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2003-10-15

Dude, Where’s My Country? – Democracy Now! Interviews Documentary Filmmaker, Television Producer and Author Michael Moore

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We spend the hour with Michael Moore talking about his latest book Dude, Where’s My Country?, Bush’s connections to the Bin Ladens and the candidacy of Wesley Clark for president. [Includes transcript]

Click here to read to full transcript
To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, call 1 (800) 881-2359. Today we spend the hour with documentary filmmaker, television producer and author Michael Moore.

Last night in the Chicago area, some 1500 people greeted Moore with a standing ovation. The cheers only grew louder when he held up a Cubs baseball cap.

But the cheers soon turned into boos when Moore raised a hat of the Florida Marlins who are facing the Cubs in the baseball playoffs.

Then Moore began his speech saying, "Thank you. I just wanted to relive my Oscar night."

Moore was booed at the 2003 Academy Awards when, during his acceptance speech for the Best Documentary Award for "Bowling For Columbine," he called President Bush’s election and justifications for the war in Iraq "fictitious."

Michael Moore is on a 33-city tour promoting his new book, Dude, Where’s My Country? Almost 1 million copies hit bookshelves on Oct. 7.

His previous book, Stupid White Men: And Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation, which was almost pulled by the publisher after September 11th, has sold more than 4 million copies and became the best-selling non-fiction book of 2002.

Moore also said, it is especially important for Americans to "push candidates to take the right positions" before the primary elections.

Although Moore has failed to endorse any of the five Democratic candidates who have approached him, he admitted he does like the idea of having Howard Dean, a doctor, and General Wesley Clark, a general, on the ballot. He said, "We need a doctor because there are 43 million of us without health care and we need a general to kick Bush’s ass."

  • Tape: Michael Moore, acceptance speech for the Best Documentary Award for "Bowling For Columbine" at the Oscars on March 2003.
  • Tape: Michael Moore, documentary filmmaker, television producer and author interviewed by Democracy Now! on October 8, 2003.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Democracy Now! We turn to our show today with Michael Moore the filmmaker, the author, the TV producer.

Thousands of people on their feet last night in Chicago cheering as Michael Moore took the stage. Moore began the speech by saying, "thank you. I just wanted to relive my Oscar night."

Moore was booed by some at the 2003 Academy Awards when, during his acceptance speech for best documentary for "Bowling for Columbine," he talked about war. Let’s go back to that night.

MICHAEL MOORE: On behalf of our producers, cast, Lynn Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I’d like to thank the Academy for this.

I’ve invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us. And we would like to — they are here, they are here in solidarity with me, because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction, and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons, whether it’s the fictions of duct tape or the fictions of Orange Alerts.

We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you Mr. Bush. Shame on you. And any time you’ve got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore winning the Oscar and talking about war.

Well, Michael Moore has a new book out after his number one New York Times best-seller, Stupid White Men and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation" which came out just after September 11. Harper-Collins, the publisher, threatened to pulp it.

Well, he has a new book now called Dude, Where’s My country? We sat down to talk about it.

Welcome, Michael.

MICHAEL MOORE: Thank you for having me. Should we tell people where we’re at?

AMY GOODMAN: You tell.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, we’re in the middle of the Time/Warner empire. You know, we’ve kind of taken over and barricaded ourselves.

AMY GOODMAN: Well Michael, you have written another whopper. This one is called Dude, Where’s My country? Michael Moore, author of Stupid White Men and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation", and the Academy Award winning producer and director of Bowling for Columbine.

It’s great to be with you again. This is quite a book. You start right in — well, you start about the saga of getting Stupid White Menpublished, and then you move right into Saudi Arabia.

Tell us about both.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I think a lot of people know the story about Stupid White Men and how Harper-Collins attempted to ban the book before it was even released to the public.

It was printed on September 10, 2001, and it was supposed to be shipped out over the next couple of days, and it wasn’t because of what happened. Then they decided that I had to rewrite 50% of the book, and take out all the criticism of Bush or tone it down or, you know, just — I couldn’t have chapters like — there’s a chapter called "Kill Whitey," and you have to take that out, because, as they explained to me, "Whitey is no longer the problem."

And I said, listen, "Whitey is always the problem. That chapter’s staying in."

AMY GOODMAN: I remember talking to you in that period when the book was put off from being published. You were rather glum. You were engaged behind the scenes in a very fierce battle.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, I was. I’m laughing about it now, as is the case. But you’re right, and as you know, during that time, I was — it looked like they were going to — they had printed 50,000 copies.

