Carlyle Group Won't Bother

With Michael Moore Rebuttal

The Carlyle Group, it turns out, got off pretty easy.

Conspiracy theorists seeking an unholy alliance between Saudi Arabian oil money and the Bush family often cite the Washington investment house as one of the key links.

Carlyle is big and politically connected; it collects money from about 600 pension funds and some wealthy individuals to create investment funds that buy such things defense contractors, telecom companies and office buildings. It manages about $18 billion in assets around the world. Former president George H.W. Bush was once an adviser to Carlyle and Saudi royal family members have invested in some of Carlyle's funds.

And so, based on previews and what other journalists had told him, Christopher Ullman was all ready to write a rebuttal after the opening Friday of Michael Moore's movie "Fahrenheit 9/11." The film cites the relationship between Bush, the Saudi royals and Carlyle as evidence of ulterior motives for President George W. Bush's war on terrorism.

Yet after seeing the movie Friday afternoon, Ullman, Carlyle's vice president of corporate communications, decided not to do anything. He said that though much of what the movie said about Carlyle was either dated or exaggerated, its discussions of the company are relatively brief. Carlyle, Ullman said, is portrayed more as a profit-hungry private-equity investor, which is, after all, true, than a tool for world domination.

"He rehashes some old news about us, but comes to the conclusion that we're good investors," Ullman said. "Not bad for a Michael Moore film."