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HBO Real Time with Bill Maher - Transcript

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HBO Real Time with Bill Maher - Transcript


MAHER: And this man over here with the fine head of hair, he is the second-term U.S. Representative from California's 49th District, Congressman Darrell Issa. Congressman, how are you doing? [applause]

REP. DARRELL ISSA: Very well. Thanks for having me back.

MAHER: Thank you for coming back. And this is, in a way, a reunion show for us, because a week - a year ago, we had the Katrina storm. We had Harry on, because he lives there. We had you on.

BERRY: Absolutely.

MAHER: And we wanted to have you on again because, basically, we wanted to re-examine what we were looking at a year ago. And a year ago, people were saying, Katrina is going to open the country's eyes to poverty.

BERRY: Ohhh.

MAHER: And here it is, Labor Day, where we should be honoring the worker. And the statistics came out this week about laborers and people who work for a living, and they're not doing too well. There has been this Bush boom. But apparently, it hasn't helped the working man. And I know Republicans in Congress like to always say, "Class warfare," you know, like that's out of bounds. You can't say "class warfare." Why can't you say it? Isn't it going on?

BERRY: And it didn't hurt - didn't help the working women either. You said "working men." The women, too.

MAHER: Well, I—[applause]

BERRY: But, in any case, the - the only people—[she laughs]

MAHER: Come on. There are so many bigger issues. Don't hang me on that one.

BERRY: The only people - the only people it did help, those at the top.

MAHER: Yeah.

BERRY: People from investments, and so on. Those are the people who got help. That's what - you know, tax cuts helped them. Everything helps the people who are at the top. But benefits, wages are stagnating, and people are in bad shape.

MAHER: Yeah, the guy from Goldman Sachs, which is not exactly the representative of the little man—[laughter]—listen to this clod. On Labor Day, he said, "The most important contributor to higher profit margins has been a decline in labor's share of national income." In other words, they took the money from the working stiffs and it wound up in the pockets of the rich, fat cats. And, you know, I saw in the paper the other day that—

ISSA: You want me to jump in and say, "No, that's not quite correct"? I think that's my job here.

MAHER: Your job - your job is your job.

ISSA: [overlapping] Bill, that's—[laughter] We have three problems related there, and they're all critical that we address. One is - look, it's a good thing to have less labor in a product. [laughter as Jillette uses his thumb and fingers to start counting Issa's points] That makes - that makes a product more affordable. One of the problems is - yes, labor, American labor, is not growing as fast - [referring to Jillette's thumb-forefinger gesture] I know it's not loaded.

MAHER: Wait, he's making fun of your thumb.

PENN JILLETTE: I'm not making fun of his thumb. I'm waiting for two and three. I just want to keep track of ‘em.

MAHER: No, but—

ISSA: There you go. Hold me to it. Hold me to it. Hold me to it.

MAHER: Politicians do like to do that.

JILLETTE: It's sometimes not to number them in advance, so if you make another one up while you're going, you can add—[laughter]

ISSA: One, American wages are not rising as fast. Two—[applause] [laughter] Thank you, thank. Two, we are depending more and more on foreign wages, which are dramatically lower. [laughter at Jillette] And then, three, the only good item - three—

JILLETTE: Oh, you changed.

ISSA: [overlapping]—is, we are automating. So, out of the three problems or the three causes, one is good: automating; two are really bad. Americans aren't making more and we're exporting more jobs. That is an inherent problem in our economy. [scattered applause]

MAHER: But isn't it also that a lot of the policy—

ISSA: My family is here. You heard them. [laughter]

MAHER: That a lot of the policies of this government have been to shovel a lot of money to people who don't need money. I was reading in the paper this week - anyone from the East Coast, from New York - Stuyvesant Town? [applause] You know what Stuyvesant Town is? It's where I was conceived.

BERRY: Oh, you were?

MAHER: That's why it has special - my parents lived there.

ISSA: Not many people from there.

MAHER: It was built for middle-class, low-income people—


MAHER: [overlapping]—after World War II, in New York City. And it's being sold off, basically. And it's basically going to go to Donald Trump or somebody else, who is going to turn it into luxury apartments for people. And who's going to be able to afford - what middle-class people are going to be able to afford to live in New York City? And it just seems to me a microcosm of where this country is going. [applause]

JILLETTE: But is it - is it the government's job to decide where the wealth goes? I mean—


JILLETTE: [overlapping]—are we supposed to redistribute it?

MAHER: No, but it's the—

BERRY: But the government does, because—

JILLETTE: Exactly.

