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Encore Presentation: Interview With Bill Maher

Aired August 24, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Bill Maher, America's most controversial comedian, speaks out on the search for Saddam and those weapons of mass destruction, the Democrats' attacks on President Bush, gay marriage, Kobe Bryant, Scott Peterson, you name it, he's going to have an opinion. And we're going to take your phone calls. Bill Maher, one of my favorites, for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Couple of notes before we start. His wonderful book, "When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden," is now out in trade paperback. It's what the government should be telling us to help fight the war on terrorism. It was terrific in hardcover, now available at a lower price in trade paperback. He also got a Tony nomination for the Broadway show. His HBO comedy special, "Victory Begins at Home," was based on that Tony-nominated show, and his "Real Time With Bill Maher" previewed again -- premiered again on HBO last Friday night and is seen every Friday night live at 11:00 o'clock Eastern.

You and Costas -- want to explain that, how it works?

BILL MAHER, HBO'S "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Well, this new ruling about the gay marriage? Let's just say it helps us.


MAHER: No. Yes, we -- that's HBO does that. They switch off their shows.

KING: He does how many weeks?

MAHER: He does, like, 10, and then we get 10 and -- I'm trying to get rid of him, but that's the way it is for now.

KING: What's the concept? The shows are night and day.

MAHER: Right. Well, I guess that's the concept, is that if you don't like him...

KING: Hang around for 10 weeks?

MAHER: It's just like the weather. Just wait around, it'll change.

KING: And we'll get you.

MAHER: Yes. I mean...

KING: Was Bob...


KING: Let's move into a lot of areas. Was Bob Hope, from a monologist's standpoint, an important figure to you?

MAHER: You know, I have very mixed feelings about Bob Hope because I saw my parents have very mixed feelings about Bob Hope. My parents, as I think I've told you, were in World War II. My mother was a nurse, my father was a soldier in Patton's army. They met over there. And like all GIs, they had a great love affair with Bob Hope at the time. Later, he became much more conservative, and my father and mother were not conservative, and they didn't like that. So they -- and also, he became less funny. So I...

KING: When he was more conservative, he was...

MAHER: Well, he just got older and he started to phone it in. I think that was the name of one of his movies, "I'm Phoning It In." And I'm always curious -- you know, I don't want to tap dance on someone's grave, but I'm always curious why the press protects certain stars and not others. I mean, Bob Hope, you know, is known...

MAHER: Well, when he -- when he spoke out about -- in Vietnam, there -- people were complaining about him.

MAHER: No, I'm talking about his reputation as a great family man.


MAHER: You know? I mean, he was one of the great dogs of all time who never spent a day with his wife. You know, I think there's a story about one of his kids saw him one time and said, Hey, that's Bob Hope. You know, when your kids are asking for your autograph...

KING: You think the press does cover for...

MAHER: For some and not others. I don't understand.

KING: All right, let's move on to Iraq. And first, your thoughts on the president's statements in the State of the Union address concerning Iraq and uranium.

MAHER: Yes. I've actually been sort of, in a way, defending President Bush, which...

MAHER: How about Bill Clinton, who on this show defended him?

MAHER: He stole my whole act. I was -- I saw that, and I said, You know, that's exactly what I've been saying the last few weeks is that -- I understand why the Democrats and the media want a scandal. It's good for both of them. And neither one of them has a conscience, so, great. And I'm also surprised that people are just discovering that George Bush is a monument liar. Yes, of course, he lied about this. He lied about taxes. He lies about the environment. He lies about the FCC, the World Trade Center. You know, he's just -- he's a politician and he's a liar.

But for the Democrats to be trying to pin a scandal on him -- first of all, I cannot live through another presidential scandal. We've seen enough of them. I think it's the Democrats who would be incumbent upon them to break this cycle of having to ruin every president. And the reason why they shouldn't make this a scandal is this was not really the issue. Was it these 16 words? I mean, back in October, when they voted for this war, was this part of -- if he had taken those 16 words out of the speech, would everything be different? No. He was making a case for war. The big equation was, We think that Saddam Hussein might have weapons, and we all agreed with that. We all agreed he might.

KING: He said, We have good information that he has the weapons.

MAHER: OK. Whatever. He's a salesman. He was making a sales pitch. To get mad at him now is like getting mad at a salesman because he says he likes your tie. He was throwing in the mats, OK? That's what that was. He was throwing in the mats. And we bought it. And the Democrats bought it. And there's another 16 words in the Constitution, which is Congress shall be the branch of government to declare war, and not do that -- and to not do -- well, it's not 16 words, but it's in the Constitution. And they abdicated the responsibility a lot more than I think George Bush did.

KING: Were you in favor of that war?

MAHER: No, I was not. But like I said, we did agree on the premise that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy who might have weapons. And now because they find one little technical loophole...

MAHER: OK. Let's go further. Do they have to find weapons?

