BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Michael Moore, where`d you get the title for your book, "Dude, Where`s My Country?"
MICHAEL MOORE (Author, "Dude, Where's My Country?"): A friend from high school gave it to me. I couldn`t figure out what to call the book, and he read it and he said, Oh, I know the title for this. It`s, "Dude, Where`s My Country?" I said, That`s pretty good. So that`s where the title came from.
LAMB: What high school is that?
MOORE: Davison High School in Michigan.
MOORE: Just outside of Flint, yes. Yes.
LAMB: What`s the meat of this?
MOORE: Well, it`s part humor, part serious, a bit of satire, a bit of a rant. Comes from a person who seriously loves his country and is wondering what`s happened to it.
LAMB: You point out early on that there`s a lot of footnotes in this thing.
LAMB: Not in the first chapter. You move them all to the back.
LAMB: But the point is, a lot of documentation. Why did you do that?
MOORE: I think that some of the things I`m saying in this book, even I have a hard time believing. And so when I was writing it, I just thought, people are not going to believe this. People are not going to believe that there may have been a business relationship between the bin Laden family and the Bush family that dates back to the 1970s. That is just -- you have to go, Oh, wait a minute. That must -- you must -- what are you doing, spending too much time on the conspiracy theory Web sites? And no, actually, this is all well documented.
You know, I.F. Stone, investigative journalist from the `50s, `60s, `70s, he had this belief. His form of journalism was -- he said that the stuff that you need to dig up is already there. It doesn`t really require that much work. Some of the best stuff are in those little two and three-paragraph stories, the filler stories, or maybe it`s a paragraph or two that`s buried someplace.
I`m reading "The New Yorker" magazine two months after September 11, in an article by Jane Meyer, and she just sort of nonchalantly, in the middle of this article, says that in the days after September 11, 24 members of the bin Laden family and their associates were allowed to be picked up by a private jet that flew around the country to pick them up and take them to Boston, and eventually take them to Paris.
And I just sat there reading that. I just -- you know, I was stuck in Los Angeles on 9/11, and we were going to fly that day back to New York, and instead, we had to drive 3,000 miles. And I`m just thinking, I had to drive 3,000 miles, and you`re telling me that the only way you could fly on September 12 or 13, 2001, was if your name was bin Laden or if you were a member of the Saudi family? I was, like, What is that all about?
And I`m not -- in this book, I`m not -- I`m not drawing, you know, actual conclusions here. I`m not, like, saying, Well, it`s definitely this or that. I don`t really know. It`s kind of a not so silent plea from an average citizen who`s saying, There`s smoke here. Where`s the fire? Is there a fire? I`d like to know. I`d like to know what the relationship is between the Bushes and the Saudi royal family, and how does that affect our foreign policy, and how does it affect things that have happened to us here, such as 9/11?
I`d like to know why the Taliban were coming to Houston in the late `90s, while Bush was governor, to meet with Bush`s friends in the oil and natural gas business, having a number of negotiations in Houston -- these are Taliban leaders in Houston -- to discuss building a pipeline across Afghanistan.
And I find out about this on the BBC Web site, which is a great Web site. I always encourage people to go to the British -- you know, like, theguardian.com -- or not .com -- it`s, you know, co.uk or whatever -- and to the BBC to get a different view of the news about what`s going on here.
And I`m just -- so I`m amazed at these things, and I had to put these footnotes in because I thought people just are not going to believe that the Taliban were being wined and dined in Houston by, you know, Unocal. You know, Halliburton was going to, you know, be involved in this pipeline. Enron was involved in the pipeline deal. So I put it all in there, and it`s from, you know, very reputable sources, like, you know, the BBC and "The Guardian," "The New York Times," "The London Times," et cetera, et cetera.
And I`m just amazed at how, even though the stories have been out there -- "The New York Times" did a story on how the bin Ladens got a free ride out of the country with hardly any questions asked of them. And it`s not to say just because your name is bin Laden that you`re guilty of anything. I`m not saying that. I`m just saying in a normal police investigation, if your brother committed mass murder, chances are that the police are going to pay you a visit and ask you a few questions. What do you know? Who do you know? Can you help us? What do you think? Where do you think he is? When you go back there, will you stay in touch? Normal, you know, police work.
It wasn`t done in this case. It was -- and this came right from the White House, the approval to allow this private Saudi jet to fly around and pick up these people up and then scoot them out of the country without hardly a question being asked.
LAMB: What do you think is going on? I mean, if you`re inside the Bush family, what do you think is really going on?
MOORE: Part of it is -- let`s give them the benefit of the doubt. It just -- it could just be basic human nature. If the son of a good friend of mine was just involved in something really bad, I might be, you know, worried for the family. And it could just have been a natural thing. Maybe George, Senior, who`s involved in the Carlyle group, which is, you know, funded in part with the bin Ladens -- maybe, you know, they just said, you know, We should do something nice here. You know, There`s no reason these other bin Ladens have to suffer. It could just be something, you know, as simple as that.
It also could be that this pipeline deal went sour. You know, part of this that`s connected to this is that the Cheney energy meetings that took place in 2001, that we still to this day don`t know the results of what -- you know, they will not release, you know, who was at these meetings, what was being discussed. And -- but it has been reported in a number of papers that part of the discussion involved this Taliban pipeline. And in fact, they had reopened negotiations with the Taliban to again consider building this pipeline to bring natural gas from the Caspian Sea region through Afghanistan and into Pakistan.
Did that have something to do with this? Was this all about a bad pipeline deal? And then I start to think other things. I start to think that -- you know, I know a little bit about airplanes. You know, if you`re flying an airplane at over 500 miles an hour, to hit something -- I mean, to be -- the Pentagon is a five-story building. The World Trade Center, though it`s tall, is only a block wide. If you`re off by this much at 500 miles an hour, you`re in the river. You`re not hitting the building.
