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Cuomo Prime Time

One-On-One with Bill Maher. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 24, 2021 - 23:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hey, everybody. I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to a special edition of PRIME TIME. Bill Maher is our guest for the full hour.

The world is different, right, since we last got together here in 2019. But Maher is a voice that does what we need. He challenges conventional wisdom, regardless of who is in power. You know, it's been about 40 years since he began performing at comedy clubs, quickly becoming a late-night TV regular through the decades, all because of his unique perspective.

He starred in 11 HBO comedy specials. But anyone who has watched him knows that it's usually about more than laughs. OK? He is perhaps best known for "Real Time with Bill Maher," 19th season on HBO, which like CNN, as you know, is owned by Warner Media. He continues his comedy touring cities all over the country with good reason.

In his first appearance on TV, in the days after the 9/11 attacks, Bill Maher asked a question, "can we change?" And I think that question is hovering over our nation more than ever.

And it is a pleasure to welcome back to PRIME TIME. It's good to see you.


CUOMO: Thank you very much. I didn't write it but I read it like a champ so --

MAHER: You really did.

CUOMO: The question --

MAHER: You went to 9/11 and you didn't say what they usually said about 9/11, me getting cancelled.

CUOMO: You're welcome. But that was pre-cancelled --

MAHER: Right. But that was a much more interesting question that I asked, that you cited, "can we change?"

CUOMO: Because that's what you were getting at. MAHER: Right.

CUOMO: I believe in giving people the benefit of context. And I lived through what happened with what you talked about after 9/11. And, of course, someone who echoed and greatly upped the ante of what you were saying about the United States Military was Donald Trump. And it worked out just fine for him.

Remember him with Bill O'Reilly, when O'Reilly was talking to him about Putin and said, "this guy -- this guy is a murderer." He goes, "what about us? We're still good?"

MAHER: Yeah.

CUOMO: Now, that was an order of magnitude different than what you had said. The question about "can we change?" -- I remember it as an appeal of you saying we've done things in a way that has provoked animists. Can we do better? We are now doing things in a way that provokes animists. Do you think we can change?

MAHER: The evidence is not really good for that. I mean, I don't think we're on a great trajectory. I keep trying to preach on my show that the thing that we have to do long range is stop the hate that goes on in this country. The two sides hate each other to such a degree, I don't think anybody is hearing each other.

When people hate each other, it doesn't matter what the policies are. You know, Democrats, I think, keep thinking they can somehow break through to the people who hate them and don't vote for them, would not vote for a Democrat. Anyone with a "D" next to their name is just completely toxic.

If they just tinker with the policies, you know, we'll give you healthcare, we'll give you -- some things that absolutely seem to benefit the people they're talking to. They constantly ask that question, "why do Republicans vote against their economic interest?" Because they hate you. Because they really hate you.

I mean, look at the election we just had in Virginia. I mean, the Democrats lost some of those rural counties by 80 percent. We don't do 80 percent or we never used to in America. You know, a landslide was a guy (ph) got 58 percent of the vote. That's what made us great. And you saw in other countries, oh, you know, Castro got 99 percent of the vote, we would laugh.

I don't doubt that Republicans were getting 80 percent of the vote in some of those counties. I think in 45 of them, they got over 70 percent of the vote. That is beyond policy. And until we figure that out, until you figure out why they hate us so much and, obviously, it comes back the other way, when people hate you, you tend to hate them, we're never going to fix any of the problems in this country.

CUOMO: Let's question the premise for a second and then continue the discussion. Has it always been this way? They win the exurbs (ph), which is what we now call rural. Democrats win the urban. And the fight becomes over the suburbs. Is it really any different than the typical notion of a third are for you, a third are against you, and you fight for that other third? Have things changed?

MAHER: Yes, I do. I think they have changed. First of all, you look at the electoral map over the decades. Some states have flipped back and forth and some states were -- more states were in play. Now, the whole election is running about 12 different states. That's about the maximum. Those are the battleground states as they call it.

CUOMO: Probably 30 counties across the country decide a presidential election.

MAHER: Right.


