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CNN CROSSFIRE

Dude, Where's My Country?

Aired October 10, 2003 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE: Dick Cheney says the terrorist threat is real.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One member of al Qaeda said 9/11 was the beginning of the end of America.

ANNOUNCER: Michael Moore says the Bush administration is using 9/11 as a convenient cover for permanently altering our American way of life.

CHENEY: Against this kind of determined, organized, ruthless enemy, America requires a new strategy.

ANNOUNCER: Michael Moore asks, "Dude, Where's My Country?" -- today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Live from the George Washington University, Robert Novak.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Our guest today is author and filmmaker Michael Moore. Our host on the left tonight is Julian Epstein, former Democratic chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, now head of a political media consulting organization called Law Media.

Let's begin like we always do with the best little political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

JULIAN EPSTEIN, GUEST HOST: You can tell it's almost Halloween. Dick Cheney has emerged from his secure, undisclosed to try and scare away all the Bush administration's critics.

In a speech to the Heritage Foundation today, Cheney essentially said the Bush administration's Iraq policy has done everything right. Furthermore, Cheney growled, the White House intends to keep ignoring the rest of the world's opinion as it sees fit and seemingly any evidence contrary to the administration's view of reality.

Mr. Vice President, it's time to take off the paper tiger costumes and stop the false bravado. Even in Halloween season, it's stretching this administration's already stretched credibility just a little thin.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: You know, Joe, you sound exactly like Paul Begala and James Carville.

EPSTEIN: Thank you. Thank you.

NOVAK: I wonder if they're writing your stuff for you.

I don't know if you watched the vice president's speech. I watched it. He didn't say -- he didn't try to scare anybody. He didn't tell anybody around the world to, don't you dare ever criticize us. He gets out a lot. He was at a Republican fund-raiser the other night. And he was over at the Heritage Foundation.

You're trying to make him a boogeyman, but he's really the most powerful and influential vice president in history.

(APPLAUSE)

EPSTEIN: That may be. But, Bob, but the polls -- the poll from this very own news organization, CNN, said that, right now, 29 percent believe the Bush administration -- 29 percent of the public believe the Bush administration has a plan; 59 percent doesn't. So the plan's failing. Everybody gets it but Cheney.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(BELL RINGING)

NOVAK: The Democrats who fell in love with retired General Wesley Clark for president may have fallen out of love with him after last night's CNN-sponsored debate in Phoenix.

CNN's Candy Crowley asked about his speech at a Republican fund- raiser just two years ago, in which Clark praised President Bush and his whole administration. The general responded with a nonanswer answer. He said he was nonpartisan at the time and wanted the Bush national security team to succeed. Clark, a former Nixon and Reagan voter, also claimed he voted for Al Gore, not George Bush. If so, he sure kept it a military secret, even though he was a civilian in 2000.

EPSTEIN: You know, Bob...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EPSTEIN: Great applause line. One of the dumbest things that people say in politics is that you can never change your mind. Wesley Clark is growing -- is joining a growing segment of the American public that recognizes Democrats give you better economics and they give you better security.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EPSTEIN: The best test of that, compare -- compare the head-on- head polls on Clark vs. Bush; 49 to 46 percent, Clark's winning. That's what you don't like.

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: That's why the Democrats have lost so many elections lately.

(BELL RINGING)

NOVAK: You know what Clark should have said? He should have said: I was wrong then and I've changed. But he equivocated.

EPSTEIN: And he's right now. I'm glad you're coming over as well.

(LAUGHTER)

EPSTEIN: Today's award for political absurdity goes to Republican Party Chairman Ed Gillespie. He's telling people that last night's Democratic debate was nothing but -- quote -- "a political hate speech."

What did Ed hear that was so hateful? Well, criticism of the mess President Bush has made of the economy and of the mess he's made in Iraq, and that it would be a good thing to take back some of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and that Bush should recover some of the lost three million jobs that have been decimated on his watch? That isn't hate speech. The real reason why Ed Gillespie was feeling so uncomfortable after last night's debate is that the truth hurts.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Let me make two points. No. 1, Julian, that was an extraordinarily boring debate. It was really -- I wouldn't have watched that debate, except I do this thing for a living. I have to watch that kind of stuff.

Secondly, you come on here. You can say anything you want about anything in the world. And all you can think of in these two "Alerts" is, one, attack Cheney, and, two, attack Bush. That's all you can do. You have nothing positive to say.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN: I'm speaking the truth and the American people realize it. Every issue that I spoke about, the Bush administration politicized during these past two to three years. Now the house of cards is falling. And it's whining about people calling it, and calling it on its failures.

