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HBO Real Time with Bill Maher - Transcript

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HBO Real Time with Bill Maher - Transcript

HBO BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT

April 28, 2006

Episode #410

"REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER"

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

MAHER: Couldn't agree more. Thank you for joining us, Mr. George Clooney. [applause] [cheers] All right, time to meet our panel. [applause] All right, he is a 13-term United States Representative - wow! - from the 4 th District of Massachusetts, my favorite politician, Congressman Barney Frank! Barney, how you doin? [applause]

BARNEY FRANK: Good. And you?

MAHER: Making her return appearance on our show, a host on National Public Radio and a contributor to ABC News, Michel Martin. Good to see you back here. [applause]

MICHEL MARTIN: Thank you.

MAHER: And you will see this gentlemen not only in "The Da Vinci Code," but also in "X-Men: The Last Stand." Ian McKellen is here. [applause] [cheers] [McKellen holds out his hands as if casting a spell] You do - you find yourself in a lot of giant box-office smashes. Is that - is that you or is that just the movies?

SIR IAN McKELLEN: Well, it's the fate of us liberal actors, you know. [laughter]

MAHER: Yeah.

McKELLEN: We get the best jobs, don't we?

MAHER: All right. Let's talk about gas a little, because I'm sure people here are upset, as they are all over the country. Whenever gas prices go up, people in this country get their panties in a bunch. They just don't like it. And the difference is that now we have gas prices approaching what I guess they have been in the rest of the world. In England , for a long time, they have been north of four or five dollars, right?

McKELLEN: Well, the last car I had - I don't have one now; I live in London where you can get around by walking—

MAHER: Wow.

McKELLEN: Remember walking? [laughter] And a public transport system, which is a good one. Easier in those old - old cities, of course, to do that. But the last car I had cost £75 to fill up the tank - two tanks actually - in an old Jaguar. Seventy-five Pounds, what's that? Getting on for $200?

MAHER: Right.

McKELLEN: And you got about 300 miles for that. So I got rid of that car. [laughter]

MAHER: But the difference is that in these countries, that kind of money went to the government—

McKELLEN: Yeah.

MAHER: --which at least theoretically put it toward public service. In this country, the money goes toward Exxon Mobil and "Fat Bastard." [laughter] [applause] Lee Reynolds. Show the picture. [photo of Lee Reynolds shown] I call him "Fat Bastard"—[laughter]—because, I'm sorry, he looks—

FRANK: Lee Raymond.

MAHER: Lee Raymond, Lee Raymond, right. Lee Raymond. He looks like "Fat Bastard" from the "Austin Powers" movies. [laughter] And I wonder what do you think? If people were paying this kind of money, but it went toward a Manhattan Project to get us off oil, or to fight some of the problems that gas causes, don't you think they'd be more readily - to pay it?

FRANK: Well, probably not. [Maher laughs] It might be better if they do, but - but part of the problem is - obviously, if you go back, historically, we've made some mistakes - but in fairness to people, people were encouraged to live 40 miles from work. You know, their patterns of living. People were told, "Well, for your kid, you need a backyard. You can't get one downtown." So we've put people in this situation. And for them now to get whacked this way, I understand their frustration.

What we should be doing, I think, is - and it's along the lines that you say - I do think I'd give the people some relief. And the answer is a - to tax the extraordinary profits the oil companies are getting. And they're getting them through nothing they did. They're just the benefits of this. [applause] And then temporarily - temporarily suspend part of the federal gas tax - making up for that deficit by the excess profit tax, but then also get serious about conservation.

But I don't think it's fair to kind of sneak up on people - or not sneak up on them - but whack them all of a sudden. You know, they were encouraged to go live 40 miles away from work for the good of their kids, et cetera. And what's happening - so now I think some relief is legitimate.

MAHER: But that - yeah?

MARTIN: All I'm going to say is, in fairness to the administration, they do have an energy policy. They had a comprehensive energy policy. It just involved - sure, they do - it involves drilling in places that other people don't want them to drill, like the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve, and it involves nuclear power.

McKELLEN: Excuse me—

FRANK: And no conservation whatsoever.

MARTIN: Well, sure, I mean, that's one of the—

FRANK: I mean, Dick Cheney thought that conservation was a sign of moral weakness.

