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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Bill Maher

Aired February 16, 2010 - 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, Bill Maher is back, telling it like it is, as only he can.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: Democrats have moved to the right and the right has moved into a mental hospital.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Speaking out, sparing no one -- Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, President Obama are all in his sights. Bill Maher for the hour. And he's taking your calls, too, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

One of the treats of doing this program is getting the chance to welcome Bill Maher back to LARRY KING LIVE, the star of the HBO comedy special, "But I'm Not Wrong." I saw it last week. It will be repeated many times throughout the month. You must see this. Hysterical.

And the eighth season of "Real Time with Bill Maher" debuts this Friday night, February 19th, on his happy home, HBO.

Thanks for coming back, Bill.

Always good to see you.

MAHER: Larry.

KING: A little grayer, but you look great.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Gray hair is just -- my commenting on these times.

MAHER: You can't stop it, can you?

KING: No, no, you can't.

MAHER: But it's better than -- than making fools of ourselves and having plastic surgery and...

KING: Oh. Pass.

MAHER: -- hair replacement and...

KING: Pass. MAHER: Right.

KING: OK...

MAHER: I mean we're happily old.

KING: Let's move right into things.

Senator Evan Bayh, the last -- the latest Democratic member to say goodbye.

What do you make of good-bye -- of Mr. Bayh saying goodbye?

MAHER: I think good riddance. You know...

KING: Because?

MAHER: Because here's a guy who stood up there and said, you know, I love serving the people of Indiana, but I don't like Congress. Well, I don't think he was serving the people. You know, if you're talking about the common man, he's a corporatist. That's the problem. They keep saying he's a centrist. He's not, he's a corporatist. You know, he's not serving the common man.

And the reason why Congress doesn't work is because of Democrats like him. I mean I assume that Republicans are going to be obstructionists. But, you know, at one point, there was only 40 of them. The reason why they were able to block stuff is because they were able to pick off Democrats just like Evan Bayh.

Like Obama wanted to raise the amount of -- of money that people making over $250,000 could declare as a tax deduction, just back to what Reagan -- that socialist -- had it at, right?

OK. That would have paid for health care. Well, Evan Bayh joined the Republicans to block that. The same thing with the estate tax. You know, they wanted to reinstate it for people -- the top .2 percent of the wealthiest people, not 2 percent, .2 percent. Well, that was too much for Evan Bayh.

So for him to say he's working for the people of Indiana, he's not working for the people of Indiana. He's working for corporations. He'll become a lobbyist now, which is what he was before.

KING: What do you make of CNN -- CNN's poll that shows?

MAHER: They show he's a very nice guy.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Yes, well, he appreciates all the compliments.

A new CNN poll shows only 34 percent think that most members of Congress deserve reelection. Fifty-one percent say their own member deserves reelection.

MAHER: Yes, well, that's -- that's the problem, isn't it, is that everybody...

KING: Hates Congress except their own congressman, so they keep reelecting him?

MAHER: Right. And pork, we've got to get rid of that, except for the project in my district. You know, the politicians are no prize, but the people stink. They really do.

KING: The people?

MAHER: Absolutely.

KING: Us?

MAHER: Yes. Not you and I, Larry; and, of course, the people watching us. No, those are bright people. But I mean the others out there. Yes, because, you know they clam...

KING: You said 70 percent of Americans aren't crazy. You're saying 30 percent are.

MAHER: I don't know when I said that...

KING: The people stink?

MAHER: I was probably...

KING: Thirty percent are crazy?

MAHER: Well, I probably said...

KING: What do you mean we stink?

MAHER: Seventy percent sounds like the statistic we had during the Clinton impeachment. Seventy percent were behind Clinton.

KING: Well, what do you mean -- what do you mean by...

MAHER: Well, but, I mean, because they don't know what they want. They're contradictory. You know, the tea baggers and that crowd -- they're very upset, for example, about this deficit we have. We have to want to get the deficits under control.

How are we going to do that?

Tax cuts, which, of course, is only going to increase the deficit, you know?

So we should cut stuff because we have a -- yes, we should cut, but not the Defense Department and not Social Security and not Medicare. Well, that's 80 percent of it.

KING: So what do they want, then?

MAHER: Exactly. They want both. They want new jails and new schools and services and they want to pay for it with tax cuts. You know, they just don't make any sense. Jobs, why isn't the president getting us jobs?

Oh, so you want another stimulus bill?

No.

Are you kidding?

