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CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Bill Maher

Aired August 11, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Bill Maher is back, outspoken, outrageous as ever and taking your calls on all the news of the day. Bill Maher, America's most controversial comic. We have labeled him such and it will remain that way. He's here for the hour, next, on LARRY KING LIVE.
In the terms of the trade, Bill Maher is hot. His book, "New Rules: Bill Maher Political Musings from a Timid Observer," is already climbing the best-seller list.

I believe in a week it's number eight on the "New York Times" best-seller list. There you see its cover there. It's also available -- and that's published by Rodale, who gave him a terrific full-page ad in the "New York Times" today.

Phoenix Audio has published "New Rules Bill Maher" read by the author which you can obtain on audio tape. And his book, "When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden" is out in trade paper back. And he's the host, of course, "Realtime With Bill Maher," which returns Friday, August 19th, -- a week from Friday -- at 11:00 p.m. and that's repeated frequently throughout the week on HBO. Do you feel...

BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO'S REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER: And I'm sorry, but that's all the time we have. Good night, everyone.

KING: Do you feel that this is it, that this is big? Come on, Maher.

MAHER: What, the book?

KING: The book. I mean, you're going through the roof. This is it.

MAHER: When I hear you introduce me, I feel -- every time, I feel it's big.

KING: No, I mean...

MAHER: Really, I wish you were around to introduce me...

KING: I've been reading about your parties in New York: The toast of Gotham.

MAHER: The toast of Gotham...

KING: You've become showbiz. MAHER: Well, I was just in New York for -- I've become showbiz. Hopefully, I've been in show business for a while.

KING: Yes, but you were always sort of on the outside looking in.

MAHER: I will always be on the outside. Any -- you know what, when I get on the inside, when I'm mainstream, I've lost the loyal fans who've brought me this far and I will never do that. I will never go there.

KING: How did the concept of "New Rules" come about?

MAHER: Well, I could give you a big story, but my head writer is a genius and he suggested it to me and I said yes. That's really the truth.

KING: But you do it every week on the show?

MAHER: Yes, but I think what it does, is it really taps into an idea that everyone has, which is, "I wish I could be king." I wish I could make the rules. You know, I could have called this book, "I Decree," because that's what everybody's fantasy is. Everybody thinks the world is crazy. Society has gone to hell in a handcart and if I could just make the rules, if I could decree this and that, things would be better off. So, I'm the guy who's letting them live their fantasies through me.

KING: Why is it done alphabetically?

MAHER: No reason. There's just no -- you know, it's because it's a joke book, Larry. It's really a joke book you could read on the toilet.

KING: You could turn to any page.

MAHER: You can read it in an hour on the toilet. Not that you should be on the toilet for an hour, but that's a different subject. And actually, it takes a little more than an hour to read, because there's also some of our -- it has 18 of our editorials, which are a little more serious and I think, intellectually nutritious.

KING: And it's not all from the TV show, right?

MAHER: No. No. We've put a lot of new stuff in there, but the basic idea is the "New Rules" that we do the on the show and it is a joke book. I mean it is -- you know, people have read it and said it's laugh-out-loud funny.

KING: It is. There was a time we feared...

MAHER: They were drunk and high, but you know what, it doesn't matter, Larry. They laughed out loud.

KING: There was a time we feared that Bill Maher might not be renewed by HBO and look at this: Nominated... MAHER: What do you mean? I still fear that.

KING: Yes. Nominated for prime-time Emmy: Outstanding variety show. Come on.

MAHER: I've been nominated, Larry, so many times without winning. I am the Susan...

KING: You've never won an Emmy?

MAHER: I've never won an Emmy. I've stopped counting, but I have been nominated 10 of the last 11 years for an Emmy. Some of the years, multiple nominations like this year. So, it's probably almost 20 nominations coming -- if came -- if you were a baseball player and you came to bat 20 times and you never hit one.

KING: You're going to the minors

MAHER: You would be in the minors. That's what's called having a cup of coffee.

KING: All right. Let's roll through some things. You say that news programs should stop saying they go beyond the news.

MAHER: That's right. It's like airlines saying we land on the runway. Of course you should. That's one of our rules. Of course, that should be going without -- go without.

KING: You are angry at our emphasis on crime stories.

MAHER: Well, I think a lot of people are noticing this now, but we pointed out a while ago, that the crime stories always seem to involve white people. It does seem to be a little racist, whenever somebody is down a well or a bride or a white woman goes missing, it's always the, you know, the Jessicas and the Heathers.

I never hear Shahnaynay (ph) has gone missing or Shaneiqwa or Flowdibia (ph). It does seems like the news outlets, including your own, seem to cover white people.