MAHER: Well, first of all, I don't think they will. At this point, it's kind of over. They could, but -- what do you mean, Do they have to find weapons?


KING: ... to say when the election is on, Well, we said they had weapons, they had weapons, because if you were a Democrat, wouldn't you say, They said they had weapons and they didn't? As an issue.

MAHER: I hope that is not the issue because, again, I cannot -- I cannot stand to go through another scandal here. I mean, Bill Clinton could handle a scandal and run the presidency because he never slept. You know, he could work on the affairs of state during the day and work on his affairs at night while he was having oral sex, eating pizza and you talking to a congressman. I don't want this president -- this president could not...

KING: He couldn't do that.

MAHER: ... spend 12 of his 13 waking hours working on a scandal. We need him to be using all his resources for the war on terror and the very difficult job of being president. KING: Must we find Saddam Hussein?

MAHER: Well, it would be helpful, but I don't think that that's the key, either, as much as they say it is. They talk about his sons being killed and then said, Well, this should end the savagery that's going on against our troops. It did not. I don't think it is as centralized as they like us to believe, that if you get rid of Saddam Hussein -- it's kind of like what we're going through here in California. If we get rid of Gray Davis, all of our problems will be over! Well, they won't. And all our problems won't be over if Saddam Hussein dies. I think by stirring up that hornets' nest, we attracted a lot of jihad-type people.

KING: What do you make of the $30 million someone's going to collect for turning them in?

MAHER: I don't think it needed to be quite that high in Iraq. The average salary, I think, is what, $80 a year, $80 a month? Whatever. If the reward had been, oh, say...

KING: Ten.


MAHER: If it had been 300 bucks, I think that -- why it had to be $30 million -- it's a little over the top for people who are pulling in $80 a year.

KING: But that's the American way, isn't it?

MAHER: It is funny the way we think we can buy our way out of everything, you know? It's just like this futures terrorist trading thing.

MAHER: Yes, what do you make of that?

MAHER: It just shows that the Republicans...

KING: Rumsfeld couldn't believe it.

MAHER: ... believe that the market can solve everything. Doesn't that -- isn't that what it says to you, that their belief in the market, the invisible hand of Adam Smith, is...

MAHER: But Donald Rumsfeld said he couldn't believe it when he saw it.

MAHER: Well, of course, he's going to say that when everybody goes, You're crazy. But I imagine, since it came out of the Pentagon, that it was approved by him, at some point. He does not seem like a man who does not micromanage. But it is amazing that they think that the market could even be an indicator of terrorism. Why some guy who is -- has less information than the CIA -- I'm assuming, I hope so -- the FBI or any one of our 14 intelligence agency would know enough to make the bet on that? KING: We're on a roll with Bill Maher. We'll be taking your calls, of course. He's the host of "Real Time With Bill Maher." It's on live on HBO Friday nights at 11:00. His book, "When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden," is now out in trade paperback. And we'll be right back.


JAY LENO: Former president Bill Clinton came to President Bush's defense yesterday on the Larry King show. He called in on Larry King, defending Bush about the State of the Union address. This is what Clinton said. He said, Give President Bush a break. Everybody makes mistakes. In fact, Clinton said he once made a mistake that weighed 250 pounds.




MAHER: Now, the other big news, the president -- the president has ordered United States Marines to be positioned off the coast of Liberia. But he said, Don't worry we will not be losing more American lives. His plan this time to is to bypass the war altogether and go straight to the photo op on the deck of the ship.


KING: Bill Maher is never dull, one of our more provocative guests ever. We'll be taking your calls at the bottom of the hour. We'll get to as many callers as we can. We touched a lot of bases in the first half hour. We do -- this is kind of, like, our format.

All right, you mentioned it earlier. What do you make of this recall of a governor?

MAHER: I still would like to know what the crime was. What was Gray Davis's crime?

KING: I guess they're saying he's an ineffective governor.

MAHER: But is that...

KING: Is that a crime? I guess -- when it was written, I'm sure the law meant criminal activity.

MAHER: It's insane. I mean, their biggest -- their biggest knock against him, I guess, is that he -- he sort of sexied up the figures on the...

KING: About the budget.

MAHER: ... budget.

KING: Yes. MAHER: Well, so did George Bush, right? Are we calling for his recall? Are we going to replace him with Mr. T?

KING: Presidents we impeach, governors we recall.

MAHER: Well, whatever it is, I mean, I just -- to me, it's ridiculous. And I also think that people, I don't think, remember that -- from their history, that the Framers, the Founding Fathers of this country, did not want the howling masses to exactly be this close to the governmental process. That's why we have representative democracy.

KING: That's correct.

MAHER: That's why they moved Washington, D.C., to where it was, at the time, a swamp in the middle of nowhere, so that it would not be influenced by the people. The people...


KING: ... two senators per state.

MAHER: Two senators per state. Right. I mean...