That's socialism. We can't have that. You know, they -- they...

KING: But "The Wall Street Journal"...

MAHER: They...

KING: -- just reported that 5 prominent Republicans wanted stimulus for their areas.

MAHER: Of course. They're -- they -- they reflect that hypocrisy.

KING: What do you make of -- now, Obama's job approval rating is now 49 percent. You have criticized Obama...

MAHER: You have to.

KING: -- who you firmly supported.

MAHER: Yes.

KING: What happened?

MAHER: Well, he had a bad freshman year, as many of us do in college. But I certainly hope things are going to get better now. But I don't -- I don't know. I mean he still doesn't seem to get it that you can't win this with a kiss, you know?

He still wants this bipartisanship that is never going to happen. I think he sometimes believes that he is the kind of guy who can persuade people to do anything. I mean, during the campaign, the Republicans did accuse him of that a number of times -- of being the Messiah and the one and believing his own publicity. I don't know if that's not -- I'm starting to believe it could be true, because to -- if he thinks, at this late date, that he can get them in a room, it's going to change, we're going to put it on C-SPAN, you know, maybe some of that will change something. But you know, it's the job of Party B to block the agenda of Party A.

What he has to do, I think, is do what Roosevelt did when he came in. He didn't want to be friends with anybody. He said about the bankers, I welcome their hatred. I welcome their hatred, because they're not serving the interests of the American people.

KING: So you want him to get tough?

MAHER: Tough and -- well, of course, I do want him to get tough. And stop doing what Democrats always do, which is try to curry favor with people who are never going to be behind them anyway. For example, this spending freeze that he announced, what a typical Democratic idea. It doesn't really solve the problem. It's not enough to put a dent in the problem, because, of course, they're not going to touch the Pentagon or anything like that. So it's not going to fix the problem.

The Republicans only laugh at it. It doesn't win any of them over. And it alienates his own base. You know, the Democrats never curry favor with their own base. A year ago, when he won the election, Obama finally had a base of people. I mean, my God. He won Indiana. He won North Carolina. He won Virginia -- traditional red states.

It's all gone now. Those people are disillusioned and...

KING: You said he -- it's not who you voted for.

MAHER: It's not. That's not what I stood in line at the voting booth for.

KING: Do you think...

MAHER: I want my hour back.

KING: -- it might change?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Do you think...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Do you think it might change?

MAHER: Yes, I do. I think presidents have learning curves. I mean, Kennedy certainly did. Many of them do not have good first years. But what bothers me is that . They gave it certain presidents -- Reagan comes to mind -- who, in his first year, took the pain.

Remember the economy the first year?

KING: Yes.

MAHER: You know, he -- he did -- you know, it was not a good first year for him popularity wise.

KING: He had very low polls.

MAHER: Right. Take the pain in the first year. He should have done that. He talked about the other day in an interview, you know, I'd rather be or...

KING: A one-term president.

MAHER: -- a one-term president. Well, to make that statement, you have to be doing some bold things. You can't make that statement, oh, I'm going to be a one-termer, I'll take that because I'm making the tough decisions. No, you're not.

Do some bold stuff, then you can talk about one term.

KING: And you can tell, it's always -- the trying thing about having Bill Maher as a guest is he has no direct opinions on anything. It's always -- it's the hardest part for an interviewer to do, is to handle someone wishy-washy like this.

We'll get to Sarah Palin, health care and other issues and we'll see how he skirts around that, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MAHER: And this is already accepted.

KING: Well, Judge Judy is here tomorrow night.

Priscilla Presley and Viva Elvis (ph) on Thursday.

We're back with one of our favorite guests, Bill Maher.

What do you make of this Cheney-Biden battle Sunday?

MAHER: I liked it. I like to see Dick Cheney...

KING: You do?

MAHER: -- exposed. Yes. Chris Matthews called him the troll that's under the bridge.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What do you -- what's your read on him -- on Dick Cheney?

MAHER: You know, I wish that, as we were just talking about, I wish anybody in the Democratic Party had that sort of fortitude, that sort of perseverance to stick by what they think is right, because I do think -- I'm not questioning his sincerity. I question his intelligence. I don't think he reads the situation in the world correctly. I think the idea that we use an army to fight terrorism is just wrong.

They don't have an army, they have exploding underwear. It's just not a wise decision.

And he's -- he's also -- what I don't admire is that he's a -- he's a liar, you know. I mean...

KING: Whoa.

