Bill Maher

From Academic Kids

Bill Maher

William "Bill" Maher Jr. (born January 20, 1956 in New York City, New York) is an American comedian, actor, writer and producer. He was raised in River Vale, New Jersey, and graduated from Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, New Jersey. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Cornell University in 1978. He is most well known for being the host of Politically Incorrect and currently the HBO talk show Real Time with Bill Maher.



Maher has had a substantial career as a standup comedian and still occasionally tours, and has appeared in several films, usually in a comic role. However, he is most notable as the former host of Politically Incorrect, which aired on the Comedy Central television network and later ABC. Maher is also the host of Real Time with Bill Maher.

ABC decided not to renew Maher's contract for Politically Incorrect in 2002 after he made a controversial on-air remark, in which he, along with guest Dinesh D'Souza, objected to the President and others calling the September 11th terrorists cowardly: "We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."

In the sensitive aftermath of the attacks, the remark was deemed too controversial for some financial supporters. Although some pundits, including conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh [1] (, supported Maher, pointing out the distinction between physical and moral cowardice, companies including FedEx and Sears Roebuck pulled their advertisements from the show, costing the show more than it returned. The show was subsequently cancelled on June 16, 2002. On June 22, 2002, six days after the cancellation of Politically Incorrect, Maher received the President's Award (for "championing free speech") from the Los Angeles Press Club.

Maher's controversial statement on the September 11th terrorists came shortly after another controversial comment Maher made on Politically Incorrect when he compared mentally handicapped children to dogs saying,

But I've often said that if I had—I have two dogs—if I had two retarded children, I'd be a hero. And yet the dogs, which are pretty much the same thing. What? They're sweet. They're loving. They're kind, but they don't mentally advance at all.... Dogs are like retarded children.

ABC was likely still dealing with the fallout from this statement when it decided not to renew Maher's contract.

In 2003, Maher became the host of Real Time with Bill Maher on the HBO cable television network, a debate show somewhat similar to Politically Incorrect, but with a narrower selection of guests.

Since May 2005 he's been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.

Political views

Maher describes himself as a libertarian and celebrates libertarian figures such as Larry Elder and P.J. O'Rourke. Some of his stances, including privatizing social security, ending corporate welfare, and legalizing drugs, gambling, prostitution, and pornography are distinctively libertarian. He supported Bob Dole in the 1996 U.S. presidential election and is close friends with conservative pundit Ann Coulter. He has expressed disdain for many of the liberal positions regarding hate crime, sexual harassment, etc. as being "things that make women nod". However, he also holds many Social Democrat positions that are in direct opposition to libertarian ideology, such as government regulation of corporations, foreign aid, public schooling, a ban on homeschooling, campaign finance reform (which he has since repudiated, saying "OK, we tried it, it didn't work"), environmentalism, affirmative action, minimum wage laws, gun control, income redistribution through higher taxation as a means for the wealthy to pay for some of the advantages they enjoy as Americans, government funding for abortion, and support for Ralph Nader in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. He is a vegan and publically supports PETA, an organization that works for animal rights, and has expressed his distaste for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries in general, on the grounds that they make their money out of curing people who are made sick by consuming the unhealthy food that society urges upon the public.

Prior to the 2004 U.S. presidential election he became very forthright in his opposition to the reelection of George W. Bush and his support for John Kerry as the best candidate to defeat Bush, rather than the candidate most in agreement with Maher's views, going so far as to publicly kneel on his show, with director Michael Moore, and beg Nader to drop out of the race. As a result, he has often been called a liberal. Maher often says that the word "liberal" has been unfairly demonized, and during the elections he criticized Kerry for being ashamed of the word. Maher himself seems comfortable with being called a liberal, though he is sometimes called a "libertine socialist" by political commentators such as Jonah Goldberg. Maher also supports the death penalty, though most liberals and libertarians do not, and abortion and euthanasia, though most conservatives do not, often stating his position semi-humorously as "I am pro-death". In expanding on this statement, he reveals his concern that the size of the human population has already led to significant damage to the earth's ecology, so that he is in general in favor of anything that would tend to reduce the size of said population.

