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by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.  [December 13, 2002]




* Bush says bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are working together -- but it's bullshit.

* They hate us because we don't even know why they hate us.

* Al Gore is a pussy.

* And the Hollywood Investigator asks "a good question"!

Those were some of the remarks by TV talk show pundit Bill Maher at the Santa Monica, California, Barnes & Noble Bookstore on December 5, 2002, in a promotional signing for his splashy new coffee table book, When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden.

Maher's book depicts suggested posters for the War on Terror, along with commentary. The inspiration, Maher explained to B&N's capacity crowd, "was the lack of inspiration from our government. This book [shows] the propaganda posters the government should be putting out, as they did in any other war. To tell citizens what we could do to help. All our President told us to do about this war was to keep shopping.

"Of course, now that I have a product in the store it's not bad advice, to keep shopping once in a while. [But] there's a lot more people could be doing than to keep shopping."

Apart from Bush's advice to fight terrorism with a credit card, Maher also criticized the war on drugs. "The one propaganda campaign the government has is a huge lie: the drugs front. 'If you want to help with the terrorism war, stop doing drugs,' which is a huge lie the lazy media doesn't point out.  The only drug that ever funded terrorism was heroin. But the people who sold heroin in Afghanistan were not the Taliban, our enemies. They were puritans. They outlawed the heroin trade. It was the Northern Alliance, our allies. They were the heroin dealers.

"So if you really want to help the war on terrorism, start a heroin habit. Of course, [either way], heroin addicts always listen to public service announcements. Take the spike right out their arm."

Maher regards a commission to investigate 9/11 as pointless. "The Kennedy assassination was a mystery. It is still a mystery. 9/11 is not a mystery to me. Terrorists hate us. They're from the Middle East. We know who they are. We know what our problem was. We didn't pay attention. We didn't care. We were attacked many times before 9/11 by terrorists. We kept getting this snooze alarm, we kept hitting it."


* A Good Question About 9/11


When the Hollywood Investigator asked Maher if he regarded 9/11 an act of war or a crime, Maher replied, "That's a good question. I see it as an act of war. The war that we're fighting with these people has been going on for a long time, between fundamental Islam. They certainly see it as a continuation of the Crusades.

"We are told by the government that this is not a clash of civilizations, but it is a clash of civilizations. We have pervertedly taken the idea of tolerance so far that we have to be tolerant of intolerance. We have to pretend that it's not a clash of civilizations when bin Laden is one of 55 children. 'We have two, three kids, you have 55. We let our women work, you keep yours in beekeeper suits.' So yes, I see it as a war, and we should treat it that way.

"That doesn't mean we should go into Iraq."


* What About Iraq?


"I have an article in Details magazine," Maher added, "where it says in great detail, that I thought it was a campaign issue. Now, if [Bush] goes to war, that's a different story. But I thought it was an awfully cynical thing to do three months ago. If you read the memos from Karl Rove and Andrew Carlson at the White House, they basically said, War is a good issue for us. One of them wrote a memo: You don't roll out the new products until the fall. You know, people are on vacation in August. They had a new product, it turned out to be a war. But it was a new product. And that's just what they did. They sold us this war. But they sold it based on lies.

"I keep comparing Iraq to a case of herpes, which is a disease that you contain, which we have for 12 years, that suddenly, when they needed an issue, became cancer. And I don't think this disease did become cancer. I think it's still herpes. And worse than that, I think we're taking our eye of the real prize, which is al Qaeda."

Maher termed "ridiculous" Bush's claim that bin Laden is working with Saddam Hussein. "There's no evidence of it. The idea that a megalomaniac, paranoid dictator like Saddam Hussein would get an atom bomb, and then give it... You take it, please!  No, he wouldn't give it to anybody. He'd be afraid that bin Laden would use it on him.

"Bin Laden hates people like Saddam Hussein, the same reason he hates the royal family in Saudi Arabia. They're not true believers. Bin Laden is a true believer. He's all about Allah. That's not Saddam Hussein. He's about Viagra. And oil, and gold, and power. That's why he's hated by the bin Ladens of the world.