MAHER: Yes, but he is. He just missed -- Joe Biden had that correct. You know, for -- for him to go after the Democrats for treating terrorists the exact same way that his administration did. And, of course...

KING: Which was wrong? MAHER: -- we have to -- you have to -- many -- any of them. They were all tried in courts in America and all put away. You know, I, if I was a criminal or a terrorist, whatever you want to call them, yes, I would fear the most a prosecutor -- a seasoned federal prosecutor in our system, you know, like Eliot Spitzer was, those kinds of guys.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: Julie Giuliani himself, I think, was that.

KING: Tough.

MAHER: Yes, tough. And there's a reason they've put them all away and a reason they will -- they will never get out of prison, because if there's one thing we can still do in this country, it's put people in prison and keep them there.

KING: So you favor a civilian trial for the guy responsible for 9/11?

MAHER: Yes.

KING: In -- in Manhattan, where it happened?

MAHER: In Manhattan. I -- you know, I -- I don't understand this at all...

KING: But Obama seems to be backing off that a little.

MAHER: Again, that's so typical of the Democrats. As soon as anybody screams at all, one little squeak out of anybody, OK, sorry. You're right. We'll do the opposite, backs (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: But you've...

MAHER: -- but what they never...

KING: -- New Yorkers have changed. Schumer changed.

MAHER: But what...

KING: Bloomberg changed.

MAHER: But what the Democrats never understand is that Americans don't really care what position you take, just stick with one. Just be strong. They're not bright enough to really understand the issues. But like an animal, they can sort of sense strength or weakness. They can smell it on you.

So when you back off a situation like that, you just look weak. On top of which, somebody who is going to have to explain to me why the Democratic position on this shouldn't really be the Republican position. It seems like the Republicans, who are always the, you know, Jack Bauer, "24," tough guys, macho, they should be the ones who want to try this guy in Manhattan. That, to me, seems like the breast-beating macho position. Yes, we're going to try him right where the crime occurred.

KING: But they're not (INAUDIBLE).

MAHER: We're going to stick his nose right in it, as opposed to their argument that, oh, he's going to mock us.

Oh, mock us, really?

That's -- that's cowardly, to me, to be afraid of -- no.

KING: We have a blog question for Bill Maher: "Do you think it's socialism for the government to take over health care to make sure that every American can afford to have it?"

Do you think that's socialism?

MAHER: Of course it's not socialism. Oh, God. Americans have no clue what socialism is. They just know it's something super terrible.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: No. Well, first of all, you know, we have socialism already in this country, as does every modern democracy.

KING: Social Security is socialism.

MAHER: Yes, of course it is. And so is the Marines Corps. You know, so is the mail. Every modern industrialized Western democracy is a hybrid with elements of socialism in it. It's -- it's not evil.

You know, again, the Democrats have done a rotten job of selling health care. There's a lot of good stuff in that health care, but to -- to have it be characterized as socialist -- to let people characterize it as socialism was a big mistake from the beginning.

KING: Do you think they're going to get a weak bill in, if they get a bill at all?

MAHER: You know, the Senate bill that already passed is not that bad. Yes, it's not what a lot of people would have liked. But it does cover 30 million more people. You can't get thrown off for a preexisting condition. It -- it -- it saves money. It does reduce costs. Medicare is solvent until 2026. That's not a bad start.

You know, you can't solve legislation, usually, in one fell swoop. There's usually a good start, then you go back and you get some more.

Why Obama just doesn't, you know, make -- tell the House to, you know, adopt the Senate bill, take it into reconciliation and push this through, instead of having this televised supposed love fest with the Republicans.

Larry, they're just not into you. I keep telling them, they just are not that into you. (LAUGHTER)

KING: Hey, if you've got a message for Bill or me, go to CNN.com/larryking and have your say.

Bill will weigh in on the late night wars, too.

Stay with us and hear what he thinks, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

MAHER: Sometimes I wonder if Rush doesn't just spin a giant wheel of hate every morning to come up with whatever he's going to get the faithful all worked up about -- Mexicans, rrrrr; socialism, rrrrr; Van Jones, I don't know who he is, but rrrrr.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's, of course, from a previous "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Bill Maher, "Real Time," the live show, debuts Friday night, February 19. And they repeat it 1,132 times on CNN. If you missed it, you see it at 6:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, 4:00 Wednesday afternoon.

It's a great show, by the way.

MAHER: Thank you.

KING: I'm so glad to have it back. I was great to guest on it. I had a wonderful time.