KING: Selected by only property holders, to begin with, right, I think?



KING: ... the masses...

MAHER: That was part of the -- that was not the good part, but...

MAHER: So you're -- now, what about how they vote here? I understand you go in and you vote against or for Gray Davis, you still get to vote for governor for somebody else.

MAHER: That's crazy, too. Also, when you think about it, we have 34 million people in this state. You only need 897,000, I think, on the petition for the recall, which basically means if you lose the support of 4 percent of the people in California, you're out. Good system.

KING: Are you saddened that Arnold apparently is not going to run? I know you were...

MAHER: Crushed, Larry.


KING: ... I knew you were for him. I sensed it.

MAHER: Not only that, but I understand that Hulk Hogan will never be the librarian of Congress, and I'm equally destroyed about that.

KING: How about Arianna maybe running?

MAHER: I'm encouraging her to.

KING: Yes, you like her, right?

MAHER: I love her. She's one of my best friends, and she's one of the most astute political people I know, and this is a kind of a cheap way to get in.


KING: Any read, or can we have a read, even, on the Kobe Bryant case, or is it too early?

MAHER: I was thinking about that today because I was watching the news, and again, they were talking about his little bauble he gave his wife. I think I would like to announce on your show -- on the Larry King show, they always have great announcements -- a new charity called Charity for Cheaters.

KING: Charity for Cheaters.

MAHER: Charity for Cheaters. So when you cheat on your wife, instead of spending $4 million on a diamond, it goes to charity because that way, the wife doesn't have to look like whore because, you know, obviously, when $4 million is the price, it does recall the old Churchill anecdote about -- where he's dickering with the woman. Would you have sex with me for $5? And she says, Of course not. What do you think I am? And would you have sex with me for $10 million? Well, I'd have to think about it. Well, then, we're just dickering about price.

You know, if that's the going rate for -- you know, they -- all the headlines -- She's standing by her man. Well, yes, for $4 million, she should stand on her head for her man! So that's one thing.

KING: So in other words, contribute the money.


KING: Give it to charity.

MAHER: Exactly.

KING: Kobe give $4 million to...

MAHER: This chick does not need another ring!


MAHER: Give it to Liberia. Give it to somebody who's struggling in the world.

KING: OK, give it to Liberia. Not a bad idea. All right. What about the case itself? Does it concern you?

MAHER: I don't know how you can have a fair trial with the kind of media coverage we've already had about it. Every night on "Entertainment Tonight" or "Access Hollywood," I see them asking celebrities. You know, I wear to God there was a teaser the other night. It said -- they were at the premiere of "Seabiscuit."

KING: "Seabiscuit." Great movie.

MAHER: They had a picture of Tobey Maguire, and they said, Coming up next, Tobey on Kobe.


MAHER: Now, how can you have a serious rape trial if...


KING: It's surreal.

MAHER: ... follow Kobe on Kobe. But again, you know, he's another guy who -- the image protected by the press. You know, the press, who never felt any compunction about going after Bill Clinton, every detail of his personal life from the moment he was born, but they protect the Bob Hopes and the Michael Jordans and Bill Cosby and -- I mean, I could name a lot of people who have a huge family image, but really aren't family-oriented.

KING: But Kobe, they didn't know.

MAHER: Oh, please!

KING: I mean...

MAHER: You think the sportswriters don't know what the basketball -- what the ballers are doing when they're on the road? Are we supposed to believe that this was beginner's bad luck for him cheating? This is the first time he had an -- The first time I try it, I'm charged with rape! Boy! Right out of the box!

I mean, come on! These -- I mean, from what I read, this wasn't the only girl he hit on during this trip. I'm not kidding!

KING: OK. All right. You made a point. President Bush is opposed to gay marriage, although he thinks all gays should be treated fairly, and we're all born sinners, he said, and we should -- don't throw rocks unless you look at your own house. But no gay marriage.

MAHER: First of all, that's such an insult to gay people to respond to that question by saying, We're all sinners. I would like someone to explain to me what is the sin, exactly, of gay sex? What is immoral.

KING: It's a biblical sin, isn't it?

MAHER: Exactly. The Bible. It's all about the Bible. It's all about that one book written so many years ago by God knows who, and -- but it wasn't god, OK? And it's just -- it's astounding to me that this is -- this is the reason why we have all this hatred in the world toward gay people. And it's just legislating taste. That's all it is. It's the same thing we do with drugs. We legislate taste.

It's not my taste to be homosexual, but I do live in a country where I would think, based on what our founding principles are, we would say to gay people or people who want to smoke marijuana, It's not my taste, but we live in America. It's your taste. Have at it.

KING: In fact, we don't even know why someone is hetero or homosexual, do we? We don't know why. You didn't make a decision to be a certain sex, did you?

MAHER: Of course -- if you were making that decision...

KING: Who would make a decision to be gay?