To be so exact and so precision-like in their ability on that day to hit those buildings -- I ask the question, and I ask it in this book, maybe we framed it wrong here. Why did we just jump to the immediate conclusion that this is what we call a terrorist attack? We keep saying this -- a terrorist attack, a terrorist attack. Why don`t we ever consider the possibility that it was a military attack?
These people -- these pilots, at least -- these were well trained. These people knew what they were doing. And I will never accept -- my own common sense will never accept that they learned how to do this at some rinky-dink flight training school in Florida, on a little video game playing their little Pac-Man buttons. I mean, I`m sorry. That I will not buy. And if it was a, quote, "military" attack, whose military was it, or whose part of which military? Was this a rogue element within a certain regime? And why can`t we read the 28 pages? Why can`t we read these pages that are in the congressional 9/11 report that have been blacked out, that apparently are about Saudi Arabia?
You know, what`s great about this, we live in a free country and it`s an open society. That means we have to have a free flow of information. The citizens can`t make the best decisions unless they have this information. So to withhold information like this, it just smacks of what is -- you know, what is going on here?
And these are the questions I`m raising, and this is what I`m hoping to sort of, you know, give a bit of a jolt, whether it`s to the media or whether it`s to the Democrats in Congress, to do their job and ask these questions and don`t accept the sort of -- you know, either being ignored or being given some answer like, Well, we were worried about the bin Ladens, and so we wanted to help them, you know, because we were afraid something would happen to them on that day.
Well, imagine if after Oklahoma City, Bill Clinton had said, You know, we`re really worried about the McVeigh family. You know, Why don`t we go up there, fly up to Buffalo and send a private plane, pick them all up and send them to Paris for a while until things calm down here? Can you imagine what the press and the Republicans would have done with that? I mean -- and then it was revealed that there was a financial connection between Clinton and the McVeighs that dated back many years? Can you just -- I mean, I don`t even have to even finish my sentence here because we know exactly what would have happened with that.
LAMB: What, in your own mind, when you wrote this, was your audience?
MOORE: That`s a good question. "Stupid White Men," my previous book, reached so far into the mainstream, in a way that I hadn`t really anticipated. At this point, they`ve sold over four million copies of the book. It was the largest-selling non-fiction book last year. And I think world-wide, as far as all books, only Harry Potter sold more copies of a book.
And the mail I started to get -- this is not mail -- or these are not readers that are from the church of the left. These are not people who are, like, hard-core liberals or progressives or lefties, or whatever. The people who read this book were people who lived in middle America and who have very middle-American values.
The response to it was overwhelming and it was very profound. And so when I started to write this book, I thought, I need to speak to this new audience, this very wide audience now that I have, and in a way -- that I guess I just normally think anyway, as just a middle-American person, as someone who`s from the Midwest. I don`t come from a -- you know, I don`t come from a left community. I didn`t -- you know, I`m not -- my whole thing isn`t based in Berkeley, you know? I come from Flint, Michigan. I have a high school education. And so I`m a lot like the people that are now reading my books.
And so I think just by using basic common sense, and not coming at this stuff from the left or the right or liberal or conservative or Democrat or Republican, just offering common sense -- like, for instance, one of the questions I ask in this book is why did John Ashcroft shut down the FBI when they were in the middle of going through the gun background-check files to see if any of the hijackers or the other terrorists had bought weapons in the years leading up to 9/11. And when Ashcroft found out that they were doing that, he said, Well, wait a minute. That violates the Brady Bill because these files are only supposed to be used for the instant background check. They`re not to be, you know, gone back into and used for other purposes.
And so he said, you know, These hijackers essentially have 2nd Amendment rights. And so the FBI was told, No more investigating. So to this day, we still don`t know whether the hijackers or their associates had been buying any kind of weapons because we have to protect their 2nd Amendment rights.
You know what? I think if you just explain that in very simple terms to the average American, to even the average gun owner, they would be appalled to hear that, that at a time when the Bush administration seems to have no problem saying, Well, we need to, you know, not pay attention to this civil liberty or that civil liberty, but when it comes to gun rights, you know, those 19 hijackers have sacred 2nd Amendment rights that shall not be violated.
And so when I wrote the book, I really wanted to speak in that way to people because I think if you just lay it out in a common-sense way, people just go, Something`s wrong here.
LAMB: You use some street language in your book.
LAMB: Would you call it that?
LAMB: I mean, I want to read -- I just want to read it...
MOORE: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: ... and ask you what you`re doing here.
MOORE: Yes. All right.
LAMB: This is -- I`m dipping into one chapter. I wrote it down when I saw this.
LAMB: "Drugs are bad. They `F` you up, slow you down and ruin your daily existence. Even though Nancy Reagan can kiss my ass, you really should just say no."
LAMB: What are you doing in that chapter? Who are you speaking to there?
MOORE: Oh, I`m agreeing with Nancy Reagan.
MOORE: Oh, I come from the working class, you know? I`m speaking to all the people out there who work in all the factory towns and places like where I grew up. And I do have to say, though, that my wife goes through this book, and that is a highly laundered version of what it was in the first round. She -- you know, she says, Now, you got to really tone this down. You know, we`re not on the streets of Flint anymore here. You know, hopefully, we`ll be invited on C-SPAN or whatever, so...
LAMB: How long have you been married?
MOORE: We`ve been together, oh, gee, 22, almost going on 23 years now.
LAMB: Kathleen? Is that her name?
MOORE: Kathleen Glynn is here name, yes. Yes.
LAMB: What`s she do?
MOORE: She produces my films. She produced "Bowling for Columbine," "The Big One," all that stuff. She`s also a writer and she`s an artist. She does quilts and -- a very talented individual in her own right.
LAMB: And you also talk about your daughter, Natalie, in this book?
LAMB: What`s -- how old is she?
MOORE: Natalie has just turned 22, and she has just graduated from college and is now going to graduate school, studying history and...
LAMB: What does she think about you?