MAHER: And you're so funny.

KING: It was...

MAHER: People are still talking about that.

KING: That was a great moment with -- I mean that was a great one.

All right, what do you make of -- of Haiti?

Now, you've got to be sad about that.

MAHER: Of course. Who isn't sad about Haiti?

Yes. And, you know, I was happy to give money to my friend Richard Dawkins, who started a fund for non-believers. You know, he was like people say we don't care or somehow because we don't think it was a -- an act of God, we wouldn't help out. Well, of course we would. And he raised a lot of money. And I thank God for him.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: I mean I Twittered something about I wish the media would cover something the -- the week it had went on. You know, I noticed, for example, the nightly news did only one story. And I said, you know, that's not right. The media is supposed to inform us. And...

KING: CNN has done a hell of a job.

You're talking about Haiti?

MAHER: Yes.

KING: Yes. Wow! What...

MAHER: Well...

KING: You're saying we weren't informed?

MAHER: No, I'm saying we're over informed. I'm saying...

KING: Over informed?

MAHER: Yes. I'm saying when the nightly news, which is supposed to give you a menu of -- or, you know, a variety of subjects that were important that day, covers one story for three or four nights in a row, no, they're not doing their job. At a certain point, people are not learning about Haiti any more than they -- than they can. I mean, you know, at a certain point, you're just wallowing in it. It's just disaster porn, honestly.

KING: Disaster porn?

MAHER: Yes. I think that -- I think that's true. And I -- and I...

KING: Sean Penn, last night -- now, you must admire Sean Penn.

MAHER: I love Sean Penn.

KING: He said you can't cover it enough. You -- you should never stop. This -- this tragedy is so immense...

MAHER: Well, he's -- well, he's wrong. It's not the most immense. Nicholas Kristof did a great article a few weeks ago about what's going on in the Congo. There's a war that's been raging in the Congo for a lot of years. It's killed like four to five million people -- million.

Now, Haiti is awful. But you know people -- when I Twittered that thing about the media is covering Haiti too much, I got some responses like, you know, why do you hate black people?

Well, if I hate black people because I'm complaining about the media covering Haiti too much, how do you feel about black people because you don't even know about what's going on in the Congo, where five million people have died? You know, the media just doesn't do a good job. And Americans don't do a good job of getting on the case of things that are not immediate or completely easy to understand right away or have no celebrities involved.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: You know, there's lots of issues that need our attention. Haiti was horrible and I'm glad they're getting a lot of aid. But it wasn't the only thing that's going on in the world.

KING: More with Bill Maher. We'll ask about Sarah Palin and other things and take your phone calls. We'll have Twitter questions, as well.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A Twitter question Tweeted to Kings Things: "Do you believe that your jokes at Sarah Palin's expense play into her image as a media victim and actually make her more appealing to some voters?"

MAHER: I worry about it night and day, Larry.

(LAUGHTER)

MAHER: It keeps me up.

KING: I -- I knew it did.

MAHER: No, of course not. I mean any -- anyone who is truly a fan of Sarah Palin is unreachable. That is an unreachable person. They must be written off. You can't reach them, because Sarah Palin is -- is...

KING: Is what?

MAHER: -- the most unserious person we've ever had on the national stage.

KING: Unserious?

MAHER: She makes "Joe the Plumber" look like Aristophanes, are you kidding?

I mean Dan Quayle was leagues ahead of her, and he's not a bright man.

But she does serve a purpose, which is, I think, she -- she -- she allows so many Americans to look down on someone. And we need that, Larry.

(LAUGHTER) MAHER: We need someone that even people who are not terribly bright can go, well, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I am smarter than that crazy lady. I don't have to write things on my hand.

KING: How do you explain the following that she has?

MAHER: Well, first of all, I don't think it's that big a following. You know, in America, you know, you get 12 agitated people and a camera in a room, it's an event. You know, we -- we don't really know what's a big following anymore.

Now, there is 20 percent of this country that will follow Sarah Palin. This is the hard core, right-wing base. Yes, I'm sure the tea baggers, I'm sure there is that element. There's certainly not enough to win any elections. I don't think she's any threat to ever win an election in this country. I do not stay up at night worrying that Sarah Palin is going to be elected.

KING: Do you think she's a threat to be a nominee?

MAHER: No.

KING: No?