We never see anybody running for high office in California because we're in the bad already. Probably here in New York, too. It's not, you know, you only see people come out to Wisconsin and whatever -- North Carolina, whatever the -- Arizona now. I mean, these are -- Georgia is in play now. But it's the upper Midwest usually is where it's decided.

But as far as is it as bad as it ever was, I think it is worse. I don't know. I wasn't around at the beginning of the republic. I know there was a lot of vitriol between the people who succeeded the founding fathers. But as far as the people in this country go, I don't think it's ever been worse. I don't think people used to have this idea in so much of the country that, you know, the Democrats right off right away that these people would never vote for you. We would never vote for a Democrat.

I talked to -- I one-sided this on my show. I talked to a guy in the Midwest once. Could have been anywhere. And he was telling me about how he was coming out of a store, he's trying to get his car out of the lot and, the car next to him had a Hillary bumper sticker on it.

And the child -- it was a little 4 or 5-year-old child who was screaming at the mother, screaming, and the mother was apologizing to the child, and this is the car with the Hillary bumper sticker. And he said to me, "I just can't let people like that take over this country."

You see, it wasn't about policy. It was about that. He sees people who have no common sense, who are letting a different -- sort of this -- each side sees the other side as an existential threat.

Now I think the -- what Republicans are doing is an existential threat. I mean, they are playing with a kind of fire we have never seen anyone play before in this country, talking about elections that don't matter, votes that don't count. Whatever happens, we going to just going to say we won. That is the greater threat.

CUOMO: Slow-moving coup, you called it.


CUOMO: What is a slow-moving coup?

MAHER: For - I said it - that was a phrase I was using before Trump was even elected.

CUOMO: So, it's really slow.

MAHER: It is slow. Well, you know, what? I said last time, I said he's never going to concede the election. I was interviewing many Democrats, the ones you talk to on this show as well, and they would laugh at me. You smoke too much pot. I would say, no, I smoke just the right amount of pot, and we'll see who's right. And it turned out he still hasn't conceded the election.

So, it took a little longer. What he hoped was that Republicans would be on his side. He was hoping that people like that guy in Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, who he called up and said, "I hope you can find me some more votes." Can you imagine that? I mean, that alone, how is that not a crime?

And Mr. Raffensperger and some other Republicans with integrity around the country who work on elections said, no, we can't do that. This is America. We don't find votes. But what he is doing now is behind the scenes. He has spent all his time since he lost putting people in place who will find the votes. That's what is so disturbing, is because next time that happens, I think they are going to find the votes.

He is purging the Republican Party of people like that, people who I think only 10 Republicans voted for his impeachment. Two of them are already gone because they see that they cannot win an election. He will primary them. He will destroy their reputations. By the time we have the next election, I bet you none of them are running. Liz Cheney certainly is not going to win that election in Wyoming.

And so, the Republican Party, as much as I keep hearing about oh, Trump, he's not as relevant anymore, trust me, he's going to run, absolutely. He's going to get the nomination. And I certainly wouldn't be surprised if he just won the election. But even if he doesn't win the election, he will say he won the election.

There is no doubt that he will say he won, no matter what the numbers are. Doesn't matter how much you run up the score. That's what Democrats would always tell me. We've got to win big. It doesn't matter. If they don't believe in the election and the integrity of it to begin with, what does it matter what the number is?

They are just going to say it was rigged. They think the last one is rigged. About two-thirds to three-quarters of Republicans think he won the last election. That is different from other times in our history.

CUOMO: So, the question then becomes, why it's different? Why Trump, still? Right? Because he was supposed to fade. You're saying you don't buy it. Let's take a break, come back, why you don't buy it, why it's still him and what that means.


CUOMO: Bill Maher, there's more.




CUOMO: Bill Maher is back. We discuss all through the commercial and I'll let you in on what we were talking about, because it's a rare opportunity not to flatter. You know me better than that. But you have a gift for thinking through things in a way that the group is missing. And more than anything else, I would have done this off TV just for the benefit of the analysis.

Trump, things are different. The animist is harnessed in a way that you haven't seen before. Trump, you believe, is a clear and present threat to the democracy. He will run again, he will be the nominee, and you believe he will give the Democrats all they can handle. Why Trump, still?

