Bill Maher Bashes Rush Limbaugh, Says Torture in Iraq Worse Than Under Saddam

Well folks, Bill Maher is at it again. While being interviewed Wednesday on CNN by Wolf Blitzer, Maher stated that torture in Iraq is worse now than when Saddam was in power, and that Democrats aren’t hypocrites when they get involved in scandals because they aren’t the virtue party. Along the way, Maher nicely bashed Bill Bennett and Rush Limbaugh. All in all, this is what Bill Maher would refer to as a good day’s work (video link and transcript follow).

The first juicy tidbit occurred when Blitzer suggested that Saddam was a thug, to wit Maher responded: “Yes, but you know what? Now that we've found out that the torture levels are actually worse now than before...”

Next up on the menu, virtue according to Bill Maher:

MAHER: But the Republicans always do this. They always repress the things that are their demons inside them. Bill Bennett, right, with the gambling? Mr. Virtue, "Book of Virtues."

Rush Limbaugh, you know, went on the air day after day saying anyone who does drugs should go to jail -- no treatment. This guy was doing 30 Oxycontin a day. You know, Wolf, I've been high a lot in my life. I've never been that high.

So, you know, it doesn't surprise me that the people who came to Washington...

BLITZER: Well...

MAHER: ... to restore honor and integrity wind up being the biggest hypocrites. I mean this...

BLITZER: A few Democrats have been hypocrites, too. We've got to be fair, right?

MAHER: Yes, but the Democrats aren't the virtue people.

Extraordinary rationalizations, no? What follows is a full transcript of this segment, and a video link.

BLITZER: More now on our top story, as many go mum over the Mark Foley fiasco.

My next guest is one man who's certainly not afraid to speak his mind, political observer, outspoken humorist, Bill Maher.

He joins us here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

I should say the host of "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER" on our sister network. That would be HBO.

BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": I was hoping to be standing.

BLITZER: You like to stand in "THE SITUATION ROOM?"

MAHER: I see you standing.

BLITZER: You know, my mother wants me to sit down once in a while and I figured you're a distinguished guest, we can sit. The...

MAHER: Oh, is that who gets to...

BLITZER: Bob Woodward, he sat.

Bill Maher sits.

MAHER: That's how you decide it?

BLITZER: To let you sit.

MAHER: There's a pecking order?

BLITZER: That's right.

MAHER: The lesser people have to stand?

BLITZER: You know, you're...

MAHER: Then I'm honored.

BLITZER: ... HBO is...

MAHER: Can we lie down?

BLITZER: ... HBO is...

MAHER: Then I'd feel really good.

BLITZER: HBO is huge, so you're worthy of sitting down.

But I'm glad you watch "THE SITUATION ROOM."

MAHER: I do.

BLITZER: Thank you.

MAHER: I watch it standing up.

BLITZER: What do you make of this Mark Foley scandal?

MAHER: I haven't heard about it. If only the news channels would cover it a little more, because I think it deserves more coverage.

BLITZER: You think we're underplaying the story?

MAHER: Yes, I mean considering that, you know, there's a war going on and we found out this last week -- oh, we found out -- we knew all along, but Bob Woodward, you know, reiterated once again that we were totally lied into this war. That...

BLITZER: "State of Denial," that's the name of it.

MAHER: "State of Denial." And I think, you know, everyone is on the page. I think there were a lot of Republicans who were towing the party line and pretending to support the president. But nobody except George Bush and, as he would say, his dog, doesn't get it, that this war is lost and we should get out.

That, to me, is the scandal.

BLITZER: When did you come around to that conclusion?

Because it's now three-and-a-half years since the start of the war.

But at what point did Bill Maher say to himself, you know what, this is not working?

MAHER: Well, a long time ago. I can't pinpoint an exact date. I certainly -- after we invaded -- I was not for invading Iraq, but after we went in, I tried to be fair. I said, you know what? This is America now. Even if you don't like George Bush, this is what America has done. Let's give it a chance. I think a lot of people have that fair and balanced outlook.

BLITZER: A hundred and fifty thousand U.S. troops were there. So...

MAHER: Yes.

BLITZER: ... the inclination was...

MAHER: As long as we were there, let's try to make it work. Let's see if we can make it work. Let's not pull the plug before -- you know, we've done it now.

BLITZER: Because Saddam Hussein was a thug. Everybody acknowledges that.

MAHER: Yes, but you know what? Now that we've found out that the torture levels are actually worse now than before...

BLITZER: That's according to the United Nations.

MAHER: Right.

You don't believe it?

BLITZER: Well, I don't want to compare what U.S. ...

MAHER: I'm just saying we're...

BLITZER: I think what the United Nations...

MAHER: We...

BLITZER: ... was suggesting is that Iraqi -- Iraqi forces were engaged in torture at levels worse, even than Saddam Hussein. But I don't want to -- I think it's...

MAHER: But who are we fighting for at this point?

I really don't know. I just saw your report and we've heard this for a long time, about the militias. The people -- are we fighting for the people who run-the government? Because the people who run-the government are the same people in the militias. You know, it's like after the Civil War, the people who were running the government in the Reconstruction South, at night they would put on the Ku Klux Klan outfits...

BLITZER: So what do you think the United States...

MAHER: ... and these people are putting on their Ku Klux --

BLITZER: How does the U.S. get out of this situation right now with...

MAHER: Just get out. You know what? I'm tired of hearing people -- especially on the right -- predict what's going to happen if we leave. Every one of their predictions about everything involved in this war has been wrong from the get go.

