Liberals are nice people

Even the last two diehards yelling “Traitor!"—standing on a dark, windy hill outside Lawlor Event Center, one bare-chested but for Bush/Cheney campaign stickers—couldn’t ruin the moment.

In fact, after spending a couple of hours with filmmaker Michael Moore, who’d welcomed hecklers and even paused once or twice during his talk to try to listen to catcalls, Moore fans didn’t have much to say to the protesters.

“Three more weeks,” someone said cheerfully.

I felt like offering the anti-Moore guys a blanket. They looked cold.

In person, the entertainer was as funny, gentle, scathing and intelligent as he is in his movies.

Before revving up an enthusiastic crowd of about 10,000 at Lawlor, Moore met with local media types. Wearing a ball cap that read, “Independent Mind,” Moore introduced his guest, former Rage Against the Machine/now Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello.

Reno reporters asked tough questions: “There are about 250 protesters outside. What do you think about that?”

“Two hundred fifty?” Moore said. “They smoked us, didn’t they? Say Reno had just won a game against UNLV, 110-25, and you asked the winning team, ‘So what do you think about those 25 points? Oooh, were you worried?’ ”

One TV reporter asked the maker of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine a question on behalf of a protester outside: “He wants to know why you tell lies in your movies and why you have a vendetta against the president.”

“Name one lie,” Moore replied. The reporter was silent. “You mean you didn’t ask him to name a lie? … Most [critics] haven’t seen the movie. … And I’ve no vendetta whatsoever.”

He referred to George W. Bush as “a very nice person” who’s not qualified to be “leader of the free world.”

“Bush’s main campaign point is to scare people into voting for him,” Moore said. “I’m happy people are smarter than that.”

Moore praised UNR’s students and administration, “who stood up against all pressure from rich alumni” to allow him to speak.

Recent allegations of sexual harassment against Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly provided Moore with comic fodder.

“In this country, you’re innocent until proven guilty … unless you’re on The O’Reilly Factor,” Moore said, turning to Morello. “Phone sex with O’Reilly?”

“Shut up,” Morello growled. “Shut up!”

Later, Moore hit the stage, gracefully dealing with distractions that included a “Fuck you!” or two from the upper concourse and a smallish booing section that kicked in after Moore thanked UNR students for not caving into censorship.

“Are you booing freedom of expression? … OK, everyone, let’s take a moment to welcome our Republican brothers and sisters,” he said. “Here’s the difference between our rallies and a Bush rally. You don’t have to sign a loyalty oath to attend.”

He led the crowd in a “mathematically correct” chant of “three more weeks!”

“Feel their pain,” he said. “They’ve had a good run. They’ve been in charge for four years, and they didn’t even win the election.”

A majority of Americans now disagree with the Bush administration on everything from health care to the war in Iraq, Moore said.

“We’re the majority, and they’re the minority,” he said. “And when we take over, we will not treat them the way they treated the rest of America. We’ll fight so that they can have health insurance. We’ll fight to bring their sons and daughters home from Iraq. Wait, their sons and daughters aren’t in Iraq.”

Moore recommended reaching out to Republicans with kindness.

“You gotta be nice to them,” he said. “That’s what it means to be a liberal.”