Bill Maher on France

Conservatives have to stop rolling their eyes every time they hear the word France. Like just calling something French is the ultimate argument winner. "Aw, you want a healthcare system that covers everybody and costs half as much? You mean like
they have in France? What's there to say about a country that was too
stupid to get on board with our wonderfully conceived and brilliantly
executed war in Iraq?"

Earlier this year, the Boston Globe got hold of an internal campaign
document from GOP contender Mitt Romney, and a recurring strategy was
to tie Democrats to the hated French. It said, in the Machiavellian
code of the election huckster, "Hillary equals France," and it
envisioned bumper stickers that read, "First, not France."

Except for one thing: We're not first. America isn't ranked anywhere
near first in anything except military might and snotty billionaires.
The country that is ranked No. 1 in healthcare, for example, is
France. The World Health Organization ranks America at 37 in the world
-- not two, or five -- 37, in between Costa Rica and Slovenia, which
are both years away from discovering dentistry.

Yet an American politician could not survive if he or she uttered the
simple, true statement, "France has a better healthcare system than
us, and we should steal it." Because here, simply dismissing an idea
as French passes for an argument. John Kerry? Can't vote for him -- he
looks French. Yeah, as opposed to the other guy, who just looked

I know, if God had wanted us to learn from the Enlightenment, he
wouldn't have given us Sean Hannity.

And I'm not saying France is better than America. Because I assume
you've already figured that out by now. I don't want to be French, I
just want to take what's best from the French. Stealing, for your own
self-interest -- Republicans should love this idea. Taking what's best
from the French: You know who else did that? The Founding Fathers.
Hate to sink your toy boat, Fox News, but the Founding Fathers, the
ones you say you revere, were children of the French Enlightenment,
and fans of it, and they turned it into a musical called the
Constitution of the United States. And they did a helluva job, so good
it has been said that it was written by geniuses so it could be run by
idiots. But the current administration is putting that to the test.
The Founding Fathers were erudite, well-read, European-thinking
aristocrats -- they would have had nothing in common with, and no use
for, an ill-read xenophobic bumpkin like George W. Bush.

The American ideas of individuality, religious tolerance and freedom
of speech came directly out of the French Enlightenment -- but, shhh,
don't tell Alabama. Voltaire wrote "men are born equal" before
Jefferson was wise enough to steal it.

Countries are like people -- they tend to get smarter as they get
older. Noted military genius Donald Rumsfeld famously dismissed France
as part of Old Europe, but the French are ... what's the word I'm
looking for? Oh yeah, "mature." We think they're rude and snobby, but
maybe that's because they're talking to us.

For example, France just had an election, and people over there
approach an election differently. They vote. Eighty-five percent
turned out. The only thing 85 percent of Americans ever voted on was

Maybe the high turnout has something to do with the fact that the
French candidates are never asked where they stand on evolution,
prayer in school, abortion, stem cell research or gay marriage. And if
the candidate knows about a character in a book other than Jesus, it's
not a drawback. There is no Pierre Six-pack who can be fooled by
childish wedge issues. And the electorate doesn't vote for the guy
they want to have a croissant with. Nor do they care about the
candidate's private lives: In the current race, Sigolhne Royal has
four kids but never bothered to get married. And she's a socialist. In
America, if a Democrat even thinks you're calling him a liberal he
immediately grabs an orange vest and a rifle and heads into the woods
to kill something.

The conservative candidate is married, but he and his wife live apart
and lead separate lives. They aren't asked about it in the media, and
the people are OK with it, for the same reason the people are OK with
nude beaches: because they're not a nation of 6-year-olds who scream
and giggle if they see pee-pee parts. They have weird ideas about
privacy. They think it should be private. In France, everyone has a
mistress. Even mistresses have mistresses. To not have a lady on the
side says to the voters, "I'm no good at multitasking."

France has its faults -- the country has high unemployment, a nasty
immigrant problem and all that ridiculous accordion music. But its
healthcare is the best, it's not dependent on Mideast oil, it has the
lowest poverty rate and the lowest income-inequality rate among
industrialized nations, and it's the greenest, with the lowest carbon
dumping and the lowest electricity bill.

France has 20,000 miles of railroads that work. We have the trolley at
the mall that takes you from Pottery Barn to the Gap. It has bullet
trains. We have bullets. France has public intellectuals. We have Dr.
Phil. And France invented sex during the day, the minage ` trois,
lingerie and the tongue.

And the French are not fat. Can't we just admit we could learn
something from them?