KING: Are you saying if the young lady in Aruba were black or maybe Latino, it would not get that coverage?

MAHER: Exactly. But actually that's a sign of -- I mean, that's a sign of progress. If you look on the bright side, you could mark the progress of racism or the lack of racism, by what you're allowed to get away with. A hundred years ago, even 80 years ago, you were allowed to get away in this country, with lynching black people and I don't mean extra-legally. I mean, it was a big event in the town square and the police were involved and the trains gave discounts for people to come in and see it.

Fifty years ago, you could get away with, you know, making the blacks drink from a different fountain. Now, what you can get away with, overtly racist, is stuff like this.

KING: But it's not -- the -- do you think the head of the news departments say, "White, cover it?"

MAHER: No, that's why I'm saying, it's progress. I thought when Chris Rock hosted the Oscars, I thought he did a really good job, but he got some bad reviews.

And I thought, "Yes, that's where racism is today: What you can actually get away with is saying between the lines, well,, a black guy maybe shouldn't be hosting the Oscars.

KING: All right, let's get into other items in the news. Mr. Roberts, John Roberts, Judge Roberts...


KING: ... The first Bush appointee to the court.

MAHER: Well --

KING: The hullabaloo being raised now about his argument on abortion.

MAHER: Yes. I think the liberals should get over it. That's about as good as it's going to get for them. You know -- I mean, the time to stop a John Roberts from being on the Supreme Court was the election and the liberals and the Democrats didn't do well there. They failed.

Bush got reelected and of course, he's going to nominate a conservative. They're lucky he didn't nominate a more fire-breathing conservative. If they shoot this guy down, I don't know who Bush is going to appoint next, because Bush is not the kind of guy who wants to be conciliatory.

He's not the guy who ever really wants to compromise. He speaks a good game about that, but he never does it. This is about as good as they're going to get. And, you know, he looks the part. He looks like a reasonable person. He's actually very far to the right, but his track record indicates that he really wants to follow the law.

So, at least he has a shot, I think. We don't know what he'd do if he had to rule on Roe versus Wade, but at least he has a shot, I think, at becoming the kind of justice that is not in the hip pocket of the right wing. Having said that, ladies, get your abortions now. If you need one, go now!

KING: Is it fair to ask him what he thinks of Roe versus Wade? Why can't you ask him about a law?

MAHER: They will, but he won't answer.

KING: And why won't he answer? It's a law

MAHER: Because he really doesn't have to. And if you took away the politics from it, he really shouldn't have to. That's not what a judge is. I criticized the Republicans this year because they were constantly screaming about activist judges and it just shows how divorced these people are from reality, including the reality of how this country is supposed to be run.

They kept saying, "these activist judges are not accountable to the people." Well, hello! Judges are not supposed to be accountable to the people. That was the way our Constitution was designed with three branches of government. One branch, not being accountable to the people. If there's one thing that the founding fathers were really concerned with, it was that the people not be heard all the time.

They considered the people a rabble, a howling group of rabble- rousers and they did not want the people to be influencing legislation or the way the country is run at every single turn. That's why they had the capitol move to Washington, D.C., which was far away at the time, from the people in the financial centers.

KING: We'll take a break, be back with Bill Maher. The book is now out in tape and book form. It's called, "New Rules." We'll see if he has a new rule about the question of evolution vs. -- what are they calling it now?

MAHER: Intelligent design.

KING: Intelligent design.

MAHER: Unintelligent design.

MAHER: I met a couple of guys today that were not intelligently designed. We'll be right back.


MAHER: I know, you hear about gas prices over two dollars a gallon and it makes you nearly choke on your four dollar latte.

How come we have cars with global positioning systems, satellite radio and voice activated Web access and we still power them with the black goop you have to suck out of the ground?




DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Last night at Yankee Stadium, like in the eighth inning or something, a kid, a kid, he's like 18 years old, he's in the upper deck behind home plate, and he jumps out of his seat over the railing to see if the net there that catching foul balls will hold the guy as he jumps, like, 50 feet. It was incredible.

How, how can you afford to get that drunk at $8 a beer, $8 a beer?



KING: We're back with Bill Maher, the host of the Emmy-nominated "Realtime With Bill Maher." It returns to HBO on August 19th at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

What do you make of this evolution? Is this a manufactured argument?

MAHER: Are you talking about intelligent design again?

KING: Yeah.

MAHER: Of course.

KING: It's no more -- it's -- intelligent design now replaces the other word?

MAHER: It's creationism by another name. You know, I so much more respect social conservatives who keep it real and just say what they think. And those people are getting harder to find, at least as guests.

