PAULA ZAHN NOW
Interview With Condoleezza Rice; Interview With Senator John Kerry
Aired September 9, 2003 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Welcome. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Coming up: our interview with Condoleezza Rice on a day when many American troops learned they will be staying in Iraq much longer than planned.
I'll also be talking with Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry about his competition, including front-runner Howard Dean.
Plus, a former president reflect on his wartime memories -- more of my exclusive interview with George H.W. Bush.
And Bill Maher takes aim at the California's governor's race.
It has been a bloody day in the Middle East, six people killed, at least 50 wounded, when a suicide bomber attacked a cafe in West Jerusalem tonight. Hamas has claimed responsibility for that attack. The extremist group also claimed responsibility for an earlier suicide attack in Tel Aviv, when seven people were killed. Hamas says both attacks were in response to Israeli crimes against Palestinians.
And a federal judge says lawsuits holding United and American Airlines partly responsible for the September 11 attacks can now move forward. The ruling also extends to cases against Boeing and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and owners of the World Trade Center. Plaintiffs say the airlines should have done a better job of preventing the attacks. An appeal is expected.
And we learned more today about U.S. involvement in postwar Iraq. On Capitol Hill, Pentagon officials defended President Bush's $87 billion spending request. And the Army is telling National Guard and Reserve troops they will remain in Iraq for a full 12 months longer than many of them had expected.
A little bit earlier today, I discussed Iraq and other issues with the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. And I started off by asking her about the president's $87 billion request to help pay for the war effort and rebuilding in Iraq.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It's a large amount of money, and the president has said that.
But you cannot put a price on freedom and you can't put a price on security. And Iraq is now the central front in the war on terrorism. It is a place where we must win. It is a place where we are resolute. And when we win in Iraq, when Iraq becomes stable and prosperous, we will be paid back many, many times over in terms of a different kind of Middle East, in terms of security for the region, and, most importantly, in terms of security for the American people.
ZAHN: Dr. Rice, what do you say to critics of the Bush administration's post-Iraq plan who say that, in fact, the war created an environment that made it very easy for terrorists to come into Iraq, and you created a problem that didn't even exist before?
RICE: It's true that some terrorists seem to be making their way to Iraq, because they understand that, if we win in Iraq and we have a stable and prosperous Iraq, that that is seriously going to undermine their terrorist activities and seriously going to make it very difficult for them to fight in the war on terror.
The president said a long time ago, all the way back shortly after September 11, that we were going to fight this war on the offense, we were going to take it to the territory of the terrorists. And if we can defeat the terrorists in Iraq, which we will, they will be seriously harmed and hurt and America will be a much more secure place.
ZAHN: Dr. Rice, you just brought up the issue of weapons of mass destruction, a subject that was -- at least the search for them -- conspicuously absent from the president's speech on Sunday night. It has been four months since combat operation have ceased. The search for weapons has gone on. None have been found. Why didn't the president bring the American public up to date on that search?
RICE: The president did mention weapons of mass destruction. It was a key reason that we went to war, given this dictator's possession of them in this very volatile region.
But the process now of understanding the weapons programs, understanding what became of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, is currently under way. David Kay, a former U.N. weapons inspector, is out heading an effort to go through all of the documentation, which is voluminous. There are many documents. There are many people to be interviewed. There's physical evidence to be assembled.
And the president told David Kay: Take your time. Put this together in a coherent fashion, so we have a true picture of this problem.
ZAHN: Finally tonight, I had a conversation with former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix on Sunday. And he said it is his belief that, in fact, the Iraqis could have been telling the truth that they destroyed weapons of mass destruction back in the early '90s.
RICE: It was the assessment of those very U.N. inspectors, the assessment of intelligence agencies around the world, the assessment of three U.S. administrations, that this was somebody who had them, had used them, and was continuing to pursue weapons of mass destruction. And so I just find it hard to believe that Saddam Hussein went to all that trouble to conceal the truth.
ZAHN: So are you fairly confident that weapons of mass destruction will ultimately be found in Iraq?
RICE: I'm quite confident that the president, going in, had strong intelligence.
Most importantly, though, we have done the world a tremendous favor by getting rid of this tyrant, whose aggressive intentions in the Middle East were demonstrated by his repeated wars on his neighbors. And the Iraqi people no longer have to worry about mass graves and torture prisons. This is a new day for Iraq. And when we succeed in reconstructing and stabilizing Iraq, it will be a new day for the Middle East, and therefore a new day for security for America and the rest of the world.
