The Bush-whacking movie plays to a mixed but passionate reception in Crawford, Texas

By Shermakaye Bass and Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 29, 2004 10:00 AM

Michael Moore took his Fahrenheit 9/11 to Bush country on Wednesday, to show the Bush-whacking documentary in a Crawford, Texas, parking lot near the President’s ranch.

The President, not surprisingly, did not attend. But then again, neither did Moore.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker was going to be there but then declined because, he reportedly told organizers, he wanted his movie – and not his personal feelings toward Bush – to be the focus of the event.

“But we’re all here tonight,” said John Wolf, leader of a Texas network of peace activists that organized the screening, according to Reuters. An $8 admission donation was requested, to benefit a local activist center called the “Crawford Peace House.”

Half a mile away, scores of Bush supporters gathered for a rally to show their support for the Republican president, who is vacationing this week at his 1,600-acre spread while the Democrats gather for their convention in Boston.

In a symbolic gesture of his opinion of Fahrenheit 9/11, one local farmer stacked bags of manure near the screening site. In the center of town, a couple hundred people carried “We Love Bush,” “Bush-Cheney ’04” and “Bush is My Homeboy” placards to support their man.

One local sat on her front porch watching the political parade. “I like having a front row seat to all this,” she said with a laugh.

Moore has been in Boston during the convention, where he has attracted enormous media coverage. His controversial movie, which questions the President’s abilities and the reasons for war in Iraq, is the first documentary ever to pass the $100-million mark at the box office.

Organizers said they wanted to bring Fahrenheit 9/11 to Crawford so local people would have the chance to see it. But only a handful of moviegoers from the tiny hamlet of Crawford (pop. 705) were in attendance.

“There aren’t many people in Crawford,” Crawford police chief Donnie Tidmore told Reuters. “So whenever you have a large crowd, most people will be from someplace else.”

Margaret Mills, a Buda, Texas, resident and admitted Moore fan, told PEOPLE she wanted to show her support for the film. “I think it speaks a lot more of the truth than anything we’re going to hear from the administration,” she said. “Everybody’s here to express their opinions. And that’s what this country is about – speaking up.”