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Michael Moore on Trump, 2020 & Why “the Old, Angry White Guy” Doesn’t Represent the Working Class

StoryDecember 30, 2019
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Last week on Democracy Now!, acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore predicted Donald Trump would win re-election if Democrats don’t choose a candidate to run against him who excites their base of voters. His comments prompted President Donald Trump to respond on Twitter, “He made [the] same prediction in 2016. Nobody ever said Michael was stupid!” But Moore’s comments went further than Trump’s tweet alluded to. He said the working class in the United States is mostly women, people of color and young people — all groups who tend to vote Democratic. Moore, who supports Bernie Sanders, said Democrats can win if they focus on these voters and on bold proposals like Medicare for All.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Today we spend our second hour with acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore. Last Thursday, during an interview with Michael on Democracy Now!, he predicted Donald Trump would win re-election if Democrats fail to choose a candidate who excites their base of voters.

MICHAEL MOORE: I think if the election were held today — Hillary won by 3 million popular votes. I believe whoever the Democrat is next year is going to win by 4 to 5 million popular votes. There’s no question in my mind that people who stayed home, who sat on the bench, they’re going to pour out, in California, New York and — you know, but also in Texas and whatever, I mean, places that Trump will probably win, but, yeah, there’s going to be a much higher percentage of people voting against him.

The problem is, is that he will — if the vote were today, I believe, he would win the electoral states that he would need, because, living out there, I will tell you, his level of support has not gone down one inch. In fact, I’d say it’s even more rabid than it was before, because they’re afraid now. They’re afraid he could lose, because they watched his behavior. So they are voracious in their appetite for Donald Trump. That’s the bad news.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Michael Moore on Democracy Now! on Thursday. President Trump then tweeted his response to the show, saying, quote, “He made same prediction in 2016. Nobody ever said Michael was stupid!” But Michael Moore said more. This was the rest of his comment.

MICHAEL MOORE: The good news is, again, number one, never forget, there’s more of us than there are of them. The majority of the American people agree with us. Seventy percent of the voters next year are women, people of color and young adults. OK? All that on our side. So, what we have to do is we have to make sure we don’t give them another Hillary Clinton to vote for.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Michael Moore speaking on Democracy Now! on Thursday and getting that response from President Trump.

Today, we play Part 2 of our interview with Michael Moore, the Oscar-winning filmmaker. His most recent documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, his other films include Michael Moore in TrumpLand, Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine, Sicko, Capitalism: A Love Story, Where to Invade Next and Roger & Me. He’s just launched a new project, a podcast called Rumble with Michael Moore.

Well, Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh and I spoke to Michael in our studio last week about a number of key issues in the 2020 presidential campaign: gun control, climate and race. I started by asking about the Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles earlier this month, when PBS moderator Amna Nawaz asked businessman Andrew Yang about being the only candidate of color on the debate stage, then asked Bernie Sanders the same question.

AMNA NAWAZ: Thank you, Mr. Yang. Senator Sanders, I do want to put the same question to you, Senator Sanders. What message do you think —

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I will answer that question, but I wanted to get back to the issue of climate change for a moment, because I do believe this is the existential issue.

AMNA NAWAZ: Senator, with all respect, this question is about race. Can you answer the question as it was asked?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I certainly can, because people of color, in fact, are going to be the people suffering most if we do not deal with climate change. And by the way, we have an obligation up here, if there are not any of our African-American brothers and sisters up here, to speak about an economy in which African Americans are exploited, where black women die three times at a higher rate than white women, where we have a criminal justice system which is racist and broken, disproportionately made up of African Americans and Latinos and Native Americans who are in jail. So we need an economy that focuses on the needs of oppressed, exploited people, and that is the African-American community.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Bernie Sanders responding to the PBS moderator, the first Muslim American moderator of a debate, Amna Nawaz, in the Los Angeles Democratic presidential debate, that had one person of color left, although there are a few more that are in the presidential primaries: Cory Booker and Julián Castro. Michael Moore?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, first of all, I know Bernie. So, he didn’t get to finish his climate change thing from before, and he is like a dog with a bone with an issue, so he wanted to finish his climate change, and he wasn’t listening to what was the new question. But that’s Bernie. He’s like, “This is the thing that’s going to kill all of us, and I have to finish my last sentence, what I was going to say about that.” So I understand that. But I thought this is a good — it’s a teachable moment that —

AMY GOODMAN: But, of course, she was also pointing to a vulnerability on his part, which is how much support he has in the African-American community.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, he has — the poll last week shows that Bernie Sanders is now polling at number one. He has more voters in favor of him, nonwhite voters, than any of the other candidates. He’s number one in the polls with black, Hispanic and Native American and Asian voters. That’s just the truth. The majority of people of color, in the polls so far, want Bernie Sanders. He’s been number one with the Hispanic vote since the beginning. I don’t think he’s ever not been — there’s not been a poll this year where he hasn’t been number one.