I remember on our old show, "Politically Incorrect," we used to have a guest, Floyd Brown. I love Floyd. I miss him. I think he's now the curator of the Reagan Ranch.

We were talking about homosexuality once, and he said: "It's wrong, because people are poking in the wrong hole." OK, that's an argument I can understand, and I appreciate the honesty. I don't agree with it. I think it's submental, but that's OK. At least it's honest.

And it's like this, with intelligent design, it's such a, it's such a, you know, around the back end way of expressing an idea, which they -- just be honest and say, we prefer to believe in the fairy tale. We prefer to believe in the fairy tale that God created the world in six days.

I mean, what does that mean, intelligent design? It means that apparently, the world is so complicated that there are things about it we don't understand, so it must be invented by somebody -- let's call him Jesus' dad -- who understands things we don't. But it's like saying, we don't know how those monoliths got onto Easter Island, so we're going to say aliens brought them.

It's not rational. It's not smart. But it's more comforting. Just say that. You want to be comforted.

KING: Karl Rove.

MAHER: Oh. Treason is the word that comes to mind.

KING: Treason?

MAHER: Well, you know, having been called a traitor more than once in this country, and recently by some dumb congressman in Alabama, it just reminds me that there is actual treason. Excuse me, but Congress is committing treason on an almost weekly basis. Every time they sell out homeland security, in this age of terror, for some special interest group or for somebody who gave them a campaign contribution, that's actual treason. And what Karl Rove did, yes, was treason.

I'm not saying he was trying to commit treason. He was trying to squash a story. He was afraid that the media would stampede to this story because it was an op-ed in "The New York Times," and of course, most of the media acts like kids in the classroom and they cheat off "The New York Times." They're the smart kid in the class, and they're saying that this story about Niger was a bunch of baloney. We're going to -- so he was trying to get other reporters from not copying that story. So when he talked to Matthew Cooper and these people, he was...

KING: That's treason?

MAHER: Treason when you out a CIA operative, it is. And I know the Republicans say, well, she didn't have a very sensitive job at the CIA. Well, excuse me, but all the jobs at the CIA are sensitive. That's why it's the CIA. And isn't that kind of parsing, when you say it's not very sensitive at the CIA? I mean, at the beginning, Bush was saying that he wanted the head of anybody who was involved with this. Then he changed to, I want the head of anybody who committed a crime. Flip-flop! Flip-flop!

Yeah, that is treason. Excuse me, but it's certainly more of a treason than the kind of treason that Ann Coulter identifies as treason or that I've been accused of.

KING: What do you make of the lady in Crawford, Texas, who lost her son and is waiting to see the president?

MAHER: I think -- I think she's terrific. I think it's great that the president is in a position where he really, you know, is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Because if he meets with her, well, then a lot of people are going to want to meet with him. And if he doesn't meet with her, he kind of looks like an ogre. So she's got him between Iraq and a hard place.

KING: We'll talk about Iraq, see if Maher has a new rule about Iraq. The book is out, it's already number eight on the -- congratulations. That's a fast climb, man. And what an ad they did for you today.

MAHER: Really? I didn't see that yet.

KING: Come on!

MAHER: I was studying for your show.

KING: Come on, you didn't see the ad in "The New York Times"?

MAHER: I will when I get home.

KING: It's big.

MAHER: I get the L.A. edition. Are you sure it was in that?

KING: Yeah, it's a biggy.

MAHER: And they leave it at the end of the driveway. I've been trying to get them to move it closer to where I live.

KING: The blue paper? We'll be right back with more of your calls at the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.


MAHER: The Vatican put up the pope's e-mail address on their Web site. I didn't even know the pope had an e-mail address, but apparently, this one does. It's a step up. The church has historically been very slow to embrace technology, as you know. Until very recently, their idea of a laptop was an altar boy.




CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": In New York, Senator Hillary Clinton is being challenged for her seat by a female candidate. Yes, this is -- yes, yes. Yes, Hillary says she's looking forward to the election, while Bill Clinton says he's looking forward to the girl on girl action.


KING: That's Conan O'Brien talking about the issue of the day. By the way, Conan will be the guest next Tuesday on this program.

Bob Costas, our fill-in host, will host all next week. Get a little vacation time. Costas with Conan, I like that, next Tuesday night. What do you make of this Jeanine Pirro, Hillary Clinton race?

MAHER: I don't follow New York politics much. But I was back there the last couple days, and boy, the tabloids played it up a lot. They -- you know, because it's two women.

KING: With husbands who have strayed.

MAHER: That's right. It's Mrs. Stray versus Mrs. Stray.

KING: Do you think Hillary is beatable?

MAHER: Not in New York. But nationally, I think she's not just beatable, but would be a disaster.

KING: Because?

