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Hurricane Isabel Strikes; Interview With Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage

Aired September 18, 2003 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Isabel rages ashore, damaging buildings, knocking out power and flooding coastal areas. What is the East Coast facing right now? And what about tomorrow, after the storm?
Public support for the continuing U.S. involvement in Iraq is down, as the costs increase and casualties continue to rise. We'll ask the No. 2 man at the State Department, Richard Armitage, if the Bush administration's plan for Iraq is working.

And the perils of the dieting spouse. Is the famous Atkins plan taking a toll on couples? What's good for the goose isn't necessarily good for the gander.

Good evening. Welcome. Glad to have you with us tonight.

Also ahead: Treasury Secretary John Snow says the Saudis have made real progress in cutting off the flow of money to terrorists, but have they? We're going to turn to one of the administration's top critics in the Senate, Charles Schumer.

And our exclusive series from the Korea's demilitarized zone. We're going to take you 50 feet from the North Korean border to spend a night with the 45 men who would be the first to fight if war were to break out.

As media giant Time Warner drops AOL from its name, we'll look at whether changing a name can really turn around a company's fortunes.

And America's obsession with reality entertainment from the people who brought you the cult favorite "Best in Show."

Now, here are the other headlines you need to know right now. There has been another deadly attack on U.S. forces in Iraq. Three soldiers from the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division were killed, two others wounded, in an ambush near Tikrit. Earlier, west the Baghdad, at least two U.S. soldiers were wounded when their vehicle drove over an explosive device and their convoy came until small-arms fire.

Now to Hurricane Isabel. We start in Virginia Beach tonight.

In Virginia, Jeanne Meserve standing by with the very latest from there -- Jeanne, good evening.


The seas have receded a little bit and the rain has let up, but, as you can see, the winds are still just blasting through here. I'm leaning into the wind with my full body weight and it's holding me up here, really quite intense. Conditions are so bad that the city of Virginia Beach has pulled its emergency workers off the street. Police, fire and EMS are not responding. Life-and-death situations are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

We've seen a lot of damage here. I wouldn't call it catastrophic, but it is extensive. There's a fishing pier down the road just a little bit. About 50 feet came off the end of it. The turbulent surf took it right down. One city official estimated, some of the waves underneath might be reaching as much as 20 to 25 feet.

There also, of course, has been problems with the water. Hampton Roads is a very low-lying community, much of it, 17 communities on or near the water. And they have seen a lot of flooding from all the rain and also from some of the overflow from the bay and the rivers and so forth. So it's been quite a nasty situation there.

The wind is the third element that everybody's having to contend with. And it has been taking off roofs. We saw it take off the hotel roof right next to us earlier today. A hotel just a couple buildings down from us looks like it's having some problems tonight, too. It's quite a severe situation. We had a conversation with someone up in the city of Norfolk. They told us that the emergency manager there is saying, in his 32 years on the job, these are the worst hurricane conditions he has ever seen in his city -- Paula, back to you.

ZAHN: Jeanne, I don't know whether you can hear me through the roar of the wind, but what can you tell us about power outages and then, of course, about this powerful storm surge that is expected?

MESERVE: Well, the power outages have been extensive. I have not been able to get a report for a little bit. But, at last report, it was 640,000 homes and businesses without power here.

Obviously, it is going to take them days and days to recover from this, although we know they had prepositioned crews, brought them in from other states, to help deal with the problem. They can't address it, however, until after the wind dies down, probably not really until the morning. As for the storm surge, they're still very worried about that. There is a seawall here. They've widened it, strengthened it, and so forth. It's built to withstand a nine-foot surge at low tide.

Fortunately, the tide has been going out. We'll see if it breaks over the seawall or not probably in not too long a time -- back to you, Paula.

ZAHN: Well, I hope you get yourself moored to something there. Jeanne Meserve, thank you very much for updating us on that.

And as Jeanne was doing her reporting, we have just learned that the federal government will have federal offices again shut down tomorrow, of course, those offices much further inland than where you saw Jeanne reporting from.

Now, we're going to turn our attention to Iraq. We're going to put this all in focus for you tonight. As we mentioned, three more Americans killed there today, as pressure mounts on the Bush administration. In a recent poll, 59 percent says the president does not have a clear plan for postwar Iraq. U.S. officials disagree.

Earlier, I spoke with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. I began by noting that President Bush said yesterday that there was no evidence Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. I asked him, why the turnaround?


RICHARD ARMITAGE, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: I've seen no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. And I never saw the president say that. He did go on to say, however, that there has been involvement of Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

ZAHN: In a "Washington Post" poll, there was an indication that some 70 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. Do you think they got there on their own or do you think it was the result of the message they got from the administration?

ARMITAGE: I think they probably got there because we do believe that Iraq was a terrorist state and we had been victims of a heinous terrorist event. And then they drew the conclusion on their own.

ZAHN: Now no connection to 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction. A lot of people believe the justifications for war are falling by the wayside.

