Michael Moore on Crossfire
Michael Moore was interveiwed on CNN's crossfire.
I thought it was facinating. Check out what he had to say...
BEGALA: Thank you. And it was a very unusual story.
Well, today's corporate rap sheet so far, for those of you keeping score, looks like this. Ex-ImClone CEO Sam Waksal was indicted today for insider trading, obstruction of justice, perjury, and bank fraud. A federal bankruptcy court has approved former attorney general Dick Thornberg as the examiner in the WorldCom bankruptcy case.
Meanwhile, the "Wall Street Journal" says Tyco International let former chief executive officer Dennis Kozlowski spend more than $135 million of company money on himself, and they never told investors about it.
What better way to introduce our first guest? His name is Michael Moore. He is the author of "Stupid White Men, and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Union." He joins us from Lansing, Michigan. Mr. Moore, thank you very much.
NOVAK: Mr. Moore, thank you for coming in. This book was written before any of the things that Paul mentioned were known, and I want to read from page 50 of the book.
Quote, "There is no recession, my friends. No downturn, no hard times. The rich are wallowing in the loot they've accumulated in the past two decades, and now they want to make sure you don't come a' lookin' for your piece of the pie."
Mr. Moore, quite frankly, you just don't like the capitalist system, do you, where there is losers and winners, where some people do better than other people.
MICHAEL MOORE, AUTHOR, "STUPID WHITE MEN": Listen, the only people who are not supportive of the American way, the only people who are not patriotic are the seven insurance companies that have set up their world headquarters in Bermuda to avoid paying any taxes here. They're people like the man who sits in the White House who took insider information when he was on the board of directors of Harken and used that to sell his shares of stock so he would not lose his money.
You go down the whole list. You know, it is these people who have destroyed the American dream for millions of people, and I got to say, Bob, you know, there are so many average Americans who have got hoodwinked into this system of Wall Street and the stock market in the 1990s, thinking that they were going to have their slice of the pie, and all that happened was their money was taken from them, and now they've lost their money.
The rich, you know, they've made sure that they're protected in this. And to me there's just a big, you know, shell game going on here, and there's a big distraction going on, where a few people are being led off in handcuffs, and Bush can stand there today and talk about we're going to arrest them, we're going to prosecute them, but what really is the problem here? The problem here is that we have, Bob, a system, a system that is sick at its core.
NOVAK: Yes, Mr. Moore, you're getting to the answer, but I'm going to push you a little closer to the answer. I have heard you many times, mildly enjoyed you, mostly not enjoyed you. But I have heard you over the years, and let's really be honest.
You don't like the capitalist system. You don't like the system where there are people who do better than other people. Sometimes there's a little bit of fraud -- but is -- just a minute -- but it is the greatest, most profitable country that anybody has seen. All Americans live better than they do anywhere in the world, and you don't like it because there are people who succeed more than others. Isn't that the fact?
MOORE: That is correct, Bob. I agree with Pope John Paul II when he said that capitalism is a sin. This is an evil system, Bob. We believe in democracy, most of us Americans. We have democracy in our political system, but we don't have democracy in the economy. The average American does not have an equal say in what goes on with the money and how it operates in our system.
And until we have a true democracy with our economic system, we're going to have a system where the top 10 percent are going to make off like bandits and everybody else is going to be scrambling for the crumbs, and that's the system we have. And it's an unfair system. It's unjust and it's immoral.
BEGALA: Michael, one of the guys in the top 10 percent -- top one percent -- is our vice president I mentioned earlier in the program. He spoke at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco today. During his remarks a man in the audience stood up and started shouting, "Corporate crook, corporate crook!" And he was led away for disrupting the meeting, but I'm curious, out in Flint, Michigan where you live, are people angry like that guy or is he an aberration?
MOORE: No, he's not an aberration. Look, first of all this book of mine would not be on the best seller list for six months now if it wasn't for the fact that there are literally millions of Americans who are fed up with this whole system. And that person who is screaming there in San Francisco, he's a representative of the majority of this country.
And I got to tell you, he may look like some weirdo out there in San Francisco screaming at Cheney. Come November you're going to see people, I think, revolt at the polls, and not because they love the Democrats, because it's going to be their only way to say, they've had it with two years of Bush under his watch. This is what's going on in this country, and they're not going to be fooled by just a few people led in -- being led off in handcuffs.
NOVAK: Well, you have been saying, Mr. Moore, for a long time about how unhappy the American people are. But I want to give you a different witness, and this witness again was our vice president, Mr. Cheney, who I think is one of the finest public servants I have met in 45 years of covering Washington, and I would like you to listen what he said at the Commonwealth Club today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: In the past 18 months, the U.S. has gone through a serious economic slowdown, a national emergency, a war abroad, and a series of scandals in corporate America here at home. Yet there is no doubt our nation's strength. This is a tribute above all to the American worker and entrepreneur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: Isn't it true that the American people really feel pretty good about this and there is a great -- contrary to all this socialistic blather you put out -- isn't it true that there is a great deal of support for the American worker and the American entrepreneur?
MOORE: Let me get this straight one more time, Bob. I support the American way, which is democracy, and these people like Cheney and the people that you there -- you sit there every night supporting them -- those people are the people who attack the average American by ripping them off so that the average person watching this show tonight, they don't know if their pension is going to be there in 10 years. They don't know if their money that they've socked into that 401(k) is going to be there.
These people have been ripped off so much. First they got downsized in the '80s, then they got sucked into the stock market in the '90s, and they've lost virtually everything in so many cases. When they see Cheney mouth those words, they know that it's a bunch of b.s., and I got to tell you, I just believe that sooner or later, they're going to stand up and say, we've had enough of this, and it's time to have a complete democracy in this country, not just by going to the polls and voting for people, but by how we handle this economy, how we handle the workplace, that's what's got to change.
