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Michael Moore On His Penchant For 'Trouble'
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Michael Moore On His Penchant For 'Trouble'

Author Interviews

NEAL CONAN, host: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Moviemaker Michael Moore created a new kind of documentary in "Roger and Me" - confrontational, comedic, angry and provocatively political. But you may not know that as a teenager in the Midwest, he thought documentaries were a little bit like castor oil - good for you maybe, but not much fun to watch.

He also studied to become a priest, was a young supporter of Richard Nixon, and was once the youngest elected official in the United States. Moore's new book attempts to explain how I got this way. It includes stories of Zelig-like encounters with Bobby Kennedy at the U.S. Capitol, Ronald Reagan at the Bitburg Cemetery, and Abu Nidal at Vienna Airport.

If you have questions for Michael Moore, give us a call. Our phone number, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. Go to npr.org and click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, NPR's Mike Pesca will join us to talk about some of baseball's one-pitch wonders, but first "Here Comes Trouble," which is the title of Michael Moore's new book. The author joins us from our bureau in New York. Nice to have you back on TALK OF THE NATION.

MICHAEL MOORE: Thank you so much, Neal.

CONAN: And you've always been a little different. You wrote: For some reason, I never found my way to the path called normal. Yet you describe yourself as a good student, indeed an Eagle Scout.

MOORE: Yes, I am an Eagle Scout, and I was a good student. The nuns were very happy with my progress and development. But I - somewhere, I don't know, somewhere along the road I just realized that it's sometimes better to listen to your own conscience and what you think is the right thing to do.

CONAN: I described you once as the youngest elected official in the United States. That stemmed - your campaign for the school board in the town where you grew up - that stemmed from an incident in high school where you were humiliated by an assistant principal.

MOORE: Yeah, I had my shirttail out. Back in those days you had to tuck your shirt in in school. And my shirt was not tucked in that day. And he grabbed me by the cafeteria and told me to bend over. He walked around with this big board in his hand called a paddle. And he gave me three swats to the rump in front of hundreds of students, who got quite a kick out of it.

And I was duly humiliated and upset, went home that day and happened to pick up the paper, and 18-year-olds had just been given the right to vote. And the paper said that the local board of education was having an election in a few months, and two seats were open.

And I thought, wow, the school board's the boss of this guy, so...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

CONAN: Revenge, revenge.

MOORE: Right, but I - so I called the county clerk, and I said, you know, yeah, I'm 17, but I'm going to be 18 in a couple months, and I know we can vote now, but can I run for office? And what office do you want to run for? Board of Education. Yes, 18-year-olds can run for Board...

And I'm like, wow. And then - but then I'm thinking, oh, this is going to take a lot of work or money or whatever. And I said: What do I got to do? You need 20 signatures on a petition. Twenty?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MOORE: (Unintelligible) 20? I know 20 stoners who will sign anything. So I just took the petition around to my hippie friends, and they signed it, and all of a sudden I was on the ballot, and before you knew it, I was elected, and within eight or nine months both the principal and the vice principal turned in their resignations.

CONAN: You had already been elected, though, and were going to your graduation, where you intended to cause some trouble with the speech you'd been chosen to give. But there was a moment where - well, you tell us about it.

MOORE: Yeah, this was actually - this was one of those - you know, when you think back to those pivotal moments, where you're trying to figure out how did I get here, and sometimes they aren't big things that happen in your life. Sometimes it's very small events.

And I had just been elected to the school board, but I still had a week left of school. So I was both a student and the boss, or one of the bosses, of the vice principal. We're standing there in line, getting ready to go out to the graduation ceremony, and he's coming down the line making sure each of the boys have a tie on underneath their gown.

The boy in front of me, he looks under, pulls his gown down, and he sees a tie, but it's a - one of those bolo ties, like a cowboy tie...

CONAN: String tie.

MOORE: Yeah, string tie. And he yanks him out of the line, and he says you don't have a proper tie on, you're not graduating. But sir, but this is a tie. This is what we wear in my - no, you're not - and he yanks him out, and he literally takes him out the door.