(BELL RINGING)

EPSTEIN: The Bush administration Republicans should shop their whining.

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Gray Davis has been recalled by the voters as governor of California. But it will be weeks before he's replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the meantime, Davis plans to act on hundreds of bills and appointments, including judgeships. So, governor-elect Schwarzenegger has urged Davis to refrain from using those powers. Arnold said -- quote -- "I would like it if he doesn't make appointments and I would like it really if he doesn't sign any more bills" -- end quote.

A Davis aide responded that outgoing Republican Governor Pete Wilson signed lots of bills and named lots of judges before Davis replaced him. But the difference is that Wilson left the governorship on his own power. Davis was booted out by the people of California.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EPSTEIN: Bob, I'm going to do something that very few people on your side do, which is, I'm going to admit that my side's wrong and your side's right on this.

On the question of California, the voters have spoken. The voters have expressed a vote of no-confidence in Davis. He should not be trying to pack the judges in the courts right now.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EPSTEIN: The only thing I can say is that I hope you will say the same thing when, a year from now, a president-elect Clark or a president-elect Kerry is getting ready to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

(APPLAUSE)

(BELL RINGING)

NOVAK: I admire you candor, Julian.

But let me tell you how refreshing it is, after Begala and Carville, to have an open-minded man there.

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: Michael Moore is a filmmaker and author who knows how to grab the spotlight. He's done it at the Academy Awards. He gets another chance right here on CROSSFIRE. But this time, he'll have to answer some questions from me.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Michael Moore hasn't been content to stay home and admire the Oscar his liberal Hollywood friends gave him last spring. He's written a new book. It's called "Dude, Where's My Country?"; we can't give him an Oscar, but we can give him a little reality check -- Michael Moore into the CROSSFIRE.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MICHAEL MOORE, AUTHOR, "DUDE, WHERE'S MY COUNTRY?": Thank you, sir.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Thank you.

NOVAK: Mr. Moore...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MOORE: Thank you.

First of all, how cool was that to hear Bob Novak say "Dude, Where's My Country?"?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Mr. Moore, if I said I didn't like your book, nobody would care, coming from a right-wing extremist like me. But Janet Maslin, the distinguished -- one of the great writers in America, reviewing in "The New York Times," says your book is a bumper sticker that doubles as a book.

MOORE: Yes! All right!

NOVAK: That doesn't bother you?

MOORE: No. Is that bad?

NOVAK: OK. You like a bumper sticker as a book, then.

MOORE: We all like bumper stickers if they're the right bumper stickers.

NOVAK: She said there's too much self-promotion in the book. What do you think of that?

MOORE: Well, I don't think that's right.

NOVAK: You don't think you promoted yourself in the book?

MOORE: No. I'm here right now promoting myself. Is that OK?

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: All right.

EPSTEIN: Michael, let's talk about it as...

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EPSTEIN: I hate to interrupt the pregnant pause.

Michael, in your book, one of the things you talk about is the alleged relationship between members of this administration and Saudi Arabia. There was a congressional report that redacted many pages of its findings on this. This is something you care a fair amount about. Do you want to tell us what your concern is here?

MOORE: I'd like to ask the question whether September 11 was a terrorist attack, or was it a military attack? We call it a terrorist attack. We keep calling it a terrorist attack.

But it sure has the markings of a military attack. And I'd like to know whose military was involved in this precision, perfectly planned operation. I'm sorry, but my common sense has never allowed me to believe since that day that you can learn how to fly a plane at 500 miles per hour. And you know, when you go up 500 miles an hour, if you're off by this much, you're in the Potomac. You don't hit a five-store building like that.

You don't learn how to do that at some rinky-dink flight training school in Florida on a little video game with PacMan buttons. I'm sorry. I just don't buy that.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: And I'd like to know what the involvement was within the Saudi military or the Saudi royal family or what rogue elements within the Saudi regime, whatever it is. I want to read those 28 pages and I want to know what the truth is.

EPSTEIN: And, in your book -- I love you. I think you say a lot of useful, important things that need to be said to shake the system up.

One of the things that I'm not sure I share your point of view on is your point that you believe that there is no terrorist threat today. You say that in your book. I know of very, very few serious students that -- looking at what is going in the world and believe that there's no terrorist threat.

MOORE: Right.

