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Michael Moore's TV Hit: 'The Awful Truth'

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By Jack Nichols

mmore6.jpg - 9.69 K Michael Moore's Sodomobile takes on the Rev. Fred Phelps' bigoted clan Michael Moore may indeed be revealing The Awful Truth in his new Sunday evening TV hit show, but even in the face of the world's worst worries, you'll applaud, giggle, and, on many an occasion, laugh your ass off. Two years ago GayToday pontificated rightly that Moore is, without doubt, the funniest commentator commenting.

The Bravo network, wisely hosting another of Moore's brilliant series, may be accessible only in some rural areas via digital satellite but its available on regular cable in most others. Let's hope you haven't missed the insanely wonderful episode in which Michael drives through homophobia's heartland in a huge pink Winnebago that's clearly marked The Sodomobile.

mmore7.jpg - 5.35 K Moore, you see, is a married heterosexual who doesn't mind if people think he's one of the unthinkables. He and his gang dress up like gay stereotypes. His Sodomobile is decorated in fashionable leopard skin wallpaper and adorned with pictures of Oscar Wilde. Signs on its exterior read: "If the Sodomobile's a Rockin' Don't Come a Knockin" and "Buggery on Board." Background music is courtesy of Madonna and The Village People.

Accompanied by student actors pretending to be gung-ho gay activists, Moore calls on Westboro Baptist Church's Rev. Fred Phelps of God Hates Fags fame, picketmeister at Matthew Shepard's funeral and, most recently, at the trial of one of his killers. While Michael chats on camera with Phelps—showing him a big-print Bible-- his student-activist entourage jumps out of the Sodomobile dancing around and flirting with the minister, handing him reading material about the joys of anal sex.

Phelps, natch, gets caught in the crossfire of Michael's camera-guerilla tactics and when he realizes he's being had starts quoting Bible verses in a vain attempt to ward off Satan's 'evil' spells. But it's too late. The Awful Truth poignantly captures the Rev. Phelps in all his finest Baptist buffoonery.

"Our goal wasn't to slander Phelps or really hurt him but to bring out the ignorance of his protests," said one of The Awful Truth's student actors, "Michael brought out how sad it really is."

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Michael Moore: World's Funniest Political Pundit

Review: Satan is Real

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The Awful Truth premiered on April 11. Though I'd planned to watch it, three friends called to remind me to do so. When I tuned in, there was Michael on stage saying: "We all believe in a free press, it's just that we don't own any of the presses."

He chuckled happily recalling what he'd observed during the past year: "The Republican Party going down in flames," and then he turned his guerilla camera on another dork we love to hate: Kenneth Starr, who, he complained, we'd seen avoiding reporters every morning as he emerged from his home to do more prurient poking into citizens' sex lives.

Our hero commentator shows up on Starr's doorstep himself and the porn-minded prosecutor is obviously annoyed. What did Starr's investigation show after spending $50 million? Michael replies: "That middle-aged men have affairs with younger women." Michael says he'd have been glad to tell us that for only $50 dollars.

mmore8.jpg - 11.29 K Moore's witchhunters And then he romps into the nation's capital accompanied by his own Salem-type witchhunters, seeking out sex and sin, a phalanx of bonneted ladies—puritan nuns—led by a puritan preacher looking for erotic evidence. Michael boasts that his witch-hunt cost only $560 dollars.

The puritan preacher using Washington, D.C. for this portable witchhunt, thunders "Ejaculators! You have all been infected by the vile Satanic verses in this book." Fuming, he holds up The Starr Report. In front of the White House the puritan preacher points to the home of the "philanderer" and the "ejaculating whore-monger."

Michael collars a couple of congressmen in front of the Capitol and questions them about the state of sin in their chambers. One gentleman—who appears to be a congressman—is asked, "You've sinned, haven't you?"

He replies: "Why certainly, but I've done enough for today."

"Hear that? Our first confession!" Michael exults. He moves on to Congressman Asa Hutchinson of impeachment fame: "Have you committed adultery?" he asks, "Have you sinned? Are you a fornicator?"

A conservation with Rep. Bob Barr ensues. Michael asks Barr about a 1992 incident when the married Barr was said to have licked whipped cream from a woman's breasts.

"People bring it up constantly," Barr confesses, "It's the sort of thing one has to deal with."

The puritanical witch-hunting brigade takes to the halls of the Capitol, in search of the confessed adulterer, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois) and then scours the streets of Washington pointing at sin and to a young man in shorts: "He is naked on his legs!"

The preacher, waving the Starr Report around, reads from it to an effective musical score, citing Chapter 3, Verse 5: "I wanted him to touch my genitals with his genitals and he did so lightly and without penetration…as if that made a difference."

The pushy puritans persist: "Repent! Repent!" and a large crowd of puritan crusaders fill the screen along with a headline that reads: "Puritan Fever Sweeps the Nation."

Back on stage Michael Moore asks, "Has anybody here lied about sex?"

He recalls that Bill Clinton fired Jocelyn Elders after she revealed she was pro-masturbation. "If only Clinton had taken her advice," he says, "We wouldn't have had to go through all this."

Then he's off to his next expose and The Awful Truth's premiere ends with the saving—by means of a public funeral rehearsal—a dying man's life, forcing insurance-provider Humana to pay for his pancreas transplant, one it had initially refused to finance.
mmore4.jpg - 9.81 K In the premier of The Awful Truth, Moore took on Humana Healthcare for Chris Donahue (above), who needed a new pancreas. Humana switched its position and paid for the operation after a Moore hounding

Michael Moore comes off—in the best American tradition-- as a kind of secular faith healer. The laughter he evokes beats Oral Roberts' healings all to hell. We get to see, at least, that Michael's miracles are real.
nicholsagenda.jpg - 10.33 K GayToday's Senior Editor is author of The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists, published by Prometheus Books. GayToday's readers may order this book for $18.87, a 30% discount off of the regular price of $24.95. Of this book Dr. Rodger Strietmatter, author of Unspeakable: The Rise of the Gay & Lesbian Press in America, says: "Jack Nichols' intense passion and graceful writing style combine to create rousing messages reminiscent of the inspirational words written by Thomas Paine two centuries ago." To order The Gay Agenda on-line explain that you would like a GayToday reader's discount:

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