HBO BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT
March 24, 2006
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
MAHER: Jason Alexander is right over there. [applause] [cheers] And he is the seven-term U.S. Representative from Georgia 's First District, and Vice Chair of the Republican Conference. My old friend, I'm happy to say, Jack Kingston has joined us. Jack, how are you doing? [applause]
Rep. JACK KINGSTON: Bill, it's good to be here.
MAHER: Okay. Well, this week was the third anniversary of the war in Iraq , a subsidiary of the "war on terror," and a division of Halliburton. [laughter] And to celebrate this, or to mark it anyway, President Bush was all over TV. He delighted us with a number of appearances, press conferences, as you will. And he keeps saying that he is optimistic. And I'm glad the medication is working for him. [laughter] But I guess my first question is, when does realism supersede optimism? I know American politicians love to use the word "optimistic," and you can't, I guess, get elected without it. But it just seems to me that we need something else. What do you think?
KINGSTON : Well, Bill, I realize I'm going to be representing the popular opinion here tonight, so let me go ahead and get started.
MAHER: [laughs] And I appreciate it. And I appreciate you coming into the lion's den to do that. I really do.
KINGSTON : Well, I'm always glad to do that. And I appreciate your support of the First Amendment. [laughter] So
MAHER: I am a First Amendment martyr. I don't know if you know that, but[applause]
KINGSTON : That's true.
MAHER: That's true.
KINGSTON : You know, listen, in my experience - and I want to make sure that folks understand I represent 25,000 constituents who have been in Iraq . In fact, I'm leaving tonight
KINGSTON : --to go back to celebrate the return of about 20,000 at Fort Stewart , Georgia , the 3 rd Infantry. Spent a lot of time with the soldiers. And, you know, what I get is there's been military, political and economic progress. It's not always exciting and glamorous. And I can understand why the correspondent doesn't want to write about it. It's not anything great. But when you think 240,000 Iraqi soldiers are trained and operating
MAHER: Yeah, but also it was in the news - excuse me - that the number of battle-ready ones is zero. [applause] And
KINGSTON : Well, but, you know
MAHER: I'm not trying to be a pessimist. I even said, look, I'm rooting for this plan for a long time, and still am, because I root for America . But, again, realism
KINGSTON : Realism.
MAHER: It bugs people when they hear, "Baghdad Bob" President Bush.
KINGSTON : But when the golden mosque was blown up in Samarra
KINGSTON : --it was Iraqi troops that responded. And it was a two-hour stand-down with armed demonstrators. And I think it ended as peacefully as possible because Americans weren't on the front line of it. Sixty percent of Baghdad is under Iraqi security patrol right now. Most people don't realize that.
MAHER: And it's getting blown up all the time. [laughter]
REZA ASLAN: I mean, look, I know - I mean, I don't think anyone can say that there's nothing good to talk about when it comes to Iraq . There are - there are lots of good things to talk about.
ASLAN: And I think we're - we're at a place now where we can't necessarily say, "Well, there's no winning this war, that it's all gone to hell." The real problem is, I think, that this administration has done such a lousy job of selling the war to Americans. I mean, they - they keep making the same speech over and over and over again.
MAHER: Yes, but what is the good we're missing.
ASLAN: Well, I mean, I think part of what isn't being discussed is that a lot of the political wrangling that's taking place within the new Iraqi government is - is exactly what we want to happen. We want these issues about what it means to be Iraqi, what it means to have an Islamic state; how do we reconcile, you know, Islamic values with democratic values.
MAHER: They are hagglers, that's true.
ASLAN: They're hagglers, yeah.
MAHER: I think we forget that about the Middle Eastern people. I remember when they were first making the government, the Sunnis are about to walk out, and then the Shiites went, "My friend! Where are you going?" [laughter] "Let me - let me make you another offer. What - where you going, my friend?!" [laughter]
ALEXANDER: "My friend" is the kiss of death, by the way, in the Middle East .
MAHER: It certainly is at the mall.
ALEXANDER: That means - that is - "My friend, I'm sorry to shoot you. My friend." [laughter] I've stood with people that hate each other, you know, on opposite sides - they each have guns on each other - going, "My friend, my friend, with respect - with respect, my friend." Bang. [laughter]
MAHER: It's like
ASLAN: It's like in Washington . It's like in Washington .
MAHER: Or it's like in this country when we say, "It's all good."
ALEXANDER: That's right.