MARTIN: A personal virtue. No, what he said is - what he said is—

FRANK: But really—

MARTIN: [overlapping]—that conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it's—

FRANK: [overlapping] Yeah, but the way he said it meant that he thought it was a moral - for him, "personal virtue" translated into "moral weakness."

MAHER: But they've been protecting the oil companies their whole career. These are two oilmen. Are you kidding?

MARTIN: Well, I know I think it's—

MAHER: [overlapping] And then to turn around - this is what they always do - I've said this before - they look at a mess that they have created, and go, "Somebody ought to do something about that." [laughter] "Somebody." Bush—

MARTIN: [overlapping] It's not just the big three either. I mean, you've got more economies competing for the same commodity. I mean, you've got China on the march. You've got a lot of Asian economies that are growing, and their demand for oil is also increasing. So it's not just that a part of it is the markets. But it's just interesting to me that now they're talking about this - did you hear about this? - the $100 per family tax credit? Did you hear about that?

MAHER: Of course, I did. These—

MARTIN: So I think it's - I mean, it's kind of funny to me that, you know, the president says that we're addicted to foreign oil, but you can make an argument that the Republicans are addicted to tax cuts, because they just passed these energy tax cuts last year.

MAHER: But who was protecting that addiction up until Tuesday?! [laughter]

FRANK: Protecting? No, he wasn't protecting it. He was feeding it. He was enabling it.

MAHER: Feeding it.

FRANK: These - look, we have had a major fight in America for - since Jimmy Carter - over conservation. And, on the whole, the Democrats have been pushing for it - not as coherently as I'd like, but definitely for it - and the Republicans have been against it. And they have treated conservation as some kind of liberal, elitist plot to aggravate people and keep them from having the cars they want, and to make them not enjoy everything they want to enjoy.

MARTIN: Well, modern Republicans. The interesting part about that is that, you know, early 20 th century Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt invented the conservation movement—

FRANK: But - but - a giant - but he is dead. [laughter] [applause]

MARTIN: I know he's dead. I'm caught up. I'm caught up.

FRANK: Republicans - okay - the Republican Party today - and you said it - their view - look, part of the problem is this: these are the people who think the answer to everything is the free market. And the notion that we could ever come together in a united way, pool our resources, pool our energies and try and accomplish something through the public sector, to them, that's a terrible idea. So their view of the energy was the market, the market, the market.

Temporarily, as Bill said, it's kind of bitten them in their rear end, so they're now backing away from it. But not in any substantive way. They're still against an excess-profits tax. They're still not for any kind of serious conservation.

MARTIN: Or really investing in alternate fuels.

McKELLEN: The problem isn't that the petrol gas prices are so high, but gas is running out. That's the news. That's what you have to come - face the fact. So everybody has an individual responsibility to that, including from the president down. I mean, I've just put solar panels on the roof of my house in London . You wouldn't think there's enough sunshine, would you. But there is enough sunshine to provide my house—

MAHER: [overlapping] No, I wouldn't.

McKELLEN: [overlapping]—with electricity. I sell electricity back to the national grid that I get for free from my roof. Now, shouldn't everybody be doing that? [applause]

MAHER: I didn't know they had that available.

McKELLEN: Yes. All - all new houses in the U.K. now are fitted with these - with these tiles which provide them with free electricity now. So why - why isn't the government really persuading us, as individuals, that we can do something? What's wrong with going on your bicycle? I walked along Sunset Boulevard today for lunch, from one hotel to another. There were only two of us walking along the busiest road in L.A. [laughter] And we—

FRANK: [overlapping] And the other one—

McKELLEN: [overlapping]—we walked faster than the cars.

MAHER: Ian. Ian—[laughter]

McKELLEN: [overlapping] And faster than - than the bus. [applause] Faster than the one bus. And do you know what it said on the side? "Dash," it said. This bus was "dashing." It was going slower than any pedestrian could.

FRANK: I hope you—

McKELLEN: You meet people on the streets. Cars are dreadful things. You get inside them and you think that's the world. It is not the world. And you don't own that bit of space you're in. [applause] And people who live in cars go and do dreadful things to other people because they stop seeing them as human being who they might fall in love with, or greet, or shake hands with.

