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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Selling the Plan; Bush's Views; Battle on the Border, Catch and Return; Open Border; New England Flooding; Cracks in the Code?; Fact or Fiction?; Cracking the Code; Deadly Superbug; Wrong Interview

Aired May 16, 2006 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Then a large chunk of the Republican leadership in the Senate joined an effort against the president's blend of reform and border enforcement. They say they want enforcement first. The rebellion failed, and that wasn't the only trouble today or going forward.
Here CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): White House officials suspected the president's immigration reform plan would be a tough sell.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I -- this is a hard issue for many people.

MALVEAUX: He is right. Mr. Bush, getting an earful from governors of border states on his plan to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to bolster the Mexican border.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: I wish they'd consulted with us because what I would have said is, I would have said accelerate the number of Border Patrol agents that you promised us. New Mexico was promised 265 new border agents from the last appropriations bill. Only a handful have arrived.

MALVEAUX: That's a concern the president tried to lay to rest today.

BUSH: The Guard is providing an interim service until those Border Patrol agents get stood up.

MALVEAUX: The second component of the president's immigration reform plan, a temporary worker program, is also running into trouble from members of the president's own party. Specifically, the proposal to allow some illegal immigrants to earn U.S. citizenship. Critics say that amounts to amnesty.

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH (R), ARIZONA: The longer and the more flagrantly you have broken our immigration laws, the easier it will be to get on this so-called path to citizenship. I don't believe the American people will appreciate that, and I think they reject it.

MALVEAUX: To block the argument that such a plan is amnesty, Mr. Bush used some new words, which put the issue into moral terms.

BUSH: Never lose sight of the thing that makes America unique, which is we're a land of immigrants, and that we -- you know, we're not going to discriminate against people. When we welcome somebody to our country who is here legally, willing to work and willing to realize a dream, it helps restore our soul.

MALVEAUX: The one group, who is expressing support for the president's plan, is the Democrats who see Mr. Bush's proposal as the closest to their own.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I have my differences with the president, but he is absolutely right. He understands history. He is a border state governor, and he knows you cannot do this by itself.

MALVEAUX (on camera): The president will press that point when he travels to the border town of Yuma, Arizona, on Thursday, when he tries to sell his comprehensive immigration reform plan.

Susan Malveaux, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: More now on how Mr. Bush got to last night, how he arrived at his own views on immigration.

For that here is CNN's Elaine Quijano.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BUSH: We're a nation of law, and we ought to enforce our borders.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over): In the red hot debate over the issue, the president's proposed temporary worker program has infuriated fellow conservatives. Yet, he remains unflinchingly attached to the idea.

BUSH: ...recognizes there are hard-working people here doing jobs Americans won't do, and they ought to be here in such a way so they don't have to hide in the shadows of our society.

QUIJANO: President Bush's position is rooted in his years spent in the Texas governor's mansion, which he says gave him first hand experience.

BUSH: Illegal immigration puts a strain on law enforcement and public resources, especially in our border communities.

QUIJANO: But his stance now is also tied to his west Texas upbringing. Wayne Slater of the "Dallas Morning News" has covered George W. Bush for more than a decade.

WAYNE SLATER, "DALLAS MORNING NEWS": As a young man in Midland, he got to know a number of Hispanics that worked in the community, and so these are not alien people to him.

QUIJANO: In addition, Slater says Bush's time as managing partner of the Texas Rangers exposed him to immigrant baseball players.

SLATER: And I think it strengthened in George Bush's mind, was understanding not simply of people as a class or a particular race, but of people who have families and needs to work, people he understood and feels very comfortable around.

QUIJANO: In this 1999 interview, then Presidential Candidate George W. Bush, outlined the beliefs that continue to drive his immigration policy today.

BUSH: The first step, we've got to enforce the borders. But I understand family values don't stop at the Rio Grande River. And see, what I understand is, is that when you're a man who got kids to feed, and are you making 50 cents and you can look up north and see the chance to make $50 and your kids are hungry, that you are going to come.

Mi Casablanca es su Casablanca.

QUIJANO: In the months after his election the president began pushing comprehensive immigration reform. But September 11th happened, and any thought of opening the borders was viewed as too risky.