ARMITAGE: There are about 24 million people in Iraq who don't quite agree with that. They're free from fear of a midnight knock on the door and the executions which befell so many of their countrymen.

On the question of weapons of mass destruction, in the not too distant future, David Kay will come back and issue as interim report to the Congress. And I think there will be satisfaction that Saddam Hussein did have a program and he was intent on a program of weapons of mass destruction.

And on the question of terrorism itself, there's no question that this was a terrorist state and did have a tie to al Qaeda, particularly through this fellow Zarqawi.

ZAHN: Let's come back to the point you were making about the gratitude that some 24 million Iraqi citizens have for the American presence in Iraq. Yet, at the same time, the Pentagon is telling reporters that the real threat in coming days is the threat that comes from Iraqis who don't want Americans there. Is that a potential nightmare scenario?

ARMITAGE: Well, I think that, as I understand it, about 85 percent of the Iraqi people do welcome the liberation and welcome up as liberators. There are certainly Baathist elements and recidivist elements who hate us and hate us for what we did to their power base. And we have to go out and rip those people out root and branch. And that's what the military is doing. ZAHN: You also mentioned a little bit earlier on that you were anxiously awaiting the report of David Kay. Where are these weapons of mass destruction? And are you fearful that they're hidden and that represents yet another threat to American soldiers?

ARMITAGE: As we now have liberated the country, I'm much less fearful than I was. I don't know where the weapons are.

We'll let Mr. Kay make his interim report and he can fill us all in. I think the question that you raise about the ability of Saddam Hussein to conceal weapons is a valid one. He had 12 years to practice this. And we found that he was even able to conceal MiG aircraft underground. So hiding weapons wouldn't be a great feat for him.

ZAHN: Vice President Cheney over the weekend said he believed the president had staked his presidency on this war on terror. Can the president win the war on terror without getting Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden?

ARMITAGE: Well, it's quite clear to me that Saddam Hussein has lost of affection of the Iraqi people and we can win this war without him.

It would be better to have him chased down. And I see our military commanders are talking to reporters quite often about their confidence that we will get him. The question of Osama bin Laden I think is a general matter. Most of us feel he's in the tribal area between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and he'll get his, too.

ZAHN: Does it drive you crazy that both of those men are still out there?

ARMITAGE: Look, I come to work every morning. I've got a lot of issues on my plate. We would be better off without them, but it doesn't drive me crazy. It's another issue that has to be dealt with.

ZAHN: I think everybody in America recognizes how sincere our troops' commitment is to our nation. But just on a personal level, does it get to you when you see these images and you hear these stories about another American soldier killed there?

ARMITAGE: It both gets to me in the human terms. And it also fills me with the most enormous sense of pride, seeing these young men and women who put themselves in harm's way. So I have a very mixed view of this, Ms. Zahn.

ZAHN: Understandably so.

I wanted to call attention to the latest CNN/"USA Today" poll, which found that 59 percent of Americans feels that the administration has no clear plan in Iraq. Is the United States losing the P.R. war at home?

ARMITAGE: Well, if that poll is an accurate one, then that would seem to indicate we are. But I think you'll see next week, as we approach Capitol Hill and have open hearings on our plans for reconstruction, you hear from our military commanders, you'll see that the situation is a little better than it's been portrayed.

ZAHN: Mr. Armitage, thank you so much for dropping by today. We very much appreciate your time.

ARMITAGE: Thank you, Ms. Zahn.


ZAHN: And there's some new allegations of Saudi ties to terrorists, even as the administration says the Saudis are making some real progress against terrorism. When we come back, we'll have reaction from Senator Charles Schumer.

Also ahead: If your spouse is on the Atkins diet, could it be making you sick?


ZAHN: More information is coming to light about Saudi Arabia's alleged ties to terrorists. A report in "The New York Times" yesterday cites U.S. and Israeli officials who estimate that more than half of Hamas' $10 million operating budget comes from people in Saudi Arabia. Now, that news comes as many U.S. lawmakers become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the Saudis.

One of those critics is Democratic senior Senator Charles Schumer of New York. He joins us this evening.

Always good to see you. Welcome, sir.


ZAHN: First of all, I want your reaction to what Treasury Secretary John Snow had to say in Saudi Arabia -- quote -- "Their close oversight of charities to guard against money laundering and terrorist financing sets an example to all countries engaged in the war against terror.

What kind of an example do you think Saudi Arabia sets?

SCHUMER: When I hear Secretary Snow say that, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The Saudis are the leading funders of terrorism, not just with Hamas, which was in yesterday's "New York Times," but with the whole infrastructure of the madrassas, the schools that teach this Wahhabi brand of Muslim, of Islam, this militant brand.

If you want to know why there are so many militants in Indonesia, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, that just hate us, it can be traced to Saudi funding. And the idea that they have stopped it just when Secretary Snow visited, when all the information is that that they have not, is ludicrous. ZAHN: Let me read one more think he had to say yesterday. He said -- quote -- "I've got an absolute sense from the Saudis that there are no holds barred in going after the money and the terrorists."

