"Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher"

Aired September 8th, 1997

Guests on this program were:

Harlan Ellison
Maggie Gallagher
Merrill Markoe
Stephen Collins

[ Cheers and applause ]

Bill: Thank you.
Thank you very much, folks.
Thank you so much.
Oh, you're very kind.
Thank you so much, folks.
It's great to be back.
We were off last week.
But the news did not stop.
I guess you heard this --
Yesterday, a ferry boat leaving Haiti sunk and 300 people died, drowned, the boat capsized.
But a tragedy was avoided when they discovered that none of them on board was a Princess.
So --

[ Laughter and applause ]

This was in the "USA Today"/CNN poll today.
I thought this was an amazing statistic, and we're going to talk about it.
58% of women in this country, America, think there was too little coverage of the Lady Di event.

[ Laughter ]

Too little.
And they wonder why we don't give them the remote control.
I mean, too little.

[ Laughter and applause ]

Just for example, those bastards at The Weather Channel hardly even mentioned it.

[ Laughter ]

They went on about the weather!

[ Laughter ]

This has been a crazy week.
It was in the paper today, Diana left an estate worth $65 million.
And it was also in the paper the same day, Mother Teresa, you know what she left?
A couple of pairs of sandals, a change of clothes and a bucket.

[ Laughter ]

And today, Al Gore called on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, and asked if they would donate the bucket.
I tell ya.

[ Laughter and applause ]

Good to see that Mother Teresa coming in second, boy.
No, her funeral is going to be Saturday.
And Elton John said he was starting to work --

[ Laughter ]

On a -- he was rewriting another version of "Candle In The Wind," but he couldn't find a word that rhymed with leprosy.
So he cut out the whole thing.

[ Laughter and applause ]

Not that we don't have exciting women in our own country.
Paula Jones is in the news once again.
Her lawyer -- do you know this?
Paula Jones' lawyers have quit.
They have quit Paula Jones.
Because they -- you know, Paula Jones was asking for $700,000 and an apology.
Now, the White House offered the 700 grand without the apology and Paula turned it down.
And her lawyers said, "No.
Were going out there."
Because Paula said obviously she cares more about honor than money.
How could any lawyer work with her?

[ Laughter and applause ]

All right.
Thanks for coming.
It's all been satirized for your protection.

[ Applause ]

Thank you, folks.

Bill: All righty.
Welcome to our show.
Let us meet our panel.
First, "The Washington Post" called him one of the great living American short story writers.
His 70th book is "The New Collection Slippage."
Harlan Ellison.
Yes, sir.

[ Applause ]

Buddy, how are you, bud?
Good to see you.
She is a syndicated columnist and an affiliate scholar at the institute for American values.
Maggie Gallagher.

[ Applause ]

Hello, young lady.
Good to see you again.
She is a four-time Emmy Award winning writer, whose latest book is "Merrill Markoe's Guide To Love."
She now co-hosts a weekend talk show on KABC.
Merrill Markoe.

[ Applause ]

There's my doll.
How are you, honey?
Good to see you.

Merrill: Nice to see you.

Bill: Thank you very much.
And finally, he stars in the critically acclaimed family drama "Seventh Heaven" on another network, Stephen Collins.

[ Applause ]

Steve, good to see you, sir.

[ Applause ]

All right.
Well, we were off last week.
Typically, we always get off when the big news event happens.
We were off right after O.J. killed his wife, allegedly.

[ Laughter ]

Which, no, that same thing happened to us.
You can depend -- when we have a vacation, something big is going to happen.
Now --

Merrill: Is that any kind of a predictive tool?

Bill: A predictive tool?

Merrill: Yeah, like a way to tell Earthquakes or something?

Bill: That's what I'm saying.
If you see that we have a hiatus coming up --

Merrill: Watch out.

Bill: Watch your CNN.

Stephen: I don't think you should call Maher a tool under any conditions.

Merrill: Oh, I'm sorry.

