I Love Bill Maher

I Love Bill Maher!

I was at a dinner a couple of years ago with some artist friends and the question was posed: "If you could have dinner with ANYONE from any point in history, who would it be?" The classic responses came up, "Hitler," "Churchhill," "Jesus" (though I would think a girls' night out with Mary Magdalene would be FAR more interesting -- "so how was Jesus?" wink wink). But me? No, none of these were actually that appealing -- though I do think Mary M. would be my #2. My Number One: Bill Maher! I would love to have dinner with Bill Maher. Now THAT would be a fun, informative, entertaining dinner. From everything I've read, Hitler was a pretty lame dinner companion. Churchhill -- predictable. And Jesus? my guess is that he would lack humor, but not hubris.

(yes, my painting of Jesus -- please notice the great wood grain!)

Bill was on Larry King this week and delivered his usual charming, entertaining, and tell-it-as-it-is interview. Here are some excerpts:

KING: We will get to things McCain and Giuliani and the like.

But first, your thoughts on the Libby verdict.

MAHER: Well, you know, it obscured the real crime for a lot of people, those who were following that to begin with, which was not that many. But, yes, I mean Libby was a guy who lied us into a war and he worked on commission. And he got his war.

But I think people forget that the reason why we haven't gotten to the bottom of the real crime was because he was lying. Patrick Fitzgerald said that. He said he threw sand in the umpire's face. So we never got to the bottom of the real crime, was who outed this CIA agent?

And I know the right-wing likes to say ah, well, Valerie Plame, you know.

Did she work for the CIA?


But was she really covert?

You know what?

You work for the CIA. You work for the CIA. It's not CAA, OK?

If she wasn't undercover, it wouldn't have been a controversy that she was outed.

KING: Do you think it was because Bush mentioned in the State of the Union message about getting the nuclear materials?

Why did they seem to overreact to this op-ed article by a kind of obscure ambassador?

MAHER: Well, it would be the same as if I pulled a little string out of your sweater. They were afraid that it would unravel the whole thing. And it sort of did.

It's so interesting, yes. Bush mentioned that in his State of the Union speech in January of 2003. In October of 2002, George Tenet told the president -- he was about to mention that in his speech three months before in the State of the Union, and Tenet said you've got to take that out. We don't think it's true.

So something that was not true in October of 2002 became true again in January of 2003.

KING: Is "Scooter" Libby a fall guy?

MAHER: Yes, of course. Yes, because he was not the only one who was spreading this to reporters. They had some meeting and they said OK, guys -- Karl Rove did it; Ari Fleischer did it; somebody at the CIA did it; and "Scooter" Libby did it. And they said look, fan out, find some gullible reporters -- you know, Pulitzer Prize winners -- and tell them this...


MAHER: ... tell them this about Joe Wilson and his wife, who works for the CIA -- whoops. Oh, I forgot. I guess I let that slip. Anyway, you tell them all what happened.

And -- and some time after that, they must have had a meeting after the you know what hit the fan and said ooh, this has not gone as well as we hoped.

Who should we pin this on?

Well, Karl Rove is Bush's guy and he's the president. We can't do that. Ari Fleischer is the press secretary. Oh, "Scooter" Libby. Yes. He's the guy.

So this is why "Scooter" Libby, of course, has to have a pardon. He just knows way too much. You can't have him ticked off.

KING: So you have to pardon him?

MAHER: Yes. I mean you heard what his wife said after the verdict came in. I can't say it here on CNN, but she said, you know, we're going to -- we're going to BLANK them. And I don't think she was talking about the jury. I mean she was angry but I don't...


MAHER: ... I don't think she's John Gotti's wife.

But who was she so angry at?

I think it's at the people who threw her husband to the wolves.


KING: Do you still like Ann Coulter?

MAHER: I haven't talked to her in so long. I don't know if she still likes me.

KING: Really?

She used to come on your show a lot.

MAHER: A lot. Yes.

KING: Would you have her back?

MAHER: Yes, I'd have -- of course I'd have her back. I mean I like her -- I like what she says less and less. I never agreed with her. But she never was like out there. But this was a joke, in her defense.

KING: Right.

MAHER: I mean she was making a joke.

KING: A bad joke.

MAHER: I don't know. You know, for that crowd, it was apparently the right joke.


MAHER: As a comedian, I know that's the crowd it got a...

KING: The Democrats have pulled out of the Fox debate.

MAHER: Well, and this is why she has a point.

They're pussies, OK?

Do you remember when Bill Clinton went on with Chris Wallace a few months ago?

KING: Yes.

MAHER: And he showed everybody in that Democratic Party how it should be done.

KING: Get mad.

MAHER: He took on Chris Wallace.

These guys were like oh, no, Fox News, un-nnh, no, I'm sorry, we can't do that. We -- we didn't like the joke.

KING: Well, were they mad at a bad joke, right?

MAHER: They were mad at a -- who cares what they're mad at? Instead of withdrawing, which says to everybody in the country oh, typical Democrats. They don't call people out, they just walk away. They don't raise the bet.

Go on there. It's just Chris Wallace. If you can't stand up to Chris Wallace, can you stand up to the terrorists, let alone the Republican Party?

KING: So, a mistake, in your opinion?



CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: What a wonderful show. Listen, Larry, I want to ask both you and Bill a question. What are the soldiers paid to fight this terrible war?

KING: What is the salary? Don't know, do you?

MAHER: It's -- I'm quite sure I couldn't cite figures. I'm quite sure it is as cheap as you can possibly get away with. It's virtually nothing.

KING: They don't make good money?

MAHER: They don't make good money.

KING: You get extra if you're wounded, though.

MAHER: You get extra, but you don't get very good care, do you? That's such a scandal. And again, if you look at why that is a scandal, because of that philosophy in this administration everything can be handled better by the private sector.

They basically outsourced the care at Walter Reed to the private sector because of that idea that began with Ronald Reagan, the government isn't the solution to our problems, government is our problem.

Well, government isn't perfect, I agree with that. But I think what we learned from this and also, by the way, the outsourcing of so many jobs in Iraq, to people who charge five times as much for the same job and do the job the job 10 times as worse is that, yes, there are problems with government workers but they're not nearly as bad as corporations.

Corporations only care about one thing, money, greed, corporate shareholders, the bottom line. And that leads to a lot more corruption and inefficiency than government work does.

KING: We have an e-mail Eva from Helsinki, Finland. "What do you think about George W. Bush as a private person. Would you like to go out and have a beer with him?"

MAHER: No. Well, yes. So I could get drunk and punch him in the nose. But that's about it. As a private person. You know, yes. Because he should have been the bartender at a 19th hole at a golf club. That was his calling in life. If his name had been George Bushler, that would be what he was doing. That's what he's capable of.

It's just because he was the son of a president is why he was able to rise to the heights he was able to rise to. So I'm sure he's OK as a guy to have a drink with.