Phil McCarten/ReutersAs his HBO show Real Time begins its twelfth season with higher ratings than ever—4.1 million viewers, high for a premium-cable talk show—the iconoclastic comedian and political commentator Bill Maher spoke to The Atlantic about why he likes doing comedy shows in red states, how his show is different from Jon Stewart's, why the God of the Old Testament is "the most psychopathic character in fiction," and why he believes most opposition to President Obama is racist.
Let me start by asking the question you're probably most sick of answering, so we can get it out of the way. The infamous episode of your ABC show Politically Incorrect, on September 17, 2001—
The tragic events of 9/17?
Yes, The tragic events of …