Word for Word - Transcripts - 3/17/99
  March 17th, 1999

Guests on this program were:
Todd Rundgren
Kirby Wilbur
Greg Proops
Gloria Allred

Bill's Opening

Bill:: Well, thank you very much.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

[ Cheers ]

They're all drunk.

[ Laughter ]

As you should be out getting sloshed.

Well, I'm half Irish.

This is my day.

And over at the White House, President Clinton, also of Irish roots, he wore a green tie, just like everyone does.

Of course, the Republicans jumped all over this.

They said this was a signal to Monica Lewinsky --

[ Laughter ]

That's he wants to have a three-way with Kathy Ireland.

[ Laughter and applause ]

President Clinton does see his roots back there in Ireland.

And it was a typical day for that at White House.

He urged an intern named Erin to go braless.

I --

[ Laughter ]

[ Applause ]

You're too drunk to think.

[ Laughter ]

Okay, actually, the country that President Clinton is having trouble with, not Ireland -- China.

He is being criticized, of course, about our missile technology going over there to the Red Chinese.

And presidential hopeful McCain of Arizona stepped up his criticism yesterday and said that Clinton's China policy was spasmodic, vacillating and reactive.

To which Dan Quayle said, "I fold."

[ Laughter and applause ]

Now, another campaign, presidential hopeful has been out there on the hustings trying to drum up support.

Al Gore yesterday said, "My father," I love this, he was talking about his past, he said, "My father taught me how to clean out hog waste with a shovel, how to clear land with an ax, how to plow a steep hillside with a team of mules."

And then Steve Forbes came in.

He said, "That's nothing.

My father made me mop up after his gay orgies."

Which I --

[ Audience groans ]

[ Applause ]

Oohing into applause.

Did you notice that?


And finally, do you have Oscar fever?

This town is already gripped by Oscar fever.

Of course, the ceremony is Sunday.

There are protests already starting about the award being given to Elia Kazan, of course because during the '50s he named names.

And President Clinton said he can sympathize.

He said, "You know, you spend a lifetime doing good work and all they remember you for is fingering your co-workers."

[ Laughter and applause ]

Panel Discussion

All right.

Let us bring out our panel.

She is one of America's best-known and most controversial feminist attorneys, Gloria Allred right over here.

[ Applause ]

Hey, Gloria.

Gloria:: Hi, Bill.

Bill:: How are you, beautiful?

Gloria:: Nice to see you.

Bill:: Thank you for coming.

He is a talk radio host and the author of "The Right Thing to Say," Kirby Wilbur right here.

There it is.

[ Applause ]

Kirby:: Bill, how are you?

Bill:: Kirby, very good to see you again.

He's on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Wednesdays at 9:30 here on ABC, and "Versus," coming soon to Comedy Central, my old network, Greg Proops.


[ Applause ]

Hey, love your show.

Greg:: Hello, Bill.

Bill:: Thanks for coming here.

He's an innovative singer, songwriter and producer.

He's on tour with Ringo Starr.

And his web site is tri-dash -- tr-i -- whatever it is -- it's Todd Rundgren.

I don't know.

[ Applause ]

I'm not good with the computers that you young people are into.

Todd:: The damn .coms and your --

Bill:: Okay, well, listen, there's a good issue here for you, Gloria.

It was in the paper last week.

In Iowa, they have a new bill that wants to limit the length of the time a divorce would have to pay alimony.

And I'll bet you that rings some bells with people.

Now, I know you make your living partly from making, you know, men pay to have women go away.

[ Laughter ]

Isn't this -- my question is, isn't this a good thing for feminists?

I mean, isn't it more along the feminist lines to say, "You know what?

We're not dependent creatures, and we don't need your money our whole life."

Why should someone who considers themselves an equal, as women certainly should and do, need to have the support of a man their whole life just 'cause they were married to him at one time?

Gloria:: Well, actually, Bill, most women don't get alimony.

Most women don't even seek to get spousal support, which is what it's called these days.

Bill:: Oh, come on.

Gloria:: No, they don't.

Very few women ever are awarded it anymore.

But for those who need it, under certain circumstances they should be able to have it.

For example, in a long-term marriage, or if a woman has been working inside of the home taking care of the children, she hasn't worked outside of the home in a paying job.

She doesn't have the skills to support herself.

Bill:: The ones I read about are like Jerry Hall, married to Mick Jagger.

You know?