ZAHN: Dr. Condoleezza Rice, thanks so much for dropping by tonight.
RICE: Thank you very much, Paula. Good to be with you.
ZAHN: We appreciate your time. Thanks.
ZAHN: And we turn now to the presidential race and Senator John Kerry. We spoke with him from Baltimore as he got ready for tonight's debate with eight other Democrats, among them, Howard Dean, who, according to "The Boston Globe," now enjoys a 12-point lead over Kerry in the key primary state of New Hampshire. And last night on this program, Dean said he would withdraw half the U.S. troops in Iraq right now if he were commander in chief and replace them with international forces.
Well, we asked Senator Kerry whether Mr. Dean's numbers are at all realistic.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think that either President Bush or Howard Dean have proven that they approached this correctly or have the experience, frankly, to be able to protect America as well as we can be.
I think that what we need to do is bring the United Nations in, in a much more significant way and not make promises we can't keep. We need to internationalize this effort and reduce the numbers of American troops as rapidly as possible. But you have to first begin the process of building a real coalition, Paula. You have to go to the United Nations and not just demand that they -- or ask them to ante up troops and treat Iraq as if it was a prize.
Iraq is not a prize. It's a country. And we need to work with the community of nations in order to transition from an American occupation into a United Nations global effort to share the burden of fighting terror. Real leadership knows how to do that. And I know precisely what we need to do to do it. And I am not going to make phony promises to the American people.
ZAHN: You will not support, then, the president's request for an additional $87 billion?
KERRY: Paula, I will do what's necessary to support our troops. And I will particularly do what is necessary to achieve our goals in Iraq.
But I'm not going to just give a blank check to $87 billion without assurances from the president that he will do the things diplomatically that best protect our troops and best strengthen our country, and also without assurances that he's going to be fiscally responsible at home and roll back some of the tax cut or do some things, rather than just run up the debt of our nation.
I think we have an irresponsible tax cut today that is saddling our children with debt. We need to do a better job of being fiscally responsible. And the president needs to show us how he's going to do that, as we do the things necessary to be successful in Iraq.
ZAHN: What kind of strategy are you using going into tonight's debate? How do you plan to cut into Howard Dean's lead?
KERRY: Well, I already am.
I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing. You tell the truth. You have better policy. I'm going to provide protection to the middle class of America. He wants to get rid of the entire tax cut that President Bush put in, which means taking away the child credit, tax credit. It means taking away the tax break to people at the low end of the income scale, teachers and construction -- folks that are struggling, waiters, waitresses.
I don't want to do that. I want to protect the middle class. And I think, as people begin to focus, I'm going to continue to grow. I feel very confident about it.
ZAHN: You certainly can't be comfortable with the leads he enjoys at this moment, not only in his fund-raising efforts, but in a whole variety of polls that have been done in the last couple of weeks.
KERRY: Paula, actually, I'm very comfortable.
I have only just gone on TV. I've only just announced. In one week, I cut his lead in half. I'm ahead in one national poll. But the polls aren't what's important. What's important right now is, who is ready to be president of the United States? Who is ready to lead America? And who can make our country stronger and safer and more secure?
I'm going to provide health care to every American. I'm going to make sure we fund our education system. And I can guarantee you that, if I'm president of the United States, we will go to the United Nations before, not after, and we will protect the interests of America and the world the way a president ought to.
ZAHN: Senator Kerry, you say you are heartened by some of your ability to cut into Howard Dean's lead. Why is it that you think that he enjoys the level of support he does today?
KERRY: Well, Paula, I think you and other reporters need to catch up to the story, actually.
The fact is that we're doing very well. I have very strong organization on the ground in Iowa, very strong in New Hampshire. I haven't spent the money on television he has. Television is a very powerful instrument, as you know. We're beginning to do what I want to do and what we need to do. And I'm very, very confident about my campaign.
ZAHN: And I know you're very busy, because you're heading off to the debate tonight. Thanks so much for joining us in advance of that debate.
KERRY: Glad to be with you. Thank you very much.
ZAHN: Appreciate your time, Senator Kerry.
ZAHN: Still ahead: our exclusive interview with George H.W. Bush. The former commander in chief speaks candidly on sending U.S. men and women into war.
And, in another exclusive, former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix says the United States used the wrong reason for going to war in Iraq.
We'll be right back.
ZAHN: Former President George Bush fought in World War II. His plane was shot down in 1944. He was the only member of his three-man crew to survive. Nearly 50 years later, as president, he ordered U.S. forces to put their lives on the line in the first Gulf War.
