Today, my producer Jen Yuille and I managed to corner Michael Moore in a Capitol Hill hearing room and interview him about “Sicko.” (video) The movie argues for taking the “for profit” side of health care completely out of it while giving health insurance to every American.
Moore was wearing his trade sartorial combination: tennis shoes, suit pants, untucked shirt, and a jacket. But, it was a bit surprising to see him without a baseball cap. Every time I’ve seen him before, starting with his film “Roger and Me” or “Fahrenheit 9-11,” he wears a baseball cap.
In any case, we started by asking Moore about the general criticism of his views on health care. He joked, “I expect no criticism.” Then he became a bit more serious. He said, “millions of Americans have been suffering through this system, dealing with these lousy HMO’s. You have 47 million who don’t have insurance. I think there will be a groundswell of support to fix this very broken system.”
In part of his film, Moore demonstrates how part of the system is broken through his own visit to Cuba. In Moore’s unique style, he brought along rescue workers from 9-11 who are now suffering from health problems. Together, Moore and his entourage tried to walk into the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility. They were turned away, of course. But not before Moore was able to make a point about the health care offered to suspected terrorists that is not available to many Americans. Some conservatives have suggested that Moore should be “jailed” for his trip to Cuba. When we asked Moore about that he said, “the Bush administration provides free dental, free eye care, and free medical for all of the people who were accused of being involved in plotting 9-11. The people who ran down to ground zero to save lives don’t have health care. I think that is a travesty.”
A few weeks ago, potential GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson criticized Moore for going to Cuba. Moore replied that Thompson was helping Cuba even more by “smoking Cuban cigars.” Thompson then filmed a you tube video with a cigar in hand and suggested that Moore belonged in a “mental institution” just like one that a Cuban film maker was thrown in by dictator Fidel Castro. We asked Moore about Thompson’s latest shot… and Moore fired back. Moore said, “he (Thompson) is one of my favorite TV actors and I can’t wait to see the next video.”
Michael Moore—whether you love him or hate him, he is always interesting. And if nothing else, his new film “Sicko” will be incredibly provocative. The movie opens across the country next week. Tonight, he has much of official Washington showing up for a special screening at our most famous D.C. theatre—the Uptown. Moore has invited health care lobbyists to attend… think any will show?