Now with the election-year immigration debate boiling over and his approval ratings in the 30s, it's clear some fellow Republicans have no problem distancing themselves from their president on this divisive issue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That was CNN's Elaine Quijano reporting.

The president believes his plan on illegal immigration will work. Try telling that to his own party. Top Republicans in both the House and Senate are angry over major aspects of the White House's proposal.

One leading Republican who sees some danger signs ahead, is Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. I talked to him earlier about today's debate on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Senator Sessions, you had blasted the legislation, the Senate is debating, saying it would have allowed more than 130 million new immigrants into the U.S. over the next 20 years. Today the Senate changed that provision. Now the number of new immigrants would be less than 10 million.

Do you still think this compromised legislation as standing is fatally flawed as you've said in the past? SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Well, I think that was tremendous advancement, but the one area they fixed was the one most egregious, and it did go from perhaps 100 or more -- a million people over 20 years to eight, but there will be more -- other provisions in the bill that will allow immigration here in the future.

We need to tighten up a number of things from enforcement to actually the how we handle the amnesty portion of the bill and how we do future immigrations.

COOPER: Do you worry that the pressure in the Senate -- that things are moving too quickly? I mean, we called around today to ask people about the numbers that you had put out, this 130 million figure. We called around to different Senate offices, and a lot of them didn't seem to have read the details. I mean, it's some 600 pages, the legislation. Didn't seem like a lot of people actually had been checking the numbers.

SESSIONS: Anderson, we've been moving this bill forward blissfully ignorant of what's in 614 pages. We needed really not just time to read the bill, but we really should have taken a lot more testimony from economists and professors and students and immigrants and business people to find out exactly what this country needs, how many, what skill sets they are, and how we can draft a plan for the future that will keep us from having the difficulties we've had in the past.

COOPER: Do you think the Guard should be on the border in that capacity, because there are those who say, look, 6,000 people just in a support role doesn't seem like enough.

SESSIONS: Well, it may not be enough. We'll have to see. But I'll tell you, they will make a big difference in freeing up Border Patrol agents to get out and do their job.

COOPER: Senator Sessions, today the Senate rejected an amendment that would have made securing the border a priority before beginning a guest worker program. You voted for that amendment. You wanted that to be the priority.

I mean, your critics will say, look, why can't we have secure border, deal with that, as well as deal with the guest worker program at the same time?

SESSIONS: Well, you know, the House took a different approach, and I thought they were probably correct, but we decided to go forward with a comprehensive bill that includes enforcement and immigration for the future and the 11 million.

You see, what happened in 1986 -- and people still remember this, and rightly they should -- we passed an amnesty and made a promise in the future that we would have enforcement, and it never came.

COOPER: It seems that the word amnesty has become such a buzz word. The president says that his road to citizenship is not amnesty. Is it? SESSIONS: Well, I think it's pretty close to it, but it's getting a little bit away from it, maybe. It's not an automatic path to citizenship, but it basically allows that to happen with a small fine. I think we probably need to do better than that, and I think that's too close to what I would call amnesty and what I have said I would not support.

COOPER: Today's "Washington Post" said this about immigration and the Republican party. "President Bush once saw the immigration issue as an opportunity to expand the Republican Party by attracting more Hispanic voters with a message of tolerance and inclusion...but if not managed carefully, could quickly become a historic liability for his party."

How concerned are you about that scenario unfolding for the Republicans?

SESSIONS: I think it would be a big mistake for him as a matter of principle out of some fanciful idea that he could not support a lawful system and appeal for votes. I don't think the president is doing that, and we certainly shouldn't. We follow the principled high road of doing the right thing, and then appeal to the Hispanics and others who have come in here.

This is a generous bill. We've treated people fairly, and we've been kind to those that came illegally, and we're going to fix the system in the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, as President Bush said, the U.S. does not have full control of the border; but even so, the Border Patrol has had some success in curbing illegal immigration. Here's the raw data.