Well, there are acts of terrorism. Obviously, there have been serious acts of terrorism. And there will be more. I don't think we can avoid those. We can do our best to take whatever precautions we can to avoid them. But what I'm saying in the book is that we have been manipulated with this fear that there's some kind of general terrorist threat out there: They're everywhere. They're everywhere. They could kill you at any moment. And because of that, we have to rip up the Constitution, take away our civil liberties, put people in jail with no charges, drill holes in Alaska for oil, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MOORE: And I think -- I don't like the dead, those who died that day, being used and manipulated in that way by the Bush administration, so they can enact their right-wing agenda.

(APPLAUSE)

MOORE: Let me -- can I just say one thing about it?

That, yesterday, here on CNN, I was watching CNN and there was a crawl going across the bottom that said, "Terrorists now have access to maps of campsites and hiking trails. Be on the lookout for terrorists at campsites." And every day, every week, it seems to be a new -- an alert to hobby shops that they might use model airplanes or they might be starting the wildfires out west.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: And it's to keep us in this constant state of fear.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Mr. Moore, there's a lot of misinformation in your book. I hate to say that. But let me be specific. You say that there was no...

MOORE: There's not a lot of misinformation. There's a little bit of misinformation.

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: You say that President Bush's tax cut had no tax cuts for the lower-income people. We're going to put it up on the screen.

For people, for householders with an income of $10,000, tax rate before the cut, 15 percent, after, 10 percent. For taxpayer householders $36,250 before the tax cut, 28 percent; after, 15 percent, just about cut in half. You were wrong, weren't you?

MOORE: No, because the federal government decided to give these tax cuts, what's happened is, locally, is that taxes have gone up. Taxes have gone up in school districts. They've gone up in state government.

NOVAK: We're talking about the federal

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: No, I'm talking about...

(APPLAUSE) MOORE: It's the overall -- by taking that money away, the federal government now gives less money to the states. So parents have to pay more for their child's education.

NOVAK: Well, you didn't say that in your book.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: No, that's the point. The Bush tax cut not only didn't give people a break. It's actually costing them more money now to send their kid to college or do whatever.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Let me take another quote from your book. "The Patriot Act," you say, "is as un-American as 'Mein Kampf'." "Mein Kampf" is a vicious book by a mass killer. It forecasts the eradication of the Jewish population of Europe, war over Europe. Patriot Act -- that's obscene, to compare the Patriot Act with "Mein Kampf."

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: No. The Patriot Act is the first step. "Mein Kampf" -- "Mein Kampf" was written long before Hitler came to power. And if the people of Germany had done something early on to stop these early signs, when the right-wing, when the extremists such as yourself, decide that this is the way to go, if people don't speak up against this, you end up with something like they had in Germany. I don't want to get to that point.

NOVAK: OK. We have to take a break.

In our next segment, I'll ask Michael Moore if he's become a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party. In his book, Moore says -- get this -- Oprah Winfrey would make a good president.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: We want to know what you think. Should Oprah Winfrey run for president? Do you think it's a good idea or a bad idea? We'll have your answer after the break.

Also, just ahead, Wolf Blitzer has the latest on the struggle over Iraq within the Bush administration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Our guest today, Michael Moore, author of the new book "Dude, Where's My Country?"; now, we asked the audience, is it a good idea, as Michael says, for Oprah Winfrey to run for president?

They don't agree with you, Michael. Only 14 percent of the Republicans think it's a good idea. But only 36 percent -- or 38 percent of the Democrats think so.

MOORE: Well, I think Oprah -- I think America would vote for Oprah. Imagine the debate if it was Oprah and Bush up there on the stage.

(LAUGHTER)

MOORE: Come on, man. Our side's gotta win one of these days, right?

EPSTEIN: Let's talk about some more realistic possibilities.

MOORE: Yes.

EPSTEIN: You supported Ralph Nader in the past. On a yes-no question, should Ralph Nader run for president in '04?

MOORE: No. No, Ralph, I don't think should run or will run again.

(APPLAUSE)

EPSTEIN: I'm with you on that, brother.

Now, Wesley Clark, you've also indicated some support for. Wesley Clark, at one point, indicated that he would have voted for the resolution on the Iraqi war. You've opposed the Iraqi war. How do you reconcile these statements?

MOORE: I think what he said was, he would have voted for it if the U.N. and the world was going to be behind us, not us going it alone.

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN: Look, if the primary were today, I would vote for Wesley Clark as well, but that's not what he said.