MAHER: Exactly. Who in high school would say, How could I get beat up more? And if it's such a big deal with the religious people, how come Jesus doesn't say anything about it? If it was that big an issue, wouldn't he say something? There's no word from Jesus on it, and yet there's an awful lot about tolerance, acceptance, not judging people, hanging around with the misfits and the outcasts.

KING: What do you think of a gay high school in New York?

MAHER: I think that's probably not a good idea. I think the answer is not to further segregate gays from society but to further push the point of tolerance.

KING: We'll be back with more of Bill Maher. In a little while, we'll go to your phone calls. More to talk about right after this.


DAVID LETTERMAN: Last week, Kobe Bryant gives his wife a $4 million purple diamond ring. Isn't that amazing? A $4 million ring. And she is thrilled about it. In fact, she's hoping he'll have another affair because -- she's got her eye on a matching necklace.




MAHER: New rule. Pat Robertson is insane. Just because he smiles and wears a nice suit doesn't mean he's any less of a wack job than all those wild-eyed urine-stained nut bags who babble on street corners about Jesus through a bullhorn. And he's getting desperate because after you've agreed that the purple Teletubby is gay, where do you go?

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: By the way, I was mentioning the trade paperback of the book, "When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden." It comes out in September. The hardcover's still available, but the trade paperback will be out...

MAHER: Right. Mark your calendar.

KING: Mark your calendars for right after Labor Day.

MAHER: Labor Day plans and then out to the book store.

KING: All right, what do you make of the 9/11 report?

MAHER: I don't know. I can't read it, like everybody else. They blacked half of it out, didn't they. I mean, some of it, I guess, is for national security, although we had on, on Friday night, Bob Graham, who...

KING: Saw him.

MAHER: ... pretty much wrote the report, his committee did. And you know, he was saying that a lot of it is embarrassment. It's not national security, it would be embarrassing.

KING: Should we hear it all?

MAHER: Well, not all of it. I do think there are some things that are in the interest of national security. But obviously, it is covering up for this country of Saudi Arabia that he wasn't even allowed to mention the name. It was a farce.

KING: But the Saudi foreign minister said release it.

MAHER: Of course, because he can because they're not going to. I think...

KING: Oh, you think he knew they weren't all along?

MAHER: Well, of course. I think it's pretty funny that the Bush administration blacks out the parts, the things that will embarrass Saudi Arabia, to try to help their friend Saudi Arabia, and then he turns around and says, Release it. We can't respond to something that's blacked out. You'll have to put it out in the open, because he knows that they won't.

KING: We have to be friends with them, do you think?

MAHER: Well, you know, it's amazing to me. When I was arguing and many people were against the war in Iraq (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because my argument, as many people's was, we're fighting the war on terrorism by attacking a country that was not involved in terrorism. And when I would make that argument, and people would say -- and I would say, You know, no one was think thinking about attacking Iraq for a long time. What changed? 9/11. That's what changed, 9/11. That's what happened. OK, so if 9/11 was such a watershed that it changed our thinking about Iraq, which wasn't involved in terror, it's not enough of a watershed to change your thinking about Saudi Arabia, which is intimately involved with terrorism? Because you know, it's not just here in the United States. They're an international troublemaker. They do it all over the world. Their money is out into countries -- like, I was just reading about Indonesia, which is a country that has a pretty moderate form of Islam. Well, it won't in 20 years, if this Saudi money and their radical form of the religion takes hold, which is what they're trying to do.

KING: What do you make of the Democrat hopefuls? Governor Dean is going to be here on Monday.

MAHER: Well, they don't have a platform, none of them. Their platform consists mostly of bashing George Bush and saying this is a bad guy and he's a liar and -- no kidding.

KING: Well, one is going to have to emerge, and then that one will have to present some platform to the party, and they'll have a convention in Boston.

MAHER: Well, let me give them a platform. Here would be my Democratic platform. Repeal the tax cut for rich people, right?

KING: I think they're saying that already, aren't they, most of them?

MAHER: OK. End the drug war. You're not going to get serious about the war on terror until you end the drug war. And also, it's a -- it should be a Democratic constituency. People who are suffering from this war, and there are millions, not just people who are in jail who shouldn't be in jail, but police who are corrupted by having to fight this, courts that are clogged -- hemp, if we had hemp available in this country, which is not even marijuana, we wouldn't have to cut down another tree. OK, get Israeli (ph) about fighting the war on terror here at home. And get real about the environment and end corporate welfare. There's a platform. If someone would come out with something like that, I would get behind them. I'd vote Democratic.

KING: Do you think Bush can be beaten?

MAHER: Not by this crowd. Probably not at all. Because they don't hold him accountable. I mean, like, he created this Department of Homeland Security, and it was not -- and he did not put the CIA and the FBI in it. What was the point of gathering all the intelligence agencies and leaving out the two most important ones? Obviously, he didn't have the power even to put the CIA and the FBI under the -- it's, like, we're going to reorganize the American League East, but we're leaving out the Yankees and the Red Sox.

