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Interview With Bill Maher

Aired September 14, 2010 - 21:00   ET



LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight. Bill Maher gets his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and yours truly was there.

How appropriate.

And now Bill is taking aim at today's elections, Islamophobia and yes, Sarah Palin. Plus takes your questions and calls.

Bill Maher for the hour is next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening. We've got election results coming in this evening. We'll go to John King in a while and get them.

But first, Bill Maher, the often Emmy-nominated comic, best- selling author, host of "Real Time with Bill Maher" which returns to HBO on Friday night, September 17th. One of the best shows on television.

His standup special, "Bill Maher But I'm Not Wrong" is now out on DVD and today he received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame which we'll get to shortly. We'll talk politics with Bill right now.

Bill, I know you have a personal interest in Delaware which is -- could be the big story of the night because the Republican establishment figure looks like he's going to get beat. The Republican establishment saying they won't support the woman who's going to beat him -- a Tea Party person -- who you brought us.

BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": I really did. I mean, Christine O'Donnell --

KING: Tell us.

MAHER: -- was one of our most frequent guests on "Politically Incorrect." People who may not remember "Politically Incorrect" because they're too young or they were watching Johnny Carson or something -- no, I guess JJ was there on the '90s -- may not remember that we created people like Anne Coulter, Laura Ingraham. Oh, I could go on but the number of --

KING: How did you find them sort of? MAHER: We -- we like to book -- I don't know. I drank a lot in those days, Larry.


MAHER: But we did like to book a lot of female conservatives. They were good press and they were good for the show. We loved Christine O'Donnell. I still like her. You cannot not like her. She is such a nice person.

We have a great clip that used to be in our highlight reel of Ben Affleck on that show just saying please, "Christine, shut up." Because I guess she would just go on. She was known back then as the girl from SALT. SALT being the Savior's Alliance for Lifting the Truth.

And I guess that's still the stick that she's --

KING: Brian Selick (ph).

MAHER: Right. Absolutely. So part of me for sentimental reasons is rooting for Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. The other part of me is rooting for her because she's going to get her Christian ass kicked in the general election.

This is the great thing about the tea baggers and the Republican Party. A year ago we were debating were whether tea baggers were even Republicans. Remember? They were very independent, and then a poll came out and we all blew the lid off of it, OK, they're really Republicans.

Yes, they're really Republicans. And they're taking over that party.

KING: So who should worry about them, Democrats or Republicans?

MAHER: Democrats should be very happy that people like Christine O'Donnell are winning elections because in the general election, I think -- now, of course, the Democrats are going to lose some seats, probably a lot.

But not as many as they would have if the tea baggers weren't winning the primaries because I think voters are generally conservative. And when I mean -- when I say conservative I mean they're not comfortable with people who are out there, on the left or the right.

And these tea baggers are out there. I've said it before probably on your show. When people get in a voting booth, it's like when they go on an airplane. They get scared. They tend to do things that are conservative in nature, even if they're liberal.

And I don't think even conservative voters will look at people like Sharron Angle or maybe Joe Miller in Alaska, although Alaska is a separate case because they're very conservative there. But certainly Christine O'Donnell could not win in a state like Delaware because she's just crazy. Even people who knows --

KING: How out there -- when you say crazy, give me an example.

MAHER: Well, I just think that people -- they understand our country is in a lot of trouble. Even people who are angry understand that crazy people are not going to make it better.

Christine O'Donnell like all these tea baggers has no plan, no agenda. No policy points. They have one advantage. They're running against Democrats. That's their big advantage.

KING: And that's the case.


KING: What do you make of this whole -- the anti-Obama thing which has gotten kind of, in a sense, crazed? No, he wasn't born here. He's a Muslim. He is against America. What do you make of that fringe?

MAHER: I was talking about it with Jay Leno last night. I suggested maybe he's not even a mammal.


MAHER: He might be a werewolf, Larry. We don't know that.

KING: That's right. We don't know.

MAHER: I mean it was bad enough when we had these people called the birthers who thought he was not born here.

KING: They're still around somewhere, though.

MAHER: Many of them. Yes. No, they haven't gone away. But I was saying last night that I've identified this new group and I'm calling them the churchers.

