The White House ignores the Bush-whacking movie, while Michael Moore steps out in D.C.

By Robert Schlesinger and Stephen M. Silverman
Updated June 25, 2004 08:00 AM

Michael Moore’s Bush-whacking Fahrenheit 9/11 opens in nearly 900 of the nation’s theaters on Friday, but Dan Bartlett, the White House Director of Communications, told the Today show, “I think I’d go see Shrek instead.”

Meanwhile, at the Washington D.C. premiere of 9/11 this week, Moore was asked if he thought Democratic hopeful John Kerry would be lining up at the box office.

“He should go to see it. I’m hoping he goes to see it this weekend – as a paying customer,” Moore, 50, told PEOPLE, adding under his breath: “Do I have to file an FEC (Federal Election Committee) thing if he pays me money?”

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has been mentioned as a possible Kerry runningmate, said Kerry should steer clear. “He needs to stay away from it,” Nelson said before seeing the film. “There’s obviously some controversy” about the film. Nelson suggests that rather than get caught up in the movie’s web, Kerry “needs to sell himself.”

But Eleanor Holmes-Norton, the District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate to Congress, said that Kerry “certainly should see it. No Democrat should fail to see it, particularly one who’s running for president.”

Kerry has made no public statements about the film and his campaign did not have immediate comment on it.

But the conservative group Citizens United has spoken up: On Thursday, it asked federal election officials to investigate whether TV ads for the movie violate campaign finance laws regulating when commercials may feature a presidential candidate.

Moore, saying he will fight such a complaint, called the Citizens United move “a blatant attempt on the part of a right-wing, Republican-sponsored group to stop people from seeing my movie,” reports the Associated Press.

“It’s a violation of my First Amendment rights that I cannot advertise my movie. It’s a movie,” Moore said. “I have not publicly endorsed John Kerry. I am an independent, I am not a member of the Democratic Party.”