"Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher"

Aired May 21st, 1997

Guests on this program were:

Heather Higgins
Harry Anderson
Harlan Ellison
Tony Robbins

[ Applause ]

Bill: Thank you, folks.
Thank you very much.

[ Applause ]

Ah -- thank you very much.
Thank you.
Thank you.

[ Sustained applause ]

Thank you.
Well, there is big news today in the abortion debate.
I don't know if you follow that, but this is the first time the Senate, our United States Senate, passed a ban on the type of abortion, the partial-birth abortion, and it was largely because some of the Democrats switched over, Daschle and Robert Byrd, but Ted Kennedy -- stalwart, liberal --
stuck with the plan and he said, "No, we have to think about the health of the baby-sitter."

[ Laughter and applause ]

I tell you, some of this partisan bickering gets really petty.
Now, we have a problem with the U.N.
We owe them $1 billion and President Clinton said we would pay this $1 billion to the U.N.
And the Republicans are now holding it up.
They're making, I think, petty demands.
They want to trim the U.N. staff.
They want the U.N. to have regular audits.
And they want in the U.N. cafeteria to name a sandwich after Rush Limbaugh.
I think --

[ Laughter and applause ]

Well, President Clinton made a bold statement yesterday.
He came out against heroin.

[ Laughter ]

He did.
No, he did.
Actually, he was criticizing the fashion industry because I guess you've been hearing about this in the fashion industry.
They kind of, you know, glorify that look they call heroin chic.
And President Clinton gave them a little scolding and then Janet Reno held a separate press conference and said she thought Linda Evangilista should let her bangs grow out.

[ Laughter and applause ]

Well, big news for paleontologists.
And I think we're all amateur paleontologists.

[ Laughter ]

But I think it was in Argentina, yes it was, that they found what they think is a missing link.
It was a bird-like dinosaur fossil that they think might be the link between birds and dinosaurs.
But they don't want to get too excited.
They said it might just be Phyllis Diller.

[ Laughter and applause ]

And finally, you know, today is a big anniversary.
How many were alive in 1927?
Anyone here?
A couple of youngsters.

[ Laughter ]

Well, this is the 70th anniversary of the flight of Charles Lindbergh, which even everyone knows about.
And to commemorate it, a Texas businessman recreated the whole thing.
He did.
He left from the exact same spot, flew the exact same route, landed in Paris, where he was greeted with the news that his baby had been kidnapped.

[ Laughter ]

Thank you.
It's all been satirized for your protection.

[ Applause ]

[ Cheers and applause ]

Bill: All right.
Welcome to the show and let us meet our panel.
First, she is the executive director of The Council on Culture and Community and she doesn't have a book.
Heather Higgins.
Where's your book?

[ Applause ]

Hey, hon, good to see you.
"The Washington Post" calls him one of the great living American short story writers.
His new books are "Babylon 5," "Slippage" and "Volume Three Edgeworks."
Harlan Ellison.
Oh, yeah.
A lotta product.
Harlan, how are you?

Harlan: Fine.
How are you?

[ Applause ]

Bill: He has advised the President, two royal families and sold over 24 million motivational tapes.
His latest book is called "Unlimited power, a black choice."
Tony Robbins.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Tony, how are you?

[ Applause ]

All right.
Finally, an actor, comedian, magician and great, big, famous tv star.
From "Dave's World," Harry Anderson.
Yes, sir.

[ Cheers and applause ]

Harry Anderson, how are ya, buddy?

[ Sustained applause ]

Well, I'm glad you're on.
This is a good panel to talk about this.
Last night we started to talk about Kelly Flinn, who is the B-52 bomber pilot who is going through such a problem lately.
But let's talk about the bigger issue there, because this has been brought up, for this country, the question of what should we do about our military?
We have had this experiment going on for about a generation, where we've tried to integrate women into the military.
But, you know, do we really want Ft. Bragg, 90210 or do we want --

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: It's worked for 50 years in the Russian Army and it's worked 40 years in the Israeli Army.
They have no problems.