MOORE: Oh, I think she`s fairly proud of me. She just -- it was interesting. Just before I came down here, she came home from school, and she brought me my book. And she had autographed it for me. And I said, What is this? She goes, Well, I was just in the school book store and it was on sale there, and I just wanted to buy the first book there and give it to you. And I was, Oh, gee, that`s really nice of you.
We`re very lucky to have her. She`s very smart. And you know, she`s like a lot kids these days. You know, they`re so aware of what`s going on, and there`s so much -- they`re very smart about things in the world and what`s going on, and it`s very hard to pull something over on them. I have -- whenever I go to talk on campuses or, you know, I see Natalie`s friends or whatever, I have a lot of hope that things are going to be OK, that this next generation just isn`t going to settle for the same old thing.
LAMB: "Roger and Me," the documentary, the movie -- what year?
MOORE: In 1989 it came out. Yes.
LAMB: Was that your first national film?
MOORE: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: And what was it, for those who`ve never seen it?
MOORE: It was a documentary about my hometown of Flint, Michigan, and what General Motors did to the town. As the company in the 1980s posted record profits, they eliminated about 30,000 jobs. And I posed the question, Why would you ruin people`s lives and eliminate their jobs when they`ve just helped you make a record profit?
And so I go on this quest in the movie to find Roger Smith, the chairman of General Motors, to see if he would come to Flint to see the effects of what he had did to the town. And so it follows me partly on that journey and then partly on all the ways that people in Flint were trying to survive and trying to make sure that the town, you know, would be OK.
LAMB: How old were you in `89?
MOORE: In `89, I was 35 years old.
LAMB: What had you done up to -- you say you didn`t go past high school with education.
MOORE: No. I went to -- about a year-and-a-half to the University of Michigan in Flint. It was a commuter campus. And the first day of my sophomore year, or the first day of the second semester, I was driving around, looking for a parking space for about an hour, and I couldn`t find one -- typical commuter campus. And after an hour, I just said, Oh, the hell with this. I`m dropping out. And I just went home and told my parents I dropped out of college. And they said, Why? I said, I couldn`t find a parking space. Well, that`s not a good reason. I said, Yes, it is. I don`t want to go to school anymore.
But part of it was I had at 18 been elected to the Board of Education in my community, and I became one of the first 18-year-olds in America elected to public office. And at that time, I was the youngest person in the country ever to hold office. Eighteen-year-olds had just been given the right to vote. And so I ran for office and won. And I was really enjoying this time I was serving on the school board. And I just thought, you know, I`m going to political science class, but here I am, living political science, you know, as an elected official. And I was getting much more out of that.
And so I dropped out of school. And I started up with my friend, who came up with the title for this book, Jeff Gibbs -- we started up this crisis intervention center for young people called the Hotline Center. And you know, it was drug overdose and, you know, kids who got pregnant or runaways, or whatever, and helped them out.
And out of that came -- we decided to start an alternative newspaper called "The Flint Voice" in the mid `70s. And for 10 years, I had edited and published this paper that came out a couple times a month called "The Flint Voice," and then it became "The Michigan Voice" and -- much like alternative papers, or at least the ones that used to exist, you know, where it would cover the news that the local paper wasn`t covering. And so for 10 years, that`s what I did, before "Roger and Me."
LAMB: You tell us in the book your dedication is for Rachel Corrie. "Will I ever have her courage? Will I let her death be in vain?" Who was she?
MOORE: Rachel Corrie was a young American girl who went over to Israel and the occupied territories to try and stop the violence against the Palestinian people. And what these kids do is, they go and they stand in front of the bulldozers when the Israelis go to bulldoze the homes of people who did nothing wrong, but because a family member committed a horrible crime -- with, you know, no trial, no anything, you know, the next -- you know how it works. The next day, they just come and bulldoze the family`s home. And so one day she was standing in front of one of those Israeli bulldozers, and the Israelis bulldozed her and killed her. And...
LAMB: Did you know her?
MOORE: No, I never met her. I didn`t know her at all. I saw the pictures of it in the paper and on television, and I was very affected by this because the kind of courage it would take to do something like that and to stand up for a group of people that really are the pariahs -- at least in America, you know, the Palestinians are just -- you know, you say that word, and it`s just, you know, what it triggers.
And it`s a difficult issue because at the same time, you`ve got the people who live in Israel, the Jewish people of this world that have been so oppressed and so abused and you know, the Holocaust in the last century and everything and, you know, you want to be extremely supportive of anybody who`s Jewish, to make sure that they never have to go through that again. I think that`s all of our responsibility, to see that that never happens to them again. So there is that horrible thing that, you know, pulls people apart on this issue.
And there`s got to be a way to find some common ground. I don`t know if you`ve ever traveled over there, or whatever, but you know, it`s amazing. The first day or two you`re there is -- first of all, you start to see all the similarities between Arabs and Israelis. I mean, they`re very similar, in terms of culture, language, food, the way they, you know, talk and, you know, interact with each other. And it`s just -- and you get to a point where, Well, who`s the Arab and who`s the Israeli? These people are part of the same family. Historically, they`re part of the same family. And this is absolutely insane that this is still going on. So that young girl attempted to do something in a non-violent way and was killed as a result of it.
LAMB: You tell us in your book you have no religion.
MOORE: No -- I have no religion? No. I wouldn`t say that`s true. I`m a practicing Catholic.
LAMB: Oh, interesting. I may have misread it, but I just -- I wrote it down.
MOORE: Well, I think -- I don`t -- the organized part of the religion is what I oppose. I`m a very religious and spiritual person. I don`t like to talk about it a lot because I don`t -- I`m not a proselytizer. I don`t like to wear it on my sleeve or whatever. But I went to the seminary when I was in high school to be a Catholic priest. And even though I chose not to do that, I carry those values with me to this day. The reasons I went -- I mean, I was inspired by the Berrigan brothers and, you know, people like Cesar Chavez and the farm workers movement and all the things that came out of the sort of liberation theology and the Catholic faith.