BERRY: [overlapping]—when you give a tax cut to people who are wealthy; when you make decisions about not taxing capital gains; when you make decisions about what you subsidize, in terms of what developers can build; when you make decisions about who can write off what, the government is making those decisions about where people can live and what they can. [applause]

JILLETTE: So you'd - you'd be for totally, completely flat tax or a sales tax or something like that?

BERRY: I'd be for no tax.

JILLETTE: I would be for no tax, too. We agree completely.

BERRY: I'm only kidding. [she laughs]

MAHER: Yeah.

ISSA: Just get me 217 more votes. You've got it. [laughter]


JILLETTE: No tax is a good idea. I would put that at, like, four. [counting on fingers] [laughter]

MAHER: But also—

JILLETTE: One, two, three, no tax. That's where I would go. I might even put that at "one."

ISSA: But if you're going to have taxes, we have tax policy problems in this country. One of them is that if you import a product, it doesn't contribute to Social Security. It doesn't contribute to the social welfare safety net in any way, shape or form. And, by the way, we then buy it. It comes in, import free.

You send one of our products, in which we pay income tax, Social Security and everything, on the production - you send it to Europe, they add 17% Value Added Tax. You send it to Canada. Our tax policy is actually inferior to our trading partners right now, and it - and we are way behind in figuring out how to deal with that. [applause]

MAHER: If - if I agree that that is a problem, will you agree that it's not really the biggest problem?

ISSA: Yes.

MAHER: Thank you. [applause] Let me ask another question about—

JILLETTE: Well, that was kind of nice, wasn't it?

BERRY: Yeah, that was very nice.

JILLETTE: Let's agree with him on something. [voices overlap]

MAHER: Let me ask you—

JILLETTE: Let's agree with him on something.

ISSA: He got his one.

JILLETTE: Next thing you say, I'm agreeing with it.

MAHER: Let me ask you another question about poverty, because - now I'm not a great scholar of the Bible, but I do seem to understand—[Jillette raises his hand] You are?

JILLETTE: I've got you covered. [laughter]

ISSA: Wait a second, wait a second. We agree with him twice now. [he laughs]

MAHER: Now, that there - in the Bible, it says that - you know, the Christians, Jesus, it was all about helping the poor. But it doesn't seem like the people who are in government, who claim to be so Christian, do a lot for the poor. [applause] [cheers] And I bring this up because Katherine - Katherine Harris was in the news—

BERRY: Boo. [scattered audience boos]

MAHER: [overlapping]—whoa, whoa, easy, easy. [laughter] I'm not going to dwell on it because I know you serve with Katherine Harris—

ISSA: I do.

MAHER: [overlapping]—and you probably have to talk to her on Monday. [laughter]

ISSA: Tuesday.

MAHER: But she did say some amazing things this week about the separation of church and state, which she apparently does not believe in. And I think this is pretty amazing. And I think that people in this country are getting the idea now that "Christian" is becoming a dirty word for the right the same way that "liberal" became for the left. I mean—

JILLETTE: Wouldn't that be nice? [laughter] Isn't that a good thing? I mean, isn't - I mean, there have been plenty of atheist wack-jobs. I've been holding down the "atheist wack-job" position for a long time; "Christian wack jobs" is really good. [laughter] Let them have crazy people speaking for them. I'm all for it.

ISSA: But that's - but that's the reason there is separation of church and state, is so that Katherine Harris and her particular religious views have very little effect on government other than her one vote, if she chooses to use Christianity as her decision process.

MAHER: But - but she said separation of church and state is a lie that we've been told.

ISSA: Maybe it is to her; it's not to me.

BERRY: But it's not true - but it's not true—[applause]

MAHER: But she's a - but she's actually working for a government.

BERRY: But it's not true.

JILLETTE: [overlapping] But it is a lie. We have - we have politicians that say - that talk about religion all the time. If she's talking about what it really is, people have brought religion more into politics than it's ever been. That wasn't the original idea. So if she's talking about it being a lie, I agree with her 100%. There should be complete and utter separation of church and state. [applause]

MAHER: She said if you're not electing—

BERRY: Christians.

MAHER: She said if you're not electing Christians, you're legislating sin. [audience reacts] That's pretty arrogant to think that Christians have a monopoly on knowing what sin is. [laughter]

BERRY: But - but it's also true—

JILLETTE: [overlapping] But if you're using the word, "sin" and not "morality," they kind of do.

BERRY: But it's also true that government policy right now, a lot of it - in what we talk about government policy and politics - is based on Christianity, a supposed - what people think - "pseudo-Christianity," I call it. People talk about they're against homosexuals or against same-sex marriage because of their religion.

JILLETTE: But that's real Christianity. That's in the Bible.

BERRY: They talk about - which part?


BERRY: They talk about—

JILLETTE: [overlapping] What? Anti-homosexual isn't in the Bible?

BERRY: No, no, it's not.

JILLETTE: That's laid out there straight.

BERRY: The word's not even in there. [voices overlap]

JILLETTE: [overlapping] Not the word there, but "lying with another man" which is a good description of it.

BERRY: [overlapping] But in any case, the word - the word is not even in there.

JILLETTE: No, not the word, but the idea.

BERRY: How about women?

JILLETTE: How about women? They're - do you think they're treated well in the Bible?

BERRY: No, no, homosexuality, I'm talking about.

ISSA: [overlapping]—Christian husband she worked for, she'll be happy?

MAHER: What's this?

BERRY: But the point—

ISSA: Do you think she'll be happy if I at least give credit for the Christian president that brought her to government?

MAHER: Jimmy Carter?

ISSA: Jimmy Carter.

BERRY: Jimmy Carter? Yes, a good Christian. [applause]

MAHER: Well, you know—

ISSA: There was a good Christian man who came to government—

MAHER: Yeah, he was a good Christian man—

ISSA: [overlapping]—not to - he did not - he did not want to enforce Christianity, but he brought his values with him. Nothing wrong with that.

MAHER: Yeah, you know what? He brought all this crap into government is what he did, Jimmy Carter. [laughter] He's the one who started all this stuff.

BERRY: And it's been extended.

MAHER: Yeah.

JILLETTE: I could have sworn the Bible said that being a homo was a bad thing. [laughter]

MAHER: It does. It absolutely does.

BERRY: [overlapping] What page is it on? What page is it on?

JILLETTE: I could have sworn it was.

MAHER: What page? It's in Leviticus.

JILLETTE: It's Leviticus!

MAHER: It's in lots of—

JILLETTE: Leviticus is—

MAHER: Absolutely.

JILLETTE: Get us Leviticus. Could we have Leviticus? [laughter]

MAHER: Why are you—

BERRY: And that you should cut off your hand - the hand of anyone who steals, too. So should we do that?

JILLETTE: Yeah, exactly! It's in the Bible!

BERRY: Let's do that.

MAHER: Well, that's—


MAHER: But this—

ISSA: [overlapping] Now it's your agenda.

MAHER: But this - but if I may, this brings up my next point—

JILLETTE: And stoning people who are adulterers.

BERRY: Absolutely.

MAHER: [overlapping]—I wanted to bring up, which is that I think that the rise—

JILLETTE: It's his show. Shut up. [laughter] Mostly telling myself. Mostly telling myself. It doesn't say "Real Time with Penn Jillette," shut the fuck up! [laughter] [applause] [cheers] If it said, "Bullshit," I could say all I wanted. But it doesn't.

ISSA: We could rotate seats.

JILLETTE: It says "Bill Maher."

MAHER: It's nice - it's nice when a guest really gets it. [laughter]

JILLETTE: It's cool now.

MAHER: Anyway, but I saw this in the New York Times two weeks ago, and I must say I found it very depressing, which is an article entitled, "Did Humans Evolve? Not Us, Say Americans." Thirty-two European countries and the United States were asked the question, "Human beings as we know them developed from earlier species of animals?" Among those countries, only Turkey - only Turkey has more people who don't believe in evolution than the United States. Among the countries that beat us: Poland. [laughter] Slovenia, which has been a country since about Thursday. [laughter] Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria. That hurt, Bulgaria. [laughter]

ISSA: Is this - is this "country envy"?

MAHER: This is. I'm embarrassed by this country. I really am. Are you ever embarrassed by America? [applause]


MAHER: Well, maybe you should be. Maybe things in Congress would change—

ISSA: Bill, the - the real thinking people on this earth don't know which to believe and they think about both, and they lean toward one or the other, whether it's—[audience reacts negatively]

JILLETTE: Crazy motherfucker!

ISSA: No, no, look—

MAHER: Please, let the man—

ISSA: Look, look—[laughter]—if you believe that a divine creator created us, okay? [laughter] But if you think - wait a second - but if you think that that eliminates all thought of what about evolution and what about these monkeys that look similar and this and that, that's going to happen.

BERRY: What a world.

ISSA: And if you believe in evolution and you still go to church then, you know, you're probably hedging your bets. [laughter] I think most Americans have two feet, and one is in each of those camps, to a certain extent. Except for Penn.

BERRY: Absolutely.

MAHER: Penn?

JILLETTE: Well, first of all, the theory of evolution and natural selection is not based on us looking a little bit like monkeys. It's a deeper and more important theory than that. And second of all, maybe Turkey has—[counting on fingers] [laughter]—second of all, maybe Turkey has worse pollsters than we do. [laughter] You know, maybe they're the only one.