They were holding them in a warehouse, and they got to a point where they told me they were going to shred all 50,000 copies.

AMY GOODMAN: At your expense?

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, and I would have to — yeah, and they would not give me the book back so I could just take and sell it someplace else. It was just, you know, it was just going to be, you know, disappeared.

Especially when you have, you know, people that are supposed to be supportive of you, lawyers and those types who are saying, "Mike, you better compromise here, you’re never going to get another book deal, no one’s ever going to publish, you’re going to be trouble. You’ll be known as trouble."

I’m already known as trouble.

The worst thing that we can do right now is to censor. The worst thing to do is alter the way we believe. We are here in a free society.

What is all this — ’we’re going to fight for freedom? The way we’re going to fight for freedom is by taking away our Freedoms’ — this is just such a bizarre concept.

So anyways, they basically had given me the word that, ’that’s too bad you have that position. So that’s the end of you.’

And I went out the next day to New Jersey and told this group that I was speaking to, I was speaking to this group, a consumer action group about what was going on, and there was this librarian in the room, and she went home and got on the internet and sent out this letter to librarians all over the country telling them that they were going to ban this book.

It just started a flood of emails to Harper-Collins from librarians. Librarians in America do something like a couple of billion dollars worth of book business every year. It’s a huge business for publishers. You don’t want to upset the librarians.

Within a week, they reluctantly changed their position and they were very mad at me, thinking I got the librarians behind us or whatever. I didn’t know any of this was going on.

So I tell this story in the book, and I dedicated the book in part to that librarian.

AMY GOODMAN: A devoted WBAI listener, Ann Sparanese.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes she is. She’s out there in Englewood, New Jersey, at the public library.

So the book is dedicated in part to her and to Rachel Corrie, the young woman who stood in front of the bulldozer there in Gaza and was bulldozed by the Israelis, and two nuns who are old friends of mine from Michigan who are now in prison because they poured blood on missiles out in Colorado a couple of years ago.

So that’s the story of how I got from the last book to this book, and I got out of my contract with Harper Collins.

AMY GOODMAN: Although you certainly did well by them, for them.

MICHAEL MOORE: I know, this is the part that really — well, it really bothers me that they have literally made millions — tens of millions of dollars on this book.

This book, Stupid White Men, has sold now over four million copies worldwide. Probably about half of that may be in the U.S. and Canada, and the rest, overseas. It’s made them a boatload of money. And for them to be rewarded for trying to sensor me — trying to censor me, I don’t like being reminded of that.

AMY GOODMAN: Maybe it will challenge the whole publishing industry, the idea that this proliferation of right-wing imprints that are developing — and people are paving — I mean, that that book paves the way, as well as this one, "Dude, Where’s My Country", to an opening for people with a different point of view.

MICHAEL MOORE: Absolutely. We hear about these conservative books all the time, how Ann Coulter and doing so well, Bill O’Reilly is doing so well. You know, why don’t they tell the truth? Actually, those books, they come and go, they didn’t sell — those books, Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly combined didn’t sell what my book sold.

You have all these books, from Jim Hightower to Molly Ivins, there’s a whole bunch of books on the list right now that come from the left side of the fence. That’s because I think that’s where the majority of the American people are.

I think there’s been a shift in public opinion, and I wrote about it in this book. We actually live in a very liberal country, and it’s never reported that way in the news. But the truth is that the majority of Americans are pro-choice, the majority of Americans want stronger environmental laws, the majority of Americans are pro-labor.

You go down the whole list, even on the one issue where they’re conservative, the death penalty, where the majority of Americans still support it, that’s support that has dropped from, like 80% down to 50 some percent. And I think it’s going to drop even more because of all the revelation that is we’ve had with innocent people on death row.

So, you know, I’m very optimistic about our fellow Americans. The problem is they just don’t have anybody to vote for. They’re liberal on the issues, but where are the liberal leaders?

It’s "liberal leader" that become the oxymoron — liberals don’t lead, the typical liberals that we’re used to.

The whole thing with Gray Davis is a perfect example of how the voters will rise up and reject anybody who calls themselves a liberal or Democrat, but then behaves like a Republican. When the voters of California had a choice between, essentially two Republicans, Arnold and Gray Davis, why wouldn’t you — why would you go with a hamburger version when you can get the prime rib?

I mean, there’s this great study that those two professors at Manchester College in Indiana did after the Gingrich revolution in 1994 where they wanted to figure out why did the Republicans take over so many seats in congress. What they found was that the Democrats running for congress who tried to modify their message, who tried to be more middle of the road, who tried to be more Republican-like, they were the ones who lost that year.

The Democrats that stuck to their guns, that stuck to their liberal positions, those were the ones who won in that election.

And the point is that the American people, who by and large, don’t consider themselves really Democrat or Republican or liberal or conservative, they’re just very common sense people who want leaders who are going to lead. When they look at the people on the ballot, they don’t see anybody on the left side of the ballot that has any kind of leadership abilities. You know, they’re all kind of wimpy, wishy-washy.

You know, the great liberal newspaper, the New York Times — this is the New York Times before the Iraq war:

Well, I guess, you know, we shouldn’t go to war, it’s probably not a good idea if we went to this war.

And then as soon as we’re in the war:

OK, everybody, now let’s get behind the war. You know, this is what you’ve got to admire about the right wing: hey have the courage of their convictions. They don’t waiver. They believe, you know? They’re for the war in the morning, noon, and night. And they don’t ever stop. You know, too many people who claim to be on our side are like, well, you know, I guess we could do it, you know?

So, I don’t know, we need more people on our side that got that have, you know, whatever that is.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you’ve got some questions as you put it "George of Arabia", seven questions.

Maybe you can go through them. You’re headed to Washington to deliver them, to ask those questions.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, that’s correct.

AMY GOODMAN: So can you talk about them? They’ve also appeared in ads — one question at a time. The question, and then your evidence for what’s backing up the question.

MICHAEL MOORE: My first question is, I’d like to know from Mr. Bush what exactly is the business relationship over the last 25 years between the Bush and the bin Laden families.

I was really stunned the first time I read about this, that the person who handled the bin Ladens’ money in Texas back in the late 1970’s was also a person who was an investor in Bush’s first little ventures that his dad set him up with. It was so astounding to see that potentially there was bin Laden money involved with the Bush family. This goes back to the 1970’s.

Now jump all the way to the Carlisle group, where you have bin Laden investing in the Carlisle group — this is George Sr. and the company that he’s involved with, when George Sr. goes to Saudi Arabia, you know, the bin Ladens are all friends with each other, and it’s like, what are the chances of that? Six billion people on the planet, you know, that the guy supposedly responsible for the worst terrorist act on our soil, also his family just happens to know quite well and have business relations with the first family of this country.

And why won’t the press ask this question? Maybe it means nothing. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that their paths seem to cross in these ways, and maybe it isn’t. I mean, I’d like to know that. I think the American people have a right to know. I say in the book, if after Oklahoma City it had been revealed that Timothy McVeigh’s family had been involved in business relationships with the Clintons for 25 years, what do you think the press would have done with that? What do you think the Republicans would have done with that? They would have gone nuts, you know? And yet when it’s the Bush’s and bin Laden’s, nobody asks the questions.

Question number two to Bush, what is the relationship between your family and the Saudi royal family? Where are those 28 pages? Why don’t we know? I’m talking about the congressional report of 9-11. What are you protecting here? I think we have a right to know what exactly is this Relationship.

I talk about the scene here in the book where two nights after 9-11, on September 13, he’s got Prince Bandar, the ambassador to Saudi Arabia, out on the Truman balcony. They’re sharing a cigar, looking out over Washington while things are still smoldering here in New York City.

You know, they have such a close relationship that the Saudi royal family refers to his dad as Bandar Bush. They’ve actually given him his own nickname within the royal family. This is how close they are.

A lot of this goes to a gut feeling on my part, and it’s nothing more than this. But again, you know, you wish that investigative journalists or somebody in congress would start asking these questions.

Was this really a terrorist attack on September 11, or was it a military attack? Why is it always called a terrorist attack? Why isn’t it called a military attack? It sure looked like a military attack to me. If you know anything about flying a plane, if you’re going 586 miles an hour, you know, the World Trade Center, those buildings were like a block wide. I mean, if you’re off by a centimeter, you know, that plane is in the East river.

To hit it that directly, to do it twice, these people knew what they were doing, and they did not learn how to do that at a flight training school on a video game. They did not learn how to do that there.

And I think some questions need to be asked about what involvement did the Saudi military possibly have in either training these people, or were these rogue elements within the Saudi royal family or Saudi military?