The Border Patrol says on the average day, it refuses the entry of 868 non-citizens and 45 criminals trying to get in. Last year alone, it made 1.2 million arrests of people trying to enter the U.S. illegally. And since 1994 Border Patrol says it has made more than 15.6 million apprehensions nationwide. That's more than the populations of Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas combined.

Some intriguing angles still to explore in this issue in theory. A program called "Catch and Return," could be the silver bullet to virtually end illegal immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY MEAD, ICE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: I hope that these people, when they get back, will explain that there is no safe haven anymore, that when people are apprehended, they are processed quickly and they're returned quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's the theory anyway. We'll follow along and show you how it works. It is a very different reality in a Texas border town. Seems like get tough border crackdowns are no defense against camaraderie and fellowship.

Also, she caught a mysterious bug and just couldn't shake it. She is not alone. It's a deadly germ you should know about. You could be a silent carrier and not even know it. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta tells us how to protect ourselves when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: When people know that they'll be caught and sent home if they enter our country illegally, they will be less likely to try to sneak in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: President Bush last night, letting would-be immigrants know if that if they enter the U.S. illegally, they'll be sent back quickly.

Now, for years the policy has been catch and release, allowing illegal immigrants to essentially stay in the U.S. even after they have been caught. Now, there's a federal program called "Catch and Return" that flies illegals back to their home country right away.

CNN's Rick Sanchez went along to see exactly how it works.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shackles scrape against the tarmac at Williams International Airport in Mesa, Arizona. These are the first close-up images of the U.S. government's new initiative to get rid of undocumented immigrants not within months or years anymore, but rather, within days. From this airport alone, three full flights now leave each week, bound for Central America.

(On camera): It's now 7:30 in the morning. We're about a half hour from wheels up on this MD83 that's going to literally remove 110 immigrants from the United States.

(Voice-over): The expedited removal program began last September, but because there are so many undocumented immigrants, the number of flights not just from here in Arizona, but nationally, have already been increased to 12 a week. On board, one of the men who handles the new program for the Bush administration.

GARY MEAD, ICE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: It's our hope that these people, when they get back, will explain that there is no safe haven anymore, that when people are apprehended, they are processed quickly and they're returned quickly.

SANCHEZ: But is the message getting through? On board we find immigrants separated by two classifications -- criminal aliens whose crimes range from heroin smuggling, murder and petty offenses, to those whose only crime is being in the country illegally.

An hour into the flight we find Marlin Vargas a 23-year-old with a boyish grin who says he came to the U.S. because he was hungry.

(On camera): Is this the first time you tried to come to the United States?

MARLON VARGAS, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: No.

SANCHEZ: No? How many times?

VARGAS: Seven times.

SANCHEZ: Seven times?

(Voice-over): Then there's Jose Membrero (ph), a criminal alien who admits to a rap sheet that dates back to 1991, with crimes that include selling drugs, domestic violence, parole violations, and finally a DUI arrest that's now getting him deported. Although not a citizen, Membrero (ph) was in the U.S. legally. He's lived in Colorado for 19 years and speaks English with hardly a trace of a Spanish accent.

(On camera): You feel like you blew it?

JOSE MEMBRERO (ph), IMMIGRANT: Yes.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): It's now about noon. And the flight dubbed Con-Air, is maneuvering the tricky approach through the mountains into the capital city of Tegucigalpa.

Once on the ground, they are welcomed by Honduran immigration officials, using the plane's P.A. to tell them they're happy to have them back.

At the refugee return and welcome center, Membrero (ph) -- remember he's the one with the long rap sheet -- clears immigration and Interpol almost immediately.

However, Marlon Vargas has a problem. Honduran officials spot his tattoos and question him about gang activity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MS-13 is a very dangerous gang.

SANCHEZ: Here as well, says the police official, who decides Vargas' tattoo is not a gang logo after all. He is free to go, as is Membrero (ph), who tells us he won't return to the U.S. because now, as a deported ex-con, he would face a federal sentence of 20 years if caught. However, Honduras is a country he hardly knows.

MEMBRERO (ph): I'm lost.

SANCHEZ (on camera): You're lost?

MEMBRERO (ph): Yes, I'm lost. SANCHEZ (voice-over): Vargas knows where he's going. It's now 3:00 p.m., and we follow him back to his village, a two-hour ride through the Honduran countryside. Santa Rosa is poor, but the greeting he gets from his mom is rich.