Bill: The Russian Army --

Harlan: Large Army.

Bill: large crappy country Large country.
Big people.

Harry: Are you saying that the Army's crap because there's women in it?

Harlan: No, but --

Heather: It depends what you mean by women in the military.
Because, for example, in Israel, women are in the military, but they're not in combat.

Harlan: Yeah.

Heather: They tried that, after three weeks, they discovered that it was a huge disaster because when women are captured or women are left on the battlefield, men tend to react very differently than if another guy is --

Harlan: You mean they try harder?

>> No, they tend to --

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: Gee, what a draw back.

Heather: No, they don't fight harder.
And you do find that there are problems with double standards in terms of the weight loads that women carry and so forth.
But this problem would have happened anyway, even if you didn't have women in combat because what we're talking about is not only the adultery, but more particularly, the lying to the officers.
She could have lied, you know, even if she was in a noncombat situation.

Bill: Yeah, but I'm talking about the larger issue here.
Now, people always compare women in the military.
They say, well, you know, for a while, blacks were excluded.
But there was no good reason for that.
There is a reason not to have people in the same barracks that you want to sthok.

[ Laughter ]

Is there not?

Harry: The Navy has dealt with it for generations.

Bill: That's the Navy.

Harry: Well, I guess guys at sea have had --

Heather: And women come back pregnant.

Harlan: Harvey Fierstein would give you a run for your money on that one.

Harry: Various, you know, various ways of thinking about each other.
But whatever the problem is --

[ Laughter ]

-- Can't it be solved without going to a trial for adultery? I mean, isn't that --
don't you --
scarlet letters.
What is that about?

Tony: It happens on the male side, too.
And what sounds like is unfair, and I don't know for sure because I haven't heard the details enough, but if this woman is having the same challenge that a male's had, he's been dealt with differently than she has, is what the real issue is.
It sounds like, at least how it's been promoted in the news.

Harry: Yeah.

Tony: So, what's fair is fair.
You can change the issue to do, "Men and women -- should they be there," but for this women, the issue is really fairness.

Harry: Yeah, that's part of it -- promoted in the news.

Harlan: If it was a guy, they'd give him a condom, pat on the back and send him on his way.

Tony: Right.

[ Laughter and applause ]

Harry: As they say, it's a technological age.
Women can do a lot of what needs to be done in the service, right?
Without -- so, if you're talking --

Bill: But we're talking in the integration.
It used to be that men and women were separated a lot more than they are.

Heather: Right.
And one of the reasons that the Marines, for example, have not had the same problems that you have at the Aberdeen proving grounds is that they train men and women separately and women Marines have female drill sergeants and men have men drill sergeants.

Bill: I mean, when I was in college, we couldn't live in the same dorm, as -- right?

[ Laughter ]

Harry: Right, right.
But, you know, this is not a draft.
This is civil work.
I mean, this is work --

Bill: It's not civil work, it's military work.

[ Laughter ]

Harry: But this is work that the government is offering to its citizens and you're going to deny it to women?
You're going to say --

Bill: I'm not denying it.
I'm just saying do it the way they used to, where they separate them.

Heather: The job of the military is to win wars, not to provide equal employment opportunity.

Harlan: Gee, it'd be real easy.
All you have to do is put a bell, like a cat, on every serviceman.
Any time he got near a woman, his bell would ring.
And you'd, you know --

[ Laughter ]

Bill: But, Harry, don't you think the military is too important a thing to let political correctness take over?

Tony: I think there's also the reality of how many of these relationships work fine.
You're hearing the one aberration, the two aberrations that are promoted in the media.
How 'bout all the women right now that are doing --

Harry: Promoted, not reported, promoted in the media.

Tony: Marketed in the media.
There's a lot of women that are doing their job, enjoying what they do.
They have the advancement they deserve.

Bill: That doesn't mean they can't advance.

Tony: But men do that, too.
Why am I arguing with you on a woman's side?