We already know there’s a few divisions within the royal family about how the country should be run. It’s total chaos over there. The king had a stroke and he’s not really running the country now for a number of years.

You know, I’m just — you know, I don’t have all the answers here, but I’m asking these questions because I think somebody should answer them.

I go through, and there’s more about why the bin Ladens were allowed to fly.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, go into that, because each of these things, and now you being immersed in the book and having done research for the last few years, you are now taking them for granted.

What is so astounding is most people in this country do not know this, don’t know about when the grounding of the air traffic happened in this country right after September 11, what happened —

MICHAEL MOORE: And I think — right, Amy. If you explain this to the average American out there, that after all the planes were grounded and none of us could fly, and my wife and I know this very specifically because we were stuck in L.A. We were supposed to fly that day back here and we had to get a car and drove 3,000 miles.

So nobody could fly — I mean, nobody. All planes were grounded for two, three, actually up to four days. Right away, the Bush administration gave permission for private Saudi jets to be allowed to fly around America and pick up 24 members and associates of the bin Laden family in four or five cities and fly them to Boston, where they got together and then, after a few more days, were then flown out of the country to Paris without any kind of investigation by the F.B.I. or real interrogation.

Not only that, according to the New York Times last month, there’s now up to 160 members of the royal family and other Saudi officials who were in the country at the time who also got free plane rides and picked up and taken out of the country when no one else could fly. So no one could fly in America on September 12 or 13 unless your name was bin Laden.

Just stop and think about that for just a few seconds. And I don’t mean — I’m not saying that just because your name is bin Laden you’re automatically something — that’s not what I’m saying — but common sense will tell anyone that, Amy, if your brother has just been accused of committing the worst mass murder in American history, would it be wrong for the police maybe to just come and ask you a few questions?

Not that you had anything to do with it, but just, if he calls, could you let us know?

AMY GOODMAN: Were these people questioned?

MICHAEL MOORE: Here’s where they were questioned. They all got on the plane to Boston to get their free trip to Paris, they then allow a couple F.B.I. guys on to the plane to check passports.

Their questions were: what’s your name, let me see your passport. They had just a few minutes, and they were out of there.

AMY GOODMAN: Vanity Fair quotes the head of Logan airport saying she was absolutely shocked when they were dealing with the crisis of the planes having come from Logan that hit the World Trade Center, they were now being told, while others weren’t allowed to fly, they were to prepare to make sure that they could fly out.

MICHAEL MOORE: And those orders, we now know, came directly from the White House.

So here’s Bush trying to deal with everything on September 11, 12, 13, you know, I mean, you remember the total state of chaos and people, just everyone, all of us, discombobulated by the whole thing.

And he had the time to be thinking, what can I do to help the bin Laden family right now?

You know, all these elaborate plans were made because they were spread out throughout the country, to be able to pick them up, get them to Boston, and then get them to Paris.

Of course, what they’ll say, if you were to ask them, well, we did it for protection, worried about Americans. Americans may respond to a hostile way to anyone named bin Laden.

Well, first of all, I’m glad he has such a high opinion of us American citizens. That’s not really how people are. And secondly, again, let me use the Clinton example. Imagine after the days or days after Oklahoma city, Clinton sitting around the White House going, I wonder how the McVeigh family is doing out in Buffalo right now. I hope they’re OK. We don’t want anything to happen — why don’t we give them a free trip to Paris. Call them up and let’s arrange free planes to get the McVeighs to Paris.

That’s exactly, exactly what happened with bush and the bin Ladens. And the F.B.I., and I’m making this film right now that will hopefully get this out sometime next year, and I just interviewed one of the F.B.I. agents, and they were appalled. They couldn’t believe that procedures weren’t followed. I said, what is the procedure in a case like this? He said the procedure would be that each of the bin Ladens would have been subpoenaed, they would have come and Testified. We would have subpoenaed their phone records, just done a check.

He says more than likely, you know, none of them were involved and everybody’s OK. But what we would then do is say, look, when you go back to Saudi Arabia, or when you go back to wherever you’re going, you know, can we just have a relationship, so that if you do find out anything or know anything, could you please tell us?

So while we’re being told that the hunt is on for Osama bin Laden, what’s really going on, when you’ve got 24 bin Ladens here, you know, none of them are asked for any kind of help, none of them are interrogated. They’re given, literally, the red carpet treatment in the days after September 11. My question is why? What is really going on here?