You know, I mean, they don't mention these things. They don't hold the man accountable for what he should be held accountable for because -- I mean, of all of the presidents I've seen, at least in my lifetime, I've never seen a president who depends more on people not paying attention. And it is the opposition party's duty to point out what people aren't paying attention to, but they're so horribly lame at it.

KING: And the reason?

MAHER: Because they think -- because -- it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. They think, He's so popular that if we go against him, we'll be unpopular. But that's the reason why he's so popular, because they don't go against him!

KING: Catch-22.

MAHER: It is.

KING: We'll take a break, come back and go to your calls for Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time With Bill Maher." His book, "When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden," will be out in trade paperback in September. You can still get it in hardcover. The show airs Friday nights at 11:00 on HBO. He was a Tony nominee for his Broadway show, as well. Back with your calls right after this.


LENO: U.S. forces in Iraq are intensifying the hunt now for Saddam Hussein. They say he moves every two to four hours, which has got to be annoying for his friends. Can you help me move? I just helped you move two hours ago! Carrying that box spring down the stairs again? Oh, man! Got to move every two to four hours. What a pain, putting that security deposit, getting it back.

Well, the military said that Saddam is running out of places to hide. Let's just hope he doesn't hide with his weapons of mass destruction. Man, we'll never find him.



KING: We're back with our, I guess, semiannual visit with Bill Maher, the host of "Real Time With Bill Maher" on HBO.

And now we go to your phone calls. Abbottsford, British Columbia, hello. Hello, are you there? Abbottsford, are you there?

MAHER: Canada. You get a lot of calls from Canada.

KING: A lot of calls. This one, too. Edmonton, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Bill.


CALLER: Hey, Bill. How are you doing?

MAHER: I'm good. CALLER: I've got a question for you, Bill. I was reading today in Condoleezza Rice -- her interview with PBS there. She was talking about George Tenet taking some -- some notes out of a Cincinnati speech with President Bush when he was about to talk about the uranium sale there, and then three and a half months later all of a sudden those notes come into the speech, those 16 words that everyone's talking about right now.

What I'm interested in those clearance notes memo (ph) he said he was supposed to have sent to Condoleezza Rice. He's talking she can't remember seeing it or she can't -- or doesn't remember if it was brought to her desk or not. What I really interested here...

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: Well, here it is. Sixteen of the most powerful words ever spoken in the last 10 years, I mean, she doesn't know -- she can't remember it's like she can't remember where her pencil is kind of thing.

KING: I don't think Bill thinks they were the most powerful.

MAHER: This -- see? This is just so drummed up by the media, I think. Sixteen of the most powerful words. Do you hear this nonsense?

I mean, look, I didn't agree with the Bush administration, but I so don't get it that their point of view was Iraq is a piece we cannot leave on the board for this war on terror and I think it came from some very personal things. These are the guys who fought that war the first time and they know they didn't finish it and they know they should have finished it.

It was like when you leave a scarf some place. You go back to the restaurant and it's like, I got to get that scarf. And that -- they had to go back to Iraq. It was just an itch that had to be scratched. They found an opportunity and they could have been right. It was not the most outrageous to say "Look, we're fighting this war on terror." He's a bad guy. He's an Arab. He knows some terrorists socially. OK, we have to take this piece off the board before we feel safe about continuing. We don't want to leave it on our flank.

OK, I didn't quite agree, but it's not that outrageous. So to pin this whole thing on 16 words. Let it go! Move on, Democrats.

KING: I'm told that the caller from Abbottsford who disconnected, wanted to know if you've ever gotten death threats.

MAHER: Why? Was he going to give me one?

KING: Because of your opinions. No. Have you ever had...

MAHER: Yes, I have had many death threats and I'm proud to say from both the left and the right.

KING: Woodbury, Tennessee, hello. CALLER: Yes. I was calling -- I recently watched Tony Blair's address to Congress and I was surprised to see so many members of Congress were asleep. Did Bill notice this?

MAHER: You mean actually physically asleep?

CALLER: Well, yes, they had their eyes closed and didn't seem to be paying attention. Did you notice that?

MAHER: I did not, and I watched...

KING: They could have been pondering. Trying to find something.

MAHER: And this is after Strom Thurmond died. OK.

That's amazing because I watched that same speech and I don't often watch speeches like on C-SPAN, but I have to tell you I thought it was absolutely mesmerizing. And it goes back to what I was saying about the 16 words. I think a lot of it comes from, I hate George Bush. So I'm going to figure out how I can connect him to something bad.

I worked very hard, not just in my job, but I think personally as a citizen, to try not to work backwards from I don't like Bush because, you know, I don't like Bush. But, OK. That shouldn't be the deciding factor, and it's funny because when I watched Tony Blair make the case for the war I go, yes, because I like Tony Blair.

