MIchael Moore Photograph by Martin Schoeller
Daniel Fierman
January 20, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Michael Moore made our 2004 Entertainers of the Year list

Michael Moore hasn’t gotten his IRS audit. Yet. But if it comes, he’s pretty sure it’ll be long, detailed, and extremely painful.

”I hope Bush has a sense of humor,” says the Fahrenheit 9/11 director, with a rolling chuckle. ”But I guess I need to be forming my legal team. Or at least make sure they can get tickets to Guantánamo. Can you fly commercial there?”

A better question: Has any filmmaker ever been able to joke about a feud with a president quite like that? Michael Moore defined artistic fearlessness in 2004, a long year that sulked in the long shadows of war. Spitting in the face of pussycat liberal stereotypes, Fahrenheit 9/11 was a slashing, merciless polemic against the Bush White House. The war in Iraq. The president. The Saudi royal family. Crying mothers and Congress. Nothing was off limits. And if detail got shaded here or there, Moore didn’t care. The man was on a mission. Sure he published a string of best-sellers, stumped for Kerry, and even toured colleges, promising students ramen noodles and underwear if they’d vote. But it was Moore’s blistering-hilarious-infuriating movie that definitively elevated him, winning the Palme d’Or, grossing a record $220 million worldwide, and transforming the roly-poly fathead from Flint into a shining avatar of the left.

”The thing about this film is that it didn’t matter who was going to be president. The issues that it raises were still going to be with us the day after the election,” says Moore. ”The relevance of the film hasn’t gone away. In fact it’s probably more relevant now, because the main character has received a sequel.”

To a huge chunk of America, he may always be the loudest man in the room. He may pick ugly fights. He may possess a hearty appetite for exploitation and self-promotion. But after 2004, Michael Moore has proved he’s got a set of cast-iron cojones.

Now all he needs is a topflight accountant.

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