And three, everybody who needs to believe in evolution, does. Every American scientist, every Nobel Prize winner. The people that need to believe in evolution - does. There is no major biologist, there is no major physicist, there is no major person in geology who is following the Young Earth or following their faith. All the real scientists in America who are doing fine, the finest scientists in the world, they all believe in evolution.

BERRY: But if—

ISSA: God bless them. [applause]


JILLETTE: But people who have it as a hobby, the people who have it as a hobby—

BERRY: [overlapping]—no, then - then—

JILLETTE: [overlapping]—may not believe in it. Who cares? It's not their job.

BERRY: I care.

JILLETTE: Everyone that needs to believe in it, does, because it's the truth.

BERRY: [overlapping] I care.

MAHER: Mary Berry—

BERRY: I care because if you don't teach children in the schools evolution, there won't be any scientists.

JILLETTE: That's not true! That's not true. [applause]

BERRY: If you don't teach - if you don't teach science—

MAHER: Wait a second.

BERRY: If you don't teach science—

JILLETTE: There are scientists who were taught Christianity all the way through.

BERRY: [overlapping] If you don't teach science, if you don't teach science in the schools - Americans are - what these polls show is ignorance about science, rejection of science, not understanding. Then there are all these political debates that get all tied up with people's religion. And if you don't teach children science and you don't have respect for science, then you will not have a basis for having further scientific inquiry. [applause] [cheers]

JILLETTE: Richard Dawkins - Richard Dawkins, the Darwin Chair at Oxford, had a Christian education. You don't have to push evolution because it's the truth.

MAHER: Do you believe in—

JILLETTE: [overlapping] If it's a lie, you have to push it. If it's the truth—

MAHER: Do you believe in Noah's Ark? Because 60% of Americans believe that Noah's Ark actually happened. [laughter] Something that I knew didn't happen when I was five. [laughter] Because I had a little Noah's Ark game and I could only fit six animals on it. [laughter] [applause] Okay—

ISSA: This was before "In Search for Noah's Ark" came out.

MAHER: But let me - let me bring something else to your attention. The GAO, which is the Government Accounting Office, I believe, they spent $1.4 billion of our tax money recently, on an ad campaign since 1998, to convince children not to do drugs. And they got the results back—[laughter]—and it has not reduced drug use. And, in fact, they think it made a lot of kids think that drug use was normal. Because their posters and their ads didn't do the job. What they should have done is turn to someone who knows about drugs. [laughter]


MAHER: These are some posters that we've created that will make kids not do drugs. [he holds up posters] "Crystal Meth: Five Minutes of Nirvana, a Lifetime of Pureed Vegetables." [laughter] [holds up poster with photo of Angelina Jolie] "Jugs, Not Drugs." [laughter] [applause] You see, this is my ad campaign.

"You Think Mel Gibson is Anti-Semitic When He's Drunk, You Should See Him on Crack!" [laughter] [applause] [cheers]

ISSA: I'd do a funding for that one.

MAHER: You would? I can count on your vote? [laughter]

Okay. "If You Hadn't Taken Ecstasy, You'd Know This House Music Really Sucks!" [laughter] [applause]

"Tune In, Turn On, Wind Up in Bed with Andy Dick." [laughter] [applause]

"If You O.D. in High School, You'll Never Get Any Better Looking Than Your Yearbook Picture." [poster has yearbook photo of Maher] [laughter] [applause]

Thank you. And finally…[holds up poster with photos of Whitney Houston and Courtney Love with caption: "Any Questions?"] [laughter] [applause]

All right, let's go to our satellite. He is the director of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His latest book is The Foreigner's Gift, Professor Fouad Ajami. Professor. [applause]


ISSA: Sheikh Nasrallah—

MAHER: Sheikh Nasrallah, he said this week that if he had known the consequences of capturing those Israeli prisoners—


MAHER: [overlapping]—soldiers, and making them prisoners, he never would have done it.


MAHER: So that tells you that the Israeli shock-and-awe kind of was more effective than people let on, was it not?

AJAMI: Well, Nasrallah's statement is remarkable, because that passes for responsibility in the Arab world. Because, given the fact that no ruler, no leader in the Arab world ever owns up to any responsibility, there were many - many people who looked at what Nasrallah said - at least this man could actually own up to the mistake that he made. It was a debacle for Nasrallah and a debacle for the Lebanese people who paid for Nasrallah's terrible miscalculation. There is no doubt about it.

MAHER: Okay, Professor, we ran out of time.

AJAMI: Thank you.

MAHER: I tell you, I could do two hours with you anytime you want to. I'm right here.

