Bill Maher sat down for a wide-ranging, in-depth interview with Playboy magazine that went up online Tuesday and it is chock full of his typically-opinionated commentary on everything from the 2016 election to Fox News to of course, marijuana.
Below are the highlights:
On President Barack Obama’s legacy:
You sometimes hear people, even Democrats, say, “I’m tired of Obama because he didn’t live up to his promises.” I say, “Are you sure about that? Maybe they just didn’t cover it on TMZ.” Because Obama is slowly going down the list: Cuba, gay marriage and, I’m hoping before he leaves, pot. He’s trying to finish strong… Obama should be a better bragger. He needs to start acting like he won the last election instead of lost it. If the Republicans had his record, they’d be riding it like a fuckin’ wild bronco into the 2016 election. Their attitude would be, Why even have an election? We’ve tripled the stock market, unemployment is below six percent, 10 million more people have health insurance, the auto industry is back on its feet. Oh, and he averted a depression.
On the likely 2016 Republican nominee:
I’d say Scott Walker will be the nominee for the Republicans. Jeb Bush is building momentum, but he’s attached at the hip to Common Core, which the Tea Party despises. True, he’s not the doofus his brother was, but in today’s Republican Party, that’s actually a huge minus. Then there’s Chris Christie. His numbers with Republican primary voters are horrible, close to Sarah Palin level, though if you like small government, he’s the guy for you, because soon half his administration will be in jail. But Walker? He’s a folk hero with the people from the Tea lagoon and with the establishment wing. His father was an evangelical preacher—a huge plus with the snake handlers and flat-Earthers who make up the base. And he won three times, including a recall, in a blue state, and he faced down public unions. The one problem is he didn’t graduate from college—oh wait, that’s a plus too, because book learnin’ is, you know, suspicious.
On the likely 2016 Democratic nominee:
I’m thinking it has to be Hillary Clinton. And I’d love to see her run with Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. They’re the two lefties in the Democratic Party, and we’ve never really tried left-wing politics, at least not in my lifetime.
On Fox News:
Whatever comes out of Fox News, or as I call it, the Alternative History Channel, is chapter and verse for red America, and red America doesn’t go outside that bubble… . Remember when Bill O’Reilly settled that harassment suit claim that he was trying to get some on the side? His response afterward was “I will never speak of it again.” And Sean Hannity seems especially corked. At the same time, I read somewhere that Fox encourages Megyn Kelly to wear sleeveless dresses so the old horny white men who watch can get off on it.
On the limits of free speech:
There are things I wouldn’t say on Jimmy Kimmel that I’d say on HBO, things I wouldn’t say on HBO that I’d say in a live stand-up performance. Then there are things I wouldn’t even say in stand-up that I’d say to my friends. The ninth ring of hell is the things I wouldn’t even say to my friends that I think only to myself, and of course I can’t say what those things are.
The vast, vast, vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists. But here’s the point people don’t bring up: They’re not terrorists, but they share some very bad ideas with terrorists, and bad ideas lead to bad behavior. You couldn’t put the Muslim equivalent of The Book of Mormon on Broadway. You can’t write a book like The Satanic Verses without millions going jihadi on you. You couldn’t have an art exhibit like Piss Christ, which made Giuliani mad in the 1990s. Hundreds of millions of Muslims believe that if you leave the religion you should get killed for that. Try walking down the street in Muslim areas—even in more tolerant places like Amman, Jordan—wearing shorty shorts or a T-shirt that says HEY, I AM GAY. That shit is not going to fly, not at all.
On the “haters” on Facebook and Twitter who call him a “bigot”:
That’s why I don’t look at Twitter or Facebook anymore. Of course it upsets me. How could it not? If I say anything, people attack me. If I say, “Good morning,” they say, “How dare you say good morning. That was Reagan’s word. Morning in America! You don’t get to use that word, Bill Maher!” Anyway, be mad at the people who are perpetrating these acts of terrorism, not me.
On why he owns a gun:
They’re for protection. We live in gun country, even in Los Angeles. I’m not expecting anything to happen, but I want to be ready for it. So I have a lot of security measures at my house. If somebody gets into my bedroom, wow, they really did a lot to get there. They got past gates, bodyguards, dogs. If I have to shoot somebody in my bedroom, that was a commando raid on par with the SEALs getting Bin Laden. My gun is my last line of defense.
I don’t know that they burned out so much as wanted to try something new. It also might be that those are two very bright guys, and maybe the shows they were doing just weren’t challenging for them after a while. Mine is still an enormous challenge: I do an hour that’s live—live!—and goes from a stand-up comedy monologue to a serious newsmaker interview to a political panel discussion to a celebrity one-on-one interview, with no commercial breaks to reset. I don’t think there’s a workout like that anywhere else on TV, and if that doesn’t keep you engaged, nothing will. I get off on challenging the conventional wisdom, not just from the right but from the left as well. My entire youth I dreamed of nothing but being Johnny Carson, but that kind of show would drive me nuts now. Too easy. I like being on the high wire.
On his anti-vaxxer attitude:
I’ve never argued that vaccines don’t work. I just don’t think you need them. There are so many maladies now that used to be rare and now are much more prevalent—things like allergies, ADD, asthma, migraines, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, colitis, more colds. I’m not saying vaccines cause any of them, but the modern immune system might be less robust than it used to be because it doesn’t get its full workout going through a disease like the measles… Plus, they’re often ineffective. This last flu shot was only 23 percent effective. So then it’s bullshit. It’s a moneymaking scam for big pharma.
I don’t want to fucking die. I want Ray Kurzweil to come up with the singularity in the next 20 or 30 years before I go so I can keep going. I don’t understand these people who say they don’t want to live forever. I don’t want to go! Being dead does not sound like that much fun, and right now I’m having a great time.
Read the full interview at playboy.com.
[Photo via HBO]
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