In an exclusive interview with the former president, we talked politics, of course, but he also opened up about his experiences in both wars.
ZAHN: When you reflect on the deployments you were involved with, is there a part of that experience that is still very raw for you?
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My own experience? Well, yes. There's so much of it that's totally rewarding and exciting, and friendships made, and the feeling you're doing something important. But there's a -- in my life, I guess the most traumatic was when I was shot down and lost my two crewmen. I mean, that stays with you.
But it is nothing -- that personal hurt is nothing compared to what a lot of Marines go through, a lot of other people in the Navy go through. The experience is much more difficult than my one hit, you might say.
ZAHN: And how about the deployments you were involved with when you were commander in chief?
BUSH: Well, that was entirely different, because I wasn't being shot at. I felt I was at times, but I wasn't -- and -- with all respect for the press.
And it's entirely different than when you're a little 19-year-old kid serving your country, doing what you were told, doing your duty -- duty, honor, country. But in president, you have the responsibility, the overall responsibility, for all of those troops under your command. But I had a feeling of anxiety when I was president. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and call the situation room in the White House and said, have you heard from such and such a battle, or where these troops are and tanks are now, during Desert Storm or during Panama?
And I felt it physically, pains through my shoulders, think, God, I hope this goes well. So it's a different emotion than when you yourself are doing your duty.
ZAHN: How isolating of an experience is it as president to send troops off to war?
BUSH: Well, it's isolated only in the sense it's only the president that can do that. You can't do it by committee. You can't say, we had a 4-3 vote whether we're going to go into Iraq or go into whatever it is.
And so there's a sense of finality. The buck does stop on the president's desk when it comes to committing troops. But, in my case, I never felt isolated, because I was blessed with a strong team. And that team was so good. And if there was dissent, they would talk about it and kind of work it out.
ZAHN: Do you miss politics at all?
BUSH: No, I don't. I honestly don't. And I don't like the idea of a campaign year coming up. I can't -- I just can't have my heart in it like I used to.
ZAHN: Why is that?
BUSH: I used to like camp -- age, old age, you know what I mean? And... ZAHN: No, I really don't, because you're about to jump out of an airplane again and parachute and freefall.
BUSH: Well, no, but it's out and it's been there.
If I were flying an airplane across this country now, and I looked down at someplace, and I said, was I actually there? Did Barbara and I actually go to the plowing contest in this town? Or did we go to that strawberry festival outside of some place in Florida? Or did we go to the corn bake that Ralph Regula puts on outside of Canton, Ohio?
And I find it hard to realize that I did all that campaigning in every state and all across this country for 20-some years, starting back in 1979 through 1992. And I don't miss it. And yet, you never feel you have done enough. You want to try to help people, but my heart's not in it. My heart's not there.
I don't miss -- I've got a great excuse not to give my opinion on the Middle East or not to give my opinion on Korea, because anything I wrote, somebody would go rushing down to -- you would call your guy in downtown Washington and say, go ask the president. His nutty dad said this.
So it makes it easy for me not to be opining all the time. But I must confess that, sometimes, I miss making decisions that are important, that might affect the lives of other people. But that is inconsequential compared to the fact that I know by staying out of the limelight, not signing joint letters, not going to the yellow-pad conferences, I'm supporting the president in the best way I can.
ZAHN: We also asked the president what role he might play in his son's campaign. And he said, that's basically up to his son and the folks that are strategizing that, though he'll do whatever they ask of him.
Before the war, Saddam Hussein said Iraq had destroyed all of its weapons of mass destruction, but there is no proof. Coming up in part two of an exclusive interview, Hans Blix offers his take on what may have happened.
And a little bit later on, it's no holds barred from Bill Maher -- my conversation with him when we come back.
ZAHN: After 9/11, the U.S. launched the war on terror in Afghanistan. The goal was to get rid of terrorists and keep them from using it as a base of operations. But two years later, much of Afghanistan remains unstable.
Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour has more in part two in a series of reports.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just an hour north of Kabul, it's so rural, donkeys, not trucks, carry rocks for the homes that villagers are busy trying to rebuild.
After the U.S. toppled the Taliban two years ago, Saed Mushtaba (ph) heard the world's promise to rebuild his country. And he rushed back to his village with his wife and seven children to do his part.
"We've been living like this for about a year," he says. "We're hoping to finish our house as soon as possible. We hope that it will be built."
(on camera): Two years after the United States kicked the Taliban out of power, many of the villages in Afghanistan still look like this one. Back then, the U.S. and the international community made big promises to rebuild this country. But so far, that seems more like rhetoric than reality.