So, you know, it stung a little to watch that. I mean, it was — but because I know him — doesn’t anybody have a grandparent? I mean, seriously. Once they — they’ve got to finish their thought, and he didn’t get to finish his thought, and he was going to finish his thought. But that’s who you want. You want that person in that debate with Trump, even though I don’t think Trump will do a debate. I think he’ll refuse to debate. That’s my gut feeling.

AMY GOODMAN: For all the candidates or if it was Bernie Sanders?

MICHAEL MOORE: No, Amy. I don’t — I think he will try to —

AMY GOODMAN: You don’t think he would debate Joe Biden?

MICHAEL MOORE: No, I think he’ll try — no, he’ll try to avoid the debates. He does not want certain — see, he doesn’t control the microphone at the debate like at the rally. So, and because — you see, we still are thinking, “Oh, it’s normal, so there’s going to be a debate. Elizabeth Warren, she’s going to kill him in the debate.” And I say to people, “You know there’s not going to be a debate. That’s it. You’re the same people who were thinking we were going to get the tax returns. He was never going to give the tax returns. He has still not given the tax returns. And his court is not going to make him give the tax returns. So, stop thinking like it’s normal.” Even we still do that. It’s not normal. Things will not be that way. And, you know, I think I just — we need a fighter like that, and we need somebody who will not be diverted. He was not done with his sentence on climate change. And that’s what he was focused on.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, can I just ask you, though, Michael? I mean, a lot of people are now suspicious of polls, for obvious reasons —

MICHAEL MOORE: Should be, yeah.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: —following 2016. What about the fact — so, first of all, we don’t know how reliable those polls will be, especially a year from now.


NERMEEN SHAIKH: Almost a year from now. And also, the fact that a lot of centrist Democrats think that Sanders is far too left-wing and that a Democratic Socialist could never be the president of the United States?

MICHAEL MOORE: What those centrist Democrats are really saying is they think the American public is far too left-wing, because if — again, it’s not just one poll, it’s every poll, shows that the majority of Americans believe women should have control over their reproductive system, not men, not the government, nobody.

AMY GOODMAN: Including Catholic women. You’re Catholic.

MICHAEL MOORE: Including Catholics, that’s correct.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But all Democrats would say that, every Democratic presidential candidate.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, yes. And they would all say that we need a raise in the minimum wage, that mass incarceration is an issue, etc., etc. But just do a gut check. Who do you believe will actually not relent, not compromise?

Right away — we were so happy to get Barack Obama elected — he appoints Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner to run our economy. Larry Summers from Goldman Sachs, Geithner was the head of the New York Fed — they’re part of the problem. He appoints these two guys to run our treasury and our economy. That was like such a — I couldn’t believe it.

And it was like then he had — for two years, we had the majority of the House and the Senate, and we could have gotten a lot done. But he wanted to go slow. He wanted to compromise with the Republicans. He wanted to kumbaya this thing. And look what happened. He got one thing through: Obamacare, a half-measure, not what we really need, not true healthcare, true universal healthcare. Fifty million had been uninsured before Obamacare. They brag about how now there’s 20 million more that have health insurance. Well, there’s 30 more million that don’t, still, with Obamacare. So, look, I love Barack Obama, but as I showed in my last film, he came to Flint, and he drank the water.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, generally, I have not been doing stunts here, but, you know. And this used a filter. The water around this table was Flint water that was filtered.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Barack Obama —

MICHAEL MOORE: That’s Barack —

AMY GOODMAN: — taking that glass of water —

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, and telling —

AMY GOODMAN: — and drinking it.

MICHAEL MOORE: And telling people it’s OK to drink the poison water. And it was a knife through the heart of especially of the African-American community in Flint. Nobody could believe it. Now, we’re not going to criticize him publicly. We’re not going to — certainly not going to go vote for Trump.