MAHER: It's never good when people say, "It's all good." It's when a guy has a gun and - "It's all good." [laughter]
KINGSTON : Well, let - I want to give you some more military stats. This time last year, there were five Iraqi battalions. Now there are 22. And it takes a long time to train these guys. If you think about every instruction manual for a Jeep, for a gun, for night-vision goggles.
KINGSTON : They're not in Farsi, they're in English.
MAHER: Wait a second, wait a second.
KINGSTON : [overlapping] And they have to
MAHER: [overlapping] We've been there for three years solid, training.
KINGSTON : Only for about a year training, though. I mean, we had - we had to go through a very difficult transition. You know, we had to, I'd say, throw the regime out, and that was about a year. And the second year was, I'd say, a transition. But the serious training really was really from November '04, on.
KINGSTON : Well, Jack, with all due respect, instead of "transition"
ALEXANDER: "My friend, my friend."
ASLAN: "My friend, my friend." [laughter]
KINGSTON : "My friend." Where is your gun? Where is your gun. [laughs]
ASLAN: What you - what I think you refer to as a transition period is, I think, more realistically, the period in which we realized maybe we ought to train an Iraqi army. I think that was kind of the first time it really came about. We all know that it was a mistake to disband the Iraqi army completely. And then, of course, we don't need to talk about the failure to actually plan for post-war Iraq . But, I mean, we are doing some things right. It's going to take a long time. It's a terrible situation. And the real question is, what do we do now? We broke Iraq . How do we - do we just say good-bye or do we rebuild it?
ALEXANDER: You know - but the other thing is - and, you know, this is going to sound funny, but I don't really mean it this way, but - and not that they aren't a potentially considerable fighting force and a force for good, a trained Iraqi army - but, you know, in the best of times, these were the guys we routed in 14 days! You know, when they really had it all together and had been trained, and Saddam was saying, "You miss and we kill you," they were fighting for their lives and they went[snaps fingers]you know
MAHER: But - but, wait, it's not even them. No, no, I'm sorry
ALEXANDER: Those guys
ASLAN: Those are the trained guys.
MAHER: Those are the guys in the insurgency now.
ALEXANDER: That's right. That's absolutely right. [laughter]
KINGSTON : Those were the Republican Guard
MAHER: [overlapping] The guys who are now in the army are the bakers with the banana bread. [laughter]
ALEXANDER: Right. That's absolutely right.
MAHER: Because that's who was left.
ASLAN: We - we disbanded - we disbanded an Iraqi army of 400,000 soldiers without disarming them first.
ALEXANDER: Which was a good plan! [laughter]
KINGSTON : Well
MAHER: [overlapping] There was no plan.
KINGSTON : [overlapping]there's debate on that. The problem is, you didn't - you couldn't divide, you know, the good guys are the moderates - which, as you know, we're trying to identify the moderates right now. It's very difficult. And I've been to Iraq twice. And one of the things that the troops tell me over and over again, is you can't tell the bad guys from the good. This is a war without borders and without uniforms. And the guy next to you might be your friend, and then he might kill you. And that's the general
ALEXANDER: [overlapping] Pretty consistently, the moderates are the guys getting killed. Pretty consistent.
ALEXANDER: It's easy to spot them. They're dead. [laughter]
MAHER: And - but that's - isn't that why this whole thing has turned so ugly? Again, this week, we found out about another torture site that we had going, called Nama. Have you - did you read about this one? It was one of Saddam's places. Still had Saddam's shackles on the wall. You know, literally had a sign, "Under New Management." [laughter]
And I think this is interesting. There was a Pew study of different religions: 31% of Protestants and only 26% of Catholics said it was never okay to torture. That seems like a very small percentage of Catholics - 26% -- to say, you know - Jesus was tortured - to say it was never okay. Forty-one percent of secular people - atheists or agnostic - said it was never okay to torture. And I - I bring this up because, reading your book, I was struck by how liberal and tolerant Muhammad was. I didn't really know that. And I think there's something Christianity and Islam have in common, which is that neither one of them follow their leaders. [applause]
ASLAN: Well, no, this is true - this is true not just of Islam or Christianity, it's true to religion. You know, we have this idea, somehow, that prophets invent religions, that Jesus invented Christianity, or that Muhammad invented Islam. Nothing could be further from the truth. What prophets do is they take the social and cultural and economic and political milieu in which they live, and they reshape it. They recast it. They don't talk about the future. They talk about the present.