And this kid's graduation, his parents are sitting up there in the stands, go through the whole graduation, their son never comes out. Later they find him curled up in the back seat of their car crying because he didn't get to graduate. But what bothered me about this, really, wasn't so much what the vice principal did, it's that I was standing right behind this kid, and I said nothing.

I just didn't want to cause any trouble. I wanted to - you know, it's my graduation night. I didn't want to get thrown out. And so I stood there in silence. And his mother called me the next day and said, you know, what can you do? And I said, well, we can't re-run the graduation. Well, did you see it happen? Yes. What did you do? Nothing.

Well, this just - I mean, this just did a number on my own conscience, and I just thought I will never be silent again. And I stood there and said nothing, and I just resolved at that moment, at 18 years old, that I will not stand silently by when I see some injustice taking place, even if it's the smallest thing like - which wasn't a small thing. I mean, it's the kid's graduation.

And so I was kind of a different person from that moment on.

CONAN: We're talking with Michael Moore about his new book, in which he tells stories about growing up in Michigan and becoming a documentary filmmaker. The book is called "Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life." If you'd like to join the conversation, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. And we'll start with Robert, Robert with us on the line from Cincinnati.

ROBERT: Yes, Mr. Moore, I was a regular on your program "Radio Free Flint." I used to call you up Sunday mornings. My mom was aghast. I used to have to hide in the closet and call you. And now she's one of your biggest fans. And I think the most moving moment for her was when you made that speech at the Academy Awards decrying the war and the shame on you. That was very touching.

And just so you know that you had a big influence on me and progressive politics through the years.

MOORE: Well, thank you for saying that, and I wish your mother had been in the Kodak Theater that night.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MOORE: There weren't - there weren't a lot of - there wasn't a lot of applause or tears of joy over what I said.

ROBERT: She was very moved by it, and I was too. I remember one show you devoted to the Rapture. Do you remember that show?

MOORE: Yes, right, yes.

ROBERT: The mid-'70s. I called up on that morning to talk about my experience with the Rapture and the Apocalypse and all that. It was good times when I was in high school thanks to you.

MOORE: This was a satirical show that I had on in Flint, a radio show that I did back when I was a young person called "Radio Free Flint." And thank you for remembering that. I appreciate it.

CONAN: Robert, thanks very much for the call. Probably an audience of dozens.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MOORE: Yes, it was on Sunday mornings like at 9:00 a.m. or something. But it was the top rock station in town. So there was an audience that built because we, you know, we did a lot of things like poking fun at the Rapture or other things that built an audience.

CONAN: There was also the Voice of Flint, which was a newspaper you worked on, later became the Voice of Michigan.

MOORE: The Flint - yes, the Flint Voice, and yeah, I started my own newspaper when I was, whew, 22 22, 23 years old. And it was an alternative newspaper. And I edited and wrote for that paper for almost a decade, and that was kind of my early background before "Roger and Me" in terms of investigative reporting and writing about what was going on, especially with General Motors.

I was writing back in the '70s that something's wrong with this company, this can't sustain itself if they keep behaving this way. If you keep laying people off who buy the cars, who's going to buy your cars? And when you lay them off, they don't just stop buying cars, they stop buying washing machines and clock radios and things like that.

So it's going to put a lot of other people - I mean, I wasn't an economist, but it just made sense to me that moving these jobs to Mexico and other places was going to totally decimate our economy here. I wrote about that back in the '70s, and of course back then GM was the number one company in the world.

A lot of people in Flint thought I was nuts, GM is never going to leave Flint, these are the - you know, this is the best we could ever hope for, and it's wonderful, and nothing's going to change. And I just kept warning about this.

And you know, when you introduced me when you - as the maker of "Roger And Me," that provocative and controversial film...

CONAN: I did say funny.

MOORE: And - no, no, and thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MOORE: No, I don't reject any of those terms. But I'm just wondering: Now that - with what we've seen, which was predicted by this film 20 years ago, the word prophetic could possibly be used in the next - because I just - I wonder - I get called controversial all the time, and I just kind of think what's so controversial about just trying to warn people that this company, the way they're being run, it's not good, and it's going to hurt everybody and everything eventually?

