- Michael Moorefilmmaker and author, whose films include “Roger and Me” and “The Big One.” His latest book is Downsize This. His TV series, “The Awful Truth,” will begin airing on Bravo Television this coming May.
- Michael Moorespeaking before an audience of over 10,000 people in Seattle in November of last year. The speech took place just before the “Battle in Seattle,” when protesters challenged the policies of the WTO.
Republicans George W. Bush and John McCain spent yesterday promoting their military and foreign policies in South Carolina, which has become the new battleground for the presidential rivals as they head for the February 19 primary there. [includes rush transcript]
Boosted by his upset victory in the New Hampshire primaries, McCain has taken a narrow lead over Bush in South Carolina, according to a new state poll released yesterday. Conservative activist Gray Bauer meanwhile announced he was withdrawing from the race, after receiving less than one percent of the vote in New Hampshire.
On the Democratic front, Vice President Al Gore and former Senator Bill Bradley spent yesterday in California, the delegate-rich state that will be the main prize in the next Democratic primary, which will take place March 7.
This campaign so far is shaping up to be the most expensive in US history–Bush alone heading for the $100 million mark in the next couple of months. Financial endorsements for the campaigns have come from corporations, from Wall Street, from wealthy individuals and from political action committees and other lobbying groups.
But to obtain the endorsement of one group of people in Iowa and New Hampshire, the candidates were asked to do something a little different: jump into a mosh pit. And Republican candidate Allan Keyes surprised even himself by jumping into the pit in New Hampshire, where he was tossed around for a few minutes and duly received the endorsement of the “Mosh Pit.”
Today we are joined by a man who created the mobile mosh pit that followed the candidates across Iowa and New Hampshire: filmmaker and author Michael Moore.
AMY GOODMAN: Republicans George W. Bush and John McCain spent yesterday promoting their military and foreign policies in South Carolina, which has become the new battleground for the presidential rivals, as they head for the February 9th primary there.
Boosted by his upset victory in the New Hampshire primaries, McCain has taken a narrow lead over Bush in South Carolina, according to a new state poll released yesterday. Conservative activist Gary Bauer, meanwhile, announced he’s withdrawing from the race after receiving less than 1% of the vote in New Hampshire.
On the Democratic front, Vice President Al Gore and former Senator Bill Bradley spent yesterday in California, the delegate-rich state that will be the main prize in the next Democratic primary, which will take place on March 7th.
This campaign so far is shaping up to be the most expensive in US history. Bush alone heading for the $100 million mark in the next couple of months. Financial endorsements for the campaigns have come from corporations, from Wall Street, from wealthy individuals and from political action committees and other lobbying groups.
But to obtain the endorsement of one group of people in Iowa and New Hampshire, the candidates were asked to do something a little different: jump into a mosh pit. And Republican candidate Alan Keyes surprised even himself by jumping into the pit in New Hampshire, where he was tossed around for a few minutes and duly received the endorsement of the “Mosh Pit.”
Today we’re joined by the man who created the mobile mosh pit that followed the candidates across Iowa and New Hampshire: filmmaker and author Michael Moore. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Michael.
MICHAEL MOORE: Hello Amy. How are you?
AMY GOODMAN: Well, it’s good to be with you. And I understand you’ve pulled over so that you don’t end up in the Lincoln Tunnel during our show and not being on.
MICHAEL MOORE: No kidding. You can’t get reception in this tunnel? What’s going on here? We’re living in this era of high tech. You know, actually, just before we get going here, I just want to say that I’ve been really concerned about what’s going on at Pacifica for the better part of this last year. And, you know, I’m really opposed to any kind of censorship that’s been going on, and I’ve made my feelings known publicly. And I’ve asked the Berkeley station not to run any of my stuff until they reinstate those people out there. So I guess — are we still on in Berkeley? Are we on in Berkeley right now?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes. KPFA, the Pacifica station in Berkeley has been reopened, and the producers are back there.
MICHAEL MOORE: Alright. Did some of them get their jobs back?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, they did, locally.
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, it’s time then, I think, to just correct the whole mess, in general.
AMY GOODMAN: Right. Although the general manager is not there.
MICHAEL MOORE: I see, I see, I see. Are we still on the air right now?