She picked him up when he was practically on the street.

[ Laughter ]

And now she wants half of his income for the rest of her life.

That's the kind of ones that we read about.

Greg:: Why shouldn't she get half his income?

You know?

I mean, she gave him her life.

She had kids with him and stuff like that.

Bill:: She didn't give him her life.

She had a career.

He had a career.

They came together.

They split apart.

Why should -- it's extortion.

It's pure and simple extortion.

Greg:: He didn't honor his marriage vows and whatnot.

You know?

Why shouldn't he have to pay for that, you know?

And most guys never cough up anyway.

Bill:: So you should have to pay money for your moral indiscretions?

That's interesting.

Kirby:: Bill, that usually the law anyway.

Why not leave it to the discretion of the judge.

Gloria is right.

I think a woman who's spent 25 years raising kids with no job skills is a different case than a Jerry Hall.

And why can't we trust the judges to come up with a settlement that's fair rather than legislate everything and put it in stone?

Bill:: Well, what this bill wants to do is make a ten-year limit.

And I think ten years is enough.

How about after about year seven look for a job?

[ Laughter ]

Gloria:: Well, you know, it really depends on the circumstances.

Some women, for example, may be in a car accident or get cancer or maybe they have been -- maybe they're still raising young children at that point.

Maybe they've got five kids and they can't work outside the home and take care of those children also inside the home.

Bill:: Well, by definition you couldn't be raising young children after ten years because they wouldn't be young.

Gloria:: Well, no, but they --

Kirby:: If they were 1 at the time of the divorce, they'd be 11 after ten years.

1 and 10 would be 11.

Bill:: Kirby, I can't do that kind of math.

Kirby:: I know you can't.

That's why I'm here, Bill.

Gloria:: Really what it is is an economic cushion.

It's like a safety net until such time as she can be employed outside of the home.

And I think that mothers who have devoted their lives to their families should be able to get --

Todd:: I'm not talking about what happens after divorce.

I'm talking about what happens before marriage.

You know?

If the prevailing trend is to make this a financial commitment as well as a commitment in terms of raising children, which I think is the only really important commitment.

I don't see why people get married otherwise.

[ Light applause ]

Kirby:: They get married because they fall in love.

And they make a total commitment, which includes sharing resources.

If the husband's the breadwinner, the woman stays home.

If that's the decision, the woman stays home and puts her financial future in the hands of that husband.

And for that husband to then find a younger woman --

Bill:: If that's the case, yes.

Kirby:: If that's the case.

So why legislate it?

Why not just let the judge make a decision that's fair to both parties.

I mean, Jerry Hall should not get alimony from Mick Jagger.

She's not gonna need it.

Bill:: But the whole point of this -- all right, forget Jerry Hall.

Kirby:: Okay.

Bill:: But the whole point of this bill --

[ Laughter ]

The whole point of this bill is to say there should be a limit to it, that it shouldn't go on forever, that women shouldn't be able to have it both ways.

To say, you know, "We want equal pay, but if we get divorced then suddenly we're helpless and dependent."

Greg:: But does there need to be a limit on it do you think?

I mean, is that something that needs to be said hard and fast, as Kirby said.

Isn't it a case-by-case thing rather than just say that all women get cut off after ten years?

You know?

Todd:: Just change with jurisdiction.

You know, you move to another court and the judge will give you a different judgment on it.

Gloria:: Not really.

Bill:: Not really, no.

Gloria:: There shouldn't be any arbitrary cutoff, though.

It should be based on what is reasonable under the circumstances.

Look at each situation differently.

Bill:: Obviously, if it was reasonable, they wouldn't be presenting this bill.

If it was this situation, they wouldn't have to present a bill to say, "You know what --"

Kirby:: Are you suggesting that all bills are introduced because of situations that are -- are you suggesting all those are reasonable?

Bill:: No, I'm suggesting they need to redress the situation.

Kirby:: No, I suspect a legislator was divorced and got hit with a big settlement and wants a way out.

[ Laughter and applause ]

That's what happened.

Bill:: Okay.

Well, I gotta get a way out 'cause we're late for a commercial.

We'll be right back.

Announcer:: Join us tomorrow when our guests will be -- Florence Henderson, Roger Ebert, Niger Innis and Portland citizen Colin Bowl.

[ Applause ]

Bill:: Okay, you know, Gloria, whenever you're here I like to take advantage of your legal expertise, which I certainly don't get at home.

