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Bill of wrongs

SP spends some ‘real time’ with comedic instigator Bill Maher "I'm sort of a rallying point for people who think a little different from the majority," says comedian and talk-show host Bill Maher.

BILL MAHER
Friday, July 7, 2006
The Fabulous Fox Theatre
www.foxtheatre.org

By Robert J. Nebel

It should come as no surprise that comedian Bill Maher has a lot on his mind these days. Between Iraq, religion, the environment and other issues, the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" and "Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher" has amassed so much stand-up material that he's hitting the road to dispense his trademark common-sense rants. The Sunday Paper recently caught up with Maher by phone to discuss Ann Coulter, the Dixie Chicks and "The Purpose Driven Life."

How do you enjoy performing in the South?

I love coming to the South. I may not agree with the majority of political opinion there, but they do know how to party.

Is Georgia really that conservative?

When you think of Georgia people, they are not the people who come to my show. I guess when I go to a town, I serve as sort of a rallying point for those people who think a little different from the majority. I feel like I'm among friends wherever I go. People are glad that I came to their town to hear some of the things that they think, but don't hear around the Piggly Wiggly.

So your show is an intellectual safe house.

It's an overground railroad.
As a Libertarian, what's your take on the environment?

My message about the environment is that this a job that only the government can deal with. You can recycle all you want, but the most that people can do is get involved politically and put pressure on the politicians so that they understand that it is a priority.

Did you see Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth"?

No I didn't. I'm already on that page. I don't want to be depressed. The movie is for people who don't get it.

What's your take on President Bush's recent visit to Baghdad?

They [the Bush administration] say, "Freedom is on the march. Things are going well in Baghdad." If things are so great, then why does he have to go in under cover of darkness?

What's your opinion on the brouhaha over Ann Coulter's new book?

I don't know about Ann anymore. I don't know if what she says she really means. I was the one who made her famous. She was on [Maher's previous talk show] "Politically Incorrect" 25 times. I suppose I shouldn't be proud of that.

The political landscape has gotten uglier in the past 25 years. Do you think things will get better?

Great question. I would like to think that there will be a turnaround … where people are not greedy and self-absorbed.

You're hosting an Internet-only talk show on Amazon.com. Tell me about that.

It's like summer vacation. We even had the Dixie Chicks on. They are brave girls. You gotta love 'em. Even though the country stations won't play them, they're selling like hotcakes.

What can we expect from your performance at the Fox?

If I was to take one five-minute segment of the whole tour that I am doing now, it would be my reading of Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life." It was read by Ashley Smith to get that guy [Brian Nicholls] to [get him to] surrender. She read that book for 10 hours and he literally waved a white flag. If anyone read the book to you for 10 hours, you would raise a white flag and volunteer to go to prison. I read parts of the book and the laughter is through the roof. SP