AMY GOODMAN: We are. And, in fact, today we are going to talk overall about the issue of censorship, though we’ll be focusing on the kind of issues that you’ve been dealing with around the country. And I wanted to play, actually, for our listeners the ad — yes, folks — the political ad that Michael Moore has run in New Hampshire. Someone might have seen it if they were watching Wheel of Fortune. It was Michael Moore’s endorsement.
NARRATOR: Before you decide to vote for Alan Keyes, there’s a few things you should know. Alan Keyes is against a woman’s right to choose. Alan Keyes is against affordable healthcare. Alan Keyes is pro-censorship, anti-gay and insists on being called ambassador, even though he’s really just a radio talk show host. So why would you vote for Alan Keyes to be your 43rd president? Because he jumped in our mosh pit. On Election Day, vote Alan Keyes. He’s just crazy enough to be president. Paid for by The Awful Truth of Michael Moore.
AMY GOODMAN: That ad, again, appeared on television. What is this all about, Michael?
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, we went out to Iowa last week, and we made an offer to all the candidates, whoever would jump into our mosh pit. We had about a hundred degenerate but registered youth with us, and we had them in back of a big truck. And then they would get out and form a mosh pit wherever the candidate was. And then we had like the portable stage on the back of a truck that the candidate would have to jump in. If they went into the pit, they would get our endorsement.
We told them, you know, this would be the easiest endorsement they would ever get, no dirty money being exchanged, no backroom favors, no promises that they’re not going to keep, just dive into the pit, body surf for a good minute or two, and you’ve got our endorsement. So we went to each of the candidates.
We started with Gary Bauer. He called the police on us, and they — about five cop cars showed up with a paddy wagon to take our mosh pit away, but we sort of got out of that.
And then we went over to Alan Keyes, and he actually came out, and he jumped into this pit. I mean, backwards. He did a backwards dive into this pit and then body surfed and then body slammed. And, I mean, I knew the guy was insane, but I’ve never really seen insanity that close up. You know, it was so bizarre. And then the dilemma we had then, of course, was that we said we’d endorse. And we had to endorse Alan Keyes, you know, a person who stands for the opposite of everything we stand for.
So we were looking all week for a way to get out of this, and then finally he presented the opportunity to us when he went to New Hampshire, where he went into a classroom of fifth graders and said to these ten-year-olds: imagine for a moment if I were to lose my mind right now and I grabbed one of you and bashed your head against the floor and killed you. Of course, he was trying to make some kind of an analogy to abortion. We took it as, he had got — the mosh pit fever, it sort of overcome him, and he did not understand mosh pit etiquette. It does not involve the bashing of heads of ten-year-olds, so we had to withdraw our endorsement from him at that point for making that statement, and then we went and tried to get the other candidates to jump in the pit.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you ever get Steve Forbes to jump in?
MICHAEL MOORE: No. I did corral him, though, and he — in fact, I even offered to hold his wallet. I had a sort of a mini forklift truck to actually hold that wallet while he jumped into the pit, and he kind of — well, you know, he’s kind of freaky to begin with, so I’m convinced both he and Bauer arrived on the same spaceship, at this point.
AMY GOODMAN: What is it you said about Steve Forbes’s blinking?
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I just — I noticed — you know, in the last campaign the guy’s eyes never blinked. I mean, he keeps his eyes open for a good two minutes, and I had mentioned this in The Big One, where I called a doctor here, and I said, “How often does the human eye need to blink?” And he said, “At least every fifteen or twenty seconds.” I said, “Well, this guy, he goes for a full two minutes.” And the doctor said, “Well, that’s not human.” And I started to think, that’s exactly right. That is not a human. So I became convinced that the man was an alien and that perhaps people of his ilk are all from someplace else.
So that was my whole point about Steve Forbes, but basically the last thing I was able to ask him was I asked him if he could — if there was anyway possible he could get that show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? on TV more nights of the week, because it’s just not on enough. I figured he might have some pull, you know, being a multi-trillionaire.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, speaking of people with a lot of money, have you managed to corral George W. Bush?
MICHAEL MOORE: No, but I did get to him, and I shouted out at him as he was shaking hands down the line, and I said, you know, “George, come on out and get in our mosh pit.” And he said, “Oh, behave yourself, Michael. And, by the way, go get a real job.” You know, and I said, “Well, I’ll get a real job when you wipe that freaking smile off your face.”