Now, I don't know if anyone in this audience, but probably some, have been tested at your workplace for drugs.

You have to pee into a cup.


There's a young man in South Carolina named Kenneth Curtis who is testing this.

He thinks that employee drug testing is unfair, it violates privacy, and it's hard to aim.

[ Laughter ]

So he has set up a web site where people can buy his clean urine.

And operators are standing by --

[ Laughter ]

Todd:: That's his personal clean urine.

Bill:: His personal clean urine.

Todd:: God, he's gotta have a bladder like really like --

[ Laughter ]

Kirby:: He drinks a lot of water.

Greg:: And no bitter aftertaste.

[ Laughter ]

Kirby:: Subtle.

Greg:: Sorry.

Bill:: Anyway, that's what the issue is.

Gloria:: I think that's allowing fraud to be committed, I think it should be a crime to do that.

I'll tell you why.

Because sometimes urine tests are used for employment such as for aircraft pilots, for railroad engineers, for bus drivers.

Now, would you want to have a bus driver hired who couldn't pass a drug test but who had, instead of giving an honest, an honest urine test, I should say, used this other guy's clean urine to deceive his employer and then he's in the bus or the plane and you become a victim or casualty of it.

That wouldn't be right.

Kirby:: Maybe it shouldn't be a crime to sell it.

It should be a crime to use it.

I mean, remember Gandhi used to drink urine.

And who knows?

Bill:: Gandhi used to --

Kirby:: Gandhi, yes he used to drink urine.

Todd:: It's a Hindu thing.

It's a Hindu thing.


Kirby:: So it shouldn't necessarily be a crime to sell it, but I think it should be a crime to use it, 'cause I think you're right, it's fraud.

Bill:: So they don't eat steak and they drink urine.

Kirby:: That's right.

Figure it out.

Bill:: Boy, that is a new deli.

[ Laughter ]

Todd:: If you criminalize urine, only criminals will have urine.

Greg:: That's right.

Kirby:: But the point being that it is fraud, because when I take your urine test, if you want to come to work for me, I'm assuming what's in that cup is yours.

And that it's not, it's fraud.

And you should be fired.

Bill:: But why should we test anybody?

Isn't that a worse violation?

You're right --

Kirby:: Absolutely not.

Bill:: I don't want my bus driver -- why not?

Kirby:: Because there are certain jobs and positions where I think it's important if you know whether or not they're a drug user or not.

Gloria:: And there are other issues other than the employment area where it comes up, too.

For example, sometimes in child-custody battles, the court orders random drug testing to see whether that parent is on cocaine or heroin or other drugs.

Bill:: But doesn't it create probable cause where there is none?

Isn't that a worse threat to our Constitution and our way of life?

You're right, I don't want --

[ Applause ]

Thank you.

Todd:: It's a simple-minded approach to addressing the problem anyway.

I mean, you take people who never have had any drugs, but they're gonna be part of the testing program anyway.

And they have to go through the most humiliating procedure in order to do their job, even if they've never done any drugs.

They have to go pee in a cup.

Kirby:: What's humiliating about going to pee in a cup?

You don't have a right to that job.

If you don't want to work for somebody who offers a drug test, don't go to work for them.

Todd:: What if the only way they could -- what if the only way they could figure out whether you were taking drugs is to stick a swab up [ bleep ]?

You know, is that not humiliating?

[ Laughter ]

You know?

Bill:: It is humiliating.

Kirby:: Done on TV or not.

Greg:: How can you require that people -- I think drug testing in general is a complete invasion of everyone's privacy.

Kirby:: No, I think a private employer has the right to require that.

Todd:: I think they have to be a more sophisticated way of figuring out --

Kirby:: A blood test.

Todd:: Certainly more sophisticated, but it doesn't measure anybody's performance at their job.

Bill:: Right.

[ Applause ]

Kirby:: An airline pilot, you want your airline pilot to be regular user of cocaine?

Todd:: What if he flies better on cocaine.

Bill:: Yeah.

[ Laughter ]

Kirby:: Flies without wings --

Todd:: You're just making an assumption that everyone acts the same on cocaine.

Gloria:: I'd be in favor of testing politicians.

Testing politicians, that would be fine.

Greg:: They don't test everyone.

There's always the argument that it's airline pilots and doctors.

But they don't test politicians, and there's a lot of people you really shouldn't test.

I just feel like it's a complete invasion of everyone's privacy.

