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In the Crossfire

Michael Moore on 'Stupid White Men'

(CNN) -- Author and filmmaker Michael Moore delights in satirizing big business and CEOs. In his book "Stupid White Men ... and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!" Moore takes on the country's current and former presidents, corporate America, and the judicial system. But on Wednesday, he took on "Crossfire" hosts Paul Begala and Robert Novak.

BEGALA: Michael, I enjoyed the parts of the book where you satirized Bush, but I've 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 ...

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: (Laughs) 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?

NOVAK: Socialism.

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 want governments to take care of them are the Bushs and the Cheneys and the WorldComs and the Enrons. They are the people 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.




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