NOVAK: OK, we're going to have to take a break, and in a minute we'll ask Michael Moore how he would handle all this corporate mess if, God forbid, he was president.
Later, James Traficant may be history, but why isn't Congress rushing to investigate other ethically challenged members?
And our "Quote of the Day" comes from a Washington regular whom we hardly ever see anymore, until today, that is.
NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. The man who first brought us "Roger and Me" has a new book satirizing President Bush and "Stupid White Men." Michael Moore is in the "Crossfire" from Lansing, Michigan -- Paul.
BEGALA: Michael, I enjoyed the parts of the book where you satirized Bush, but I got to take strong issue with some things that you said in "Stupid White Men," that were frankly stupid statements. You said on page 211, if I may quote, "Bill Clinton was one of the best Republican presidents we've ever had."
You may have missed it, but I was working for him. He vetoed a Republican bill that would have allowed these rip-off artists in corporations to continue to rip us off without being held accountable.
The Republicans overrode his veto, showing that he is a real Democrat. He tried to separate auditing and consulting firms from doing the same thing for the same company. The Republicans stopped him. He tried to increase disclosures of derivatives and regulate energy traders like Enron. He tried to protect 401(k)s. Down the line on these economic issues that you pretend to care about, Michael. Bill Clinton was there for working people. How do you defend these attacks on him?
MOORE: He was a nice guy. Yeah, he was. You know, he came from the working class. In that chapter that you cite, I list about five dozen other things he did that if I didn't tell you that he did them, you would think a Republican president did it. Look, most Americans don't consider themselves Democrats or Republicans anymore.
I don't think anybody really knows what those terms mean. Those two parties exist to do the bidding of the upper 10 percent, who pay them to be there, and the other 90 percent of the American public has no political party really that's a major party that's on the ballot, and I think the time is really ripe for independents, Greens and others to run for office and toss out these people who are just there passing laws to benefit wealthy people in this country.
BEGALA: Green, in fact, did run for president. You supported him. His name was Ralph Nader, and he allowed George W. Bush to become president despite that fact that the majority of Americans did not want him. I am sure Bush, if he were here, would want to thank you very much, Michael, for the role you played in allowing Bush to get in there. And it's just simply a crock, when you say there's not a difference. Do you think that Al Gore -- let me finish my question. Do you think Al Gore...
Believe me, he'd give you more than that.
MOORE: Bush hasn't called me or anything. Isn't that amazing? You know, I don't think any of us have been invited to the White House for making this happen. What an ingrate this guy is. This is the last time we help him.
BEGALA: And what a sap you are, Michael, for allowing this guy -- you played right into his hand by siphoning off votes from Al Gore.
MOORE: Hey, listen, Paul, the American public knows that the person who actually won the election is Al Gore. He got the most votes. Florida was stolen by Bush and his cronies. Everybody knows that. Bush will -- they'll get their comeuppance in November and in two years from now. Just calm down, you know?
NOVAK: I'm glad you've turned into such a good Democrat now, Mr. Moore.
MOORE: No, I'm not, I'm just telling you that's the truth.
NOVAK: But I'm not interested in Democrats and Republicans right now. What I am interested in -- you know what a socialist is. It is somebody who wants to divide the wealth, who wants to take money away from the successful people in the society. Are you a socialist?
MOORE: No, I just want to take money away from people like you, Bob.
NOVAK: That's what I mean. You are a socialist.
NOVAK: That's what I mean. You are a socialist. What would be the first thing you would do...
BEGALA: What's the name -- I don't know, what's the political label for that?
BEGALA: All those who want to take money from people like Bob Novak, raise your hand.
There we go, audience.
NOVAK: Now very few.
See that is the thing, that is the thing that has failed all over the world. It failed in the Soviet Union. It failed in France. People like you are really a menace because you want the successful people to fail, don't you?
MOORE: You know, the only socialists, or whatever you want to call, whatever that word means, the only people in other words I guess who you believe that governments wants to take care of them are the Bushs and the Cheneys and the WorldComs and the Enrons. They are the peole who want the government to give them the tax breaks, to make sure they don't have to pay their taxes, to let them move their corporate headquarters to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands. They're the real...
NOVAK: Would you raise taxes? Would you raise taxes?
NOVAK: Would you raise taxes on people? Would you confiscate their wealth?
MOORE: I'm sorry, what did you say?
NOVAK: Would you confiscate the wealth of the people who have succeeded in America?
MOORE: No, I think I'd just confiscate your wealth, Bob.
BEGALA: Michael, we only have a few more seconds left. I want to ask you about a race that's on the ballot this year. Paul Wellstone, who is probably the most liberal and strong, strong member of the United States Senate, has a tough fight in Michigan. He may lose...
BEGALA: He may lose in Minnesota, excuse me, he may lose because some Green loopy goofball is on the ballot. Are you going to endorse Paul Wellstone and tell all of those nutty Greens to support him?
MOORE: I think Paul Wellstone is a good guy. I haven't really looked into the situation in Minnesota yet. I think Paul Wellstone has made some mistakes, and that's why he's got Greens running against him.
You know, Democrats should beware because the Green Party is very active. They've got organizations on hundreds of campuses around the country. They're going to be on the ballot in November. They've already won close to 200 seats locally around the country, and they're going to win a lot more.
So when the Democrats start acting like Democrats and being for the working people and the poor of this country, they will get to save their seats.
When they start acting like Republicans, they're going to lose their seats, thanks to the Greens and the Independents out there.
BEGALA: Michael Moore, author of "Stupid White Men," thank you very much for being gracious enough to join us.
MOORE: Thank you for having me on.
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