Last weekend Michael Moore's movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11," opened to a huge $22 million, 3-day run across the country.
When we went to see it on Sunday afternoon for the 2:30 showing, we expected that on a beautiful day the crowd would be light.
It wasn't. The theatre was sold out. Actually, it was oversold.
The attendance of so many people to this film, especially since its content is not all that favorable to the Bush administration, should be sending a signal to President Bush, et al, that the people out here in the real world may not be all that content with what the White House is doing in regards to Iraq and the so-called "War on Terror."
Of course, critics (including those who have not seen the movie) go out of their way to say that it is full of lies, distortions and inaccuracies.
That's interesting because many believe that the words coming out of the White House, State Department, The Old Executive Office Building, The George H. W. Bush CIA facility and the National Security Agency - the words that sent us into a bloody conflict, have been a bunch of lies, distortions and inaccuracies.
Michael Moore's movie is his view.
But it is his view based on some realities of this administration since it took office.
Realities it seems that - unlike this administration - whether we like it or not, Mr. Moore at least attempts to give us evidentiary support for his claims.
For instance, a very gripping part of the movie comes with scenes of ranking officials, scenes taken from official press conferences or from official statements, telling us, prior to 9/11 that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or a nuclear capability.
The clips show Condoleezza Rice, for instance, stating unequivocally that the United States had "neutralized" Hussein and that he could not produce WMDs or nukes. President Bush himself is quoted as saying virtually the same thing.
This may be troubling to some, as those are juxtaposed against post 9/11 statements by the same cast of characters assuring us and insisting that Saddam Hussein most definitely had WMDs and a nuclear capability.
Which is true?
If there are going to be claims that Mr. Moore distorted information, is there not at least some evidence this administration has done the same?
Many people think, both inside and outside the beltway, that post 9/11 intelligence seemed to fit that which the administration wanted it to fit. Seems Ramsey Clark, who is quoted in the film, may just well have been right - especially in light of the fact that the 9/11 Commission has shown us there were no links between Hussein and al-Qaeda -after all that ousting Hussein may have been this administration's paramount goal since day one.
Unfortunately, Mr. Moore's film was put to bed by the time the 9/11 Commission offered its finding so that information could not be included.
It would have only bolstered his case.
One of President Bush's claims is that in liberating Iraq we are winning over the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
In Moore's movie we saw an interesting segment which followed a platoon on their mission on Christmas Eve.
Their mission was to find a young man, which they did, and take him to prison.
The troubling part was that our troops were directed to enter the house, find the man and simply take him away.
It was never explained to his family, who was crying and upset and claimed he was just a student, just what he was accused of doing.
Could the young man have been involved in subversive activity?
Yes, but the interesting part is when the captain in charge of the operation looks into the camera and says that they are "doing their part to win over the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people."
One gets the feeling that the sarcasm in his voice is real and that he doesn't believe that such actions are winning over anyone's hearts and minds.
Michael Moore didn't make up that testimony.
How is it that the financial links that are pointed out in the film between companies that are financially benefiting from the invasion of Iraq and their ties to those in this administration - including President Bush - be called lies or inaccuracies?
Are we supposed to be na´ve enough to think that Halliburton really got those no bid contracts if it were not because Vice President Richard Cheney served as the company's CEO?
How can we call those documented financial ties between those in this administration and members of the House of Saud and the bin Laden family, you know, as in Osama, including the Bush family, lies?
Check out companies such as Harken and Carlyle.
Are we not concerned that as 15 of the 19 hijackers of planes on 9/11 were Saudi and that evidence tends to support that funding of al Qaeda has come from Saudi Arabia, that we are not more demandingly calling on the Saudi government to be more aggressive in helping fight the so-called War on Terror?
Oh and why is the Secret Service guarding the Saudi embassy in Washington?
But it seems that just the opposite is happening in that the Saudi government has blocked efforts from American agents attempting to interview those inside Saudi Arabia who may have information about 9/11 - including the relatives of Osama bin Laden who were whisked out of the U.S. soon after the attacks.
Can't we find it curious and disturbing that after 9/11 the only authorized flights out of the U.S. were shuttling members of the bin Laden family?
If it makes some uncomfortable that this information is now "out there," then so be it.
Seems there are a lot of people in Washington who are now asking why these family members were not questioned about what they knew about Osama's whereabouts and so on.
Is it unfair to ask if this administration was placing their financial interests before national security in light of the information that is brought to the fore?
And what is shown is corroborated by many.
How can anyone call lies or inaccurate the story of the mother, who is "pro-military" and "pro-America" whose last correspondence from her son in Iraq is a letter imploring her not to vote for the re-election of President Bush. The young soldier described Mr. Bush as an "ass who doesn't know what he is doing and doesn't know how to handle the situation now that the troops are in Iraq?"
It is a letter to a mother who will soon find out that her son was killed in a conflict he did not understand.
Her grief and anger are not distortions or lies.
And how can anyone say it is a lie that when interviewed, members of Congress do not seem too thrilled at the prospect of sending their own children to Iraq?
When Mr. Moore asked members of Congress that very question, they repulsed in horror at the thought or simply said no or looked shocked and stunned at the very prospect.
Is it not a fair question to ask them that if they are so willing to send others to fight for a cause they believe in and fund, that they should willingly want their children to serve in that cause?
Why should we be asked to support this if they themselves do not believe in it enough to ask their own to serve?
This movie seems to point out some potential flaws of this administration's policies that have not yet been seriously examined by members of Congress or the media and that seems to make some uncomfortable.
But, this is in the end, however, a movie that is indeed Mr. Moore's view.
It is a view that many seem to share because there is, at least, an attempt to provide documentation to make the case.unlike the one made for the existence of WMDs.
Be that as it may, those critics of Fahrenheit 9/11 who dislike it so much have every right and opportunity to make their own movie that shows how everything this administration has told us is indeed true and above board and to whip the nation into a frenzy of patriotic support for the cause.
But they really do not need to; they have the media for that.
And to those who say that this movie and those who share many of Mr. Moore's views are America haters, let's be realistic - this is not hate. It is a love for this country expressed by dissent.
Lest we forget that dissent to many is considered very patriotic. It is, after all, what got this nation started.
To that end might we suggest then, that those who say it is un-patriotic to question this administration and its actions in regards to Iraq should, on this Independence Day weekend, be pledging their allegiance to the Queen and to England.