It's the prophet-followers who then take those words
MAHER: [overlapping] Screw it up.
ASLAN: [overlapping]take those deeds, and turn it into what we call a religion. And it's often the case that it has far more to do with their own ideas, their own biases, than it does with what the prophet said or did. [applause]
MAHER: You agree with that?
KINGSTON : I'm going to go with the professor on this one. You know, whatever he said, I'm all with him. I'm from Washington . I don't have all this intellectual firepower. [laughter] What I do - I don't understand why the religious people wouldn't be a little more against torture. I think all three of us would agree that torture is bad. [applause] I'm not sure why - why that - those results surprise me, Bill. I don't know why they'rewhat they are
ALEXANDER: Well, they don't - they don't surprise me inasmuch as - I don't know the Koran as well as I know the Bible - but the Bible is very clear about punishment and transgressionyou know, the Bible is pretty hard-core.
ASLAN: It's a bloody, bloody book.
ALEXANDER: It's a hand for a hand, an eye for an eye.
ASLAN: The Old Testament.
ALEXANDER: Yeah, exactly.
MAHER: It's funny, because the new-style Christians, especially this crowd in Washington , are really much more Old Testament than they are New Testament. They really are much more
KINGSTON : Well, now, Bill, I might fall in that category. [laughter] I don't - I think we're kind of New Testament guys. [laughter] But I want to - I want to say that, you know, one thing that's good about the prison scandals, as bad and as horrible as it is, at least we're being transparent. Nine of the soldiers who were at Abu Ghraib are serving time right now. But
ALEXANDER: But - but
KINGSTON : Your friend
MAHER: Come on.
KINGSTON : I know she's not your friend, but I know you've made reference to - Lynndie England ?
MAHER: Lynndie England , with the "thumbs up." Sure.
KINGSTON : Three - yeah, three years for the "thumbs up." So, I mean, you know, we are being transparent.
MAHER: [overlapping] But, Jack - but shouldn't we have
ALEXANDER: But here's the problem.
ALEXANDER: Let's just be - look, I don't think anybody - nobody in their right mind is going to condone the actions that people like Lynndie England took. However, until you've actually been in their boots, I don't know that anybody knows what they would do in the situation. The problem - and they should be held accountable, and they are being held accountable - but the problem is, like any good parent can tell you, if you don't put up boundaries and consequences for your children that are clear, they're not going to behave very well when they get out there.
So here you've got a situation where you've said, "Well, we might legally be able to torture. We're not condoning it. We don't say yes. We don't do it here. But if we fly north and then east, and take a right at Uzbekistan , you could do it there for five minutes a day. But not over here." [laughter] It's very - it's not clear! [applause] And so these guys are reacting out of stress, and out of - and possibly out of command. And the guys in charge of them, the mommies and the daddies, are not being held accountable for these children.
MAHER: That's right.
KINGSTON : Well, now, we did - and George, you're - George? [laughter] Jason!
ALEXANDER: That's all right. You won't be the first or the last. It's okay. [applause]
KINGSTON : I apologize. Huge - huge fan.
ALEXANDER: It's quite all right. I'm still - I'm still getting residuals. It's okay. [laughter] [applause]
KINGSTON : For many years to come.
ALEXANDER: God bless.
MAHER: Thank God, you are. Because I know you were very poorly paid to begin with.
ALEXANDER: What did I tell you? [laughter]
KINGSTON : Just eking through.
ALEXANDER: We weren't making HBO money, I'll tell you that! [laughter]
KINGSTON : I will say that was why John McCain pushed the torture amendment through, so that there actually is anti-torture language and protocol, so that there's accountability up and down the chain.
ALEXANDER: Didn't we have that in the Geneva Convention, though?
KINGSTON : You would have thought.
MAHER: But, you know, there's thisone of thego ahead.
KINGSTON : But - no, I've got to just say, you know, I've seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib. That was not sanctioned stuff. That was some really kinky, weird[laughter]even immature, to some degree. And - but I will say, I do believe the worst day at Abu Ghraib is better than the best day in an Iraqi prison.
