Published May 23, 2005
WASHINGTON – A congressman says comedian Bill Maher's (search) comment that the U.S. military has already recruited all the "low-lying fruit" is possibly treasonous and at least grounds to cancel the show.
Rep. Spencer Bachus (search), R-Ala., takes issue with remarks on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," first aired May 13, in which Maher points out the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April.
"More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club," Maher said. "We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England (search) fruit, and now we need warm bodies."
Army Reserve Pfc. England was accused of abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
"I think it borders on treason," Bachus said. "In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country."
In a statement released Monday night, Maher defended his support for the American armed forces.
"Anyone who knows anything about my views and has watched my show knows that I have nothing but the highest regard for the men and women serving this country around the world," Maher said in the statement.
Bachus said he was appalled after watching a rerun of the show shortly after returning from a visit to Germany, in which he met with a paralyzed American soldier in the hospital. He has since written to Time Warner, HBO's parent company.
"I don't want [Maher] prosecuted," Bachus said. "I want him off the air."
Numerous television stations pulled Maher's previous show, "Politically Incorrect," from the air in September 2001 after he argued terrorists weren't cowards when they slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center a week earlier. Maher later apologized.