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'Fahrenheit 9/11' fans welcome hero to hotbed

Page 2 of 2 -- But yesterday's North End event was meant to be lower-key than all that, Moore insisted.

''What you have to say is far more important than anything I have to say, because you saw it firsthand," he told the handful of Iraq veterans among the antiwar activists and passersby who had gathered to listen to him in the shady North End park. ''I'd like to hear what you have to say. It's just weird here with all these cameras."

Low-key doesn't happen for Moore since his film was released a month ago. When he and his wife pulled into a restaurant parking lot in a small town in northern Michigan last week to switch drivers, they were waylaid by patrons, Moore said. The changeover took ten minutes. The pesky nobody of ''Roger & Me" -- Moore's debut film, which chronicled his attempts to confront General Motors boss Roger Smith about the closing of a factory in the filmmaker's town of Flint, Mich. -- is gone. These days, he travels with a posse that includes several edgy security guards who talk into their sleeves.

But he'll take the high profile, Moore said, and the role of outspoken Bush critic. The more successful ''Fahrenheit 9/11" is, the more likely it is that Bush will lose the election, he said yesterday.

And so, standing on the cobblestones in the North End, a green Michigan State Spartans cap on his head, the rumpled Moore was both bomb-thrower and healer -- playing loudly to the cameras, and quietly consoling the veterans and families.

''There has been a continuous coverup by the United States," one tall, sandy-haired Iraq veteran told him. He had seen members of his own Marine unit kill innocent Iraqis, he said. ''Civilians are being killed indiscriminately."

''Well, first of all," Moore told him gently, ''you and the other troops need to know that you were put into a bad situation, and this is not your fault, and you need to know that . . . When you send otherwise good people off to war, and it's a war based on a lie, then you have bad things happen."

But then the other Moore kicked in.

''Where is our media?" he boomed, upbraiding the dozen or so reporters gathered around him. ''When are they going to do their job and ask the hard questions? . . . I wish somebody here, and there are a ton of them here, would take this man aside when we're done, and ask him about this."

Even Muskat, standing at Moore's right shoulder, was impressed with that.

''Thank you for speaking out," he told the filmmaker. 

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