MAHER: I don't know about that. Some people died. That's probably not a good day. [audience reacts] As they did in Afghanistan . And who knows what's going on in Guantanamo Bay . So, yes, maybe we are better. But really, I mean, shouldn't we not even be in the same league? I mean, just the fact that we're being compared. [applause] Just the fact that we're - to me it's not a victory to say, "You know what? Our torture, not quite as bad as Saddam's." And I will run on that. [laughter]
ALEXANDER: Bill? Bill - and I'm really torn on this. And again, I don't mean to be cute. But if the comparison is that I'm in a room with a man who has information that is very possibly going to decide the life or death of my child, I can tell you I'm going to go Quentin Tarantino on this guy
ALEXANDER: [overlapping]in order to[laughter]. So, you know, part of what we really have to look at in ourselves is what do we really believe? Are there circumstances where we are willing to savagely destroy somebody in order to protect ourselves?
ASLAN: [overlapping] But, Jason
ALEXANDER: [overlapping] And I don't know what the right answer is, even for myself, at this point, when I take it down to that level.
ASLAN: [overlapping] I know. I completely understand. And there is a moral dilemma here. But a moral dilemma does not need to be defined legally. If I'm in a room, and somebody has information that's going to save, you know, my child, I will torture and kill him with my bare hands, and then afterwards, I will take the consequences for it, and have no problems. I don't need someone to write a law that says if I'm in this situation I can torture and kill someone.
MAHER: Except that the people who we were torturing were not in that position, mostly.
ALEXANDER: No, you're absolutely right.
MAHER: I agree, if it's
ALEXANDER: And there is the egregiousness of the situation is you're torturing people by relation, you know.
MAHER: Cab drivers.
ALEXANDER: Cab drivers, absolutely.
MAHER: Right. If I trusted the government to have the right people, yes, I'd be happy to torture Khalid "Sheik-Sheik-Sheik" Muhammad. [laughter] As I call him. [laughter] But, you know, it usually wasn't that guy.
KINGSTON : But you don't ever know really, though, what that cab driver may or may not know. That's one of the difficulties.
MAHER: Cab drivers do know a lot, it's true. [laughter] They very often know
KINGSTON : In Washington , they can balance the budget in one drive across town. [laughter]
MAHER: Let me ask you about this fellow in Afghanistan who, I guess, today, got off the hook. If you haven't followed this story, his name is Abdul Ramani. He was a medical aid worker who converted to Christianity 16 years ago. He spent a lot of his recent years in Germany , but he came back to Afghanistan a few years ago. And somebody - I think it was his wife - ratted him out as someone who converted to Christianity, which is an infamnia to the Muslims in Afghanistan . So he was about to be executed.
Bush and Condie Rice got on the horn to Karzai, and I guess they stopped it. But, basically - I know you say that, you know, there is a possibility of something called "Islamic democracy" - but, basically, Afghanistan and Iraq , I think, have the same deal. Which is that, yes, their constitution says, "We believe in pluralism of religion, but Islamic law supersedes that, so"off with his head."
ASLAN: Well, actually, what the constitution says, is that there has to be a balance between so-called Islamic principles upon which the country is founded, and, of course, the democratic principles. And this reconciliation, I mean - I'm actually - I mean, this may sound weird, but I'm kind of bummed that he got off. He got off on a technicality because they argued that he was mentally insane. Which he wasn't. It was just a way to make - to make it go away.
MAHER: [overlapping] That was a way out. Yeah.
ASLAN: And that's too bad, because these kinds of issues, particularly when they're talked about in legal and court cases, are exactly what make a democracy. This was a perfect opportunity for Afghanis. I mean, every Afghani was talking about this. It was in every newspaper. All the politicians were talking about it. It was on the street. It was in the market. This is what needs to happen. They're having - they're trying to define what it means to be Muslim and Afghani and democratic. And it's going to be these kinds of public dialogues that are going to define that.
MAHER: But it can never really be a democracy, can it, if the mosque has final say? It's like, you know, class president. It has no power. You get elected.
ASLAN: You get the Coke machine.
KINGSTON : That's a good starting place for a political career, though. [laughter]
MAHER: Is that where you started?
KINGSTON : I have to admit. [laughter]
MAHER: Quit bragging.
ASLAN: [overlapping] Now, look, the mosque - the mosque does not have control over the political establishment, but the religious leaders
MAHER: [overlapping] Oh, come on.
ASLAN: [overlapping]have an enormous amount of influence. Far too much influence in that country and in Iraq , and for that matter, in a lot of Muslim countries.
MAHER: In Iran .