AMY GOODMAN: This is what George W. Bush said to you?
MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, yeah. I said, you know, if — I asked him if my SAT scores were low enough where I could come work for him. But by that point the Texas Rangers were moving in on me, and I don’t mean the baseball team.
AMY GOODMAN: In case you haven’t figured it out, folks, we’re speaking with Michael Moore, the media activist, filmmaker. He made Roger & Me, he did Canadian Bacon, and he’s also a TV producer. He is host of a program called The Awful Truth. It’s on Bravo. It’s going to be back on starting in May, and a lot of this is being gathered for this program. Now, speaking of George W. Bush, you’ve spent some time, or your crew has, in Texas territory, in the death penalty capital of the Western world.
MICHAEL MOORE: Yes. We had quite an interesting first couple of weeks here shooting this new season. We went down to — you know, Bush has executed more people than any other governor and — but then we starting looking at how many people were on death row in Florida, where Jeb Bush is the governor. We got to thinking, well, must be some sort of sibling rivalry going on here to see which brother could kill more people.
So we went down to the execution. I don’t know if it’s whether George, Jr. is celebrating the election season, or whatever, but he sort — he scheduled just about one execution per week during this whole election time. And so, we went down to the one last weekend. And, you know, they always have these pro-death penalty people show up, cheering on the execution and all that. So we decided to join in their little party, and we brought a marching band, cheerleaders, and we tried — and they thought this was real. You know, I mean, they thought we were like really with them, and they turned it into like a tailgate party. Of course, there was a man dying inside, by the way. We had spoken to him, and he was completely in agreement with our satirical approach to the death penalty crowd.
AMY GOODMAN: So, cheerleaders and the death penalty crowd reacting well or not?
MICHAEL MOORE: Pretty well, until some of the cheers — I think they started to figure out. You know, we brought in a big scoreboard that said George and Jeb on it, like a football scoreboard, and, you know, it had the numbers of how many each of them had killed. And I think they started right around then to figure out something was amiss.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Michael Moore, as he sets the stage for death penalty, well, executions in Texas, in a stadium in Texas, as well as outside the Huntsville Prison. These are some of the issues, Michael, that are not being raised very much on a campaign trail, though occasionally they are. I understand Judy Woodruff, before she was anchoring one of the media debates in New Hampshire, said she feels like, you know, she can’t come up with another question, that they’ve been asked all the questions.
MICHAEL MOORE: Do you believe that? That is amazing. I mean, they’re not talking about anything. That’s what’s so disgusting about this.
And, to me, I think the biggest story is the fact that the vast majority of people are forming an act of civil disobedience in refusing to participate in this sham. They don’t vote. I mean, all this time is spent talking about the Iowa caucuses, and it turns out 10% of the people showed up to caucus. And in New Hampshire, I think it was something like 60-some percent of the people stayed home, too.
I mean, when you have 60% of the people checking out, that constitutes a pretty strong majority who are, I believe, making a statement. I don’t think that they’re staying home because they’re apathetic or ignorant or whatever. I think it’s because they look at the ballot, and they don’t see a real choice. You have everybody fighting to get into the middle. They all have the same positions. Other than with a couple of the issues like abortion, they all, Democrats and Republicans, they all support the death penalty, they all support more Pentagon spending, they all — none of them support total universal healthcare.
And it is just, I mean, I was there — we were there at the New Hampshire primary the other night. There’s all these French and German and, you know, Arab and African TV networks there covering it, too. And, you know, I just wanted to go around and pull the plug out of all their cameras, because it’s so damn embarrassing that in a country that calls itself a democracy — we got 270 million people — this is the best we can come up with? These clowns?
And they don’t represent the large spectrum of political thought in this country. It’s just — it’s really embarrassing, as far as I’m concerned. Amy, I don’t know. Amy, I’ve said this a lot, I just don’t understand how the 1%, the top 1% that control the vast majority of all the wealth in this country, they get to have two political parties that do their bidding for them, and the other 99% of us have no political party. I mean, how can you call that a democracy? I mean, I just — I don’t know.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore is who we’re talking to right now. I wanted to go back to one of the first programs you did on mainstream television. In fact, I think this was on NBC, TV Nation, before The Awful Truth, and it was one of the pieces that you had on about the prisons in this country and about the for-profit prisons, and play just a little excerpt of it, but it certainly shows where this country, I think, is headed. Could you just lay it out for us in Appleton, Minnesota, was it?