Then as we saw as the months went by and we forgot about bin Laden, no longer, you know, bin Laden wasn’t the main thing, and we know from the things that Wesley Clark has said in the days right after September 11, he got a call from people in the Bush administration, connected to the Bush administration, telling him, go on and connect this to Saddam Hussein.

This is September 12, 13, you know, connect this to Saddam Hussein.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, are you trying to hide how many Iraqi hijackers there really were that day?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, yeah, this goes into the next chapter of the book. It’s called "Home of the Whopper." I list all my favorite Whoppers from the Bush administration.

I give them actual names — Whopper with cheese, Whopper with fries, you know, biggie size Whoppers, the whole deal here, of this.

Of course, saying that Saddam had something to do with 9-11, this was genius, because the American people bought it. They actually believed it. It worked.

Karl Rove and these guys must have just been, you know: whoa, this is so cool! We’ve actually got people buying the fact that Saddam did this.

I mean, you have to at least admire the evil genius of these People, and how they’re able to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

The good news is that once people are given the truth, and it’s because of people like you, because of shows like this, it starts out in these little seeds, you know, the group of people listen to the Pacifica stations across the country, the people who, you know, read The Nation or, you know, go to things on the web where you can get other information, and it spreads out from there.

Now we’re at a point where the American people realize they’ve been lied to. They’ve been lied to and they know it. You know what? People don’t like being lied to, especially when they were supportive of this in the beginning.

AMY GOODMAN: Question three?

MICHAEL MOORE: Question three is one of my favorites. I’d like to ask Bush who exactly attacked America on 9-11 — a guy on dialysis from a cave in Afghanistan, or in Saudi Arabia?

You know, right from the get-go, the thing about Osama bin Laden, you know, the mastermind of all evil in the world, doing this from a cave in Afghanistan?

This thing was so well put together. This was so well planned and so well organized. The communication with 19 people that work here in America —- and the whole -—

If you just think about this, and this is all coming from a cave in Afghanistan? I mean, I can’t get a cell phone from here to Queens, so exactly how did the mastermind of all evil put this together?

I’m not saying he didn’t have something to do with it or wasn’t involved or whatever, I just think it’s a legitimate question to ask.

I’ve got this footage from Fox News of that morning, it’s like literally within, you know, 30 seconds of the second plane hitting, Fox news was calling it for Osama bin Laden, much like they did on election night for Bush.

They just kind of will it to happen, and then everybody just started saying, Osama, Osama, Osama, and nobody paused to think, well, OK, maybe, but maybe could it be something else? Is there something else going on here?

AMY GOODMAN: You use another example.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, yeah. Poor North Korea — you got to feel bad for them at some point here, because here they are in the axis of evil, and they’re usually ignored.

North Korea has taught a great lesson to all the countries in the world, especially the rogue countries of dictatorships or whatever: if you don’t want to be invaded by America, get some nuclear weapons.

Bush has done more by invading Iraq to encourage nuclear proliferation around the world, because that’s really the message of the Iraq war.

And these two countries, North Korea and Iraq, you know, who gets invaded? Well, it’s the country who doesn’t have the nuclear weapons. They’re not going to go after North Korea because they’ve got these weapons and we don’t want to risk them ever being used.

So that’s the message: for you countries out there who are on the potential Axis of Evil list, be sure to get some nuclear weapons as soon as you can.

AMY GOODMAN: Question four. Why did you allow a private Saudi jet to fly around the U.S.? We’ve covered that. And you put that question out. And question number five —

MICHAEL MOORE: Why are you protecting the second amendment rights of these terrorists, the 19 hijackers and the — Ashcroft, the F.B.I., after September 11, started checking the background check files for guns. When you go to buy a gun, you know, there’s an instant background check —- there’s a file -—

AMY GOODMAN: As you know from going to a bank.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, that’s exactly right. You can get the gun in about five minutes. That’s about how long it takes to run the background check.

AMY GOODMAN: As long as you write Caucasian.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, right. So the F.B.I. was looking through these to see if any of the hijackers, or any of their buddies or whatever, had potentially bought weapons in the last couple of years. When Ashcroft found this out, he put a stop to it, because the Brady Bill specifically prohibits using the gun background check files for anything other than the instant background check — you’re not supposed to use them for anything else.