Bill: This thing I mentioned in the monologue.
There's a lot of aspects I want to talk about.
But 58% of women in this poll said that they feel that there was too little coverage.
I -- it was on every channel, every minute of every day --

[ Laughter ]

Barbara Walters would have to come to my house personally --

[ Laughter ]

Merrill: But they didn't offer to give her her own cable network.

Stephen: The all Diana channel.

Bill: Every channel was the all Diana channel.

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: I was disappointed.
I was expecting --
"This is Ted Koppel inside the casket."

[ Laughter and applause ]

Bill: But I don't mean to make too much of this O.J. connection.
But this was my thinking --

Maggie: Now, O.J. had a much bigger coverage.
O.J. was on all day, every day.

Merrill: Well, Diana was on all day, every day.

Bill: Yeah.

[ Laughter ]

But when the O.J. trial ended, everybody was like, "Oh, my God.
Black and white really are very different.
They see this very differently."
I think this is the same thing for men and women, because women are like, you know, "She was the greatest, and we have to cover her and unite.
You're even screwin' her after she's dead.
You're not giving her enough coverage."
And men are like, "Okay.
She was a nice chick.
What's up with this?"

[ Laughter ]

No, I'm serious.
Men and women do not understand this on the same level.

Merrill: Well, they've got to tell me what gender I am, because I'm with the men.

Bill: You are?

Merrill: Yeah.
I don't get it, either.

[ Applause ]

Stephen: I mean, she was the perfect -- she was what our culture has made this dream of the perfect Princess.
And among --

Bill: Why?

Stephen: It's just the apotheosis of fairy tales.
But she added to it physical beauty.
And she just became the person.

Merrill: He's a woman.
That's what we got here.

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: And that's what I came on the show to talk about tonight.
I'm a woman, okay?
Is that so bad?

[ Applause ]

Is that so bad?
There's also a very -- there's a very tough tragic thing in there, because here she was, you know, going to marry the incipient King of England.
And the marriage didn't go, it didn't work.
And she looks like this bird with a broken wing.
And she didn't play the game.
He wouldn't play the game with them.
And she comes out looking like a very tough lady.
I think she's probably more important dead than she ever would have been alive.

Bill: That's true of anyone who dies.

Harlan: Not so.
Most everybody croaks and nobody notices.

Bill: Oh, Elvis would be doing Branson, Missouri, now if he were alive.

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: I'm not saying there were some.

Bill: Everybody looks better dead.
I mean, you can't say that.

Maggie: No, the interesting thing, though, I think you are on to something about this difference between men and women.
And the interesting thing is --

Bill: Oh?

[ Laughter ]

Maggie: The interesting thing to me is that although we call her a tough lady and a post-feminist Princess, if you look at the images, which is what everyone hungrily devoured of Diana.
They were all deeply traditionally feminine.
I mean, they were the wife, they were the mother, they were the young maiden.
They were the lady bountiful.
And I think it is really interesting and completely politically incorrect that women responded so powerfully to what is in our culture, anyway, a kind of repressed image of femininity.

Bill: Now, that's what I want to understand.
Why did women respond so powerfully.

Stephen: Why do they --

[ Laughter ]

Bill: All right.
We have to take a break.
When we come back, we'll hear from the women on the panel.

Stephen: Oh, sure.

[ Applause ]

Bill: All right.
We were talking about Lady Diana and different reactions of men and women.
And, oh, by the way, you know, I see those pictures in Scotland of the poor kids and the dad.
You know, "At least don't wear a skirt while we're going through this, dad.
Get some dockers until this crisis is over."

[ Laughter ]

Anyway, we cut you off.
I'm sorry.
You were going to --

Stephen: Well, you know, you were talking about women and wanting more air time for Diana.
And I think Maggie's right, that it is amazing, because she is such a traditional symbol of femininity.
But my wife has given my daughter numerous Barbies, and my wife's a feminist.
There's like -- there's just this, there's this synapse here about Barbie and certain Princess images that we have.
And it's -- somehow, it's okay.

Merrill: The whole Princess thing kinda bugs me.
I mean, I heard people saying -- lately, I've been hosting a talk radio show.
And I've been listening to people calling in and stuff.
And somebody called in and said, "She was our Princess, too."
And I was thinking, "Wait a minute.
Didn't we fight a war simply to get rid of royalty?"