MAHER: Because she's the worst -- and I happen to like her an awful lot and think she's sincere. I think she's been mischaracterized constantly her whole life, but she's the worst of both worlds for the Democrats because on the one hand, the conservatives will never, ever vote for her. Ever. I mean, they see her as the enemy. I mean, they think she's a lesbian pinko.

And the Democrats and the liberals will be very very disappointed the closer she gets to the election. Because like her husband, she's truly a centrist. And she will tack further and further to the right until she alienates both parties and nobody is going to be happy with her.

KING: You think she'll be nominee?


KING: You don't think?

MAHER: No, I don't, for that very reason. I think they'll come around to realize that.

KING: All right. What about Iraq? Where do we go from here? The president, again, strongly reinforcing his position today.

MAHER: Yes. Well, what else can he do? You know, I know my liberal friends hate it when I say this, but it's still possible it could work out. And the reason I say that, I see the pictures from Iraq every night and I still see Iraqis fighting for their country. They haven't given up on it. I still see middle class people. Iraq has a big middle class that really wants a real country.

I always said, from the beginning, that it was a 50/50 proposition if we did everything right. And of course, we did everything wrong. And I saw in the paper a couple weeks ago, there was a story about some young men from, I think, Jordan, who went to Iraq to do jihad. And they interviewed one of the young men's mother and she said, well, you know what, when a foreign invader comes and attacks a Muslim nation, it's practically a must. It's a duty. These were kids. They didn't want to go do it. It's practically a must for us.

Well, that's what we got ourselves into. That's why George Bush, all of us who were against him from the beginning say he was too shallow and callow for the job. And it's true. He didn't understand what he was getting into. He didn't understand. He just thought if he said, you know what? Freedom. We're just spreading freedom. That that was enough. He's a very two-dimensional, simplistic guy. And that's not going to cut it in this war and this war.

And, you know, the Greeks believed in the golden mean. And --for example, the golden mean between -- for courage was somewhere between the kind of ridiculous bravery you would just rush into a machine gun nest and cowardice and running other way. He doesn't understand that. You know, when he said bring 'em on, that's the George Bush, the Texas cowboy you're hearing about. That's not the golden mean. That's not intelligent. And that's what he's done for us here. He's gotten us into a situation where he's almost forced the opposition to increase to a size that we never thought they would be. I mean, after 9/11, no one doubted that we had to fight this Muslim...

KING: Are you saying we created this?

MAHER: I'm saying we created it on a level we never should have had to deal with. There was no doubt in any of our minds that after 9/11, we had to strike back. But we have created something -- a monster that was not there to begin with. And we could have handled it differently.

KING: John Bolton, interim appointment to the U.N.

MAHER: Well, you know, it's like hiring a nanny who hates kids. You know, what could go wrong? Let's take the most undiplomatic person in the world and make him our top diplomat.

It's like in sitcoms, where they say it's so crazy, it just might work. That's what this administration is, it's so crazy, it just might work. Iraq, Social Security, it's so crazy, it might work. Yeah, it might work, but I wouldn't bet on it.

KING: Are you surprised that Bush's popularity rating is going down?

MAHER: No, I'm -- well, no, unfortunately.

KING: Even though we're supposed to be a conservative nation? It's a contradiction, isn't it? We're a conservative nation. His rating is very low.

MAHER: Well, he's not a conservative.

KING: He's not a conservative?

MAHER: No, the Republicans are not conservatives anymore. Everything they used to -- what is conservative about running up the deficit like he's doing? They used to believe in things like fiscal responsibility, states' rights, going by the constitution.

They're not conservative. They're just drunk with power. So I'm not surprised that conservatives are turning out. I'm not surprised that people finally, the light bulb is going off. I'm just sorry it took this long.

I'm sorry it didn't happen before the election. If we were a brighter nation it would have.

Yes, a couple of years ago, most of the nation thought that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved with 9/11. Now, they finally have gotten the idea through their thick skulls that he wasn't. So unfortunately, it's, as usual too late.

KING: Anti-terrorism. It appears -- you can say all you want about it, we haven't had an attack on this soil since 9/11.

MAHER: Yes. That doesn't mean that's because...

KING: We must have thwarted something.


KING: That's a pretty good guess, that we've thwarted something, isn't it?

MAHER: Well, actually that's a logical fallacy.

KING: A logical fallacy?

MAHER: Yes, just because A -- B follows A, doesn't mean that B was caused by A. You know that that's a logical fallacy.

KING: I see. In other words, no speeding ticket was given on Wilshire Boulevard today doesn't mean no one sped?

MAHER: Right. Exactly.

