Reliable liberal gadfly Michael Moore has denounced the Iraq war in an Oscar speech, campaigned for Ralph Nader, and ambushed General Motors chief executive Roger Smith and President George W. Bushon camera. But did you know there was a time when he loved Richard Nixon, faced down his local school board and cried in Bobby Kennedy’s arms? He tells those tales and more in his memoir, a “book of short stories” titled “Here Comes Trouble,” to be released later this month to a nation always ready to laud or excoriate him.
If you’re not ready to crack a Moore tome so soon after “Capitalism: A Love Story,” here are some highlights:
On Fox News’s Bill Hemmer:
Moore was at the 2004 Democratic National Convention when the news anchor, then at CNN, told him on air that he’d “heard people say they wish Michael Moore were dead.” Moore took umbrage and dropped the hammer on Hemmer. “You made my death seem acceptable,” he says he said off-camera. “I want you to think about your actions if anything ever happens to me. Don’t think my family won’t come after you, because they will.”
Faced with the prospect of turning 18 in the middle of the Vietnam War, Moore hatched a never-implemented plan to flee to the Great White North. “I was classified 4-F on my draft card and did not have to learn French, the metric system, or how to soak my fries in cheese curd,” he writes. “I would remain fond of Canada for a very long time.”
On baby formula:
In an extended reverie on the circumstances surrounding his birth, Moore doesn’t miss a chance to knock formula. Among his fellow infants, “no one was digging the fake rubber nipple — and this made us a miserable, cynical bunch, with most of us looking forward to the day when we could strike back at this generation with our long hair, crazy-massive amounts of premarital sex, and Malcolm X,” Moore writes. “The Bottle created Woodstock and flag burning and PETA.”
On Richard Nixon:
A supporter in 1968 when the former veep ran as a “peace candidate,” Moore turned his back on Nixon as the war in Vietnam dragged on. When the president visited Michigan in 1974, the future filmmaker was armed with sign that read “Nixon’s a crook.” “I looked directly into his eyes — and he into mine,” Moore writes. “The pancake makeup on him was so overdone, so thick and caked, that his face was like a slab of petrified orange, and his attempts to smile were somehow being impeded by the plaster that had been put on his mug.”
A lifelong Catholic, Moore penned a play — “a little avant-garde number about Jesus’s crucifixion” — while struggling through his first and only term as the lone hippie on his home town’s school board. “ ‘This is where you people want me?’ Jesus shouted to the audience,” Moore writes. “ ‘Just nailed to a cross? So you don’t have to listen to me anymore about caring for the poor or the sick or the downtrodden?’ ” The school board held a special election to recall Moore, but he prevailed.
In 1971, while still in high school, Moore cared for a friend who was almost killed by a botched illegal abortion. “Human life begins when the fetus can survive outside the womb,” he writes in a footnote. “Some people, I guess, just like to be the uterus police, the bossypants of other women’s reproductive parts. And that has always struck me as really, really weird.”
On Robert F. Kennedy:
When the Moore family took a trip to Washington in 1965, young Michael was separated from his family in the Capitol — and he says he was rescued by JFK’s little brother. “ ‘What’s wrong, young man?’ he said in a voice that was comforting enough to stop the tears,” Moore writes. “I stood there thinking how stupid did I have to be to get lost, and now I was holding up Bobby Kennedy and the business of the United States Senate so that everybody could go search for my mommy.”
Justin Moyer is Outlook’s editorial aide.