That seems like a community service to me. I don't know. Maybe I'm - I don't have a good view of myself or I don't understand why I - who I am.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MOORE: I don't know. But controversial, I never think I'm controversial. If I stand on the Oscar stage and I say: Hey, folks, they're not going to find any weapons of mass destruction, we're not being told the truth, et cetera, et cetera, what's so controversial about that? It's just the truth. I don't know. It's just - someday I hope to get away from that.

CONAN: Well, in part it's because of the technique you use, and it's an approach you followed in all of your other movies. And I wonder, the technique of really being out front, yourself as the filmmaker with the microphone in the scene and sticking it in people's faces, sometimes when they're not expecting it, often because they've declined to speak with you in their offices, but that's another...

MOORE: Yeah. And often because they're causing great harm to the people. They don't generally want to be on camera.

CONAN: Would you accept that your style, which has been very successful, has inspired others who believe as passionately as you do, but about other issues, to copy that technique and that it's contributed to the air of hyper-partisanship...

MOORE: No. Well, no well, okay, I have two answers to that. First of all, I know what you're referring to. When a certain group on the right uses video, hidden video, things like that - which by the way, I don't use hidden cameras in my work or in my movies. I don't really believe, and it's rare that you should ever do something like that. People should know that they're being filmed.

But they're going after NPR, and what's the great evil of NPR? How has NPR hurt people? I can explain to you what the health insurance companies do. The current statistics I think yesterday were released by Congress, or I saw Representative Ellison on the news last night. About 44,000 Americans die every year because they don't have adequate health insurance.

So we kill off 44,000 of our fellow Americans every year because of the lousy health care system we have. And I make a film about that. I get that. But what did NPR do to deserve that kind of treatment, or ACORN, or Planned Parenthood, which has saved lives? It just - it's - a good idea is being used for evil purposes, I guess is what I'm trying to say.

CONAN: Michael Moore's new book is called "Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life." 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan. In his new book, "Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life," Michael Moore shares a number of his behind-the-scenes moment on various TV programs, from being asked about death threats to being whisked off the stage at the Academy Awards. You can read more about those moments and find out the first two words every Oscar winner hears as they go backstage and the extra word that Michael Moore got to hear. That's in an excerpt at the book - at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

If you have questions for Michael Moore, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. Go to npr.org and click on TALK OF THE NATION. Let's go next to Rick(ph), and Rick's with us from Nashville.

RICK: Hello.

CONAN: Hi, you're on the air, Rick, go ahead.

RICK: Hey, thank you very much. Michael Moore, I have to tell you, first of all, I completely love this show and I listen to it every day. And I also have to tell you that, Michael Moore, I'm a big fan, and I've seen every movie, and I'm completely on your side. Really. And I am there, and I'm - but there's one thing that I have to ask you about. There's actually two things I would like to ask you about.

First of all is what do you think about the reaction - first of all, the reaction to "Fahrenheit 9/11," when everyone on the Republican side said that, you know, we're not even going to go see this film because it's completely - it's bollocks. And it turned out, you know, a couple of years later, it turned out that everything that you said was completely true.

And the other thing I have to ask you about, and I'll take the comments off the air...

CONAN: The prophetic part...

RICK: ...is that - the one thing that really bugged me - and I'm terribly sorry to say this to you because I really love you - is that in the "Bowling for Columbine" film, when Charlton Heston was walking away, and there was a camera crew on the other side, how did you get the camera crew on the other side after he walked away, when you were holding up the photo? Okay, and I'll let you go and I'll take my comments off the air. Thank you very much.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call.

MOORE: Well, first of all, I tell an interesting story in this book. When "Fahrenheit 9/11" was coming out, the Bush White House was very concerned about this film, and they - the campaign hired a pollster who actually polled groups watching the film. And they became alarmed at actually how many Republicans said that they would recommend the film to other people to see and how many - especially Republican women - after seeing the film - not a majority but a small percentage - said that after seeing the film, they didn't think they were going to vote for Mr. Bush in the re-election.

That told them that they had to get out in front of this movie, demonize it and me as much as possible so that nobody would even, on their side, go to see it, because the last thing they wanted was for it to lose any votes on their side if they actually were exposed to this film.