MICHAEL MOORE: Yes. Well, as you know, many, many communities are getting these private prisons that are being built by private profit-making organizations. And so, this town was really hitting hard times, so they decided they wanted one of these private prisons, too. And they built this brand new prison. They hired, you know, a hundred people to work in it. The problem is, they didn’t have any prisoners. They couldn’t get any contracts with other states for them to send their prisoners to Appleton, Minnesota. Every day, people would show up to work, and there’s no prisoners.
AMY GOODMAN: We can’t show the pictures, which are incredible, but this is just a little clip from that piece.
MERRILL MARKOE: — wish list of the favorite kind of prisoners that you would have here, do you have any particular kind you’d like to see here?
AMY GOODMAN: This is the piece on TV Nation that appeared just, oh, it was about a year ago. It was when Michael first got his start. And here it comes right now. You are listening to WBAI. You’re listening to — well, we’re at WBAI, and this is Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now!
MERRILL MARKOE: They transport their inmates to Minnesota.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There’s some apprehension, because it’s like we have been waiting for these people for so long.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I’m missing the one commodity we need, and that’s — that’s inmates.
MERRILL MARKOE: The idea of capitalizing on crime, the one sure-fire growth industry in America, seemed like the perfect idea — well, more perfect than the others.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, we looked at different types of manufacturing, anywhere from pipes to telephones to circuit boards, floor rugs or braided wall hangings, everything from freeze-dried pets.
MERRILL MARKOE: Freeze dried pets? What in the world is that?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: They take a pet and freeze dry it and put it on displ—
MERRILL MARKOE: To what end?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: To display it. Like a mouse or a gopher.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We didn’t want a nuclear waste dump, which the federal government tried to put up here in the Indian reservations.
MERRILL MARKOE: Meanwhile, in order to remain eligible for inmates, the prison sits fully staffed with all kinds of personnel eagerly awaiting the day when prisoners will arrive to make their dreams come true.
If you had a wish list of the favorite kind of prisoners that you would have here, do you have any particular kind you’d like to see here?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes. Old-time murderers.
MERRILL MARKOE: This is David Harris, the chief security officer, who’s been patiently waiting the past fourteen months for the first prisoner to walk through the gates.
DAVID HARRIS: There’s washers and dryers in every housing unit we have in the facility so that the inmates — a little more personalized. We’ve got the microwave ovens, the ice machines.
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, an excerpt of TV Nation. It was your first national commercial television program, wasn’t it, Michael?
MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, that’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: Appleton, Minnesota, and then you went down to Mexico.
MICHAEL MOORE: Went down to Mexico, decided to take advantage of NAFTA by firing everybody on the show, and moving it down to Reynosa, Mexico, so we could take advantage of all the help that the U.S. government is giving American corporations to exploit Mexicans and throw people here out of work.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to hear an excerpt of that when we come back from the break. But overall, Michael, right now your plans for this election? You were actually at McCain headquarters the night in New Hampshire with the upset victory. It was predicted he’d win, but not by the kind of margin we’re talking about right now, and now he’s showing a lead in South Carolina.
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I mean, let’s see, what’s the silver lining on that dark cloud? That the American people, by and large, aren’t as stupid as the media thinks that they are? That they actually — they actually, I think, have got Junior’s number? And the problem is Junior has $67 million to try and create the illusion that he could be president. And McCain has zip.
So I don’t know what’s going to happen there, but I would say, just after having traveled Iowa and New Hampshire — and it’s probably dangerous to make any kind of prediction, but, you know, I think, first of all, we’re going to have the lowest turnout ever in an election come November. And I think, you know, Al Gore is going to get elected president. I mean, I think that’s what’s going to happen here, because George Bush — first of all, Junior, he’s going to have his Quayle “potatoe” moment, and when the American people, I think, see just how truly stupid he is, that there’s no way that they’re going to put him into office.