MAHER: Well, he talks to people in a way that doesn't sound like a politician. People were choking on and still are political correctness. I did whole show about it some years ago.

CUOMO: I was on it.

MAHER: Yeah, right.

CUOMO: Many, many years ago.

MAHER: That's right. And it's only gotten worse. And here's a guy -- when you think about the kind of people who vote for him, they could not be less like him. You know, here's this New Yorker with the accent, billionaire, you know, five kids by three different wives.


I mean everything that the Republican Party used to stand against. But he doesn't talk like a politician. You know, we make fun of him because of his limited vocabulary. To a lot of people, that's how people talk. And he never backs down even when he's completely wrong and done something horrible. But in a world where everyone is always apologizing for everything, that comes off as refreshing.

CUOMO: They also don't believe that he's really guilty of anything. That they don't think about the rest of the political class anyway.

MAHER: No, I don't -- maybe. I think -- oh, please. I think they -- they are -- they are not united to the idea that he has done things that nobody ever has done. I mean, porn stars, messing with porn stars while your wife is pregnant. No, I don't think Bob Dole did that. And I don't think they think anyone else did that either.

I don't think they think anyone else made fun of handicapped people or cheated students at his fake university or robbed charities. I mean, he is everything wrong that you could stuff inside of one man.

CUOMO: But they believe that political insiders in the media made a lot of that stuff up. And they don't watch us or read us so they don't know what the proof is behind it. And his people and his outlets either don't talk about it or say, oh, it's not really true. You know, the same stuff is true about Biden or Clinton or Harris or fill in the blank.

MAHER: Some of it, yes. I mean something like Hunter Biden. I mean, if Don, Jr. had done what Hunter Biden had done, it would be every night, all night on MSNBC. But the fact that it's Hunter Biden and Joe's on the blue team see, that's the problem in America. Everything is so binary. Everything that the red team doesn't like goes in the blue bin and vice versa.

So, you know, every Democratic politician has to wear on his sleeve every silly, stupid woke thing that the fringe left does. And the red team has to wear kids in cages and, you know, lock her up and all that kind of stuff, but --

CUOMO: A quick question. Woke. The response from the people that you put it on will say, no. Woke is aware and inclusive. And there is no cancel culture. It's just accountability. These are not bad things. They are good things. Disagree?

MAHER: Well, woke, yes. I mean, I don't remember the day the term was born, although I hear AOC says only old people use it now. Well, you gave it to us like five years ago, so sorry we didn't get the memo right away. You know, that's such a high school thing. We're not using that anymore. We don't (ph) wear pink on Wednesday.

OK, you -- whatever term you want. I don't care. Again, I just got used to this one. And yes, in its best sense, if we're talking about being aware of things that we always should have been aware of more, reckonings that we've had with sexual malfeasants, with racial injustice, that's all a good thing. But there's a reason why the term woke has come to signify going too far and doing things that don't make sense.

I keep saying this to the Democratic Party. The reason why you're so toxic is because you have become the party of no common sense. And people see this on their newsfeeds. I mean, you were saying to me in the break people mostly go on with their lives. They do, but they see things on their phone or on their Facebook page. People pass things around. And it's a constant drip, drip, drip of, oh, these people are nuts in a way.

Yes, they're not oblivious to the fact that Trump is nuts. When he ran, one of his big selling points was you got no choice. He was saying, yes, I know I'm nuts, you know I'm nuts, but they're nuts in a very different way that's closer to home to you. That's that guy in the parking lot. I can't let people like that take over the country, people who regard children as just shorter adults, who should have an equal say.

CUOMO: I get it. But why would anybody embrace if they want normal? A group of people/party who want to destroy all of the institutions that secure our normalcy.

MAHER: They don't care about institutions. They don't even know about institutions, a lot of people.

CUOMO: So, you don't think they care about --

MAHER: I think of it --

CUOMO: -- the election is rigged. Let's lie about all of these different ways --

MAHER: No, no. Some people --

CUOMO: -- and make it so that people don't trust.