"So they are not working together, no matter how hard [Bush's staff] try to sell that. They will never sell that. It's a bunch of bullshit.

"It's also cynical because when this nonsense first happened after 9/11, one of the earliest things we were told was Don't lump the terrorist thing in with the other Muslims. Don't lump Muslims together. Now suddenly lump! Lump, lump! Same guy, different towel.

"I don't buy it. We shouldn't go to war."


* Why They Hate Us


Asked by an audience member about America's responsibilities on the national scene, Maher replied that many of the posters in his book carry the logo: Why They Hate Us. "Because one of the major things that we can do, that we must do, if we want to live in security, is to answer that question. One of the things that [Americans] can do is to start learning about the world. First, just be aware of it. That's our biggest problem.

"One of the posters says: They hate us, because we don't even know why they hate us. And that's true. We don't. After 9/11, that was the big question for about a month. Why do they hate us? And then we got bored. 'Oh, whatever. What the fuck. We're good. We're perfect. If they make us even think about that, then they win.'

"One thing we can do is have an awareness. We are a myopic people. Local news is a lot more popular than national news. People like to hear about what's going on right in their backyard. 'Oh, there's someplace I drove right by today!'

"And also, we sort of feel that American lives are more valuable than any other lives. There's a bombing overseas, 3000 were killed, 2 were Americans. 'Two were Americans!  God no!'"

One poster in his book was inspired by American myopia at the 2002 Winter Olympics. "We insisted on bringing our tattered American flag. You know what, almost every nation could bring a tattered flag. History's a bloody mess. We're not the only ones who have been attacked. But since it happened to us, that was the attitude. That's the attitude the world sees. When we begin to change that attitude, we will live in security. As long as we live suspended over this pool of hatred, we will never live in security.

"They hate me, and I'm the one who said they weren't cowards."

One audience member warned against being lulled by US government propaganda, saying, "I have friends over there. They don't hate us. It's our government policies that they hate."

Maher responded: "Yeah, but we live in a representative democracy, so some of that does come back to us. They hate the government, and what they call our foreign policy. And they hate us, to a degree, also."


* Oil and SUVs


The title, When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden, was inspired by a US World War II poster promoting car-pooling, captioned: When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Hitler.  Maher believes that lessening American dependence on foreign oil is another way to help in the war on terror -- as would phasing out SUVs.

"Talk about lies in government!" exclaimed Maher.  "SUVs are listed as light trucks.  They do not have to conform to [federal] mileage standards of passenger vehicles, because they're not passenger vehicles!  They're light trucks!  I never saw a passenger in one, did you?  Mostly gravel that they're hauling, a ton of sand, logs.  They're off-road vehicles.  Wherever Louis and Clark [went], ditto the Navigator."

Asked what he himself was doing to help in the war on terror, Maher replied: "Well I traded in my big Mercedes for an electric car, and I lost my show, and I wrote a book.  I think that's enough for one year."


* Maher's New HBO Show


Maher was referring to ABC's cancellation of Politically Incorrect, which some attribute to his remark that it took more courage to fly a plane into a building than to launch missiles from thousands of miles away.  "We had problems over the years with ABC on a number of issues.  It's just that last one was the coup d'grace.  The final headache [ABC] could not take a big enough aspirin for.  We just gotta get rid of this guy.  I did say things that got me in trouble, but they were usually all true."

Maher's new show is scheduled to launch on February 21, 2003, on HBO.  An hour wrap-up of the week's events, with a more permanent panel than at Politically Incorrect.  "I think what the audience was telling me before was 'less Carrot Top'.  I listen to the audience.

"I don't foresee problems, but I wouldn't be knocked over by a feather if there were.  I think HBO is a whole different ballgame.  The people are a lot cooler.  I always say, 'It's no suits, no censors over there.'  I think that's what it's gonna be."


* Marijuana


When asked about the government's marijuana policy, Maher beamed: "Now there's a place that I'm really doing my part!"  After the cheers and laughter died down, Maher continued, "I always say that people have to start dying from that drug.  Because the drugs that people die from are legal.  Hundreds of thousands die from tobacco, from liquor.  Even aspirin kills about 7000 people year.  But every year how many people die from pot?  Zero.  So unless people start dying from marijuana, and I would be willing, someone would like to try to kill me tonight.  I will be the martyr for this cause."