So they were very skillful in their approach to sort of create a fictional character with my name and on Fox News and other radio shows said things about me, put things out about me, and they just kept ramping it up and ramping it up to the point of where they would start to suggest violence.

Bill O'Reilly on his show one night made some joke about how he doesn't believe in the death penalty, unless it's for Michael Moore. And then Glenn Beck on his radio show went even further. I don't even want to repeat it on the air here in terms of the violence that he was encouraging.

But so, yes, they were very worried that people would find out the truth in this film, and of course the 9/11 Commission and other commissions and other reporters have done work since then. Remember, this film came out just within the year - the first year of the war. And since then people have learned the truth about not only that there weren't weapons of mass destruction but of the relationship between the Saudi royal family and the Bush White House and how the Bush White House was sort of asleep at the wheel and not paying attention to the reports they were getting in the summer of 2001 about what bin Laden might be up to.

So that's to answer your first question. Your second question is - I usually have two cameras, the main one and then I usually have a little camera, another person operating that camera. And that's how you get that shot.

CONAN: It seems to be a cutaway shot, yeah.

MOORE: Yeah.

CONAN: Here's an email we have from Ken in Sturgis, Michigan: I get your email newsletter, Mike, and you had me sitting here crying last night with the audio version of the priest confessing to you. I am one of the hoards of the unemployed and poverty-stricken and don't buy many new hardcover books. But I may make an exception for this one. And thank you for all your work.

And he's referring, I assume, to the story of Father Zabelka(ph).

MOORE: Yes, well, first of all, let me say to him, don't buy the book. Books are overpriced. This book is $26.99. That's way too much for a book. You're unemployed. You don't have the money for that. Your money should be for other things.

I've made sure that a lot of my books have been sold to libraries. You can get it for free still at the library. So I encourage you to do that.

CONAN: The next caller is from Grand Central Publishing.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MOORE: Well, yeah, you know you know, Neal, I love coming on your show and I come on whether I've got a book or movie or whether I just want to talk. I mean, I'd rather talk about these issues, and I think that, you know, people who want to buy the book will buy the book, and the book will do well, and I do well, and there's no - you know, the man says he's unemployed. I just feel bad that he would feel like he'd, you know, have to, you know, buy the book.

So find a free way to get it if you can.

CONAN: But I wanted to follow up on Father Zabelka.

MOORE: Yes, yes, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to...

CONAN: That's okay. No, but you went to the seminary as a 14-year-old, and you and the seminary mutually decided that this was probably not your career path.

MOORE: Yes, that's right.

CONAN: But nevertheless, you had a priest, a priest you knew from being a kid, who confessed to you. That must have been an odd experience.

MOORE: Yes, one day this priest, Father George Zabelka, he was the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Flint for many years, and he was retired at this point. He was an elderly man. And he was helping me on my alternative newspaper, the Flint Voice. And one day he said: I have a confession I want to make to you.

And I thought, well, this is kind of strange, you're the priest. And he said: I want to show you something. And he takes out a picture of himself back in World War II, and he's standing in front of this plane. And I'm looking at it, and I'm going, yes, okay, what is it you wanted to say? And he says: Well, don't you notice anything?

And I looked at the plane, and I thought: Oh, on the plane it said Enola Gay. And he said: I was the chaplain for the crew that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I blessed the bomb, and I blessed the mission, and I have lived with that my entire life. Nagasaki was a Catholic city, a Christian city, the only Christian majority Christian or large Christian city in Japan.

And it was the headquarters for three orders of nuns, all of whom were obliterated, and he could not get this out of his head, and he actually, after the war, later, much later, actually, became a hardcore pacifist and just thought he was going to suffer when he died, and when he goes to the gates of St. Peter, that the fact that he blessed this mission that killed so many tens of thousands of people.

And I tried to explain to him: George, you know, you didn't drop the bomb. And well, he said, well, it doesn't matter. I'm - anybody who's a participant in anything. Yes, but, you know, the war, it was going to end, you know, it might not have ended. I tried every - tried to make him feel better about it, and he couldn't feel better about it.