KING: But how do you account for the fact that he hasn't made it to his own people?

MAHER: That is a good question. I mean, part of the reason for that is because 9/11 happened here.

KING: Not there.

MAHER: And not there.

But also it may be that the British just have a history of being more fickle about their leaders. I mean, they did throw Winston Churchill...

KING: Out.

MAHER: ...out of office.

KING: After World War II.

MAHER: Right after. I mean, here's the greatest man of the 20th Century, led them through the -- and then it was the what have you done for us lately? Give me a $4 million ring and maybe we'll talk.

KING: Centerville, Georgia, for Bill Maher, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Bill. I love you. You're a wonderfully funny man.

MAHER: Thank you. I love you back.

CALLER: I wanted to know if you were a Libertarian because a lot of your views seem to be consistent with that party's platform.

MAHER: Yes, I think I am. I've always called myself that. But of course, Libertarians differ and very often Libertarians call me on it. They say, Hey, they say how can you be a Libertarian? You're not for no inspections of meat. Because, you know, radical Libertarians are like that. They don't want any...


MAHER: Look, if a few people die from eating that meat, then others won't buy it. The market will take care of itself. Well, I'm not that radical a Libertarian. But if -- I always say if the Republican and Democratic Parties can have big tents, why can't the Libertarian Party have a big tent? We have an overriding, overarching philosophy which is that government should get out of our lives if it doesn't affect -- if I'm not hurting somebody else, then I should be able to do whatever I want to do.

KING: Louisville, Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: Hey, Bill. I was wondering why you think the average American is not just enraged about the Bush tax cut plan.

MAHER: Because they're dumb to give you a basic answer.

Because, again, people don't pay attention enough. Because George Bush gets up there and says it's your money and they all cheer as if they're going to see any of it. Yes, they'll see $300 of it. A little bribe goes a long way.

Oh, I mean, the way this guy -- see, that's what is so cynical about George Bush. He is like one of those presidents like Ronald Reagan was. I'm not a pay as you go kind of president. I'm the kind of president who takes all the money that's around when I'm in office and spends all of it. And spends all of the future money, too and I'll let some other guy clean it up or I'll let the states clean it up. He is shifting the tax burden to the future and to other municipalities and he will worry about it later. He'll be out of office when this comes home to roost.

KING: Tillamook, Oregon, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thank you.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: Bill, my question for you. You seem to be up to the minute on all the world's current events. How do you do that?

KING: Are you one who's -- are you a newsaholic?

MAHER: No. People ask me that all of the time like it's a mystery. How do you do that? How would you -- I go to the Oracle at Delphi and I sit with the masters. No, I read the paper.

KING: You read the paper, you watch your news channel.

MAHER: Yes, but, I mean, I don't think I'm a real junkie. I mean, I know people who are real news junkies. They read three or four newspapers every day and they always have CNN on and C-SPAN. I'm telling you, it was a fluke they caught that I caught that speech on C-SPAN.

No. I like to think I have a life. I mean, I care about what's going on and people should and people should be informed. I mean, our democracy depends on it. It's a scandal that over half the people think that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

KING: Twain said no one ever went broke underestimating -- no, Menknen.

MAHER: Menken.

KING: No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence ...

MAHER: Right. And he had it right.

KING: To Ellijay, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Thank you, Larry. Great show.

Bill, if you were president of the United States how would you handle Kim Jong in North Korea and who is your favorite president?

MAHER: My favorite president is George Washington. I know that sounds like a safe, politically correct choice...


MAHER: But when you really study what he did for this country. He saved it more once. He enabled it. There would be no country like this. And he did it in incredibly gutsy fashion.

KING: North Korea.

MAHER: North Korea. Yes, Little Kim in North Korea. He's not one of my favorite presidents. I don't know highway to deal with that, but I think George Bush made a mistake when he sold the Iraq war based so much on the evil that was Iraq because there certainly is not a greater evil than what is going in North Korea. I saw a "60 Minutes" report six months ago or so where a German doctor who had been there came back and he said, you know, when the Holocaust was going to in Germany, afterwards people said why didn't you do something while it was going on? And he said there is a Holocaust going on right now in North Korea. Right now. This is me saying it's going on right now, world, because that's what's going on with that many people who are starving to death. So if we really cannot tolerate the kind of evil that Iraq was, how can we tolerate it in Liberia or North Korea, or in a dozen places around the world?

KING: Bill Maher is our special guest. We'll be back with more calls after this.


JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Most of the marchers were laid off government workers, but other groups were also on hand, including Iraq's Organization of Women's Freedom, which you'll notice seems to not have any women in it. Lamented one member, "I joined up to meet chicks, but this is a tough one. "




MAHER: Events are moving very quickly in Liberia. To give you an idea how sudden this all is, we haven't even had a chance to forge documents about their nuclear program.