For instance, Afghanistan gets $75 per person per year in foreign aid, while countries such as Rwanda, Bosnia, or Kosovo, get more than double that amount.
PAUL BARKER, CARE INTERNATIONAL: Most countries receive between $195 and $325 per person. So, on that sort of ratio, we're getting short-changed in Afghanistan. It's not nearly enough.
AMANPOUR: President Bush promised something like a Marshall Plan, something like a Marshall Plan, for this country. Do you see any evidence of that?
BARKER: I wouldn't call anything the scale of what we're having now a Marshall Plan.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Remember, this is the country the U.S. promised to rebuild in order to deny terrorists ever again using it as a base.
Afghanistan's straight-talking finance minister:
ASHRAF GHANI, AFGHAN FINANCE MINISTER: I've made no bones about this. I've going to be very direct about it. The international community has not been generous to us. It's actually been quite stingy; $4.5 billion is a drop in the bucket.
AMANPOUR: That was the initial sum pledged over five years. This is what the U.S.-backed Afghan president says he needs.
HAMID KARZAI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT: Our estimate is between $15 billion to $20 billion.
AMANPOUR (on camera): What are the risks if the Afghan people don't get the kind of reconstruction that that kind of money can pay for? KARZAI: The risks are that Afghanistan will go back into the hands of terrorists, into chaos, into despair. And we are not going to allow that. We must respond to the needs of the Afghan people.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): In two years, some of those have been met. Four million children are now in school; 35 percent of those are girls, who were banned from school under the Taliban. Private construction is booming. And laborers are now being paid $2 a day, up from $1 last year.
Kabul is full of small businesses. But large-scale reconstruction of desperately needed major infrastructure has barely begun. Kabul still has only intermittent electricity and clean- running water. As for the roads, they are a shambles, as even U.S. soldiers will confirm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a saying here in the (INAUDIBLE) We love our jobs, but the commute is hell.
AMANPOUR: Two years on, the Afghan people are getting frustrated. And that could backfire on President Karzai, especially during elections scheduled for next summer. In an effort to head off disaster, the Bush administration is now diverting $1 billion to Afghanistan.
DAVID SEDNEY, U.S. CHARGE D'AFFAIRES: Certainly, the Afghan people are looking for results. We're building schools and clinics in many areas of Afghanistan. But we need to do more. At the same time, our enemies, the Taliban, al Qaeda and others, are trying to use the fact that, in some areas of the country, they haven't seen those benefits as a weapon against the government and against the international community that supports it.
AMANPOUR: The most visible major project now under way, the important road from Kabul to Kandahar in the south. After two sluggish years, workers are now at it 24/7. President Bush himself has ordered the road finished by December.
(on camera): Is another $1 billion enough? Is that going to do it?
GHANI: Another $1 billion is a good start. But, no, it will not do it. We need, again, as I've indicated, a minimum of $15 billion.
AMANPOUR: And that will help Afghanistan become a poor country. Right now, it remains crippled and devastated and, perhaps, fertile ground again for terrorists looking for a safe haven.
Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Kabul.
ZAHN: Six months have passed since the end of the major fighting. Still, there is still no smoking gun. Coming up, in an exclusive interview, Hans Blix shares his opinions on what happened to Iraq's illegal weapons. I think our calendar was a little off there. Sorry, folks.
Speaking of opinions, we're also going to talk to the outspoken Bill Maher about the California governor's race.
Stay with us.
ZAHN: No smoking gun has been found in Iraq, but in the years between the two Gulf wars, much of the international community was suspicious that Iraq was not forthcoming about its weapons program. In part 2 of our exclusive interview with Hans Blix, I asked the former weapons inspector, Why the apparent deception on the part of the Iraqis?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANS BLIX, FORMER CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, they certainly gave what you would call full, final and complete reports, and they -- that should be one report that was full, final and complete. But in reality, UNSCOM pointed out that there were many errors in them, and they felt that they were being deceived. Some of it perhaps may be ascribed to the inadequate accounts in a developing country, but there was a lot of it. And it was certainly reasonable to have suspicions, and they did hide quite a lot, I mean, in terms of the biological weapons.
But the bigger question was, nevertheless, Did there remain any weapons of mass destruction at all? And that is the question that now seems to be answered in the negative. And we have to establish when did it disappear. In '91 is a possibility. Maybe it could have been a little later. But the -- '91 I think seems relatively plausible.
ZAHN: So sir, if one of your considerations is that Saddam Hussein did destroy these weapons of mass destruction in 1990 or '91, why is there no proof he did so?