Now, look, I think on the local level, even on the federal level, lots of good people have been doing a lot of good work to thwart terrorism. So I don't want to discount their efforts. But it also could be, for a number of other reasons, like they work -- they, meaning the terrorists -- work on a much different timetable than we do. They're much more patient, much more patient. I always say if they had a sitcom on al Jazeera, they'd give it, like, 50 years to catch on.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with your phone calls. The book is out "New Rules," Bill Maher No. 8 -- No. 8 on the "New York Times" best seller list. The audio tape is also out. The show returns, his hit show returns to HBO a week from Friday. Back with your calls for Bill Maher. Don't go away.


MAHER: Instead of trying to scare us that Saddam Hussein has a death ray, you know, if you'd just come out and said, look, it's a Texas thing. They tried to kill my daddy, and I will never be able to sit down with my family again in peace until I have Saddam Hussein's head on a stick in the middle of Baghdad. Or as it's now known, the Galleria at Halliburton Square.




MAHER: What is with Bush wearing the cowboy hat and the cowboy boots and the cowboy belt? Memo! Um, there are no more cowboys, which means you're wearing a costume. OK? You might as well be dressed as Sherlock Holmes or a pirate. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's from a wonderful special "I'm Swiss, and Other Treasonous Statements." The special will be -- shown on HBO -- will be out on DVD later this year.

Let's go to calls for Bill Maher, the author of "New Rules." Bradenton, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. Hi, Larry. Hi, Bill.


CALLER: Bill, I'm curious to hear what you think about the new and improved name for the war on terror. I believe it's the global struggle against extremism?

KING: Is that it?

MAHER: But they gave up on it already.

KING: I haven't heard that in a week.

MAHER: Right. Well, Rumsfeld floated that, Rumsfeld started to call it that. And then when Bush gave that speech last week, he made a point to use the -- his term, war on terror, over and over and over and over, so people...

KING: Someone in the White House didn't like the use of war, right?

MAHER: Bush.

KING: No, someone was against the word war.

MAHER: Yes, but it didn't fly. You know, it's funny, because that is White House above all White Houses that loves to call things things that they are not. The Clear Skies Initiative for polluting the skies. The Healthy Forests initiative. I'm telling you, if Karl Rove had been in charge of Crystal Nacht, he would have called it "taking back the night."

KING: Warwick, Rhode Island, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Bill, I'm a big fan, OK? I've loved you since "Politically Incorrect." But I just have to speak out on this, OK?

MAHER: Here it comes. It always starts with that.

CALLER: I'm going to make -- I am going to make two points. Firstly, when you say something like the Democrats just lost it, OK, they lost the election, and you don't touch on the fact that the Electronic Voting Corporation promised, publicly, to hand the election to George Bush. And we know that Ken Blackwell, secretary of state of Ohio, received hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase voting systems in Ohio. And yet that money was left in the bank. And hundreds, you know, thousands of people in Ohio were denied the right to vote. They waited eight to 10 hours. OK?

And another point is this: The neoleft. And I'm a leftist, OK? I'm 45 years old, and I'm a leftist. But I don't believe the neoleft is leftist. They seem to be more just as status quo-oriented as the right wing.

KING: We get the gist.

MAHER: Well, first of all, we did talk about that. I did try to expose the fact that -- we did it on our last show with Gore Vidal of the last season -- that there were shenanigans in the Ohio election, and I know the Republicans said, well, you know, there are some irregularities. You know, somehow all the irregularities favored Bush. So look, I'm on the page with you. So I'll give you Ohio.

What about the other three and a half million votes that Bush won by? You know, it's -- you cannot solve this problem by just blaming the cheaters. Just assume the Republicans are going to cheat. Because they will. The Democrats have to take responsibility to win an election by getting a considerable amount of votes more than the Republicans do, even with the cheating factored in. And they don't do that by trying to be Republican, which is what they try to do.

There are 79 million people in the last election who didn't vote, 79 million. That's a big pond to fish in. Start fishing in that pond, instead of the Republican pond.

KING: Clarion, Pennsylvania, hello.


KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Yes. What convinces Bill that God exists?

MAHER: I'm not convinced that God exists. But I do allow the possibility. I'm not an atheist. I'm open.

KING: You're an agnostic.

MAHER: My view on spirituality is I don't know. I never will as long as I'm alive. So why waste time dwelling on something I can never know? Just be a good person. It should be enough to want to be a good person for the sake of being a good person. I don't need the approval of Jesus or a God. If a God exists, or something that is a realm in another world, great. I'm happy about that.