KING: The churchers?

MAHER: The churchers. They're the people who don't think that he is a Christian. They think he's --


KING: He's the first president ever to issue a press release that he is.

MAHER: He's a secret Muslim, Larry. I guess you haven't been paying enough attention.

KING: Secret Muslim.

MAHER: When I talked to him, he told me about his plan to use drinking water to sterilize white people. I get -- whoops, I've said too much. KING: Oh my gosh.

MAHER: No, it's the -- what's really scary is that more people think he's a Muslim now.

KING: How did we get to this, though?

MAHER: Well, you know, I have a theory that the Internet makes people stupider. And Also FOX News makes people stupider.

You know the Pew group did a study recently and they found out that 10 years ago, Democrats, Republicans and independents basically got their news from the same sources, probably more from CNN, for example. Then we had this polarity.

And now, you know, John Edwards said we have two Americas. We do have two Americas. We have the America that's living in reality. The people who understand that Obama is a centrist liberal from Hawaii who is trying to dig us out of the hole we're in.

And then we have this other FOX/Matt Drudge/Rush Limbaugh reality where he is a Muslim sleeper cell, Manchurian candidate who was sent over by his Kenyan father imbibe -- you hear --

KING: What kind of intelligent person would believe that?

MAHER: Intelligent person? Larry, we're broadcasting in America.


MAHER: How ridiculous. Well, no, I don't think intelligent people do believe it. But, you know, then we're going to get into partisan bickering because more than half of Republicans agreed with the state that said Obama is trying to impose Islamic law on America.

I mean that is a very radical thing to believe. And it's more than half of Republicans. Not tea baggers. Not radicals. The mainstream Republican people.

KING: Is there a racist tone in this? Is there -- in other words, is this racist -- is this inherent racism? Where's it come from?

MAHER: Does the Pope go to the bathroom in the woods?


MAHER: Yes, Larry, it's extremely racist. I mean it's so funny because the tea baggers, the one thing they hate is black people.


MAHER: But they won't say it. I mean if you saw what Newt Gingrich was saying.

KING: Oh yes.

MAHER: OK. For those who know, and I don't even know if I can even recount it in a way that makes sense to people. But he was quoting from an article by Dinesh D'Souza who is -- by the way is an amoral person who was the guest on my show on the night six days after 9/11 when I got into all that trouble for saying that the people who flew planes into building were not cowards.

He was the one who started that discussion. He said it over and over. He -- I was agreeing with him when I got thrown off the air. But he never ever came out and said, you know what, I started that, I should defend Bill Maher.

Rush Limbaugh came to my defense and a lot of other people, but not the guy who actually made the statement.

Anyway, Dinesh D'Souza, who said a lot of crazy things, he is saying now, and Newt Gingrich says this is what he believes, that Obama is getting his philosophy from his father who he spent about a month with in his whole life when he was 8 years ago old.

And that his father was a loud tribesman from Kenya who was mad at white people. And so Newt says that he's anti-colonial like that's a bad thing? You know like George Washington was fighting the British?


MAHER: That was a pretty good thing to be anti-colonial.

KING: And while we're on politics, let's check in with John King for the latest -- John.

JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": Larry, dramatic blockbuster breaking news tonight. CNN now projects that Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party candidate in the state of Delaware, has defeated the long- time incumbent House member and the two-term governor, Mike Castle, the establishment Republican candidate.

Mike Castle being defeated, we now project, by this woman Christine O'Donnell. She is 41 years old. She was endorsed by Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint. She is the Tea Party favorite and she is making national headlines tonight, Larry, by defeating Mike Castle.

Yet another victory for the Tea Party against an establishment Republican candidate. The question now is, can she win in November? Republicans were so confident Mike Castle would win and pick up the seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden. If he were the nominee, Christine O'Donnell, though we now project, will win that race.

This one, Larry, will reverberate across the country. Another big victory for the Tea Party, another Republican establishment candidate going down in a year where we are seeing quite a fascinating tug-of-war for control of the Republican Party -- Larry.

KING: Big story. And they gave her to us. MAHER: The girl from SALT, praise Jesus, has won the election. She will never win in November, by the way. That is an impossibility.