MAHER: Some people do. But if you do -- I've seen surveys ask how many people in this country know that there are three forms of government. How can you defend the government and the institutions if people don't know what the government is made up of? Why is it important, they might ask, that we have checks and balances? What are those three branches of government?


That's the essence of what made this country great, is that the founding fathers, who have been canceled by a lot of people, which, again, strikes a lot of people as crazy, that was their genius, is that we check each other.

And so, you know, that kind of person is not going to care as much about that as something that is much closer to what happens in my home. If my kid comes home from school and tells me, they're telling me I'm a racist, what does that word mean, mommy?

You know, is a kid -- a young kid old enough to process that or if, you know, comes home and says, I think I'm a girl now and the school says that I think in California you have to go by that. You know, if the child wants to change his name to a girl's name.

That stuff is right in your home. That's at your kitchen table. That is the kind of stuff that is going to get people who go, oh, you know, what he was doing, Trump in Ukraine, it was wrong as much as I read about it, but Ukraine is a long way away and this is my house and these are my children.

CUOMO: Now, the proof of that was the race in Virginia. And I want to talk to you about it because --


CUOMO: -- Youngkin went heavy on the school issue.


CUOMO: And it was flattered for him because Terry McAuliffe, who was obviously running against him, said, "just let them teach, you shouldn't have a say in what they do." And that resonated the way deplorables did.

MAHER: Right.

CUOMO: So, let's do this. Let's take a break. Let's come back and talk about what the new state of play is with Bill Maher. Who knows better? Certainly not me. Right after this.



CUOMO: Three words is the perfect sell: More Bill Maher. It is good to have you and it's good for people to hear this. It's kind of a resetting of the palate. It's a fancy word for that in big restaurants if that's what you are. We were talking about schools and how boy did that resonate as an issue in Virginia.


CUOMO: The Democrats didn't see it coming. You can explain it away as ignorance of what CRT is. Here's my problem with it and I want to get your take. CRT means nothing to anybody. They don't know what the acronym stands for. It's really not taught anywhere.

MAHER: You're not even saying the three words that it stands for and people are already going CRT is --

CUOMO: I don't like it. I don't want it.

MAHER: Well, let's say what those words are.

CUOMO: Critical race theory.

MAHER: Yeah.

CUOMO: And the people on the left will mock the ignorance. They're too stupid to know.


CUOMO: Here's the problem, they still get to vote for you (ph) and feel overwhelms facts all the time in elections. That's nothing new. People vote on feel.

MAHER: And it's not a phantom either.

CUOMO: That's right.

MAHER: It's just something going on in the schools that never went on before. Now, I'm not in schools. I have no interacting with children whatsoever. But I do understand this issue because I read accounts from parents, from educators, from people -- and this all over the country.

If -- when you say critical race theory -- again, this is the binary situation we always find ourselves in in this country. If you say that on MSNBC, people think that's a great thing because they're finally teaching an honest history of racism in this country, which I know no one who is against that.

I'm truly not against that. I think -- you know -- I remember what my education was with American history. We learned about the Civil War. I mean, they mentioned racism. We understood slavery and Lincoln and blah, blah, blah. But they didn't really go into it any more than "Gone with the Wind" goes into it. It was there but you didn't feel it this really.

Now, we're doing that and I think that's a good thing. People should understand that. That's different than teaching that racism is the essence of America. That's what people get upset about. Or involving children who are probably not old enough or sophisticated enough to understand this very complicated issue with a very complicated history.

CUOMO: So, with -- you have families and we saw this resonate in Virginia. And I have people on all the time who reject this premise. But we just saw it play out, so it must be real to a lot of people, which is you want to make white kids feel badly about what happened before them.

MAHER: Right.

CUOMO: And that their lives should be a function of making up for it. And I don't want that put on my kid.

MAHER: Yes. People are -- kids are taught and sometimes separated into groups, oppressor and oppressed. Again, does a kid even know what those words mean? Would they gravitate toward that if you hadn't told them?

I mean, you're taking something that was getting better, race relations in America, and we -- I think everyone recognizes, everyone right thinking, in my view, that still a lot of work needs to be done. Remedial efforts need to be taken still. Racism is part of America.