One look inside Vargas' home and you immediately understand why half the boys here have left for America, leaving behind fathers like Vargas' dad.

(On camera): Does it bother you when he leaves?

(Voice-over): I need him, says Tomas Vargas, who tells me he only makes $3 a day, shows me his empty cupboards, the holes in his roof and his next meal, and every meal -- beans and corn.

(On camera): To say that life is hard here in Santa Rosa would be an understatement. For running water, for example, you have to go outside. That's if it works.

(Voice-over): Like this squeaky faucet, everyone seems to agree, U.S. immigration policy is in disrepair. Will this newest initiative fix it? That's up to Marlon Vargas and tens of thousands like him.

(On camera): If it was easier to get in, would you go back?

VARGAS: Probably.

SANCHEZ: Yes?

VARGAS: Yes.

SANCHEZ: But they're making it harder now?

VARGAS: It's harder now.

SANCHEZ: Vargas plans instead, to join the Honduran military. But his is just one story, a snapshot of one family, one village, where America's immigration dilemma begins.

Rick Sanchez, CNN, Santa Rosa, Honduras.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, from Honduras, we now take you to a spot on the border where illegal immigration could be hiding in plain sight, but as you are about to see, it's barely even hiding at all.

Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sheriff's Deputy Mike Doyal shows us one of the four unguarded foot bridges that connect Fort Hancock, Texas, to Mexico.

CHIEF DEPUTY MIKE DOYAL, HUDSPETH COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Prior to our arrival, anyone that wanted to go up across there, was free to do so.

LAVANDERA: Border Patrol agents make daily patrols through town, but every day people cross to work and even go to school, skipping past the official checkpoints.

DOYAL: And those are not the people that we have a problem with, because I'm going to make it real clear that some of those people on the other side are some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet in your life.

LAVANDERA: Fort Hancock sits about 50 miles southeast of El Paso. Its one claim to fame is a moment in the movie "Shawshank Redemption."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a postcard in the mail. It was blank, but the postmark said Fort Hancock, Texas. Fort Hancock. Right on the border. That's where Andy crossed.

LAVANDERA: The old 1880s military barracks, built to protect the U.S. border, are now crumbling into the alfalfa fields cut by migrant workers. It's a timeless place. For people who live here, the border barely exists. We found these Mexican cattle ranchers moving their herd along the river. A few times the cows would move into the U.S., the buckeros (ph) road across the dried out river and collected their animals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one right here is red chilies.

LAVANDERA: Chili farmer Gale Carr welcomes the people who cross the border with good intentions. He thinks new laws or work programs won't stop illegal immigration.

GALE CARR, CHILI FARMER: Because as long as it's so bad next door, the kids from next door are going to want to hang out with our kids. You know, that's just the way it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the labs here.

LAVANDERA: And the kids are coming. Fort Hancock School Superintendent Jose Franco says 99 percent of his students are Hispanic. He knows some of them are here illegally, but says it's not his job to kick them out.

JOSE FRANCO, SUPERINTENDENT, FORT HANCOCK ISD: If they show up to your doorstep, you educate them. You know, these are public schools. If they can just show some kind of proof that they live within the boundaries of the school district, you know, electric bill, they're pretty much in.

LAVANDERA: As the immigration debate rages across the country, life goes on here. The Rio Grande is like the community swimming pool to people on both sides, and as a group of tired Mexican cowboys gather their herd and sit down for lunch on the American side, no one seems to care.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Fort Hancock, Texas. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, next we take you to New England and the record floods that have forced thousands of people to evacuate. We're going to take you live to one town that is under water, and now people there are holding their breath, praying that the dam is going to hold.

Also ahead tonight, "The Da Vinci Code" controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It made me think a lot. I just wonder how much is fiction and how much is real, and I bought into a lot of it. I really want to investigate it further.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It seems a lot of people bought into it. The book and now the movie fixes fact and fiction, and that worries the Catholic Church. Why some leaders are taking issue with the soon to be released movie, when 360 returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Thousands of New England residents will be spending another night in a shelter. They're not allowed back home, not yet, at least, after days of flooding that left communities submerged. But if there was any good news, it was this. The rivers have finally begun to recede.