For George Bush, you know -- when did I ever lead you wrong George Bush -- to say if we get out now, this will happen, in 50 years, this will happen. Let's just get out and see what happens, because we don't know what's going to happen.

BLITZER: Because the point of the Bob Woodward book wasn't so much a state of denial, even though that's the title. But it does show widespread incompetence.

MAHER: To say the least, yes.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to pick up that thought.

MAHER: OK.

BLITZER: And we've got a lot more to talk about.

MAHER: I know you want to talk about Mr. Foley.

BLITZER: We're going to talk about him, because our viewers want to get your thoughts.

MAHER: OK, I'll be ...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I know you haven't paid much attention to that story and I'm sure it's...

MAHER: No, I have.

BLITZER: ... probably not going to be mentioned on "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER."..

MAHER: Now that I've cleared my conscience...

BLITZER: Friday nights, 11:00 p.m. Eastern...

MAHER: ... and said it's not the most important story, let's get into it, Wolf.

BLITZER: Stand by.

MAHER: Let's get into it.

BLITZER: We'll have more of my interview with Bill Maher.

Also coming up in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, my interview with Bob Woodward. He answers some of the criticism that's emerged from his new book, "State of Denial." That's an interview you're going to want to see.

We'll be right back.

BLITZER: More now on our top story and more of my conversation with one of the nation's most astute political observers, a very funny guy, also a very serious guy, Bill Maher. "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER" airs on our sister network, HBO, Friday nights, 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

Excellent show. I've been a guest on your show.

MAHER: Thank you.

Could we please get to this Foley thing?

BLITZER: We're going to get to it right now.

The Foley thing is an important story.

I want you to listen to what Florida Congressman Mark Foley said on June 6, 2002.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARK FOLEY (R), FLORIDA: I warn all of you not to cry in front of me, please, so I can get through this very important day with you without shedding tears, as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, he was the chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Missing & Exploited Children.

MAHER: Yes.

BLITZER: And he was introducing legislation, you know, it's -- what?

MAHER: But the Republicans always do this. They always repress the things that are their demons inside them. Bill Bennett, right, with the gambling? Mr. Virtue, "Book of Virtues."

Rush Limbaugh, you know, went on the air day after day saying anyone who does drugs should go to jail -- no treatment. This guy was doing 30 Oxycontin a day. You know, Wolf, I've been high a lot in my life. I've never been that high.

So, you know, it doesn't surprise me that the people who came to Washington...

BLITZER: Well...

MAHER: ... to restore honor and integrity wind up being the biggest hypocrites. I mean this...

BLITZER: A few Democrats have been hypocrites, too. We've got to be fair, right?

MAHER: Yes, but the Democrats aren't the virtue people. They're not the people who want to legislate morality. The Republicans are.

I mean this, to me, is about how sexually repressed America is. And, by the way, I mean this guy was a creepy guy. He was doing some creepy things. But I don't think it's right to call him a pedophile. These weren't children, per se. These were...

BLITZER: Sixteen-year-olds, 15-year-olds...

MAHER: But I think the age of consent is 16.

BLITZER: Yes.

MAHER: So I'm not saying what he was doing was right. It's like a professor hitting on kids, students in his class. But it is somewhat different than the way they're characterizing it.

BLITZER: Listen to this other clip that is making the rounds right now.

This is the former congressman, Mark Foley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I were one of these sickos, I'd be nervous with "America's Most Wanted" on my tail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That's John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted."

MAHER: Yes.

BLITZER: And he was very involved trying to get some of these sickos.

MAHER: But, again, you know, if we lived in a country that was not so sexually repressed, if -- if the Republicans didn't make gay marriage a campaign issue, this man could have come out of the closet a long time ago. He could be openly gay, like the mayor of Berlin is openly gay. And then he'd be living in Falls Church, Virginia with his long time companion, Steve, who worked at the Smithsonian, you know?

He wouldn't have to be trolling for kids -- for 17-year-olds on the Internet.

BLITZER: It's a -- it's a serious problem, though. It's a very serious problem because, as all of us know, there are other gay members of Congress who are not open about that.

MAHER: Right.

BLITZER: And what you're suggesting is that is a built in, what?

MAHER: Well, I think it's part and parcel of the sickness of our society that we repress sexuality so much. And, by the way, these kids -- kids are not innocent. Certainly sexually these days, not 17- year-old kids. These kids were flirting back. I hate to say what I've heard some right-wingers have been saying lately but it's true.

I mean if somebody says to you, "Are you a little horny?" and you go, "Yes, a little," you know, I mean -- I think the kids have the power, because any kid who printed out that e-mail message, you know -- would you measure your penis for me -- he's got a lot more power on the congressman than the congressman has on the kid.

BLITZER: Is this subject going to be coming up on "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER?"

MAHER: Oh, yes. We're not a strict news show. We can have fun- with it.

BLITZER: And you're...

MAHER: I'm having Robin Williams on.

BLITZER: Is that -- is Robin Williams going to be on...

MAHER: You think I'm going to avoid the subject of...

BLITZER: Who else besides Robin Williams is on this week?

MAHER: We have John Kerry in the satellite to begin with. And then we have Kerry -- I mean Robin Williams, Richard Clark and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on the panel.

BLITZER: Oh.

MAHER: And Chris Matthews from your competition coming up.

BLITZER: It's a good show.

MAHER: Yes.

BLITZER: We watch it all the time.

MAHER: It's going to be a good show.

Thank you.

BLITZER: Bill Maher, thanks for coming in.

MAHER: Thank you, Wolf.

Always good to see you.

Video Link

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.