FRANK: That's a part of the U.S. , and it is the case that America grew and moved differently. If you live in a city, that's certainly possible. Again, we did encourage people. We built the highways. The pattern in America was for a lot of people—

MAHER: I know, but get over it.

FRANK: [overlapping]—to go out and live in the suburbs.

MAHER: That was a long time ago.

McKELLEN: That's right.

MAHER: I mean—

FRANK: I understand it was, Bill. But it is still unfair to tell someone living on $50,000, 40 miles or 50 miles away from work, that he or she is going to have to now just swallow that extra price without helping them. It's just a not fair thing to do to people.

McKELLEN: Well, people have got to take a stand. Wasn't it the oil companies, the gas companies, who got rid of the mass transit system in this city?

FRANK: It was, but—

MAHER: Of course it was.

FRANK: But you don't punish—

MAHER: It was "Fat Bastard." [laughter] Yes.

FRANK: But the question is—

McKELLEN: So, no one was fooled.

FRANK: Again, but you don't punish. There are some decent people - well, they were fooled - there were people who - that's why I think simply ignoring the price increase when you have people who are in this difficult situation - they weren't the ones who killed the transit. Now, I do think that there are things we should do to put conservation in now. But right - immediately, to whack people who, in good faith, did what they were told was okay, and to hit them with costs they can't—

McKELLEN: Buy your kid - buy your kid a bike. Don't buy him a car.

FRANK: You've got to go to work, Ian—

McKELLEN: You can go to work on a bike.

FRANK: No.

McKELLEN: Change your job. Go to the job that's closest to you. [applause]

FRANK: Ian, but that's kind of unrealistic. There are plenty of Americans—

MARTIN: [overlapping] No, I mean, especially because a lot of—

McKELLEN: The gas is running out, Barney. There's not going to be any, and I guess you're going to have to do something then.

FRANK: [overlapping] I know. But - but there are a lot of Americans who can't change jobs at will. That's just unrealistic. There are people who are locked into these situations, and I want to try to help them.

MAHER: Yes.

MARTIN: And a lot of the people—

FRANK: [overlapping] But simply telling them, "Buy a bike and get another job," is not appropriate. [applause]

MARTIN: And a lot of the people - a lot of the people who live further out are the people who can't afford to live in center cities. I mean, you know, a lot of the affordable housing is in the suburbs now.

MAHER: Right. And this is why we should have had leadership on this issue, and we never did. [applause]

FRANK: Should have. I agree. We should have had a lot.

MAHER: Yeah.

FRANK: And we should start now.

MAHER: All right. Let me—

FRANK: We should do fuel efficiency. We should do conservation. Of course, we should start doing it. I just don't think you blame the people who were not able to make the difference.

MAHER: Well, let me ask you about another—

McKELLEN: Tell them the truth, and warn them it's not going to go on forever, this—

MAHER: Ah, this is America ! [laughter] That's not going to happen. Let me ask you about this immigration issue. I know this is something that's been preoccupying Congress for the last few months. Suddenly, by the way. You know, nothing really has changed in the world, but suddenly the campaign is coming up; it's a big issue. And I guess the fact that the Spanish people want to - want to sing the National Anthem in their own language now is a giant problem for America . I find that amusing. [laughter]

Why doesn't anybody ever talk about the fact that if they really wanted to stop illegal immigration, all they would ever have to do is start cracking down on the businesses that hire them? [applause]

FRANK: Why do you--?

MAHER: Nobody ever gets on the supply side of this issue.

FRANK: My answer - my answer would be this: why do you ask me questions and assume nobody is talking about what people have been talking about? I mean, the answer to your question is, yeah, we have been talking about it. If you—

MAHER: Immigration?

FRANK: About sanctions on employers, and cracking down. I don't think you read the Congressional Record, and I can understand why.

MAHER: I don't. You're right.

FRANK: But the fact is, we are talking about this a lot, Bill. I mean, this attitude of - I guess, the general - I have to tell you, in general - when the answer is, "Why is nobody as smart as me and not thinking about this or that," the answer is often, "Well, people are, and they are."

MAHER: Okay, but it doesn't seem—

FRANK: We are talking about—

MAHER: [overlapping] But it doesn't seem to make the papers.

