Video: Bill Maher on politics

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updated 2/24/2004 2:46:41 PM ET 2004-02-24T19:46:41

HBO host of “Real Time with Bill Maher’ joined Hardball with Chris Matthews, for some political commentary on Ralph Nader, John Kerry, John Edwards, gay marriage, and of course, President Bush. Below is an excerpt of his appearance on the show:

On Ralph Nader

Bill Maher: You know, my mother called today.  She was fretting about Nader getting in.  And I said, “Ma, don‘t worry about it.  I don‘t think it‘s going to have any effect.”  And I really don‘t.  I think the people who vote for Nader this time are not the ones who would in any way vote for the Democrat.  I think it‘s just a bunch of crackpots who are going to vote for him because we all feel differently this time. 

George Bush threw a good scare into the Democrats.  I remember in 2000, I was a Nader voter.  And I was saying, hey, Bore and Gush, they are the same.  Well, George Bush got in the White House and said, “Look, I am going to show you people what a real Republican looks like, not like that wuss, my dad, a real Republican.”  And we all got scared.  And I just don‘t think Nader is going to have any effect on this election. 

Michael Moore and I, for example, two people who voted for him last time. This time, you know, I have to say, I feel like a spoiled brat with that vote last time.  It just showed me, people do not have the indulgence in most places in the world to vote for the lesser of two evils. 

They see evil, they got to get rid of it.  Not that George Bush is evil incarnate, but he does have to be gotten rid of. 

On John Kerry as a personality

Maher: A personality?   All of the Kerry-love is really Bush-hate.  Let's be honest.  I mean, John Kerry is a noble guy, great service to the country.  He's got gravitas.  But he does have the charisma of the Moviefone man. 

I don‘t just see anybody loving John Kerry, but it is a tribute to how much half this country really doesn‘t like George Bush, that they want a guy who is electable.  It‘s all about electable this year. 

And that‘s why I think John Edwards is not someone you should count out yet.  I think John Edwards could come on strong.   First of all, America has ADD. Look how fast we got rid of Howard Dean.  Howard Dean a month ago was going to be the nominee. 

Can he change his mind about President Bush?

Maher: I would doubt it.  He could stop destroying the ecosystem of planet Earth.  That would be a start.  But, you know, I don‘t think he‘s going to change his stripes at this point, nor do I think he wants to.  His strategy is to appeal to his base. 

George Sr., the old man grew up in Connecticut.  You know, that was really the old kind of Bush family.  George Bush, the president that we have now, grew up in Texas.  And everything about him to me is infused by that. 

You know, if he had just been honest about the Iraq war and said, you know what?  It‘s a Texas thing. 

That‘s really the reason, “They tried to kill my daddy. “ It‘s a Texas thing. 

But, you know, I personally don‘t think people from Texas should be able to run for the presidency.  I think they are crazy. 

Southerners are one thing.  They are fine.  But Texans, they had it right years ago.  They should have stayed their own country, because they are nuts. 

Is gay marriage going to be the weapon against the Dems?

Maher: That‘s one reason why I think Edwards has a shot, because if we were really serious, as we say we are, post-9/11, if 9/11 really had affected us as much as we say it should, then we would want a wartime president, as President Bush calls himself.  And that‘s Kerry‘s strong suit.  He would be a wartime president, someone who has been to war. 

But, obviously, if gay marriage is the issue that it is now, if we have the time to care so much about things like gay marriage and Janet Jackson, I don‘t think we want a wartime president.  I think we want another Bill Clinton.  That‘s why I think Edwards is a strong contender, because I think we want another smooth guy who is easy to look at for four years and who is going to bring the jobs back. 

So, yes, when you see those wedge issues taking hold, you know the country is not serious. 

John Edwards

Maher: That's the thing about John Edwards.  He has that Clinton lip-biting, the “I feel your pain, I care.”  His new slogan is, “John Edwards, he‘ll spoon with you."

I think he is sincere. And I think when somebody, as he says over and over again, had a father who worked in the mill and so forth, he does feel the pain of the common man more. 

When he first was out there and nobody had voted before Iowa, he was polling down with Kucinich and Sharpton.  And then, when people started to vote, ah, then you find out what product does the consumer want.  When he was on the shelf and they could buy it, they bought it.  He will be president.  I don‘t know about the time, but he will be. 

On Gay marriage

Maher: You know that, up until this year, we never even considered putting the word 'wedding' in the Constitution.  I don‘t think wedding should be in the Constitution, Chris.  And if we have weddings in there, I think we also should have birthdays.  We need an amendment about birthdays. 

On Vietnam as an issue

Maher: Clinton beat Dole.  He beat Bush‘s father.  They were both warriors.  You see Wesley Clark didn‘t make it.  People care about “What are you going to do for me now and what are you going to do in the future?”  They threw Winston Churchill out of office less than a year after he was the greatest man in the history.

I think it‘s good that [Vietnam] it‘s finally been out on the table.  And what I brought up with Congressman Wilson a couple of weeks ago was the fact that I found it very disingenuous when George Bush said to Tim Russert, “If my Guard unit had been called up, I would have gone.”

Do you know how many Guard people went to Vietnam in that era?  .03 percent; 2.5 million men and women went to Vietnam between ‘63 and ‘74, 8,700 from the National Guard. 

And for this president to try to morph the kind of Guard service he was in with the kind of Guard service that goes on today, when you really do go to a war, that is disingenuous, and that‘s the kind of thing that makes people not like that man. 

Hardball with Chriws Matthews airs weeknights, 7 p.m. ET

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