But of course, you know, there are many policies of the Catholic Church that I just absolutely oppose, and I don`t believe these policies come from the teachings of Jesus or, you know, the Bible or whatever. I think it`s just a bunch men that`ve decided this is the way it`s going to be. The fact that priests can`t marry -- it`s absolutely insane. I mean, you could get over that one really quick. Or just the place -- the whole place where -- that women hold in the church is such a secondary, second-class citizen, you know, role. That`s got to change. I don`t think we have a right to have, as men, a say over how women -- what they can do with their body and their reproductive organs. I just think that is wrong.
So that`s why I don`t subscribe to things that the humans have constructed in the organized part of it, but the teachings and the beliefs that we are going to be judged by how we treat the least among us, that you have to, you know, love your neighbor as yourself. And, you know, each day, I ask myself these things. And as I`ve become more successful, it`s put even greater pressure on me because I really do believe, you know, what Jesus said about the camel having an easier time passing through the eye of a needle than a rich man will have getting into heaven.
And, you know, suddenly, with this, and with my film and all this, I`ve had the good grace of, you know, having some money, really, at this point. And what am I going to do with that? Because I don`t think it`s a good idea for me to have a lot of money and so many people not have a lot of money. And so I have to do something with that money to try and, you know, even things out.
LAMB: Have you thought about what to do with it?
MOORE: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Well, the first thing I`m going to do with the Bush tax cut -- which, by the way, benefits me greatly this year because of, you know, how many copies of "Stupid White Men" were sold...
LAMB: By the way, you say in your book, that your tax rate goes from 39 percent down to 35 percent, so you benefit right there, that 4 percent.
MOORE: Right away. Yes, which -- 4 percent of -- you know, I mean, I`ve made a good chunk of money here in the last year.
MOORE: Yes. Yes. So first of all, I`m going to give my entire tax cut away to candidates who are going to either defeat Bush or return the Congress back out of Republican hands. So I`m using the whole Bush tax cut to get rid of Bush. That`s the first thing I`m doing.
We have a foundation that we`ve set up, where we help out a lot of first-time filmmakers. We also fund a lot of things in the Flint area and a lot of social action groups and things like that. I`m a dangerous guy to give a lot of money to, for money to fall in my lap like this, you know, because I have so few material wants, you know, other than my fine wardrobe.
MOORE: No, but seriously, -- it`s great to be able to go into a record store and buy, you know, whatever CDs I want. That`s cool. And you know -- and I want to live in a nice, you know, place, where I -- you know, a good neighborhood, you know, all those things that most normal people want. I want my child to go to a good school. But beyond that, what do you want to do? I mean, if this suddenly happened to you -- maybe it has -- you know, OK, well, let`s say it does someday. You know, what would you do? I mean, you know, Well, I`m going to go buy myself a big boat, you know? It`s, like, I don`t think you would.
I think most people, if some good fortune struck you, after first taking care of your family and friends and doing good to those who are close to you and your wife, you probably would do something, you know, good to help the world. Of course, you are not a good example of this because you`ve already done something good, which is to create this network, which is, you know, a breath of fresh air as you surf through the channels of all the screaming -- you know, especially on cable news, and then you come to C-SPAN. It`s like an oasis of, OK, now we can have an intelligent discussion, and we`re not going to talk over each other. We`re not going to scream at each other.
And you know, I`ve told you this off camera before, but it`s such a great service to both be able to watch Congress in action, our elected representatives, and then to have this kind of discussion and to be able -- last night I was somewhere up in Massachusetts, and I was able to -- I don`t know if it was 2:00 in the morning when I finally got back to the hotel, and I was able to watch the debate between the candidates for mayor of the city of Philadelphia. And maybe it seems like I got a lot of time on my hands.
MOORE: It was a fascinating debate because you have a mayor here who`s just discovered he`s being bugged by the federal government. Now, unless I was living in Philly, there would be no way I would get to hear a full explanation of what was going on, had I not turned on C-SPAN. That makes me a more informed citizen. If I`m more informed, I`m able to make better decisions, if I know what`s going on. If I`m kept in the dark, then I may not make the best decision. You know what I`m saying?
It`s like -- in a free society, you want as many sources of information as possible. If you limit the sources, you stand the chance of making the wrong decision.
I read in "National Geographic" last year this survey that they did of young adult Americans, 18 to 25-year-olds, just asking them geography questions. Something like 85 percent didn`t know where either Iraq or Israel were on the map. Nearly 60 percent didn`t know where Great Britain was. And 11 percent of these young adult Americans could not find the United States on the globe.
Now, that`s scary. And when you have a citizenry who are charged with -- and given the vote to make decisions, and they don`t even know where they are in the world and they don`t know where the rest of the world is -- I mean, first of all, rule No. 1, if you`re going to bomb another country, you got to at least -- the majority of its people should know where that country is. You know, in fact, maybe that should be a new rule. There has to be, like, a test handed out. If you can`t find Iraq on the map, you are not allowed to let your air force bomb that country.
MOORE: It`s just -- but so that`s why I think it`s important that this information exists. And that`s why I think, you know, why this is such a good service.
LAMB: Well, let me ask you about -- go back to the money for a minute. And I`ll just say a few things and you can bounce off of it.
LAMB: You`re no -- I mean, people pick you up in limousines. People fuss all over you wherever you go. They stand and give you standing ovations and scream and holler how great you are. You probably live in a nice apartment, what, New York City, Manhattan.
MOORE: Yes, I do.
LAMB: You fly on private planes and all that stuff. What does that do to your head about all this? I mean, I don`t know whether you agree, but reading this book, populism? I don`t know. I mean, you put a label on it, if you want, but...
LAMB: And there -- but how do you keep your head clear if, all of a sudden, everybody -- they`re at your feet wherever you go?