As much as asking people what they eat or what they have sex --

Kirby:: You're assuming that there are rights involved here.

You don't have a right to a job with a private company.

Gloria:: Exactly.

Kirby:: You might have a case when you talk about government requiring it, because that could be a violation of rights, but you don't have a right to work for "Politically Incorrect."

Gloria:: But wait a minute.

It shouldn't be -- it shouldn't be urine tests for every kind of job.

In other words, I don't think a secretary should have to submit to a urine test in order to get a job or a factory worker.

I think there really should be a public safety issue.

Bill:: You're assuming that safety is more important than the spirit on which this country was founded.

I think if the founding fathers knew that we were doing things like asking to you pee into a cup, it would depress them to a point where they couldn't bang their slaves.

Kirby:: I doubt it.

[ Laughter ]

I doubt it.

Gloria:: I think rights have to be balanced.

[ Applause ]

Bill:: Of course it would.

Kirby:: No.

'Cause they were talking about government.

Bill:: You think that's the spirit of America?

Pee into a cup, let's see what's going.

Todd:: A [ bleep ] freak.

[ Laughter ]

Kirby:: Don't [ bleep ] me off.

Bill:: Let's see what's going on with you, before we have any evidence.

It's one thing if there's -- if an employee screws up, and then you gotta go, "Okay."

Kirby:: Oh, I see.

The plane crashes in the wheat field.

And now we have evidence that the pilot was on cocaine.

It's a little late for the passengers.

Greg:: Again, you're presuming everyone's gonna crash on cocaine.

I think alcohol might be more of a problem than any.

Bill:: Right, thank you.

Gloria:: Here's my example of the child-custody cases where often the urine tests are now asked for, and it helps -- it's helpful to the judge to decide whether or not that parent has a drug problem in deciding whether or not that parent should be awarded custody.

Now you have a risk of harm to the children, a possible risk if the parent is on drugs.

Don't you think that the court should know whether or not the parent has a drug problem?

Bill:: But, Gloria, that's the whole thing, it's built on this sense of possibility.

Let's invade you privacy on the possibility that you are a criminal in some way.

Kirby:: But your privacy is only invaded because you want that job.

If you don't want it invaded, don't get the job.

It's not like they're lining you up on the street forcing you to pee in a cup.

You're peeing in a cup because you want to go to work for a certain company.

If you don't want your privacy invaded, don't go to work for them.

Gloria:: I agree with you, Bill, that, I mean, for example, a child-custody situation, I don't think they should be given to every person who is seeking custody.

But I think if there is some cause to believe that the parent has a drug problem or has had in the recent past, then in that case I think they should be given a urine test.

Bill:: All right.

I'm gonna have a problem with the ABC network if I don't take a commercial.

[ Applause ]

[ Applause ]

Bill:: All right.

Talking about the law, I want to know what you think, all of you, but especially you, Gloria, about this creative sentencing that is going on.

Every week in the paper I read about a judge who doesn't mete out justice in the traditional way.

But he -- it's kind of like open mike night -- he thinks of something absolutely cute and devilish.

I'll give you some examples.

In Memphis, a guy sentenced a robber to -- he said the victims of the robbery could go to the robber's house and take some of his stuff.

[ Laughter ]

In North Carolina, a judge sentenced this couple to watch the movie "Mississippi Burning" 'cause they were racist in his view.

And I'm sure they were, what they did.

In California, a burglar had to wear a T-shirt that said, "I'm a convicted felon."

You'll love this.

A judge in Colorado sentenced violators of the noise ordinance to listen to music they hate.

[ Laughter ]

They had to sit there and listen Wayne Newton and Yanni.

[ Laughter ]

I know it sounds cute.

It's funny, but do we really want judges who are amateurs?

Isn't this wrong?

Isn't a judge supposed to just be a kind of a strict, serious man and not somebody who's replacing the law with this kind of crap?

Gloria:: Well, I think it depends on what the sentence is.

And then generally, this is given a as a condition of probation.

In other words, if they want probation instead of having to serve some hard time in custody, then that goes along with it.

Bill:: But hard time is the point.

Gloria:: Well, in some cases.

But, you know, there's not enough space in jails and in prisons.

And so for nonviolent offenders, sometimes for first-time offenders, they will do this.

It really depends on what it is.

Now, there was one case in which a judge sentenced a woman to have to have a Norplant implant so she couldn't have any more children.

