Braving the cold, students came out in droves Saturday night to hear filmmaker and liberal provocateur Michael Moore, who spoke at the Memorial Union terrace as part of his nationwide "Slacker Uprising Tour."
Fiery and profane, Moore repeatedly lashed out at the Bush administration for falsely leading the United States to war in Iraq. He labeled Bush a "war criminal" and suggested the president be led out of the White House in handcuffs.
"There are no weapons of mass destruction, there is no connection to 9/11, and there will be a draft next year if Bush wins," Moore asserted. "George W. Bush — I've never seen a more disgraceful individual in my life."
In defense of John Kerry's sometimes-vague plan to rebuild Iraq, Moore said, if elected, the senator would be placed into an unfair situation. He added the predicament would be similar to the filmmaker destroying a student's dorm room and then asking: "What's your plan to clean up this mess?"
"It's going to ugly; it's going to messy; human lives are going to be lost as a result of the irresponsibility of Bush, and Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld and Cheney," Moore said.
Wearing a red Badger hat, with the "W" in back to prevent sending mixed signals, Moore urged students to represent what he sees as the majority viewpoint in the country — liberalism.
"Republicans have to work really hard because they know they represent the minority viewpoint in this country now," Moore said.
Republicans' success in claiming the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives can be attributed to a majority of Americans not voting, according to Moore. This year, however, "the slackers are rising up," he proclaimed.
Addressing those considering voting for independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, Moore praised the consumer activist for moving the Democratic Party to the left, but said the stakes in this year's election are too great to not vote for Kerry.
Moore spoke for more than an hour and attracted more than 4,000 attendees to the Terrace. During the early portions of Moore's speech, a group of students supporting President Bush emerged on the northwest corner of the Terrace, chanting "four more years" to compete with cries of "two more weeks" from the rest of the crowd.
Moore unleashed a profane tirade against the Bush sympathizers, blaming them for sending "poor kids from Milwaukee" to fight in Iraq. The filmmaker labeled the pro-Bush crowd "pathetic assholes," among other expletives.
One of the Bush supporters, UW student Erica Christenson, was not surprised Moore stooped to such behavior.
"I wouldn't expect Michael Moore to be courteous or polite, or to be aware that other people hold different viewpoints," Christenson said. "The things he says are extremely unintelligent, with not a single shred of evidence, and he's just looking for pure crowd reaction."
The pro-Bush crowd disbanded approximately halfway through Moore's speech. One member of the audience was arrested for throwing the liquid contents of a plastic pitcher at the Bush supporters, the UW Police Department reported.
Alyssa Spiel, a 2003 UW graduate, said she did not believe Moore's rhetoric changed any votes in the audience but did feel the filmmaker generated excitement among the sizable gathering of young Democrats.
"At this point everything that everyone can say is basically cheerleading, but I think it's wonderful that he came here because a lot of the stuff he says is in our language," Spiel said. "We need to do everything we can do to make sure Bush does not win."