KING: Bill Maher is the guest. That's from "Real Time with Bill Maher." We'll go right back to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I was talking to him during the break, because in addition to Governor Dean, and others, Ann Coulter is going to be with Monday night. You said you like Ann Coulter, she writes a book called "Treason."

MAHER: People ask me about Ann Coulter constantly and cannot understand how two people who don't agree on everything can be friends. I remind you, James Carville and Mary Matalin are married and have children together.

KING: Why do you like her?

MAHER: We are kindred spirits in certain ways. One, there are very few people I think, out there speaking out who are not afraid to get booed and we share that. Another one who I would put in that category is Chris Rock. Chris Rock will say things to a black audience that they will boo, but I've never heard anybody else say it like that. And Ann Coulter does the same thing.

She is not afraid to say something that will make people boo, and we need more of that. People are such panderers. They're such babies about that. They want to reinforce people's prejudices. I certainly don't agree with everything she is, but I admire that. And the older you get, at least for me, the more I adore the quality of acceptance in people. And Ann and I understand that about each other. We have a great time, we're not dating. People want to always put the sex factor in everything. No, it's not about that. It's about acceptance. It's about OK, I don't agree with everything you say, you don't agree with everything I believe, but we accept each other. Isn't that what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) about?

KING: Lakeside, Oregon, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I'd like to speak to Bill.

KING: He can hear you, go ahead. Go ahead.

CALLER: Are you there?

Well, I just wanted to know as Bill speaks out. I wanted to know what he thinks about this -- ridiculous inquiry of the Vatican trying to influence the world. They don't have a very good argument with what with their history of sexual molestation. What does he think about that?

MAHER: I couldn't agree more. They are the last people who should be able to weigh in on homosexuality or any sort of sexuality. It's like taking dating tips from Kobe. I mean, come on. After we -- just this week we heard that in Boston alone, right, something like a thousand? And that's just who came forward. They need to clean up their own house in such a big way because that is a systemic problem. That's want just a few bad apples as that they would have us believe. The Catholic League has condemned me as an anti-Catholic bigot. I am not an anti-Catholic bigot. I am an ex-Catholic, that doesn't make me a bigot although I have some rather bad memories.

KING: You're a roaming Catholic.

MAHER: I'm not a Catholic at all. But they need to look at the fact that when you set yourself up as the people who get to talk to god and you have to go through me to get to god, of course, it is going to lead to corruption. And when you have a situation they have where you have to be celibate, it's going to attract people who are interested in these rather nefarious sexual predilections. I don't think bad people go into the priesthood.

I think men who are homosexual and Catholic think, you know what, if I become a priest it will suppress it. Because that's what you are told as a kid. That Jesus can solve everything and religion is the answer. So men, they can feel it in their body when they're teenagers, I like boys, I like men, I'll become a priest. That will solve it. But of course it bubbles up to the surface. And then when the right wing tells everybody, oh, you know what, homosexuality is a sin that can be cured. It just makes the situation worse because they think it can be cured. It can't be cured. It needs to be on Broadway.

KING: Athens, Georgia, hello?

CALLER: Hi, Bill, Larry, I love both your shows.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: I don't miss them.

MAHER: Thank you. CALLER: But I am just furious at my friend bill for saying that the Democrats should not make Bush aye accountable for lying to us. We've spent years going after Clinton for sex and we're going to let this man just lie to us, Bill, I love you, but please.

MAHER: I didn't say he shouldn't be accountable. I said he shouldn't be impeached. They shouldn't make the campaign of trying to make this into a scandal. We shouldn't have a special prosecutor again. They voted for this war. Of course, he should be accountable. But that's a whole different thing. And when you say yes, they went after Clinton, Of course, but can't we rise above that and be better than that?

Is it always going to be tit for tat, because that's what Washington has become in the last 20 or 30 years. We went after John Tower, well then we are going to go after Clarence Thomas. You went after this one, we are going to get that one. And nothing ever gets done because of that.

KING: Estelline, South Dakota, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Bill, I'd like to know if you think that the Green Party or any other party should be allowed to put a candidate on the presidential ballot if they won't put the candidate in all 50 states and therefore, the person could not become president?

KING: Why can't you become president if you're not on the ballot in all 50 states?

KING: You can be on in 30 and still win the electoral vote.

MAHER: I mean, the Democrats might as well not be on the ballot in 20 -- seriously. The Democrats -- do you think the Democrats are going to have a chance in Alabama or Wyoming? I -- you know, if you look at the electoral map the one where Al Gore got the most votes he basically won only places that are near water. Really. George Bush won all of the states where mostly crows live. And Al Gore, there's something about water that makes people more liberal.

KING: Tampa, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Yes, my question for Bill Maher is with the United States rebuilding countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, do you think the U.S. Needs to rebuild their own foundation before we start rebuilding other nations.

