To strains of “You’re Still The One,” Senator Edward Kennedy exited stage left, surrounded by family–heading to a tribute at Boston Symphony Hall. “The only thing we have to fear,” he told the cheering crowd, “is four more years of George Bush….We will retire Cheney to an undisclosed location.”

Across the river, earlier in this afternoon, Michael Moore nearly caused a riot when some 3,000 people descended on the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge for a confab with America’s hottest film-maker. Earlier that day, some Bush spokesman had called Moore “the leader of the hate and vitriol celebrity.” Two thousand people were turned away by the organizers–the Campaign for America’s Future–but they soon gathered on a side street outside the hotel, awaiting Moore’s arrival later that afternoon.

Inside the hall, Moore enthralled the crowd with tales of Dale Earnhardt Jr, tirades against the corporate media, jabs at Disney and its honcho Michael Eisner, advice for John Kerry and a warning to Ralph Nader.

Check out these riffs:

* “The true patriots are those who think it’s important to ask tough questions. The villain of my film is George W. but the unstated villains are the national media. My film outs them as shills for the Bush Administration, as people who were cheerleaders for the Bush Administration, as journalists who fell asleep on the job. We the people need you in the media to ask the tough questions. Don’t be afraid of being called un-American. It’spro-American to ask the tough questions.”

* “Whether they use labels or not, most Americans in their heart are either liberal or progressive. It’s only a minority who hate. The people running this country are not patriots, they’re hatriots.”

* “I predict that we’ll see the largest percentage of people voting in our lifetime. It’s cool now to talk about politics.”

* “Dale Earnhardt Jr took his crew to see Fahrenheit 9-11 to prepare for a big race and then he said all of America should see this movie. Hope Bush wasn’t eating pretzels watching that race.”

* “Here’s my plea to John Kerry and the Democrats. You will not win this election by being wimpy, weak, by failing to stand up for your convictions. Only way this is going to happen is if you stand up for what you believe, stand for a liberal/progressive agenda. If you move to the right you’ll encourage millions to stay home.”

* A word about Ralph (hisses in the hall)…”Yes, Republicans do love Ralph. Just came from Michigan and Ralph gathered fifty thousand signatures–forty-three of those gathered by Michigan Republicans…Ralph, you already did your job. The Democratic party of 2004 is not the Democratic Party of 2000. They got it. Howard Dean carried on and so did Dennis Kucinich…they helped push Dems to liberal/progressive side. Even the Al Gore of 2004 is not the Al Gore of 2000. My appeal to the Nader voters and Green voters…you have a different job to do this year. What you are doing is so misguided, so uncool. I wouldn’t have Dems spend any time attacking Nader. They should be giving those people reasons to vote for Kerry.”