Heather: No, actually, what was interesting --
I think we're confusing a couple issues here.
But to go back to that point, she apparently -- they knew that she'd been having the affair.
They said the same thing they do to guys --
"Stop having it.
Don't see the guy anymore."
And she said, "Okay, I won't."
And then she went ahead and did it anyway.

Harlan: But the dude was living in her house.

Heather: That's when they -- well also, but his wife was apparently a little upset about this.
And the wife is enlisted.
You can understand.
But the woman was in North Dakota, so you can understand her problem, too.

[ Laughter ]

Harry: That's lying and insubordination.
That really isn't the issue.
It's not a sexual issue.
The lying is not sexual.

Heather: It's just, I think -- she apparently found it rather bleak and didn't socialize with anyone up there for a long time.
And finally found someone who was interesting to her.

Harlan: Well, they keep calling her an adulterer.
And she's not.
She's not married.
He's an adulterer.
She's unmarried.

Heather: But he's not an enlisted person.

[ Applause ]

Harlan: This is awful.
I'm the voice of rationality tonight.
Very strange.

Heather: Well, we'll give you opportunities to do something else if you want.

[ Laughter ]

Harry: Thank you.
You know, you would hope that we can get our work done and coexist.
And save this stuff --

Bill: You would hope.
But you know what, but to do something that doesn't conform to human nature, that's --

Tony: But it's happening right now.
I mean, again, this big discussion that's happening is over a few cases that again have been in the media.
How many people, every single day, women every single day --

Bill: How many women are not reporting the drill sergeants that are absolutely abusing them because they're afraid to report it?
You don't know about that either.

Harry: Well, that happens --

Tony: That happens on the male side also.

Harry: I mean, that happens in business outside the military. That's power.
That's not sex.
That's just --

Bill: But a drill sergeant has a power over someone that a guy in an office doesn't have.

Harry: It's a pretty unique power.

Tony: You haven't been in some offices.

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: If I was a drill sergeant and I did something bad to one of my recruits and they were out on the firing range, I would be very careful not to turn my back.

Harry: I don't believe we're talking about this for any other reason --

[ Laughter ]

I don't believe that this is in the press for any other reason --
it is getting as much attention as it is getting except for the word adultery.
I just think that's so hot.
And I hear it in the morning and I would know more about this, but I kind of fade off from it.
I don't want to hear an Arthur Miller play first thing in the morning about --

[ Laughter ]

Bill: I have to take a break.
We'll come right back.

[ Applause ]

[ Applause ]

Bill: Okay.
Well, we obviously have some big rights advocates here today, so let me bring this up from the civilian side of it.
Now, at the national restaurant association trade show this week, which I never miss, by the way --

[ Laughter ]

-- They introduced a new product called hygiene guard, which basically is a series of infrared sensors that you can put in bathrooms at hospitals, restaurants to squeal on employees who do not wash their hands.

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: I'm for it.
I'm for it.

Bill: Who are supposed to wash their hands.

[ Applause ]

Harlan: I'm for it.
I'll tell you something.
I was in O'Hare airport recently.
And I washed my hands, I did my thing.
Next to me was a guy who whipped his wand and then he started walking out.

[ Laughter ]

And so I said to him, "Hey, hey, hey!"
And he goes, "What, what?"
And I said, "Would you like to wash your hands instead of spreading germs?"
He says, you know, "screw you" is basically what he told me.

[ Laughter ]

So I said, "Hey, king of the pig people, come back and wash your [ bleep bleep ] hands!"

[ Laughter ]

He walks out.
I followed him down the [ bleep ] aisle.
"This man did not wash his hands!
Don't shake hands with this man!"

[ Applause ]

Heather: Are you going to need this device --

Tony: I was going to say, I don't think you need all the technology. Just put a video camera in there.
I don't know if you saw, but the other night on late-night cable, they had this show on where they have hidden cameras about what people do at work when no one knows what they're doing.
And these are people I'm worried about.
You need a penis guard, because this guy, he was mad at his boss and he whipped it out -- he just drank a bunch of beer --
and filled the coffee.

Harlan: Yep, I saw that!
I saw that!