ASLAN: And Iran - Iran would be
MAHER: I mean, Iran has elections, but
ASLAN: But Iran is the only country in the world in which the religious authorities are also the political authorities. There is not a single other country in the Muslim world in which that is the case. Now, that doesn't mean that they don't have an enormous - too much influence. They do. But, in many ways, this - to me, this - Abdur Rahman's trial, was sort of Afghanistan 's Plessy vs. Ferguson . You know, it's an opportunity for them to say, "Who are we? What do we mean?" And the same exact thing, by the way, happened in Malaysia about a decade ago. Same - same trial, apostasy trial - and it went to the Supreme Court so that the Supreme Court was actually forced to say, "This is against our constitution," and they had to pass a law saying this will never happen again.
ALEXANDER: But it just - it just seems, by pure definition, it seems impossible to have a democracy that is truly balancing some sort of theocracy at the same time. The very nature of a democracy is a balance of opposing forces. In a theocracy - and challenge me if you will - it has to be a pull to the right. There's no such thing as a secular extremist in politics.
MAHER: Are you talking about our country or Afghanistan ? [laughter]
ALEXANDER: I'm talking about
MAHER: I'm sorry. I'm lost. [applause]
ALEXANDER: --in all countries. A religious - a religious - I don't want to say "fanatic," but someone who is
MAHER: [overlapping] George Bush. [laughter]
ALEXANDER: [overlapping]staunchly religious, is going to pull to the right.
ALEXANDER: There are no such things
ASLAN: That's right.
ALEXANDER: --as secular extremists. So the minute you have control of authority being pulled to the right, and it's going squarely in one direction, you no longer have a true chance of a democracy. You may have a kind - certainly not an American democracy, which is fine - but I don't know that you can actually have anything that we would call democracy.
KINGSTON : That's - but, you know what?
ALEXANDER: On those terms.
KINGSTON : [overlapping] And I'll ask you. But you do have Jordan and you have Mali , and you - you mentioned Malaysia , Indonesia , Algeria
MAHER: [overlapping] "Jordan and Molly"? I know them. [laughter]
KINGSTON : They were some of those chicks you mentioned to the reporter about bringing back out of Iraq .
ALEXANDER: That's right.
MAHER: I'm sorry, I have to break up this discussion because I have Tavis Smiley[voices overlap]Tavis Smiley is waiting for us, and he's a good friend. I don't want to keep him waiting. He's the host of "Tavis Smiley" on PBS, whose new best-selling book is The Covenant With Black America . Please welcome Mr. Tavis Smiley. Tavis, how are you doing? [applause]
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
MAHER: Tavis Smiley, thank you very much! [applause] [cheers] And by the way, I was completely kidding about that pimp thing. I think that is really a part of the problem, is that they have glorified this pimp ideology. MTV again always evil; no help: "Pimp My Ride," "Pimp My This, Pimp My This." [laughter] And it's not a good thing, that people - that these young people think they can be pimps and, you know, "my bitch'll make the money." [laughter]
ALEXANDER: Don't you also think it's an unfortunate thing that that man's last name is Smiley? [laughter] He just doesn't seem - he's not smiling a lot. [laughter]
MAHER: In this situation.
ALEXANDER: That's all I'm
MAHER: But, you know, I remember I used to always hear that
KINGSTON : He did look big, though. I'm - I'm not going to comment.
MAHER: [overlapping] I used to always hear that the blacks didn't watch "Seinfeld"; that it was the biggest hit, but it didn't reach the black community.
ASLAN: You know who didn't - who doesn't watch "Seinfeld"? Is Arabs. Big flop in the Arab world. [laughter]
ALEXANDER: Not true.
ALEXANDER: Au contraire! [laughter] Au contraire, my friend! When I entered the Palestinian Territories
ASLAN: Oh, right.
ALEXANDER: As you know, I marched gallantly into Ramallah. No, they really did know that
ASLAN: Maybe - maybe it depends on your proximity to Israel . [laughter] The further - the further
ALEXANDER: My personal proximity?
ASLAN: No, no, the Arabs.
ALEXANDER: That could be.
ASLAN: The further you are from Israel , the less you understand it.
ALEXANDER: I would imagine - I would imagine the travails of four neurotic, selfish New York Jews probably doesn't mean much to the Arab world. [laughter] [applause]
MAHER: But you were in Ramallah?
ALEXANDER: Yeah, I did go to Ramallah, yeah.
MAHER: And you were there for?
ALEXANDER: I was there working for the "One Peace" - grassroots peach initiative in Israel and Palestine .