But I did a thing one night about progressophobia, which is a term Steven Pinker called out -- termed -- coined, which means somehow, liberals got afraid to acknowledge progress. You know, it's two thoughts in your head at the same time. You can acknowledge that we have made great progress on all the social issues and yet there is still more work to be done.

We're not saying mission accomplished, we're just saying, let's live in the year we're living in. You can't come up with good solutions unless you're realistic about what the problem is. I mean, it was only like 10 or 20 years ago that no state in America would vote for gay marriage. I mean, it was on the ballot like 35 times. Now, it's the law of the land and no one is against it.

I mean, when I was kid, I grew up in New Jersey, which is not a southern state, and it was a completely white town. Now, a vast majority of Americans want to live in a racially-diverse neighborhood.


That is a steep change, just in my lifetime. Again, not mission accomplished, but can we just acknowledge how far we've come and where we are right now?

CUOMO: And the pushback becomes, well, it's just the truth. We're just telling the truth, is that racism continues, it's systemic, it's --


CUOMO: -- everything around us. But you have to be taught where it is everywhere because that's how we remedy it. And otherwise, you're just hiding from the truth.

MAHER: That's nuts. It's just -- it's just silly. It's just virtually signaling (ph) --

CUOMO: Now --

MAHER: I mean --

CUOMO: -- here is the problem. You say that all the time. Why aren't you concerned that whether it's HBO or whoever owns them in that minute or your audience or some group comes and says, "Maher said too much. He's got to go." Why aren't you afraid of that?

MAHER: They do it every week. When -- I mean, I tape the show Friday. It goes on --

CUOMO: That's called Tuesday.

MAHER: Yes. Exactly. At Friday night. And Saturday, some people who haven't seen the show yet say to me, "how did the show go?" And I always say, if I haven't been cancelled today, it went fantastic. That it was a giant success.

CUOMO: But you don't change.

MAHER: No. They come after me every week for something. I mean, both sides, which I think is great.

CUOMO: Maybe that's what saves you.


CUOMO: That you have both sides coming after you.

MAHER: And that's fairly new because -- not because I changed. My politics have not changed. I'm an old-school liberal. It's -- when we were talking about the race issue, they changed. Not me. I was -- I was the old -- we are -- should be moving toward a colorblind society where we don't see race.

That's the old way to look at it. I think that's still the good way to look at it. That's how we win, when it doesn't matter what your race is. The quality of your character, not the color of your skin. That's not wokeism? Wokeism, we have to see it everywhere all the time.

That's different. I don't know if that makes it better. But I am, for the first time, when I'm on the road now, playing to very often a politically-mixed audience. That never happened, ever. And I don't think it happens really hardly anywhere else in America.

CUOMO: Why? Do you think there's an increasing separation --

MAHER: I think --

CUOMO: -- between real people and the people who are in power over them?

MAHER: I think there's a lot of old-school liberals like me who don't like what's going on, on the far of the left. I always get -- I keep saying, when you're doing something that sounds like a headline in "The Onion," that's when you've gone too far, you know. Land of Lincoln cancels Lincoln. That really happened. You know they torn down Lincoln's --

CUOMO: Yeah.

MAHER: Lincoln isn't good enough for them. Seattle, the city council voted to decriminalize crime. This is an "Onion" headline. You know, I saw one very recently, maybe babies should vote. It's what I mean about the party of no common sense.

CUOMO: New York City, they took down Thomas Jefferson from in front of city hall.

MAHER: Yeah. You know. HCLU (ph) official advocates banning a book. These are "Onion" headlines and yet this is where this party is or -- I don't think that's where the party is, it's where the faction that gets all the headlines, and again it goes in the blue bin and the average voter sees that and attaches it.

You know, there was a -- I think it was Tommy Tuberville, the Republican senator from Alabama, wanted to catch the Democrats and he put defunding the police up for a vote. It lost in the Senate 99 to nothing. No Democrat voted for it.

But if you ask the average person of the Democrats for defunding the police, oh, yeah. That's the disconnect that the Democrats really better address.