Bill: Right.

Merrill: Why do we want a Princess?

Bill: This thing about "She was one of us"?

Maggie: Yeah, isn't that odd?
If we're going to have a Princess, right?
What's point of having a Princess who's just like us?
What's they point of having a royal family who's just like a regular guy?
And I think we're probably being disingenuous.
What we want to say is we wish we were just like her, but we're not.

Harlan: This is not the first time.
Grace Kelly was the same thing.
She got the same treatment.

[ Applause ]

Maggie: Not as big.

Harlan: Well, not as big because it was a different time.
But I think Grace Kelly is the same kind of model.
What I guess is bothering me is the deification, which is a strange thing.
There was a minister here in L.A. who had -- I can't remember what church it was.
He had a mass for her.
And his rational for having a mass for her was that this church that he had here in L.A. was loosely affiliated with the Church of England, C of E.
"And since she was C of E, she's our Princess, too."
And I thought, "God, are you going to sell the T-shirts out front?"
You know, what's it gonna be?
It's the need to belong to it.

Bill: The whole thing about she was our -- that's the same thing -- I hate to come back to this O.J. thing --

Merrill: He was our Princess, too.

Bill: But people, I mean, black people said, "You know, he's one of us."
He was never one of them any more than she was one of --
you know, I saw these toothless women saying, "Oh, she was one of" --
but she wasn't!
She was --

[ Laughter and applause ]

I mean, O.J. wasn't one of them.
O.J. lived in Brentwood and dated white women.
And she wasn't one of them either.
But you know what it was?
I think that they were like anti-establishment.
And Diana, women like her because she had the rotten husband and she got away from the bad mother-in-law, right?
And O.J. fought the system and he -- you know.
They were both like, fighting the man.

Maggie: The other thing about Diana is that you could admire her without envying her.
Because there's something comforting that someone so rich, so desirable, so beautiful, so sought after was so unhappy.
It kind of makes us feel a little bit better about our corner of the world.

[ Laughter ]

Bill: That's true.
We've got to take another break.
We'll come back to this.
Of course, what else is there?

[ Applause ]

Bill: Okay.
You know, let's talk about this aspect of how this whole country and Britain observed this.
The brother, Earl Spencer, I guess is how he goes.
He said "I pledge that we, your blood family, will do all we can to continue the loving way which you were steering these two exceptional young men, so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition, but can sing openly as you planned."
Which is a nice sentiment, except --

Harlan: He's a big hero in England now.
Big, big hero.

Bill: But, you know, for a thousand years, singing openly was not what the royals did.
And that's the way Charles was raised.
You don't sing openly.
It was exactly what he said --
"Immersed by duty and tradition."
Is there not something to that?
Isn't that what noblesse oblige means?
That you have an obligation --

Harlan: Not when you're as ugly as Charles.

[ Laughter and applause ]

This is a man who should have gotten down on his knees every day and thanked whatever deity he worships that he was married to her instead of Camilla Parker-Bowles, who looks like a Stevedore.

[ Applause ]

Maggie: I agree with you, Bill.
I think Charles has gotten a really bum rap.
You know, it is part of the collapse between private and public.
You know, we think that because he doesn't display his emotions, we turn him into some sort of cold, unfeeling monster that we can put everything we don't like about a man, and project it onto Charles.

Bill: Right.

Maggie: And I think there's something admirable in this day and age in being the last Victorian.
Which is what he and his mother are.

Bill: Well, I do, too.
When I was a kid, that was how you showed respect.
By being quiet about your grieving.
By not making -- everything has to be a talk show now.

Maggie: There was -- don't you think something so eloquent about that male homage?
Those five or six men in black walking behind, not saying a word?
That's the way I like my men.

Bill: You mean during the funeral procession?

Maggie: Yeah.
During the funeral procession.

Bill: Well, what were they going to do, sing "The Saints Go Marching In"?
Of course they're going to --

[ Laughter ]

Maggie: Wasn't that statement enough?
Is what I'm saying.
Just that homage.