AJAMI: Thank you. Thank you. [applause]

MAHER: Professor Ajami. Please give a hand to Professor Ajami, and let's now get the reaction of our panel.

BERRY: I can't believe that Professor Ajami was serious. I was listening. I was waiting for the joke. [laughter] Because—

MAHER: About what?

BERRY: And then you said that he advised the administration, when you introduced him.

MAHER: Well, he's a serious man, come on.

BERRY: Because he's a very serious man, and a lot of it didn't make any sense. [laughter] [applause] We attack Iraq because they're available. We showed them. And we've now shown them. And the Taliban, we already know that they're resurgent in Afghanistan.

MAHER: But the problem is, we didn't show them.

BERRY: And we're not doing anything. We didn't show them—

MAHER: [overlapping] If we'd really—

BERRY: [overlapping]—or, in Afghanistan, we haven't done the job. So that I don't understand how he can think that this is a gift that we have somehow given. And these people are getting killed everyday, not only Americans, but Iraqis, by, you know, the thousands. And we have civil war there. And we're not - you know, we're not winning. I don't understand why this is a gift to the people.

MAHER: What is your - because I know this is an issue, the Iraq war, that people say is tough for the Democrats. I think it's tougher for the Republicans.

ISSA: His - his advice - his advice was given to Congress, along with Ahmed Chalabi and others, beforehand. The only people that bought it were the so-called term "neo-con," but basically, hawks in the administration who wanted an excuse. The fact is, what Israel did in this last war, and what we did wrong in Iraq are the same thing. When you're going after a specific entity - Saddam or Hezbollah - the important thing is to make sure that everybody understands that you're only going after Saddam or you're only going after Hezbollah.

In Lebanon, where Israel got into bombing all kinds of targets, saying, well, the Hezbollah might use it to bring in reinforcements - and they destroyed Christian neighborhoods - Israel had a problem.

In Iraq, where we went in and said, "Well, yeah, we're going to get rid of Saddam, but we're going to put in a democracy; we're going to change the whole way it works; we're going to have this big election," we went a bridge too far. [applause] He never got that.

Now, you know, I was one of the people that voted—

MAHER: You're getting applause from my crowd. That's pretty good. [laughter]

ISSA: Yeah, but, no. But I'm one of the people who voted to authorize the president's diplomacy to include the tool of the U.S. military. And I'll never regret—

MAHER: I'm so glad you said that. Because so many times Republicans say, "Democrats voted to go to war."

ISSA: No, we all voted that.

MAHER: And it wasn't to go to war. It was, as you said, to give the sheriff the gun to threaten the bad guy. Not to go in firing and things blazing! [applause]

ISSA: On the eve - on the eve of war, I took a group of congressmen - all of us had served in the military - and we went around and we met with Arab leaders - all the way around, Bahrain; we met with the Turks; we met with - in Qatar and so on, and in Kuwait. And I'll tell you, they were all telling us then, "Hey, guys, if you're going to go in, make sure you get rid of Saddam quickly, and make sure you leave everything standing so that the Iraqi government doesn't crumble and turn into chaos." [audience reacts]

Now, that was the - no, that was the word that we brought back and wrote up in a CODEL report. That was the word that everybody of any common sense understood, which is, look, don't go in there and figure you're going to throw an egg on the ground and then you're going to get a beautiful omelet. Bottom line is, if you're going after Saddam…

MAHER: So you're saying they screwed it up.

ISSA: We screwed it up. [applause]

MAHER: You're saying what - what Iraq was, was the most delicate heart operation that could be performed, so we needed the most skilled surgeon. And we sent in Dr. George Bush. [laughter] [applause]

BERRY: And now we're stuck. And now we're stuck.

ISSA: And there is—

BERRY: It's like being stuck—

MAHER: "Let me scrub up." [laughter] [applause]

BERRY: And now - and now we're stuck. We're stuck like being stuck on flypaper. We're there.

MAHER: So - so what do we do now? How do we make this war work for us?


BERRY: We don't. [laughter]

MAHER: Because I think - I think we can. Because it's basically a civil war now. Look, we went in there - we re-tribalized this country.

BERRY: Which side are we on? The question is which side are we on?

MAHER: We're on our side.

BERRY: The civil war, which side of the civil war are we on?

MAHER: [overlapping] We're in the middle of a "hate sandwich." And we're on our side. And, you know what? Let - these people, the Shiites and the Sunnis, they want to have it out. Come on. They do. We need to get out of the middle, between them, and let them do their thing to each other. [applause]

ISSA: In 1983 - in 1983, under President Reagan, we got in the middle of a civil war in Lebanon. And what happened was, we picked the side of the president in a country where you had a president of one religion; you had a prime minister or another; you had a Shia head of the Parliament, and so on. And what did we end up doing? We got blown up. We got blown up—

MAHER: And we cut and ran.