FRANK: Well, I'm not the editor. [laughter] The point, though, is this: under - as a matter of fact, 20 years ago, we did pass a law to try to do that. Ironically, many of the conservatives who are now yelling and screaming about illegal immigration, tried to dissuade the immigration authorities and the other law enforcement authorities from enforcing this law. We had some cases of that. It was - it's never been as well enforced as it should be.

Part of the problem is that you don't have a very reliable form of identification. And one of the things we should be doing now is improving, I think, some kind of a central registry of who is here legally. The problem is, you're an employer now, you say - even if you do want to check, and a lot of them don't - you've got the excuse, "Well, how do I know what was a real document and what wasn't a real document." So, yeah, there is a lot of thought going on now on the part of many of us who are saying, "Okay, how do we get a really good system of identification, and then we crack down on people who don't abide by it?"

MARTIN: Besides which, I think, it has to be said, a big reason immigration went on the back burner was September 11 th . I mean, this was one of the priorities of the administration coming in. The only foreign leader he'd met prior to taking office was the president of Mexico . And with September 11 th , it changed the dynamic.

FRANK: The only - the only foreign leader he met in his life was the president of Mexico . [laughter] [applause]

MARTIN: Yeah, well, they were buds. And so, you know, and this has been an irritant between the two countries here all along. And Mexicans have been pushing the U.S. continually to elevate this as a priority issue. And September 11 th changed the dynamic.

MAHER: But the - not to beat this dead horse - but the Republicans, excuse me, they don't want to crack down on business.

MARTIN: No.

MAHER: Business is their base.

FRANK: They're divided. They're divided.

MAHER: Farmers, restaurateurs, construction companies that hire - these are the people who hire illegal aliens, and they don't want their applecart upset.

FRANK: They're divided between dislike of the immigrants and the need for them economically. That's why the Republican Party is, at this point, very badly divided on the issue.

MAHER: And I think what the president wants is some sort of guest-worker program that denies them citizenship. In other words, they want their work out of them, but they want them to be—

FRANK: Well, I agree with that. In fact, if you thought - that is really one of the great oxymorons of all time: a "guest worker." I mean, do you have someone say, "Oh, welcome to my house; would you go clean the bathroom?" [laughter] I mean, the whole concept - the whole concept of a guest worker is a very odd one. [applause]

MARTIN: Well, actually - you know, actually - you know, we had a guest-worker program in this country with people actually, you know, did work for suppressed wages and couldn't enjoy the full benefits of citizenship.

FRANK: [overlapping] It was terrible.

MARTIN: [overlapping] They were called black people. And it really wasn't until the Voting Rights Act, when people actually could—

MAHER: [overlapping] Right.

MARTIN: [overlapping]—you know, participate fully in the life of the country. And it doesn't work. And we look at the example of Europe , where you've got whole populations of people who've been brought to these countries to work, have no path to citizenship. And what do you have? You've got a lot of really angry people.

FRANK: So you have to separate it out. Recognizing that people are here, and we should find a way to make their status legal, while at the same time trying to cut down in the future is different than a guest-worker program. That's allowing people to become citizens and fully participate. The guest-worker program is purely exploitation.

MARTIN: But here's where I would fault the Democrats, though, Bernie, and that is in not really talking honestly about the effect of this population of lower-skilled workers on native-born Americans who are also low-skilled, many of whom are also minorities.

FRANK: [overlapping] Well, again, there's - there's a big debate—

MARTIN: [overlapping] I mean, you've got people who - you know, there's a big debate, and people say that it doesn't really have a net effect on wages. Sure, it doesn't have an effect on yours and my wages. But it does have an effect on people who are often less - less skilled and less educated.

FRANK: [overlapping] Well, in fact there is - two things. Again—

MARTIN: [overlapping] I mean, if you've got—

FRANK: [overlapping] No, I understand that. But I - I would really like to have a chance to discuss what you keep telling me what I'm not discussing. [laughter]

MARTIN: No, I'm - that's him.

FRANK: But that's a comment. Yeah, you, too. Yeah, we are discussing it. There are comments on both sides. Here's my view of this: one, we shouldn't have a guest worker program; two, what you do if you do legalize is you raise the minimum wage. You reverse this union busting. That is - the way to deal with that—[applause]—is to prevent those things where working people in general are held down. And if you accompany that with a set of pro-worker policies, you can offset that effect.