And they’re going to just — most people will just give up, and then, you know, Gore will probably get in with the few remaining people who show up to vote. But I understand Ralph Nader is going to run as a Green, which is great, and so hopefully Ralph can get into the debate or at least get in — you know, put his issues on the agenda here, and maybe that will help someone in the election.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Michael, we’re going to break for stations to identify themselves, ask you to stay on for one more minute and ask if you think the Battle in Seattle was a Gettysburg, a turning point, and will in any way affect this race of the year 2000. Then we’re going to play excerpts from your earlier programs, a sense of what’s to come with The Awful Truth. And then we’ll go to Seattle to a speech you gave just before the showdown in Seattle, when martial law was declared.
You’re listening to filmmaker Michael Moore. He did Roger & Me, yes, and Canadian Bacon. He is a TV commentator and host and has done TV Nation, and The Awful Truth is his latest program, which airs on the Bravo network.
You’re listening to Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Pacific Radio’s Democracy Now!, the Exception to the Rulers.
Michael, I know you have to go and get into that Lincoln Tunnel, and I hope you do come out later today. But Michael Moore, filmmaker — his latest film, by the way, The Big One, his latest book, Downsize This — extremely prolific. Michael, two questions. One is on McCain, the kinds of questions he’s asked about Vietnam. Clearly, he was a prisoner of war for a number of years, very brave while he was there, but never asked about the Vietnam War and the morality, overall, of that war.
MICHAEL MOORE: You know, I said the same thing the other night. You know, I mean, look, I mean, he’s a human being. I’m sorry that he spent seven years in a prisoner of war camp, but the facts are these. He was going over there to bomb people and kill them, and I don’t know how any of us would react if somebody jumped out of a plane after having just killed our friends and family and neighbors with his bombs. You know, they actually saved his life. They pulled him out of a rice paddy. He was drowning. You know, so I don’t know why this doesn’t get brought up with him. I don’t know why people are afraid to.
You know, I did the live remote. I was like the correspondent for Politically Incorrect the other night from New Hampshire, and the first thing I said to the host was, you know, there’s about as much excitement here as a heat-seeking missile, kind of makes the Hanoi Hilton look like the New Hampshire Hilton. You know, you can hear people in the audience moaning, you know, like, “Oh, no, don’t say that.” Well, I think it should be said, and I think it has to be said, because you want to know where he stands on things like this. You know, I don’t know.
I think, you know — look, my feelings have always been the real heroes of that war were the people who stood up against the U.S. government and refused to go and kill Vietnamese. Those will always be the true brave heroes of the Vietnam War.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Michael, we’re going to hear what you have to say about Seattle by listening to a speech you gave just before the showdown in Seattle. And we want to play some excerpts of your first TV program, TV Nation, when you took the show down to Mexico because it would be cheaper to make there, and other issues. But I know you do have to go. Michael Moore, media activist, filmmaker, TV host. His show is called The Awful Truth. It will be airing on Bravo cable network starting in May. His latest film, The Big One. His latest book, Downsize This. Thank you for being with us.
MICHAEL MOORE: Thanks, Amy. And let’s get a new board of directors at Pacifica, and let’s get the station back in the hands of the people.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, right not we’re going to go to — thanks again for being there — we’re going to go to The Awful Truth, and before that, TV Nation, some excerpts.
MICHAEL MOORE: Hi, I’m Michael Moore, and welcome to the first episode of TV Nation. A few years ago I made a documentary called Roger & Me, and now NBC is giving me an hour each week to come into your homes. I mean, not me personally, but my show. Although I know where you live. OK, so, you know, I got this show on NBC, but I’ve got no office in here, no studio, no wardrobe, no makeup, no key grips, nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No overhead.
MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, that’s the way they look at it. They’ve given me nothing, and now they’ve told me I’ve got to do this show for half of what it cost to do Blossom.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: To do Blossom? Who’s Blossom?
MICHAEL MOORE: You’ve never seen Blossom?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I mean, you’ve got to make do with what you’ve got.
MICHAEL MOORE: That’s your attitude?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes.
MICHAEL MOORE: I made Roger & Me. Michael Moore?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah, so let me — let me know about this.
MICHAEL MOORE: You never heard of it did you? My movie, Roger & Me?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Roger & Me?