MAHER: Okay, all right, I mentioned Debra Lafave in the monologue - I hope I'm pronouncing that right because she's gorgeous. Let's show her picture. [photo of Lefave shown] That's the teacher. And she - I mean, when your teacher looks like this, there is going to be trouble. [laughter] I just think - I just think that is asking for trouble. And all I have to say is they should have seen it coming, because we got hold of some of their classroom items from Ms Lafave's class. [laughter] And these are some of the report cards. And you know, they always write the comments. Look at some of her comments.
"Is too talkative in bed." [laughter] I mean, right there
"Plays well with udders." [laughter] [applause]
"A pleasure to have in my SUV." [laughter] This is
"He's a little slow. I like it that way." [laughter] I mean, that
Look at these questions on a test: Verbs are action words. Find the verb in this sentence: "The teacher worked her Badonka Donk." [laughter]
And, look, you know how you always got a test back, and they would grade it. Look what it says up here: "C-. Do me after class." [laughter] And down here, "Extra Credit: Say my name." [mixed audience reaction] Okay, that was too far for our audience. That - that crossed a bridge. [laughter]
But I did notice with this story that there has been a turnaround in opinion on this subject. Because I remember when Mary Kay Letourneau was the first teacher to go through this, I used to defend Mary Kay and say, "Okay, you should lose your job if you're having sex with a student, but it shouldn't be a crime." No one ever agreed with me. And now I think I see a lot of people coming around to the Maher Doctrine[laughter]that says there should sometimes be a double standard.
If a middle-aged man has sex with a 14-year-old girl, that's a crime. But if a hot blond like this has sex with a 14-year-old boy, it's a crime they didn't get it on videotape. [laughter] [applause] That's all I'm saying. And two sexes. Double standard. I don't know what people don't get about that.
KINGSTON : I - I don't know, Bill. [laughter] You know
MAHER: You are a gamer, I'll give you that one, Jack.
KINGSTON : You know, back in Clark Central High School , in Athens , I may have had a thought or two about a math teacher, but[laughter]there can't be a double standard. For my son, if we couldn't - you know, that's just not - we don't need double standards.
ALEXANDER: The truth of it is, Bill, that the reason there's a double - there should be - is because the notion is that the boy cannot be a victim in this case. If he's aroused - and who wouldn't be, by the way[laughter]that he's going to be a willing participant. And I just think, as a parent of two boys, there - there is a very strong and more than likely possibility that, while they may be physically responding to this, that they are not emotionally or psychologically able to handle it at age 13 or 14. [applause] And that the injustice is equivalent, even though the brutality of the act - because I do think it is a more brutal situation when it's a man seducing a young girl - the brutality of the physical act may not be equivalent, but the psychological and the emotional scar of it may, in fact, be.
MAHER: Really? You think this kid is
KINGSTON : [overlapping] You are the man. That was great! I think - I just - you are the man! [laughter] [applause]
ALEXANDER: Stop it, now. Come on.
KINGSTON : You are the man. And I have two sons. And I agree with you. I'll see you at the PTA and
MAHER: What happened to men in America !? Jesus Christ! [laughter] [applause]
KINGSTON : We've been
ALEXANDER: [overlapping] But you know, I've got to tell you something. Kids today - this is - the whole subject of sexuality in young teen America is so screwed up right now
MAHER: It is.
ALEXANDER: --as to be - you know, there are girls - my son, my older son, is 13 years old - there are girls his age and maybe a year older whose entire knowledge of sexuality is not coming from class, not coming from parents, not coming from clergy. It's coming from the Internet. And, by the way, what we're hearing more and more is that these girls that don't know how to perform on their first outing like a porn star are considered aberrant at this point. We are in a very, very difficult place with young people and sexuality.
MAHER: [overlapping] But to be - to be perfect - but to be perfectly honest, I think there's probably more good information on the Internet than
ALEXANDER: There is, but they're not
MAHER: [overlapping]certainly, than from clergy. [laughter]
ALEXANDER: But they're not going to - they're not, you know, signing on to "Goodwholesomecleansex.com." [laughter] My son wants to know. "Why can't I go to any website? What is on there that is so horrible that I'm going to see?" And I say, "Look, I don't have a problem with you seeing nudity." Nudity - my wife is a painter; she paints naked people; we've got naked people all over the house. [laughter] There's no problem with nudity. I said, "There is some sexuality - and, you know, God knows, when you're old enough, whatever you want to do with a willing partner is great; nothing is wrong - but, there is some sexuality that is a little dark."