MAHER: What do you think about the fact that CEO compensation has gone from, in 1980, the average CEO made 42 times the average worker; in 2000, they made 531 times the average worker. That does seem like there has been a shift in this country—[laughter]

FRANK: Well, in fairness to the Bush administration, not all of that disparity is because CEO wages have gone up. They've also managed to hold down the wages of the other workers. [laughter] It really is happening at both ends. [applause] And the answer is, it's - it's the answer to this paradox.

And the president feels very sorry for himself because he says the economy is doing so well and he's getting no credit for it. [laughter] And the fact is, the gross domestic product is going up, but inequality in America today is worse than it has been in many, many years. And the problem is that the policy of this administration is to exacerbate it.

And, in fact, here's how bad it is, because it's not just envy when we talk about these wages. There's been some studies - people at Harvard have done them, uncontested - five years ago, the compensation for the top five employees in the 1,500 biggest corporations amounted to five percent of after-tax profits. It's now eleven percent. In other words, we're getting to a point where their compensation is so great that that's one of the reasons people are getting laid off and you don't have money in pension funds. It's not simply a matter of envy. There is a real economic misallocation of resources.

MARTIN: I'm not sure that people care so much about how much these people make. I mean, how much are the first-round draft picks going to make this weekend in the NFL draft. [laughter]

FRANK: I think you're wrong. I think they do.

MARTIN: I mean how much - no, no, no - what I think they care about - and really, we're not disagreeing - is that, you know, why is it that 40 million people don't have health care in this country? You know, why is it, in the course of a year, it could be as many as 60 million people don't have health care in the country. Why is it that the cost of a college education--?

MAHER: [overlapping] And you don't think those two things are connected?

MARTIN: Well, you know, I don't know that I care.

MAHER: You don't think there's a connection? [applause]

MARTIN: You know, I mean, it's—

FRANK: [overlapping] The fact is—

MARTIN: [overlapping] And the other thing is that people are so focused on the CEO's themselves, but what about the boards who make these decisions? You know, why is it that these boards who are supposed to be acting on—

MAHER: The boards are made up of those CEO's.

FRANK: Yeah, that's why.

MAHER: That's why they make those decisions.

MARTIN: Yeah, but a lot of us have stock in companies. We have them through out unions.

MAHER: Right.

MARTIN: We have stock through out mutual funds.

MAHER: Okay.

MARTIN: Why aren't the people who we pay to run these funds being more aggressive—

FRANK: [overlapping] Well, in fact, I have a bill. I filed a bill—

MARTIN: [overlapping]—and doing their part to provide oversight. I mean, that's—

FRANK: [overlapping]—okay, again, I apologize for the fact that we're working on something that we're supposed to be yelled at for not working on. But I did file a bill in the Financial Services Committee to say that all of these compensation figures for the top three officials have to be published, including their retirement, and that the stockholders get to vote on it. If the stockholders of General Electric want to buy Jack Welch's newspapers in his retirement, that's their money; good luck to them. But they ought to know that that's what they're being asked to do. And you're going to see increased pressure not just to make them public, but to let the stockholders vote on them. I agree.

MAHER: Okay.

FRANK: But the problem is, and I'm just saying, they follow the "Lake Wobegon Theory." You know, in Lake Wobegon , "every child is above average." The CEO boards of directors - and you're right - they say, "Well, we want to show what a good company we are; therefore, we want to pay our CEO above the average to show what a good CEO he is." So when everybody tries to get above the average, up goes the average.

