Moore’s ability to score political points can be subtle and refreshing in his work.
At Hakkasan, it seems merely peevish. Our waiter recommends beef ribs and dim sum to start. When the ribs arrive, Moore helps himself, chews carefully, then says: “Just by taking that bite, I’m now prohibited from donating blood to the US Red Cross. Why did you feed cows to your cows?”
In fact, he has eaten British beef before today, so I can’t be blamed for the loss to American first aid.
Moore wears a T-shirt, jeans and long whiskers. His hair, unrestrained by the customary baseball cap, sweeps forward in a great waving mass.
In the dark restaurant, it’s hard to see his expression except when he plays with his plate – which he does a lot.
This reflects light from below on to his face, an alarming effect that only increases my discomfort as he launches into a painful critique of contemporary journalism.
This has been provoked by my rather craven observation that few journalists inquire as bravely as Moore does.
(One episode I have in mind is his visit to the home of a sinister figure who sleeps with a loaded Magnum under his pillow, momentarily holds a gun to his head and tells Moore: “The pen is mightier than the sword – but you always must keep a sword handy.”)
h1. Too readily, Moore agrees that most journalists are deficient
In a booming voice, he urges me to look up old newspaper stories about Enron.
Few, he assures me, were the least bit probing: “Journalists go to see companies. They say: ‘So tell me, how were your earnings this quarter? Any new products you want to talk about? You’re going to split your earnings? What a brilliant idea!’”
Others who fail to ask questions are the products of American schools, which teach “complacency and conformity”.
Well, that’s what Moore says – but he’s blessed with sufficient numbers of independently minded Americans to constitute a large market for his work.
His latest book, Stupid White Men, has already spent seven months on the New York Times bestseller list.
“I’m more in the mainstream than you might believe,” he confides.
Moore was born in the mid-1950s in Flint, Michigan, to a working-class family of Irish-Americans. At school he launched several newspapers, each one swiftly closed down by the nuns who taught him.
He didn’t go to university – and a good thing too, he says, because that’s where people learn inflexible habits of mind:
If you put yourself in cement, you can’t move.
He was 35 when he made his first feature-length film, Roger and Me, an indictment of General Motors.
“To make it, I sold everything. My wife thought it was crazy, but she let me because she’s an artist herself.” (Kathleen Glynn has produced all her husband’s film and TV work. They have a daughter, aged 21.)
So what happened?