And so suddenly, you know, the administration doesn’t give a damn about any of the other, you know, rights that are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. But suddenly the second amendment is protected, and even in their death, the 19 hijackers have second amendment rights, and damn it, Ashcroft was going to protect them and nobody was going to find out if they had actually purchased the gun in the last year or so. I think if you tell that to the average American, even the average gun-toting American, they’re going to think that is a little weird. That just shows how extreme this administration is.

AMY GOODMAN: So, explain what Ashcroft prevented from happening again.

MICHAEL MOORE: That he would not allow the F.B.I. to look into the files to see if any of the hijackers or any of their other associates had bought guns in the last couple of years. And to this day, we don’t know, because he stopped the investigation. Because why? Because these hijackers have second amendment rights, and they’re sacred. I mean, this is complete nuttiness. I’m telling you, the average American, if you just lay that out for them and explain that to them, they start to wonder who the hell’s in charge in D.C.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Michael Moore. His new book is Dude, Where’s My country? Back with him, in a minute.

His previous book, Stupid White Men, has sold four million copies. His film, Bowling for Columbine, won an Academy Award. And now he has a new book out, and he’s traveling the country, Dude, Where’s My country? Question number six.

MICHAEL MOORE: Number six is what were the Taliban doing in Texas, while you were Governor, meeting with your oil company buddies? While Bush was Governor, Taliban leaders made a number of trips to Houston to discuss with Unocal the building of a pipeline across Afghanistan to bring natural gas from the Caspian Sea region, through Afghanistan, out into Pakistan and to the sea. And the Taliban were wined and dined in Houston, given the red carpet treatment, and this is at a time when we knew what the Taliban were up to and what they were doing to women in Afghanistan or whatever, and I would like to know why Bush’s top funders and supporters were hosting the Taliban in Texas. Again, I think if you explain this to most Americans, they’re going to go, what do you mean? And then I lay it all out in the book, and I have all the-there were articles about it at the time. The BBC did a great story on it. You know, foreign press usually is the best when covering things like this.

But it appears now that these negotiations got reopened just before 9-11, that the Bush administration went-that there was still this discussion going on about building this pipeline across Afghanistan. The Bush administration had also opened up a bunch of humanitarian aid to the Taliban, quote, you know, humanitarian aid, because they had joined Bush’s war on drugs and they were going to get rid of the poppy farmers and all this. And so Bush was — while the Taliban, and we knew that they were protecting Osama bin Laden — this is after the African embassy bombings, this is after the U.S.S. Cole was bombed, we were in business essentially with the Taliban. We had these relations with the Taliban, and I’d like to know why, then all the sudden, a month later, after September 11, we’re bombing Afghanistan. You know, what was going on? Why were you in bed with these people? What happened? What happened to that deal? Apparently the deal got called off. Why did it go south? You know, these are just questions that any police officer or any investigative journalist would ask, wondering what connection this has to September 11.

AMY GOODMAN: And you wrote that the Taliban offered to turn over Osama bin Laden.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, exactly. And, you know, it was ignored. So, you know, but again, Osama was a member of a family that — close friends with the Bushes at that time, you know? So again, I think once you start to unravel some of this, and if the right questions are asked, we will learn more information.

I think this is more than just about 19 people wanting to go to heaven and meet 72 virgins. And as much as they can put that story out there and get people to believe it, you know — give the people the simple version. You know, it’ll work for them. But if some of us start asking these questions and start poking and prodding and encouraging the mainstream media to do their job, to ask the questions that they should be asking, dig this stuff up, then maybe we’ll learn more about what actually happened.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, question number seven.

MICHAEL MOORE: The last question is, I just want to know from Bush, what was that look on his face when Andrew Card whispered in his ear when he was sitting in that Florida classroom on the morning of September 11, he whispered in his ear that America’s under attack. I think that everyone remembers the blank look on Bush’s face that sort of — and then he sat there, he sat there and continued reading with the kids while this was going on.

And I don’t have — again, I don’t have the answer for this. It just has always — I’ve just wondered, it’s just a weird look. You know, if I came over there right now and whispered in your ear that your neighborhood had just been destroyed, would you say to me, "Oh, Mike, let’s talk now about chapter two." It’s just — I don’t get it. What did that look mean? Did they know something was going to happen? Did they know this was going to happen? Was something happening or not happening according to plan? Was he just a deer caught in the headlights? Did he always — just saying at that moment, "Why did dad make me take this job?" I don’t know.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain how you reconstructed what happened when you go back and look at the reports and hear what he has said afterwards and what he understood at the point when he was walking into this kids’ classroom.