And it's a very powerful story. I don't want to give it all away here, but it was quite an emotional thing that happened with him, and that's just another one of those Zelig-like things that you mentioned at the beginning, that in my life these different things have happened, including that my priest was the priest that blessed the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima and the one on Nagasaki.

CONAN: Let's go next to Paul, Paul with us from Panama City Beach in Florida.

PAUL: Hey, Mr. Conan, it's good to speak to you again.

CONAN: Thank you.

PAUL: Mr. Moore, it's a pleasure to speak to you.

MOORE: Thank you.

PAUL: I wanted to say that even though I often disagree with your conclusions and sometimes your message, that I appreciate the work that you do. You know, even though I disagree with you sometimes, the work you do encourages people to investigate and learn more and more about the republic in which they live. And we have very, very little of that today, I think. All we have anymore is soundbites, and nobody cares past what they just heard two seconds ago.

So I'll take my call off the air, but I wanted to...

MOORE: Well, thank you very much for saying that, and let me tell you that sometimes I disagree with myself. So you're not alone in that. But I - you know, when you say we have these disagreements, you may have politics that I - or things, beliefs, I don't have or whatever.

But Neal, I firmly believe that - and this is where maybe when you talk about the partisan divide in the last segment - where we need to come together as a country is to realize that we all have more in common than not. If we got out a piece of paper, people listening to the show right now who don't agree with me politically, let's get out a piece of paper, draw a line down the center, agree, disagree.

The list of what we agree on, I am certain, is much longer than the things we don't agree on. I am going to guess Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, all want clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. I'm sure most people think women should be paid the same as men if they're doing the same job.

I think we all want good schools for our kids. If we go down - if we made that list, we actually are in agreement on more things. The things we don't agree on, if I don't want to own a gun, I won't own one. You want to buy a gun, buy a gun. If you don't want to marry a man and you're a man, for God's sake don't marry another man. You'll hate it, you know?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MOORE: But if other people want to do that, what's it to you? And I think we've got to come to just the place of agreeing to disagree on some things. Let's have the big debate on them. Some will win, some will lose. But, listen, we are all Americans, and we are all in the same boat, and we are going to sink or swim together. And, my friends, we are sinking right now. And if we don't put aside some of this and find a way to get together to fix some of these problems, we are in deep, deep trouble.

CONAN: Here's an email we have from Joe in Minneapolis: Mr. Moore, have you ever thought about doing a documentary about the functions and dysfunctions in the U.S. school system? It seems like something that would be right up your alley.

MOORE: Yes. I've often - it's the number one thing people ask me to make a documentary about - every day.

CONAN: Really?

MOORE: Yes. I mean, just non-stop, it's - parents are so concerned about what's happened to our schools. Teachers are demoralized. I don't know if you saw the latest - the turnover rate of teachers, like, in the first five years, almost 50 percent of teachers quit - just decided in their first five years. I've had it. I don't want to be a teacher anymore.

CONAN: It's never been great, but it's been particularly bad lately, yes.

MOORE: Yeah. It's really - it's bad on so many levels. And I think some of the ideas being proposed are not the right ideas. I really did not like the documentary "Waiting for 'Superman'." I just went right down the wrong road. And, so yes, I have thought about it and I think we need some very original, fresh thinking here. You know, I don't - Neal, I don't know if you have kids or not, but, you know, what are kids doing up, in eighth grade, until midnight, doing homework? I mean, when we were in school, we didn't have that. I think we turned out OK.

Why are kids being forced to, you know - Finland, you probably heard this story, where they decided a few years ago - they're trying to figure out what was wrong with their schools. And one of the things they came up with is the kids have too much homework. So they - the government said we've got - we're stopping homework, or there's only going to be an hour a night or whatever. You're going to limit homework. Kids got to get out and play. They got to socialize with other kids. The lack of social interaction with other kids is the thing that's actually affecting some of their grades and their work in school. They turned that around. Now, you go on in there, you can see Finland is number one or two in most of the subject matters, because they did a counterintuitive thing by limiting the amount of homework the kids are given.

