Radio City Speaker Series: Bill Maher

He talks about not dating Ann Coulter and his embittered Oscar speech.

Bill Maher

I saw you on the Oscars. Are you really disappointed that you didn’t get nominated for Religulous?
Sure, we should’ve been nominated. Absolutely. I think the thing that happened, the people who put on the show were on the side of “you should’ve gotten nominated,” like so many people in this town. And so they allowed me to be the presenter, which is kind of like asking Hillary to swear in Obama. But I was happy to get up in front of a worldwide audience and give a shout-out to the nonbelievers. I was able to say, in a very concise way, the theme of the movie—you know, that your silly gods cost the world too greatly. Of course, everybody looked at me like I had three heads, because these are all the people who thank God when they win an award. I don’t think anything quite like that has even been said on the Oscars. [Laughs]

Congratulations for that.
Well, thanks. I had to represent for my people.

Do you know what you’re going to be debating with Ann Coulter? Religion?
Anything is fair game. Obviously we have a new President, who I’m sure she despises because she always seems to still refer to him as “Hussein,” as if that has any reference to...anything. There’s the melting economy, the wars and, my God, religion, yes. There’s not going to be a dearth of subjects to talk about.

Are you guys friends?
You know, that’s the interesting part. We certainly were. Never dated, although I read that on the Internet all the time. But we were absolutely friends. I mean, you can hate me for this, but I’m the one who made Ann Coulter famous. We had her on Politically Incorrect more than any other guest—like, 25 times. But I haven’t seen her or talked to her in years and, in that time, she’s written three books and they just become more and more vitriolic. You know, Traitor! And Kill Liberals! The last one was just called Hate, I think. It’s just amazing. One reason I was attracted to do this is that I haven’t talked to her in so long, and I don’t really know what’s in her head and I want to find out. The Ann Coulter I knew—although I didn’t agree with her—when you talked to her, you could see where it was coming from. And what I admired about her was that she never flinched from saying what she really felt, even when they booed her, which is a quality I think we need in more people. But I don’t know now. A lot of people say to me, “Oh, she’s just saying these things to get publicity; she can’t really believe them.” I’m going to find out if she really believes this stuff or she’s just saying it.

What if she does believe it?
Well, then, thank God her crowd is out of power.

Speaking of which, what do you think of the job Obama is doing?
For a month in, not bad. We did a joke: “He’s been in office a month, he dropped a trillion dollars. Is that black enough for you?” [Laughs] You know; we’ll see. You have to understand, as we all do, he was obviously inheriting this giant mess. I don’t know if any President has inherited a mess like that. I was standing at the Vanity Fair party last night and we were all in our tuxedos and gowns and we were sipping champagne and I said to my friend, “I feel like we’re on the Titanic. I feel like we’re all in our glamorous outfits, eating little hot-dog wieners and we just hit the fucking iceberg.” And we’re all like, “Whoa, what was that?” [Voice of the captain]: “Nothing, sir, don’t worry about it, it happens all the time....” Where is this economy going? Where is this country going? Where is the Dow going? I think the last year, as bad as it was, is just the beginning. And I still don’t know if anyone on the Titanic realizes that a hole has been ripped in the hull and the ship is sinking.

Do you think Coulter will blame it all on the Dems?
Absolutely. If I’m sure of anything, it’s that.

What do you say to that?
It’s a preposterous argument, but I’d have to hear her reasoning before I could take it apart. And look, there is blame to go to the Democrats. This is not an economic crisis made only of Republicans. It was the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act under Clinton and Phil Gramm and Congress in 1999 that really opened the way for some of this lax regulation and banks being able to do some of the crazy things they were able to do. Everybody pretended that what they knew somewhere in their heart couldn’t be true, had to be too good to be true, really was true. How could anyone believe that you buy a house for 180 grand and you put in recessed lighting and now it’s worth a million? I call it my Recessed Lighting Theory. You cannot blame it all on Bush, but he certainly exacerbated it. His lax regulation and using up the money on so many unnecessary things—he put two wars on a credit card, the tax cuts for wealthy people who actually did not need tax cuts, the Medicare entitlement bill...all sorts of corporate welfare and giveaways. That’s why we have no money. He gets the lion’s share of the blame, but certainly not all of it.

So you don’t plan on talking to her before the show?

I didn’t realize it was this epic of a battle.
Death match! It is a death match.

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