KING: When we come back, Bill on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Don't go away.


J. KING: I'm John King in Washington. Dramatic breaking news out of the state of Delaware tonight on this final big primary night of the 2010 midterm elections.

This woman, Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party favorite, the long-shot challenger when she started this race, CNN now projects Christine O'Donnell will win the Republican Senate nomination in the state of Delaware.

That election for the seat held for 36 years by now Vice President Joe Biden. Christine O'Donnell defeating the establishment Republican candidate, a man who had won 12 times in the statewide of Delaware.

Let's break down the numbers for you. Mike Castle was the Republican candidate of the establishment. You see right here. Forty-six percent of the votes, 54 percent for Christine O'Donnell. That's with 86 percent of the precincts counting.

But CNN now projecting Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell has stunned the Republican establishment tonight. She will be the Republican candidate for Senate in the state of Delaware, yet another race where the national Tea Party movement has sent a clear message, a defiant message to the national Republican establishment.

Christine O'Donnell upsetting Mike Castle tonight. More on this race throughout the night and the other big races here on CNN, but for now, back to "LARRY KING LIVE."

KING: Thanks, John.

Bill Maher received the 2,417th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame earlier today and I was there for the unveiling. And here are some of the sights and sounds of the ceremony. Watch.


KING: You know you see him as this kind of cold, effacing, serious, funny, special guy. But he's also a warm-hearted, great friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill Maher getting his star is long overdue and well deserved publicity whoring.

This is a man who is as close as we get these days to Thomas Jefferson. In his vision, his devotion to rational truth and his love for black chicks.

This is a special day for Bill Maher, but really this day should be cherished by anyone anywhere who values independence, proof and free thought.

MAHER: I want to thank some very special people without whom I would not be here today. George Bush, Sarah Palin and the Pope.

When I came to Hollywood in 1983, I had one dream. To sleep with Jodie Foster. That didn't work out, but this is nice, too.

Thank you very much for coming. I really appreciate it.


KING: I know how I felt when I got one. It's -- it's touching.

MAHER: I think it's --

KING: It's forever. Forever.

MAHER: As something as mainstream and corny as that -- I don't say that in a bad way -- would include someone as out of the mainstream as me. I think that's terrific.

KING: So you feel like you're an interloper in a sense on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

MAHER: I want to always be an interloper. I never want to feel like I'm a guy who is embraced by the people who are putting me on the air. I want to feel like I broke into the studio and took over and made them mad. If I'm not doing that, I'm not doing my job.

KING: Is that the way you felt when you saw the star?

MAHER: I felt that way when I saw the star and then about five minutes after everybody left, a homeless guy puked on it. So I --


MAHER: I mean that really put it in perspective, Larry.


MAHER: It's a humbling experience.

KING: Bill Maher, hey, "Real Time with Bill Maher" returns this Friday night. As we said, one of the best shows on television. We'll be back with more after this.


KING: We're back with Bill Maher. A new CNN Opinion Research poll shows only 1 in 4 Americans, 25 percent, say they trust the federal government to do what's right most of the time. 1 in 4.

What does that say, Bill?

MAHER: It says more people are trusting than they should be.

KING: You think 25 percent is high?

MAHER: Well, considering what our government has done lately. But on the other hand, the Democrats who have had a pretty successful legislative season don't really get credit for it.

KING: Why not?

MAHER: Because it hasn't reached people yet. I mean, the big one was health care. As soon as it passed, Obama went up in the polls because people love a winner.

They love a winner, Larry. If Tiger Woods had come back and won the Master, he could have murdered those women he was sleeping with.


MAHER: But, you know, it kind of faded because the benefits of the program haven't been felt yet. And there was a report out today that said it really was not going to pay for itself, which I was kind of --

KING: What? The car companies paid back the loans?


KING: And they're selling cars. So --

MAHER: Right. Well, they also passed financial reform. You know, they eliminated the banks as the middle man for student loans which was long overdue.

The Democrats are very bad at selling their own product. The Republicans are geniuses at it. And I've said it before, a bad product well apologized for is superior in this country to a good product.

The Democrats do have a better product, as bad as they are. Now it's unfortunate that they couldn't have sold what they're selling better and have better policies. Afghanistan is a glaring error, I think.