Merrill: I think people maybe expect anymore that like, now, all emotion is supposed to be gauged by stuff we watch on TV.
Like, if someone gives you a gift, you're supposed to jump up and down and scream like they would on a game show.

Bill: Right.

Merrill: And if somebody dies, you're supposed to fall to your knees and go, "Oh, my God!"

Maggie: It's not only that, but you're supposed to do it in public.
If a camera didn't capture it, it didn't happen.

Stephen: It is also a moving camera.
In the days before they had these things, when it was still camera, that picture of reticence and grieving worked.
But with a moving camera, you have you to entertain it.

[ Laughter ]

And so a person who is doing that isn't entertaining.
And we say, "Come on, give us more!"

Maggie: It's like we all felt very tragic.
And so we're demanding that they come out like puppets on a stage and entertain us with their emotions.

Harlan: I was struck by goyishiveness of it.
I mean, it was very gentile.
The whole thing was very gentile.

Bill: Very gentile.

Stephen: What do you mean by that?

Harlan: What I mean by that is that there was --

Bill: Hey, you're a woman.
Don't go for a Jew now.

[ Laughter ]

Stephen: Then I'm a woman gentile.

Maggie: It was entirely white Anglo-Saxon Protestant funeral.
Did you notice that?

Bill: Yes.
Well, that is Britain.

[ Laughter ]

But you mentioned Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Now let me say something else about Charles.
I would think that he would be something of a hero to women because he's married to the cute, young one and he cheats on the old bag.
With the old bag.
You know what I'm saying?
It's like -- it would make more sense if he was married to the one who looks like a lunch lady --

[ Laughter ]

And was cheating with Diana.
But he's married to Diana and --
Doesn't that strike a blow for women who say, "Hey, he loved her for who she is"?

Maggie: Yeah, you know, I hadn't really thought about that.

Harlan: The guy was cheatin'!
The guy was cheatin'!

Bill: How many guys are married to the cute, young blonde and they're cheating with the older woman?

[ Laughter ]

Merrill: On the other hand, I feel bad for her, because, you know, she wasn't that horrible looking.
But everybody is comparing her to some kind of standard of "Dynasty."
Which they compare everybody to.
Every person involved in any national scenario has to have the perfect looks that go with everything.
And she's not so horrible.

Maggie: Well, she's better looking than Princess Anne, for example.

[ Laughter ]

Stephen: Here we go.

Maggie: Who is a very good woman, I might add.

Bill: I don't want to rate this woman, you know.

[ Laughter ]

Merrill: But that's the thing.
If she weren't -- if we weren't -- you wouldn't be comparing her to Diana.
You wouldn't be comparing Diana to the cast of "Dynasty."

Bill: No, but I'm saying it is rare in life anywhere when somebody cheats with an older, less good-looking --

Stephen: He must have really loved her.

Bill: That's what I'm saying, thank you.
See, it takes a woman to explain this.

[ Laughter ]

Bill: Right.
He really -- he really loved her.
But you know --

Harlan: This is the most alien conversation I've heard this decade.

[ Laughter ]

I got to --

Stephen: Well, you're not a woman.

Harlan: I can't -- I mean, I was married four times before Susan put up with me.
You know, and I know a little about marriage.
And it is not necessarily what someone looks like or their age.
If someone can make you laugh, you're with them.

Man from audience: Right.

Harlan: Okay.
You see?

[ Applause ]

Bill: Yeah, buy when you're the Prince of England, have you to marry a virgin.
You have to marry someone --

Harlan: Well, that's the problem.
Here is a guy who is in his 30s --

Bill: He couldn't marry Camilla.
He had to marry a virgin.

Maggie: Well, she was married.

Harlan: He has to marry a 17-year-old kid for God's sake.

Bill: Right.

Harlan: And they say, "Well, she should have lived up to the bargain."
When you're 17 years old, if you buy a car and you're 17 years old and you don't like it, you can take it back.
You can't take back the King.

Maggie: Did anyone else wonder why a 36-year-old woman with two kids was racing around at 120 miles per hour with no seat belt?
Maybe she never got to be a teenager?