MICHAEL MOORE: About General Motors.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, you did that?
MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, that was me.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That’s famous.
MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are you going to make me famous now?
MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, well.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Look what happened to him. Don’t do that.
NARRATOR: It’s TV Nation with Michael Moore. Tonight, Michael Moore hears about the North American Free Trade Agreement and moves the show to Mexico.
MICHAEL MOORE: They make the TVs here, and now we come down and make the TV show.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There you go.
MICHAEL MOORE: We’ve got the synergy, the synergy.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah. You’re right.
MICHAEL MOORE: How would you say in Spanish, “As soon as you get your arm out of that machine, you’re fired?”
NARRATOR: Rusty Cundieff finds out who has an easier time of getting a cab — a distinguished black actor or a convicted white felon?
MICHAEL MOORE: Did you see a big sign that said I need a cab and a black guy standing next to it?
NARRATOR: Merrill Markoe visits the quietest prison in America.
MERRILL MARKOE: How does this one differ from other ones you’ve worked at?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There are no inmates.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I’m missing the one commodity we need, and that’s inmates.
NARRATOR: We go house hunting in contaminated Love Canal.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We have about 150 homes here for sale, and I’m sure you can find one of them that you like.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I figure I’m healthy. I had cancer three years ago, but it’s gone now.
NARRATOR: And Michael Moore goes in search of the Russian missile pointed at his hometown.
MICHAEL MOORE: Maybe we could just point it elsewhere. Maybe we could point it at one of the star’s homes. Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, right here.
MICHAEL MOORE: You know, but I’ve got to produce this. I’ve got to have a studio. I got to have a place to go where it’s cheap.
I figure, well, I heard about Mexico. A lot of American companies are going down there, free trade, saving a lot of money.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Mexico’s good.
MICHAEL MOORE: Cheap.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Cheap. Mexico’s cheap.
MICHAEL MOORE: I mean, we may have to lose a few people here.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I wouldn’t go to Mexico.
MICHAEL MOORE: We can do the show real cheap there, I heard.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, definitely. They work practically for nothing out there.
MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah. Look at all the American companies that have gone down there, saved a lot of money.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Mm-hmm.
MICHAEL MOORE: Does anyone else like this idea?
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: NAFTA will expand our exports, create new jobs, and help us reassert America’s leadership in the global economy.
MICHAEL MOORE: Wow! Create new jobs and reassert our leadership? All thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement. What a great idea! I decided to do my part, so I went down to Magellan, Texas, and took the ferry across the Rio Grande to Reynosa, Mexico, where I would produce the first TV show of the free trade era.
What I want to know — what I want to know is, what idiot at the WTO decided to have this thing in Seattle? I mean, were they just like sitting around one day at the WTO building and, “Well, we gotta go have a meeting. Where should we go?” “Well, we could go to Ft. Lauderdale.” “Nah, nah, it’s too warm down there.” “We could go to San Diego.” “No, too much sun, too much sun. Where could we go? Hey, I know. Let’s go to Seattle and have the [expletive] kicked out of us.” “Yeah!” You know, at moments like that, there is a god in heaven when things like this happen, right? I just — I don’t know.
So, this is really an incredible turnout, and I think that the — what’s going to happen here this week really is a historic event, because the corporations run this world, and their employees, usually known as governments, have decided to come out of the closet. And they thought that they could get away with just creating this merger of the political entities with the corporate entities into just one corporate state that would rule the world. And they thought they could get away with it and nobody would say anything about it. And the big mistake that they made was they just got so damn greedy while they were doing it, you know?
And it’s really incredible that you’ve all shown up here in Seattle to participate in this. For all the people who can’t be here, because they have to go to work tomorrow or they couldn’t make the trip across the country, the fact that each of you represent thousands of other people around this country and around the world who are sick and tired of what’s going on.
About fourteen years ago, I brought a suit, and I put it on to sneak into a meeting that was being held down in Mexico. It was sponsored by the United States Department of Commerce. And the purpose of the meeting was to invite American businessmen to Mexico to teach them how they could close down their factories in the United States and move them to Mexico with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Commerce. And so, I went in as a small auto parts businessman into this meeting, attending various seminars on how to screw the workers in my company and how I can exploit the workers down in Mexico. And it was a fascinating thing to see.