AMY GOODMAN: Deeply thankful he came to Flint.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, and hopeful that he was going to have the Army Corps of Engineers come in and dig up the pipes and get rid of these awful — the awful situation. Instead — and this is May. This is May of ’16.

AMY GOODMAN: Of course, we’re talking about your city.


AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, Flint, Michigan.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes. And people left that gymnasium that day, and I knew what was going to happen and is what happened. In Flint, later, a few months later, the election, 8,000, roughly, African Americans who had voted twice for Obama, in ’08 and ’12, stayed home. Eight thousand. She lost the state, the whole state, by 10,000.



AMY GOODMAN: They even had their last — one of their last debates there, didn’t they, in Flint, Michigan?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, that’s the other thing that doesn’t get discussed: Like, how could she lose Michigan? Why did African Americans refuse to support her? Because all we’ve heard, for how many decades: “Oh, black people love the Clintons.” You know, remember that old, awful thing, he playing the sax on Arsenio and then people saying he was our first black president? Remember that? That was like so — it just always sounded so offensive. And the truth was, is at the debate in Flint between Hillary and Bernie, someone at CNN gave Hillary the questions in advance, so she would know what the questions are. So, here you have these —

AMY GOODMAN: Donna Brazile, right?

MICHAEL MOORE: Donna Brazile. Here you have these — there was a group of mothers at the microphone, in Whiting Auditorium in Flint, to ask Hillary and Bernie about the water situation. And not knowing that Hillary already knew they were going to ask this question or two — Bernie didn’t know, Hillary knew — a month later, when it was revealed that Hillary had their questions before they asked them, the women at that microphone went on TV. They said they felt like they were used like props by the Democrats, by the Hillary campaign. And it was so offensive, again, to the community — to the larger community, but also especially to the black community in Flint — that it’s just more of the same. Well, of course they take us for granted, we’re going to vote for the Democrat. Now we’re used as props in a nationwide debate, where it was rigged, where one of the candidates knew the questions — to a town and to a group of people who have been so abused and suffered for decades now, and now have been put through a poisoning, where all children under the age of 6 — because if you drink lead at that age, you have permanent, lifetime brain damage. There’s no medicine. There’s no cure. There’s nothing — nothing — that could be done to help them. All of these women and these parents’ children have been poisoned.

And to be treated that way by the Hillary campaign — I know some people watching this will go, “Yes, but you had to vote. You had to vote. You had to stop Trump.” There comes a time when the boot has been on your neck for so long, you can’t breathe. And you have decided, “I’m tapping out. I’m out. I’m not voting for any of these people anymore.” And that’s what happened, and not just in Flint, but in Detroit, in Milwaukee, in Wisconsin, in Philly, in Pennsylvania.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore. In the latest U.S. election news, Politico is reporting Democratic Party officials and insiders, including Hillary Clinton allies, now say it’s possible Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders might win the party’s presidential nomination. Party insiders had largely written off Sanders’ campaign, but in recent weeks some have reconsidered his chances, as Sanders continues to rise in the polls while candidates like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren have dropped in national and state surveys. Democratic California state Senator Scott Wiener told Politico Sanders has been, quote, “more resilient than I anticipated. … [H]e has a very, very loyal following, and people have really stuck with him,” unquote. We’ll have more with Michael Moore in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: “Looking for America” by Lana Del Rey. This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore about the Democratic debates, the 2020 elections and more. Michael Moore explained to Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh and I what he means when he refers to the working-class voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, key states Trump won in the 2016 election.

MICHAEL MOORE: The real reason the whole press has got this wrong about the reason we lost these three states that gave Trump the victory was because we lost “Lunch Bucket Joe,” you know, the old, angry white guy, you know, working-class. And it’s all — it starts right there. It’s the lie is by calling that the working class. And we’re supposed to imagine — “Yeah, I watched the Monday Night Football last night” — that’s what working-class is. That’s a lie. The majority of the working class in this country are women. The majority are of color, and they are young. The young, 18 to 35, are paid the least amount of money of any age group. Women are still paid much less than men. And, of course, if you’re of color, you know, you already know this. You’ve been on the bottom of the economic ladder forever. So, none of this should be a surprise. But when you hear “working-class” from now on, I beg people, the image I want in your head is not, you know, the angry factory guy coming out of work. I want you to think that it’s a 35-year-old black woman. That is the average working-class person in this country. It is a person of color. It is a woman. And that person is young. And that is the base. That is the way to win the election.