Having addressed NORML's convention last April 20, Maher said, "I spoke my heart out to these people.  They're lovely people, and that's their problem.  Lovely people do not get their way politically.  What this movement needs, all the causes that I'm involved with need, is a mean son of a bitch.  They need a Lee Atwater.  They need a Carl Rove.  They need people who take no prisoners, and know how to play that game.  And unfortunately, the marijuana movement is gentle hippies who are stoned."

One audience member complained that NORML convened annually on April 20 -- Hitler's birthday.  Calling the decision "a dark and bad time for marijuana movement," he suggested that chances for the legalization of marijuana might be improved if NORML convened a week earlier -- on Thomas Jefferson's birthday.

"I think the movement has a lot bigger problems than that April 20 falls on Hitler's birthday," Maher responded.  "That is the kind of thing, I'm sorry to say, that stoners think of."


* Al Gore


Maher has difficulty identifying a Democratic front-runner for 2004. "Up until a month ago, I would have said Walter Mondale. That's who they were looking to for inspiration. The old Carter administration magic."

Calling Al Gore "a loser," Maher urges Gore to speak his mind. "He's gonna lose anyway, but that can be freeing. Like Goldwater, [who] said what he believed. Gore won't stand behind what he believes." Detailed in his book, Earth in the Balance. "Gore wrote we should phase out the internal combustion engine in 25 years. Now there's an idea. You may not agree with it. I think it's a good idea. But it is a fresh thought and approach as to how to solve terrorism, energy, lots of problems.  But as soon as the Republicans demonize it and put it in a 30 second attack ad, 'Al Gore wants to take away your car, the thing you love more than anything!,' then he pretends that it's not his idea.  He never said it, he doesn't care, he backs away.

"Al Gore did sort of invent the internet. He didn't invent it, but he championed that idea. But they made it a joke and he backed away, like the pussy he is."

Maher accuses Democratic politicians of acting like "fake Republicans," adding, "I don't blame people for voting Republican. If you have a choice between a real Republican and a fake one, I'd vote for a real one too."

Maher himself has no plans to run for office. "I am the last person in the world who could ever win a political office, because my opinions are about as far from centrist as possible. Whenever you run for office, you have to move to the center. Even Nancy Pelosi is suddenly mouthing poll-tested drivel like the rest of the submoronic automatons who run this country. I thought, finally, here's somebody I don't even agree with on a lot of stuff, but at least she speaks her mind. But they took her mind away. Not gonna speak her mind, she's had a taste of power.

"I would rather have my mind and not an office. But you're talking to somebody who thinks religion is bad and drugs are good. That's not a good way to start a campaign."


* Arnold, Rob, and Smokers


California pundits have been speculating about a possible gubernatorial contest in 2006 between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rob Reiner. Maher wouldn't like to see either of them as governor, "but it wouldn't be much worse than we have now."

"Rob Reiner and I have had big fights about smoking," says Maher. "He thinks we should finance everything under the sun on the backs of smokers, which I think is very wrong. I'm not even a smoker anymore. Where does it end for the smokers? When do we say, I know it's the greatest evil in the world, like smoking is to terrorism... But at some point you just gotta say, hey, we all have a bad habit.

"It's interesting now they're going after the food companies. I've been saying that for years. I love heavy people, but if it's good for the goose, it's good for the gander.


* Bowling for Columbine


Maher had assisted Michael Moore on the Bowling for Columbine film premiere. "I did a little Q&A, on stage together. He's a good friend and a great filmmaker. It's a terrific movie.

"I think people in America should be allowed to have a gun. A gun. One. And not a machine gun.  Not some modified gatling gun. Yes, I understand why people need a gun. I don't think people who live in Beverly Hills, and don't have problems with crime, should be able to say, 'No, no, you can't have a gun in your house!,'

"But a gun. How about a little regulation? We regulate everything in this country. In some states, the legislature introduced a bill that said, only one gun a month. And it never passes. People say, 'What about Christmas? One gun month, please!' "

Copyright 2002 by


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