The movie begins by suggesting that friends and political allies of George W. Bush at Fox News Channel tilted the election of 2000 by prematurely declaring Bush the winner. It then suggests the handling of the voting controversy in Florida constituted election fraud.
Ce film est un documentaire critique de la société américaine qui tente de répondre à cette question : « Pourquoi le nombre d'homicides par arme à feu est-il proportionnellement plus élevé aux États-Unis que dans les autres pays ? ». Le titre fait référence à la fusillade du lycée Columbine à Littleton (Colorado) en 1999 où 12 lycéens et un professeur sont assassinés par deux de leurs camarades.
Plus d'un tiers des enfants et des adolescents américains ont un problème de poids. Deux adultes sur trois aux États-Unis d'Amérique sont atteints de surcharge pondérale ou d'obésité. Comment les États-Unis sont-ils devenus aussi gros ? Les chaînes de restauration rapide sont souvent montrées du doigt mais plusieurs procès qui leur ont été intentés par des clients devenus obèses ont été perdus faute de preuves.
The film begins with a series of security footages of armed bank robberies (one of the robbers was on a crutch) accompanied by the song Louie, Louie. Moore then uses an Encyclopædia Britannica archive video to compare and view modern-day America with the Roman Empire, by juxtaposing depictions of the fall of the Roman Empire with similar modern-day American issues. The film then depicts home videos of families being evicted from their homes, as well as the "Condo Vultures," a Florida real estate agency whose business flourished with the increasing number of foreclosures.
The documentary is split into five parts. It begins by examining how Iceland was highly deregulated in 2000 and the privatization of its banks. When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and AIG collapsed, Iceland and the rest of the world went into a global recession.
Michael Moore begins by introducing himself and his family through 8 mm archival home movies; he describes himself as the Irish American Catholic middle-class son of a General Motors employee assembling AC spark plugs. Moore chronicles how GM had previously defined his childhood in Flint, Michigan, and how the company was the primary economic and social hub of the town. He points out that Flint is the place where the Flint Sit-Down Strike occurred, resulting in the birth of the United Auto Workers. He reveals that his heroes were the Flint natives who had escaped the oppressive life in GM's factories, including "Flint's most famous native son," game show host Bob Eubanks.
The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The documentary concentrates mostly upon North American corporations, especially those in the United States. One theme is its assessment of corporations as persons, as a result of an 1886 case in the United States Supreme Court in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite led to corporations as "persons" having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.