SCHUMER: I talked two days ago to one of our top intelligence officials. And he said it's well-known in American intelligence that, if there is somebody they want to question in Saudi Arabia because they have a purported link with terrorism, they cannot.

A week or two ago, it was reported that somebody in Saudi Arabia said he had talked to a terrorist, that they were going to use poison gas here in New York subways. We can't talk to them. They still can't talk to many of the families of the 19 hijackers. The Saudis just put the wall down. And I understand why. And the reason is very simple. They shook hands with the devil. They said to the militants, to the terrorists: Leave us alone in Saudi Arabia and we'll help you do whatever you want around the rest of the world.

And that deal fell apart on 9/11. The Saudis didn't realize it. It fell apart further when the bombing occurred in Riyadh. And they are beginning to make a few steps, but we can't -- but at this pace, it will be 10 years before they're helping us.

ZAHN: Treasury Secretary John Snow calls it significant progress. And let's highlight for our audience some of what has been done.

The Saudis are now prohibiting Saudi charities from sending money out of the country. They are prohibiting individuals from making anonymous wire transfers of cash.



ZAHN: Do you acknowledge that it is at least a step in the right direction?

SCHUMER: It is a step in the right direction, although my guess, knowing how the Saudis operate?

Whenever they're in the public spotlight, they back off in one area and then proceed in other areas. My guess is that, even after what Secretary Snow said, the money will proceed. It may not go by wire transfer. Maybe it will be in bags and airplanes. Who knows. But the link, the Saudi regime and terrorism is so intertwined by now that it takes more than just a few actions to uncouple it. It takes the will of the Saudi leadership. And that will is not there.

They're trying to escape some bad publicity, but they are not trying to fully cooperate.

ZAHN: Before we let you go, I want to talk about the junior senator from New York, Hillary Clinton. Yesterday, her husband, the former president, said in "The New York Sun" that the voters of New York City would forgive her if she cut short her Senate term to run for president.

If you're reading the tea leaves, what are you seeing here, sir? Is she about ready to jump ship?


SCHUMER: I don't think so.

I mean, look, I would trust Bill Clinton's word better than mine. But from everything I see, she's fully engaged in New York. She cares about New York. And the bottom line is very simple. I think that she feels that, right now, she can do more in the Senate here.

ZAHN: Senator Schumer, thank you for dropping by tonight.

SCHUMER: Thanks, Paula. Great to see you.

ZAHN: Appreciate your time tonight.

Coming up: more of our exclusive series from Korea's demilitarized zone. Martin Savidge spends a tense night with the 45 men who would be first to fight in a war against North Korea.

Plus: Isabel churns north, the latest on the storm's progress when we come back.


ZAHN: Welcome back.

U.S. military officials in South Korea today showed off a new missile defense system. The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles can intercept and destroy ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and enemy aircraft in the event of a North Korean attack.

All this week, Martin Savidge is reporting for us from the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. and today, he reports on a night he spent with 45 troops living on the very edge of that border.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Observation Post Ouellette sits just 50 feet from North Korea in the DMZ. Here, the monsoon season has lingered late, shrouding the hilltop fortress in mist and drenching rain. The weather hampers the view north, exactly the kind of conditions an attacker would want.

If war were to come, then the 45 U.S. soldiers living here would be the first to fight it. North Korea has an army of over one million. At sundown, every man picks up a gun and heads to his post, trudging through blacked-out underground tunnels to bunkers so dark the soldiers can barely be seen through a nightscope. For an hour, they will wait, watch, and listen.

But tonight, the only thing coming over the wire is propaganda blasted from the north. The DMZ settles into another night. So do the men of the outpost. Standing down from their defensive positions, they catch up on work, watch TV, or call home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you got like half an hour before you get there?

SAVIDGE: In a small barracks, laundry is getting done and lessons are being learned. Most U.S. soldiers stay just 12 months in Korea. That cycle means there is always a new guy. Private Michael Baim (ph) arrived yesterday. Private Martin Cantu is considered a veteran at eight months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was tough when I first got here, but everybody kind of helped me out.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Do you ever think about where you are, so close to North Korea?


SAVIDGE: In what way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we're the first ones that are going to know if anything happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom is very worried, but that's just the motherly instinct.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Overhead, in the main observation tower, the lookouts, PFCs Meyers (ph) and Doddy (ph), have concerns of their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Visibility sucks, sir.

SAVIDGE: They struggle to see and stay focused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't say that things get mundane, but they do get repetitive.

SAVIDGE: Down below, the roving guards have problems as well. Soaked to the skin, they refuse raincoats, preferring to walk to stay warm. Beneath their feet, Lieutenant James Gleason (ph) is still up after midnight. His thoughts aren't of the soldiers to the north, but the ones under his command.

That's the biggest on my mind, my soldiers' welfare, finding out what really makes them tick and what I can do to help them out.

