Bill Maher and panelists slam Ted Cruz for claiming 9/11 made him a country music fan
Bill Maher during the 'Real time' panel discussion on June 6, 2014. [YouTube]

Real Time host Bill Maher and his panelists on Friday laughed at Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) statement this week that he became a country music fan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

"Ted Cruz's mind goes, 'Ooh, an opportunity to lie,'" Maher said. "It's not important, except maybe it is because it tells us something about this guy."

Cruz told CBS News on Tuesday that he turned to country music because he "didn't like how rock music responded" to the attacks. Maher took the opportunity to point out that rock musicians led three high-profile benefit shows in New York in the aftermath.

Actor Zachary Quinto argued that Cruz's remark showed his willingness to pander to the voters he knows he has to win over to have a real chance in the GOP primary race.

"It shows a willingness on the part of Ted Cruz, I think, to say whatever it is that people want to hear," Quinto argued. "Probably his ability to deny certain aspects of things that are scientifically proven -- certainly climate change and global warming and many other topics."

"He could honestly like country music," former CNN host S.E. Cupp said in Cruz's defense.

But former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) sided with Quinto, calling it a mistake on the senator's part.

"That's the first step: 'I'll tell them what they want to hear,'" Frank explained. "But I've developed a rule over time. I have several -- not as many of [Maher's] -- but I've developed a rule: no matter how much you think it will help you in the short term, try not to say something that no one will believe. Because in the end, that's not gonna be very useful. No one believes him when he says that. He thinks it's great, but it just looks silly."

Watch the discussion, as posted online on Friday, below.