On Monday, we played Hardball with the toughest kid on the block, Michael Moore. The Oscar-winning filmmaker Mabout the ‘08 presidential field and his documentary “Sicko,” which highlighted criticism of American health care.
On Feingold wanting to censure the president
CHRIS MATTHEWS: (U.S. Senator) Russ Feingold wants to censure the president, the vice president and other administration officials for the way in which they talked us into war in Iraq. What do you make of it? Where do you stand on that kind of thing?
MICHAEL MOORE: Good idea. I think it‘s something, though, that actually, they should be lucky just to get censured. Personally, I‘d like to see a perp walk coming out of the West Wing of the White House.
MATTHEWS: Do you think they‘re guilty of war crimes?
MATTHEWS: Name them.
MOORE: Lying to go to war. Start with that one. Making up something, tricking up the evidence for war in order to take us into a war that‘s cost us over 3,600 soldiers‘ lives and countless Iraqi lives. History will not be kind to Mr. Bush for what he’s done.
Presidential candidate with the best health plan
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. My name Karen McCullen (ph), and I‘m from Philadelphia. My question is, which presidential candidate do you think has the best health care plan so far?
MOORE: Well, I would say probably Dennis Kucinich has the best plan in terms of—because he supports HR 676, which is the John Conyers bill that‘s before Congress now to create a National Health Insurance Act. And so the others so far haven‘t supported it, and it‘s one thing I think people can do is insist that the presidential candidates get behind HR 676, the U.S. National Health Insurance Act. And I think that would be a good indication of whether or not they truly support universal health care for everyone and remove profit from our health care system.
Moore offers Americans health care advice
MATTHEWS: There‘s probably a half-million people watching right now at different times today. And I want you to give them advice.
MATTHEWS: If they‘re right now having a problem with their HMO, and they‘re not getting treatment for something they think is important, is it best to call their congressperson? What do they do to make sure the kind of thing that happened in your movie happens to them?
MOORE: Actually, what I tell people is, if you‘re having trouble right now with your insurance company, and they won‘t pay for something, go ahead and use my name, just say…
MATTHEWS: Say, Michael Moore has been talking to me?
MOORE: Say that I‘m coming, that you have talked to me personally. You have my permission to do that. In fact, at the end of this week, on my Web site, I‘m going have a little like “Sicko” insurance card you can download, print it out, laminate it, and take it in and say that you‘re now part of my team, and that we‘re going to put you on the DVD if you don‘t help my child.
And, so, I give blanket permission to anybody who wants to do that. Carry your “Sicko” card with you. And, actually, I got this idea because a number of people have already gone ahead and done it.
MATTHEWS: The guy did it in the movie.
MOORE: He did it in the movie.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Without your permission.
MOORE: And he just said, “Michael Moore is coming. ” I never met the guy… the guy just went ahead and said, Michael Moore is doing this film. And like a week later, the insurance company said, OK, we will pay for your daughter‘s ear operation.
MATTHEWS: God, there‘s nothing like a little blackmail.
On criticism from ‘08 hopeful Mike Huckabee
MATTHEWS: You have earned yourself an enemy. This is Huckabee, the former governor, Mike Huckabee. He‘s running for president.
MOORE: He‘s the guy that lost all that weight.
MATTHEWS: He‘s decided to come after you. He said “Frankly,”—don‘t you love it when politicians say that? Like other times they‘re not being frank, right? “Frankly, Michael Moore is an example of why the health care system costs so much in this country. He clearly is one of the reasons that we have a very expensive system. I know that from my own personal experience.”
He‘s identifying with you.Huckabee, who lost more than 110 pounds and became an avid runner after he was diagnosed with diabetes. Your response sir?
MOORE: First of all, there‘s nothing worse than a reformed smoker or twinkie eater. They all become scolds don’t they?
MATTHEWS: I agree with you that attitude. Don‘t preach, do. But he‘s knocking you. He‘s saying you‘re overweight.
MOORE: He said I was over weight?
MATTHEWS: I think that was the implication here. Isn‘t that—to be honest, you talk about France, and I was just over there a while ago. I was over in Italy for the pope‘s funeral. I have to tell you, one of the amazing things about continental Europe, the people all look great. Everybody is in good shape. Is it because they walk a lot? Is it because they don‘t eat the junk we eat.
MOORE: You were there. You notice they smoke more than we do. They drink a lot.
MATTHEWS: Why do they look so good? Why are they so thin? I thought it was walking.
MOORE: Partly yes, it is that. I was halfway through making this film and I said to myself, look, “Mike, there‘s something hypocritical here about your making a health care and you‘re not taking care of your own health.” So near the end of the film, I started going for a walk every day, started eating these things that are called fruits and vegetables.
In three months, I lost 30 pounds. I read this book… and so now I‘m on the good path. If you want to avoid this broken health care system, one of the ways to do that is to take better care of yourself.
A challenge to candidates
MATTHEWS: Michael, you‘ve got a challenge I hear. You told me during the break [you have a challenge[ with these guys running for president.
MOORE: We‘re going to challenge each of the presidential candidates to take the Senator Sherrod Brown pledge. He‘s the senator form Ohio. And he‘s the only senator who has said that he will not take his government financed health care—he will not use it until every single American is covered with health insurance.
So I would like each of the presidential candidates to take that same pledge that Senator Sherrod Brown—
MATTHEWS: Where will you administer this oath? Where‘s this going to happen? They‘re not going to do it, of course.
MOORE: You don‘t think so?
MATTHEWS: No, because they expect to lose—most of them—and they expect to serve in the Congress for the rest of their lives, and they need the health insurance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ron Paul already did it.
MATTHEWS: Ron Paul‘s leaving the Congress.
Final words on being “extreme”
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, Mr. Moore. My name is Nicole Irwin. I‘m from Kentucky. Many people view you as an extremist. And because they are so focused on this radical perception, it seems like they focus more on you than the issue. Do you feel like this is a problem. And if so, how do you fix it?
MOORE: Yes, I‘ve always wondered why some people feel that way, because I have made there or four films. I made a film because I didn‘t like the fact that General Motors was laying off so many people in my home town. I made another film about school shootings because I didn‘t think school shootings were a good idea.
Then I made a film—and I said on the Oscar stage at the beginning of the war that we‘re being led to war for fictitious reasons. That upset a lot of people, but I told the truth. And now I‘m saying that I think all Americans should be able to see a doctor and not have to worry about paying for it.
What in any of those things sounds radical or extremist? It‘s an odd thing. I know a lot of Republicans and conservatives feel this way. But I really want to reach out to them. I do in this film, as you saw.
MATTHEWS: I think you‘re tougher on the Republicans than the Democrats. I think you give the Democrats a free ride in that movie. Because a lot of guys, back when Hillary tried to pass that health care, it was a Democrat that got in the way of the whole thing.
MOORE: Look, the Republicans do take more money. They do. They are more in bed with corporate America.
MATTHEWS: By the way, the Democrats gave president his majority on the war, you know. People like Hillary and Biden and Edwards, they all voted for the war authorization. They play ball.
MOORE: Everyone knows that. Democrats running for president who voted for the war are going to have a very difficult time getting through the primary.