KING: What do you want them to do on Afghanistan?

MAHER: Well, first of all, Obama should have just had a different policy from the get-go. He's tied to it now because he ran on it. He should have run on a policy that said the Army is the wrong tool to use to fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank you. Good night.

But now he's tied to this dumb policy where we're supposedly committed full force until, like, eight months later when we're -- advertised that we're pulling all our troops out. I mean the Taliban have outlasted people for decades and centuries.

KING: How do you defeat terrorism?

MAHER: You don't. That's the key, Larry. You don't defeat it. You have to understand. It's always with us. It's like saying how do you defeat crime? You can't defeat crime. This idea --


KING: Violent crime is down in America. Three straight years.

MAHER: Down? Right. And we've made terrorism go down. And by the way, Obama has been president for 20 months and there has not been an attack. Bush was president for nine months when we got hit. So on that score, he's kept us safer.

KING: But they'll -- you're saying they'll always be -- a terrorist is born today?

MAHER: Of course. Especially since we do things like invade Muslim countries.

KING: Should we not have called it a war on terrorism?

MAHER: Exactly. We should not have called it a war.

KING: Because there won't be a victory day?

MAHER: There will not be a victory day. Exactly. And, you know, this war in Afghanistan, I never read a good thing about it. The longer we're there, the stronger the Taliban gets.

I mean, I read bad things about the government of Karzai. I read bad things about the Afghan army, about the Afghan police. I read bad things about our soldiers. And of course, they're put in an impossible situation and they're doing the best they can and they're very brave, but five of them are now up for murder charges.

I read horrible things about what ordinary people in that country do. They stoned a woman a couple of weeks ago for eloping. For the crime of eloping. And this wasn't just the Taliban. This was the whole village came out. Her own relatives. That's got to hurt when the rock comes and it's from your mom. Mom!


MAHER: You know. It's not --

KING: And Pakistan? Where do we deal with that? How do we deal with them?

MAHER: Well, we're not dealing with them. I mean because they're a Muslim country who has nuclear weapons?


KING: Yes.

MAHER: And -- well, that happened while we were trying to get the nuclear weapons that weren't in Iraq out of Iraq. I think that genie is out of the bottle. Same thing with Iran, you know. We're obsessed with Iran getting a nuclear weapon.

You know, that's like a father who's obsessed with his daughter losing her virginity. It's going to happen. It's going to happen and you're going to have to live in a world where it does happen.

To give a little perspective, I was watching this movie from 1983, I got it on Netflix. "The Day After." Do you remember this?

KING: Sure.

MAHER: It was a huge sensation at the time because we're in the middle of the Cold War and it was about what would happen if the United States and the Soviet Union --

KING: Wiped each other out.

MAHER: Yes. Jason Robards was great. Steve Guttenburg who lost his hair after the bomb fell.

It was chilling. Because, of course in that era when a nuclear change took place, it was between two superpowers who emptied their arsenals and wiped out the world. We're not living in that world anymore. Things are actually better.

Could a terrorist get a nuke into the port of Los Angeles? Absolutely. But it would probably be just one bomb. As awful as that is, it's not as bad as when two superpowers were facing each other with arsenals.

KING: More with Bill Maher and "Real Time with Bill Maher" returns Friday night to HBO. Don't go away.



MAHER: An astounding percentage of white people are OK with the health care system the way it is.

CHRIS ROCK, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: Most white people was happy with everything the way it is.

MAHER: Would you respect Obama if he was more like Bush? You're a moron who makes horrible decisions. But he makes the decisions.

Rush Limbaugh said about the oil spill, it's as natural as the ocean water is. Mercury is natural, too. You don't put it in your Cheerios.

No. The only person who ever miss you is the Iraqi guy who threw the shoe. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And I'm reminded by our cracks there that Christine O'Donnell was on this program after Joe Biden made his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in Denver.

MAHER: I still have a little "Ten Commandments" that you gave me.

KING: To carry around with you to --

MAHER: Well, it's a --


MAHER: It's a little replica of the actual tablets that Moses carried down from the mountain. Or as Mel Brooks said, "I have these 15 -- 10." Remember that?


