It may well be true that anyone willing to pay $9.50 to see Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" has already decided to vote for John Kerry for president this November. Partisans of George W. Bush don't tend to like Moore to begin with, and most of the undecided will likely opt for less political cinema fare.

But if Democratic loyalties are what got them in the door, it was the movie that prompted the outburst of sustained applause we witnessed at a Monday showing in Framingham. Others have noted the same reactions at other area theaters: applause, tears and heated discussions, sometimes going on long enough that cinema employees had to clear the auditorium.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" makes no claim to objectivity, fairness or balance. Moore is an advocate, even a propagandist, not a journalist. He picks and chooses facts and images to make his case. There are cheap shots in the film, to be sure. But for all the howls from the defenders of the Bush Administration, it's hard to find an outright falsehood.

The movie's greatest weakness is in its implications of conspiracy. By connecting Bush and members of his family and administration so closely to the oil industry, defense contractors and Saudi royals, Moore gives simple greed too large a role in Bush's foreign policy blunders. We would ascribe a greater role to ineptness and ideological myopia. But Moore isn't wrong to point out the connections. Never has an administration been so dominated by the petroleum industry, and never has a family of presidents been so financially entangled with foreign rulers.

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