The World According to Bush (Le Monde Selon Bush)
(Docu -- France)
A Rezo Films release of a Flach Film presentation of a Flach Film, France 2, RTBF, TSR, SBS production. (International sales: 2001 Audiovisuel, Paris.) Produced by Agnes Vicariot, Jean-Francois Lepetit. Directed by William Karel, in collaboration with Eric Laurent, inspired by Laurent's books "La guerre des Bush" and "Le monde secret de Bush."
With: Norman Mailer, Robert Steele, Michael Leeden, James Robinson, Robert Baer, David Frum, Charles Lewis, Jim Hoagland, Joseph Trento, Sam Gwynne, Ed McAteer, Arnaud de Borchgrave, Stanley Hoffmann, James Woosley, Richard Perle, Gen. William Odom, Anthony Blinken, David Corn, Hans Blix, Javier Perez de Cuellar, Colin Powell, Joseph Wilson, Prof. Viet Dinh, Frank Carlucci, Laurent Murawiec, David Kay.
Narrator: Michel Papineschi.
By LISA NESSELSON
Those who think Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" is diminished by his "liberal agenda," extensive use of pre-existing footage or failure to "show both sides" will have a much harder time discrediting the equally unflattering conclusions in "The World According to Bush" (unless they want to point out the director and producer are French.) A wealth of original interviews conducted by vet documaker William Karel ("CIA, guerres secretes") are complemented by powerful first-person testimony from an assortment of Bush non-sympathizers, from Hans Blix to David Kay, whose comments are as authoritative as they're damning.
Broadcast June 18 on national network France 2, docu opened in Gallic theaters June 23 and hits video and DVD a week later. Americans (and others) who are allergic to Moore but seek insight into why the actions of the Bush Administration are rarely viewed as admirable beyond U.S. borders will find a thoughtful crash course here. Interviewees include Patriot 2 Act scribe Prof. Viet Dinh, Carlyle Group honcho Frank Carlucci and Richard Perle himself, the last interviewed at his home in France's Luberon region, no less.
Karel makes an extremely persuasive case that the executive branch of the U.S. government has run roughshod over much of what America likes to think it stands for -- and that blame for this in both domestic and foreign affairs can be traced to flagrant and unprecedented disregard for demonstrable truth at crucial juncture upon crucial juncture by George W. Bush and certain of his closest advisers.
Unlike Moore, who deploys comic juxtaposition, humorous voiceover and a dismayed citizen's untempered outrage, Frenchman Karel takes a traditional journalistic approach, interviewing intelligence insiders, showing Bush deliberately delivering erroneous statements, then following up with more commentary from current or former government employees and investigative reporters.
Explaining that he had a small fortune at his disposal to bribe locals willing to point the way to incriminating weapons, CIA-mandated inspector David Kay says he believes Saddam Hussein was bluffing. Not a single Iraqi even tried to hit the jackpot.
The day after Bush's Jan. 20, 2004, State of the Union address, in which he declared "the Kay report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities," Kay resigned. His report had emphatically said the opposite.
A thoroughly disgusted Kay believes: "We went to war for the wrong reasons on the basis of a serious deception and error."
Karel shows that complete disregard for facts in favor of wishful thinking is one of the defining characteristics of Bush's approach to exercising power. Conscientious individuals whose commissioned findings did not mesh with what the White House wished to hear have found themselves smeared, fired or professionally compromised.
Most chilling of all the examples is the case of Joseph Wilson, a respected diplomat whose wife's 20-year career as an undercover CIA operative was deliberately compromised. When Bush blithely confirmed in a State of the Union address that Saddam had sought yellow cake uranium from Niger -- after Wilson's report completely discredited that hypothesis -- Wilson objected in print. Wilson's wife was "outed" in retaliation.
Karel's film is based on recent books by Le Figaro reporter Eric Laurent, rights to which were purchased by French producer Jean-Francois Lepetit, who commissioned Karel. Latter has made half a dozen previous acclaimed docs about the U.S. and appreciates the American willingness to bear witness to history, so often stymied in more tight-lipped Gaul.
This time around, former prez George H. W. Bush and Dick Cheney proved impossible to approach, and Paul Wolfowitz is said to have rejected 20 overtures, but Karel still achieves the impression of balance.
Interestingly enough, former CIA operatives are forbidden to write a line without agency approval but there's apparently a loophole to that where TV interviews are concerned.
Extensive excerpts from a speech given by 85-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd pack a similar punch to Moore's editing together of black members of the House of Representatives demanding -- to deaf Congressional ears -- an immediate investigation into the perceived theft of the 2000 election.
Byrd eloquently indicts what he describes as the unprecedented collusion, arrogance and cynicism afoot in the White House, citing the many ways in which the current administration has tarnished America's good name ("Calling heads of state PYGMIES?! Labeling whole countries as EVIL?! Denigrating powerful European allies as IRRELEVANT?!...And yet this chamber is hauntingly silent").
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum explains how his phrase "axis of hatred" morphed into "axis of evil" through a process he peppily describes as being akin to Hollywood's script-development process.
Egregious conflicts of interest are piled high. Donald Rumsfeld "sat on the board of a company that sold nuclear reactors to North Korea." Perle writes an article in the New York Times "but forgets to tell the reader that he took $20 million from Boeing."
There is nothing tellingly "European" about the approach of Karel's film except, perhaps, a willingness to suggest that Bush and company's religiosity is a distressing trait when it spills over into crucial decision-making affecting the wider world.
Especially unsettling is footage of evangelical Christians "more supportive of Israel than most American Jews" and convinced that "every grain of sand in Israel" must be in Jewish hands come Judgment Day or else the righteous won't be able to complete their journey to Heaven.
Per production notes, Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux expressed a desire to slot this docu Out of Competition in the event Moore's film wasn't ready; but he wasn't prepared to put two docus unfavorable to Bush in the Official Selection. Given this year's prizes, it seems likely that had both films been presented, the jury might have clamored to create a special award for Most Damning Straightforward Documentary Concerning the Guy in the White House.
Camera (color), Stephane Saporito; editor, Tal Zana; music (closing song), Ani DiFranco; sound (Dolby), Saporito, Philippe Sorlin; research and documentation, Valerie Combard, Marie France Pirotte, Serge Garcin. Reviewed at Club de l'Etoile screening room, Paris, June 7, 2004. Running time: 90 MIN.
Of course, it's from France, but apparently that bout of French-bashing didn't really happen a year ago: We are friends with France, we have always been friends with France.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.