Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

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Mike's Letter

June 20th, 2000 12:00 AM

The Ficus Election Special Airs Wednesday Night

Dear Friends,

After a week off (I was busy being a clue on both "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" - the $125,000 question - and the Sunday Times crossword puzzle - 76 down!), we're back on the air with "The Awful Truth" tomorrow night, Wednesday, June 21st, at 10 PM ET/PT (or it's tonight if you're reading this and it's already Wednesday).

This week's show is a slight departure from our usual format as we are devoting the entire half hour to a short film we've made following the efforts to elect a Ficus plant to the U.S. Congress.

Since we announced that we were running a potted plant against a New Jersey incumbent with no opposition in his primary, the idea has exploded across the country. There are now nearly 3 dozen Ficuses running official candidacies for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The media, hungry I guess for some sort of story in this otherwise uneventful election year, has given the Ficus a lot of ink.

What is painfully clear about all of this is that a lot of people have had it with an electoral process that is bought and paid for by Big Money and where you and I no longer have much say as to who represents us.

What is amazing is that once a member of Congress is elected, he or she becomes a member for life. Nearly 98% of all congress members who run for re-election get re-elected!

The majority of them face no opponent in their primaries and according to a reporter I was speaking to at the New York Times this week, only 14 Congress members face any real or serious opponent who may give them a run for their money.

14 out of 435 representatives? Is this a joke? What is this - the old Soviet Politburo? In a sense, if you go to vote and there's only one choice on the ballot, what kind of country does that sound like? Why do we tolerate these Soviet-style elections - or worse, keep conning ourselves into proclaiming how free and democratic we are when, in fact, there are but a few in Congress who truly represent the will of the people?

That's where the Ficus plant comes in. We figured we'd be better off with the kind of tree you would find in your dentist's waiting room than most of the House who are at the beck and call of big oil ($2.50 a gallon!), Big Insurance (45 million still without health care and the rest of us slaves to our HMOs), Big Media (has anyone noticed this letter no longer comes to you via AOL/Time/Warner/Turner?) and other vested interests.

A situation like this turns a lot of us into cynics and the majority of us no longer vote.

That should NOT be our response. In fact, I believe the powers-that-be kind of hope that IS our response, because the more of us who "check out" of our democratic process, the more THEY will be able to get away with (can you believe we might be down to THREE airlines - AmericanUSAirways, UnitedNorthwest, and DeltaContinental?!).

Yes, they can pull off the unthinkable after they've got us all believing we don't matter anyway.

So we've turned to another species for help. If you get Bravo, please check out our short film on the Ficus Wednesday night. It's called, "The Choice," and it's pretty damn funny/weird/scary. I won't spoil the ending by telling you what happened in the primary election, but let's just say the campaign ain't over yet!

(If you don't get Bravo, you can go to our web site at to check it out.)

Thanks and remember, not a single member of Congress can perform photosynthesis.

Michael Moore

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