MAHER: And he dropped one of those.

KING: And he also said, you know, he had a terrible hunchback from the tablets. Thou shall not alone weigh 48 pounds.


MAHER: Take two tablets and call me in the morning.

KING: OK. Sarah Palin. I don't have to say anything else.

MAHER: Well, I don't either, you know. She's got a show on the Learning Channel. That's like me having a show on the Christian Broadcasting Network.


MAHER: I think she's going to run for president, for one.

KING: Could win if there's enough candidates --

MAHER: Well, I've -- I don't know about that.

KING: I mean to win the nomination.

MAHER: I cannot wait to see the Republican debates in 2012 when you think about who is going to be on that panel. Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour, John Bolton, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney.

How are they going to out-fire breath each other? I mean where this rhetoric has gone to at this point? It's only 2010. And we're having Newt Gingrich, as we were talking about before, calling him an anti-colonial Luo tribesman. Luo tribesman.

That's the new Kenyan, Larry. And Kenyan, of course, was code for n*****. But that's where they are. They can't say it out loud. But that's where this whole campaign is going to be.

You asked about racism. It's all about racism. They cannot fathom this idea that there is a black president. And that's what they are going to fight about.

The other thing about Sarah Palin is that if you read that "Vanity Fair" article this month, if you read the "Newsweek" cover story a few months ago where she was praying on the cover, she's a true religious snot. I know people are saying, oh there goes, Bill Maher. He's always talking about religion.

Well, read the article. Read about her. There's a part where it says they were giving her books to study up on. And they came back and said, did you read any? She said, No, I haven't looked at the books. I'm just reading the e-mails from my prayer warriors.

Prayer warriors. These are people -- and she's one of them -- who believe there are demons in the world. Everything in her world view is about demons or angels, people who are with us and people who are against us. You know, when liberals say things like, well, when you fight the mosque, building the mosque in New York, you're just encouraging a war with Islam, they don't understand, people like Sarah Palin want a war with Islam. That's what it says in the Bible. Bring it on. Let's get it over with. That's who could be running our country in four years -- two years.

KING: What do you make of the rumor that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden will switch jobs?

MAHER: Oh, I thought you were going to say something else. I haven't heard that rumor.

KING: That's a bona fide rumor in Washington. Think of it. Do you think it would increase the chance of the president to win? Puts Hillary, a woman, on the ticket, and Joe Biden a natural for secretary of state.

MAHER: Yes. They're two old Democratic war horses. I'm sure they could do any job. I don't know. I don't know why they would do it. Hillary seems to have really fallen into her groove there in the State Department.

KING: It's just one of those things that make for political talk in an off year. You know?

MAHER: But this isn't an off year. This is a really fascinating time because, again, we live in these two different realities. I don't think it's ever been like this. I know there's always been -- shall we say passionate -- a passionate divide in American politics. But I don't think there's ever been a time when the two sides just have two different sets of reality.

I mean, if more than half the Republicans think that Obama is trying to impose Sharia law on the United States of America, that's not something that you can argue about. That's just something in their view that has to be extirpated. KING: How do you fight that, if you're the other side?

MAHER: You don't, because you can't get through. That's the problem with the Drudge/Rush/Fox axis of news bubble. Nothing gets into these people's heads. They only listen to what they want to hear. They listen to what confirms what they believe. And what they believe is what they got from these people to begin with.

You know, when Glenn Beck had his big rally on the mall, he said something like -- he at one point said, today, I was holding George Washington's inaugural in my hand. No, you can't do that, it's in Plexiglas. You can't -- it's 200 years old. You can't give that to people to pass around and smudge up with their grimy fingers.

But it didn't matter, because it never matters to these people because nothing they say is ever fact-checked. The governor of Arizona talks about how illegals -- you saw this on the news -- were beheading people in Arizona. When the press asked her about it, because it was patently untrue, she just ran away.

Sarah Palin never talks to the press because they might ask her a question that she doesn't have a pat answer for. They know they don't have to deal with reality, because they don't have to go to what used to be the mainstream press.

KING: Bill Maher on the night of the 25th will perform at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas. We'll be right back.