ISSA: And then we left. The important thing is that we need to have a policy that says we're going to pick sides. And the word "cut and run" is a terrible word. But, you know what? If we find ourselves in the middle of a civil war and our people start being blown up in the middle of a civil war and we leave, that's what the world will think we did. So we'd better plan right now to put the Iraqis in charge much quicker, get ourselves out and let the Iraqis find a stability on their own. And that is not about - that's not about—

BERRY: [overlapping] Those are - those are nice words, Congressman, but that doesn't work. When you say, "Find a stability on their own," "when our people get…" Our people are already getting blown up. I get letters from amputees who have lost their limbs—[applause]—all the time. Our people are getting killed. Iraqis are getting killed. They're already getting blown up. We're the—

ISSA: [overlapping] Iraqis - Iraqis are going to continue to die in large numbers—

BERRY: [overlapping] We're in the middle of the sandwich.

ISSA: [overlapping]—in what is a battle for who's going to run their country. The one thing that is failing in Iraq is the real democracy that this administration - an administration of my party - said that they were going to make happen. At some point, you start saying, it's not about democracy as we define it; it's stability as the world defines it. And if we start working towards stability in Iraq, a stable government—

BERRY: Working towards stability. We've been doing that how long? What do we do to work towards - there's a civil war.

ISSA: Well, look—

MAHER: They're - right—

BERRY: [overlapping] The people are fighting each other.

ISSA: Look, Egypt has a perfectly good model of "it ain't a very good democracy, but it tends to be stable and it tends to stop…"

MAHER: Well, because it's run by a dictator, who I notice lately we're not so big about saying we want democracy in Egypt. Because we saw what happened when we got democracy in Iraq. The Palestinians, Lebanon. Democracy doesn't work so good.

ISSA: We have - we have one democracy in the Arab world. It is Lebanon. It is a democracy. We didn't do squat. Eighteen months ago when the Syrians pulled out—

MAHER: [overlapping] It's a - it's a democracy that got taken over by a terrorist group. Everybody is on Israel's back because they were too - they bombed too much. But, you know what? What if a terrorist group took over the country on our northern border? What if Hezbollah took over Canada? George Bush would nuke them before breakfast. [laughter] [applause]

ISSA: We - we reacted appropriately when we went after Al Qaeda after 9/11. Now, what we did was we rightfully went after Al Qaeda and the Taliban that were supporting them. But we didn't spend our life beating up on all the infrastructure - whatever there was; there wasn't much - in Afghanistan. The bottom line is, out of 128 members of Parliament in Lebanon, in a free and fair election, internationally monitored, only 14 were Hezbollah. We won - the West—

MAHER: It doesn't matter. They control the facts on the ground. It doesn't matter about Parliament. Parliament can't stand up to that army.

ISSA: They control the facts on the ground, a small part.

MAHER: And that army is backed by Iran, who now we are apparently going after. I hear the rhetoric about Iran now and it's the same thing that I heard three or four years ago about Iraq. [applause] "They have a nuclear weapon; we can't allow them to have a nuclear weapon." How come we can allow Pakistan, a Muslim country full of people who want to kill us—

BERRY: [overlapping] Or North Korea.

MAHER: [overlapping]—how come it's perfectly okay for them to have a nuclear weapon, but not Iran? Could we at least have a debate about whether the best thing to do with Iran is to let them have a nuclear weapon before we blow them up?

ISSA: So you're in favor of that debate with President Bush?

MAHER: Absolutely. Although I think he would lose. [laughter] [applause] Because, honestly, let me ask you this question - a little off the topic - but President Bush says he read 60 books. We did a little math here. Sixty books in eight months. That is a lot of reading. That's a lot of "free time reading." [laughter] [applause] In which, if you're an average reader, which I will generously give President Bush - an average reader - it would take you at least two-and-a-half hours a day. Now, there are jobs in the world, and then there are big jobs. [laughter] When you have a big job, you don't have time to read for two-and-a-half hours a day. I don't have time. I've got to be—

BERRY: And he goes to bed at nine o'clock. [laughter] He does. [applause] [cheers]

MAHER: I agree.

JILLETTE: The Stranger is very short. The Stranger is very short.

MAHER: Yes, but someone—

JILLETTE: Some of the other books are really long.

ISSA: Reader's Digest condensed versions. [laughter] [applause] Cliff Notes, Cliff Notes—

MAHER: But I'm trying to make a serious point. When you have a serious, big job like this—

BERRY: And he exercises two hours a day.

