Video: Bill Maher in-house
updated 8/26/2005 2:50:24 PM ET 2005-08-26T18:50:24

Funny man Bill Maher gets serious on Scarborough Country.  The HBO host gives a new twist to topics like Bush, Pat Robertson, Saddam Hussein and the war on Terror.  His opinions might surprise you.

SCARBOROUGH: The new season of HBO's “Real Time With Bill Maher” started last week. And during his time off, Bill published a new book, New Rules: Polite Musings From a Timid Observer.  Yes, real timid.  With me now to join some of those timid observations, we have got Bill Maher.  Hey, Bill.  Welcome back to Scarborough Country.  I know you are comfortable in Scarborough Country.  Thanks for being here. 

MAHER: I love Scarborough Country.  I am going to move there when I retire, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH: Of course. 

MAHER: And thank you for understanding the irony...


MAHER: Thank you for understanding the irony in the subtitle of my book.  Not everyone did.

Oh, my God.  Well, I won‘t bring up any other cable news channels.  Let me start with the news of the day.  I would think that this may be enough, what happened today may be enough to drive you to religion, because you got to admit, you have been provided what my grandmother used to call gracious plenty.  Pat Robertson says that we need to assassinate the president of Venezuela.  I mean, it doesn't get any better than that for you, does it? 

MAHER: Yes.  I mean, where is the outrage on the right about this, huh?  I have asked this

question about Pat Robertson before, because this is hardly the first crazy thing he has said. 
If this guy was not wearing a nice suit and didn't have a television show, he would be a urine-soaked barker on a street corner, the kind of guy who has a megaphone and is just yelling at people on the street. 

I don't understand why he is taken as seriously as he is.  Also, you know, if I said something like that, maybe you could argue about it, because, as you point out, I'm not religious.  But he's a Christian.  It seems very unChristian-like to be suggesting assassinating people.  I don't know as much about Jesus as you do, Joe, but it seems like his image was a peaceful man. 

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, nothing in the New Testament, from what I have read, since I started going to Bible study at 4-years-old, about assassinating leaders that you don't agree with. 
What is your take, as a hard-nosed — what would you call yourself — not atheist, agnostic, possibly, on the issue of assassination of foreign leaders? 

MAHER: Deist. 

SCARBOROUGH: A deist.  What is your take on assassinating foreign leaders as a policy of the United States?  Support it or oppose it? 

MAHER: I think it's a case-by-case basis.  I am certainly not always against it.  I think there are times when assassinating a foreign leader is a darn good idea.

But, you know, Joe, I am pro-death.  I was pointing that out this week to Phyllis Schlafly on our show, that I am consistent about death, unlike some people.  I am pro-death penalty.  I am pro-choice.  I am pro-assisted suicide, pro-regular suicide.  I am for death down the line. 
And sometimes, yes, an assassination is just what the doctor ordered. 

SCARBOROUGH: Well, I will tell you what.  If you do retire in Scarborough Country, that's a heck of a campaign platform to run for Congress on.  I am for death down the line, baby.  Vote for Bill. 

MAHER: I'm a one-issue candidate, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH: What about Saddam Hussein?  If you had a shot at him in early March 2003, would you have taken him out to save Americans from this war? 

MAHER: Absolutely.  Of course, the way we did it was, you know, we blew up the whole country along with him.  And who is left standing?  Him.  And who looks now better than ever?  Saddam Hussein.  Because, apparently, what he was telling us all along, which is that you need an iron fist to hold this country together, turned out to be a little more true than we wanted to believe. 

I am not saying that it was a good thing that he was there.  He was obviously a horrible, horrible person, and we are all glad he is gone.  But he did kind of have a point.

I think, on our part, rather the part of the Bush administration, to run into that country willy-nilly, thinking that just because we were bringing freedom and spreading our freedom dust and waving the American flag, that we were somehow going to be able to keep this country together and put something better in its place.  It just doesn't look that way.  It doesn‘t look like we are spreading democracy, Joe.  It looks like we are spreading theocracy.

You know, Bill...

MAHER: That wasn‘t the plan, was it?

SCARBOROUGH: You know, Bill, I respect you for a couple of reasons.  One of the reasons is because, when I have been on your show before, and I was pounced upon by a pack of wild dogs, you always save me.  You are always very fair. 

The other reason I respect you is, I have been following you throughout the Iraq war, since we invaded in March of 2003.  And like most Americans, your view on this war has gone back and forth.  You actually haven‘t been ideological about it.  You haven't chosen sides. 
When the elections went well, you were like, you know what?  This may not be a bad idea. 
Where are you now, in this new season? 

MAHER: Well...

SCARBOROUGH: Are you having serious second thoughts?  Do you think it's time to bring the troops home? 

MAHER: I think it is.  You know, there's a certain point where, in every young man's life, you have to say to yourself, you know what?  I am never going to play Major League Baseball.  And I think there‘s a certain point in every president‘s life when you say, my plan to transform the Middle East, it's just not going to happen.  Maybe it will happen some other time.  Sometimes, things take more than one try. 

I had to quit smoking about eight times before it worked.  I think maybe someday, we will be able to bring democracy to the Middle East, but not on this try.  It just doesn‘t—when you read the stories in the newspaper on like page 10, you know, the ones that are kind of buried, the ones from reporters who are in a certain city, like Basra or Mosul, and they talk about what‘s going on, you see that it‘s all tribal factions and it‘s all about corruption.  It‘s all about people taking over on the local level who we didn‘t intend to take over. 

It just doesn‘t seem like, at this point, because we did it so badly — maybe if we had done everything right, and we certainly didn't do anything right —it could have worked.  But the way it is now, I just don't think on this try it's going to work.  I know leaving is going to create a horrible situation, but that is what you bought when you bought George Bush.  The best thing I could say about him is that I do admire the intent to solve this problem of Muslim extremism with a long-range approach.  That's usually what politicians don't do. 

They take the short-range approach. George Bush said, no, let's do this long-range, as well.  I don‘t think he did the short-range very well at all.  But he said, let's take a long-range approach to solving this problem.  I admire that.  It just was done so badly and without thinking enough about it. 

'Scarborough Country' airs weeknights at 10 p.m. ET

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