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Interview with Michael Moore

Aired March 19, 2010 - 17:49:00   ET



MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Can you tell me what a credit default swap is?

Can you explain a derivative to me?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Very few subjects are safe from Michael Moore's critical eye. The controversial filmmaker has taken on everything from corporate excess to gun control to health care. He first entered the international spotlight with his 2002 Academy Award winning documentary, "Bowling for Columbine".

MOORE: Do you think it's a little dangerous handing out guns at a bank?

ANDERSON: But it was the record breaking film, "Fahrenheit 9/11" that turned Moore into an icon of the left and transformed him from mild- mannered populist to full blown provocateur. Moore knows how to tug at heart strings using humor and sympathy to profile the plight of ordinary Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stock market crash.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A global meltdown and the government did it.

ANDERSON: In his latest film, "Capitalism: A Love Story," he ruthlessly targets both the big banks and politicians.


MOORE: We're actually here to make a citizen's arrest.

ANDERSON: And recently, he's focused his wrath on the U.S. health care system, the subject of his 2007 film, "Sicko".

MOORE: Reattach the middle finger for $60,000 or do the ring finger for $12,000.

ANDERSON: The man with all the causes, Michael Moore is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: And I recently caught up with our Connector of the Day.

And I began by asking him what's wrong with this health care reform bill.

Here is how he -- what he had to say.


MOORE: Well, it's not real reform. It doesn't provide universal health care for every American. That was the job that the Democrats and the president was sent to Washington to do.

Now we've got some watered down bill that has a few good things in it. It -- it allows parents to keep their kids on their health insurance until the kids are 26 and a few other things like that. It does cover more Americans than have been covered before.

But it still leaves 12 million to 15 million Americans without any coverage and -- and things like, you know, the pre-existing condition prohibition doesn't take effect for adults until 2014. And then, a company can still deny you, because they're only going to be fined $100. $100 is their fine a day if they -- if they deny you because of a pre-existing condition.

So if the operation costs too much, they're just going to go, oh, jeez, it's going to be cheaper to take the fine than to -- than to give this person health insurance. So...


MOORE: -- I'm very unhappy with the bill, but I think, you know, hopefully -- I mean I -- it needs to pass at this point because President Obama has staked so much on it...


MOORE: -- if it goers down, it's going to be bad for him in -- in general, for every other thing he wants to do.

ANDERSON: Mike asks: "In either socialized or a private medical system, do you believe people who induce higher costs -- smokers, people who are obese, stuntmen, for example, should be charged higher rates?"

MOORE: No, I don't think so. I think that -- I think if you have a smoking addiction, you need help and you need -- there need to be things offered to you -- provided for you to help you with that.

I would certainly tax the tobacco companies to help pay for it. I would tax the fast food companies. I would tax the corn syrup manufacturers. I would do all of that to help pay for it.

But I'm not too much into blaming victims of -- of this system.

ANDERSON: Devon says he's heard you say Obama is lacking the initiative that he demonstrated while campaigning and that you would be his head adviser or cheerleader in the White House, in exchange, he says, he's heard you say, for -- for a cot in the corner.

Is he right?

And if so, what would you do?

MOORE: Yes. And a dollar a year. I'd have to be paid. One dollar a year.

What I would do is I'd get up every morning, I'd have a whistle around my neck. I'd get him out of bed. We'd do 100 jumping jacks, do some pushups. And then I'd -- we'd run up to Capitol Hill and we'd knock some heads. You know, we'd get some fight in him -- get some fight in him and the Democrats.

This is disgusting to have to watch this happen over and over again, where the other side has the courage of their convictions and fights the death to get what they want and our side is all, well, I guess we don't have to cover everybody. We don't really need universal health care. I guess -- I guess 70 percent of the people is OK.

You know, jeez, what if -- what if Abraham Lincoln had had that attitude?

You know, we only need to release 70 percent of the slaves to freedom. Or we only need to give 70 percent of the women the vote...

ANDERSON: All right.

Yes, you made your point.

Al Moran says this. He says: "Hello, Mike. Are you considering doing a documentary about the Vatican and/or all the scandals, not only sexual ones, surrounding Catholicism?"

MOORE: No, I'm not, but I have a lot of strong feelings about that, being a Catholic and -- and seeing the institution participate in cover-up after cover-up of -- of crimes against, especially children. You know, a pedophile is -- is a person who needs help and they need to be removed from people so they don't hurt them. But a bishop who covers up the crimes of the pedophile and does so knowingly is perhaps even a worse criminal.

And the fact that more of them aren't in jail astounds me.

ANDERSON: Peo from Tokyo says: "Mike, thank you for always inspiring courage." He says: "Having worked with environmental issues himself for 25 years," he says, "when are you going to take on nature's thieves on the planet?"

MOORE: That's a good question. I've thought about that a lot. And I thought, you know, one of the things I'd better do is take care of my own carbon footprint on this planet, which is too heavy. And so I've spent the last year exploring how to be a kinder, gentler human on this planet in terms of the choices I make.


MOORE: And so -- so I eat fruits and vegetables and I don't participate in a lot of things anymore that I used to participate in when it came to that kind of destructive behavior to our planet. And I may actually end up doing something with that, I don't know.

ANDERSON: All right, good stuff.

You heard it here first.

The last question to you. Rob from Canada. He says: "In the public eye, you were always very -- very cool, Michael, passionate and seemingly genuinely worried about the state of affairs in the U.S. today. My question to you is this, do you ever take a break from the crusades, clear your mind, kick back and enjoy yourself? And, if -- if so, what is your favorite leisure activity?"

MOORE: Watching Sports Center on ESPN. Going to the movies. I -- I watch probably three or four movies a week. I love going to the movies. I -- I have a -- a little theater in the town that I live in that I've restored and -- and turned it back into sort of a 1940s art house. So -- so, yes, I do a lot of things like that. I -- I'm -- I'm not politics 24- 7. I like a pretty normal life in the middle of the country.


ANDERSON: One has to admire that.

Michael Moore, your Connector of the Day today.

Well, his outlandish costumes and androgynous image has helped make him one of the most popular music figures in the world. Boy George kicks off our week of Connectors next week, currently a solo artist. He -- he found fame with '80s pop group, Culture Club, of course. Whilst he's had a colorful past with drugs and the law, he is about to go back on tour and release his first single of 2010.

What do you want to ask him?

Boy George is your Connector.

Send your questions in and remember to tell us where you're writing in from,