MOORE: Yes, that -- well, this is the ultimate irony of all of this because I come from -- you know, the year before I made "Roger and Me," my W-2 form said $8,800 on it. I never made -- until I was 35, 36 years old, I never made more than $17,000 a year. So you know, the first 17 years of my adult life -- and it was only one year that I made $17,000, and I`d say an average was more like $12,000 to $15,000. So that`s how I lived the first part of my adult life.
And I was very happy. I was very used to that and very comfortable with that. Then suddenly, "Roger and Me" becomes this huge hit, and all this, you know, money pours in from Warner Brothers. Now, what does that do to someone, you know, when that happens? You know, I think with some of the young kids, like, especially music, when they have a big hit, they`re 18 or 20 years old, probably have a hard time dealing with that.
By the time I was 35, when this happened to me, I was really pretty much set in my ways and my beliefs and my values. And so now, you know, 13, 14 years later, after "Roger and Me," you know, I`m still in the same marriage, same friends. I live my life, you know, pretty much the same way. When I`m on a book tour like this, you`re right, you know, suddenly the publicist and the publishing company, and you`re carted here and there, and all this -- you know, the way you describe that. And I just have to sort of just step back from it and realize, OK, you know, this isn`t reality. And I must feel immediately -- oh, I feel very humbled by it because I feel very privileged. I don`t feel like I deserve it. And I believe that it`ll be gone tomorrow.
LAMB: They still call you up at these universities, pay you lots of money to speak at these universities.
LAMB: And the kids -- standing room only.
LAMB: What are you going to do with this?
MOORE: Well -- well, what I do with it is, I spend my money on all my projects.
LAMB: I don`t mean just money, I mean just the whole celebrity thing. What are you going to -- how are you going to use it in the future?
MOORE: Well, that`s a good question. You know, I think that -- I`m very honored by the reception I get. And you know, I`m going to go down to Georgetown, you know, here after we`re done today. And you`re right, that`s the way it`ll be. It sold out, you know, in an hour. And they were trying to find a bigger hall, even, to, you know, put this in. And I`ll go up to Johns Hopkins tonight, and the same thing up there. And on this tour, I`m doing a lot of arenas. I`m doing 6,000, 7,000, 10,000-seat arenas. It`s like a stadium tour for a book.
And what I feel is an enormous responsibility that I have to use this time wisely, to encourage the people who have come here to not look to Michael Moore as the leader who is going to lead us somewhere. I am really just another Joe, and what I want to say to them is, We all have to do this together. And if you don`t leave here tonight and do your part as a citizen, to be an active citizen -- democracy is not a spectator sport. It is a participatory event, and if the people fail to participate, it ceases to be a democracy. And we live in a country, as we know, where half the people don`t vote, just simply don`t even vote. Forget about getting involved in other ways in the democracy.
So I see that I need to use that time to really encourage them to get out there and do something, run for precinct delegate. Get involved in your local party. I tell people this all the time. You know, if you were to go to your local county Democratic party meeting next month, I swear to God, in most counties, there will just be, like, 10 people there. That`s how few people get involved these days. If you brought 15 of your friends, you could take over the local Democratic Party. I mean, it would be that easy, if you just did it.
And so I feel I have to use this thing, whatever it is, this platform I have, to get others to do what they need to do and don`t depend on me or just, you know, one or two leaders or whatever to do it.
LAMB: You have a chapter in this book, chapter six, "Jesus W. Christ."
MOORE: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: What`s the point?
MOORE: The point comes from the fact that George W. Bush has made a number of statements of how it was in God`s divine plan that he be elected governor or president, or whatever. And I was, you know, sitting around one day, just thinking. Actually, I was sitting in mass thinking about, I wonder if God has, you know, kind of checked in on this? I wonder what he thinks about Bush claiming that it was in, you know, God`s, you know, will that this happen?
LAMB: Let me read one of the quotes you use. You say -- this is from George W. Bush.
LAMB: "I feel the comfort and the power of knowing that literally millions of Americans I`m never going to meet say my name to the Almighty every day and ask him to help me. My friend, Jiang Zemin in China, has about a billion-and-a-half folks, and I don`t think he can say that. And my friend, Vladimir Putin, I like him, but he can`t say that."
MOORE: Right. Well, first of all, I thought that quite an unnecessary knock on the Chinese and the Russians. First of all, God obviously loves the Chinese and Russians. He`s made a hell of a lot of them.
MOORE: If he didn`t like what was going on there, maybe he`d stop making so many of them. So right away, that seems to be part of God`s plan. It`s that superior attitude that -- you know, where he`s saying, All these Americans are praying for me. They have a direct relationship with God to help me. And the Russian premier and the Chinese premier, they can`t claim that.
You know, that`s not the religion that I was brought up in, where somehow, we`re good because, you know, we`re better than you. And I just -- as one who is a spiritual and a religious person, I just -- I`m offended by the way religion has been used by the Bush administration, by Republicans in general. And I just -- I always have this thought that God is just sitting up there going, Oh, these guys! I`ll tell you! Get `em up here!
LAMB: Well, you`ve got a series of things, there are eight of them in this chapter. And the last one I want to read and ask what you`re doing here. And -- No. 8. "And finally, finally, no more of this God bless America crap. What makes you think you get to be blessed and no one else does? I don`t play favorites. You don`t hear anybody in Djibouti saying, God bless Djibouti. I`ve never heard anyone utter the words, God bless Botswana."
LAMB: Is this something that only Americans do, God bless America?
MOORE: Yes. Yes. It`s unique to us. And it`s an arrogant statement and it`s not, May God, or, Please, God, bless America. It`s, God bless America. God bless America! You know? It`s -- when people, first of all, around the world hear that, they`re just going, Who the hell do you think you are? Eighty-five percent of your people can`t find Iraq on the map. You know, I mean, get real here. God isn`t playing favorites.