Tony: He did it five days in a row.
And people were drinking it for five days.

Bill: Tony, this is not motivational.

[ Laughter ]

Tony: Then they caught him.

[ Applause ]

Heather: You need to think positively about that.

Harlan: They did a survey about three, four months ago and they said something like it's only 35% of all men wash their hands.

Heather: Can I tell you where that survey came from?

Harry: I wash my hands before I touch myself.

[ Laughter ]

That's the way I was raised.

[ Applause ]

Heather: The survey on which they're basing the data, which is sort of amusing, was done by the American society of microbiologists who basically hid in public restrooms observing -- they hid in Penn Station.
They hid at the Atlanta Braves game watching these guys coming in and out from the stands.
And that's where they got the data from.
This is not exactly a representative sample of restaurant employees.

Bill: You're in an airport, you're in a stadium -- I don't care about those people, what they do.
I'm not going to touch those people.
We're talking about restaurant employees --

Heather: That's my point.

Bill: -- Who are making, you know, pizza with their hands or something.

Harlan: The "Seinfeld" episode.
It's a "Seinfeld" episode.

Bill: That's not same thing.

Harry: But isn't this every 13-year-old boy's ultimate fear, that someone's going to know what he's doing in the bathroom?

[ Laughter ]

Bill: Yes.

Harry: Doesn't this just go too deep into our psyche?
I mean, some things we just have to live with the doubt, you know?

[ Laughter ]

Bill: We'll take a break.

We'll come back.

[ Applause ]

[ Applause ]

Bill: Okay.
Continuing with our theme of rights.
Now, Harry, you've said you are for people serving you food with pee on their hands.

[ Laughter ]

That's fine.

What do you think about mothers who --

[ Laughter ]

-- Who leave their babies outside of restaurants unattended?

Harry: I'm livid, I simply livid.

Bill: This was a big news story.
This woman, I think she's from Denmark.

Heather: Denmark.

Bill: Okay.

She's from Denmark, lives in New York, married to a New Yorker, and she left a baby outside of a restaurant in the stroller because in Denmark, apparently, that's what they do.

Harlan: In line of sight, though, the baby was in line of sight.

Bill: No.
I don't think it actually was.

Harlan: That's what I've heard.

Bill: She claimed it was, but I don't think --

Harry: Not in the sight to her, but to others.

Harlan: To muggers.

[ Laughter ]

Bill: Whatever it was.
By the way, the baby --

Heather: People, mad cabbies.

Tony: I think it's amazing that the Danish press has gotten it across in their promotions that New York City is a really comfortable place to hang out in.

[ Laughter ]

I love New York City, but some people chain their trash cans down.

[ Laughter ]

I also think if you look at it, in this country now, people get put in jail for leaving their dog in a car on a hot day.
So, I think if you're in a position that you leave your child out there, there needs to be some responsibility.
But I think you got to look at responsibility and humanity, and she should have gotten a warning or some kind of communication.

Bill: But in her country, I mean, it's one of those customs.

Harry: Right.
Then again, in France, you can take your pet into the restaurant and breast feed it at the table.

[ Laughter ]

I may have heard that improperly, but that's the way I understand it.
Whatever you do, if you mitigate it with some -- I mean --
this is a solution.
The mother separates herself from the baby, so the solution is arrest her?

[ Laughter ]

Tony: She was trying to be courteous.
The child wanted a smoke, so --

[ Laughter ]

Bill: Do you think we should do that for every custom?
Do we just not judge?

Harry: No, you just don't throw people in the can.
Talk to them.
You know, explain --

Harlan: We ought to beat the crap out of the restaurant people who called the cops.

Harry: There you go.
Of course.

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: What a bunch of "Stick up the backside people" they are.

[ Laughter ]

Heather: I'd like to disagree.

Tony: I disagree.