What I'm most against is the certitude that people have about faith. You know, human beings are very ill-equipped for certitude, and that's what faith is. It is saying, I know more -- I just know it. When Bush was -- came back from the funeral of the pope, the press asked him what he thought about it. And he said, no doubt in my mind the Lord Christ was sent by the Almighty. Way to keep it neutral, huh? That's the first thing. I mean, what about the people who aren't Christian, what do they think when the leader of their country says a thing like that? But no doubt in my mind? Doubt is very fitting for the human mind, because we don't know. We're not that good. So you know, to answer that question, I would say, no, I don't...

KING: What do you say to those intelligent -- the Billy Grahams, who say they have no doubt? They have no doubt. They're going somewhere. They believe it.

MAHER: Well, they've brain-washed themselves. That's what religion is. It's brain-washing people to believe what you can never believe. And it's childish. It's childish. Instead of just saying, I don't know. That's what the adult thing is to do. To say, I don't know, and I'm going to be a good person for the sake of being a good person.

KING: Not because someone told you to be a good person or because...

MAHER: I don't think you're good if you're doing it to get to heaven, first of all. That's not a -- that's not a reason. That's not a good reason to be a decent person. I believe that, in just kind of a vague way, that as you get older and approach death, you should become more selfless. You should start to rid yourself of the addictions and shackles of selfishness that have bonded you your whole life. Sex and materialism and egoism and looksism and all the things that we care so much about when we're living our day-to-day lives. I hope when I'm 80 years old, I'm not having sex, as opposed to so many people who have plastic surgery and try to keep themselves somehow in the game. I hope in 30 years, I've advanced to the point spiritually where those are not my concerns at all.

I've been called shallow, because I've criticized people in their older years when they say, ooh, they're so sexy. I say, they're not sexy. You can't be sexy when you're an old person, and you shouldn't want to be. It's not shallow of me to say that. It's shallow of people to think that sexiness is something that can go on undiminished into senescence.

KING: Bill Maher, we'll be right back. The book is "New Rules," also available on audiotape. Don't go away.


MAHER: New rule, your hamburger can't be bigger than your ass. Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, is offering a new burger that weighs 15 pounds. One sign your portions may be too large, if one of the health risks is a back injury.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the new pope will be out in just a minute. But first, please welcome your warm-up act, the Vatican's own Bishop Joey.

MAHER: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Hey, you're a beatific crowd. Thank you. Habemus papam. Habemus papam. Which means, try the veal. Hey, pal, wave a little more incense up here. I still have one lung.

Thank you.

Hey, you should have seen the crowd we had last night, it was like playing to an oil painting. Then I realized, I'm in the Sistine Chapel. This is an oil painting. I kid, Michaelanglo.


MAHER: Bishop Joey.

KING: That's in the traditional Lenny Bruce. Couldn't get a higher compliment.

Decatur, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I just wanted to ask, why do you think that this country continues to demonize the use of marijuana? And what do you think might happen to cause them to legalize that one day?

KING: Based on the Supreme Court rules.

MAHER: Yeah. That's a great question that I've been working on for long time. I've done what I could, which obviously is not much, to prod the country to move on the drug war.

I would say it's the same problem we have with a lot of issues for the Democrats. We don't have a party that stands up for the other side of the issue. I can understand why we have one party, the Republicans, the conservatives, who are against the use of any drugs and so forth.

Where is the other party? This is my complaint with the Democrats. Why didn't, during the campaign, John Kerry come out for the environment? Why didn't he make that an issue? Why didn't he make the drug war an issue? I mean if one party, one major party, is not going to make it an issue, then absolutely nothing is going to happen.

And the problem with the Democrats is that for this issue, is a problem they always face, they cower before the prospect of saying the right thing, because they imagine what that's going to look like after it's filtered through the Republican slime machine. They know that the 30-second ad that's going to come out a year after they say we should end the drug war is going to, oh, he wants our kids on drugs. It's a slippery slope from smoking a little marijuana to watch "Nic at Night" to your kids selling their selves behind dumpsters to make money for the heroin habit. They're afraid of the Karl Rove 30-second attack ad.

KING: Does the steroid issue bother you in sports? MAHER: It bothers me a lot less than about 1,000 other issues. The fact that Congress would spend its time on that I think, is ridiculous. I mean, it's entertainment. Why don't they try to get marijuana out of rap music? You know, I think it's unfair that some guys are on steroids and some guys aren't.

KING: And you would just let them use it?

MAHER: No, I wouldn't let them use it. But I don't think it's for Congress to get involved in.

KING: Houston, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Good evening, please. I love Bill Maher very much. I'm West African. And I always watch it. I just want to find out what he thinks about the immigration system in this country.

MAHER: I don't know that much about it. I know it takes a village. Well, she's from West Africa. That's where that phrase comes from. And I wanted to make her feel at home here on the LARRY KING SHOW.

