The weird got even weirder last week when Flint native son Michael Moore televised his latest escapade: a campaign to elect a ficus plant to a New Jersey congressional seat.
As usual, there is much method behind Moores mad satire. In this case it is congressional elections. In an e-mail to fans of his "The Awful Truth" television show, Moore observed that "... 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.
"Fourteen out of 435 representatives? Is this a joke? What is this, the old Soviet Politburo? In a sense, if you go to vote and theres only one choice on the ballot, what kind of country does that sound like? Why do we 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."
So, to focus attention on the issue, Moore recruited a qualified ficus (at least 25 years old, a seven-year resident of New Jersey, etc.) to run against incumbent Rodney J. Frelinghuysen. Prohibited by election officials from making it to the ballot in the primary election even though ficus received the requisite number of voter signatures Moore then mounted a write-in campaign. As reported on his show, the plant out-polled the pol by a margin of more than 4-to-1 in one precinct. Again, election officials stood firm against democracy by refusing to count votes for ficus, mumbling something about the plant not being human.
Now, heres the best part: "Ficus fever is sweeping the nation," says Moore, who claims there are now nearly three dozen ficuses running official candidacies for Congress in 13 states.
"What is painfully clear about all this," says the filmmaker, "is that a lot of people have had it with an electoral process that is bought and paid for by Big Money ... you and I no longer have much say in who represents us."
To learn more about the campaign, point your computer at www.ficus2000.com. And if theres a Michigan congressperson you think deserves to get planted, pass your nomination along to News Hits.Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]