Heather: In fact, I think this whole issue's gotten confused because it's actually two separate questions.
The first question is, do foreigners who are visiting our country, are they subject to our laws?
And the answer is, generally speaking, yes, they should be.
Should they -- were they overzealous in this case?
Should it have been handled with more delicacy?
But the second question is, are different -- is this particular custom appropriate?
Was it appropriate for people to be concerned about the children?
Or the child in the stroller outside at 55 degrees on a New York City street with no apparant attendance?
I would say yes because laws and practices are relevant to their particular location.
And metropolitan areas are much more dangerous --

Bill: Wait a second.

They said --

[ Talking over each other ]

Tony: She was also communicated to by several people in the restaurant who asked her, "Would you please take a look at her baby?"
And from what I understand, she just rejected it.
That's why they got angry and called the police.

Bill: How about the fact that they say this is what they do in Denmark.
It is stupid in Denmark, too.

[ Laughter ]

It's stupid --

Harry: It's melancholy.
Here it's not stupid, it's melancholy.

Tony: New definition now.

Bill: It's stupid to leave a baby unattended, even if you're not in New York.

Heather: What?
I live in New York.
I have a 6-Month-old.
I would never leave her unattended.
But apparently in Denmark, they put these kids under big quilted blankets.

Bill: Would you do it in Denmark?
Are the Danish that much more evolved?

Heather: No, but what's interesting, there are different communities where people do feel that they can just run into a store and leave the baby out there because they know everyone in the neighborhood. Everyone else is looking out for the baby.
The baby's all bundled up.
It would get hot if you took it inside.
It's all dressed for being outside.

Harlan: That's not just Denmark.
In fact, I think it was Diane Sawyer was talking about she was in -- was it Paris or Rome -- a couple of weeks ago and everybody was doing it there, too.
It's fairly common in Europe.

Tony: That's why a warning would've been appropriate.
But, you know, you got to look at this thing and say, what does it give you?
What can you pull from it?
And I think when your kids say you're neglecting them, say you're Danish.

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: It's like the Flynn case.
There's no one in middle management who does anything sensible.
They always go to the extreme.

Bill: But are European babies so sophisticated?

[ Laughter ]

That they themselves do not run into trouble at 6 months?

Tony: Maybe Europeans wouldn't accost a baby as quickly as some of us.

Bill: But forget about even a bad guy coming up to a baby.
Doesn't the baby itself have problems?
I don't have babies.
I never had one, but don't they puke and gurgle and do stuff?

[ Laughter ]

Harry: They do.

Bill: Can't they get into trouble on their own?

Heather: Depends on the age.

Harry: In theory --

Harlan: So does Jesse Helms, but they keep him in Congress.

[ Laughter and applause ]

Harry: I live in a town of 3,500 people in Washington.
Nice little town.
I would leave -- my kid, now he's 11, but my son -- when he was younger, I would have left him outside to play, outside a market, when he was younger, than I would have left him in L.A.

Bill: In Washington, D.C.?

Harry: No, Washington State.

Bill: Oh, I was going to say --
my God.
Mayor Barry could come by and give the kid crack.

[ Laughter and applause ]

We got to take a break.
We'll be right back.

[ Applause ]

Bill: All right.
Tomorrow we'll have Joan Rivers, Fred Willard, James Finn and Joseph Perkins.
We only have a few seconds.
I wanted to ask you, you're a magician.
Do you see any comparison in what you do and what a magician does?

[ Laughter ]


Heather: Think positively?

Tony: I just think that most people have illusions about what it takes to make their life work and it's really very simple when you know the secret.

Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher

Executive Producers
Scott Carter
Bill Maher
Nancy Geller

Senior Producer
Douglas M. Wilson

Supervising Producer
Kevin E. Hamburger

Created By
Bill Maher

Directed By
Michael Dimich

Writing Supervised By
Chris Kelly

Dave Drabik
Hayes Jackson
Brian Jacobsmeyer
Bill Kelley
Bill Maher
Billy Martin
Ned Rice
Danny Vermont
Eric Weinberg
Scott Carter

Executive in Charge of Production
John Fisher

Executive Producers
Brad Grey
Bernie Brillstein
Marc Gurvitz

1997 Brillstein-Grey Communications