MICHAEL MOORE: That’s what’s so freaky, is that as I lay it all out here, all the things as he recounted what happened that day, later, his story changed a number of times. First of all, he said that he saw the first plane hit the building. You know, nobody saw the first plane hit the building. That videotape didn’t air for a day or so after, you know, it was found. But then, you know, he knew that the first plane had hit, but he went ahead anyways into the classroom, and then he’s told about the second plane, then he just continues on and on in the classroom there.

It just — you know, again, this is just common sense here at work. You know, the way we are as human beings, the way we respond to things, I think, you know, we all kind of know what our response would be. And his response was not a normal response. So in the abnormality of that, it was just — it just said to me, well, something else is going here, and I’d like to know what it is. I’d like to know what it means. That’s all. Sometimes the little tells, the little ways that people react, it reveals that there’s something else behind it.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, you have called for Oprah to run for president and also Wesley Clark. Talk about each.

MICHAEL MOORE: Failing Oprah, Wesley Clark. Well, Oprah, you know, America loves Oprah. See, this is our problem. We don’t have — they run Arnold Schwarzenegger, they run Ronald Reagan. You know, they run these people that the American people, you know, like for some reason. They connect to them. They’re stars or whatever. We have people on our side, too. Oprah’s got good politics, she’s got a good heart, and she’ll have us all up Jazzercising at six in the morning. This cannot be a bad thing, and reading a book while we’re Jazzercising. So America would be better off if Oprah were president.

Now, Wesley Clark, you know, I think, you know, look, we’ve — Bush has got to go. Bush has got to go. Now, I don’t see that meaning anybody but bush. I just don’t think that’s a good position to take. Sometimes we’re worse off when we have a Democrat in there who is, you know, saying he’s a Democrat, but, you know, acting like a Republican. I think, you know, and most of the Democrats, let’s face it, they’re funded by the same people that fund the Republicans. This is two sides of the same coin, and oftentimes the Democrats, they talk a nicer line. They’re for the people, they’re for the unions. They’re for all this. And that’s why they’re able to get away, in some cases, like with Clinton, with much worse stuff.

You know, the best example I have, I know personally is just in my own hometown of Flint, Michigan. Flint was devastated during the Reagan and Bush years, but we lost many more jobs during the Clinton-Gore years. And was really — the nail was put in the coffin during a time we had a Democratic president in office, and he completely ignored places like Flint, Michigan. But I think we’re at a real crisis situation here with Bush. And so we’ve got to figure out, what can we do to beat this guy?

And I think the American people, first of all, they hate politicians. The recall in California, if there was a recall election in the other 49 states, they’d probably like to recall everybody right now.

People are angry. The economy is not good. They were lied to about Iraq. I mean, there’s an angry electorate out there, and they’re in the mood to get rid of these people, especially the professional politicians. They would rather vote for somebody who has no experience than to vote for somebody who has the experience with this sort of thing. Clark, I heard him speak here a couple of months ago, and he said these things, and I thought, this should be out there. People should know about this, the one I mentioned earlier, about the calls that he got after 9-11, trying to connect, you know, to 9-11. And he also said that generals at the Pentagon were calling him before the Iraq war saying, get out there and try and convince people, you know, we don’t want this war. The Pentagon really didn’t want this war. They were dragged into this by Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, that whole crowd there that’s running the Bush administration. The professional military people knew this was a mistake. It violated their Powell doctrine, which is don’t start any war that you don’t know the way out. There’s no plan here. They knew there was no plan. Now they’re in it. Now they’re in it and they’re stuck in it, and they don’t know how they’re going to get out of it.

And so, you know, I heard Clark say these things, and I heard him, you know, he was pro-choice, you know, on stronger environmental laws, and he went down the whole list of things. I just saw him on C-SPAN here a week ago where he was asked about medical marijuana, which he said he supports the states who say that that’s OK, that it’s OK for the people to use it for that. Somebody asked him, do you support the constitutional amendment that says married chastity between a man and a woman, he said no. I mean, he’s willing to take these positions. I don’t know if the guy would be any good. I don’t know if he’s the right person. I’m not endorsing him. There’s a lot of good things about Dean. There’s a lot of good things — you know, Kucinich is probably the closest to me, you know, politically in terms of the ten — or now, nine — announced candidates.