But they aren’t going to go for it anymore, if you’re just the same old, same old. You know, how could Trump get 53% of the white female vote? I mean, that’s only because enough of poorer, other white voters, women, just said, “This isn’t for me. This doesn’t affect my life.” The largest party in America is the non-voter party. It’s over 100 million strong. And all we need are a few million of them to have a sense that “You know what? This candidate is going to fight for me. This candidate is not going to sell out.” Look at all that — look at all the Democrats on that stage. And let me tell you, I can say something good about every one of them. But tell me the one, point out the one who will never sell out, who will never cave in, who will fight all the way. I think that’s Bernie.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let’s go back to the Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles last week. One of the most heated exchanges of the evening came when Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized Mayor Pete Buttigieg for holding a closed-door fundraiser in what she called a “wine cave.”

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: The mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine. Think about who comes to that.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG: According to Forbes magazine, I am the — literally, the only person on this stage who’s not a millionaire or a billionaire. So, if — this is important — this is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: I do not sell access to my time. I don’t do call time —


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: — with millionaires and billionaires.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG: Sorry, as of when, Senator?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: I don’t meet — I don’t meet behind closed doors with big-dollar donors. And look, I’ve taken one that ought to be an easy step for everyone here. I’ve said to anyone who wants to donate to me, “If you want to donate to me, that’s fine. But don’t come around later expecting to be named ambassador.”

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG: Senator, your presidential campaign, right now, as we speak, is funded in part by money you transferred, having raised it at those exact same big-ticket fundraisers you now denounce. Did it corrupt you, Senator? Of course not.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, that’s from last week’s Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Your response? The wine cave.

MICHAEL MOORE: I was just saying while we were listening to that, that the Oxford dictionary, you know, they pick the word of the year, and they probably already have done it for 2019, but I really think “winecave” should be — should be the word of the year. It’s probably two words, but I would, you know, just mash it into one.

Well, good for her for calling him out on it. You know, I’m very disappointed in the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and the things that I’ve heard him say and how he’s now trying to — he’s trying to be the centrist candidate. But there’s — we could do another show on just him and South Bend. South Bend’s city limits almost abut, by like a half a mile, from the borderline of the state of Michigan. So we all know South Bend. It’s also the home of Notre Dame, one of the most conservative colleges in America.

But he was also right to point out some of the things about her, that she has come late to some things. As I said, she voted for Republicans. And I know why she’s saying this. She says this every time, that two of her three brothers are Republicans. I believe one or two of her kids, you know, has voted Republican. If you’re trying to convince Republicans to vote for you and you’re Elizabeth Warren, you’re way to the left, too far to the left for Republicans. They’re not going to vote for you. Focus on the base. Focus on the nonvoters, the have-nots of our society. They can vote, and they will vote for you.

And I’ll tell you what we did in Michigan between the '16 election and the off-year election last year, in ’18. We threw Republicans out. But we came at it — my friends and I and others decided, after we lost, because it's usually embarrassing that Michigan would go red — I mean, I can’t even tell you the level of humiliation that that caused.

AMY GOODMAN: There’s something funny, calling Michigan red.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes, right, yes. Not right. It’s just not right, all right? The home of the labor movement and everything that Michigan has given the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael, is this the new red-baiting?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, it’s funny, because they take it from Tim Russert in the 2000, that night, where he had the liberal or Gore states in red — I’m sorry, in blue, and the Republicans in red. So, for anybody our age or older, it’s very funny to think that the Republicans are reds.

But I think that was good. They should mix it up a little bit. People shouldn’t be afraid of having the debate. Democrats get nervous, say, “Oh, no, don’t attack each other.” It’s not an attack; it’s a legitimate discussion about where’s your money coming from. And I think that we should know that. They should talk about it. And people shouldn’t be afraid. Look, I think everybody, probably not — I mean, there’s probably people watching this show that are going to vote Green Party no matter what. There are people watching this show that are anarchists and have just given up on the whole thing and aren’t going to vote for anybody. But I think that most of the people I know are going to vote for whoever has the D by their name next year. You know, of these remaining candidates, like you said, they all pretty much kind of support the same thing. You know, George Wallace is not on the stage. So I think that people shouldn’t be nervous. People are going to vote for the Democrat.

More people voted — what I was saying about last November, in the off-year, we decided that — stop relying on candidates to get the vote out, politicians. It doesn’t work a lot, especially with Democrats. Let’s get ballot proposals on. So we got two ballot proposals on the ballot last November, one to legalize marijuana — and I mean really legalize it — and, number two, to make voter suppression and gerrymandering a crime and put it in the Constitution. Both passed by around 60%.