That, I think, was not a reasonable condition of probation.

But I kind of like the idea of having a batterer who's beaten his wife have to stand on the city hall steps and acknowledge that he's done it and apologize to her.

I like that.

[ Applause ]

Kirby:: There's an element of shame that I think is lacking in society today, where people used to be ashamed of their behavior.

And they think they can get away with a lot now.

And I think some of these things, like wearing the T-shirts and having to be publicly identified may bring some back some of that shame, which inhibits that kind of behavior.

Todd:: It depends who it is, whether they have the capacity for shame in the first place.

Kirby:: And some don't.

You're right.

Greg:: I think that's wildly puritanical.

It's like making people wear a scarlet "A" on their chest.

It goes back to the day when we had witch trials and things like that.

Wearing a sign around your neck is like completely Orwellian and having to confess on TV.

Secondly, Yanni and having to listen to it is unconstitutional because it's cruel and unusual.

[ Laughter ]

[ Applause ]

It's kind of frivolous of judges to do that, in my estimation.

I think they're there to mete out the law and whatnot.

And making racists watch "Mississippi Burning" is giving them a night off at home to laugh.

Gloria:: You know, but I think it can be an educational sentence as well.

For example, there was a sentence in which a slumlord was sentenced to living in his own slum building as a tenant for a long period of time, so he had to live with the roach-infested conditions.

He had to live with the leaky toilets and no heat.

And so I think that can be educational for him to know in the future those aren't the kinds of living conditions any human being should be subjected to.

Greg:: Certainly, but like that case you were referring to before where the woman had the implant to prevent her from having children, that's smacks of Nazi Germany.

Kirby:: No question.

Gloria:: But that's why it's unreasonable and wrong.

Kirby:: But if the judge has a first-time offender or young kid in front of him, and he's convinced he took a wrong turn, putting him in jail will not really do any good.

Having to go out and clean up the sidewalk, let's say, with a shirt saying, you know, "I stole a watch from my neighbor," if that instills some sense of shame or responsibility, I'd rather do that first time than put him in jail, when we know what he's gonna come out like after he goes to jail.

[ Applause ]

Greg:: Kirby, I think --

Kirby:: Then if he's a repeat offender then we put him in jail.

But I trust judges to have some discretion in decisions like that.

Greg:: Sure.

I get your point about that.

But what I think what it does, especially if you have a first-time offender and you're making him wear T-shirt, you know, billboarding their crime, that creates a sense of resentment that lends itself to criminality.

Basically, it makes you hate the system for punishing you and publicly humiliating you.

Kirby:: And they wouldn't hate it for being in jail and having the gang come over and say, "Hi, you look young and fresh and new, let's get together tonight"?

Greg:: Kirby, your jail experience is more --

Kirby:: I have no jail experience.

Todd:: The court system --

Bill:: But you got your rap down really good.

[ Laughter ]

Kirby:: Yeah, thanks, Bill.

Bill:: If you do go, that's a really good rap.

[ Applause ]

Todd:: The court system winds up doing the jobs the parents shouldn't have done.

And so if they're gonna have to -- they're gonna have to do what the parents didn't do.

And in some cases it involves creativity.

Point one.

Point two is, back to our previous argument, we have jails too full of people who actually haven't conducted any real criminal behavior against anybody else.

Bill:: Yeah.

Todd:: They have consumed drugs, and they wind up in jail.

All they're doing is messing with their own mental furniture, and somehow they wind up in jail.

And we've got thousands and thousands of people clogging up the legal system.

[ Applause ]

Greg:: That's different than --

Bill:: I have to take a commercial.

We'll be back.

[ Applause ]

Bill:: All right.

Join me this Sunday for the "Politically Incorrect" after-party right after the Oscars.


Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher

Executive Producers
Scott Carter
Bill Maher
Nancy Geller

Senior Producer
Douglas M. Wilson

Supervising Producer
Kevin Hamburger

Created By
Bill Maher

Directed By
Michael Dimich

Writing Supervised By
Chris Kelly

Doug Abeles
Bill Kelley
Bill Maher
Billy Martin
Chuck Martin
Ned Rice
Danny Vermont
Scott Carter

Associate Director
Nancy Ortenberg

Stage Manager
Patrick Whitney

Executive in Charge of Production
John Fisher

Executive Producers
Brad Grey
Bernie Brillstein
Marc Gurvitz

©1999 Follow Up Productions