CUOMO: Dave Chappelle and Senator Josh Hawley are two very different men who are in the mix of what I think is a defining concern culturally about how we handle what we don't like. Let's take a break. I want to go through both of them with you and see what you see is the same, different, and if God helps us, there is a solution. I know you're not looking up. So, there's just lights for you up there. Bill Maher, right after this.


[23:35:00] CUOMO: Where we are as a function of where we will or will not be very soon? Maybe not even a full election cycle away. Let's discuss it with Bill Maher. Dave Chappelle and Josh Hawley. Dave Chappelle -- two guys who are in the crosshairs of helping culture reconcile what is and is not acceptable.

Chappelle has a long history of going after trans people. Not really LGBTQ. A little bit. A little bit. But the homophobia is not as much of a push against him as what he says about trans people. He does this special and he says this is going to be my last one for a while. It's called "The Closer." And he says he's being cancelled because he's made jokes about that group. What's your take on it?

MAHER: Well, I defended him.

CUOMO: I know.

MAHER: I'm team Dave.


MAHER: And free speech. Well, first of all, you say going after, and you used terms like homophobia. I was speaking recently about phobia. That's a word that has travelled quite a bit from its original meaning. A lot of mission creep on that word. Phobia has become really just a way people word they use to say I don't like something.

CUOMO: That's right. It's not a fear.

MAHER: Phobia means an irrational fear. You know, spiders, arachnophobia. You know, you have an irrational fear. OK, germaphobia. I see all the hand sanitizers here. To me, that would be germaphobia.

CUOMO: But those are only for shaking hands with me.

MAHER: I see, which I never was worried about and still I'm not.


MAHER: But he's not afraid of homosexuals --

CUOMO: Right.

MAHER: -- or -- it's not transphobic. It's this trans stuff is very new. I don't think he or myself or any other, again, right-thinking person, thinks there aren't such things in the world as people who are trans, who are born in a body that doesn't align with what their brain is telling them. That's OK. But now we're talking about children.

I -- it's interesting. Someone I know, a woman in her 40s said to me somewhat recently at a dinner party that when she was a kid, she was what they used to call a tomboy. She said, I never was interested in wearing a dress. I only wore pants until I was like 14 or 15. She said, if I was around today, they would have made me into a boy here in California. That's what we're talking about.

This is new. So, don't put it into this category of this is settled science. We've been -- we -- anything that deviates from the one true opinion on this means you're some horrible bigot and transphobic. That's not what's going on here. And I don't think Dave Chappelle is transphobic. I mean, a lot of that special is talking about his opening act.

CUOMO: Right.

MAHER: Who's trans? OK? It's just like, can we take a breath? Maybe we are going too far with the children part of this. You know, kids should not be really making decisions about their gender. I mean, Mario Lopez was almost canceled for suggesting that maybe 3-year-olds shouldn't decide their gender. This is not crazy stuff that makes you a bigot.

CUOMO: But having the opinion obviously has to be protected. His choice to make jokes about them, now this is the argument. The luxury for me is I just have to present the argument that's out there. It doesn't matter whether I scribe to it or not. But the argument that was made, that I don't think he handled well, OK, I will say that.

You're punching down at this group. This is a discreet minority. They've got a lot of problems of being targeted and hurt. You are a powerful voice and you making fun of them empowers the people who want to hurt them whether you know that or not. Now that we've told you that, stop doing it. Is that a bad suggestion?

MAHER: I don't know. I don't know what's in Dave's head. I mean, I'll admit he's --

CUOMO: If it were you.

MAHER: -- he is a little obsessed with this one issue.

CUOMO: Made him a lot of money.

MAHER: Well, I don't think he's doing it for the money.

CUOMO: I'm not saying he is, but it made him a lot of money for a guy who was cancelled.

MAHER: No, this is just a -- he's not cancelled.

CUOMO: I know.

MAHER: But he certainly has lost some things. I mean, that movie he's now taking around like door-to-door should have been available in different forums, but we see that happen to a lot of people.

But I think what's going on, I guess surmising, I haven't talked to Dave in a long time, but I think as a Black man in America, he sees that there are other groups who -- you're right, the trans people have been targeted. Nothing -- nobody in America except the Indians have had it anywhere near like the Black folks have had it in America.