Well, I mean, the system is screwed, glued and tattooed, isn't it? I mean, we have to do something to keep out the terrorists. At the same time there's a tremendous amount of hypocrisy going on with the majority of illegal immigration, which is Mexican workers who come to this country because mostly business owners who are very often conservative Republicans, are the ones who need workers to do the jobs Americans won't do.

I mean, there's something like 8 million illegal workers living in this country, most in one apartment in Van Nuys. I'm joking of course, Larry.

KING: We'll take a break. We're going to talk also about stem cell. We're going to talk about Scientology. Take some more calls. "New Rules" by Bill Maher. Don't go away.


MAHER: Now, the big controversy here, the John Bolton nomination for the U.N. ambassador. Yes. It has cleared committee, but get this. Now Larry Flynt has entered the fray. He says he has evidence that John Bolton participated in paid visits to a swingers club and forced his wife to have group sex. Wow.

And today, Ted Kennedy says he has heard enough. He's voting yes.




MAHER: New rule. Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it, doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your ass, and it translates to beef with broccoli. The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant.


MAHER: I wrote that one myself.

KING: Stem cells. Bill Frist coming over to the other side.

MAHER: Well, I wouldn't say he's coming to the other side. See, that's how conservative this country is that when someone makes the statement that even approaches sanity, oh, good, he's coming over to the other side.

You know, that is something I must say that bothers me a lot. I am more sympathetic on the abortion issue than I am on most right wing socially conservative issues, because you know, you don't have to be religious to be against abortion.

I do sort of understand what they're saying. If you've ever seen a sonogram, you know, you could see something that's emerging as a human being in there. And we are sort of reaching in and killing it. I'm just not against that.

But, you know, to take it to the degree of stem cell research, stem cells which, I don't know if people are aware, are not even cells. They're things that become cells. And we know how small a cell is. And for these people once again, once again, the idea of no doubt. They have this certitude that life begins when the sperm hits the ovum.

I mean, the man is not even lit the cigarette. And there is a third person in the room, Larry. He hasn't even gotten up to get the towel. The woman doesn't even have to say, what are you thinking? And there is already three people in that room. That's a little ridiculous.

And as we know, I mean we may joke, and I do, that people really suffer from the lack of research that goes on because of this.

KING: McAllen, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Bill, you're the most sensible person I know.

MAHER: Right!

CALLER: First, will this new society ever stop the cruel, barbaric treatment of farm animals that suffer from their birth to their horrific death?

KING: Are you a vegetarian?

MAHER: No, I'm not a vegetarian, because -- but I don't eat a lot of meat. I mean, but I don't eat meat for other reasons, because it's filled with hormones, steroids and antibiotics, and it would make me sick. I'd rather eat a clean piece of...

KING: You're not an activist, then. You're not like a PETA.

MAHER: I'm a board member of PETA. And this man is exactly right, and I'm glad he raised the issue. It's despicable the way we treat animals in this country. And it's part and parcel to our general lack of compassion for things that don't affect us directly. But no, I'm not a vegetarian, because I'm not in lockstep with everything PETA says. I mean, animals kill each other.

KING: McKinney, Texas, hello.

MAHER: They just don't do it cruelly.

CALLER: Hi. Well, my question is, the Lord spoke to me approximately three years ago, and if the Lord spoke to you, I was wondering if you'd become a believer.

MAHER: No, I'd check into Bellevue, which is what you should do. I'd love to know what he said.

You know, that's so funny. I was on "The Today Show" the other day, and I was talking about Tom Cruise, which made them very nervous, but I happened to see that Tom Cruise episode, and it just made me so mad that he was lecturing Matt Lauer. And to a lot of people, I think he came across as the one who was smart and sensible and rational. Matt, you don't know enough about psychiatry. You haven't done the homework. I'm the rational, smart one.

OK, Tom Cruise is a Scientologist. Scientologists believe that human beings are infested with these souls of aliens, who took over this planet 75 million years ago. OK, he's the rational one? He's the smart one? You know, if somebody says to you...

KING: But it's possible he might know more about psychiatry than I do.

MAHER: I believe -- I'm with him on the fact that psychiatry -- there's a lot of crazy stuff in psychiatry. I wouldn't go to a psychiatrist, but it's not a pseudoscience, and it's not as crazy as thinking that aliens took over this Earth 75 million years ago.

If somebody says to you, aliens took over the Earth 75 million years ago and have infested your soul, the proper, rational response is, "Well, I guess anything's possible." But if you say, as Mr. Cruise would, as any Scientologist would, to that proposition, "Yes that's undeniable, infallible, incontestable truth," then excuse me, you, like all religious people, have a neurological disorder. And the only reason why people think it's sane is because so many other people believe the same thing. It's sanity by consensus.