AMY GOODMAN: In Michigan.

MICHAEL MOORE: In Michigan, in the state that voted for Trump, both passed. Now, what did that do, putting those on? The marijuana ballot proposal, we had the largest — we had almost double the turnout of the youth vote from the last off-year election, in 2014, because of that ballot proposal. And African Americans who had stayed away from Hillary, stayed away from the ballot box or left the top box blank, they came out and voted to make gerrymandering and voter suppression a crime. I mean, if you have the chance to actually make a law, make it part of the Constitution, you’re going to show up. That’s what happened.

And because such a large number of African Americans and young people showed up to vote, we had a Republican governor, we had a Republican lieutenant governor, we had a Republican secretary of state, and we had a Republican attorney general, and they were all booted. No Republicans allowed in any — and who were they replaced with? A woman governor, a black lieutenant governor, a lesbian attorney general and a single mom to be secretary of state. No white guys at all in the top government of Lansing, Michigan. And we threw out two Republican members of Congress in suburban Detroit, the ones up there who represent Lunch Bucket Joe. We threw them out and replaced them with Democrat women, Democratic women. And I saw how if we do these things, like ballot proposals, whatever, we can really effect change and have a good outcome next November.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael, I want to ask you about primary caucus order and ask if you think this is important. Last month I had the chance to co-moderate a Presidential Forum on Environmental Justice at South Carolina State in Orangeburg with Mustafa Santiago Ali, who is the vice president of the National Wildlife Federation. We were talking about the two first caucus primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire, and why they’re determining so much of the outcome. I asked the question to Senator Elizabeth Warren.

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking about racial injustice, do you think the order of the primary states should change? You have Iowa and New Hampshire … two of the whitest states in the country, and then we move to South Carolina with a very significant population of people of color, and it means the candidates spend so much of their time catering to those first two states. Overall, do you think that should change?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: Look, I’m just a player in the game on this one.

AMY GOODMAN: “I’m just a player in the game,” Senator Warren said. Now, again, you have these two states, Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s not only — it’s not as if tomorrow is Iowa, the next day is New Hampshire and the next day South Carolina, so you have a little more — so you have 24 hours to run in those states. It’s now expanded, the pre-primary season, to like two years. We then interviewed the head of the Democratic Party of Texas, who said that he’s been trying to get these candidates to a forum in Texas, one of the largest states in the country, and they all say, “We can’t. We’re doing Iowa.” He said, “Could you imagine if we took the same number of people, the population of Iowa, the Rio Grande Valley, and for two years the candidates went up and down this largely Latino area, and they just — every single town, village, hamlet and water fountain, they stood by?” He said the whole country would be in an uproar. He can’t get people to Texas, these presidential candidates. What do you say about the president — about the primary order and whether in fact it’s leading to what we have now? Now you have the presidential debate. One person of color is left, Andrew Yang, in the last presidential debate.

MICHAEL MOORE: I think people of color know that the Democratic Party has talked a good line, has occasionally done good things, but they know that the loyalties of the Democratic Party ultimately are going to be for whatever the status quo is, whether that’s racially, whether that’s to the people who have money, who fund campaigns, etc.

And I’m still — I’m sitting here just still a little disappointed in Elizabeth Warren, that that was her answer. The answer was — and just if you can, for a moment, imagine what Bernie’s answer would be, he wouldn’t be sitting there thinking, “Oh, I can’t upset the people of New Hampshire or Iowa.” He would have said it, just said it.

No, it’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong. Those two states do not represent what this country really looks like. And the fact that it’s still going on, after all this time — I hope this is the last time that this happens, where it starts with those two states. The fact that the person you mentioned from Texas can’t get these Democrats to come to Texas, I mean, that’s stunning. As I was pointing out how, you know, the demographic is changing, this will not be a white-majority country in the 2040s. We already have four states now that are not white. We already have four states that are not white — obvious ones like Hawaii, New Mexico. The giveaway, the clue, is in the name, “New Mexico.” But —

AMY GOODMAN: California and Texas.

MICHAEL MOORE: California recently and Texas. Texas is 57% not white.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And California?