Harlan: Oh, I think she's guilty because she didn't have her belt on.

Maggie: No, she's not guilty, but is that --

Merrill: It's not very responsible.

Bill: It is really about seat belt laws.

[ Laughter ]

Maggie: I didn't say she was responsible.
I said doesn't that strike you as odd?

Merrill: She was the mother of two.
I mean, you are supposed to be thinking of stuff like that.

Harlan: This is getting up my nose.
Today, I'm listening to the paparazzi vindication.
The driver had three times the alcohol content and now, he had --
gee, he had an anti-depressant drug in his system somewhere, so it's got to be their fault.
It's not the fault of the shmendricks riding along on the bikes behind 'em chasing.

Stephen: Somebody, we'll probably never know.
Somebody said either the driver said, "I'm going to lose them" or was told to lose them.
Their lives were not in danger.

Bill: Right.

Stephen: Their lives were not in danger.

Maggie: Somebody gave that driver an order.

Bill: There's a difference between a pest and a threat.
They were not shooting guns at them.

Stephen: Exactly.

Merrill: If you're going to say, "Step on it, you probably shouldn't do that.
Unless they're drunk.

Harlan: This is wonderful.
You have no way of knowing what was said in that car.

Stephen: No.
We don't.
We never will.

Harlan: And all of the stories that we heard --

Bill: "Step on the gas" was one of the things.

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: There's no drunk driver.
There weren't even any paparazzi there when they left.

Stephen: The driver was drunk.
And there's no question about that.
But their lives were not in danger.
There was no reason to be going that fast?

Harlan: Well, how do you know?
Because you weren't there.

Stephen: Well, maybe they were brandishing guns.

Harlan: They say they now have films.
Dodi's father apparently has the films that show headlights right in the back window chasing them.

Maggie: It should be investigated, and it is being investigated.
So let's wait till we know what's going on.

Harlan: I just don't like paparazzi, altogether.

Stephen: I don't either.
I don't either.

[ Applause ]

Bill: Harlan --
We got to take a break.
We'll come right back.

[ Applause ]

Bill: All right.
Tomorrow we're gonna have Ezola Foster, Paul Provenza, Marion Ross and Tia Carrere.
So, we got on to the paparazzi issue.

Harlan: Why don't they go after Jesse Helms?

Bill: Who?

Harlan: The paparazzi.
I mean, I would love to see 14,000 paparazzi dancing around him like mad things at a fire, you know, at a bonfire, driving him crazy so he would have heart attack and a stroke and then, you know, plop.
I'd like that.

Stephen: Speaking as a woman, I don't want to see pictures of Jesse Helms naked in Saint-Tropez.

[ Laughter ]

Bill: Well, why don't we just have a drunk Frenchman drive him through a tunnel?

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: I'd buy a ticket to that.

Maggie: How terrible.

Bill: What?
What's terrible?
He wasn't a drunk Frenchman?

Maggie: No, he was a drunk --

Bill: This Princess was killed by a frog.
I'm sorry, but that's the truth.

Maggie: No, I know.
Just trying to kill off a U.S. Senator on foreign soil.

Stephen: Do you know else is odd, I think odd about this?

Maggie: Thank you.

Stephen: Can't prove this, but chances are if she had never gotten divorced, she'd still be alive.
She might be very unhappy.

Merrill: If she had never gotten a divorce, it would have been Camilla Parker-Bowles in that car with Dodi Al Fayed.

[ Laughter and applause ]

Bill: Believe me, Dodi would never have been with Camilla Parker-Bowles.

[ Laughter ]

Harlan: Do you think the Jerry Lewis movies have anything to do with the Frenchman killing them?

[ Applause ]

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

Scott Carter
Christopher Case Erbland
Hayes Jackson
Brian Jacobsmeyer
Bill Kelley
Bill Maher
Billy Martin
Ned Rice
Eric Weinberg

Executive in Charge of Production
John Fisher

Executive Producers
Brad Grey
Bernie Brillstein
Marc Gurvitz

1997 Brillstein-Grey Communications