BLIX: I still think it is a little puzzling that no documentation was left, and we told them so. And they said no. And then we said, Well, there must have been people, nevertheless, who took part in this. And they said yes, there were. And we said, Well, can't we interview these people? And we got some names, I think already in February, but just before the invasion in March, we were given large lists of people who they said these had transported the biological weapons or these had transported the chemical weapons, and these participated in the destruction.
So it was a remarkably detailed list of people. And I -- if we had continued with the inspections, then I think one of the priority things we would have done would have been to interview these people.
ZAHN: Are you glad Saddam Hussein is out of power?
BLIX: Absolutely. I mean, that, of course, is the great gain. If the U.S. and U.K. had come forward and said that, We would like to launch a war because the regime is so horrible, well, then everybody would have agreed. There was amble evidence of that. I assume that they wanted to persuade the U.K. people and the American people of going to war, and that they perhaps feared that they would not be able to persuade them if they stated the question marks that really existed.
ZAHN: Mr. Blix, thank you very much for joining us. We very much appreciate your time and your perspective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: So given that no weapons of mass destruction have been found yet in Iraq, would the country be better off today if Hans Blix had been allowed to finish the job? I'm joined now by two guests from Washington. We have Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Also from Washington is Joseph Cirincione, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment and director of its non-proliferation program. Good to see both of you. Welcome.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, SENIOR ASSOC., CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: Thank you.
DANIELLE PLETKA, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Thank you.
ZAHN: I'm going to start with you, Joe, tonight. Is it your belief that the United States and the rest of the world would be in any better position today had the inspections been allowed to continue?
CIRINCIONE: I think there's no question about it. If we had let the inspections continue, we would be far safer and more secure today than we are. Let me just recap for you what we expected to find, what our officials told us what was there, why we had to go to war back on March 19. We were told that we would find hundreds of tons of chemical and biological weapons, that we might find a nuclear program -- the president said he didn't know if Saddam had a nuclear weapon or not -- dozens of scud missiles, a growing fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles able to strike the United States, and operational links with al Qaeda.
We didn't find any of that. We've been there now six months, and that was preceded by four months of U.N. inspections, and U.S. troops have found nothing.
ZAHN: All right, but Joe...
CIRINCIONE: We have found no weapons of mass destruction.
ZAHN: Do you think if inspection teams were in there today, they would have found anything differently?
CIRINCIONE: Well, here's the worst-case scenario. If we had let inspections continue, where would we be? Saddam would still by in power. That's true. It doesn't solve the dictatorship problem. But that wasn't why we went in. He would be surrounded by tens of thousands of U.S. troops and hundreds of inspectors able to go anywhere. That would mean two things. We could be assured that Saddam would not be conducting any terrorist activities -- if he did, the hammer would surely come down -- and that there were no ongoing weapons of mass destruction programs. We'd be debating whether he was still hiding something in the desert or the ambiguity of what we were finding -- that is, the kinds of debates we are having now -- but we would not have 300 American dead, 3,000 American dead -- wounded, $187 billion bill coming due and a region in chaos. That's what we wouldn't have had.
ZAHN: Danielle, you got a lot to react to there. Why don't you just react to the overall premise, which -- obviously, Joe believes Hans Blix should have been allowed to go on with his job.
PLETKA: Well, you know, there are those who love process above all else, and that's really what the inspections were all about. It was about process. And at a certain point, we had to ask ourselves whether there were going to be any results. I think it's absolutely preposterous to insinuate that there was any reason to believe that Saddam didn't have a weapons program. All the evidence pointed to it. The last Security Council resolution before the war...
CIRINCIONE: Where is it?
PLETKA: Well, if I may finish? 1441 stated he had a program and that he was proliferating weapons of mass destruction. Where is it? No one would be happier than I if we had found, you know, a lovely pile of chemical weapons in the right place and biological weapons in the right place. At the end of the day, first of all, I don't think we know very much about the full extent of the program. I think David Kay has learned -- is learning about that, and I think one of the most important things is that they have become -- they've learned their lesson. They've stopped dribbling out pieces of information which are inconclusive, hard to understand, and they're collecting the information and trying to understand the sum total of the program. I think we're going to have to hold judgment until that point when David Kay makes his report.
But at the end of the day, the idea that somehow the people of the United States, not to speak of the people of Iraq, are better off -- would have been better off had Saddam Hussein been in place is just unacceptable.