MICHAEL MOORE: And California, just in the last month or two, the demographic is — it’s like 51-49, something like that. It’s very — it’s close. But it has, up until this year, been about 50-50. But now it’s not. But 57%, Texas is one of our largest nonwhite states. Why is it ignored? Why is it Republican-dominated? You know, between the 57% that are Latino and black, then add in all the white women, this should be a Democratic state, hands down. What’s going on here? I mean, throw in the 18-to-35-year-old white males, again, you’ve got even a larger pot you’re dealing with here.

This is — it’s wrong. It’s racially wrong. And I hope it changes. But, you know, when Bernie is elected and we have a chair of the DNC — should be a co-chair, by the way, should be a man and a woman co-chairing the DNC. And they should — you know, Howard Dean mentioned this years ago, about a 50-state strategy, and it sounded crazy, and yet it really is the way to go. We should leave no state behind in this. And, you know, this should change.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, how is it that the order of the primaries and caucuses was decided in the first place?

MICHAEL MOORE: You know, I don’t think any thought really went into it. I just think the state Legislature in New Hampshire set an early date. I used to think, when I was a kid, I’d think, “Wow, that’s kind of a cruel joke to make the candidates come and campaign in January in New Hampshire. We’ll see how tough they are, right?” But then Iowa got involved, and they don’t have a primary, they have a caucus. But, you know, I think that — why did anything get started? If it benefits white people, it’s a good thing. You know, they’re not going to — like you said, they’re not going to go down to a place where there are too many people that don’t have this skin. That’s just — that’s just been verboten for a long time. And now it’s probably more rigid with some people, because white people are not comfortable with the fact that they are going to lose power in their lifetime, and so they’re doing whatever they can to kind of try to keep it going.

AMY GOODMAN: Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. Back with him on gun massacres at home and war abroad. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: “Ya Se” by Fea. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, as we continue our conversation with the acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore. This is the trailer of his 2002 film Bowling for Columbine, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

NARRATOR: He’s Michael Moore, America’s favorite whistleblower, the man in everyone’s face, the guy asking the question, “Are we a nation of gun nuts, or just plain nuts?”

DJ: My name was second highest on the bomb threat list, which kind of made me mad.

MICHAEL MOORE: Why? Because you didn’t make it to number one?

DJ: Could have been kind of like an ego thing there, you know, knowing that I was number one at something.

PILGRIM: I loves my gun, loves my gun!

MICHAEL MOORE: I’m here to open up an account.

BANK TELLER 1: OK, what type of account would you like?

MICHAEL MOORE: I want the account where I can get the free gun.

BANK TELLER 2: You do a CD, and we’ll hand you a gun.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, here’s my first question: Do you think it’s a little dangerous handing out guns in a bank?

NARRATOR: Now, he’s taking aim at America’s most controversial subject.

MICHAEL MOORE: Why do you think we have so many gun murders in America?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Because everybody’s first reaction is pull the gun out.

NEWSCASTER: The town of Virgin, Utah has passed a law requiring all residents to own guns.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: This is a great place to raise your children.

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: There has been a terrible shooting.

MICHAEL MOORE: After Columbine, no one could figure out why the boys had resorted to violence.

EVAN McCOLLUM: Why would kids do this?

MICHAEL MOORE: You don’t think kids say, Dad goes off to the factory every day, he built missiles. What’s the difference between that and the mass destruction at Columbine High School?

EVAN McCOLLUM: Because I don’t see that connection.

NARRATOR: United Artists presents the sensation of the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and the only film to win a unanimous jury prize,

ARTHUR BUSCH: And then Moses himself showed up.

CHARLTON HESTON: From my cold, dead hands!

MICHAEL MOORE: Ten days after the Columbine killing, Charlton Heston came to Denver and held a large pro-gun rally.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How could the NRA come here? To me, it’s like they’re rubbing our nose in it.

MICHAEL MOORE: Mr. Heston? I’m a member of the NRA. I was wondering if maybe I could talk to you about the whole gun issue.

NARRATOR: Critics are calling it “scathing,” “incendiary,” “hilarious” and “provocative.”

MICHAEL MOORE: Our children get turned into little monsters. But who was to blame?

DEPUTY SHERIFF STEVE DAVIS: What were the suspects doing the morning of attack? I had heard that they were bowling.

NARRATOR: Bowling for Columbine.

MICHAEL MOORE: Why wasn’t anyone blaming bowling for warping their minds?

NARRATOR: A movie that will have you up in arms.