MAHER: I don't. I don't think the Republicans are that crazy that they would ever nominate someone who is that unqualified. I have to think that if she got close, that there are Republicans -- and we've seen this already -- some Republicans have come forward to say, you know, this person is -- is not serious, she's not qualified, we can't get behind Sarah Palin.

KING: She's popular on talk radio, I hear, though.

MAHER: Of course. Well, what is talk radio?

I mean, you know, talk radio...

KING: I don't hear it anymore. I started it.

MAHER: Right. Exactly. And it became a right-wing thing.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: I mean but what does Rush Limbaugh do for a living?

He scares the white man as they get into their truck at lunchtime. I mean she's perfect for that.

KING: Why do you think McCain -- they -- he didn't vet her well, right?

He didn't.

MAHER: No. That's so typical of McCain. But that's always who McCain was -- reckless. I mean how many planes did he crash?

KING: What?

MAHER: A lot.

What?

He crashed a number of planes?

KING: You mean in training and then finally in a war?

MAHER: Training -- well, I'm not counting the one that was shot down, although I think people say that he -- I don't know. I -- I'm not going to speak out about that because I don't know my facts well enough.

But I do know that he crashed planes more than most people do and get to keep flying. He is -- that is -- and anyone who knows him has always said that is who he is. He is a riverboat gambler. He is reckless, fly by the seat of his pants.

And the idea that he would pick for vice president someone he didn't know anything about, without any vetting, when he'd just heard her name a couple days before, I think is absolutely casis...

KING: Well, "Game Change"...

MAHER: -- consistent with his character.

KING: Did you read "Game Change?"

MAHER: I read about it.

KING: Well, they -- it's a heck of a book. But they claim that Lieberman was always his choice but that the right-wing forced him to make a last minute decision away from Lieberman and he went to Palin.

MAHER: What do you mean forced him?

KING: They put pressure no him that Lieberman will -- they'll stay home...

MAHER: Well, put...

KING: -- rather than vote for Lieberman.

MAHER: You know, put pressure, forced?

You know, he's the man. This was his campaign. This was his turn. That's what the Republicans do. You wait your turn and you get it. They gave it to Bob Dole. They gave it to Goldwater. You know, nobody had to -- he could have made a different decision. It was his decision to make.

What do you mean, they forced him? They held a gun to his head?

This guy was tortured for five-and-a-half years and we admire him a lot for that. But if he could withstand that, he couldn't withstand the -- the pressure of the right-wingers telling him to pick this nudnick (ph) from Alaska?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Again, we will try and the next portion to get him to have an opinion.

Does the American political system suck?

Well, a member of the president's transition team says so.

What does Bill think?

I'll ask.

It's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Bill Maher. Don't forget, his HBO comedy special, "But I'm Not Wrong." It's already aired, but they're going to air it frequently. And the eighth season of "Real Time With Bill Maher" debuts Friday night, February 19th on HBO.

It was John Podesta, former top aide to Bill Clinton, who heads the Center for American Progress, chairing Obama's transition team; he says that America's political system sucks. Do you agree with that?

MAHER: I totally agree with that. I think most Americans agree with that. I don't think people in his position usually use that word. They use it for comedians like me.

But absolutely, it sucks. The main reason why nothing gets done is because the system is completely paralyzed, mostly because of this filibuster rule, because of this super-majority nonsense.

KING: Would you like to see another party come in? We don't support a three-party system in America.

MAHER: No, we never have, because one of the other two parties usually absorbs the other one, as what's going on with the Tea Baggers. The Tea Baggers started out as an independent party. You know they're going to get absorbed into the Republican tents.

KING: They're attacking Republicans a lot, too.

MAHER: They should. They say they're for the people. Who is more corporatist than Republicans? But America does -- the system does suck. And what we need more than a third party is a constitutional Convention. Jefferson was the one who said every generation, you have to refresh the tree of liberty with the blood -- or whatever that phrase is that nuts used to commit violent acts. Tim McVeigh loved it; the Tea Baggers are always quoting it.

I don't know if we need a violent act every 20 years, but you do have to look at the system, how the system works. We didn't have direct election of senators until the 20th century, like 1920 or something. Well, that's how they organized it. That's how the founding fathers wanted it. They didn't want -- they were muchly afraid of the masses.

KING: Are you afraid of the masses?

MAHER: Yes. Absolutely.

KING: Jefferson favored just senators being appointed based on if you owned property.

MAHER: I don't know if it was based on property, but they were appointed. You know, I'm not really sure. I mean, maybe they don't need a Senate at all. What I know is that the Senate is where legislation goes to die. That's what's holding everything up.