CIRINCIONE: No, I don't think it's unacceptable at all. There are very vile men that we have to deal with who are in very vile governments. And if we had a program to try and overthrow those men, that's one thing. Perhaps we should have intervened in South Africa earlier and overthrown that apartheid regime. Perhaps we should have gone to the U.N., as Hans Blix said, and tried to encourage our other -- our allies to overthrow him because of the human rights violations. But we would have Saddam contained. The situation for the Iraqi people is terrible, and we had to do something about that, but the major problem was the threat he posed to America. The inspection regime was working. The cordon of troops around...
PLETKA: Joe, I just...
CIRINCIONE: Remember, tens of thousands... PLETKA: Joe, I don't understand...
CIRINCIONE: ... of troops. This isn't process. We had...
PLETKA: ... how you can say the inspection regime was...
CIRINCIONE: ... troops ready to invade...
PLETKA: ... working.
CIRINCIONE: ... should he make one false move.
ZAHN: All right...
CIRINCIONE: That process was working. We'd have fewer American dead today if we had let it work.
ZAHN: Danielle, you get the last word.
PLETKA: You know, first of all, I can't -- I don't understand how you can say the regime was working. Second of all, you never knew when Saddam Hussein was going to hand off whatever weapons he was going to hand off to a terrorist. People like you would be sitting there and saying the president should have done something. There are risks that before September 11 were manageable, and after September 11, they're unacceptable. And Saddam Hussein and his weapons program was one of them.
ZAHN: The debate rages on. I think your discussion tonight clearly reflects that. Danielle Pletka, Joseph Cirincione, I appreciate you dropping by.
Coming up: You may have heard that exercise is good for the heart, but what does it have to do with fighting cancer? We'll find out. And politically correct or not, he's never afraid to tell you what he really thinks. Bill Maher joins us. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: Some really interesting health news tonight. If you want to fight breast cancer, take a walk. That is the advice in the latest issue of the "Journal of the American Medical Association" just out tonight. It says older women who exercise moderately can significantly reduce the risk of getting breast cancer. Dr. Nancy Snyderman spent some 18 years as a medical journalist and is currently a vice president of Johnson & Johnson. She joins us from California. Always good to see you, Doctor.
DR. NANCY SNYDERMAN, VP, JOHNSON & JOHNSON: Oh, thanks, Paula. Good to see you.
ZAHN: Let's take a look at this study together and what the results show. You're not talking about a lot of exercise here. The JAMA study reports that 1.25 to 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week actually reduce breast cancer risk by 18 percent. Is that...
SNYDERMAN: Which is very cool.
ZAHN: ... all it takes to get some sort of protection against breast cancer?
SNYDERMAN: Paula, it doesn't take much. And what this study really says -- and this is -- these are the same people who brought us the concerning news last summer that hormone replacement therapy is linked to breast cancer. These are the same people who are now saying, Hey, look, there are benefits to just moderate exercise. You don't have to be in the gym. You don't have to be skinny. You don't have to be a super-athlete. What you need to do is get up and move. And they really looked at things like riding your bike, swimming and weight-bearing exercise, like walking is terrific. An hour-and-a-half to two hours a week is enough to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
ZAHN: What is it about the exercise that reduces our risk?
SNYDERMAN: There are a lot of things, but when you exercise, you increase your muscle mass. And when you increase the muscle in your body, you increase your metabolic rate. Now, a lot of the cancer- causing agents that are in our environment like to stay deposited in fat cells, and fat lingers around longer. But if you increase the ratio of muscle to fat, you burn off a lot of that fat over time, and the cancer-causing agents don't have a place to really hide. And remember, your heart is a muscle, so when you exercise, your heart gets work, your lung gets work, and you overall -- whether or not you drop a pound or two -- that's not the big concern -- you change how your body functions.
ZAHN: So Nancy, for anybody else out there who is obsessed with this, as I am, you hear the message moderate exercise has this dramatic impact. How about a lot of exercise?
SNYDERMAN: No data yet to show that a lot of exercise makes it any better. Now, certainly, thinner people are going to have fewer health risks, including cancer, especially cancer of the pancreas, cancer of the colon, now cancer of the breast. Thinner people are going to be at lest risk for those diseases than people who are carrying a lot of extra weight. But we're still waiting to see the data on younger women, women who exercise a lot.
But I think the real take-home message here is that you don't have to be crazy about exercise. Skip the elevator, get on the steps. Walk to the grocery store. Lock your car for the weekend. Simple ways that you literally get off your fanny and move may be enough to take care of your cancer risk in the future. It's a very, very simple equation, and I think one you cannot turn your back on.