MAHER: I think that's a real apples and oranges to compare the United States. Yes, we have problems here, we've heard that all along and of course it will always be true. We will always have problems here. However, one of our biggest problems is a lot of the world hates us. In this Liberia situation, for example, I hear all of the time people saying it's not in our national interest. No, it's not in our national interest for today or tomorrow, but can't we for once think long range? It is in our national interest long range to have countries around the world that aren't so desperate,that the best idea anybody could come up with is to attack the United States? It's all about players and haters and as long as they're haters out there we are going to be sitting on a pool of hate.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments. More calls for Bill Maher. Don't go away.


MAHER: The U.S. released photos on of Uday and Qusay after they had been gunned down and I -- did you see them, they were gruesome. I mean, my god, I haven't seen a face so grotesquely disfigured since, well, like Michael Jackson. Awful.




MAHER: Now those first photos we saw of Uday and Qusay, pretty gruesome. They looked bruised, bloodied, swollen, and just out of habit, Kobe Bryant said it was consensual.


KING: Whoa! A fair stretch, but well done. Hamilton, Ontario hello?

CALLER: Thank you, Mr. King, for taking my call. First of all, Mr. Maher, I would like to say that I've been watching "Politically Incorrect" and your new show now and you drive me absolutely crazy, and I feel like jumping through the TV, but I do respect your views and, especially you drive a hybrid car, that type of thing. So you live by how you speak. My question is regarding Canada not going to war with the United States, do you think now that information has come out regarding some of the facts that perhaps it's not necessarily just the fact that we turn our back on the United States? Do you think that maybe it was the relationship with bush and our prime minister that maybe that had something to do with it? What do you think and do you think maybe the United States people should let up a little bit on Canadians regarding that issue?

MAHER: First of all, I love Canada. I don't think Canada ever turned their back on the United States.

KING: Who's mad at Canada.

MAHER: Not me. Canada is, in many ways, like the United States without the b.s...

KING: Yes.

MAHER: I think Canada -- how sad is that that the place this country is where Canada is hipper than we are now but it's true. If you look at where Canada and I would say Europe also is going where it's heading, you look at the statistics in Europe, in many European countries, less than half the people get married now. They have families and children, they just don't believe in this outdated institution. Marijuana, legal in a lot of these countries. Gay marriage, legal. People don't go to church anymore. 90 percent of France says they're Catholic. 10 percent go to church. That's where the world is moving. But this country? Is moving in the other direction. More superstition, more tradition, more stuff that we are -- more skins that the intelligent world like Canada and Europe are shedding.

KING: Lubbock, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Bill. How are you doing tonight?

MAHER: Good.

CALLER: I really miss "P.I.", it worked really well after "Night Line" but my question for you is have you been keeping up with the situation with the Texas Democrats?

MAHER: But I haven't too much, but I'm going to get into it tonight because we're covering this on my show tomorrow and we actually have a satellite hookup with the hotel or motel in New Mexico where these guys are holed up. So I'm going to get into it tonight, but I'm not that...

KING: And by the way, also tomorrow night Alec Baldwin will be on, so will Christopher Hitchins. One more call. Great falls, Montana. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, I love your show, Larry.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: Bill, I want to tell you, you speak for a lot of us.

MAHER: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you'd like to make a call please hang up.


KING: What was that?

CALLER: She's calling from prison!

KING: All right quickly, Tucson, hello?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you'd like to make a call..

CALLER: We've got two of those. If you'd like to make a call. We're taking a call.

MAHER: That's funny. I've never heard that on your show.

KING: Neither did I. How do we explain that. Control room, how do we explain that.

MAHER: It's funny because I talk to my friends in prison all of the type.

KING: No we don't, we don't have Paula on line one, line's ringing. Who's this? Bethesda, hello, are you there?

CALLER: Yes, I'm here.

KING: Speak quickly.

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

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Thank you for taking it. Why do you think that including two inefficient organisms like the CIA and the FBI and the Homeland Security is going to yield as good outcome.

KING: She says they're both inefficient. We've only got 30 seconds.

MAHER: Well, they're all inefficient, but you know, there's...

KING: Put them together and make them one giant inefficient.

MAHER: No, I disagree, I think have competition. There's 14 different agencies -- intelligence agencies that Bush gets intelligence from. 15 if you count the British and I think you let a hundred flowers bloom. Let them compete.

KING: Thank you, William.

Bill Maher, host of "Real Time with Bill Maher". " When You Ride Alone You Ride With Bin Laden" in trade paperback, coming in September, still in hard cover and watch the show tomorrow night at 11:00 on HBO.

I'll come back and tell you what's happening here tomorrow night and over the weekend right after this.


KING: Hope you enjoyed this hour with a wonderfully provacative Bill Maher. He is never dull. Tomorrow night's edition of LARRY KING LIVE, we'll look at the life and times of one of the great directors of all time, who could freeze your eyeballs off, Alfred Hitchcock. That's tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE. Have a great restive Sunday, and a good Monday. I'll see you tomorrow, good night.



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