CNN's Rob Marciano is at the flooding's ground zero, live in Methuen, Massachusetts for more -- Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Anderson. You are right about that. The floodwaters, or at least the rivers, have crested, and water is slowly receding. But, you know, with 15 inches of rainfall in some spots, it's going to take a while before those waters begin to recede.

Right now we're on the banks of the Spicket River here, where they've brought in sand bags because of the structure of this dam was beginning to become compromised, and engineers have been poking their head in here all day long. This is usually just a trickle of water over top of this dam, a hydroelectric dam, and it is a torrent of water tonight.

Upriver, or up the ways towards New Hampshire, the Merrimack River, this is one of the rivers, tributaries that feeds into the Merrimack river. That has seen major flooding in the past couple of days as well.

Boston (ph), New Hampshire, where people are getting out of their homes and traveling in rowboats in that area. New Hampshire has seen terrible flooding, at least the southern part as well. In Haverhill, Massachusetts, is where people have had to evacuate as well and get out of their homes. Here in the surrounding areas, we've seen 2,500 people evacuate in a total of 17 different communities. And as far as the roads in New Hampshire are concerned, 700 segments of roadways in New Hampshire still closed this afternoon.

The good news, Anderson, as you mentioned, floodwaters beginning to recede. Flood watches have been dropped by the National Weather Service, and very little rain expected over the next couple of days. Not completely dry, but a lot less than they have seen in the past few days. That's good news.

COOPER: It certainly is good news, yes.

MARCIANO: Back to you.

COOPER: Yes, certainly good news, indeed. Rob, thanks very much.

Coming up, the movie "The Da Vinci Code" opens up nationwide on Friday. If you don't know that by now, you have been living under a rock.

The controversial novel is based on -- well, it sold 60 million copies worldwide so far. It's also provoked a lot of anger because in the book, as you probably know, the Catholic Church is, well, their critics will say, is vilified. Some Catholic leaders are calling for boycotts and protests. Their concern is that those who see the movie are going to believe everything in it is true.

Here's CNN's Alessio Vinci.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It would take more than a film to shake the foundations of the Catholic Church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Da Vinci.

VINCI: But "The Da Vinci Code", with its mix of fiction, fact, and faith, has caused at least a few small tremors. One senior church official is calling on Catholics to boycott the movie. Another is harshly critical.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL, ARCHBISHOP OF SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: I think "The Da Vinci Code" is a load of nonsense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You asked...

VINCI: The reason? "The Da Vinci Code's" claim that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were lovers, and that a powerful organization linked to the church conspired to commit murder to keep it a secret.

While some of the Vatican believe the story is blasphemous, the pope has said nothing on the matter.

VINCI (on camera): There isn't a plot inside the Vatican to prepare a counterplot to what Dan Brown is saying?

FATHER JOSEPH DI NOIA, VATICAN OFFICIAL: No. I would say that people are talking about it casually and concerned about it, but there is no concerted effort to address the problem of "The Da Vinci Code", no. There's just a sense many people who have read it are, as I am, mystified by the popularity of it.

VINCI (voice-over): Vatican officials fear the success of "The Da Vinci Code" will blur the line between fact and fiction.

DI NOIA: It has to do with the harm that it does to people's faith, not the harm that it does to the public image. You know, it's not a question of image or spin. It's something much more important, you know.

VINCI: The problem with the movie, Vatican officials say, is the claim that the story is based on historical fact.

MONSIGNOR ROBERT SARNO, VATICAN OFFICIAL: I didn't see it as an attack on the church. I just think that it's been given a lot more truth value and faith value than it has. I just read it as a novel, as an entertaining novel.

VINCI: In Rome, as elsewhere around the word, the movie promotion is well underway. However, some church officials here took issue with this particular poster hanging on a church that is being renovated.

(On camera): Several local clergymen expressed outrage at what they stated blatant provocation, and as a sign of how much power the Vatican can at times wield in this country, local church officials managed to convince Italian authorities who actually own this particular church, to cover it up.

