Review of 'Dude, Where's My Country?', Michael Moore, Allen Lane £17.99
After the roaring success of Stupid White Men and Bowling for Columbine last year, you just knew Michael Moore would be back with a vengeance. Moore says that his recent success is 'a gift' that allows him to write the books and make the films he wants. Dude, Where's My Country? is the book he wanted to write. He exposes the myths of Bush's America, dealing with 9/11, the Afghan and Iraq wars, the Patriot Act, climate change, corporate scams and the mess the Republicans are making. There is even a chapter from god, who seems pretty pissed off with Bush's activities in his name.
Each chapter works as a self contained unit. One of the best is a critique of the culture of fear being developed by the government. Many are crammed with useful facts and figures that are vital weapons for those opposing corporate America and its global domination.
Moore begins the book with seven questions for George W Bush. He'll be waiting for the answers for a long time. In posing the questions he reveals the close relationship between the Bin Ladens and the Bush clan. One of the most telling questions - 'Were you aware that while you were governor of Texas, the Taliban travelled to Texas to meet with your oil and gas company friends?' - demonstrates the dodgy goings-on around oil and the Middle East.
Moore sets himself up as the voice of America we rarely hear but which he insists is that of the majority. In one chapter he goes through statistics from US opinion polls (from sources such as The Wall Street Journal and Fox News) which show that the US is not as full of right wingers as it is often portrayed to be - 83 percent agree with the goals of the environmental movement, 58 percent think labour unions are a good idea.
Unfortunately Moore is weaker on his criticisms of Tony Blair, describing him as an 'intelligent adult man' with a 'smart wife' whom Moore confesses a hankering for (we can only hope this is meant as humour!).
As in Stupid White Men he addresses a letter to Bush. This time he thanks him for the huge tax cuts that have benefited him after his recent success, and pledges this extra money to doing everything in his power to preventing Bush from winning the next election.
This determination, however, does lead to some less appealing conclusions. Moore recognises that there is a less than ideal electoral opposition to Bush, and endeavours to locate a presidential candidate who can beat him. After waxing lyrical about Oprah Winfrey, he comes up with the much more serious suggestion of General Wesley Clark. This is particularly serious as since the publication of Dude, Where's My Country? the general has put his name forward to be the Democrats' candidate.
Moore gives a lot of space to eight quotes from Clark that portray him as anti-war, pro-environment and an all-round good left candidate. But this is a man who gained infamy for being in charge of the Nato war in Kosovo, who is famed for arrogance, and who was seen actively supporting the Republicans only a few years ago. Getting rid of Bush is an obvious priority for the American people, but is General Wesley Clark the man to hold up as saviour?
Nevertheless, this is a book that should enjoy a similar success to Stupid White Men. It is an excellent resource and Moore is virulent throughout. I wouldn't say his writing will make you laugh out loud (though reading the stupid things Bush and his cronies say may well do). It will, however, let those opposing Bush know they are not alone - that, in fact, they are the majority. Where is his country? It is there, waiting for the American people to win it back.