http://www.opinionjournal.com/forms/printThis.html?id=110003233 Unmoored From Reality An ideological con artist is the favorite for an Oscar. Friday, March 21, 2003 12:01 a.m. With Hollywood in a fever pitch against the war in Iraq, Michael Moore is likely to win the Oscar for Best Documentary at Sunday's Academy Awards. "Bowling for Columbine," Mr. Moore's work of anti-American propaganda, has grossed over $15 million, an amazing sum for a film billed as a documentary. But the film, a merry dissection of America's "culture of fear" and love of guns, is filled with so many inaccuracies and distortions that it ought to be classed as a work of fiction. Mr. Moore is naturally a big hit among the French. The jury at the Cannes Film Festival created a special, one-time only award to honor his film and then gave it a 13-minute standing ovation. "Not since Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer have we seen such a successful export of anti-Americanism," observes Andrew Sullivan in London's Sunday Times. Mr. Moore plays into all of the worst stereotypes and distortions about America. "Bowling for Columbine" attempts to explain interventions by the U.S. military as rooted in an inherently violent domestic culture. "I agree with the National Rifle Association when they say, 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people,' " he told NBC's "Today" show. "Except I would alter that to say, 'Guns don't kill people, Americans kill people.' We're the only country that does this, and we do it on an personal level in our neighborhoods and within our families and our schools, and we do it on a global level. The American attitude is that we believe we have a right to just go in and bomb another country. This is where Bush is going right now, right?" To make this strained connection, Mr. Moore tries to make us believe that the two mentally disturbed high school students who massacred their fellow students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., grew up in a community that has a sinister connection to the military-industrial complex. A Lockheed Martin factory in Littleton manufactures "weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Moore claims. The factory actually makes rockets that carry TV satellites into space. And the very title of Mr. Moore's film is based on a deception. It refers to the bowling class that the Columbine killers supposedly took the morning they committed their murders. The only problem is that they actually cut the class. Forbes reports that an early scene in "Bowling" in which Mr. Moore tries to demonstrate how easy it is to obtain guns in America was staged. He goes to a small bank in Traverse City, Mich., that offers various inducements to open an account and claims "I put $1,000 in a long-term account, they did the background check, and, within an hour, I walked out with my new Weatherby," a rifle. But Jan Jacobson, the bank employee who worked with Mr. Moore on his account, says that only happened because Mr. Moore's film company had worked for a month to stage the scene. "What happened at the bank was a prearranged thing," she says. The gun was brought from a gun dealer in another city, where it would normally have to be picked up. "Typically, you're looking at a week to 10 days waiting period," she says. Ms. Jacobson feels used: "He just portrayed us as backward hicks." Mr. Moore makes the preposterous claim that a Michigan program by which welfare recipients were required to work was responsible for an incident in which a six-year-old Flint boy shot a girl to death at school. Mr. Moore doesn't mention that the boy's mother had sent him to live in a crack house where her brother and a friend kept both drugs and guns--a frequently lethal combination. Some of the fact-bending and omissions of "Bowling for Columbine" could charitably be chalked up to really sloppy research. (I called the chief archivist for Mr. Moore's film, Carl Deal, yesterday, but he hasn't called back.) Others show a willful aversion to the truth. Mr. Moore repeats the canard that the United States gave the Taliban $245 million in aid in 2000 and 2001, somehow implying we were in cahoots with them. But that money actually went to U.N.-affiliated humanitarian organizations that were completely independent of the Taliban. David Hardy, a former Interior Department lawyer who delights in debunking government officials and pompous celebrities, has uncovered even more evidence of Mr. Moore's distortions. The film depicts NRA president Charlton Heston giving a speech near Columbine; he actually gave it a year later and 900 miles away. The speech he did give is edited to make conciliatory statements sound like rudeness. Another speech is described as being given immediately after the Flint shooting . In reality, it was made almost a year later. All of these and more inaccuracies can be found at Mr. Hardy's comprehensive Web site. Ben Fritz ofSpinsanity.org also notes that Mr. Moore has "apparently altered footage of an ad run by the Bush/Quayle campaign in 1988" to buttress his claim that racial symbolism is frequently misused in American politics. His leading example is the case of Willie Horton, a murderer who became a major issue in the 1988 presidential campaign. Mr. Moore shows the Bush ad that generically attacked a prison furlough program in Michael Dukakis's Massachusetts . Superimposed over the footage of prisoners entering and exiting a prison are the words "Willie Horton released. Then kills again." While the caption appears to be part of the original ad, Mr. Moore actually inserted it; the ad made no mention of Horton. (Another ad, sponsored by the National Security Political Action Committee, a conservative group independent of the Bush campaign, did mention Horton; it aired only briefly in a few cable markets.) The phony Moore caption also is inaccurate; Horton brutalized a Maryland couple and raped the wife, but didn't kill anybody while on furlough. In print, too, Mr. Moore plays fast and loose with the facts. In his "Stupid White Men," his best-selling book, he blithely states that five-sixths of the U.S. defense budget in 2001 went toward the construction of a single type of plane and that two-thirds of the $190 million that President Bush raised in his 2000 campaign came from just over 700 individuals, a preposterous assertion given that the limit for individual contributions at the time was $1,000. When CNN's Lou Dobbs asked Mr. Moore about his inaccuracies, he shrugged off the quesiton. "You know, look, this is a book of political humor. So, I mean, I don't respond to that sort of stuff, you know," he said. "Glaring inaccuracies?" Mr. Dobbs said. "No, I don't. Why should I? How can there be inaccuracy in comedy?" Mr. Moore would deserve an Academy Award if there were an Oscar for Best Cinematic Con Job. If "Bowling for Columbine" is a comedy, most of its fans don't know it. They actually believe they're watching something that is in rough accord with reality.