God -- you know, God created all of this, all of this equally. He loves everyone equally. And we don`t get, like, a special, you know -- we don`t have, like, the express lane to him, you know? Like, he`s going to listen to our prayers as we bomb Iraq. Please help us, God, as we bomb Iraq. I don`t think that`s what God is up to.
You know, the pope came out against this war long before the war and kept saying it over and over and over again. He just said it the other day again. You know, I just think it`s wrong. It`s arrogant. The rest of the world doesn`t like it. I have a feeling God doesn`t like it. And so I thought I`d write a satirical chapter about it.
LAMB: Chapter seven, "Horatio Alger Must Die."
MOORE: Yes. Yes. Brian, so many people, especially where I come from, average, hard-working Americans got sold a bill of goods in the last decade, that they, too, could be rich. You, too, can get rich in the stock market, just like the rich did in the `80s and the `90s. Invest in the stock market
And so all these people I know back home took their life`s savings and put it in the stock market. And I would tell people, Don`t do that! It`s Vegas. It`s -- don`t -- that`s the rich man`s game. That`s -- you know -- no, but look -- and everybody had a story of somebody who invested, you know, $100 in this, you know, Microsoft-type company and then suddenly had $100,000 or whatever, you know, and just all this -- and these nutty stories.
And then they started -- you know, people I know who otherwise would not pay any attention, would never read the stock market pages, they`ve got it on a crawl on their computer, the CNBC line, you know, they`re watching all the financial reports. We don`t understand any of this! What are we trying to do?
And then what happened? Everybody lost their money. I mean, they lost their money. Now, the rich can afford the dip that the market took, but the average working person couldn`t afford it. They lost their life`s savings. Or their unions invested their pensions in these things that -- there, it`s gone. Now they don`t -- now people who are hoping to retire at 60 years old, or even earlier, are now going to work into their 70s as a result of this.
And so in this chapter, I just wanted to, like -- you know, just grab my friends out there and say, Stop believing this myth that began with Horatio Alger that anyone in America can make it. Anyone. It`s what`s so great is that anyone can go from rags to riches. This -- while it happens occasionally, while there`s a one-in-a-million chance it will happen, that`s exactly what it is, a one-in-a-million chance. And it probably isn`t going to happen to you.
So quit voting for the candidates of the rich. Quit talking this Republican talk that they`ve got you talking. You see, people are afraid. Even like with Bush on the tax cut, right? You don`t see a real uprising against the tax cut, even though the facts are out there that it benefited the rich mostly, right? They were the ones who really gained from this. You didn`t hear the middle class calling their congressman and going,, you know, Fight this. Take this tax cut back. And it`s because I think people -- good people, decent Americans -- harbor this thing in the back of their head that, You know, I don`t want to, like, make it too bad on the rich here because, you know, one day I could be one of them, you know? So let`s just not -- let`s not be too hard on them.
LAMB: Explain this line in this chapter. "I`m sure Bush thanks God every night for the war on terror, 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq and the axis of evil, all but assured that Enron would disappear from the news and from the minds of the voting public." Do you believe that?
MOORE: Oh, absolutely.
LAMB: You think he sits around and says to himself, Thank God for 9/11?
MOORE: Well, not, Thank God for 9/11. I think that he -- no, I`m sure that he was as affected by that as all of us were, and those who died that day. But I think that after the sorrow of the tragedy started to wear off, he, and especially his advisers, realized this bonanza that essentially had been handed to them in the form of this tragedy, which is, is that, We can now use this. We can use this for anything. All we have to do is say, Because of 9/11, because of terrorism, we have to do this. We have to drill for oil in Alaska because of 9/11. We have to this -- you know? And people will go for it. They`ll listen to us. If we tell them that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11, they`ll actually believe it. And they did. The majority of Americans actually believed this complete, complete fallacy. And it worked.
This is what their genius had. I mean, Karl Rove and all the guys in the White House, man, my hat`s off to them because they know how to -- the thing when you get into serial lying, like they have, I honestly believe you hook them up to a lie-detector test, they`d pass it because they`ve told it so often and so well they believe it themselves.
But I personally am offended to use the dead of that day of September 11 for an excuse to pass the Patriot Act, to take away people`s civil liberties, to lock people up without even charges being brought against them, to drill for oil in Alaska, to do all these other things that they want to do. And I always say it`s because of that. If I had a relative who died that day, I would be personally offended. I would not want their death to be used by politicians who are trying to push this right-wing agenda.
LAMB: If we followed you around, what would we see you doing when you`re not working?
MOORE: Oh, that would be so boring! I`d be watching...
LAMB: I mean, where do you live?
MOORE: I`d be watching C-SPAN.
LAMB: Where do you live?
MOORE: I live mostly in Michigan.
LAMB: Where in Michigan?
MOORE: I live up in northern Michigan. We have a place up there in the woods. And then I`d say we`re probably -- about maybe two thirds of the year up there and about a third of the year in New York City. We have an apartment above a Baby Gap store in Manhattan. And so when I`m -- for instance, if I`m working on my film, I will be spending more time in New York. If I`m writing, I`ll be spending more time in Michigan.
LAMB: You can hear folks watching that just totally disagree with you, saying, yes, you know, this guy is beating up on my president, George Bush, and he`s having a great time doing it, but he`s making a fortune. He`s living well.
MOORE: I know. It bothers me. Yes.
LAMB: And you can imagine about right now, they`re first going to shoot me for having you here, and then second, they want to get to you.
MOORE: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: And you know what I`m talking about.
MOORE: Yes, I do know. I feel bad for them. There are a lot of angry white guys out there.
LAMB: The reason I bring it up, because we`re -- I`m on chapter 10, "How to Talk to Your Conservative Brother-in-Law," is why I bring it up.
MOORE: Yes. Exactly.
LAMB: You start out, No. 1 -- you know, you have a whole list of things. And the first one, I would be interested to know how many people you think would know what you`re talking about. First one is, "Mumia probably killed that guy."