SAVIDGE: His men rest in shifts, but the outpost never sleeps.


SAVIDGE: Observation Ouellette and the men inside it make it through another night, a small victory for peace in a war that never really ended.

Martin Savidge, CNN, along the DMZ.


ZAHN: And Martin will wrap up his series on Korea's DMZ tomorrow with a look at an unexpected side-effect. Please join us for that.

Still ahead, though, tonight: Could your diet be making your spouse sick? Some doctors say the popular Atkins diet may be doing that. We'll explain a little bit later on in this hour.

And also ahead: what you need to know about Hurricane Isabel.


ZAHN: And we want to bring you up to date now on Hurricane Isabel.

It came ashore over the Outer Banks in North Carolina this afternoon, one million people in North Carolina and Virginia without electric power at this hour. At least one death is blamed on the storm.

Let's turn to meteorologist Rob Marciano, who joins us from the CNN Weather Center, to tell us where it is heading.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us tonight.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Pleasure to be here, Paula.

The storm, good news, is weakening, as we expected, now that it's away from the power source, the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. You can kind of see it shrinking in size as well. And it continues to move off to the north quickly. And that's good news, because we want it out of here pretty rapidly. But it's still packing a punch, winds to the south and to north still gusting well over 50 miles an hour. So it is a formidable storm, even though it is weakening.

Winds at 80 miles an hour, Category 1. It will probably be downgraded to tropical storm here in the next hour or two. But, nonetheless, you can see the rain bands out ahead of this thing. Rainfall rate up to one inch an hour. And especially the central part of eastern Virginia has seen estimated rainfalls of six inches already. So localized flooding there, from Cape Hatteras all the way through -- and especially the mountains of northern Virginia, where the mountains kind of accentuate some of the action, that could be an issue tonight.

The most powerful part of this storm is off to the east. We've had a tornado threat tonight already. That will be diminishing as we go on through the next couple of hours as this storm generally starts to weaken. But the heavier rains will create some localized flooding. Also, the storm surge is going to make its way up all through the Chesapeake, up to the Potomac River. So there will be localized flooding around Washington, D.C. as well with this thing.

But we don't expect a tremendous amount of flooding as far as other rivers getting flooded over, because this thing is moving pretty rapidly. Once it gets out of Virginia, we'll start to see this thing taper off just a little bit.

As far as the winds from this thing, 52 mile-an-hour wind gust at Richmond. It has been a stormy, stormy night the past couple of hours in Richmond. And, in Washington, D.C., you'll get a little piece of that as well, right now, 30 miles an hour, and up through New York City, 25 miles an hour. This thing will weaken as it heads off to the north and to the east. By tomorrow, it will be a tropical storm, at best.

But, Paula, the main thing with this thing, it could have been a lot worse. And it is still a hurricane. But it has been so big and hit such a populated area, millions of people have been affected and will continue to be affected by this over the next day, day-and-a- half.

Back to you.

ZAHN: A huge sense of relief. As much damage as there is tonight, that this was downgraded from Category 5 to 2.


ZAHN: Rob Marciano, thanks so much.

It has been a week of changing names and faces and blows to corporate images. CNN's parent company, AOL Time Warner, is dropping "AOL" from its corporate name, going back to just Time Warner. And New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso stepped down yesterday after that public relations disaster over his $140 million pay package.

As Chairman and CEO of the marketing and communications company Deutsch, Incorporated, Donny Deutsch knows something about image management, and that's what he does 24 hours a day. He joins us tonight.

Welcome back.

DONNY DEUTSCH, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, DEUTSCH INC.: Twenty-four hours, that's a lot. We'll stick with 16.

ZAHN: You always talk about how long your days are. Twenty-hour days, all right, somewhere close to that.

DEUTSCH: Great to be here on PAULA ZAHN NOW.

ZAHN: Yes, it's your first time on this new show.


ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about dropping "AOL" from the corporation's name.

DEUTSCH: You know... ZAHN: Does that mean anything at all to consumers?

DEUTSCH: Yes, interesting though. It's a questionable move, as far as I'm concerned. You know obviously they ripped the "AOL" out because it was, you know, the bad Internet days and all that stuff. But the interesting thing is when you're left with Time Warner, that's a very '80s name. Time basically, obviously, magazine business, Warner entertainment business, they're so much bigger than that.

So I understand why they ripped out the "AOL," but just being left with Time Warner, I don't know if you have that kind of 21st century sensibility. I think they did it more for internal purposes, because you know to the consumers out there, "AOL" still says new Internet. I'm not sure about the move.

ZAHN: We weren't one big happy family over here?

DEUTSCH: Well rumor had it that the synergies weren't exactly working. You know that big synergy word wasn't exactly happening.

ZAHN: That was the word everybody was searching for.


ZAHN: Philip Morris, did it work when they changed their name to Altria?