CUOMO: One hundred percent.

MAHER: So, I can see why that would get under the skin.

CUOMO: And he did that very eloquently and I think opened a lot of eyes that, you know, he put it in the context of a jealousy. You know, that look how far you guys have come and so quickly.

MAHER: Right.

CUOMO: And we're still struggling. And if you made these kinds of jokes about us, the situation is nothing like if you go after the trans community or the gay community. I get it. I just wonder if his fix for it made things better or is that the point of comedy?

MAHER: Before we get to that, what does this have to do with Josh Hawley?

CUOMO: Josh Hawley is the --

MAHER: Because I've been wondering that for about 15 minutes now.

CUOMO: Here's why. So, Dave gets attacked for making those jokes and that's about what's OK or not OK. Josh Hawley is on the other end of the spectrum of --

MAHER: To say the least.

CUOMO: -- of weaponizing what is OK and not OK as a way -- so Dave is doing it as a way of let's approach our freedom and let's talk about what we can talk about here. He's doing the same thing, Hawley, on like you know the opposite spectrum. Here's the piece of the sound that I'm talking about --


CUOMO (on camera): -- that I think spells it out.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): The left-wing attack on manhood says to men you are part of the problem. It says that your masculinity is inherently problematic. As conservatives, we've got to call men back to responsibility. We've got to say that spending your time not working and we have more and more men who are not working, spending your time on video games, spending your time watching porn online while doing nothing is not good for you, your family or this country.


CUOMO (on camera): Interestingly, the second part of that, that's old-school Republicanism. You know what I mean? It's just value speaking, virtue signal. It's fine. Put it to the side. The first part, I'm coming after you because you're white. White is no good anymore. They're blaming you for everything.

MAHER: Toxic.

CUOMO: Toxic. And it's not just a man. It's really white men. Look at the commercials.

MAHER: Right.

CUOMO: The world (ph) doesn't see any guys like you that often. And that is a very dangerous thing. Same category. What can we talk about? What's OK? What isn't? Hawley is doing that also, but he's creating a weapon that I think the left and the media don't see coming.


MAHER: Right. I think you're right about that.

CUOMO: That's white equity (ph).

MAHER: Yeah. And there -- there is a sense that just being male is toxic or just being white is toxic. You know, your whiteness and it's like, what are you talking about? You know, I've always tried to be an ally. That's what a lot of people are saying. And now you're coming after me? You know, this whole idea of like you have two choices. You're either a racist or you're a racist and you don't know it.

You know, people who have lived a right-thinking life their whole life, that's not -- they'll say, why are you coming after me? You know, have I turned my life over to this issue? No, but I can't. I have a job and kids and a wife and stuff to do. You know, I can't do that.

Now, Josh Hawley is a dangerous guy. Let's get to the essence of Josh Hawley. He's not wrong about this particular issue, but it's minor to somehow who does not acknowledge what happened on January 6.

CUOMO: They can't --

MAHER: And much bigger question is, what do you do when there are people in our government who don't believe in our form of government, and he is one of them?

CUOMO: He'll say, no, no, no, I believe that. January 6 was bad and wrong. Said and settled. You guys are only upset about it because you get to use it as a cudgel. But you didn't care about the Black people and their allies running around burning down all those cities the summer before.

MAHER: Well, it's a false comparison, and it wasn't the Capitol. And they weren't trying to stop a duly elected officer at the highest level of government from taking office. I mean, it's a pretty sobering thought that the Republican with the most backbone was Mike Pence.


CUOMO: But for Pence, it could have been a very different scenario, by the way.

MAHER: Yes. I mean, when I mention Liz Cheney now and the audience claps, I'm like, oh, we love her now. Isn't that interesting? And I see why.

CUOMO: And let's see -- let's see if she goes after Biden a couple more times. But then, again, who knows how long she's around in her own primary?

MAHER: That's OK. That's her job to go after Biden. That's what Republicans do. They go after the -- I mean, we did that forever. Republicans and Democrats were cats and dogs and they fought, but also Tip O'Neill and Reagan could have a drink after work. They could work together.