(Voice-over): The Vatican's dilemma is evident among the thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It made me think a lot. I just wonder how much is fiction, how much is real, and I bought into a lot of it. I really want to investigate it further.

VINCI: Vatican officials are likely to remain low key. They know that controversy generates publicity. But a few officials admit privately that they do intend to see "The Da Vinci Code".

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, if you have been wondering where fact ends and fiction begins in "The Da Vinci Code," well, so has everyone, starting with all those secret societies that Dan Brown writes about. Do they or do they not exist? Coming up, quick fact check.

Plus, has this ever happened to you? You go in for a job interview, and all of a sudden you wind up being interviewed on television. That's right. The guy is kind of stunned as well. That's, his expression. You'll see how he did for yourself next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So back to the controversy over "The Da Vinci Code." When the movie opens nationwide Friday, finally, it will not have a disclaimer at the top. Director Ron Howard refused to include one, despite demands from some Catholics. Their concern is that moviegoers will not be able to tell fact from fiction. And the truth is, Author Dan brown, often blurs the line between fact and fiction in his book.

We asked CNN's Delia Gallagher for a fact check.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Witness the biggest cover-up in human history.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH AND VALUES CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "The Da Vinci Code" is, first and foremost, a mystery. But the enduring mystery seems stuck somewhere between fact and fiction, about the people and secrets that populate the novel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dear God.

GALLAGHER: The story begins with a murder. The victim, revealed to be the grandmaster of a secret society, the Priory of Sion, just one of the shadowy groups the characters encounter on their hunt for the Holy Grail.

The question is was the Priory of Sion real? According to the Author Dan Brown, it was. Founded in Europe in 1099, Leonardo Da Vinci, himself, was said to be one of the group's grandmasters. And according to the book, the priory had to be shrouded in secrecy because it was charged with protecting the Catholic Church's great secret, that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus and bore his children. A secret so big that if ever revealed, the very foundations on which the church was built would crumble.

But the weight of historical research is that the priory itself was a hoax, created by a man in France in the 1950s, the subject of a "60 Minutes" expose, a group with grand ideas, but little power.

Other groups that play a more or less prominent role in "The Da Vinci Code," most definitely do exist. Like the Free Masons, organized in 18th century England, now famous for their secret rituals, their secret handshake, and the air of mystery that surrounds their ceremony. But the Masons say there's nothing mysterious about them. They're simply out to take good men and make them better.

JOHN HAMMILL, UNITED GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND: You learn a great deal, as you progress through, about yourself and as you start to study the ritual and the meaning behind the ritual. For a lot of people, it gives them confidence. GALLAGHER: But perhaps the most mysterious and ancient society found in the pages of "The Da Vinci Code," is the Knights Templar, and there's no doubt they existed. Founded in the 12th century, the knights, both monks and military men, guarded pilgrims on their trips to the Holy Land. In the churches they built, guided the characters in the book on the trail of the Holy Grail.

Remember the clue, "in London lies a knight of pope interred?" More than a clue, it's also a fact. That knight was interred here in the temple church, built by the templars in the 12th and 13th centuries. It houses nine life-sized effigies of knights who died in battle. They were holy men, crusaders, accumulating enormous wealth along the way, making themselves indispensable to Europe's royalty.

ROBIN GRIFFITH-JONES, MASTER OF THE TEMPLE CHURCH: It became clear that they could look after their own resources, so before long, they were looking after other people's as well. Kings and popes used them as treasurers, as bankers, as credit agents all over Europe and in the Middle East.

GALLAGHER: They were respected and reviled. But in the end, it was their mastery of money, not their pursuit of the Holy Grail, that would prove their undoing. And on Friday the 13th of October, 1307, the knights were rounded up, their homes occupied, their possessions seized. And they were nearly all tortured and burned to death. But the legend they left behind, part of a very distant past, clearly still resonates today.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, in "The Da Vinci Code," the novel's main characters follow a string of clues to an ancient church in London, the temple church. In real life, Robin Griffith-Jones is master of that church. He's also the author of "The Da Vinci Code and the Secrets of the Temple." We appreciate you joining us tonight.