DEUTSCH: Yes, I actually -- you know here you have an instance where Philip Morris, you think of one thing, cigarettes, obviously not a good thing. They're into much more than that, obviously, with Kraft, a lot of other businesses. I think it was a smart move. I actually think, interestingly enough, for AOL Time Warner, there could have been a new name in there that got rid of the "AOL" bugaboo, but at the same time set up a 21st century company. So I'm not sure.

ZAHN: And do you have that name on the tip of your tongue tonight, Donny? I'm sure you've thought about it.

DEUTSCH: I had -- I had Time Warner Now, but somebody else kind of co-opted that name.

ZAHN: OK. On to Bell Atlantic and GTE,...


ZAHN: ... of course, becoming Verizon.

DEUTSCH: Yes. What...

ZAHN: Did that work?

DEUTSCH: Yes, once again, futuristic type name. You had these two companies that kind of stood for very different things with the "old bell" if you will. You know you don't want the word "bell" in there. Bell is an old telephone name. Verizon, new name, sexy name, kind a nice zip to it, definitely a success story there. ZAHN: Kentucky Fried Chicken when it became KFC?

DEUTSCH: They had no choice. Once again, fried not a good thing. Even if you're in the fried chicken business, nobody eats fried food anymore. They didn't want to, obviously, lose all the equity they had, so KFC, with the picture of Colonel Sanders, accomplished everything they needed to do.

ZAHN: So if you got a contract for the New York Stock Exchange,...


ZAHN: ... what would you be doing right now to improve the image,...

DEUTSCH: You know...

ZAHN: ... particularly in the fallout of this Dick Grasso disaster?

DEUTSCH: Sure, with Dick Grasso and the whole thing. Unfortunately or fortunately, we live in a world today where American consumers are trained to understand companies make mistakes. Obviously nobody stole anything here. Obviously the pay package was crazy. Grasso is gone. Obviously a lot of the people of the board will be gone. Consumers understand that. It will be business as usual, as long as these changes are made for the New York Stock Exchange.

ZAHN: So is there anything that can be done in terms of the campaign to give investors more confidence...

DEUTSCH: Yes, I think...

ZAHN: ... in their individual investment?

DEUTSCH: I think what you'll see is a campaign for the New York Stock Exchange coming up talking, you know, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we're here. We've always been here. We're not going anywhere. You know we are the stock exchange. Talking about all the marvelous companies, because they're basically about the companies that they represent. So I don't think anyone has got to worry about the future of the New York Stock Exchange.

ZAHN: And finally tonight, Madonna has reinvented herself once again.


ZAHN: Now she's a children's author.


ZAHN: An author of children's books.

DEUTSCH: An interesting dual strategy, children's author, kissing Britney Spears on stage. I mean I...

ZAHN: Yes, did that work, two years apart...


ZAHN: ... for -- excuse me, two weeks apart I guess it was?

DEUTSCH: Yes, a little strange. Madonna has got to make up -- make up her mind what business she's in.

ZAHN: What's she trying to do, be relevant?

DEUTSCH: Well, the interesting thing, what she tries to do, you know Madonna has always been about cutting-edge sexuality, that's her brand since the early '80s. The brilliance of Madonna is she's never strayed from that brand essence, but she keeps redefining it in what's cutting-edge sexuality is for the current times. Obviously, I guess women kissing women is cutting-edge sexuality today, seems to be a crowd favorite. The question is can you then translate that in an author (ph) who is going to be somebody who is in children's books? We'll see.

ZAHN: Yes, the book is not getting bad reviews, is it?

DEUTSCH: I know, but the interesting thing is I think it's very hard for somebody who does stand for cutting-edge sexuality to all of a sudden go into the children's book business. You need to stay true to your brand.

ZAHN: Donny Deutsch, always good to see you.

DEUTSCH: Great to be here.

ZAHN: Thanks for dropping by in our brand new set.

DEUTSCH: It's great.

ZAHN: Coming up, the Atkins diet may be working wonders for people who are trying to lose weight, but is it having a negative effect on some spouses? Yes, indeed it is.

And tomorrow, what are Senator Hillary Clinton's intentions for 2004? Is a presidential run still a possibility? We'll ask former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta.


ZAHN: The high protein, low carb Atkins Diet has become popular because it helps people lose weight while letting them eat the things they love like beef, cheese and butter. But now some doctors say spouses of Atkins dieters are suffering. A new report that appeared in the today's "Wall Street Journal" described some of those problems.

And to talk about it in "Plain English" tonight, I'm joined by Dr. Nancy Snyderman. She is the Vice President of Johnson & Johnson. Before that she spent 18 years as a medical journalist. Welcome back.


ZAHN: Nice to see you in person for a change.

SNYDERMAN: Thank you. You too.

ZAHN: Come clean,...


ZAHN: ... are you on this diet?


ZAHN: Have you ever been on this diet?

SNYDERMAN: I don't like diets. I think at the end of the day it's calories in, calories out. You know well-balanced diet, exercise and call it a day.

ZAHN: All right, but...

SNYDERMAN: I hate diets.