J. KING: John King in Washington; blockbuster breaking news on this final big primary night of the 2010 midterm. CNN now predicts Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell has shocked the Republican establishment and won the Republican Senate nomination in the state of Delaware. Let's take a look at the numbers. She defeated the establishment candidate Mike Castle quite handily; 53 percent for Christine O'Donnell, 47 percent For Mike Castle. He was the national party favorite.

A very tepid response from the national Republican party to O'Donnell's victory. Democrats already say she is out of the mainstream. But Christine O'Donnell on to November.

One other race we're watching, quickly, let's look at the state of New Hampshire. The Republicans had a primary up in New Hampshire as well. Kelly Ayotte was the establishment favorite coming in, but she trails conservative Ovide Lamontagne. Just 11 percent of the vote counted there. We will keep on track that. Could be another dramatic story tonight in New Hampshire. We'll keep counting the vote.

But for now, back to LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: With Bill Maher, who got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today.

MAHER: Christine O'Donnell, I'm just saying to you, you got to do my show this Friday night. Old times sake. I put you on the map.

KING: You're inviting her now?

MAHER: Inviting her? I'm demanding it.

KING: Well, she owes it to you.

MAHER: She owes me. And I'm always nice to her because she's -- you can't not be nice to her; she's such a sweet girl.

KING: What do you make of the Glenn Beck -- you mentioned him -- phenomena? What is that?

MAHER: It's interesting. It might be an act. I don't know how much he really believes what he believes. Some of it, it is obvious he just doesn't read what he's talking about himself. He wraps himself up in the book "Common Sense" by Thomas Payne. Thomas Payne was an atheist.


MAHER: Yeah. It's like these people who quote the Bible because they read that one passage. They haven't really read the whole Bible. I don't think he has ever really read Thomas Payne, because it's nothing to do with what he believes in or what he professes to believe in. It's interesting now that he's sort of segueing from a political commentator to a preacher, because that monument to himself that he had on the mall, on Martin Luther King's big day, he sort of moved over to the role of a preacher. It was all about religion. It was all about God and faith.

And you know, this is the guy who said Obama has a deep-seeded hatred for white people. So it's not that big of a move. He's once again trafficking in the unprovable.

KING: Does Gingrich surprise you, that statement, Newt Gingrich?

MAHER: It would more, except that I've seen this pattern over the last year, that the Tea Baggers are actually taking over the mainstream Republican party.

KING: Taking over Newt Gingrich?

MAHER: Taking over John McCain. John McCain had a long, noble service. I wanted to vote for him in the year 2000. Suddenly, he was against everything he ever stood for. This is the guy who was sponsoring the sensible immigration bill in the United States Congress. And now he's talking about the border and all. He's on the beheadings page. He was saying illegals are causing car crashes on purpose. Just crazy stuff.

So I'm not that surprised that the Tea Baggers are getting the mainstreamer Republicans, formerly mainstream, to pander to them. Yeah, Newt Gingrich used to be considered the thinker in the Republican party. He was sort of their philosopher. Now, he's talking about the Luo tribesman? KING: Let's get to the Islamic center in -- by the World Trade Center. It's 12 blocks from it?

MAHER: Two or four blocks. It's something. Whatever it is, there's nothing else down there. That was a Burlington Coat Factory that is out of business. You know what they should build there? A Burlington Coat Factory, Larry. People need jobs in this country. Everybody needs a coat. Why don't they just put up a Burlington Coat Factory?

KING: The return of the Burlington Coat Factory?

MAHER: Exactly. I wanted to make a few points about this.

KING: Let me get a break in.


KING: We'll be right back with Bill Maher and we'll talk with him about the proposed Islamic center in downtown Manhattan. Don't go away.


KING: "Time Magazine" has a cover that says "Is America Islamophobic." Pastor Terry Jones wants to burnt he Koran. The Islamic Center, thousands protesting almost daily. What is the Bill Maher read on this?

MAHER: Well, Terry Jones I thinks didn't burn the Koran because he got death threats. It's not because he suddenly became reasonable. People like that don't. He got a note from Muhammad Kablewi (ph) and he changed his mind. So let's not give him too much credit.

