the Maine caucus this weekend. But if you did, the mainstream media reported that Romney got all 18 delegates and no one else got anything. That's not the truth. That's based on the straw poll, which doesn't mean anything. What matters is the delegates, and the media is not following that. If you did, you would know that Romney did come in first, Ron Paul in second. Huckabee and McCain barely registering. Why is that not in the news?

MAHER: Man, you follow politics closer than I do.

KING: Because it's Maine and it's not important, right? MAHER: Wow, I commend that. That is really commendable that someone who is not in our business, who doesn't get paid to do this, follows it that closely. I don't know what he's talking about. I didn't know Maine had a caucus. He made me think of an interesting part of this, which is the Super Delegates.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: You know, that's perhaps what is going to be the deciding factor in who gets the nomination, because it looks like it's a dead heat between Hillary and Obama. If they get the same number of delegates, there's about 3,000 or 4,000 delegates that they earn through voting. Then there's this other 700 Super Delegates which are Congressmen, senators, party officials. It kind of reminds me of the House of Lords.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: -- in England, you know. Tony Blair got rid of some of the House of Lords.

KING: They could mean the difference.

MAHER: I think they will be the difference. It's interesting, because the Super Delegates can change their vote at the last second. They could catch Obama fever.

KING: We have a King Cam question for Bill Maher. Let's throw it up.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi Bill. I was wondering, who do you think middle America is more ready for? A white woman or a black man as president?

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MAHER: It depends on what you mean by middle America. That's a broad term. I always think America, if you scratch the service, they're more liberal than you think, especially the younger people, who may be actually voting this time. If by middle America you mean the south, no. I think there's still residual racism in the south, but not, again, as much as people think.

But, yes, I think they're more ready for a woman. But not this black man. That black man doesn't strike them as such a black man. I always say, he's like the Halle Berry of politics. For hundreds of years, people were like, I wouldn't go near a black woman, but boy, I would kiss Halle Berry. I think I would make an exception for her.

KING: We've never really had anyone like him.

MAHER: Never. It's a phenomenon. You cannot recruit a phenomenon. As long as you have it, you may as well take advantage of it, Democrats. KING: Back with our remaining moments with Bill Maher. Don't go away.

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MAHER: I don't want to fly on a bus. That's why people pay more money to fly, so they don't have to take a bus. I don't care that it's huge, because I've never once gotten on a flight and thought, boy, I wish there were more people on this plane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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KING: Back with Bill Maher. Catholic League President William Donahue says that you really have it out against Christians and he would love to duke it out with you in the ring. He's a very, very passionate Catholic, as you know.

MAHER: Oh, yes. Aren't they all? I used to be a Catholic. I saw that on Keith Olbermann's show, and I thought he had the right response after the man threatened to beat me up, just as Jesus would handle it. I hope we can avoid a fight. If I'm attacked, I will defend myself.

KING: Do you suspect when "Religulous" comes out to get a lot of flak?

MAHER: Yes, but I get a lot of flak anyway. That's been their trick for hundreds of years. They say the word faith and somehow we all have to back off and pretend that what they believe is not destructive, and I won't do that. And there are millions of people who won't do that. The minority that is what I would call rationalists, that is people who don't believe in something supernatural, something that was obviously fables that were written by men before men knew what a germ or an atom was. OK?

Yes, we're rationalists. That's like 20 percent of people under 30. That's a bigger minority than lots of minorities. They just don't speak up. I'm hoping this movie and this movement will encourage people to speak up about this. They accuse me of being a Catholic bigot. First of all, I don't have it out especially for the Catholics. I think all religions are coo-coo. OK? It's not just the Catholics.

I'm not a bigot. Just because I wish for the demise of an organization that I think is entirely destructive to the human race, that doesn't make me a bigot. I also wish for demise of Hamas and the KKK. Not that on every score the Catholic Church is the same as those two organizations. But to me they are destructive organizations. I'm not a bigot because I root for their downfall.

KING: But you can offend them?

MAHER: I have been doing it for 15 years. They're perfectly within their rights to be offended. But they're not going to shut me up. They're not going to do it by saying the magic word, faith. This is what I believe. Yes, you believe it. I'm going to say why it's dumb.

KING: How is everything else going, Bill? How's life? Doing stand up again. You'll be in Vegas on the 14th and 15th of March. Have you worked the Hard Rock Hotel before?

MAHER: Many times.

KING: Is that a fun place?

MAHER: Love it. The room is called The Joint. That's the name of that. Isn't that great? The joint. It kind of reminds you of the days when Vegas was run by the mob. When it was a better town.

KING: Do they pack it in pretty good?

MAHER: Great.

KING: I was talking to you during the break, you still get a kick out of the stand up?

MAHER: Love it. Love it. There's nothing like that feeling. It's the most pure. It tells you what's truly funny. I don't care who you are, when you're a comedian -- I mean people can fake it through a song if you're a musician. But I've seen the biggest comedians in the world walk on stage. You get about a minute where, juts because of who you are, you get some respect. After that laughter is an involuntary response.

KING: Correct.

MAHER: You better really be delivering it. When you do, I mean, they love you like nothing else.

KING: How long do you think you have, a minute?

MAHER: Yes, but I don't want to waste that.

KING: But you think you have a minute?

MAHER: Yes, I used to say -- when I was starting in New York, Rodney Dangerfield, who lived three blocks from Catch a Rising Star on 78th Street.

KING: -- had him for a minute.

MAHER: He would walk in to try out new stuff. He'd always be in kind of a bad mood, and a crummy shirt with a stain on it. He'd be like -- they would go nuts. In a minute, they were like booing him.

KING: Thanks, Bill. Make a note, LARRY KING LIVE is on at a special time tomorrow night, midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific. We'll have up to the minute results from across the country on this important primary day. See you Super Tuesday at Monday -- Tuesday night. And to always see what's going on with our show, head to CNN.com/LarryKing.

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