ZAHN: We hear you, Doctor. Everybody's bolting from their sofas right now.
ZAHN: They're taking little walks around the block because of you.
SNYDERMAN: That's all it'll take, Paula.
ZAHN: Dr. Nancy Snyderman, thank you.
SNYDERMAN: You bet.
ZAHN: Coming up, a little face time from the host of "Real Time." I'm going to ask Bill Meyer -- Maher -- oh, he's going to kill me! I mispronounced his name -- Bill Maher what is so amusing about the California recall. And then a little bit later on, meet some runners who are still on the road, even though their hearts have been through the operating room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER")
BILL MAHER, HOST: Well, they had a rough week in Iraq, of course, with all the bombings and stuff. President Bush said today the trouble was caused by "al Qaeda-type" fighters. He said he can't say they're genuine al Qaeda because then Iraq's insurance rates go up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: A lot of material for Bill Maher these days. California's recall is also a dream come true for an equal opportunity offender like Bill Maher. Maher is helping to elevate the political debate, he says, with his new weekly show called "Real Time With Bill Maher" on HBO, which is a division of our parent company, AOL Time Warner.
He had a little extra time a short while ago and joined me from Los Angeles, and I asked him what he thinks is the funniest part of the recall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHER: Well, Arnold Schwarzenegger. You know, I love it that he got into this race thinking that he could just take it because he was the most famous and he had the most name recognition and he was a movie star. And you know, he slowly is talking his way out of the governorship because every time he opens his mouth, he says something pretty stupid.
ZAHN: Well, you're saying that because you kind of like Arianna Huffington.
MAHER: I love her. But even if I didn't love Arianna Huffington, Arnold Schwarzenegger would still be saying stupid things.
ZAHN: And what about the current governor of your state?
MAHER: Well, you know, I, like everybody else, not been a tremendous enthusiastic fan of Gray David. Saying you love Gray Davis is like saying your favorite food is straw, so I wouldn't go there. But I have been a vocal proponent of shooting down the recall because I think it's a ridiculous precedent. I think it's not what democracy is all about. I think if the Founding Fathers knew what was going on here, they would say, Screw it, we should have stuck to farming.
ZAHN: So one of your challenges on the show is to get everybody in America interested sometimes in the minutiae...
ZAHN: ... of the California recall. How do you do that? How do you make anybody care, outside of California, what this is all about?
ZAHN: We know what the political stakes are, and we know long term what could happen in California and the impact it can have electorally, but in the near term?
MAHER: Well, this one is easy because, you know, it's such a circus. You know, if a week goes by and there's not some new dumbass celebrity getting involved in it, you know, we're disappointed. Where's Tina Louise?
MAHER: She's alive...
ZAHN: I saw her last week, and she looked pretty good!
MAHER: Well, why isn't she in the race?
ZAHN: She's still alive.
MAHER: OK. Where's's Mini Me? Where's Larry Fortensky? Why isn't he in this race? I mean, we've got a laughingstock to run here. This is one of the easiest things to get people involved in. I mean, trying to get them up on malpractice caps or something, that's hard, but this one is a no-brainer. And as I say, having Arnold Schwarzenegger every day explain himself -- the other day, he was saying, you know, How can you say I'm against the Latinos? I made four movies in Mexico.
MAHER: I mean, come on!
ZAHN: He did say that. I know that.
MAHER: Hey, sombrero! You know, I mean, how can you argue with that? How can -- and now with bringing this racist stuff out, and he's saying -- I'm sure he's going to say, How could I be a racist because when I had my -- my group sex encounters with a black girl?
ZAHN: Ouch! Let's move on to what has piqued your interest nationally. Just curious, given what you had to deal with in "Politically Incorrect" and all the controversy surrounding that, whether you're any more careful with this show? Are you worried about saying anything that could be perceived as un-American? MAHER: Well, I think people in the last couple of years have settled on two sides of the debate. And there's a healthy bunch of people on this side that it is American, it is very pro-American to speak out and not necessarily to just blindly back what the administration is doing. They are, after all, political, and they make a lot of the decisions politically. And I think it's our job, when I'm sitting here, to point that out.
ZAHN: But it certainly is equal opportunity, in your mind, about your targets and how they go? Democrats...
MAHER: Oh, yes.
ZAHN: ... Republicans alike.
ZAHN: No one gets by unscathed.
MAHER: Nobody gets by. And you know -- and I'm the first to admit I'm off the cuff, and very often, I drive home and think, Boy, I said a stupid thing this week.