MAHER: You can't exercise two hours a day and read two-and-a-half hours—

BERRY: Go to bed at nine o'clock. [laughter] [applause]

MAHER: I think there's a direct connection between that and why Iraq is so messed up; why we couldn't get people into the Katrina situation.

JILLETTE: But, Bill, could he have won on this? If he had announced that he read one very short book in the year, wouldn't you be doing the same kind of stuff about, "We need a president that reads more than one book a year"? Not that I don't agree with you. I'm just saying, what's the winning move for him on this - on the books thing?


BERRY: How many books? [laughter] [applause]

JILLETTE: If you're president of the United States, and you know Bill Maher is going to do a show, and he's going to mention how many books you read, what's the magic number, Bill? [laughter] What's that number, and what's the list? [applause] What are the list of the books so that he - so that Bill Maher goes, "You know, I was going to - I was going to fuck with him on the number of books, but…17, that's the number!" [laughter] [applause]

MAHER: You kind of got me there. But - but 60 is a lot.


MAHER: All I'm saying is here is what I have in common with President Bush. For my job, when this show is in production—

JILLETTE: Nine o'clock bedtime. [laughter]

MAHER: [overlapping]—I have to really—

ISSA: You don't get up until nine o'clock.

MAHER: You're right. [laughter] That's true.

ISSA: Which is in 15 minutes.

MAHER: But I don't have time to read books, because I have to read newpapers, Time magazine—

BERRY: He doesn't read newspapers.

MAHER: Exactly. [laughter] No, I'm saying - and I make fun of the media a lot. But, you know what? Newspapers and magazines, they do have, like, good op-ed writers who give you ideas. Like the professor we just had there. And I can't afford the time to read a nice book. I can't read Hotel by Arthur Hailey—[laughter]—because I've got be up on - because I'm going to talk to you, and you're in Congress. I've got to be—

JILLETTE: So that's the point!

MAHER: I've got to know my shit! [laughter] Where this guy doesn't.

BERRY: Well, the president doesn't have to know his shit. [laughter] [applause] [cheers]

MAHER: All right. I will - I will not allow that sort of language on my show. [laughter] You clean up your mouth, you…[laughter]

JILLETTE: Bill, if he'd only said - if he'd only said Hotel.

MAHER: [overlapping] None of that - none of that potty-breath over here, professor. [laughter]

ISSA: On an alternate note.



ISSA: This president - this president is - and I know I'm waiting for the response - but this president is no idiot. [laughter] He might meet - he might meet - he might reach the wrong conclusions. [laughter] He might be given the wrong facts. What I think we - we demean - look, the real debate with President Bush is, is he listening to the right people; is he reaching the right conclusions? And I happen to believe very strongly that if, in fact, more of us were effectively getting a message to him in different ways; if we could expand who he listens to, or maybe the books he reads, we could do better.

MAHER: But - but I'm saying is, if he would do the reading himself, he wouldn't just rely on people he's listening to. I could never read a newspaper. [applause] I could come in here and do my job by having my producers tell me, read the papers, read the stuff, and tell me what's going on, and the show really wouldn't be the same show. And I'm saying the same thing about him. Yes, he said that before: "I don't need to read the newspapers; I've got advisors." But—

BERRY: When the president listens to who he wants to listen to, they pick - presidents can listen to anybody they want to—

ISSA: [overlapping] All presidents do.

BERRY: [overlapping]—they can have the whole world open to them.

MAHER: But if once in a while he would read Thomas Friedman or Professor Ajami - well, not him. [laughter] But somebody else, he might be able to say to his advisors, "Oh, but you know what, I read today…in my own Pentagon report—[laughter]—that the situation seems unsalvageable. Anyway—

ISSA: On that note, Bill, when you - when you were saying that - Lebanon, Lebanon - do you know what we're doing in Lebanon right now? We're listening to the Israelis who said to the world, "We want the Lebanese armed forces to be augmented by foreign forces that are willing to shoot, and we want the Lebanese armed forces built up and trained so they, in fact, can defend their borders."

So the strange thing that I keep always asking people is, why didn't we do that 18 months ago when we, the world, kicked Syria out, and we had 18 golden months in which we could have been doing that? You know what we did for 18 months? The United States, we gave $30 million, mostly to universities. We didn't invest in a democracy that had voted 90% of their politicians not to be Hezbollah, and all of their major leaders to be pro-western. That was our mistake. And we can't - we have to look at opportunities. And, look, I happen to be of ancestry of Lebanese—


ISSA: [overlapping]—but the bottom line is, as I look at Lebanon, it is the only - the only democracy in the Middle East that has a chance, with support, to actually be secular, to not be about - about being a danger to anybody else in the world. Unfortunately, it's five million people. We've got a lot more to do. But the Egyptian model is the best model we can hope for in Iraq today. The Lebanese model is the model we'd like to get to. But right now, we're not even investing in the Lebanese model being successful.

