Patrick Zarrelli: Hi Bill, my name’s Patrick Zarrelli. I’m a blogger down here in South Florida. They call me Kid Chronic on the web, and here at the South Florida Chronicle we have a little interview called 20 questions, and so, if you don’t mind, we’d like to get right to it with… 20 Questions With Bill Maher!
Bill Maher: OK, I bet we get through them all.
Patrick Zarrelli: All right? So here we go, question number one…
Patrick Zarrelli: Do you think this is the most important election of our time, or does it just feel that way? Because we are right smack dab in the middle of it?
Bill Maher: Yes every president that everybody that ever running for president always says its the most important election in our time but im guessing the one that Washington won that our country started was more important, i’m guessing the one Lincoln won was pretty important, FDN in 1932. Uh look, i have no illusions that Mitt Romney wouldn’t be a worse president than Obama and i think Obama’s second-term call me a cockeyed optimist will be a lot more inspiring than the first but the nation has seen more worse days than this and bigger crisis.
Patrick Zarrelli: Okay, Bill, what do you think about the attack ads we’re seeing this election cycle? Is this the Democrats stooping down to the Republicans level, or is this a savvy move by the White House in the Barack Obama campaign?
Bill Maher: First of all it’s mostly the super PACs who are doing it, not he himself, so that’s an important distinction to make. The really nasty ones are not coming from him. Look the Republicans are the ones who changed the rules. They said that any amount of corporate money was allowed and that you could have these shadow groups to make these ads so its just desserts and its far as getting down in the mud its about time the Democrats did that you know but i heard Liz Chenny say the other day “Americans are tired of gutter politics. Liz Chenny whos father is Dick Chenny really fired a gutter politics and reminds me of that ad on tv for with the kids doing drugs and he says to his Father “I learned it from you Dad!”. Gutter Politics? Yeah we are joining you in the gutter Liz.
Patrick Zarrelli: All right.
Bill Maher: Its about time, its about time the democrats brought a gun to the gunfight instead of the usual night.
Patrick Zarrelli: Even with the attack ads bill, do you think Obama has the money to beat Romney and Ryan in 2012?
Bill Maher: Well, that that’s a problem. I mean I was in the paper today that he’s again falling further and further behind and I certainly have done my part.
Patrick Zarrelli: I know I wanted to ask you about that bill. You famously donated a million dollars to Morocco, Obama’s campaign. In your mind, what would be the best way for that money to be spent?
Bill Maher: Well I dont know exactly how its spent but you kno what? I got a really good feeling about it because the whole reason I did it in february which people said was very early was because I knew you had to define Mitt Romney early and that’s exactly what they did and thats exactly where they spent the money was in the swing states in March, April, May, June. This is when people were first starting to pay attention and find out who Mitt Romney is. This is how Clinton won. This is a very important way to win the election, and also I did it so that it would hopefully give time for other people to be inspired to do the same and thats happened to. Chelsea Handler was on our show Friday night and she said she did it because I did it to. Morgan Freeman did it, Mel Hiefitz in Philadelphia did it. More and more are getting the message that were in a different playing field now at the million-dollar level now and that the rich people have to (static).
Patrick Zarrelli: Bill, do you think there’s a reason why Mitt Romney won’t produce his tax returns? Do you think he’s hiding something?
Bill Maher: Why would he not released it?
Patrick Zarrelli: Well, sure, if you’ve got nothing to hide, why not release the tax returns? It’s what every president’s done in the past.
Bill Maher: (laughs) Its hysterical the way he says like “well I checked. No we don’t have to look any further. I, myself looked”
Patrick Zarrelli: Bill. What about Mit Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate? Do you think that makes him an easier or harder opponent for Obama Biden in 2012?
Bill Maher: Well, Ryan is good on his stuff you have to admit. I mean he is already, or maybe he already was the flip flopper that Mid Romney was. That Romney is, and so it’s very hard in a campaign where people don’t pay attention to details but just vote on their guts to pin this guy down. You know if the Democrats were smart they will do is point out the people that he is far from a deficit hawk. I mean that’s his big selling point right, that he’s going to solve the deficit. But he doesn’t solve the deficit because there’s nothing brave about his plan. It just keeps giving money to rich people. The same old idea that somehow if we keep cutting taxes it creates more tax revenue. I mean this would be stupid if you just heard it for the first time time but we also tried this. This is stricken down economics.
Patrick Zarrelli: From Reaganomics, do you think bill that? In some ways it Romney and his cronies look at America and its decline is the ultimate corporation for them to profit off its downsizing.
Bill Maher: Absolutely and this idea that they’re always presenting that America should be run like a like a corporation, America’s we run like no government is there specifically to do the things that corporations cannot do. Is that what we want for America? To be just like a corporation? By the way most corporations fail within four years. Is that what we want? America to be a strip mall that no one ever goes to anymore. Under God with a karate studio and a Korean nail salon.
Patrick Zarrelli: Bill, I wanted to ask you about the Northwest anti-tax pledge, that seems to be the new calling card for the Republican Party, do you think it’s wise for anyone in Congress to take a pledge not to raise taxes for an entire lifetime?
Bill Maher: Completely ridiculous. I mean whats ridiculous to me is that the republicans feel that the problem with our economy is not income inequality or banks that are too big to fail or corporations that literally write the laws. The problem is poor people hoarding money in Union and according to Grover Norquist the answer is a sacred pledge that we will never raise taxes on anyone from the humblest billionaire to the greatest trillionaire and you hear Mitt Romney say things like “Rich people pay more taxes”. Well yeah and fat people break more chairs.
