Raging Bull

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At the start of the movie, Moore trots out the conspiracy theory that Bush stole the election in Florida. Never mind that a six-month-long probe by a consortium of media that included the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN contradict Moore.

As the film opens, a newspaper from Bloomington, Illinois, the Pantagraph, is flashed on the screen. Dated December 19, 2000, the headline over the story reads: "Latest Florida Recount Shows Gore Won Election."

But there was no such story in the Pantagraph on December 19. There was no such story ever in the Pantagraph.

On December 5, there was a letter from a reader alleging that Gore won, and that letter had a headline, "Latest Florida Recount Shows Gore Won Election."

So Moore cut and pasted a headline on a letter to the editor. He blew up the letter's headline, then ran that headline under the newspaper's logo to make it appear as if it were the headline on a news story.

At least Dan Rather was duped by forged documents; he didn't create forged documents.

Moore's distortions are more clever than his lies.

Bush is infamously captured at a dinner of elegant swells telling the obviously idle rich, "I call you the haves and the have-mores. Some call you the elite; I call you my base."

One cannot help but think of Bush, what a smug puissant.

But this is just Moore's class warfare meant to seduce an audience whose members suspect that they have not been invited to the country club.

The film footage is, in fact, from a charity dinner with a tradition of having speakers mock themselves and the audience. Rather than breaking bread with robber barons, Bush was helping to raise more than a million dollars for the medically indigent. Al Gore attended the same dinner on October 19, 2000, and he also lampooned himself: "The Al Smith Dinner represents a hallowed and important tradition, which I actually did invent."

Instead of actually looking at the president's foolish tax policies, which purport to create jobs by giving refunds to the rich, Moore prefers to fuel the fantasies of the bobbleheads who thrill to his documentaries.

I think playing to the prejudices of boobs coarsens the discussion.

Arizona author David Hardy is a Tucson attorney who spent a decade with the Department of the Interior, all the time longing to leave Washington, D.C., and return to desert sunsets. His work Michael Moore Is a Big Fat Stupid White Man challenges the lies and distortions of Moore's movies and books.

Hardy's book was published before Fahrenheit 9/11, but the author believes he recognizes Moore's core audience.

"Moore is maybe the most brilliant propagandist ever," said Hardy. "But the movie [only] energizes those tending to vote Democratic. I think everybody likes to hear confirmed what they believe."

Hardy was on both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal best-seller lists. At one point, he was getting 40 e-mails and letters a day.

"Moore's fans are vitriolic," said the soft-spoken attorney.

"I managed to find one of your books at a local bookstore and I destroyed it, tore pages out, stuck gum between the pages. . . . I will stop by other local bookstores and destroy those books, as well," one Moore backer wrote to Hardy.

A self-described white, middle-class lawyer from England who moved to New Zealand went on at great length: "Ever wonder why more people hate Americans [more] than any other race on earth? . . . I would never raise a child in America. I would never marry an American. . . . I am so glad I wasn't born an American."

A running theme that occupies the conspiracy-minded devotees of Moore involves energy and corporation.

"Do you really think that you and the rest of your corporate media, Chickenhawk friends can ignore the will of the people?" asked one Moore believer.

In Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore feeds those obsessed with energy and corporations by lying not only about the bin Laden family's evacuation from America but also about a fictitious energy pipeline in Afghanistan.

The movie points out that 142 residents of oil-rich Saudi Arabia, including 24 members of the bin Laden clan, fled America after the terrorist attack out of fear that they would be scapegoated because of the perception that Arabs look alike.

Frankly, it was not an unreasonable fear. Here in the Valley of the Sun, a turbaned Sikh with no Arab blood was murdered because he looked like he was from the Middle East.

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey