Bill Maher Defends His Comments About V.P. Cheney

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 6, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, comedian/commentator Bill Maher has been doing what he does so well, getting the right wing angry. On his HBO program "Real Time" he said this:


BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO'S "REAL TIME": I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power people wouldn't be dying needlessly tomorrow. If he did die, other people — more people would live. That's a fact.


O'REILLY: So why do some people, Maher, get offended by that stuff. You know, when you say stuff like that I don't get offended. But some people get offended. Why?

MAHER: Because you're smarter than them? I don't know. Look, the discussion was supposed to be about free speech. What I was complaining about was the fact that people had put up on Arianna Huffington's Web site in the comment section just lamenting the fact that the assassination attempt failed.

I certainly wasn't advocating assassinating anybody. Obviously, that's wrong, and I don't support that. But I was saying if this is not Communist China, do we have to scrub our walls, when somebody...

O'REILLY: But why would Arianna Huffington even take your remarks off their Wb site?

MAHER: That's the question I was asking. I was saying can't someone just say, "Oh darn. I don't like that person."

O'REILLY: Did you call her and ask her why she took it off?

MAHER: No. I mean, it happened that day.

O'REILLY: Because she has some pretty vile stuff on her web site, with all due respect to Ms. Huffington. I mean, really vile stuff. So she takes your stuff off. And I didn't think...

MAHER: Not my stuff. I didn't write on the Web site. I was saying why did she take off the comments of people. You know, it's one thing to, as I say, to advocate assassination, which we're not doing here.

It's another thing to be able in a free society to lament anyone — you know, Bill, look if there was an abortion doctor — you're pro-Life, right?

O'REILLY: Well, you know, we can't get into what I am and what I am not. But we have reported on an abortion doctor.

MAHER: We can't get into what you are?

O'REILLY: No, because it just diverts away from the conversation. And it's a complicated matter. Make your point, Bill...

MAHER: Bill, it's very...

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

MAHER: It's just not very germane. What I'm saying is you're pro-Life guy. I think so. OK. So you would not advocate shooting abortion doctors. But if an abortion doctor died, you would say, yes, well that saved the lives of unborn babies, wouldn't you?

O'REILLY: I probably wouldn't put it that way. But — because if I did put it that way, my enemies could seize upon it to do what they're doing to you. See look. What you do is you set yourself up...

MAHER: I don't think that way.

O'REILLY: I know. You set yourself up as a Hollywood pinata. That's what you do. All right. You say these things. I know what you meant. I've known you for more than a decade. I know what you meant. But people who hate you, and they are legion — you and I are probably the most hated people in the country. All right? By different crews. -- But you know, you don't give the other side anything.

Plus, what you said about Cheney, with all due respect, is dopey. All right? Saddam Hussein killed far more people than are dying in Iraq. And would have continued to kill them.

So to say that about Cheney — you know is discounting all the tyranny that Saddam Hussein brought into that poor country for 30 years.

MAHER: First of all...

O'REILLY: And those of us who really know what the situation is go, it's just another dopey statement. Go ahead.

MAHER: I don't know if that's factually true.

O'REILLY: It is.

MAHER: I don't know if it's factually true. You don't know that either, Bill.

O'REILLY: Sure I do. It's the United Nations' own statistics.

MAHER: Well, I read a statistic that 600,000 Iraqis were...

O'REILLY: That's from a far left web site. Go with the United Nations. You're a big U.N. guy. You love the U.N. Go with them.

MAHER: OK. The point is I'm not defending Saddam Hussein either. It doesn't matter. Since when did we get into this position where the United States and our leaders have to be compared to somebody like Saddam Hussein?

O'REILLY: Because that was the reason that they went in there and this conflict is taking place. Because he was a heinous dictator, and they felt that he was a threat to the United States. That's why.

MAHER: Right. Well, anyway. Bill, what this really is about is that there was a level of anger — because people don't like being lied to — that we haven't seen since I would say the early '70s in this country. That's what really is behind all of this. People don't like being...

O'REILLY: That's true. But the anger is on both sides. It cuts both ways. But it's true. It's an angry nation. It's going to be interesting to see who they elect as the next president, who we elect.

Now, I want to play a Leno clip, and I want to get your take on it. Roll it. He's talking about — Bill Maher is talking about President Bush.


MAHER: It's not that complicated. The man is a rube. He is a dolt. He is a yokel on the world stage. He is a "Gilligan" who cannot find his (expletive deleted) with two hands.

He is a vain half wit who interrupts one incoherent sentence with another incoherent sentence. And I hope I'm not piling on.


O'REILLY: No, of course not.

Now, why do that? Why call the president of the United States names? Why?

MAHER: Well, first of all, Bill, I don't know if you know, but I'm comedian. And I don't know if you heard, but there was laughter going on there in that studio.

O'REILLY: But there was laughter when Ann Coulter called Edwards the "F" word. You know, people — some people will laugh at anything.

But you're a comedian. But you're smart. And it almost pains me to say that. You're smart. You don't need to call people names. Why do you do it?

MAHER: First of all, it was part of — it was part of a little dissertation I was giving in answer to a question Mr. Leno had asked me.

But I think what's interesting there is that's the Jay Leno audience. That's not some left-wing audience, Bill. That wasn't my audience. That wasn't the crowd that comes in here. That's the red state, middle of the road Jay Leno audience that were laughing hysterically at those descriptions.

O'REILLY: I don't know if it was hysterical laughter.

MAHER: Because it rang true. They rang true, Bill.

O'REILLY: Some people laugh at anything.

MAHER: No, no, no, no.

O'REILLY: You're dodging the question, Maher. Come on, man.

MAHER: I'm not dodging the question.

O'REILLY: Yes, you are. You ask questions and you want answers. Why attack personally the president of the United States? You can make your points in a funny, witty way without calling him names. Can't you?

MAHER: Well, it was part of something I was getting to. But yes, excuse me, but this is an apt description of this man.

This is the problem that Nancy Pelosi had a few months ago when she was asked by not one, not two, but three, and I might add female reporters, why are you being so personal when you talk about President Bush being incompetent?

And instead of saying what she should have said, which is that competence goes to the very heart of what we want to know about a president, she said — well, I don't know what she said. But she didn't say what she should have said, which is that calling the president's competence nto question is exactly...

O'REILLY: Competence is fine. You can do that. But I'll tell you what. I have spoken to you one-on-one. I've spoken to President Bush one on-one. He's not stupid. You're not stupid. By calling him stupid on the Leno program doesn't do you any good, Bill. And I'm looking out for you. You know me. I'm looking out for you, man.

MAHER: We'll have to agree to disagree, Bill.

O'REILLY: All right. Bill Maher, everybody.

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