ZAHN: ... for the millions of Americans who are on this diet...

SNYDERMAN: Two percent of the population is on this diet as -- so they say. Eating this high protein, low carb diet. And this report today almost sort of made me titer, because it really addresses the spouses and you know, the side effects they don't like.

ZAHN: Well, let's talk about some of those side effects, bad breath, constipation,...

SNYDERMAN: Yes, all those fun things.

ZAHN: ... grumpiness. How long do those things stay with you when you're on this diet?

SNYDERMAN: Really makes you want to stay in love with whoever you're living with.

ZAHN: Someone called it a form of temporary birth control while you're on this diet.

SNYDERMAN: Well, you know the bad breath can stay with you for a while, because your whole metabolic balance changes in your body and you give off the smell of these byproducts. So that can last for a long time, and you can't necessarily brush your teeth and make it go away.

The constipation will last a couple of weeks, basically is because you don't get enough fiber in your diet. The first couple of weeks you're on basically bacon, eggs and whatever. And the third one, the grumpiness, I think it comes from being denied.

ZAHN: Yes, it's a...

SNYDERMAN: You know.

ZAHN: ... universal problem...

SNYDERMAN: Yes, so...

ZAHN: ... for all of us.

SNYDERMAN: Fortunately, after a couple of weeks you get to start putting in other things, grains and vegetables. And even you have said you're on a modified Atkins.

ZAHN: Yes.

SNYDERMAN: I think that's a well-balanced diet, a little bit of protein, vegetables, fruits, salads.

ZAHN: A little cookie here,...


ZAHN: ... a little pancake there.

SNYDERMAN: And you know what, and it works.

ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about one of these men that was profiled in the "Wall Street Journal" article.

SNYDERMAN: Yes, pretty funny, you know.

ZAHN: This is a man who ended up seeing his cholesterol go up while he wasn't officially following the diet but trying to live with his wife.

SNYDERMAN: Right. Now this is sort of interesting because there was a report earlier in the year in the "New England Journal of Medicine" that said hey look, this may be -- this diet may be OK. It may not make your cholesterol zoom, as a lot of us had thought, but you have to eat small portions. You're still on a diet and you're limited to the proteins and really stay on it.

But if I'm living with you and you're on that diet and just eating the proteins. And I say OK fine, at dinner I'll have all the steak that I want, but during the day, I have my pasta and I have my bread and I have everything else. What you basically do is pile on a ton of calories and you put up all that saturated fat. And that means cholesterol, triglycerides, all the bad stuff in your -- in your body, your levels can bounce up.

ZAHN: So what is the best advice you can offer for the dieting couples out there that would like to have some sort of endurance to their relationship?

SNYDERMAN: Well, it's -- I don't think I can talk people out of the Atkins Diet, and people obviously like it, and they lose weight on it. I would say that it comes back to moderation. Our generation does extremes very well. We starve ourselves or we stuff ourselves. If you go back to little bits of things and not denying yourself and getting up and moving, at the end of the day, it sounds boring, but it works.

ZAHN: It's interesting that it was shortly after Dr. Atkins died -- death that he seemed to be somewhat vindicated by some of the more recent studies that came out.

SNYDERMAN: Yes, you know we really...

ZAHN: The science bottom line.

SNYDERMAN: And I'm one of those. I have never loved this diet. It just defies common sense. If you go to a third-world country where people really rely on grains and vegetables, they don't have cancer, they don't have heart disease, they don't have strokes. We get it because we eat all this junk, processed foods and lots of saturated fats. So to me it's counterintuitive to eat that stuff, lose weight and be healthier. And I've always thought that your blood cholesterol would have to go shooting up.

Now, doctors say, you know what, if you really stick to it and you watch your portions, you can lose weight, but it's still a diet. You don't stay on this until you're 70. So you lose the weight and you still have to get back into some normal way of thinking and eating. And I think in our generation we have made food the enemy. We would be a lot better off to be like Julia Childs and eat what you want, but in smaller portions, and then feel OK to push it away.

ZAHN: Well, we would eat that kind of food if we could cook that kind of food.

SNYDERMAN: Well you have to have a friend like...

ZAHN: Yes, Julia come to your kitchen.

SNYDERMAN: ... you know like Julia.

ZAHN: Dr. Nancy Snyderman, as always, thanks for dropping by.

SNYDERMAN: Thanks, Paula.

ZAHN: Still ahead tonight, Israel and the East Coast. We'll have the latest update -- that would be Isabel we are talking about, the hurricane bearing down on the East Coast right now.

And if it looks like a documentary but seems a little bit off kilter, it may be a mockumentary. Coming up, we're going to talk to three masters of this comic art form.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: That's it. Thank you for joining us tonight.


ZAHN: You know these guys from "This is Spinal Tap," and you've seen them in "Waiting for Guffman" and "The Best in Show." Well now Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean are in New York for a pair of concerts at this weekend's New Yorker Festival. They are promoting the DVD release of their latest film "A Mighty Wind." And all three join us tonight.

