The people of the United States, according to author and filmmaker Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine, Stupid White Men), have been hoodwinked. Tricked, he says, by Republican lawmakers and their wealthy corporate pals who use a combination of concocted bogeymen and lies to stay rich and in control. But while plenty of liberal scholars, entertainers, and pundits have made similar arguments in book form, Moore's Dude, Where's My Country? stands out for its thoroughly positive perspective. Granted, Moore is angry and has harsh words for George W. Bush and his fellow conservatives concerning the reasoning behind going to war in Iraq, the collapse of Enron and other companies, and the relationship between the Bushes, the Saudi Arabian government, and Osama bin Laden. But his book is intended to serve as a handbook for how people with liberal opinions (which is most of America, Moore contends, whether they call themselves "liberals" or not) can take back their country from the conservative forces in power. Moore uses his trademark brand of confrontational, exasperated humor skillfully as he offers a primer on how to change the worldview of one's annoying conservative blowhard brother-in-law, and he crafts a surprisingly thorough "Draft Oprah for President" movement. Refreshingly, Dude, Where's My Country? avoids being completely one-sided, offering up areas where Moore believes Republicans get it right as well as some cutting criticisms of his fellow lefties. Such allowances, brief though they may be, make one long for a political climate where the shouting polemicists on both sides would see a few more shades of gray. Dude, Where's My Country? is a little bit scattered, as Moore tries to cram opinions on Iraq, tax cuts, corporate welfare, Wesley Clark, and the Patriot Act into one slim volume--and the penchant to go for a laugh sometimes gets in the way of clear arguments. But such variety also gives the reader more Moore, providing a broader range of his bewildered, enraged, yet stalwartly upbeat point of view. --John Moe
From Publishers Weekly
Flush from the success of Stupid White Men and an Academy Award for best documentary, Moore continues his rhetorical assault on the Bush administration. The book shares much with Al Franken's Lies besides liberal sentiment and satirical tone; not only do both authors rely on the hoary device of having God tell them He doesn't support the president, but they each claim to pack their carry-on luggage with baseballs to bean would-be hijackers. But where Franken attacks individual conservatives, Moore focuses on issues. His first chapter is a series of unsettlingly specific questions (based on rigorously footnoted facts) about the political and financial ties among Bush, the Saudi Arabian government and Osama bin Laden's family, though he leaps from the facts to speculation when he wonders whether the September 11 attacks might have been hatched within the Saudi military. Other chapters attack the public's susceptibility to what he casts as the fear-mongering tactics the administration has used to justify foreign military interventions and, he says, the erosion of domestic civil liberties, and he lays plans for a Democratic victory in 2004: in addition to a half-serious nomination of Oprah, he offers a prescient, reasoned and highly favorable evaluation of Wesley Clark as a candidate. Moore's arguments work best when delivered mostly straight, since he isn't always as funny as he seems to think he is. Straightforward propositions leavened with humor, like a guide to talking to conservative relatives, work fine, while efforts at flat-out farce ring hollow. But expect liberals to once again eagerly support one of their most prominent spokesmen by checking this out at the cash register.
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