This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 17, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, political humorist Bill Maher (search), he has a new book out called "New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer." Of course, Mr. Maher is about as polite as I am and as timid as Dracula. He joins us now from Los Angeles.
You know, you've had some celebrities on your HBO show, "Real Time," which begins again on Friday, talking about policy and war on terror and stuff like that. I get the feeling they don't know very much, but you do. So I'd like to make Bill Maher, right now, the terror czar. Bill Maher, the terror czar. Could be a series.
How would you fight this War on Terror? How would you fight it?
BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO'S "REAL TIME": I think the first and most important thing is to get the politics out of the War on Terror. You know, maybe I'm a cockeyed optimist, Bill, maybe I'm naive, but I thought that 9/11 was such a jarring event that nobody would dare return to business as usual on that one subject after that.
But of course, we found out that nothing could be further from the truth. And your president, my president too, but the one you voted for...
O'REILLY: You don't know that. Were you looking over my shoulder there? I could have voted for Nader. I could have voted for Kerry, but Kerry wouldn't come on the program, so I wouldn't vote. But I could have gone for Ralph. Ralph's a friend of mine.
MAHER: Yes. Anyway, I said the guy you voted for, President Bush, you know, how come this guy, who was supposed to be such a kick-and-take- names kind of guy, how come he has not been able to get the politics out of this?
You know, as a guy who's been accused of treason, I'll tell you what real treason is: Treason is when legislators vote against homeland security measures because it goes against the wishes of their political or financial backers. Treason is the fact that, as a terrorist, you could still buy a gun in this country because the NRA (search) lobby is so strong.
O'REILLY: OK. But you're getting into the political, and I agree with you. I think that the country should be united in trying to seek out and kill terrorists, who would kill us.
But I'd like to have some concrete things that you, Bill Maher, the terror czar — and take this seriously, this could be a series — what would you do?
All right, so you've got bin Laden. You've got Al Qaeda (search). You've got a bunch of other lower-level terrorist groups. What do you do to neutralize them?
MAHER: OK. Well, first of all, you discounted my answer, which is get the politics out, but OK.
O'REILLY: Well, assume you can do that. They're gone.
MAHER: We'll let that go. Keep going. I wouldn't worry that much about bin Laden. I mean, capturing bin Laden at this point, it doesn't really matter whether he's dead or alive. He's already Tupac to the people who care about him and work for him. Capturing bin Laden, killing him would be like when Ray Kroc died, how much that affected McDonald's.
O'REILLY: It would be a morale booster. But I understand. You're not going to send...
MAHER: A morale booster, right. Well, we've had plenty of morale boosting. We've had plenty of window dressing. What we need is concrete action.
In the book I wrote before this one about terrorism, I suggested that we have a Secret Service for the people. I said whenever the president goes anywhere, he has very high-level, intelligent detectives who look around at a crowd. They know what they're looking for. They're highly paid. They're highly trained.
We don't have that in this country. We should have that. We should have a cadre of 10,000 highly trained people who would guard all public events, bus stations, train stations, airports — and stop with this nonsense that this robotic sort of window dressing...
O'REILLY: OK, so you would create a homeland security office that was basically a security firm for major targets and things like that. It's not a bad idea. Costs a lot of money. Costs a lot of money. It's not a bad idea.
MAHER: Costs a lot of money compared to what? If you paid 10,000 people a salary of $100,000 a year, that would, I think, cost $10 billion or something. That's nothing. There's that much pork in the transportation bill before you get...
O'REILLY: Yes, 10,000 wouldn't do it, but I get your drift.
MAHER: Whatever it costs.
O’REILLY: You would create a super-security apparatus. OK, that's not bad. That's not bad. How about overseas now?
MAHER: What we need to do is what I call get Israeli about this. Because the Israelis are not afraid of profiling. The Israelis are not afraid to bury politics in the greater cause of protecting their nation. We don't act that way. You know, I'm afraid 9/11 really changed nothing.
O'REILLY: Boy, your ACLU (search) pals aren't going to like that. You're going to lose your membership card there.
MAHER: I'm not a member of the ACLU.
O'REILLY: Oh, sure you are, just like I voted for Bush. You're a member of the ACLU. I can see the card right in your pocket there.
MAHER: Bill, I'm not a joiner. I'm not a joiner. I don't like organizations.
O'REILLY: They won't have you, Maher, let's be honest about that. All right, now, in your book, which is very amusing, by the way — if you want a few laughs buy Maher's book.
MAHER: Thank you.
O'REILLY: You take some shots at FOX News, which is your wont, and I just want to know why you think we're so fabulously successful here.
MAHER: Well, I think that question has been answered many times. It's because the conservative viewer in this country, or on radio the conservative listener, is very predictable. They like to hear what they like to hear. They like to hear it over and over again.
O'REILLY: All the surveys show that the viewers are all over the map. They're not conservative in a big bloc. Some of them are moderate. Some of them are Democrats. Some of them are Moroccans. I mean, they're everywhere. That's your analysis? That just the conservatives watch us?
MAHER: Well, I think mostly the conservatives do watch you. That's not to take anything away from what you guys have achieved over there. It's a very well-produced broadcast, and they have excellent personalities like yourself, Bill. Who could resist watching you when you get home from work at night?
O'REILLY: Whoopi Goldberg, maybe? I don't know.
O'REILLY: Anyone who doesn't watch here is misguided. We identify them as such.
But look, I think there's more to it than — you're in TV. You know the ratings game. I mean, if you don't provide a product that is satisfying people, no matter what your ideology, they tell you to take a hike.
There's a guy over at MSNBC. He's a very conservative guy. He was hired and nobody's watching him. They hire liberals. Nobody watches them. Air America (search). Nobody's listening to it.
I mean, there's got to be a reason why we're No. 1, a punch line for you, and No. 2, you know, becoming the most powerful news network in the world.
MAHER: Well, I think, as I say, it's a well-produced product. You know, your program moves along, always at a clip that never seems to bore. You know, you move along to the next topic, the next guest. It never sort of drags. I don't think a lot of people know how to produce that stuff that way.
O'REILLY: All right. It's bells and whistles and my charming personality. That's what I thought it was.
Last thing: You know, one thing I like about Maher is he's not a hypocrite. He drives a little hybrid vehicle. Right? You putter around there. Does it have training wheels? What's it like?
MAHER: Actually, I had the Prius hybrid for three years. I was one of the first ones to get it right after 9/11. And I traded it in a few months ago for the Lexus hybrid.
O'REILLY: I think we should all cut back on our energy consumption, and I think we should all get these hybrids as fast as we can.
Hey, Bill, always nice to see you. Thanks very much. Good luck with the season on the TV show.
MAHER: Continued success there, Mr. No. 1.
O'REILLY: All right. Thank you.
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