Good to see all of you, congratulations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to be here.


ZAHN: Is it a lot of fun to pump that DVD?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You turn it way up.

HARRY SHEARER, ACTOR: Well, you know when you've been part of a movie that you really love and that gave everybody involved so much opportunity to do work that we found fulfilling and that audiences seem to like, it is fun to do it, yes. I mean it's not like where you're promoting something and you have to go into the falsetto range, you know it's really good, it's really, really good.

ZAHN: But everything you've done together has been fun.


CHRISTOPHER GUEST, ACTOR: Well I think the idea for me is to have fun, yes, at this point, sure. Why not, you know. And to work with these have been my friends for 25 or 30 years, and that's the reason we continue to work together is we -- because we have fun. This isn't, you know, a hired-on gig where we're doing this. Well we are doing this, but that's what we're paid for.

ZAHN: Now for anyone trying to look for these projects,...


ZAHN: ... we always know there's a lot of irony and these movies are really hysterical. You've done heavy metal, you've done folk music, you've done dog shows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amateur theater.

ZAHN: Amateur theater, right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amateur theater.

ZAHN: What do you zero in on? What are you -- what are you looking for?

GUEST: Personally?

ZAHN: Yes, happiness, pursuit of liberty?

GUEST: I like to watch people and I like to see their behavior. And almost any pursuit, any job description will amuse me in some way or another. And really, the duller the better.

SHEARER: And certainly in the folk music world that we do in -- what's the name of this movie?


GUEST: "A Mighty Wind."

SHEARER: That these guys are very earnest. And since these bands are all the guys who eschewed politics and wanted to get hit records, they had very little to be earnest about. So that sort of makes it funny to start with.

ZAHN: But you're never mean, I don't think. Do you have to work at that to be...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well Michael is mean.

MCKEAN: I'm mean. I'm the mean one.

ZAHN: Do you think so?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's damn mean.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll throw his meatball out (ph).

GUEST: No, I don't think that's the point. I don't think it's very easy to make fun of people and that's not what we're doing. It's really more of an observation. And again, I think it's picking any kind of occupation you may have. It could be virtually anything. You know people who put those ships in the bottles, I found out how they do -- they do that.

ZAHN: Yes, would you explain that to us this evening?

GUEST: Yes. They cut the bottle in half and then they put the ship in, and then they put tape -- they put tape around it. Because if you look...

SHEARER: Chris, that's not how they do it.

GUEST: They don't?

SHEARER: Someone handed you a bill of goods on that one, Chris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't believe everything you read on the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because that completely...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't believe now.

SHEARER: They blow the glass around the ship after.

MCKEAN: No, Harry, they don't do that either.

ZAHN: All right, now what's the deal here, you do all the work and these guys just show up and drink the coffee?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Well, yes.

SHEARER: I do, I make coffee.

GUEST: Yes, he does make coffee.

SHEARER: I make wonderful coffee for the boys.

GUEST: But we -- no, it's a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It depends. It depends. This film, "A Mighty Wind," I directed and I wrote it with Eugene Levy.

ZAHN: Right.

GUEST: And then I said to my friends and partners and collaborators,...

SHEARER: Esteemed colleagues.

GUEST: ... we need some esteemed colleagues to let's write some songs. And Michael wrote some songs with his wife, and Harry and Michael wrote songs, the three of us wrote songs together. We're in the film together, and it really does become...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This band the folks man.

ZAHN: Right, exactly.

SHEARER: That's the folks man.

ZAHN: But it's all improvised.

GUEST: It's an improvised film. There's no dialogue, there's no rehearsal, the camera turns on, we speak, and then we go home.

ZAHN: How much pressure is there to be funny? I mean you guys all work together for a long time.


ZAHN: So you're real brutally honest with each other?


MCKEAN: Well I mean he's more brutally honest when he's all alone in the editing bay than he is on the set. But everybody -- it's a pretty high level of improvisational skill that you're -- the people you're working with. Fred Willard and Bob Balaban (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Michael Higgins (ph).

MCKEAN: Michael Higgins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Katherine O'Hara (ph).

MCKEAN: And just amazing people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Jean's (ph) amazing.

SHEARER: But there's no -- there's no pressure to be funny. Chris is not sitting there with a stopwatch going we need a laugh, we need a laugh.


GUEST: Well I am, you just don't see it because I'm behind (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SHEARER: Well he doesn't do this.

MCKEAN: It's digital.

SHEARER: But the mandate is just to be these characters and do the scene, do the -- get to tell a story. And he trusts it because he's got funny people around him, something funny will eventually happen, and he'll lop off the rest.

ZAHN: Well keep churning them out.

GUEST: Well that sounds nice.

ZAHN: You make a lot of laugh out loud over the years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The old comedy turn.

GUEST: Bear down and pinch one off or something?

ZAHN: Are you feeling pressure now?

GUEST: No, no, no, but it's like you know churning out, it's like making bad chocolate or something.