I don't know how we're ever going to work together. How do you -- we have -- how many QAnon members of Congress now? QAnon.


MAHER: How do you negotiate with people who think the Democrats eat babies?

CUOMO: That's right.

MAHER: Where does that negotiate (ph) --

CUOMO: That's an obvious problem. I think the bigger problem -- and I'll take a break and then we'll discuss about this -- is what goes unsaid that people won't stand up. I believe the pandemic for us was a low point on a lot of different levels. We made ourselves sick on purpose. And then we kept ourselves there.

I want to talk to you because you have a very interesting take on the whole situation. One more break. When we come back, Bill Maher on where we are.



CUOMO: Last topic, we made ourselves sick. That's what the pandemic is about. What does Bill Maher think about it? We made ourselves sick, literally and figuratively. Pandemic comes, people tell us, okay, it's going to be here, there are going to be a lot of cases, let's prepare. Top echelon of government, our president says, no, no, no, it's not going to be that bad, we'll be fine, it will disappear. Of course, it doesn't.

But it created a line where now we see it almost exclusively on the basis of politics, who buys into things about COVID and the treatment and the facts, who doesn't. How do you see it?

MAHER: Well, you said we made ourselves sick. The bigger issue that is never discussed is that we were sick. You know, before you get sick, you are sick. This is a very sick country, still is. I don't mean mentally, although that, too, but physically. And why don't you talk about that?

I mean, there is -- let's say -- let's call it factor X. If there was a factor that was responsible for 78 percent of the COVID deaths and hospitalizations, wouldn't you have to really, journalistically, report that?

CUOMO: The comorbidities.

MAHER: I'm talking about obesity. People in the media, people in the government, are afraid to even mention it. Again, 78 percent, 88 percent of worldwide deaths are in high obesity countries. Forty percent of COVID deaths are people with diabetes. And yet no one will mention it. I do. But -- they hate me for it.

CUOMO: I talk about it. But you're right. It's not the prevailing narrative.

MAHER: You cannot -- people have got to participate in their health. I said this before the pandemic. I said, we will never get health care right in this country. I don't care if you take Bernie Sanders's health care plan, Elizabeth Warren's health care plan, Joe Biden's. Nothing is going to work and it wasn't working, unless people understand that they have some skin in the game.

They have to participate in their own health. You can't expect just vaccines and pills or whatever else. They have to do the job. And we never do that in this country. The last person who tried was Michelle Obama. And it did not go over well.

CUOMO: When we talk again eight months from today, hopefully we'll talk a lot before then, eight months from today, do you think things are better or worse?

MAHER: Well, they're not going better for Biden and the Democrats and I think that's getting -- eight months is going to be close to the midterm election. I think they're going to get thumped in the -- I mean, that usually happens in midterm elections. But, you know, I mean, Joe, look, I'm glad he's there, but he has not exactly stuck the landing on a lot of the issues that he was dealing with.


The time I'm worried about that I keep talking about is election day 2024 until January 20th, 2025, inauguration day, because again, if Trump loses, he will not say he lost. That will never happen. He will never concede, as I said last time. But this time, it's not going to be like last time.

I mean, he almost pulled it off last time. And this time, he's had four years to get those people in place. So, what happens on January 20th, 2025 when he shows up for the inauguration, and Joe Biden or whoever the Democrat is shows up for that inauguration? What happens then? That's when I want to be, you know, on vacation in London.

CUOMO: So, now, my hardest situation, how do I say until the next time? Do we shake hands? Do you want to fist bump? What do you want?

MAHER: We shook hands when you came out. Come on. Let's get back to normal.

CUOMO: Good. I'll take it.

MAHER: Okay.

CUOMO: Listen, if normal is talking to you --

MAHER: Yeah.

CUOMO: I'll take normal all day long. Bill Maher, thank you very much.

MAHER: Thank you.

CUOMO: I appreciate you. A gift to the audience.

MAHER: Appreciate that.

CUOMO: Thank you for watching. Stay tuned because you know what continues on CNN. The news, next.