MICHAEL MOORE: Thank you for not shooting me.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, that’s your 2002 documentary, Bowling for Columbine. But speaking of guns, the Senate recently passed a $1.4 trillion spending package to avoid a government shutdown. The package includes $738 billion defense bill, one of the most expensive military bills in U.S. history. The spending package also includes $1.4 billion for Trump’s border wall and allocates $25 million for gun violence research for the first time in 20 years. Michael?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, that last part is good, because the NRA has fought and kept Congress from approving any money to study why we have this epidemic. It is an epidemic. No other country is like this. They are not better than us. The Canadians have the same 23 chromosomes and every cell that we have. Why don’t they shoot each other at the rate that we shoot each other? They have a lot of guns, by the way. It’s a big country of hunters, so there are guns. They don’t kill each other. It should be — it should have been studied a long time ago, you know. And sometimes it’s the simplest things, because, first of all, these mass shootings in schools, they don’t happen in the inner cities, do they? They don’t happen in the inner-city schools. They happen in rural and suburban communities, by and large.

The night that the gunman was atop the hotel in Las Vegas firing essentially machine gun fire on a crowd of 20,000 people, CNN broke in. I was watching — OK, I was watching Anthony Bourdain. You know, sometimes I wish I cooked, but I don’t, so I can watch it on TV. Having said that, CNN breaks in, breaking news: “We believe there’s a gunman on one of the top floors of the hotel.” And I thought — first thought was “How do you know it’s a man? Why did you say 'gunman'?” Of course I’m being facetious. Of course it’s a gunman. We already know, without finding out who’s doing this, no woman is up there with a machine gun spraying bullets bullets on a crowd of 20,000 people. I’d like to study that. I’d like to find out why that is, because, clearly, we are safe from 51% of the population. They will not jump out on the street and shoot you. In fact, and when they do, whenever, like, 11:00 news here in New York, if it comes on that a woman has shot a guy, you know, your first thought is “Whoa! What did he do?” You know, I mean, it’s like —

AMY GOODMAN: And it’s also overwhelmingly a white man.

MICHAEL MOORE: It’s overwhelmingly white men, white young men, that are doing these mass shootings. And that should be studied. So, that’s a good thing. But all the other things you mentioned, more money for the military, wrong. Also in that bill, they created the Space Force.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Oh, yes, that’s right.

MICHAEL MOORE: The Space Force. Are you friggin’ kidding me? And the Democrats went along with that. Ah, man, OK, that’s another show. But —

AMY GOODMAN: Michael, I want to go to Oscar night in 2003. This is in the midst of the bombing of Iraq?

MICHAEL MOORE: It’s the fourth night of the Iraq War, and I’m there because Bowling for Columbine has been nominated. And so, the context of what you’re going to see is within —

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, not only nominated, but, well, after Diane Lane announces you had won for best documentary feature, you invited your fellow nominees on stage and gave this famous speech.

MICHAEL MOORE: Thank you very much. On behalf of our producers, Kathleen 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 a time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons, whether it’s the fictition of duct tape or the fictitious of orange alerts. We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush. Shame on you! And anytime you’ve got the pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: “Your time is up,” you said to Mr. Bush. Well, that was Michael Moore getting both cheers and boos at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003, just days into the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, ushered off the stage after just 60 seconds. You didn’t quite get to finish what you had to say, but last year, Michael, at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, more than 15 years later, you completed your Oscar speech?

MICHAEL MOORE: That’s right. Actually, last year, they gave me their Lifetime Achievement Award, and they had Robert De Niro present it to me. It was a really nice night. And I thought, “You know what? I wanted” — that day, I looked and I found the actual speech I had written and the next 30 seconds or so that I didn’t get to say. And so, I said, “My speech tonight is I’m going to finish my Oscar speech, when I got cut off by the producer of the show, who did not want me saying what I was saying.” And so I read the rest of the speech.

AMY GOODMAN: And the rest of the speech was?

MICHAEL MOORE: I would have brought it with me, actually, if I had known you were going to ask this. It was basically to tell people not to give up. I realized the audience I was speaking to — remember, the first week of war, Bush had a 70% approval rating, and the war had a 70% approval rating. And 29 Democratic U.S. senators voted in favor of the war. The New York Times gave us the war through their ill reporting of telling the American public there was weapons of mass destruction there, when there wasn’t.

AMY GOODMAN: Including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

MICHAEL MOORE: And John Kerry.

