It's hard to tell with Moore, the populist author and filmmaker who spoke to a wildly enthusiastic crowd of more than 9,000 at Memorial Coliseum last Thursday.
Six months after he was booed through his Oscar-acceptance speech for criticizing "President" Bush and Gulf War II, Moore greeted the cheering crowd with a wry question: "Where were you on Oscar night?"
Moore said Portland was his 25th stop on a 39-city tour, and everywhere--from Baltimore, Md., to Stockton, Calif.--enthusiastic crowds have turned out. "Your spirits would be lifted," he said, "if you could see what I've seen, you would know. Bush. Is. Doooooomed."
Was this speech a stadium book tour, pumping up Moore's latest polemic, Dude, Where's My Country? Or was it a political whistle stop, rallying comrades to defeat the evil forces of Bush?
Though he offered a few funny punch lines, Moore mostly stuck to a serious and angry speech. "I happen to love this country," he said earnestly. "That's how I spend my time, trying to make it better."
The country's politics have shifted, Moore claims, which is why right-wing commentators and talk-show hosts are so angry. "They're dying," he insisted, his voice high and melting, imitating the Wicked Witch of the West.
We now live in a "liberal progressive" society, Moore claims, citing as evidence public-opinion polls on issues such as abortion, environment and gun control, published in mainstream newspapers.
If that's true, dude, where's my health insurance?
Moore says he's trying to disseminate "the real story." A lot of people seem to be listening, as his latest book is at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, followed one step back by Al Franken's Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them), and Molly Ivins in sixth place with Bushwhacked. This lineup of liberals is a progressive counterstrike to surly conservative Bill O'Reilly's Who's Looking Out for You?, the book holding down the third spot on the list.
Now that Rush Limbaugh's a self-confessed drug addict, Bill Bennett's an admitted gambler, and finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq appears to be a joke, angry lefties have more ammunition than an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Moore claimed. "It's time to start giving the right a taste of their own medicine," he said.
So if Bush is doomed, according to Moore, just who will replace him? The question hung over the room like the alcoholic haze at a WASP wedding.
Moore says he hasn't made up his mind yet about whom he'll support. That seems about as likely as Limbaugh going to jail, but the filmmaker insists it's time for voters to push Democratic candidates to change their positions. It's not yet time to support Anyone But Bush, he says, but he ended his speech with a rallying cry to get rid of Bush and all the other angry white men.
"How cool that we got to be the generation to see the end of them?" Moore asked.
Is anyone holding their breath?
After the two-hour speech, wristband holders who bought books from Borders could have them signed. Did anyone else think it was weird Mr. Anti-Chain-Store had Borders hawking his wares?
For more information on what he's selling, visit Moore's official website at www.michaelmoore.com