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Michael Moore’s ‘Stupid White Men’
What condition air conditioning is in
by Mark Anderson

ir conditioning is a wayside rest on the highway to hell, according to Michael Moore, the renegade filmmaker, best-selling author and rabble-rousing raconteur.

To air is human: Stupid is as stupid does.

Moore's latest missive, a book called "Stupid White Men," finds itself atop best-seller lists by reasoning that the planet became doomed from the moment conditioned air made life below the Mason-Dixon line tolerable for scores of northerners.

Thus, he surmises, our last 10 presidents have been the southernmost or westernmost candidates.

In other words, when artificially cooled mass-migration tilted the electoral vote toward the South, it gave southern-fried thinking a mandate in the name of big business, oil gluttony and at-large conservative ideology.

Moore further reckons that automobile air conditioning is the main cause of a hole in the ozone layer that's 2-1/2 times the size of Europe and growing. He continues with a laundry list of modern-day dilemmas and, he maintains, they're mainly the province of greedy Caucasian males with a mantra of: "The rules apply to everybody but me."

Moore's star was launched with his 1989 filmmaking debut, "Roger and Me," which tweaked Reaganomics and essentially exposed the real-life chairman of General Motors as a black-hearted Scrooge.

To be fair, Moore's detractors maintain that he's fast and loose with statistics. But getting hung up on shoddy research is akin to siding with Goliath because David's socks don't match.

Stop it some more – do something!

And if statistics are to be believed in any measure, here's a sobering one: In 1980, CEOs at the largest companies made 42 times what the average factory worker earned. In 2001, they made 411 times as much.

So not only is Moore a modern-day David, he's screaming from the rooftops – that while the richest one percent of the population gets richer and smaller, the planet seems to have broken free from its orbit and is hurtling toward the sun.

Actually, according to publishing lore, the book almost died in a warehouse. It came off the printing presses before Sept. 11, but hadn't yet hit the stores. The book's publisher allegedly got cold feet and was going to let boxes of books rot because of the "anti-American" and "unpatriotic" slant of Moore's rant.

Never mind that dissenting opinion and healthy debate are cornerstones of democracy.

But, as the story goes, a librarian got an advance copy and bent sympathetic ears at the librarians' convention. Library orders spread like wildfire and forced the publisher's hand – the book was sprung from the warehouse and climbed to the top of the charts not only in the U.S., but in Europe and Canada, too.

That the book was written before September 2001 adds impact. Moore saw problems with Enron and the like before recent calamities. He makes a strong case why George W. Bush was never elected president. And he looks at the Middle East and other planet-wide problems with an unsentimental eye: unless we do something, things are bound to get worse.

Does Moore offer solutions?

Moore to the point: Get involved on any level.

Get involved on any level, he urges. Join a block club, run for office, vote for Ralph Nader, talk amongst friends and don't let up. Do anything but take things lying down ... in front of the television ... with air conditioning on high.

Coincidentally, air conditioning's 100th birthday came and went last month – and not to be lost is the unintended irony that it was invented to cool not workers, but machines.

Moore's ultimate message, of course, is that the planet and everything on it are headed straight for hell. Whether or not the road is paved with good intentions is irrelevant.

The final destination on our present course won't have air conditioning.

E-mail Mark at andersonenterprises@hotmail.com, and visit prior editions of tripewriter.

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