He was originally opposed to the war in Iraq, but has become less skeptical of it since the Iraqi election of 2005. He continues to criticize the administration for using bad intelligence leading up to the war, and for what he perceives as mis-management of the war.

Maher responded to the claims that liberals are "out of touch" with conservative morality and the idea that this led to George W. Bush's re-election and the success of the Republican Party in the 2004 general election by saying "Stop saying that blue state people are out of touch with the morals and values of the red states. I'm not out of touch with them, I just don't share them."

Religious views

Maher is opposed to organized religion. He has said that religion is a neurological disorder that spreads guilt and hatred among people while offering nothing in return. Atheist comedian George Carlin appeared on Real Time twice, and both times Maher and Carlin discussed the problems they see organized religion bringing to society and the hypocrisy they see in the practices of organized religion. Maher credited Carlin's views as inspiration for him to speak out against organized religion.

Maher has said many times that religion works under the guise of morality, but that its tenets generally have nothing to do with morality and that there is nothing immoral about things like sex since no one is being harmed. He is opposed to religious prohibitions being confused with moral law. For example, just because religion prohibits pork or homosexuality does not mean that consuming pork or being homosexual are immoral acts. Instead Maher argues that what makes a person immoral is to harm others; in Maher's view, an activity which harms another individual such as murder or rape would be immoral.

He opposes religious monuments such as The Ten Commandments being placed in or near court houses, saying that this would violate the separation of church and state. He has criticized the Ten Commandments in particular, saying that of the ten, only two apply to American law. The two commandments he refers to are the prohibitions on murder and theft. The other commandments such as to honor no god before the Judeo-Christian God, keeping the Sabbath, honoring thy mother and thy father, and coveting thy neighbor's goods have nothing to do with American law, countering the argument of conservative Christians who claim that American law is based on the Ten Commandments.

Maher in the news

According to court documents obtained by The Smoking Gun, in November 2004 Maher was sued for 9 million dollars by his ex-girlfriend, Nancy Johnson a.k.a. "Coco Johnsen", for palimony. Johnson claims that Maher did not fulfill promises made to her and that he physically and verbally abused her. [2] ( Maher publicly refuted her allegations on Larry King Live on November 23, 2004. His lawyer responded to the lawsuit with a claim that Maher is a "confirmed bachelor" and never promised to marry or support Johnsen and that California law doesn't allow for the palimony suit brought by Ms. Johnsen. On May 2, 2005, a superior court judge dismissed the lawsuit.

In late May 2005 Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus sent a letter to Time Warner's board of directors requesting Real Time be cancelled due to remarks Maher made about low military recruiting numbers on the May 13, 2005 episode which Bachus felt were demeaning to the military and in bad taste. Maher's comment was "More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club. We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies." Maher responded that he had nothing but support for the armed forces and what they go through.


  • Response to Dinesh D'Souza's assertion that the 9/11 terrorists were not cowards: "Exactly...We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."
  • "To me a real patriot is like a real friend. Who's your real friend? It's the person who tells you the truth. That's who my real friends are. So, you know, I think as far as our country goes, we need more people who will do that."
  • "We have the Bill of Rights. What we need is a Bill of Responsibilities."
  • "But isn't there something wrong when I'm the ONLY guy in the country that got fired for 9/11?"
  • "If I had any interest in wooden sex with strings attached, I'd get married." - From New Rules segment, about puppets having sex in the film Team America: World Police.
  • "Women cannot complain about men anymore until they start getting better taste in them."
  • "Religion is a neurological disorder" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, about his views on religion.
  • "Suicide is man's way of telling God, 'You can't fire me - I quit.'"


TV series


  • MADtv (2005) .... as himself

Books authored by Bill Maher

External links



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