MOORE: Well, actually, that`s -- in that chapter, I say one of the things -- see, I think that people on the left need to reach out to a number of conservatives, people who call themselves conservatives, and I don`t think they`re really conservatives. I think that they`re actually decent people who just don`t want their tax money -- you know, they don`t want to give a lot of money in taxes.
LAMB: You say they`re afraid.
MOORE: And they`re afraid. Right.
LAMB: What are they afraid of?
MOORE: Well, they`re afraid of whatever they`re told to be afraid of. You know, before I came in here, I saw a crawl coming across on CNN that said terrorists now have access to hiking trail maps and camp site maps. Be on the lookout for terrorists at camp sites. I mean, every day it`s something. You know, it`s -- hobby shops all got an alert that terrorists might come in to build model airplanes and put little explosives on them and fly them into buildings. I mean, it`s just -- you know, they`re just getting hit like this about, something`s going to happen.
And yes, something will happen. I mean, there will be other acts of terrorism. But in talking to -- you know, in this chapter, your conservative brother-in-law -- I run into so many people who`ll come up to me, and they`ll go, You know, Mike, I liked your movie, but you know, I`m a Republican and I`m a conservative. I say, I don`t think you are. Yes, I am!
I say, Well, let me ask you some questions. Do you think women should be allowed to be paid the same as men? Well, absolutely. Do you want cleaner air and water? Absolutely. Are you for integration or segregation? Well, integration, of course. If you go down the -- I said, Well, these are all liberal issues. You know, equal pay, stronger environmental laws, et cetera, et cetera. What part of you is actually conservative or Republican, then? Well, I don`t like them taking all my money for them damn taxes. It always comes back to that, you know?
And so -- you asked me there -- I said, you know, one way that we`ve got to reach out to these people -- I call them RINOs -- Republicans in Name Only -- is maybe the liberals need to admit where we`ve been wrong first. And I list a whole bunch of things here.
LAMB: But what`s -- and first one on the list is "Mumia probably killed that guy."
MOORE: Well, that`s because every time I go to speak on a campus, there`s always a group of well-meaning kids handing out this -- Mumia is a guy who`s on death row in Pennsylvania, who actually wrote a best-selling book and was a commentator on NPR for a while, on "All Things Considered." And he was accused of killing a cop, and that`s why he`s on death row. And there`s all these movements on the left about, you know, freeing Mumia. And you know, from everything I`ve read, you know -- - it`s like one of those things that you can`t really say to them. It`s like, you know -- Well, you know, there`s a good chance, actually, he did kill the guy.
Now, I`m against the death penalty. I don`t think Mumia should be executed, and I will do whatever I can to participate in fighting his execution. But there are two separate issues there. And it`s only one of many things that I...
LAMB: Let me read some of them, so people will know what we`re talking about. You say to tell your conservative brother-in-law "Drugs are bad."
MOORE: Yes, drugs are bad. Right. Drugs are bad and...
LAMB: "Men and women are different."
MOORE: Men and women are different. Yes. And there`s nothing wrong with that. It`s a good thing.
LAMB: "It`s really a bad idea to have sex before you`re 18." And I wanted to ask you, because you admit in here, I guess, you didn`t have sex until you were 32.
LAMB: Why did you tell us that?
MOORE: Well, it felt like I was 32. It was actually before that, but you know...
LAMB: "MTV sucks," "Granola is bad for you," "The sun is good for you"...
LAMB: -- "People who commit violent crimes should be locked up," "Your children do not have a right to privacy," "Not all unions are good," "SUVs are not inherently evil," "Getting back to nature is a dumb idea," "Bill O`Reilly makes a few good points."
MOORE: Yes. Bill O`Reilly is against the death penalty. He`s against NAFTA. You know, I`m just saying you can find something good to say about most people, and if it`ll help the conservative listen to you by saying a couple decent words about Bill O`Reilly, there`s -- well, it`s not going to kill you to say that. I mean, I`m pointing out all these things, I mean, and some of it`s tongue in cheek, but you know...
But the left and the liberals are so -- there`s -- I`ve been trying to figure out, Brian, why it is that the American public, they hate that word and they don`t like liberal leaders. They don`t like to vote for them, you know, because it seems like an oxymoron, "liberal leader." You know, liberal leaders usually don`t lead. They`re very wishy-washy. They`re wimpy. You know, they`re Gray Davis. You know, Hi, I`m Gray Davis. And well, I guess we could have a little death penalty, and I guess we could screw the poor a little bit and -- you know?
It`s like -- you know, that`s our side. Our side, we don`t have fighters. Hi, I`m Tom Daschle, and I stand for -- you know? Who do they`ve got? They`ve got, like, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, people that believe in something, you know?
And So what I`m saying to liberals in the book is, Let`s get the courage of our convictions here. Let`s stand up for something. You know, it`s -- let`s quit being these sort of, you know, wimpy, you know, "The New York Times" -- you know, before the war, here`s "The New York Times." Well, I think the war is not a good idea, we shouldn`t go to war. As then as soon as we`ve gone to war, "The New York Times" -- OK, we`re at war. I guess we better support the war.
It`s, like, oh, my God! You know? No wonder they`re so attractive to so many people, the conservatives and the right-wingers, because at least they stand for something. They`ve got conviction. And I think the American people would rather have that. They`ll vote for a conservative, even though they don`t agree with the conservative, even though, as I point out in my book, on all the issue, the American public is very liberal. The majority of Americans now are pro-choice. They`re pro-labor. They`re pro-environment. They want a higher minimum wage. You go down the whole list of things, they`re liberal on the issues. And yet they`ll vote for Republicans and conservatives because when it comes to leadership, they`re voting for a leader, someone who will lead. And they`d rather have that and take with that person some of -- if they don`t like some of the things they stand for, that`s OK. They just want to know whoever`s in charge is going to be in charge.