You've seen the results of this British poll, which is just that people who have read this book, or I guess soon people will see this movie, are more likely to believe a lot of the fictions in this are fact. Does that concern you? I mean that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene?

GRIFFITH-JONES: I'm not surprised. I think for many such people it's the first time they really actually bothered to read anything about such history, and it's -- it comes across a really compelling in the novel. It's beautifully done, very cleverly done. So it's not surprising that people are really captivated by it.

Whether that belief will actually turn into a long-term settled conviction of these truths, well, that's up to people like me to try and disabuse them of the mistakes.

COOPER: Do you think it's a good thing that so many people are reading this book and at least it gets a conversation going. I mean, there are some Catholics that say, look, this should be boycotted, you should never read this. Others will say, look, you know, this starts a conversation, and that's not a bad thing.

GRIFFITH-JONES: I am all in favor of the conversation. I think that there are questions that people have been harboring for years. Actually not least of Jesus and marriage and sex. Jesus being God. What does all this mean? People have asked these questions for years, but they've thought that they might feel a bit stupid or blasphemous or rude or offensive if they really add to them. I'm pleased they are.

COOPER: You're actually a character in the book, the master of the temple church.

GRIFFITH-JONES: I'm afraid so.

COOPER: Yes, you're described as scowling and foul tempered. Wow.

GRIFFITH-JONES: Wow.

I do certainly worry that Dan Brown might have come around one day and asked what I thought was a really stupid question, and I might have been slightly brisk.

COOPER: What is the Knights Templar?

GRIFFITH-JONES: There was a Knights Templar. Well, they were founded in the 12th century to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land. A really strange hybrid of both monks and soldiers. They prayed for people and killed them. This was really strange then, as it would be now. They did become hugely important. Your last excerpt showed our own temple church in London, built by the templars at the height of their wealth and their power, with the effigies of knights spirita (ph). They were an enormous power in Europe.

COOPER: There's also -- I mean, there are so many shadowy groups in this book. The Priory of Sion, was it real?

GRIFFITH-JONES: It was. In the 12th century there really was some Augustinian canons, who protected a holy site in Jerusalem, and they were called the Abby (ph) of our Lady of Mount Zion and of Pentecost. They disappeared centuries ago. The modern Priory of Sion, it's a hoax. It's a pure hoax.

COOPER: OK. Also, the Dan Brown content in "The Da Vinci Code," that the painting of the last supper is proof that Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus. You've studied the painting. Does it show Mary Magdalene at the right...

GRIFFITH-JONES: I'm afraid it doesn't. It shows the beloved disciple, a young man, always shown beardless, almost always shown leaning on the breast of Jesus. But in Leonardo's painting, he's raised himself from the breast of Jesus to hear the question of Simon Peter. All of this is absolutely biblical, straight out of the Gospel of John, has absolutely nothing to do with Mary Magdalene. COOPER: Is there any evidence that they were married?

GRIFFITH-JONES: No.

COOPER: No? Or they had children?

GRIFFITH-JONES: No.

COOPER: No?

GRIFFITH-JONES: I'm afraid not. The real story, for what it's worth, the real story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, which Dan Brown never even mentions, but the core foundational story out of which all these later stories have emerged is the story that we hear in church on Easter morning, the Easter story in John's gospel when Mary Magdalene and Jesus meet on Easter day. It's a terrifically romantic sensuous story, but John has told it like that for his own reasons. It is not about a married couple meeting in a garden.

COOPER: Was there ever such a thing as the Holy Grail?

GRIFFITH-JONES: Invented in the 12th century. It was.

COOPER: Man, what an invention that was.

GRIFFITH-JONES: Yes, it was, by a man who was the best seller of the time. He wrote the equivalent to "The Da Vinci Code," in the 12th century, and it swept Europe. It didn't quite sell 60 million copies, but it was a very, very popular book.

COOPER: The book, "The Da Vinci Code and the Secrets of the Temple." Thanks for coming.

GRIFFITH-JONES: Thank you.

COOPER: Yes, very -- it's like, do you lecture? You have a great speaking voice there.