MAHER: Okay. I want to show a picture of a friend of this show. Tony Show got a job—[photo of Tony Snow on "Real Time" shown]—there he is on our show. He got a big job this week. He is the new White House Press spokesman. Scott McClellan quit last week, you know. He wanted to spend more time looking sweaty and uncomfortable with his family. [laughter] [applause]

But I've always - I've always liked Tony. He does our show. But he's one of those conservatives who sticks to his story when he's on the panel, but you get a couple of drinks in him after the show, and he's not crazy. [laughter] And to prove it, he is—

FRANK: Why don't you give him a couple drinks before the show? [laughter]

MAHER: Yeah. He has referred to President Bush - this was in the news this week, it was the story - as "impotent," "an embarrassment." He said he had Tourette's Syndrome in the past. [laughter] He was a Fox News commentator, and he made all these comments about President Bush. And apparently, this is what the White House wanted because their credibility is so low now that they need someone who looks like they're at least somewhat hostile to him. Which is why I was also auditioned for this job. [laughter] [applause] And I congratulate Tony. But take a look at my audition. I think I did pretty well also.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

MAHER: Okay, I thank you for your views, professor, and thank you for joining us.

HANSON: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

MAHER: Professor Hanson from the Hoover Institute. [applause] Any of that make your head explode? [he laughs] What?

MARTIN: The GAO says - the General Accounting Office says that eight of 18 provinces are violent and unstable. And if that constitutes success, I'd like to know what failure looks like. [applause]

FRANK: I was struck by - I'm impressed with the professor, but he does seem to have a memory problem, because he was listing all those reasons why we had to go to war, and "weapons of mass destruction" seemed to have slipped his mind. [laughter] [applause] That, and the tie between Osama bin Laden and - and Saddam Hussein. So maybe he's got to go back and check his index. [laughter]

MAHER: Yeah, I think—

McKELLEN: And don't necessarily trust anyone because they're called a professor, you know.

MAHER: Right. [applause]

McKELLEN: I - I happen to be a professor at Oxford University , but that doesn't make my views—

FRANK: We trust you, Ian. We trust you.

McKELLEN: My views - thank you very much, but—

MAHER: You're a professor at Oxford University ?

McKELLEN: Well, I have taught there, and I can call myself a professor for life.

MAHER: Now, is that a real professor—

McKELLEN: Yes.

MAHER: --or are "you're a celebrity, we give you a cap"? [laughter]

McKELLEN: No, no.

MAHER: Because that's what we do in America , you know.

McKELLEN: No, I actually worked for it. But I just don't like the idea that it is human nature to fight each other.

MAHER: Yeah.

McKELLEN: And that war is the natural state that we're all dying to get back to. This is the view of someone who travels in his car on his own too much. [laughter] [applause] It is. If you go into the streets, you are in danger of being hit over the head, but you're more likely to meet someone and smile and shake their hand, and not want to kill them. [laughter]

MAHER: And also, I must say, people who are so sure of themselves. Which brings me to this "Da Vinci Code" movie. Now, I know this is a big blockbuster for you this summer. I'm not going to attack the movie. I just want to ask about the—

FRANK: Who do you play? Which part are you?

McKELLEN: I play Sir Lee Teebing, who is an enthusiast for the theory that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene.

MAHER: Right.

McKELLEN: There. I've said it. Now…[laughter] And you've read it. But apparently someone in the Vatican doesn't approve of that notion being put about and would like to stop us seeing it.

MAHER: [overlapping] No, the Vatican hates this movie and—

FRANK: They're not too crazy about you either when it comes to it. [laughter] Not just the movie.

McKELLEN: Indeed. Oh, that's another matter, yeah. [laughter]

MAHER: And don't you think that's really why the Church is so upset with this movie? Is becase it presents Jesus as a sexual being? That he married and had kids, which I guess makes God a grandfather—[laughter]—which is kind of weird. And that's what they don't like. They don't like Jesus being sexual.

McKELLEN: Why are they getting so upset now? I mean, the book's been out for, what, five years?

MAHER: Yeah, but now it's a movie.

FRANK: The movie. It's a movie.

McKELLEN: What's the difference? [laughter]

MAHER: Well, because—

FRANK: The size of the audience.

MAHER: Yes.

FRANK: There are plenty of people who are less concerned about the people who read books than they are about the people who go to movies. [applause] My own view is, by the way—

MAHER: Yes.

FRANK: [overlapping]—is that they - I mean, people have every right not to like the movie, and if people don't like the movie, they should not see the movie. I mean, what's the big problem?

MAHER: Yeah.

MARTIN: Forty million people bought that book. That's about - well, there's like 60 million Catholics in the country. That's a huge—

FRANK: Yes, but how many read it?

MARTIN: I don't know.