MAHER: [overlapping] Yes Right.
ALEXANDER: [overlapping] And unless you've had a first-person experience of what we would consider to be wholesome sexuality, the exposure to this stuff can be damaging to someone who is impressionable. And these young teens are impressionable. That's their job. [applause]
MAHER: All right. Well said. Now
KINGSTON : Good job.
ALEXANDER: But I'd do her in a heartbeat. [laughter] [applause]
MAHER: And let that be a lesson to the young people out there. All right, speaking of hotties, let me show you
KINGSTON : Ten minutes of articulate vision down the drain in one lustful thought.
MAHER: Yeah, let me show you the picture of Wafah Bin Laden. Now, you probably have seen her in the news. She is the niece of Osama bin Laden, and she is looking to have a television show. Judith Regan, who produces "Growing Up Gotti" is trying to shop a show with her about becoming a pop star. And apparently this has caused some controversy with some people. The September 11 th Family Association says she should not profit from her celebrity. They're outraged about this.
ALEXANDER: Oh, it's ridiculous.
ALEXANDER: So Steven Hitler shouldn't be able to do anything? [laughter] Scott Eichmann no good? [laughter] I mean, come on. It's - it's
KINGSTON : You know, she never even knew him. I think he had over 50 brothers and sisters.
MAHER: Yes, 55.
KINGSTON : And so she - so she had 100 uncles and aunts, approximately.
MAHER: Four thousand cousins.
KINGSTON : Four thousand cousins. Can you imagine the logistics?
MAHER: One more than the Kennedys, by the way. [laughter]
KINGSTON : Can you imagine the logistics at a family reunion, you know?
KINGSTON : Who is going to invite who? You know, who is going to bring the potato salad? Who's going to be bring the liquor?
ASLAN: Who's going to bring the bombs? [laughter]
ALEXANDER: Oh, I'm so glad that was you.
MAHER: Yeah, I'm glad you said that.
ALEXANDER: I was so glad that was you.
MAHER: Not one of us.
KINGSTON : We could not have said that. [laughter]
MAHER: Yeah, right. [applause] Right.
ALEXANDER: I want to see a reality show about Judith Regan. She seems to have some twisted - she's - "Hey, let's get the Gottis, let's get the Bin Ladens."
KINGSTON : Yeah.
ALEXANDER: This woman has gone an interesting life.
ALEXANDER: Put her with Ozzie Osbourne, make a show. [laughter] That's
ASLAN: I mean, there's nothing weird about this at all. I mean, she's born in America . You know, she's about as American as, you know, anyone else is. And the fact that she wants to be a pop star, I mean, she is - look, pop music - Arab pop music - is a huge, huge industry. I mean, you go to any - you go to Cairo and there are billboards all over the street of, you know, scantily-dressed women
MAHER: In Cairo ?
ASLAN: In Cairo , absolutely. In Jordan . I mean, this is a huge, huge industry in the Arab world, this Arab pop music. Absolutely! I mean, they're kids. They love music. I mean, if you
MAHER: But scantily-clad women on billboards?
ASLAN: Scantily-clad. That's nothing.
MAHER: That's very surprising to me.
ASLAN: I mean, you turn on
KINGSTON : [overlapping] Apparently, they don't have Internet[laughter]
ASLAN: That's right. You turn on, you know, these Arab pop music stations, these music videos, and, I mean, there's really nothing to separate them from a Britney Spears video.
MAHER: But certainly not in Saudi Arabia , you wouldn't see a scantily-clad billboard.
ASLAN: No, not in Saudi - no, no, no, we're not talking about Saudi Arabia . We're talking about the cosmopolitan capitals of
MAHER: [overlapping] What about Tehran ? Even Iran ?
ASLAN: [overlapping]of the Muslim world.
MAHER: [overlapping] With the mullahs? Come on.
ASLAN: Not in Iran . Iran - again, Iran is a completely different
MAHER: So, a few select places.