The mosque, OK, I always say three things about the mosque. One, I'm against building mosques, churches, synagogues, temples anywhere, because I'm an atheists and I think these are places that perpetuate mass delusion. Second point I would like to make is we have a First Amendment in this country which says any religion -- and I believe in freedom of religion. I believe in freedom thought. Religion is thought. You're allowed to build anywhere any religion. So they should allow them to build the mosque in New York two blocks from the world center, or right on the site, or anywhere else they want. That's freedom of religion. That's what this country was founded on.

KING: And I have a right to protest it.

MAHER: And have the right to protest it. The third thing I would like to say is that when people say, and some liberals get mad when they say, that Islam is a religion that is more prone to violence, yes, we have to recognize that, too. I think I misspoke on "Leno" last night and I said what would happen if they burned the Koran? Nothing. Well, no, plenty would happen. There would be protests. There would probably be deaths. People would die if we -- if they burned the Koran. That's not going to happen if they burn the Bible. OK? We have to recognize that civilization-wise, the radical fringe of the Muslim religion is bringing up the rear. It's the duty of Muslim people to deal with that.

The sad fact about the mosque is the people who are building that mosque are part of the Sufi fringe or part of their religion. That's the good part. That's the liberal part. Those are the Hippies of the Islamic world. We should encourage them. The people who want to build that mosque, those are the people we should be courting.

Bush used that guy. Bush -- that administration sent him overseas. Yes, that's the way to fight terrorism. That's the way to win the war, is to get those people on our side, not to alienate them.

KING: How big do you believe the Muslim fringe is?

MAHER: Bigger than our fringe. I think it's sizable, but not the majority, for sure. I mean, the biggest population of Muslims in the world is Indonesia. They're not crazy. The second biggest is India. There's 150 million Muslims in India. They're not crazy.

But Saudi Arabia, they're crazy. The Taliban in Afghanistan, they're crazy. Parts of Pakistan are crazy. Hamas is crazy. There's enough of them to worry about.

KING: How does a civilized world deal with crazies?

MAHER: Well, that's a good question.

KING: That's why I asked it.

MAHER: I would say, first thing is don't use the Army.

KING: Don't use?

MAHER: No. Because we're talking about, you know -- how many al Qaeda do they estimate are around now? Four hundred.

By the way, 9/11 was perpetrated mostly by Muhammad -- Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. I used to call him Khalid Shake Shake Shake Muhammad. KSM, they call him.

It's interesting when you read about this guy. There's an article in "the New Yorker" this week. He was not really al Qaeda. He went to bin Laden for financing. Bin Laden was like the studio. He gave notes, but he gave financing, and he did his own thing.

OK, we got this guy. We water boarded him 183 times in one month. He's behind bars. Why can't we just say, OK, we got the guy who was behind 9/11. Now, hey, New Yorkers, forget about it. Not forget about it entirely, but we're the land of the free and the home of the brave. We should act like it.

KING: Back more with Bill Maher. "Real Time" returns Friday night on HBO. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


MAHER: That fire ball ticks me off because we spent 787 billion dollars on a stimulus program when Obama got into office. Now, why couldn't he have said, look, there's a lot of people out of work in this country and our infrastructure is crumbling and needs repair. Let's just take all that money and put those two thoughts together. Let's have those people who are out of work repair the infrastructure.

Right. What happened to all that money? Why didn't they fix that? An entire town blew up. Do you know that we have pipes carrying natural gas in this country that are made of wood? I'm not joking.

KING: We had this question --

MAHER: That's why the Democrats are going to lose.

KING: We had this question posted on the LARRY KING LIVE Facebook page: "can Bill give us his thoughts on how social media is replacing mainstream media?"

MAHER: Mainstream media, it's funny. I was at Jay Leno's show last night, and we were talking before the show. He said to me, you know, I don't understand; in the Sunday "New York Times" weekend review section, they always print jokes of comedians. And they have me and they have Letterman and they have Kimmel. And no you. Why aren't you there? I said, I don't know. "The New York Times" doesn't like me. They never report on me, even though it would seem they should, because people who would watch my show tend to be like the same people who would read "the New York Times."

KING: One would think.