McKELLEN: Everybody read it—

MAHER: Yeah.

McKELLEN: --because it's impossible to put down. And from what I've seen of the movie, the movie is exactly the same way. It's a fantastic thriller.

MAHER: Oh, it is.

McKELLEN: But it is a piece of fiction, folks.

MAHER: Yes.

McKELLEN: It's based on a novel. It's not the real thing. [laughter] And so…[applause]

MARTIN: You know, it seems to me that their interests might be better served by, you know—oh—by saying that. I mean, it just seems to me that if they want people to read the Bible, they should say that. I mean, it seems to me their interests would be better served by using it as a moment to talk about what is in the Bible or talk about the Bible.

FRANK: [overlapping] But there's always—

MAHER: But they don't want that either.

MARTIN: Why not?

FRANK: There's always a practical thing.

MAHER: They don't.

MARTIN: Why not?

FRANK: [overlapping] I do remember - I do remember when I was growing up in New Jersey, the best thing that ever happened to a movie was when Cardinal Spellman attacked "Baby Doll," and everybody wanted to go see "Baby Doll." And, frankly, I went to see "Baby Doll" and - you know, I didn't enjoy it because I'm gay—[laughter]—but everybody else wanted to go - everyone else wanted to go see it and I didn't want to be left out.

MAHER: I don't remember "Baby Doll." Who was in that and what was that about?

MARTIN: I don't either.

FRANK: It was about 50 years—

MAHER: It was a porn movie? [laughter]

FRANK: No, it wasn't - well, porn, by those standards.

MAHER: Right.

FRANK: I don't - all I remember is that Cardinal Spellman attacked it so—

MAHER: Right. So it was good.

FRANK: Yeah, I don't know - that's why I went.

MAHER: And when I say I don't think they want them to read the Bible, I don't think most Catholics know what's in the Bible.

MARTIN: That's my point. If you're upset at people getting false interpretations, then teach them the texts.

MAHER: But a book like this makes people think. This was also the theme of that great "Name of the Rose" movie. Great movie. Anything that makes people think and question is their worst nightmare, that the sheep might wake up one day—[applause]—and realize they're being scammed.

MARTIN: I don't know about that. I don't know about that. I mean, there was an exciting discovery in theological circles recently. I'm sure people talked about this. "The Gospel of Judas" was recently rediscovered after being, you know, in earthenware pots or something like that in the desert for, you know, 40 years or whatever—

MAHER: Right.

MARTIN: --and this has awakened a real sort of discussion about whether our interpretation of Judas is correct. And I think you can't suppress that these days. There is no hidden knowledge you can suppress these days.

MAHER: [overlapping] And it just proves—

MARTIN: [overlapping] You just have to teach people what you think is true—

MAHER: But that Judas thing proves that the Bible is an anthology. There was an editor who—

MARTIN: I'm sorry. The Gospels prove that. There are four Gospels. If there was only one version, there would be one. People know that.

MAHER: People know what?

MARTIN: That there are four different versions of the story. So that's—

McKELLEN: I'm not sure it dawns on people. [laughter]

MAHER: I don't think—[applause]

McKELLEN: An awful lot of people who read the Bible don't understand the concept of metaphor. [laughter] [applause] [cheers]

MAHER: Yes, right.

McKELLEN: Nor that - nor even - and it's surprising, considering who the main character in the New Testament is, do they understand the notion of a parable. But they think it's all fact. Well, it's very alarming.

MARTIN: But the facts differ.

McKELLEN: But I think - I think the Vatican knows that the Bible isn't all fact.

MARTIN: My point is that the facts differ even among the Gospels that are accepted as the Gospels.

MAHER: Yes.

MARTIN: That facts differ. And people need to grapple with that.

MAHER: I don't think people realize that.

FRANK: Could I just note that, as a tribute to my deep belief in the separation of church and state, I am staying out of this discussion. [laughter] [applause]

MAHER: Okay. And I have to conclude our proceedings. You have to get a plane, I know, to be back in Washington .

MARTIN: Thank you.

MAHER: Thank you for joining us.

MARTIN: Thank you.

MAHER: Thanks, panel. And now it is time for New Rules, everybody! [applause]

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

http://www.safesearching.com/billmaher/transcripts/

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