Michael Moore Suggests Bush Fooled Americans Because 'Society of Ignorant & Illiterate People'
Appearing as a guest on Thursday’s Joy Behar Show on CNN Headline News, filmmaker Michael Moore continued his recent attacks on Democrats for not delivering more effectively on a left-wing agenda, called out gay Republicans for "hypocrisy," and seemed to suggest that President Bush fooled many Americans because "we have created a society of ignorant and illiterate people."
Host Behar started the interview by asking Moore his views on former Democratic Congressman Eric Massa, who recently resigned amid charges that he sexually harassed male aides. Moore used the opportunity to bash gay Republicans as he praised the film Outrage which seeks to expose Republicans rumored to be gay. Moore:
I saw a great documentary this year – it didn`t get much distribution – it was called Outrage. ... the filmmaker actually exposes the members of Congress who are gay but only exposes the ones who have voted against gay or HIV issues – in other words, the hypocrisy. ... it`s a compelling movie, and actually Massa is a Democrat – 99 percent of these closeted gay members of Congress are Republicans.
Behar agreed that the film was a "great" documentary, and, after she recounted that some conservatives "embraced" Massa at first because he was attacking the Obama administration, Moore quipped, "I`m sure during the 24-hour embrace many of those Republicans enjoyed it."
As the discussion turned to President Obama’s continuation of the war in Afghanistan, Moore gave his view that the murder of almost 3,000 people in the 9/11 attacks should have been treated like a criminal act and handled by the justice system instead of through war, to Behar’s agreement:
MICHAEL MOORE: I just think, look, it`s best to treat people who commit murder like this as criminals.
JOY BEHAR: Right.
MOORE: That was our whole wrong approach to this. We treated it as a military operation when it should have been a criminal operation. You do what the Israelis do, you send in the Mossad, and you grab them and you bring them to justice. And that`s the end of that. And that's, you know, well, I mean, after a trial and, you know, a jury verdict.
BEHAR: Of course. There has to be a trial.
The HLN host soon brought up former Bush advisor Karl Rove’s recent contention that American voters are "not easily misled," prompting Moore to suggest that President Bush and Rove fooled Americans because America is a "society of ignorant and illiterate people."
MOORE: The bad side of the coin is we have created a society of ignorant and illiterate people. Our schools have done this, our media has helped to contribute to this. We have 40 million adults in this country right now who are functional illiterates. That means they can`t read and write above a fourth grade-level. When you have a society that dumb, so to speak, that ignorant-
BEHAR: Well, ignorant, yeah.
MOORE: -that, well, dumb, I mean, dumb in the sense of-
MOORE: -well, they`ve been kept that way.
MOORE: I mean, it`s an enforced dumbness by a system that doesn`t value education that puts it low on the list of priorities.
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Thursday, March 11, Joy Behar Show on CNN Headline News:
JOY BEHAR: Just when you thought "Ticklegate" couldn`t get any worse, former Congressman Eric Massa is facing new allegations that years ago he climbed into a Navy shipmate`s bunk bed and tried to snorkel him. Creepy, right? I don`t even really know what it means. Here to talk about Massa-
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Don`t look at me. I went to the seminary. Oh, actually, that might indict me. How did I end up on this show?
BEHAR: Don`t say anything about the seminary.
MOORE: All right.
BEHAR: Okay, you know who he is, Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. All righty.
MOORE: Well, to be honest, I just did come from taking a shower with Rahm Emanuel.
BEHAR: Did you really?
MOORE: Yeah, and I want to say there was no finger poking or anything.
MOORE: He was a true gentleman. And, actually, he had the kind of soap that has the little speckles in it that gives you kind of the loofah effect while you’re sudsing so you don`t need a loofah. The guy is way ahead of his time.
BEHAR: Do you know what snorkeling is?
MOORE: I`ve never heard. I think it`s something you do in the Caribbean when you go on vacation.
BEHAR: I don`t think this particular type has anything to do with seeing a coral reef. I think it has some other meaning that people look, have to look up in the urban dictionary and then they`ll find out what it is.
MOORE: Yeah. Have you looked it up?
BEHAR: Someone did. Someone did on the staff.
MOORE: But not you?
BEHAR: No, I have virgin ears.
BEHAR: So what do you make of this Massa mess? Let`s talk about it.
MOORE: Well, you know, I think we`ve all been bored, it`s the middle of winter.
BEHAR: I know.MOORE: We need some entertainment. You know, I guess, honestly, I`ll tell you how I really feel. I feel bad. I feel really bad that we still live in a society where someone who is gay still feels the need to hide as deep in the closet as possible, even though when he himself is flinging the door wide open, he still feels this need to maintain this – actually I saw a great documentary this year – it didn`t get much distribution – it was called Outrage.
