You knew it would come to this.

On Thursday, former House GOP leader Tom DeLay called filmmaker Michael Moore a “plus-sized publicity hound” who is “chicken” because the controversial helmer canceled a skedded appearance this Sunday on a talker to debate health care issues, the subject of his “Sicko.”

ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous” had arranged the debate. But according to DeLay,

Moore refused to provide a copy of the doc so that the ex-lawmaker could see it in advance and then cancelled without explanation.

“Guess he didn’t expect anyone to seriously take him on,” DeLay wrote on his Web site. “Had I known he was this chicken, I would have accepted on the spot, but at least I can spare myself the agony of watching one of his mockumentaries. Bottom line: his movies, his politics, and his incessant bullying are all an act.”

Moore replied that the debate was originally set up with Billy Tauzin, a former congressman who is now head of the enormously influential pharmaceuticals industry lobby.

“Instead of informing the viewers that Mr. Tauzin would not debate me and allowing me on the air, [ABC] proposed a debate with Tom Delay, a man who currently has nothing to do with the specific issues raised in the film Sicko and is under indictment,” Moore said in a statement. “We will be happy to debate Delay in whatever prison he ultimately relocates to and allow ABC to cover that debate — but with regards to this weekend we would certainly not agree to his demands that he be given a digital copy of the movie.”

—By William Triplett in Washington.

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