(APPLAUSE)

EPSTEIN: He said that he would vote for the resolution. The resolution was before going to the U.N. and

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: He's not a politician, I guest that is the great thing about him, that he doesn't come prepackaged. And so -- and that's what's good about Dean, too.

(APPLAUSE)

MOORE: I think the idea of a general -- I would love to see a ticket with a general and a doctor on it. I think that would be a good ticket

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: Mr. Moore, I don't think I've ever agreed with you on anything, but I always thought you were an independent guy.

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: And so, starting off chapter 11 of your book, I was stunned when you write: "There is probably no greater imperative facing the nation than the defeat of George W. Bush in the 2004 election. All roads to ruin lead through him and his administration. Four more years of this insanity and, suddenly, Canada isn't going to look so cold. Four more years? I can't take four minutes."

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Was this -- was written for...

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: ... for the people to respond.

NOVAK: I don't pay attention to them. They get their

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: ... down here.

But I want to ask you this, Mr. Moore. Do you have your stuff written for the Democratic National Committee for you now? Because that looks like straight -- I've heard all of the Democratic politicians say exactly that.

MOORE: Oh, really?

Well, I wish the Democratic National Committee would listen to me and to the millions of Americans who would like to see change. Unfortunately, with the Democrats, what we usually get is this wimpy, wishy-washy attitude and candidates like Gray Davis.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MOORE: Hi. I'm Gray Davis, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

MOORE: That's what the voters don't want. If we have people like Gray Davis -- I mean, we need somebody there that's got -- we have a lot of Arnolds on our side. And it's time that some of them ran.

NOVAK: Gray Davis is not running for president, is he? I didn't think so. No. OK.

MOORE: No, but that's -- no, but the people rejected that, because they reject that style of Democrat. Wimpy, wishy-washy Democrats out. We need Democrats with conviction and who will stand up for some things that the people want.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: All right, go, Kucinich.

All right, well, next, our viewers fire back about last night's presidential debate.

And a quick programming note: CNN is replaying the debate in its entirety Sunday morning at 9:30 eastern. Boy, it makes your Sunday morning.

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: CROSSFIRE will be right back.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Time now for "Fireback."

Robert George Pottorf of Dayton, Texas, sends us this e-mail: "I was disgusted at the lack of backbone and half-fact posturing in the Democratic debate last night. I half expected emergency medical personnel to rush on the stage to splint all the broken bones from the nearly continuous patting themselves on the back."

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: Well, Robert, I only wish it had been that exciting. I thought that was one of the most lugubrious, boring debates. And Julian was a lot smarter than me. He watched the ball game instead.

EPSTEIN: And Michael Moore, an indication of your good sense, sporting a Boston Red Sox cap today. Go, Red Sox.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EPSTEIN: Pete Tenney from White Sulphur Springs, Montana, writes: "The most interesting aspect of last night's Democratic debate was its aftermath. The best Republican spin-doctors were out in force to refute anything that any contender said. But they were especially intent on playing down Wesley Clark's candidacy. The last thing the Republicans want is real military hero running."

(APPLAUSE)

EPSTEIN: Bob, CNN's poll, 49 percent Wes Clark, 46 percent George Bush. Read it and weep.

NOVAK: Yes. I'm not quite sure Wes is a hero. The conqueror of Kosovo? I didn't think they had any welcome-home parades for that.

Question, please?

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: And now he'll be the conqueror of Bush.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Michael.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Your name and town, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry. I'm Beth from Washington, D.C.

And I just want to know, what political figure best represents you and your views today?

MOORE: Wow.

Well, I have to say -- we brought up Ralph Nader. I have a lot admiration for Ralph. And I think, for one thing, millions of people are alive today as a result of the work that he's done over the years. And we owe him a great deal of gratitude.

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Another question. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, hi. I'm Julie from Atlanta, Georgia.

Michael, I was interested in your opinion on why you think Americans are so quick to criticize actors when they express their political views and then so quick to turn around and vote them in when they run for political office.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

MOORE: The right likes to attack the left in any way that they can. And they know that a lot of liberals, even liberal actors, will back down when threat attacked, whereas conservative actors won't back down.

That's why you do have to admire Republicans and conservatives, because they've got the courage of their convictions and they never waver. They stand up for what they believe in. And we need more of that on our side.

(APPLAUSE) EPSTEIN: From the left, I'm Julian Epstein. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: Thank you very much, Michael.

From the right, I'm Robert Novak.

Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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