This idea that the filibuster, the super-majority -- why can't they get rid of that? That's not fundamentally how they wanted it. They wanted legislation to be decided -- if it was 51-49, that was good enough.

KING: It was freedom of speech and they have upheld the fact that you can hold things up by talking forever.

MAHER: Then the Democrats should have made them do it. Nobody has to ever really do it. Why don't we see a filibuster? If this is what the law is now -- which is, by the way, kind of a coup. It is sort of a legislative coup. There's no tanks in the streets, but it has fundamentally altered the way business is done.

The majority wants certain things. When Obama was elected, the majority wanted a public option in health care reform, but it doesn't happen because you can't get 60 people out of 100 to agree on anything in this country. Sixty people don't agree on evolution, let alone health care.

KING: Bacardi, New Mexico. Hello? Are you there? Go ahead.

CALLER: I'd like to ask Bill Maher about the Supreme Court ruling?

KING: Which one?

MAHER: She probably means the one about corporate person-hood?

CALLER: Yes.

MAHER: See, I read your mind there in New Mexico. Are you in Roswell?

I thought it was horrible. Nobody is more corporatist than the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court -- talk about parts of the government that suck, the Supreme Court right on the top of my list. For the last 30 years, they always side with corporations over people. And this is just another example.

I mean, there is something that if you are going to have a new Constitutional convention to address, this nonsense about corporate person-hood that we started in the 19th century, and has been turned into this vehicle to protect corporations as if they are people? I mean, it's the worst --

KING: They're composed of people.

MAHER: They're composed of people, but a corporation -- ask anyone in a corporation, the corporation's job is to do one thing: in a shark-like way, move toward more profit. And they will defend that. And as long as there is no moral dimension here, as long as it's only about greed, no, I don't think they should be considered a person.

KING: Profit is our the most important product, right? Is that the theme? OK, let's get into areas not that serious, but I'm interested in your thoughts. What did you make of the whole Leno- Conan-Letterman thing?

MAHER: Well, I made a lot of it. First of all, I like Conan a lot. I did his show in August, when it was first on the air. I didn't have anything to plug. There is no way, Larry, a man can show another man affection greater than to do a show when you have nothing to plug. But I did it just to say welcome to LA, and I like you.

KING: He's a good guy.

MAHER: He's a good guy. I'm not crazy about Team Coco, however, and what they have been saying. These are the people who are so upset that Conan lost "The Tonight Show." And I did Jay's show only about ten days ago. And I got all these Tweets and Facebook messages: "why did you do Jay Leno's show? He sucks. He's greedy. He's this. He's that."

These people need to get a grip. You have no idea how show business works. And in this case, it's not that different than life in general, OK? One guy wanted a job that another guy wanted. And by the way, it's a very desirable job. You want to be on the top of the mountain? There is going to be some other people who want to be there, too. And this idea that Jay Leno is greedy or selfish?

KING: They say he shouldn't have taken it back after Conan was only there seven months.

MAHER: Why? I saw Jay with Oprah. She asked him ten different ways, are you selfish? She said, do you think you ruined Conan's dream? Why is it Jay Leno's job to be concerned with Conan's dream? This is America. When Leonardo DiCaprio lands a part in a movie, does he think, oh gosh, Jake Gyllenhaal wanted this part; am I ruining his dream?

I think we've all been in a position where we were going for a job that somebody else wanted, and we didn't say, gee, they want it; it's going to hurt their dream; Bob in accounting would like this job; I should think about his dream.

KING: -- NBC, right?

MAHER: Of course, they're a corporation that made a bloodless, bottom-line, dollars and cents decision. And one guy got a job and another guy didn't. You know, the one place I would criticize Conan -- and David Letterman too -- have done these jokes along the lines of, you can have anything you want in this world unless Jay Leno wants it. OK, you're not a kid who had his ice cream knocked out on he side walk by Jay Leno. You know, Jay Leno beat you for something because, for whatever reason, Jay Leno has his pulse on the mainstream of America better than anybody. I'm not even close to that pulse. I don't even want to be. But these guys want to be.

KING: Good point. Back with more of -- I almost said Jay Leno. I feel like you put him in the room. With Bill Maher. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHER: I was shocked that Letterman has been having affairs. I had no idea he was even running for office.