CONAN: I might well have been assigned enough homework to keep me up until midnight. The fact is I never did it, so I would not really have known.

MOORE: And here you are today.

AN, host: Yes. Still, even so - and there's many teachers puzzled at all of this.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

CONAN: We're talking with Michael Moore about his new book, which is called "Here Come Trouble: Stories from My Life." You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. And let's see if we can get another caller on the line. And let's go to - this is Beth, and Beth with us from Zimmerman in Minnesota.

BETH: Hi. I'm so glad I got on. Mr. Moore, I heard a comment you made - it was a brief comment, I didn't see much of it. When you were in Wisconsin, protesters over Governor Walker's bill, you made a comment that this country is just a-flush in money. You know, well, you talk about how broke we are. And, you know, you said that and it has just stuck with me. I'm wondering if you could expand on that a little bit because...

MOORE: Yes. Very easily.

BETH: What about - we hear we're so broke all the time and yet...

MOORE: No, we're not broke.

BETH: ...you're right. There's - we are so flush with money.

MOORE: We are flush with - that's correct. I think the last...

BETH: (Unintelligible)

MOORE: I think the last - yes, the last statistic I saw was that corporate America right now has, combined, about $2 trillion in cash just sitting in the bank. They haven't been spending it. They haven't been investing it. They haven't been building new factories. It's just sitting there. It's the most - in terms of per capita, that corporations, collectively, have just sat on, an amount of money. That they're not circulating in the economy. Of course, and corporate profits are up again this year, bank profits are up; profits are way up in some of these cases, and yet they continue to lay people off. They don't bring people back at a very high rate. They may lay off 100, if they're doing a little better the next year, they'll bring back 50. But there's - it's always two steps backwards.

The other thing is, is that the static that I cited and that Forbes and other people have backed up since I said it, because it was so shocking when I said it. PolitiFact actually did a whole story on this. They are the fact checkers of the news, in many cases, in this country. I said - and this is the truth - the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth - more wealth, combined wealth, than 150 million Americans combined. The bottom, the second half, the half of America, 150 million take all of their wealth, put it together, it doesn't equal 400 Americans. That, I'm telling you, my friends, in a democracy, in a free society, it won't - it will not last.

And history is full of examples of when you allow this kind of situation to take place, where the upper, upper, upper few are able to control that much money and call the shots, and now with Citizens United, the case from the Supreme Court that allows them to essentially buy politicians, we are in really desperate straits here if we don't fix this, because to be a democratic country means you've got to have a kind of an even playing field and a fair shake for everyone. And we've lost that. If we don't get it back, I just - I don't - I just think we're doomed.

CONAN: We just have little over a minute with you left. But I wanted to ask you, you say in your book that you poured yourself into the campaign to elect Barack Obama. Will you pour yourself into the campaign to re-elect Barack Obama.

MOORE: No, not right now - at least. I don't know what I'm going to do. I am like many people who voted for him. We were thrilled with his election and disappointed with what's happened. The disappointment, first, though, is not directed at Barack Obama. It's against the Republicans in Congress who have treated him - I was thinking about this the other day. He keeps going back to them. He's so nice. The olive branch. He speaks their language. He tries to do - he even proposes bills they used to propose. And they still whack the olive branch out of his hand, over - it's like he doesn't exist to them. He's a ghost to them.

He doesn't - they're not going to - it's like they're not going to pay any attention to him for four years, and then they're going to get rid of him. It's like if Ralph Ellison, who wrote the "Invisible Man," or he wrote about his experience as a black man and how you're - when you're black in the society you're sort of invisible, Obama is the invisible president to the Republican Party. They're treating him in that manner. And I feel bad that they've gotten away with it so far, and I wish he would find the spine and whatever to stand up for it because we need a fighter right now. We need a Roosevelt for the 21st century.

CONAN: Michael Moore, "Here Comes Trouble," thanks as always, for your time.

MOORE: Thank you so much, Neal, for having me.

CONAN: Coming up next, a couple of Major League milestones, not as important to Michael Moore as Justin Verlander's record for the Detroit Tigers, but important, nonetheless. Stay with us. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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