BEHAR: I saw it.
MOORE: Did you see it?
BEHAR: It`s great.
MOORE: Now, in this documentary, the filmmaker actually exposes the members of Congress who are gay but only exposes the ones who have voted against gay or HIV issues – in other words, the hypocrisy.
MOORE: He’s not just purposely outing them to out them. But it`s a compelling movie, and actually Massa is a Democrat – 99 percent of these closeted gay members of Congress are Republicans.
BEHAR: Yes. They`re the ones who vote against gay marriage.
BEHAR: They vote against gays in the military, all that stuff.
MOORE: What`s odd about Massa is that he`s a Democrat. I mean, Democrats and liberals are generally accept – that`s the definition of a liberal, you know, "I accept you for who you are and I have an open mind." So it`s sad that he has to put himself through this.
BEHAR: The Republicans sort of embraced Massa for about 24 hours this week.
MOORE: Yeah, yeah.
BEHAR: But they dropped him like a hot rock right now.
MOORE: Right, yeah, well, yeah, yeah, but I`m sure during the 24-hour embrace many of those Republicans enjoyed it.
BEHAR: I hope so. I hope they did. So now do you think that – just to finish this up – do you think that Rahm Emanuel really did go into the shower naked and poke Massa and sort of intimidate him? Is Rahm Emanuel – is that typical behavior?
BEHAR: You don`t believe it?
MOORE: No, I don`t believe it. I don`t know him that well. His brother is my agent-
MOORE: -the famous Ari.
BEHAR: He sounds like he`s notoriously evil also.
MOORE: Oh, no. No, no.
MOORE: No, he is the force of good against the evil.
BEHAR: Is that so?
MOORE: Oh, absolutely.
BEHAR: Oh, really.
MOORE: Let me tell you this right now, Fahrenheit 9/11 never would have seen the light of day, it would never have been distributed in theaters had Ari Emanuel not exposed Disney who was going to put it on the shelf – because they own Miramax, that`s who did the film – and they weren`t going to distribute the film. And Ari went public with it on the front page of the New York Times. And they wouldn`t let him on the Disney lot for six months. So this was a, if you need an agent in Hollywood, call Ari at-
BEHAR: But I was really referring to the massacre at the William Morris office that he took over. It was pretty ugly over there. So that`s an inside thing, I think we probably don`t talk about.
MOORE: People don`t care about any of that stuff.
BEHAR: They only care about celebrities getting their projects done.
MOORE: There was an agent massacred in Hollywood? Oh, the horror.
BEHAR: I was at the William Morris office, and my agent got that scoop.
MOORE: Oh, I see. And I was at Endeavor, so essentially my agency-
BEHAR: Ate my agency.
MOORE: -ate your agency.
BEHAR: Yeah, that`s it.
MOORE: Ah, capitalism.
BEHAR: You see how it goes. Okay, you know what, Michael, we`re going to take a break and get comfortable because we have a lot to discuss. And we`ll be back in 60 seconds with more of Michael Moore, so don`t go away.
BEHAR: I`m back with Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. His most recent film Capitalism: A Love Story is out now on DVD, and this is a fabulous film. People should all rent that movie or buy it, at this point.
MOORE: Oh, no.
BEHAR: It’s really a good movie.
MOORE: You should have seen it in the movie theaters. I mean, we make films-
BEHAR: Oh, don`t, don`t, don`t, don’t-
MOORE: No, people should go to the theater to see a movie. I mean, unless you`ve just had a baby in the last couple of years, you can`t get out of the house, I understand.
BEHAR: But, Michael, it`s not playing in the theaters right now, so let’s move on.
MOORE: No, I know, so they missed it.
BEHAR: That ship has sailed.
MOORE: We should just worry about the next film now. Don`t sell any DVD`s.
BEHAR: What is your next film, by the way?
MOORE: I don`t have one.
BEHAR: Okay, let`s talk about the Democrats who really are on my last nerve.
BEHAR: First of all-
MOORE: That`s generous. They`re on no nerve with me.
BEHAR: I mean, they are dropping all over the place, and we`re going to lose the whole Congress in November.
MOORE: That is correct, yeah. As I`ve said on my Web site, they`re in for an ass-whooping of biblical proportions, absolutely. If they don`t turn this around right now, if they don`t change, they don`t do the job they were sent there to do, it`s all over for them.
BEHAR: So what do they have – what does Obama have to do? You know, this whole thing about, you know, reaching over to the other side, that`s really – who cares?
MOORE: Yeah, no more kumbaya.
BEHAR: No, we`re done with that. And I don`t know if he has it in his personal character, his personality to be strict like Bush was.