MAHER: All right, I have a date with a model after the show, so I'm going to have to—[laughter]—cut off this discussion. You were a great panel. [applause] But it is now time for New Rules, everybody! [applause] [cheers]

Okay, New Rule: If the evil president of Iran wants to meet Bush one-on-one so badly, Bush should agree. But the Bush team should arrange to have the meeting in a clam bar in Little Italy. [laughter] Have Clemenza tape a gun behind the toilet…[laughter] Order the cannoli, then go to the men's room, get the revolver - oh, wait, who am I kidding? This numb-nuts will just screw it up. Send Cheney. [laughter] [applause]

New Rule: This is going to sound harsh, but it has to be said. Don't let your dog drive. [laughter] This week, a woman in Mongolia crashed her car while trying to teach her dog to drive. [laughter] And the worst part wasn't the accident. It was when the cops came and the dog blamed it on the Jews. [laughter] [applause]

New Rule: And I never thought I'd be saying this to an accused child-molester: [photo shown of John Mark Karr] [laughter]
"Pull down your pants!" [laughter] [applause] At least a little. You know, below the nipples. [laughter] If you don't want people to think you're a delusional retard, don't dress like this guy. [photo of Martin Short as Ed Grimley shown] [laughter] [applause]

And while we're on the subject, New Rule: Don't say, "Her and I were engaged in a romantic and very sexual interaction." It's "she and I." [laughter] "Her" is an object; "she" is a subject. Keep making mistakes like that, Mr. Karr, and you'll never get another teaching job. [laughter] [applause]

And finally, New Rule: If converting to Islam is all it takes to get the terrorists off our backs, then all I have to say is: [does screaming ululation] [laughter] [applause] Now, this week, when two Fox News journalists were released by their Hamas kidnappers, I was shocked: Fox News has journalists?! [laughter] [applause] [cheers]

No, the shocking part of it was that all these westerners had to do to get the blade literally off their neck was say they were Muslims. Just recite a two-line pledge, just say the words, "There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is his messenger," and - oh, whoops. [laughter] There, I did it. I'm now Bill Al-Sheikh-Yer-Booty. [laughter] Welcome to Saudi America. [laughter]

Now I know what you're thinking: Bill, if we convert to Islam, doesn't that mean the terrorists have won? Well, sort of, but it's a win-win. Because they get to declare victory, and we get to take hair gel on the plane! [laughter] [applause] Plus, we're not really converting to Islam. We're just telling our enemies what they want to hear, and trying to convince them we're something we're really not. Or as Hillary Clinton calls it: campaigning. [laughter mixed with equivocation from audience] Oh, you just can't take it the other way, you little…[laughter]

And it's so simple to convert this way. You know, if you want to convert to Judaism, it's a huge hassle. You've got to find a rabbi, study the Torah, get circumcised, go to dental school. [laughter] But Muhammad made joining his team easy: two-line pledge, you're in. Which would you go for? The two-line pledge or lopping off the business end of your meat thermometer? [laughter]

And the best part is that nothing that really matters to you will be different. It's not like we're asking you to change your email address. [laughter] We'd be Muslims in name only, instead of what Americans are now: Christians in name only. [laughter] [applause] [cheers]

I mean, look around. We don't care for the poor or defer to the meek, or avoid judging people. It's not like we're that committed to Christianity. [laughter] In fact, the other day, I heard a nun say, "Sure, I love Jesus, but I'm not married to him." [laughter]

Now, I -[laughter]—

ISSA: Not one of my nuns.

MAHER: I know my plan will meet some resistance. But it shouldn't come from the right, because converting to Islam will just give conservative Christians more of everything they love. Pray five times a day? Where do I sign up? [laughter] You mean we can stone homosexuals instead of just bitching about them on talk radio? [laughter] Thank you, Jesus! [laughter] I mean, Allah. [laughter]

We're a nation in thrall to religious fanatics anyway. Does it really matter which fanatics we're in thrall to? They're both full of moral pieties and codes of conduct nobody follows anyway. So let's pick the one that lets us take HAIR GEL ON THE PLANE! [laughter] [applause] [cheers]

Because, no matter what happens, we'll always be Americans. Nothing can ever change that. Because even if women here had to start wearing burkhas, believe me, they would find a way to write the word "Juicy" on their ass. [laughter] [applause] [cheers]

All right, that's our show. I want to thank my terrific panel: Penn Jillette, Mary Frances Berry and Congressman Darrell Issa. Also Professor Ajami and Harry Anderson. Thank you, folks. [applause] [cheers]

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