David Hardy sums up his problem with Michael Moore in two words: "He sucks!"
But the local attorney quickly elaborates on why he's so dismissive of Moore, director of the incendiary Fahrenheit 9/11 and author of Stupid White Men.
"The biggest thing is his frequent departures from the truth," says Hardy, who has teamed up with another Moore basher, Jason Clarke, to pen an instant best seller, Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man.
According to the jacket copy, the book "dishes it back hard to the fervent prophet of the far left." Since its release late last month, it's fast become a media sensation, keeping Hardy busy with as many as 20 radio and TV appearances a day. After he made an appearance on CNN a couple weeks ago, Hardy reports the book briefly hit No. 3 on Amazon.com's sales rankings, behind Bill Clinton's My Life and Sue Graft's R Is for Ricochet. It's been hanging in the low double digits of Amazon's sales rankings and will debut on The New York Times nonfiction best seller list at No. 9 this week.
It's also drawing emotional reviews on Amazon's Web site--up to 341 as of early this week, both scathing and supportive.
A reader from Atlanta, for example, "applaud(s) both David Hardy and Jason Clarke for taking the gloves off and hitting the face of this country's biggest propagandist, not to mention socialist and America Hating jerk Michael Moore! I pity all the Libs who will shed a tear and get riled up once they see the title of this book, but if they had half the guts they do when they defend terrorists and the appeasement movement they would take the time and read this and actually learn something."
On the other hand, Vicar of Freehold, N.J., wrote: "A 'piece of crap' is giving this book too much praise."
Hardy was never a fan of Moore, although he says he thought Roger and Me was "pretty funny." But he never thought much about the filmmaker until Bowling for Columbine came along.
Hardy, you see, is a Second Amendment specialist, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and president of the Tucson Rod and Gun Club. A one-time attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., he moved out West after, he says, he grew tired "of the government, the East and of making the world safe for the Guamanian Fruit Bat."
Since then, he's been involved in some high-profile lawsuits, including an unsuccessful suit against the federal government over the Waco siege. His legal work also led to the U.S. Supreme Court tossing a temporary provision of the Brady Bill that required local law enforcement to do background checks on gun buyers. Hardy argued that passing the responsibility to county sheriffs without providing them with the funds to carry out the job was unconstitutional.
"It was an issue of federalism," he says. "Can one level of government give orders to another?"
While they clearly disagree about the Second Amendment, Hardy says it's not politics that drives his interest in skewering Moore.
"It's more his general disregard for the truth and his personal attacks, because I agree with him on some of this stuff," says Hardy, a Libertarian who ran for county attorney four years ago. "I think now that we're in Iraq, we have to carry through, but I don't think we should have gone there in the first place."
Hardy is hardly Moore's only critic. As Fahrenheit 9/11 has broken box office records, the proletariat provocateur has come under increased scrutiny from the mainstream media, who dismiss him as more of a propagandist than a documentarian.
Moore's not immune from heat from the left; commentator Christopher Hitchens issued a scathing review of Fahrenheit 9/11, saying: "To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of 'dissenting' bravery."
Moore has responded that his critics are jealous of his success and feel threatened because his work reveals they haven't done their job. He's set up a Web site to defend his work at michaelmoore.com/words/wackoattacko/.
Hardy was one of the first to start cataloging what he calls Moore's "deceptions" on the Web site mooreexposed.com. He soon was in touch with his co-author, Clarke, who had launched the site moorelies.com, which also took shots at Moore's work.
It was Clarke who succeeded in pitching a book proposal to Regan Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. (Regan Books also published Stupid White Men; a recent ad in The New York Times featured both books, with the tagline: "We Publish. You Decide.")
Clarke suggested bringing Hardy on board because the book had to be done in a hurry.
"We wrote the first draft in 17 days," Hardy says. "There were days when I'd start working at 6 or 7 in the morning and knock off at 11 at night."
The final product, at 207 pages not including notes and sources, looks at Moore's early career troubles at Mother Jones magazine and while working for Ralph Nader; exposes some of the chronological and editing tricks Moore plays when making his documentaries; and attempts to retort many of Moore's arguments. It includes articles by other authors who take on Moore, including former New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan.
The book's success has come as a pleasant surprise to Hardy, even if the attention has proved time-consuming.
"I figured it might go big," Hardy says. "I didn't have any idea it might be like this. I need a little time to rest and practice law, people!"