ZAHN: And sometimes you even beat up on the media, Bill!
MAHER: Oh, I knew you...
MAHER: I knew you couldn't...
ZAHN: Oh! Oh!
MAHER: ... help but go there, could you.
ZAHN: Well, you said something...
MAHER: Yes, I do.
ZAHN: ... on "LARRY KING" a couple weeks ago...
MAHER: Oh, God!
ZAHN: ... and you assigned something that -- to me that had nothing to do with me. It's like I was distancing myself from what was going on with the California recall.
MAHER: I feel like we're married.
ZAHN: Are we having one of those moments?
MAHER: We are!
ZAHN: Should we take a commercial break, so no one has to see where it goes from here?
MAHER: Yes, let's not fight in front of the kids.
ZAHN: OK, Bill. We'll leave it there. Always good to see you.
MAHER: But you know I'm a fan of yours, so...
ZAHN: I really appreciate that.
ZAHN: And it's a mutual admiration society.
MAHER: Thank you.
ZAHN: That's why it hurt so deeply, Bill, when you said that a couple weeks ago. OK, we'll continue our fight in the commercial break. Good luck with you. We'll be watching your show.
MAHER: All right. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Stay with us. Before we run out of time, meet a couple athletes who took on a 200-mile relay despite medical problems that would put anyone on the sideline.
ZAHN: It is remarkable to find anyone who's in good enough shape to take part in a 200-mile relay, but members of the Scar Trek teams have done more than train their wills and their bodies. Each one of them has overcome life-threatening medical problems and surgeries. Not only are they alive and kicking, in the relay, they actually take turns that average about 18 miles at a time, serving, they hope, as an inspiration to others. Wile the American Heart Association says moderate exercise is good for heart patients, what these runners do is above and beyond. Of course, before you get inspired, make sure you check with your physician, but you may well be inspired after you hear their stories.
Two members of Scar Trek, Andrew Karpless (ph) and team captain Kirk Rose join me from Eugene, Oregon. Congratulations, gentlemen.
KIRK ROSE, SCAR TREK TEAM CAPTAIN: Thank you.
ANDREW KARPLESS, SCAR TREK TEAM MEMBER: Thank you.
ZAHN: Welcome back to the world of elite athletes here. Andrew, tell us a bit about why you took up running after surgery. I know some members of your family thought you were nuts.
KARPLESS: Yes. I think I took it up because of the challenge and a chance -- I mean, Kirk and his friends asked me to be on the team, and I wanted to -- I've always been athletic, and I just wanted to experience that again and see that -- push my heart to the limit, kind of, with the new artificial valve that it had, and show that I could still do the things I used to do and even more. I had never run that fast before or that far before. So it was the excitement and the adventure.
ZAHN: And Kirk, as a result of open-heart surgery, you decided this would be a good way to come back. Did you have any concerns about how this might affect your health?
ROSE: Well, actually, I have been running since the second open- heart surgery, and competing in triathlons. So for me, it was probably the least amount of change from my normal activity. But yes, the first time out of the chute, so to speak, it was a big deal. But this time, it was more about getting these gentlemen together and having a team effort and sharing the types of things we went through, having had open-heart surgery, and being able to perform at the level that we performed.
ZAHN: Well, Kirk, you're so modest. I don't think you're going to make it clear to our audience exactly what you've had to confront since surgery. You've had some memory loss, some bouts with epilepsy. This has not been easy for you.
ROSE: Well, everybody in life has challenges, and hopefully, we can rise to them, and others will be inspired to do the same.
ZAHN: Andrew, you want to send the message tonight that anything is possible.
KARPLESS: Yes. I could have done more after my surgery than I did it before, and I'm so excited to have taken care of the heart problem, even though it was actually optional surgery. And so now it's history, and I look forward to a rich life continuing in the future.
ZAHN: Well, you're setting the bar very high for the rest of us. Kirk Rose, Andrew Karpless, thank you for sharing your stories with us tonight.
ROSE: You're welcome.
KARPLESS: Thank you very much, Paula.
ZAHN: We'll be rooting you on down the road.
And we wanted to thank you all for being with us tonight. If you have any questions about our new program, you can send them to me online at AOL keyword Paulazahnnow. And we want you to be back tomorrow night. Our guests will include Morgan Freeman, Norman Lear. George Pataki will also be joining us in advance of 9/11 to give us an idea of some of the issues the country he believes faces on the security front. But in the meantime, "LARRY KING LIVE" is next, Dan Rather his guest. We hope you have a good night. Thanks again for being with us tonight.
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