And I just want to say, so you know here, I have never had sex with anyone on my staff. The guests, of course, yes. That's part of the job, but never the staff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's funny. Bill Maher is our guest. Speaking of that, did you read the book "Game Change"? You said you read parts of it. You should read the whole book. It's hard to believe what John Edwards really is, if this book is correct. Are you shocked? Beyond just having sex with someone, other things.

MAHER: The shock thing keeps going on. I'm shocked every week he's like the Charlie Sheen of politics. Every week, there's something else, you know. OK, he cheated and then he said, but it wasn't the baby. OK, it's the baby. Once you do that -- once you lie and then say, OK, I was lying when I lied, then you have no credibility.

KING: What do you make of it, though?

MAHER: Then they said he hit her. And I'm beginning to think he's a little sleazy. It's a tragedy because he was such a talented politician. And I could tell you some great quotes of his, that still are true, like "there are two Americas." Somebody in this country in politics needs to take up that mantle. That is one of our fundamental problems, that there are two Americas.

KING: He cared about poverty?

MAHER: Yeah, very much so. I think it was Bob Herbert who wrote a great column recently about how that this recession, this great recession has been so uneven. In that top half, that one-half of America -- we asked the question once on our show, why does it not look like there is a recession at the height of it, when we were hearing such horrible numbers. Because the places we drive through, there isn't one. But in this other America, it's like a depression.

So two Americas, that's a great quote. He also said we need to be patriotic about something other than war. So true. The people who are blocking health care for the 45,000 Americans who die every year because they're not covered, which is way more than we lose in Iraq and Afghanistan, is that really patriotic?

So he was talented. He had some things to say. You know, some of these things that come out, hitting, you cannot accept that. That's horrible if that's true. But the idea that because he was unfaithful to his wife, he's a monster -- I've heard that term many times. Elizabeth, I think, said it herself. I didn't want to know because I didn't want to feel like I was married to a monster.

OK, America has to get a grip about in infidelity. Simmer down. Ha Hannibal Lecter was a monster. Chemical Ali was a monster. This is a middle-aged guy who got horny. That's not a monster.

KING: We'll be back with Bill Maher. He makes you think. I hope we get out of the studio alive.

MAHER: But I'm not wrong.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

KING: It's a weird world, man. The Mossad pulled that off. That was something. They can't get them out, right?

MAHER: I always say, security-wise, we could always just do best by thinking what would Israel do. You know?

KING: Oh, yeah.

MAHER: They -- those people know how to do it.

KING: Quickly.

(CROSS TALK)

KING: We have one guy die, Netanyahu's brother. Jacksonville, Florida, hello. Call for Bill Maher.

CALLER: Yes, does he think the health care bill will get passed this year? Or if not, I'm changing from Democrat to independent.

MAHER: Right. Well, I think they will pass something, yes. I hope so. But you have to remember, it's not in the interest of the Republican party to have it passed.

KING: It's an election year, though. Don't you think if the public wants it, and Republicans have to vote for something, aren't they?

MAHER: They've demonized it so much. A lot of the public doesn't want it. They should want it. You see these people at rallies, you know, these old, obese, stressed out, angry, heart attack waiting to happen people. If anybody should want health care reform, you'd think it would be them. But they don't.

And, you know, the Republicans, I think, understand that if this goes through, Obama is on his way to a successful first term. And that's the one thing they do not want, is for him to succeed. Rush Limbaugh said that. Remember he said, I am rooting him to fail. We all say crazy things when we're high.

KING: That was brilliant. OK. All right, this should interest you. In "Newsweek" magazine, Christopher Hitchens, probably one of your favorite people --

MAHER: Love his --

KING: -- discussing the Olympics, says that world sports competitions breed conflict and bring out the worst in people. What do you think? Are you a fan of the Olympics?

MAHER: No.

KING: Funny. I was going to guess that.

MAHER: I'm really not.

KING: Not for the same reason as Hitchens.

MAHER: Especially the Winter Olympics. I don't -- I don't think -- Summer Olympics, yeah, there are some things that are pretty interesting to watch. It goes on too long, of course. I would love to see like -- if somebody would put together like a two-hour highlight reel of the Olympics, that would be perfect for me, excluding the opening ceremonies, because if I want to see Cirque du Soleil, I'll go to Las Vegas.

KING: Why don't you like the Winter Olympics?

MAHER: I can't relate to any of the sports. I mean, you know, the luge. It's not a sport. It's a dare. You know, this poor guy who died, I don't know what he died for. And I don't know why people are acting so shocked. Oh, a guy going head long down a mountain side on a sheet of ice, and then suddenly gone. Shocking.