MAHER: But it's interesting. We called my publicist in and we found out it wasn't that. She said, well, you tape your show on Friday night and that paper goes to bed for their Sunday edition well before that. Jay said, that's probably true, because I noticed never do I get a joke in that I did on Thursday or Friday. It's always Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

So here's "the New York Times," the paper of record, apparently for their Sunday edition going to bed on Wednesday night. That's when they place the Gutenberg type, Larry, to make sure that that edition gets out on time. This is why mainstream media is dying. They don't have to die. But we live in an age where, you know, you get it on your Blackberry immediately.

So when they tell me that I can't print your joke because we print on Sunday and you do it on Friday, I'm like, I can't really help you, "New York Times."

KING: But doesn't it scare you a little, that speed that you know it now? Doesn't a part of you get a little, all right already, take a step back?

MAHER: I don't know. I like it. Maybe I'm hooked on it, but I like finding it out right away.

KING: You go Blackberry all day long?

MAHER: I try not to. But yes.

KING: You text?

MAHER: Endlessly.

KING: Not while driving.

MAHER: Not while driving. But it's the best thing in the world. You don't have to talk to people.

KING: Isn't that nice? We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: Had a great time today being a part of the group that honored Bill Maher on receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was a wonderful morning. Beautiful day, too.

MAHER: Thank you. By the way, you were great.

KING: Rod Blagojevich has filed a motion to toss out his only conviction in the 24-count corruption trial. What do you make on that whole story?

MAHER: You know, when I heard the verdict, I thought the same thing I heard I thought when they let go Robert Blake, when they let go O.J. Simpson. I mean, how many other people -- did the Rodney King cops. You know, how many times do we have trials in this country where people just get it dead wrong? They have you on tape. They show you beating the ever loving daylights out of Rodney King; you can't convict them.

O.J. Simpson, her blood was in his socks, they couldn't convict him. Robert Blake, I went back to the restaurant to get the gun, you know? And I think at the end of the day, what have you to understand is that things are not going to get better in this country politically because of the people. It's the people. The country can't get well if the people are sick. And the people are sick.

Now, I know Obama's not been the best president and the Democrats are not the best politicians, but you know what? We elected him just two years ago to fix this massive bunch of problems we have. And because he didn't do it by football season, we are ready to throw him out on the street and bring back the guys who messed it up just two years ago. That's a little too impatient.

Yes, when he got the patient, the patient was bleeding to death. He got the patient to stop bleeding. But, OK, the patient is not up and back at the office quite yet. It's no reason to throw the doctor out and get back the doctor who was using leaches.

KING: Well put. But it is what it is. Right? I mean, we can't --

MAHER: It's not going to get better in our lifetime, I don't think. I don't want to be a downer, but, you know, my great friend Arianna Huffington has a book coming out -- maybe it's out -- called "Third World America." Brilliant. I've been saying that for years. They say, oh Bill, why do you hate America first? I don't hate America. I love America. I want it to be better. The only way we can get it to be better is to realistically criticize what's wrong with it. That's not what the Republicans do.

KING: So we can safely say you're a pessimist.

MAHER: I don't want to be a pessimist. I'm a realist. One man's realist is another man's pessimist. But, no, I'm not like Mitt Romney, whose book is called "No Apology, the Case for American Greatness." Really? Always waving the big foam number one finger; we're not number one in most things. We're number one in military. We're number one in money. We're number one in fat toddlers, meth labs, and people we send to prison. We're not number one in literacy, money spent on education.

We're not even number one in social mobility. Social mobility means basically the American dream, the ability of one generation to do better than the next. We're tenth. That's like Sweden coming tenth in Swedish meatballs.

KING: We're not number one, I think, in life expectancy either.

MAHER: No, we're way. Yes, right, we're like 49th behind Bosnia. The number one cause of death --

KING: So happy, folks, that we could make your night tonight.

MAHER: What? You asked me a question.

KING: Thanks, Bill.

MAHER: Pleasure.

KING: Congratulations again. Bill Maher, he returns with "Real Time With Bill Maher" to HBO on Friday night. He'll be appearing for two nights at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, September 25th and 26th.

The famed Maloof Family, by the way, will be here Saturday night. Tomorrow night, Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer will be here in this studio.

Time now for "AC 360," and Anderson Cooper. Anderson?