Patrick Zarrelli: Bill, aside from the Grove Norquist anti-tax pledge, a lot of Americans are saying that Congress is broken. Is Congress truly broken in this country or are we just dealing with the backlash of our first black American President?
Bill Maher: I think there’s a lot to that. I mean, you know, of course the Republicans always bridle when you races and it just do with it and yet somehow everything they say about him is just something I can’t imagine them really saying about a white president who did the same things. He’s a socialist, socialist hes not even a liberal, you know when they say he’s the most radical president we’ve ever had really?
Patrick Zarrelli: No, he’s a moderate.
Bill Maher: Even more than Washington who led a revolution, more radical than Lincoln? Who freed the slaves? More radical than FDR who gave us Social Security, a risky scheme to replace starving with not starving. No I think when they say he’s the most radical President, what they really mean is he’s black.
Patrick Zarrelli: He’s the most radically elected president.
Bill Maher: He’s the most radical looking
Patrick Zarrelli: Yes, most radical looking president. Speaking of Congress, Bill, what keeps you from running? In your home state of California? The state is notoriously liberal and you would probably roll right into Capital Hill.
Bill Maher: (laughs) First of all I could never be elected anywhere. All they would ever have to do is show any type of any show i’ve ever done and there’d be 10 things the majority of the American republic would never stand still for me in office. I’m an atheist pot smoker. I think drugs are good and religion is bad try to campaign with that nor would I ever want to. God I couldn’t stand the pay cut or the crimping of my lifestyle.
Patrick Zarrelli: Well, Bill, you know another candidate that’s running along those political lines is Roseanne Barr for the Green Party. Do you think she’s a good choice for them for the presidential election, or does she kind of cheapen their brand because she doesn’t have much political experience?
Bill Maher: Look, I certainly believe in Green but I certainly didn’t know they had a brand. As opposed to who? Look, I learned my lesson in 2000 and voting for Ralph Nader. I love Ralph Nader. I think he’s the most serious guy out there. I think his ideas are right, but it did, and the election to Bush.
Patrick Zarrelli: That’s right, it’s my other question bill. Do you think the Green Party is always doomed to be a backseat driver in this country? Do they ever really have a chance of winning election, or are we always going to be a two-party nation?
Bill Maher: I mean I don’t think they will get elected in the foreseeable future I mean for better or worse, America, where there always screaming about how we love our liberty and we have the most freedom, somehow when it comes to electoral politics it has less freedom than all the other modern countries. Certainly less than any parliamentary democracy. For better or worse in this country you got two choices. You got Coke and Pepsi.
Patrick Zarrelli: Bill, I want to take a little break from politics for a second for my last three questions and ask you a little bit about religion. Doesn’t it feel like religion is making a comeback in this country?
Bill Maher: Comeback? I don’t think it ever went away but yes if your saying religion is more prevalent than ever in ( shuts off)
Patrick Zarrelli: Specifically, I mean Bill, scientific ideas like evolution, things that were already widely accepted by the mainstream that we seem to be re debating again in 2012.
Bill Maher: Absoultely! Look at this moron Atkins this guy who believes that women have some magical vaginal secretion that kills babies in your womb if you get raped. I mean this is what I mean when I say religion is a mental illness it completely corrodes your ability to think where did he get this from? You know this is the same stuff as when the bible thumpers say “you know science, and what they mean is that Jesus wrote a dinosaur. It’s not science, it’s something they made up and want to believe it, and that’s the difference between reality and religion. Religion is what you want to believe. Reality is what is.
Patrick Zarrelli: That brings me into my next question, Bill, and I wonder if you’ve ever thought about this with the death of your good friend Christopher Hitchens and the prior death of George Carlin, does that leave you as the last great anti-religious warrior?
Bill Maher: You can take that mantle I think I certainly have got to bona fides I mean I’ve been talking about it on TV since the nineties before Christopher Hitchens was even an atheist. The writing about God and Theism, George Carmen was my hero on that subject. He is the one who first did this and first brought that to the public floor. I cant remember anyone in my lifetime..
Patrick Zarrelli: You guys are the big three for me.
Bill Maher: Well good, and you know, the world is a little lonelier place on this front without those two giants.
Patrick Zarrelli: Last question on religion Bill, I want to ask you what religion you were raised as a kid and at what point you realized they were selling you something other than eternal salvation.
Bill Maher: Well I was raised Catholic which is a joy let me tell you and we stopped going to church when I was a teenage so I certainly got rid of any belief I had in the christian myth then, but it was many years after that before I became a full-on atheist, i was just one of those people who didn’t really give the spirituality much of a thought except when I was in trouble, and you know I would suddenly remember that maybe I should thank God for forgiveness for whatever shit I did to help me get out of my mess you know I eventually got over that too.
Patrick Zarrelli: Oh ok one more thing before we let you go, we wanted to ask you if you had any advice for us liberals down here in Florida on how to survive the upcoming Republican Convention.
Bill Maher: Well there’s going to be a hurricane so uh you know I would say stay indoors and by the way Pat Robertson should get wind of that the hurricane only hits gays and lesbians and the fornicators who are ruining America. He certainly had to pay attention when a hurricane hits the town where the Republicans are meeting. But I also read in the New York Times that the strip clubs in Tampa are much busier where the Republicans are in town than the Democrats are so get some of that on your flip phone
Patrick Zarrelli: Well, thanks for the interview. We really appreciate it. Man, for all of the listeners out there and all of our readers and everybody out there in chronic nation, get out and see Bill Mar September second at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The show starts at seven pm, but the door is open at six. Ticket prices are only $49 so get out there and see yourselves a liberal hero, folks!