Q&A with Bill Maher

In this 2007 interview, the savagely funny satirist talks global warming, religion, Hillary and more

April 13, 2011 9:00 AM ET
Q&A with Bill Maher
Jeff Vespa/WireImage

Starting with the immediate future, who will the presidential nominees be in 2008?
It'll be Hillary and Rudy.

Really? Rudy?
Well, yeah, I don't see anyone knocking him off. Who do the Republicans have? Fred Thompson? That's the great sexy hope — the guy who played Uncle Joe on Petticoat Junction? That's hysterical. As much as they have misgivings about Giuliani, he does appeal to their base. You don't have to think too much with Rudy: "I'm going to kill the people who scare you." That's why he didn't like Ron Paul in the Republican debates, because Ron Paul makes you think. Thinking is bad. When Ron Paul essentially said, "Maybe we should just find out why these people hate us," Rudy had a fit. He basically said, "Take it back, you bad man! We should not have to think about why they hate us. Remember, we're pure good, they're pure evil. What's to think?"

This article appeared in the November 15, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

Who wins, if it comes down to Rudy and Hillary?
It really depends, in a strange way, upon Bill Clinton. I mean, he fooled around when he was president. What's he been doing now that he has time on his hands? [Laughs] Not that there's anything wrong with fooling around. Who cares? But if there's any sort of scandal, that's all the media will talk about, 24/7. The only way the Democrats can lose is if you give people a reason to go, "Fuck them and their Clinton baggage. We lived through it once, and it reminds me that my marriage isn't good."

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So Hillary gives the Republicans ammunition.
Exactly. I'm not supporting any one candidate, but in this year, when the Democrats want a sure winner, John Edwards looks like it. First of all, the electorate has demonstrated their predilection for voting for Southern Democrats for president. You have to be a guy who pronounces all four e's in the word "shit" to get elected. He also appeals to the left-wing base, but he doesn't come across as what Middle America hates the most about Democrats: the dreaded elitist.

Longer-term, is the country shifting left or right?
Neither. I've seen that prediction so many times, where one party is down and people say, "They're dead." They said it about the Republicans after Watergate — then we had one term of Jimmy Carter [laughs]. That yin and yang is built into the system.

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In general, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
I've always been fairly optimistic, but not lately. You know, one man's pessimist is another man's realist. People say to me, "Why are you so cynical?" And I say, "I wouldn't be so cynical if you weren't so fucking stupid." I'm pessimistic because I see multiple looming icebergs that we're sailing right toward, and Captain George Bush is the guy in the crow's nest of the Titanic. He doesn't see the iceberg. Or he sees it and he thinks it's Jesus or some shit. There are environmental, religious and financial disasters looming. What if they all go down at the same time? It's not like we're getting our shit together on any of this stuff.

How about the environment? Will increased consciousness about global warming and other threats lead to changes for the better?
There is more consciousness now, but there doesn't seem to be much movement toward political action. When Congress debates what to do, they're always throwing out numbers that are years away: "We'll reduce carbon emissions by twenty-five percent by 2018." That's not going to get it done. And don't forget, most Republican congressmen are still global warming deniers. I don't understand what any person doesn't get about "You're going to die too!" I mean, do they have their own air? I could understand that, because they're selfish pricks by nature: "I've got my own air. What do I give a shit?" But there's a cloud of coal slag over China that's so large it affects the weather. How good can business be to justify that?

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People seem to think we can save ourselves by switching to more energy-efficient light bulbs.
Light bulbs and stuff like that are good, but it's a drop in the bucket. After a while you have a nice bucket, but we need so much more. Nothing is going to change as long as the world's worst polluter, the United States, doesn't take a leadership role. Bush said it years ago: "Why should the United States take the lead on this?" Gee, I don't know. For our survival?

Some issues are so enormous, only the government can get it done. To say that we can win this on an individual voluntary basis would be like saying we could've won World War II by boycotting sauerbraten. It took the government to really mobilize an entire country — and they did! In a matter of months, Detroit stopped making cars and made only tanks and planes. There's nothing like that going on now. This is a president who asks no sacrifice from the people, even for his War on Terror. It's an attitude of "civilization is at stake, but keep shopping."

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