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Real Time with Bill Maher: Cloned cows, Biblical cliff notes and golf bonding

By M&C Smallscreen Jan 20, 2008, 8:12 GMT

Real Time with Bill Maher: Cloned cows,  Biblical cliff  notes and golf bonding

04/20/2007 - Bill Maher - Bill Maher Performs at the Hard Rock Hotel - April 20, 2007 - Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Las Vegas, NV, USA © Erik Kabik / PR Photos

This week, Bill Maher's show hosted comedian D.L. Hughley, author John Fund, singer Trace Adkins, and columnist Dan Savage. Via satellite, journalist Fareed Zakaria.

Zakaria had just returned from Pakistan, and shared that the businessmen he encountered were optimistic that an American presidential candidate could have the name "Hussein", Barack Obama's middle name:

ZAKARIA: Well, Bill, you’re absolutely right about the stuff you’ve been saying. I mean, there’s sort of kind of mad fear-mongering, you know, this kind of weird chest-thumping as a form of foreign policy. But, if you go one step beyond that, what you notice is, that’s all they talk about. That is the sum total of our discussion about foreign policy. You know, so nobody is talking about the rise of China, probably the most important thing happening in our lives; the rise of India, what’s going on in Brazil, what’s happening with Russia, with Putin. It’s as if none of this is happening.

The only discussion we’re having is, “We’re going to make these Al Qaeda guys meet their virgins.”

MAHER: Right.

ZAKARIA: “We’re going to have – you know, one way…” I mean, this is it?


ZAKARIA: This is the conversation about foreign policy?

MAHER: Hey, you wanted to live in this country. I had to. [laughter] No, I’m kidding. But, what do you think about the theory some people have put forth that if we somehow did elect Barack Obama president, it would change everything because the world would see the United States led by a brown person, and that that alone would change the entire tenor of the debate and the view of America around the world. Do you think that’s true?

ZAKARIA: I think you can exaggerate it. But, look, I do think symbols matter, and I think he has this very powerful thing going for him, which is, he clearly is a different generation. He comes from this mixed cultural background. He seems to get the rest of the world in a very intuitive way. And, you know, is it everything? No. You – obviously, you need to be smart; you need to be sophisticated; you need to have good advisors. You need to be able to know how to do stuff. But, you know, there is – I think somebody wrote, “Imagine this Pakistani jihadi, you know, sitting there looking up at Barack Hussein Obama. It’s very tough to say to yourself, you know, I’ve got – I’ve got to wage a jihad to bring down this guy.”

MAHER: Right. He’d probably see “Hussein,” and go, “Hey…” [laughter] All right, so—

ZAKARIA: Do you know what? Actually, a couple of people in Pakistan actually did tell me – and these were not militants, these were Pakistani businessmen – but they said, “You know what? I love the fact that somebody with the middle name, ‘Hussein,’ can run for president in America.” I said – I said to them, “That’s because nobody in America knows his middle name is Hussein.” [laughter] [applause] Wait – wait until the Republicans bring that up in the – in the general election.

MAHER: Right, well, wait until the Republican slime machine gets hold of that middle name. [laughter] Trust me, it won’t be quite as cute. So, last week, there was a big incident in the Strait of Hormuz, between the Iranians and our boats. And we heard two completely different tales of what happened. The Iranians said that they were just doing what they normally do, patrolling their waters. We said they almost attacked us. It’s disappointing to me as, I think, a loyal American who loves my country, that I can’t really believe my own government, that I don’t know who to believe. Who do you believe?

ZAKARIA: I – I basically believe our version of it. But, I would say there’s a context here that you’ve got to keep in mind. You know, imagine you’re in – in Iran. Imagine you’re an Iranian. You have – you know, you’re surrounded by these hostile powers: Israel with nuclear weapons, Pakistan, India, China, Russia, all with nuclear weapons. Then you have the United States with 150,000 troops in Iraq, 50,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan. The United States has flooded the Persian Gulf with – with naval vessels. And you have a president of the United States who says, “My aim in life is to depose this regime in Iran.” You’d be a little nervous, right? And I think that in that context, it’s quite possible that the Iranians – oh, I don’t know – overreact, are nervy or jumpy. I don’t think we have completely thought about what it would be like to be a country like that where the most powerful country in the history of the world has all these military assets surrounding you and saying, “We want to kill you guys.”

Later in the show, Maher's exclamation that "at least half of the [Ten] Commandments are stupid!" is sure to incite ire in the religious community.  Maher had noted how contradictory and violent the Bible was, "If I had a child, the last book I would ever give to teach morality would be the Bible, especially the Old Testament."

DAN SAVAGE, COLUMNIST: People only pretend to read the Bible. Their eyes glaze over, and they remember a couple of passages that they ignore when they feel like ignoring, like "Turn the other cheek." And, then they, when they don't like somebody, they go flipping through this massive book, full of ancient desert prejudices, looking for something to justify it. Just like they justified slavery using the Bible, because there are passages in the Bible that justify slavery, including passages that justify selling your daughters into sex slavery. Right there, that's Biblical, those are Biblical family values. And so, we have this selective sort of reading problem with the Bible. If we're going to enforce it all, stone the gay people, but, you know, stoning the adulterers first starting with Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani, and John the time it's my turn, they'll be out of rocks.

FUND: "Of course there's a lot of stuff in the Bible that's contradictory. But who's going to argue that the Ten Commandments are a pretty good way to lead your life, and that if more people did do that, it would be a better place?"

MAHER: least half of the Commandments are stupid...If you were going to make a list of like the ten things you absolutely can't do, wouldn't you put on there rape, incest, bestiality, slavery? But, instead, they have things like "Don't swear," you know, "Don't build statues to other Gods," obviously the ideas of primitive man living in primitive times, and this is what you look up to.

TRACE ADKINS:  There's two reasons why I go with the God thing, because, number one...

MAHER: (Laughing, grabs Adkins' arm).

ADKINS: (To Maher) Shut up!

MAHER: You go with the God thing?

FUND: Listen to him.

MAHER: I know, I always listen to him.

ADKINS: Number one, just in case!

MAHER: (Laughing) Now that's honest, right.

ADKINS: And number two, my momma may be watching. Just as D.L. [Hughley, other panelist] was saying, too, because his momma's watching. (To Maher) Is your momma watching?

MAHER: She passed away.

ADKINS: See, she's watching, you better shut up!



Further Reading on M&C

Bill Maher Biography - - Bill Maher Movies -


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Real Time with Bill Maher

In 2003, Maher became the host of "Real Time with Bill Maher" on the HBO cable television network, a debate show somewhat similar to "Politically Incorrect," but with a narrower ...more

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