ASLAN: This is Arab pop music. All of Iranian pop music, they're all here in L.A. [laughter]
MAHER: All right, you're a great panel, but now it time for New Rules, everybody, New Rules! [applause] [cheers]
All right, New Rule: Mixing meat and donut is not kosher. A minor league baseball park has introduced the "Donut Burger." [audience reacts] A cheeseburger with bacon served between a Krispy Kreme donut. [laughter] [groans] It's all part of the team's new promotion: "Eat Shit and Die." [laughter] [applause]
New Rule: If "Today Show" host Katie Couric gets to become anchor of the "CBS Evening News," then Barney the Dinosaur gets to replace Mike Wallace on "60 Minutes." [laughter] [applause] This way, everybody wins. CBS News gets a perky blond, and "60 Minutes" gets somebody younger. [laughter] [applause]
KINGSTON : Much-needed.
MAHER: Thank you. I'll be promoting my next book on "Good Morning America." [laughter]
New Rule: Stop making me look at this picture. [photo of ad about hepatitis and HIV featuring battered face] I don't even know what this ad wants me to do. [laughter] Donate money? Buy medicine? Consider Mickey Rourke for an Oscar? [laughter] Leave me alone. It's hard enough to read my magazines with those fungus monsters that live on my toes. [laughter] [applause]
New Rule: There's no such thing as a "gateway" candy. Legislators in Georgia are seeking a ban on "pot-flavored" candy, calling it a "gateway" product to other drugs. [laughter] Okay, now you're high. [laughter] And, kids, listen to Uncle Bill: if you're smoking pot for the taste, you're doing it wrong. [laughter] [applause] [cheers]
And finally, New Rule: Nobody can use the phrase "our greatest problem" anymore unless you're talking about global warming. [applause] [cheers] President Bush has been saying we're in a war on terror, and now I get it. He's not saying "terror," he's saying "terra" as in "terra firma," as in the Earth. George Bush is an alien sent here to destroy the Earth! [laughter] [applause] [cheers] I know it sounds crazy, but it made perfect sense when Tom Cruise explained it to me last week. [laughter] [applause]
Now, last week on "60 Minutes," James Hansen, who is NASA's leading expert on the science of climate delivered the world's most important message. He said, "We have to, in the next ten years, begin to decrease the rate of carbon dioxide emissions and then flatten it out. If that doesn't happen in ten years, we're going to be passing certain tipping points. If the ice sheets begin to disintegrate, what can you do about it? You can't tie a rope around an ice sheet." Although I know a certain cowboy from Crawford who might think you could. [laughter]
And that cowboy and his corporate goons at the White House tried to censor Mr. Hansen from delivering that message, claiming such warnings were speculative. This from the crowd that rushed into a war based on an article in the Weekly Standard. [laughter] [applause] [cheers] This - this from the guy who thinks Kyoto is that Japanese emperor dude his dad threw up on. [laughter]
Global warming is not speculative. It threatens us enough so that it should be considered a national security issue. Failing to warn the citizens of a looming weapon of mass destruction - and that's what global warming is - in order to protect oil company profits, well, that fits, for me, the definition of treason. And codified treason. [applause] [cheers]
Please, wait a second. The guy in the White House who made the edits was Phil Cooney, who had been an oil industry lobbyist before given this job as head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. That's the office that is supposed to be watching out for us. But that's where Phil busied himself crossing stuff out in scientists' reports, because apparently in Phil's mind, he hadn't switched jobs. He was just doing his old job - oil industry lobbyist - from a different office. You know, in the "people's house."
Republicans have succeeded in making the environment about some tie-dyed dude from Seattle who lives in a solar-powered yurt and eats twigs. [laughter] It's not. This issue should be driven by something conservatives are much more familiar with: utter selfishness. That's my motivation. I don't want to live my golden years having to put on a hazmat suit just to go down and get the mail. [laughter] Those are my Viagra years. [laughter] [applause] When I'll be thinking about having children. [laughter]
But I wouldn't know what to tell a kid about our world in 20 years. "Dad, tell me about the birds and bees." "They're all gone. Now, eat your Soylent Green." [laughter] [applause] We are letting dying men kill our planet for cash, and they're counting on us being too greedy or distracted, or just plain lazy, to stop them.
So, on this day, the 17 th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, let us pause to consider how close we are to making ourselves fossils from the fossil fuels we extract. In the next 20 years, almost a billion Chinese people will be trading in their bicycles for the automobile. Folks, we either get our shit together on this quickly, or we're going to have to go to Plan B: inventing a car that runs on Chinese people. [laughter] [applause]
Thank you, my guests: Reza Aslan, Jason Alexander, Rep. Jack Kingston, Tavis Smiley and Michael Ware. Thank you, folks. Good job and good night. [applause] [cheers]
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