MOORE: Right, which is a good thing and a bad thing because it actually – because I think he is a decent person; because I think he has a good heart.
BEHAR: He`s a gentleman.
MOORE: Absolutely. And I think he really came in there with wanting – he`s not going to give up his own personal political beliefs, but I think he really did want to, you know, figure out how to work with them. When they come into town, when the Republicans win, they get in their Hummers and they barrel down Pennsylvania Avenue with all guns blazing, get out of the way, we`re in charge. And these are the laws we`re going to pass. And that`s that. That`s not the Democratic way.
BEHAR: Why? Why? Why can`t we do that?
MOORE: Because we don`t like to start wars. We`re like a peaceful people.
BEHAR: Well, he`s in Afghanistan, he`s in the war. He`s doing it.
MOORE: Well, he inherited a war that, again, he doesn`t have the wherewithal to say, "You know what? That is a mistake." It wasn`t a mistake to go after the killers of 9/11. But al-Qaeda essentially is not in Afghanistan anymore.
BEHAR: I know. ... We can`t catch up with them. They`re moving around.
MOORE: They`re everywhere.
BEHAR: Did you see that thing about Jihad Jane?
MOORE: That`s why the war will never end.
BEHAR: Did you see the Jihad Jane? She`s a blond with blue eyes type now – they can`t even like stereotype them anymore.MOORE: I know. Yeah, well, I just think, look, it`s best to treat people who commit murder like this as criminals.
MOORE: That was our whole wrong approach to this. We treated it as a military operation when it should have been a criminal operation. You do what the Israelis do, you send in the Mossad, and you grab them and you bring them to justice. And that`s the end of that. And that’s, you know, well, I mean, after a trial and, you know, a jury verdict.
BEHAR: Of course. There has to be a trial. Now, Karl Rove has a book out.
BEHAR: And he said this, he said Americans are hard to mislead. Do you agree with that?
MOORE: No, actually, we`re quite an easy people to mislead in part because – and this is another reason why people in other countries actually do like us as individuals. We`re a very trusting people. We`re a very kind of-
BEHAR: Is that dumb?
MOORE: Well, no, it`s not dumb. It`s actually, wouldn`t you rather be a trusting person than not?
BEHAR: Well, there`s a difference between being trusting and being naive.
MOORE: Well, that`s, I`m just saying that`s the good side of the coin. The bad side of the coin is we have created a society of ignorant and illiterate people. Our schools have done this, our media has helped to contribute to this. We have 40 million adults in this country right now who are functional illiterates. That means they can`t read and write above a fourth grade-level. When you have a society that dumb, so to speak, that ignorant-
BEHAR: Well, ignorant, yeah.
MOORE: -that, well, dumb, I mean, dumb in the sense of-
MOORE: -well, they`ve been kept that way.
MOORE: I mean, it`s an enforced dumbness by a system that doesn`t value education that puts it low on the list of priorities. And I was just watching CNN here earlier today, and they had this guy on talking about this in terms of how the college tuition has gone up and kids, kids who come from the poor and working class, they were told to work hard in school all of these years and the ones who did, now they can`t afford to go to college.
MOORE: So what`s the message here?
BEHAR: The message is go to a state school. I went to Queens College and Stony Brooke, and I had paid nothing for my education practically. And-
MOORE: Well, but that, but that was, you know-
BEHAR: A long time ago.
MOORE: And in California and in New York a long time ago.
MOORE: I remember those times.
MOORE: I remember thinking people I knew that lived in these two states that got to go to college for free, I mean, you guys were like France.
BEHAR: That`s true.
MOORE: You know.
BEHAR: I had it all, $24 a term.
BEHAR: All right, stick around, more with filmmaker Michael Moore on the way.
BEHAR: I`m back with Oscar-winning filmmaker and every Republican`s worst nightmare Michael Moore.
MOORE: No, no, I love Republicans. I, in fact, admire, I admire Republicans for-
BEHAR: All right, let`s do it again.
BEHAR: Okay, we`re back with the most charming man in show business, Michael Moore. Everyone loves him, Republicans, Democrats.
MOORE: I love Republicans.
BEHAR: Pinkos, commies.
MOORE: Oh, no those are the-
BEHAR: Right-wing zealots, Glenn Beck, they all love him.
MOORE: I don`t know about that guy. I thought you were just going to refer to those from the planet Earth.
BEHAR: Okay, Arianna Huffington was on Bill Maher last week, as were you.
BEHAR: And she said, I believe it was there, she said your anger reminds her of a Tea partier. Do you see any similarities between you and the Tea party?
MOORE: Well, I think the, yes, I think the average citizens who are drawn to it, I think are justifiably upset at the fact that they`ve lost their homes and the banks have gotten billions.