And they took us around to some of the very first maquiladoras factories there, the free trade — this was pre-NAFTA, pre-GATT, pre-everything — to show us just how wonderful it was to help raise the standard of living of the Mexican people. And they promised us that if we just allowed more trade to take place, more of these factories to open, that sooner or later the Mexican people would be living just like the people in the United States and in Canada.
Well, fourteen years later we went down there again this year on our TV show, The Awful Truth, to see how things were doing. And you know what? Nobody was driving around in a BMW. They weren’t swimming in the backyard pool. They weren’t barbequing on a Sunday and having play dates with the kids next door. They were living the same damn pitiful exploited lives that they were living fourteen years ago when this whole mess started.
It was a big lie then. It’s a big lie now. And the only difference is, now the people know it. The people know it’s a lie. They’ve been caught. They’ve been caught, and you’re the people who have caught them doing this.
And to come to the city that invented the $5 coffee, that continues — the city that continues to provide the world with inferior and mediocre computer products, the city that contains the richest man in the world who lives in the largest house in the world — hissing? Why, he’s made so many people here in Seattle happy. Happy millionaires! Who wants to be a millionaire? Regis — I want to trade Regis for Bill Clinton. I can’t think of a better place than Seattle for this event and for us to go out there tomorrow and in the coming days, make our voices heard, to educate people about what this is really about and what’s happening, what’s going on.
You know they’re on the run here. You know, I think they feel that they’ve already lost, and it’s a real accomplishment to all of us here. They’ve lost this round, because these people who are so smart and so rich have not been able to articulate their message. The problem is, is that they still run the world, and they’re still hell bent on making sure that that gap grows between rich and poor. And it is absolutely — really, I can’t think of a better place than to be here in the hometown of the richest man in the world, a man whose assets equal the poorest 100 million Americans. 100 million Americans, their assets equal the assets of one man: Bill Gates.
You know, when they look back on this period of history, they’ll wonder how the people allowed this kind of greed to take place and to continue for so long. And I was thinking about this on the plane here tonight, that we really are celebrating now, next year, the twentieth consecutive year of the Reagan administration. He left, but it didn’t leave. It came in different forms: Bush, Clinton, Gore, Bradley, McCain, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Tweedledumber. But it’s the same damn thing.
You know, the revolution really is already taking place. This is just the vocal visible end of it. But if you travel the country and if you talk to people and you see what’s going on, they’re pissed as hell. They’ve had it. They’re not going to take it anymore. They don’t get much of a chance to voice their concerns. If they live in Minnesota, they get to say [expletive] you by electing a professional wrestler for governor, you know? I mean, if the people are given a chance to say [expletive] you to the system, they’ll take that chance anytime they’re given it. But they don’t get it very often.
And one of the sad parts of the system is that we’re going to go through another election next year with nobody to vote for. No, no, no. I’m here to officially announce that I’m a non-candidate, and I’ll not be running on January 24th in Iowa and January 31st in New Hampshire. I’ll also not be running at the $1,000-a-plate dinner on December 16th in Des Moines.
But there’s Ralph. We do. We need a line on the ballot that says “none of the above.” You know, if “none of the above” was on the ballot, I think it would win in most elections, and we’d have the largest turnout ever, because then there’d be something to vote for. It’s really pathetic.
Well, we’ve kept everybody here long enough, and we’ve got to get up early tomorrow. There’s a lot going on. Try and snag a few of your friends and neighbors and coworkers to join us tomorrow, as we get out there and make our voices heard and essentially shut down the city of Seattle and let all these corporations know: here we come, their day is over, their greed is over. The people of Seattle, and the people have come to join them, have taken a stand. We’re not going to take it anymore. We’re taking back this country. We’re putting it in our hands. It’s still a democracy the last time I checked. So let’s get it back in our hands. Let’s get out there and let them know how we feel about what’s going on and that we’re not going to take this anymore.
So I’ll see you tomorrow out there. Let’s get up. Let’s do our job. Thank you for coming to Seattle. Let’s get the caffeine in ya. Put yourself on caffeine and get out there tomorrow. Have a good time. Take care. Good night.
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, media activist, filmmaker and TV host. His program is called The Awful Truth. It airs on Bravo network beginning in May.