And on the left side of the fence, we don`t have a lot of those people running who are going to be in charge. I think that`s what makes Wesley Clark so dangerous to the Republicans next year because here you have a four-star general, first in his class at West Point, a Rhodes Scholar, somebody who is going to make decisions, somebody who is going to lead, somebody who`s not going to take any crap from these people. And that is dangerous because that will make him very attractive because he`s so good on all these other issues -- on the issue of choice and the environment and health care and all these things -- that liberals and progressives and Democrats will eventually vote for him. And if he makes it, in the general run-off against Bush, Bush has got a real problem.
LAMB: By the way, this is really a non sequitur. What`s the "B" mean?
MOORE: Oh, it`s Boston Red Sox. You know, I was up there last night. You know, you feel sorry for the Boston Red Sox, and somebody gave me a hat and, you know, so...
LAMB: Here you are.
MOORE: Yes, I put it on for them.
LAMB: Chapter three, "Oils Well That Ends Well." And it`s -- you say you had a dream. And I`m reading along here, and all of a sudden, it says, "In this dream, I received a surprise visit from my great-granddaughter, Ann Coulter-Moore. I have no idea how she got that name, and I was too frightened to ask."
MOORE: Yes, well, you know...
LAMB: Have you ever met her, by the way?
MOORE: I never have. I`ve actually -- Bill Maher`s old show, "Politically Incorrect," they tried to get us on the same show. But they told me that she wouldn`t come on the same show with me, for some reason, so -- I don`t know. I`d love to meet her, and you know, I`m -- I think she`s got a great act.
LAMB: What -- do you think she thinks you`ve got a great act?
MOORE: No. I think she knows that I believe in what I believe in, that...
LAMB: She doesn`t?
MOORE: She can`t believe in half that stuff she says, right? I mean, I think she knows -- she`s very smart, and she knows how to work it. But I got to believe when the camera turns off, you know...
LAMB: She`d say, I bet you, if she were here, that`s typical of a liberal.
MOORE: Which is what?
LAMB: Thinking I don`t believe what I do, but they believe what they do.
MOORE: But -- yes, but the stuff she believes in is -- you know, who was it she said should be -- you know -- oh, that we need to execute -- once we execute a few liberals -- I mean, she was referring to John Walker Lindh, but she thought it would be good if there was a death penalty for him because once we start to execute a few people on the left, that`ll shut the left up -- the comment that she made where she even got fired from, what was it, "The National Review," about Islam being -- I`m not even going to bother to -- I can`t quote her, but it was essentially that it`s a gutter religion and that what they need to do is be converted to Christianity.
She seems like an intelligent person. I can`t honestly believe -- and when I say she doesn`t believe in those thing, I`m not disparaging the fact that she`s a -- she is a conservative, and I respect her for believing those things, but the way she takes it is kind of extreme ends. I got to believe that it`s -- she`s just -- you know, she knows it`s good camera time for her, you know, for herself and those legs.
LAMB: This chapter -- and we haven`t got time to go into it -- is a Q&A between Ann Coulter-Moore and you.
LAMB: And where`s it going in this Q&A that you take us through?
MOORE: Well, it takes place 100 -- or not 100 years from now, it would be about, like, 50 years from now, when we`ve run out of oil and the world is a very different place. And so my great-granddaughter is asking me, Why didn`t you all, when you had the chance to do something about this, do something?
We`ve got anywhere from maybe 40 to 70 years of oil left under this earth. And that might be generous. If we don`t do something right now -- we need a John Kennedy to stand up and say, you know, like he said, We`re going to be on the moon in 10 years. We need somebody to stand up and say, We are going to find alternative sources of energy that are not of a finite nature, like oil is. When we run out of the oil -- it`s not just about our cars. We know how to run our cars without oil. I`m not worried about that. That will happen. It`s everything else. It`s everything in this studio that`s petroleum-based.
LAMB: Before we run out of time, let me ask you -- "Bowling for Columbine" -- how many people saw it?
MOORE: Oh, it -- gee, it set the record, 22 million at the box office, another 50 million or 60 million in home video.
LAMB: Another movie for you? You working on one?
MOORE: Yes. I`m working on a film called "Fahrenheit 9/11" that`ll be out before the election.
LAMB: Before next year`s election in November?
LAMB: A question I have for you after reading this and the footnotes and everything -- did you write this book?
MOORE: Yes. Why?
LAMB: I always ask people. You physically write the book yourself?
MOORE: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. Oh, I thought -- you didn`t mean, like, did God write the book or whatever.
LAMB: No, I mean, did you, or was there -- because you say here...
MOORE: Oh, yes. Oh...
LAMB: ... "I`d like to thank Ann Cohen and Dave Schankula"...
MOORE: Yes, yes, yes.
LAMB: ... "the brain trust behind this book. For months, they labored with me over every word. They helped write, rewrite, reword and redo the whole damn thing."
MOORE: Yes. Well, you know, because of my high school education, I have to -- I have good friends, and my wife, who go through the book, and with a -- you know, big red pens. And they act as editors, you know, and that`s very helpful.
LAMB: How`d you write it, a computer or what?
MOORE: Yes, a computer. Yes.
LAMB: How long did it take you?
MOORE: Yes. This book took me about two months, about two months to write.
LAMB: Is that all you did for two months?
MOORE: No. Yes, that`s all I did for those two months, but I probably -- the research in it -- probably, there`s about eight months of research leading up to those two months, of just gathering all this information and putting it all together. I really -- I enjoy the writing part. And I love to sit at the computer and write. I will occasionally take a legal pad and kind of scratch stuff out first in my own handwriting. But you know, I can -- I write pretty fast, once it starts coming.
LAMB: Ever going the run for office?
MOORE: Well, you mean other than when I was elected when I was 18?
MOORE: No. I already ran for office, you know? Now it`s your turn.
LAMB: Michael Moore is our guest. Here`s the cover of the book, "Dude, Where`s My Country?" Thank you very much for joining us.
MOORE: Thank you very much. I`m honored to be here.
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