AMY GOODMAN: Interestingly — 


AMY GOODMAN: — Donald Trump, now President Trump, but what, like more than 10 years ago, was talking about the impeachment of Clinton and said, you know, “This is ridiculous,” but said it’s Bush who should be impeached, for the Iraq War.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yes. I was — I shouldn’t probably say this publicly, but I think it’s — maybe it’s because I was raised by Jesuits, who are always questioning things. And so, one day, I thought, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to” — I think the way we defeat our enemy is not by going, “Ooh, boo, enemy!” You know, it’s like understanding them, learning about them — and even embracing them, in the way that, in the famous movie, George C. Scott playing General Patton, after he defeats Rommel and then screams at him, “I read your book!” you know, and everybody was asking, “Why are you reading Rommel’s book? Ooh, Nazi!” “Yeah, I want to understand him.” “No, I don’t want to understand him!” Yes, you do, because you want to defeat him.

So, I thought, you know what would be a good exercise? Maybe we can all do this at home now, here that the show is almost over. Get out a piece of paper or your device and make a list of the things that you actually like about Donald J. Trump. “Oh, no, I don’t like anything!” Yes, you do. Yes, you do. Because you need to understand why some people are voting for him. I’m not talking about the racists. I’m not talking about the — you know, maybe 50% of his vote is a racial — at least, a racial vote. But I’m talking about those things like you just said, that he came out and spoke out against the Iraq War. He said Bush should have been impeached for the Iraq War. You know, all the — or think of the times that he’s told the truth. Well, you know, we focus on his 15,000 lies or whatever.

AMY GOODMAN: I think it’s at 23 or something, 23,000.

MICHAEL MOORE: Is it up to 23,000? Oh my god! I stopped counting. But when he said, “I could shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue and get away with it,” he is telling you the truth. And so, make a little list of the truth-telling moments, when we didn’t like what he was saying or we thought he was being a buffoon, but actually he was trying to signal to us the truth, his truth, of what he was really going to do, what he really stands for, what he really believes in.

And I’m going to publish this, now that you’ve got me — I’ve said this publicly. I’m going to publish this little list I made, because it’s quite telling in terms of why — I know people say, “I don’t want to watch him in rallies and all this,” but you almost have to. Like a train wreck, you can’t take your eyes off it. And he’s gotten so good at his performance art, because that’s what he is. He’s a performance artist. He doesn’t believe in anything. First time I ran into him, when I moved to New York back in the '90s, was at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser, OK? I mean, he hung around with Democrats. He gave money. I'm telling you, this guy, he doesn’t believe in Democrats or Republicans. He believes in Donald J. Trump. He is the ultimate narcissist.

But I think it’s really important to try and figure him out, and in that way that will defeat him. Don’t avoid him. I know it’s painful. Try to connect with those — because any time — if you’ve ever laughed at something, like at a Trump “joke,” you know, you’re a collaborator. And you can’t help it, because sometimes he’s funny. Sometimes he does weird mic drops. He walks away from the microphone now, and he prances the stage. And it’s like, “Oh my god!” You know, I mean, it’s not funny as in he’s got a great sense of humor, but you can’t help but laugh. And this is no laughing matter.

AMY GOODMAN: Acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore. He’s hosting a new podcast. It’s called Rumble with Michael Moore. You can watch the first hour of our interview at

Also, tune into our New Year’s Day special Wednesday. This coming year, 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote. We begin the new decade with our hour-long special about one of the most influential women in U.S. politics: first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. After the death of her husband, President Franklin Roosevelt, she spearheaded the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. President Harry Truman called her the “first lady of the world.”

And in case you missed it, go to Democracy Now! for our remembrance of Toni Morrison. This is Oprah Winfrey reading Toni Morrison’s words.

OPRAH WINFREY: “Can’t you see? We got a home right here in this rock, don’t you see! We got a home in this rock, and if I got a home you got one too! So grab it. Grab this land! Take this land, hold this land, my brothers. Ain’t nobody crying in my home. I want you to take this land, make it, my brothers, shake it, squeeze it, turn it, twist it, beat it, kick it, kiss it, whip it, stomp it, dig it, plow it, seed it, reap it, rent it, buy it, sell it, own it, build it, multiply it, and pass it on — you hear me? Do you hear me? Pass it on!’”

AMY GOODMAN: Oprah Winfrey, reading the words of Toni Morrison. You can watch the full Toni Morrison remembrance at I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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