ZAHN: No, no, no, that was not in the peoff tiff (ph).

GUEST: I mean I -- you know every...

MCKEAN: You know what, she's not the mean either. I'm the mean one.

ZAHN: Yes.


SHEARER: Paula, you keep grinding out that news, we'll keep churning out the comedy.

ZAHN: We do every night. Every night we do our best.

GUEST: I'll do the best I can.

ZAHN: Well good luck at the festival, and thank you for spending a little time with us this evening.




ZAHN: Good luck to all of you.


ZAHN: Coming up, one last live update for you on Isabel. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Before we go, we want to give you the very latest on Isabel now. The National Hurricane Center saying that Isabel remains a hurricane at this hour, but by the time it makes its next advisory, about two hours from now, it will be downgraded to a tropical storm.

In the meantime, tree limbs and power lines are reported down in the Washington, D.C. area. Federal government offices will be closed tomorrow. The storm has cut power to at least one million people in North Carolina and Virginia.

Jeff flock has been getting blown around all day long in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Jeff joins us now.

It looks horrible out there -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, it's fitting to get your last live update from a place that was among the first to feel the effects of this storm this morning. This really gives you some indication about how large a storm this is. We've been in these kind of winds, sometimes stronger, sometimes less, for more than a dozen hours now. That means that these kind of effects are going to move up the coast and those areas are going to be feeling these sorts of effects for a long time, too.

As you point out, not serious damage, not catastrophic damage, but this beast of nature is a very large piece of weather. And as we said, we never would have expected that this kind of intensity in the wind would still be coming at this hour. We thought we were past the worst of it long, long ago. Most of the people have evacuated out of here and there's not a lot of damage right here, but you can tell, this is a very powerful piece of weather -- Paula.

ZAHN: Jeff, if you can, give us a sense of the damage that's been reported so far?

FLOCK: Yes, there's not a whole lot of damage near as we can tell here. You know some siding ripped off, some shingles off, pieces of roofs, no catastrophic damage. This was a category 2 storm. And in fact, the hurricane chasers that we were out with and researchers indicated that even it wasn't category 2 strength when it hit here, so really this is an easy one. Can you imagine if this had come in at a category 4 or 5?

ZAHN: No, that was...

FLOCK: Incredible.

ZAHN: Yes, that was everybody's worst fear. Jeff, I think you deserve the day off tomorrow. Thanks so much.

We head north now to Virginia, that's where Jeanne Meserve is standing by in Virginia Beach, or attempting to stand by.

Jeanne, what's the latest from there?

MESERVE: Paula, conditions seem to be easing up a little bit. The wind doesn't seem quite as stiff as it was even half an hour ago. In fact, Virginia Beach has now decided to put its emergency responders back out on the street. They had been taken off for a while. Now they are back out dealing with various and sundry emergencies. I'm sure they have their hands full.

We've been trying to get a sense of the damage, but it's been a little bit difficult. Hampton Road is, of course, built all around the Chesapeake Bay, a lot of it is connected by bridges and tunnels. Many of those have been shut this evening, so we've really only been able to take a snapshot of what's been happening in this Virginia Beach community. And we have not seen anything that we would judge to be catastrophic.

There is, however, extensive damage. One of our producers, Laura Bernadini (ph), who's been out driving around tonight, says that you'll drive down a street and every house will have some damage, but the damage to each house is not actually that severe. It is more of a case of shingles being blown off, little roofing coming down and a lot of trees coming down. What's really going to be the difficult problem here is the power. Tens of thousands -- hundreds of thousands, actually, homes and businesses without power. It's obviously going to take a lot of time to get all of those lines back up and operational -- Paula.

ZAHN: And flooding is still a concern -- Jeanne?

MESERVE: Pardon me, I couldn't make that out.

ZAHN: What kind of concern is flooding at this hour from the storm surge?

MESERVE: Well, they've had a lot of flooding already. Between the rain and the -- and the high tide that came earlier, a lot of the low-lying areas really were very soggy. We saw a lot of front lawns that have been turned into ponds.

As for the storm surge, I'm looking out at the water here and it looks like the surf is now quite a ways off. We've been unable to really get hold of any emergency personnel. They've had their eyes and their hands full tonight, so I can't quite tell you what their latest predictions are on that surge, when it's going to come or how big it's going to be -- Paula.

ZAHN: All right, Jeanne, we'll let you seek some shelter there. Thanks so much for that live report.

We close tonight with this picture out of Richmond, Virginia to give you an idea of the kind of damage homeowners are looking at throughout the area. The good news is the National Hurricane Service is telling us that although Isabel remains a hurricane at this hour, by its next advisory, just a couple hours from now, it will, they hope, be downgraded to a tropical storm.

That's all we have for you this evening. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. We hope you will stay with us throughtout the evening for the latest on Hurricane Isabel.

Tomorrow, who are the world's smartest taxi drivers?

"LARRY KING LIVE" is next.

Have a good night.


of State Richard Armitage>

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