Bill Maher (b. January 20, 1956)
"A third of the people love me deeply," Bill Maher has said, and we're well in that third. Now that marijuana legalization is polling at over 50% approval across the US, we're guessing that percentage has jumped.
Maher put it well at the 2002 NORML conference when he said, "I'm getting tired of being treated like a criminal or a second class citizen by people who through their preference for liquor or pills for mood alteration show not a superiority of taste but an inferiority."
We first heard the much-admired Mr. Maher utter the words "I smoke pot" on his 2005 HBO special "I'm Swiss." Just afterwards the promos for Real Time on HBO promised Bill "knows the difference between high alert and being high." He's now admitted to selling weed to help pay for college, and he continues to open our minds on the topic with insightful humor almost weekly. Who else but Maher would have nominated Keith Richards for drug "czar" because he's "someone who knows about drugs."
After Denver's voters passed a measure to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in November 2005, Maher jokingly invited viewers to tune into Real Time's next season from its new home -- in Denver. In 2008 he said on his show, "They're now putting an end to something called 'short selling,' which is when you borrow stock that you don't own, and sell it, hoping that it will go down so that you can buy it back at a profit. This was legal, but pot smoking isn't?" In 2011 he got VIP Merle Haggard to admit, "I am seldom in Muskogee."
The August 10, 2006 Rolling Stone issue -- the one with the marijuana-like scent strip advertising the return of Showtime's Weeds -- treated readers to a profile of Maher that began at a head shop in Venice, CA. Bill mentioned he'd given a Volcano to an unnamed studio exec with respiratory problems and revealed he works into the wee hours of the morning writing, more evidence pot smoking doesn't halt productivity.
Zach Galifianakis lit a doob on Real Time in support of California's legalization measure Prop. 19 in 2010 (conservative reporter Margaret Hoover confirmed it was the real thing). "My back taxes on that," mused panelist P.J. O'Rourke, taking an imaginary toke. "That's a huge amount of revenue, just from my house," chimed in Bill.
Mark Twain said, "Against the force of laughter, nothing stands." Keep 'em laughing, Bill, and if you are an example of how smart a pot smoker can be, no wonder the government doesn't want it legal.
Keep up with Bill at www.billmaher.com.