MOORE: That the number one cause of bankruptcy right now in America is medical bills and people are hurting. And this is not unusual ... but those who have really started the Tea bag movement-
BEHAR: I don`t think it`s Tea bagging. That’s another.
MOORE: The Tea party. Yeah, the Tea Party movement.
BEHAR: Check that in the urban dictionary.
MOORE: Yeah, you started this.
BEHAR: Go ahead.
MOORE: You took my mind into the-
BEHAR: Oh, sorry, it`s my fault.
MOORE: The Tea Party-
BEHAR: I`m Satan`s spawn.MOORE: Yeah, the Tea Party movement is – look, historically, it`s not unusual for those on the right, especially those in power, who hold power and money, to manipulate the working people and the have-nots, the people who have been hurt by the system, and take them rightward.
BEHAR: How do they do that? They do it.
BEHAR: They have people-
MOORE: It`s fear.
BEHAR: -vote against their own interests.
MOORE: Because they`re more afraid of, of what could possibly happen, and they are convinced that the boogie man is going to get them.
MOORE: And it`s how they sold the war-
MOORE: -it`s how they sold all of this stuff. And the fear seems legitimate because obviously so many people are living from paycheck to paycheck right now.
MOORE: They don`t know if they`re going to be able to pay the mortgage next year. They don`t know if their kids are going to go to college.
BEHAR: But, you know, Michael, with the bank bailouts and the Republicans started that TARP thing-
BEHAR: -and then Obama continued it.
BEHAR: And so the wrath is targeted to the Democrats and targeted to Obama.
MOORE: Yeah, because they owned it, they owned it, that`s right. He took it over and he owned it. And instead of bringing in a new idea, a new fresh idea, he brings in their ideas and brings back the guys, Sumner-
MOORE: -and Geithner and Rubin who were, in large part, responsible for the mess, to begin with.
BEHAR: I know, that was, I don`t understand why he did that. And I`m not happy with that. Are you?
MOORE: No, I wasn`t happy with it the day he did it.
MOORE: And I tried to rationalize it at the time and thinking well, you know, he`s doing what my dad did, you know, when you make a mess in your room, you have to go in and clean it up. So he`s brought the people in who`ve made the mess in Wall Street-
MOORE: -and he`s going to force them to clean it up.
BEHAR: Yeah, but they haven`t.
MOORE: No, they haven`t-
BEHAR: They haven`t.
MOORE: -in fact, not one single, not one single regulation has been put back in place on Wall Street or the banks, and so they`re back to doing their derivatives and their credit default swaps-
BEHAR: Now, why can`t they put the regulations in? What is holding that up?
MOORE: Because the lobbyists for Wall Street are lining the pockets of the members of Congress and the White House, and they`re not going to allow this thing [to] happen. And so get ready for crash number two. And that crash could be worse than the last crash.
BEHAR: Well, you can see why people are furious.
MOORE: Of course, and fearful.
BEHAR: And both sides. On both sides.
[Behar asks Moore Twitter questions about why he wears a cap and about his recent weight loss.]
BEHAR: You know, the obesity crisis in the country is the new crisis now. We did smoking, now we`re doing the obesity crisis.
MOORE: Well, the sad part of it is that the fact that so many of our kids are obese now and getting diabetes-
BEHAR: I know.
MOORE: -that we would do this to – talk about child abuse. I mean, and I would say again to my Republican friends, you should see this as a national security issue because we`re raising a generation of overweight, diabetic kids, and they`re not going to be able to defend you. Hey, I got, I asked my Twitter people.
BEHAR: We have one tweet, we have to extend this segment.
MOORE: I told them that you were tweeting about me, so I tweeted about you and they want me to ask you a question.
MOORE: The first question is, how was it to be acting in Manhattan Murder Mystery with Woody Allen?
BEHAR: Oh, that was, it was great, I loved it.
MOORE: And Alan Alda, great man.
BEHAR: I love Alan Alda, and Woody Allen did not come on to me because I was over 15. Thank you, Michael, so much. Capitalism: A Love Story is out now.
MOORE: He`s one of our great directors, Woody Allen.
BEHAR: Well, he is, but, you know, he`s still a bit of a perv.
BEHAR: Oh, come on.
MOORE: Well, we could, well, we could check into you, too, you know. I mean-
BEHAR: No, no, no, no, no.
MOORE: We`re all, we are all flawed people.
BEHAR: Who marries their daughter? Come on, get over it.
MOORE: Stepdaughter, sort of, kind of.
BEHAR: Now on DVD and Blue Ray. Up next-
MOORE: Okay, you`re right!
BEHAR: -an Apple employee claims Law and Order star Richard Belzer choked her. My pal Richard will give you his side of the story, so stick around.