KING: We'll be back with more moments with Bill Maher. The book will be number eight on "The New York Times" list. It's new -- you like, don't you, or you don't like -- you like -- you don't like being plugged or you like being plugged?

MAHER: I love it. I just love the way you do it.

KING: I'm enthusiastic!

MAHER: That's what I love. Can I show love?

KING: OK, it's always like, what are you -- what is he doing? We'll be right back. Don't go away.


MAHER: Now, Americans this week have acted like the so-called runaway bride is crazy for skipping town rather than marrying a Sunday school teacher in Duluth, Georgia. Oh, yes, the good life, the bake sales, the prayer meetings, the abortion protests. Who could just walk away from all that? She was staring down the barrel of 14 bridesmaids and 600 guests in the Georgia heat, watching a Baptist in a blue suit sanctify her sex life with Welch's grape juice and a reading from "The Purpose-Driven Life." Suddenly, Greyhound to Vegas looked pretty good.



LETTERMAN: It's called Biff Henderson's "Name That Wax Celebrity."

Under the purple garment there, we have a wax statue from Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum.

All right, Biff, go right ahead. Using only your sense of touch and smell...

BIFF HENDERSON: He's wearing glasses. So...

LETTERMAN: That narrows it down to about 200 million.

HENDERSON: You've got that right. But -- oh, shoot, well, hell, I don't know. Michael Jackson?

LETTERMAN: No, no. It's not -- no.


MAHER: Is that really you?

KING: Yeah, that was -- it was a wax doll of me.

MAHER: Oh, I thought the gag was you were going to start moving.

KING: Maher!

MAHER: Larry, you...

KING: It was Madam Tussaud's in Vegas, New York, London. They did me. By the way, it's -- to go through that, four hours it takes, with the exams, with the measurements, with the -- East Haven, Connecticut, hello.

MAHER: It's a great honor, though.

CALLER: Hi, Bill. My partner and I love you for your support of gay rights.

MAHER: Thank you.

CALLER: What do you think it's going to take for federal recognition of gay rights?

MAHER: A change in the administration and a change in Congress, for sure.

KING: And a change in thinking, don't you think?

MAHER: A change in thinking, yes, I mean -- this, again, where the center is on this issue has moved so far that the people who are on the extreme right are so insane, that where we think the center is is not really where the center should be.

There's a senator, I guess now, Coburn -- you know this guy? I think he's in Oklahoma. Who talks about -- first of all, he's obsessed with something he calls the gay agenda. Now, Larry, when I first moved out to Hollywood, I moved -- I lived in West Hollywood. I know what the gay agenda -- you know what the gay agenda is? Starbucks at 8:00, workout at 9:00, tanning salon at 10:00. That's the gay agenda.

He literally calls homosexuality the -- and gay marriage the greatest threat our country faces. Seriously. I mean, they call me a traitor? That's treason. If you think that that's what we should be guarding this country from, at a time when I read today in the paper that we're going to start selling nuclear material overseas, then you are not doing your job.

My job is to make people laugh. People in Congress, your job is to make this country safer. If you're not doing that job, you are not being -- you're not being patriotic to your country.

KING: We only have 30 seconds. Why do the gay people upset people so much? Why is it upsetting? Why would people care what someone does? In private?

MAHER: Because they're unhappy in their lives. So they have to blame it on somebody.

KING: Bill, it's always great. Man, you're the best.

MAHER: Thank you.

KING: Bill Maher. It's out. "New Rules." It's number eight on the "New York Times" best seller list. "Polite Musings From a Timid Observer." It's also out in CD form. And the show returns a week from Friday to HBO. And of course, we've got the "I Am Swiss and Other Treasonous Statements" special as well. Anderson Cooper is sitting in for Aaron Brown tonight. He will host "NEWSNIGHT." Anderson, how goes -- oh, by the way, tomorrow night, we're going to do a show about cousin Elvis, 28 years dead.


KING: Hard to believe.

MAHER: I remember the day, August 16th.

KING: That's right.

MAHER: 1977.

KING: Remember it well.

Anderson, were you -- were you born?

ANDERSON COOPER, GUEST HOST, "NEWSNIGHT": Yes, I was. I remember it very well.

KING: Do you really?

COOPER: I do. I told you, I remembered it as a kid. Yeah, I was like -- I was 10 years old, but I totally remember it. It was a sad day.

KING: That was one of the big, shocking surprises of all time.

COOPER: Yeah, it certainly was.

MAHER: And it shouldn't have been.

KING: Go get'em Anderson.

COOPER: Larry, Bill, thanks very much.