AMY GOODMAN: I guess what surprised so many people when you sent out your letter, and now in your book, on Wesley Clark, I don’t think people were surprised that he ran for president, but that he’s called the anti-war worrier, that this is the man who said the rest of the world has got to get with us, this is the man who presided over the bombing of Yugoslavia.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, yeah, I put it in "Bowling for Columbine," I’m so upset still about what happened in Kosovo, it’s in my movie. I found a way to work it into a gun movie and draw the connections between the largest — the day the largest bombing took place in Kosovo was on the day of the Columbine massacre. So, I’m very concerned about that. And I’d like to hear his answers about that. I’d like to hear, you know, exactly what happened. And I read the story in the "New York Times" last week that offered a whole different explanation of what I’d been reading on the internet.

So I don’t know. I mean, I think that’s why — I just thought he should be in the debates, and we should hear what he has to say. And I think any time we’ve got a four-star general that seems to be on our side, you know, we should accept that. And people say, well, Mike, you know, he said he voted for Reagan. I say, well, yeah, so did most of America. If one of them wants to come over to our side, shouldn’t we have open arms and say, well, you know what, OK, maybe this guy screwed up in the past, maybe, you know, he’s not done the right thing or whatever. But jeez, you know, he said he’s going to do this, and this and that, and he stands for these things. You know, let’s hear the guy out, let’s have him in the debates. I think it’s a good thing.

Well, Mike, he’s the butcher of Kosovo. Maybe that’s what we need right now is a butcher. We need the butcher of Bush. I mean, I don’t know. Again, I’m not — it’s not an endorsement, but it’s like, what do we do, Amy, people like us? Because you got somebody like Dean. OK, Dean is great on all this stuff, but I met with Dean, he told me that he supports the death penalty — in three different cases he would allow the death penalty. He won’t cut the Pentagon budget. You know, you go down the whole list of things, and I just think, jeez, you know, what do we do about it? How much do we have to compromise and keep compromising to find the right person?

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Mike, your minions are ready to go, so I want to ask you, what do you say Mike’s militia should do?

MICHAEL MOORE: No, but answer my question, though. What do we do? Just tell me, what’s your feeling about this? What do we do? Because we’ve got a year now, and you and I — Amy, Mike, and the millions of others who feel the same way that we feel — we’ve got to figure this out. We’ve got to figure out a way to lead the American people to a good place to where, a, we get rid of Bush, but then, b, we don’t get something worse in place of it or something similar to it. So what do we do now? Because there will be no Green Party candidate that’s going to run and beat anybody. That’s not going to happen this year. There’s not going to be another independent movement that’s going to arise in the next few months. So what do we do? What do we do?

AMY GOODMAN: Take back the media. Right? The media is the place where all these messages get put out.

MICHAEL MOORE: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: And how do you think that it can be done? As you’ve risen to the top, as you made your statement to a billion people in the world about the fictitious election and the fictitious war.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I think you nailed it right there. I think once you give the American public the information, once you give them the facts, they will respond in the right way. And they’re just being lied to on a daily basis. And so we have to get it out there, whether it’s —- OK, I try to get my book out there to people. You know, you’ve got your show here. Everybody does their bit. The internet is full of great information. You know, I’m going on a tour now across the country. I’ll talk to as many thousands as I can to get them to, you know, log on to read The Nation or read The Guardian or, you know, go to all the other web sites that have good stuff out there. And then share it with your co-workers. Share it with your fellow students. Share this stuff around. People do to want find out the truth. When they find out the truth, they’ll behave in a good way. I believe that. But you’re right, the problem is lack of information and a whole bunch of misinformation that’s put out there. But it still doesn’t answer the question, though, what do we do to get rid of Bush? We can’t take the position, it’s anybody but Bush, right? We can’t go that far with it. Would you vote for Joe Lieberman today, you know, if you’re listening on the radio -—

AMY GOODMAN: So you’re headed to deliver your questions to Bush.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, I’m going to deliver my questions to Bush on — the end of this week.

AMY GOODMAN: And what makes you think you’ll get in?

MICHAEL MOORE: Oh, you know — Bush, I’ve known him, we go way back. You know, I had him on "The Awful Truth." He told me to go find real work. So I hope I’ve done that now, and I just want to show him how well I’ve done since he gave me that wonderful advice.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Michael Moore, thank you very much for spending this time.

MICHAEL MOORE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, author of "Dude, Where’s My Country?"

You are listening to Democracy Now! And that hour interview we did just as the book came out last week.

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