KING: You don't like skiing?

MAHER: I've never skied. I don't get that. You ski?

KING: No. Are you kidding? Are you out of your mind? Ice skating. Skate racing?

MAHER: You could ski? Why don't you ski?

KING: Own the mountain. That's an old joke. That's the old joke. That's been around. That's Henny Youngman (ph).

MAHER: Then that is an old joke. But I don't believe this. This is silly. I mean, Chris is sometimes just being a provocateur. I mean, the Olympics are what is causing the strife in the world? No. It was great when Jesse Owens beat Hitler and -- I mean, that showed the world something.

KING: We're going to ask Bill about what he thinks about Kevin Smith, the noted director, pretty good film director, being kicked off Southwest Airlines for being too large to fit into a seat, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Kevin Smith, noted director, very overweight, denied a seat on Southwest Airlines. We invited Kevin on the show. He declined. Southwest has a passenger size policy. If you can't fit in one seat, with the arm rest down, you have to buy two seats. He was standby, weren't two seats available. Who is right?

MAHER: I think, like most Americans, I would not like to be wedged between a window and Kevin Smith. But I also think there's an awful lot of Americans Smith's size. And I also think --

KING: What would you do?

MAHER: You know, I think, first of all, the airlines are big liars about what really is security risk. Why is that a security risk, first of all? I don't get it.

KING: I guess because the passenger next to -- for the joke you just made.

MAHER: That's different. The airlines have much bigger problems, like just in general making the whole experience something other than an utter nightmare. Why don't you work on that?

KING: OK. Toyota, speaking of airlines, how about mobile transportation on the ground? What do you make of the Toyota problem?

MAHER: Well, you know, I don't have a Toyota, so I don't really care. Oh, wait, I do.

KING: Yeah, you do. You were right across the street, driving down.

MAHER: The Lexus Hybrid. That's right, I do. I've got to go check something. I'll be right back.

Well, I mean, look, I never understood why we had to bail out the American car companies. Why were we bailing out --

KING: We're not bailing out Toyota.

MAHER: No, the American car companies. I said, why did we have to save Chrysler. You know, because we needed --

KING: I ask about Kevin Smith and you go from fat people to the airlines are terrible. I ask about Toyota, you are bailing out Ford.

MAHER: I try to set the priorities.

KING: What do you think of the ten Americans charged with, I guess, kidnapping in Haiti?

MAHER: I haven't heard that much about it, because, as you know, I stop watching Haiti, because I felt I learned enough about it. At a certain point, I was not learning anything more.

KING: But you know that the ten are being held, supposed to get bail, maybe, maybe not.

MAHER: These are the Baptists?

KING: Yeah.

MAHER: I think that says it all, Larry. I mean, why can't people do stuff just for the good of it, without having to bring their religion into it. I've always --

KING: They didn't bring their religion. They were there as --

MAHER: Yeah, I think they kind of did. And missionaries are always doing this. You know, you want a sandwich? Read the Bible first. You know, like Brad and Angelina, they go places and do things just for the good of it. They don't have to bring Jesus into it.

KING: But these people were trying to help the orphans, or what they perceive were orphans. Some weren't orphans. What do you make of --

MAHER: If they're not orphans, then it's just child snatching, isn't it?

KING: But they think they were trying to help them. Their intentions were apparently good.

MAHER: That reminds me of Elian Gonzalez. People who think everybody would be better off in America, because we are just the most Star-Spangled Super, super duper awesome place in the world to live, when the reality was Elian Gonzalez -- there, I switched it again. Elian Gonzalez was much better off with his father.

KING: OK. One more quick call. Syracuse, New York. Hurry up. Go ahead. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Bill. I was wondering if you ever would have interest in getting married if you found the right person.

KING: Would you get married if you found miss right?

MAHER: Well, I am with somebody. I've been with -- you know this.

KING: I know, but marriage? MAHER: No, no, no. Let's not get crazy. So, you know, I have a steady girlfriend. I didn't have that for many, many, many years.

KING: So if you are serious, maybe the next step. Maybe you want to be a father.

MAHER: I've never -- first of all, I've never been against marriage for other people. I think it works for some people. Some people it works many times.

KING: On that note, he may never be back, Bill Maher. Don't forget, eighth season of "Real Time with Bill Maher" debuts Friday night on HBO. It's time for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." He's right over there. Here's Anderson Cooper.