By Neil Smith
BBC News Online
Bestselling author and Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore is in the UK to continue his one-man crusade against President George W Bush.
Moore lambasted George W Bush at the Oscars
Appearing at the London Palladium on Sunday, the Bowling for Columbine director was supposed to read passages from Dude, Where's My Country?, the follow-up to his international bestseller Stupid White Men.
But faced with not one but two sell-out houses, Moore instead launched into one of his trademark rants against President Bush and the ongoing conflict in Iraq.
He greeted his audience as "fellow members of the coalition of the willing" - a sarcastic reference to the US-led coalition forces in the Gulf.
He went on to pour scorn on UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom he described as the "enabler" who legitimised Bush's campaign.
"Bush is an idiot - what's Blair's excuse?" he railed. "What did Bush promise him, a gas station in Iraq?"
"You can't invade a country to instil democracy," he continued. "We're in a war without end right now."
Those who have read Stupid White Men - a good-humoured rant against the state of the American nation that won top prize at this year's British Book Awards - will recognise such tirades.
But familiarity with his prose does not make this baseball-capped crusader any less vituperative - or entertaining - in the flesh.
This is the man who took Charlton Heston to task for his endorsement of the National Rifle Association in his documentary Bowling for Columbine, and who used his subsequent Oscar acceptance speech to lambast President Bush.
Michael Moore in Cannes this year
Bemoaning what he calls America's "system of enforced ignorance", Moore warned the UK against "becoming like us" and told his supporters to reject any laws that would make Britain "a meaner society".
And in a protest against corporate culture, he jokingly tried to remove a banner behind him advertising the mobile phone network sponsoring his London appearance.
Anyone walking past the Palladium on Sunday would have been forgiven for thinking a rock star was in town, judging from the commotion this portly American satirist provoked.
By one entrance, activists exhorted Americans abroad to vote for Democratic challenger Wesley Clark. By another, the Stop the War coalition outlined their plans to disrupt President Bush's forthcoming visit to the UK.
There was no doubting where Moore stood on the election issue, having already promised to spend his Bush-sanctioned tax cut trying to unseat him.
His abhorrence of right ring politics extended to the Conservative Party, which he described as a "dying dinosaur".
A member of the audience upbraided him later, saying there were plenty of people who still supported the Conservatives. "Name five!" Moore fired back.
A rowdy question and answer session brought out both the best and worst in Moore. His snappy comebacks were always amusing, but his impatience with some of his more verbose inquisitors betrayed a reluctance to be drawn into genuine political debate.
However, with Dude, Where's My Country? racing up the book charts and a new film on the way - Fahrenheit 911, a look at America in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks - he looks sure to be a thorn in the establishment's side for some time to come.