GRIFFITH-JONES: I hate to admit, but yes.

COOPER: Yes, all right, it shows.

Coming up, it is dangerous microscopic super bug. We're going to show you how one woman's life changed and so did her young son's when a drug-resistant bacteria struck them. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta will tell you what you need to know.

And the case of mistaken identity that landed one guy on live TV. Did you see this guy on the BBC? He was supposedly one of those expert talking heads. He actually wasn't. He was a cab driver. But he played along gamely. It was great fun.

GRIFFITH-JONES: Maybe like me.

COOPER: We've been had. We've been had. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It is a common germ that's morphed into a super bug. In hospitals, it causes an estimated 2 million infections every year, and 90,000 deaths. And now it is spreading outside of hospitals.

That's alarming a lot of people, which is why the experts are so worried -- extremely worried, in fact.

Here is 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For April Frans, it began with small mysterious bumps on her skin. She had no idea where they could have come from. No recent scrapes or scratches could explain them. But soon they grew to become painful boils on her legs.

APRIL FRANS, MRSA PATIENT: I was embarrassed to go to the doctors because I thought they would tell me it was an STD.

GUPTA: A possible sexually transmitted disease, but she was happily married, not at high risk. Her doctors first concluded that she had a simple staff infection. Treatment was simple. Drain it, clean it, and take antibiotics. But it simply didn't work. And it was only the beginning of what would be a two and a half year ordeal.

April's mysterious ailment only got worse. During that time she gave birth to her son, Owen. She continued to develop painful new boils every month, some as big as golf balls.

FRANS: I had been through about 20 doctors, most of them diagnosed with it an ingrown hair, a spider bite, acne.

GUPTA: All of them wrong. All mistaken diagnoses. It wasn't until last November when April's condition was finally identified. Its true name, Community-acquired Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. It's a long name for a brand new kind of illness, or a bug, if you will, one that doctors know surprisingly little about.

FRANS: I've had some doctors say, well, it's serious; and other doctors say, oh, everybody has it.

GUPTA: Confused by the mixed messages, April took her diagnosis and went in search of facts. She learned her superbug, MRSA, could be lethal.

While the vast majority of patients will develop skin infections, at least 6 percent will suffer from serious effects from the disease, such as infections of the blood, bone, or muscle, pneumonia, even death.

Take a look at this CT scan. You can you see part of this man's abdominal wall had to be removed after it was destroyed by the infection. It is only treatable by rarer, often more expensive antibiotics. In many cases IV lines and isolation are required. Similar antibiotic resistant staff infections were once found only in hospitals where antibiotics are used in abundance. Now these new kinds of MRSA are spreading fast, even in people who rarely use antibiotics. For medical researchers, it's an urgent challenge.

DR. SUSAN RAY, EMORY DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We don't know how it's made the jump. The germ developed this resistance in the community and separate from the hospital.

GUPTA: One theory points to the misuse of antibiotics.

DR. JONATHON JACOBS, NY-PRESBYTERIAN WEILL CORNELL: I don't think the spread of MRSA is surprising at all. Every time we use antibiotics inappropriately, they see what we can use against them, and the resistant ones tend to flourish.

GUPTA: And new strains with ominous names such as USA300 can spread quickly.

Interestingly, people could be carriers and infect others without showing any signs of illness themselves. Outbreaks have been reported in prisons, daycare centers, military barracks, gyms, and locker rooms, places where people live in close quarters, and potentially have poor hygiene and broken skin.

RAY: How is MRSA spread? We would like to know for sure so that we could stop it. Having active skin lesions is probably the most important risk factor for spreading to others.

GUPTA: No doctor can tell April if she'll ever be truly cured, but she tries to contain the MRSA by washing her hands, wiping down surfaces, spraying disinfectant on doorknobs and toys. But despite her disinfecting rituals at home, her 1-year-old developed boils. He was hospitalized for three days.

FRANS: My friends couldn't come over without wearing a gown and a glove to hold my son, which was very hard for me. Actually what went through my mind at that point was, it was all my fault.

GUPTA: In fact, experts say, spreading this new kind of staff superbug is common among families.

RAY: These are not parents that are neglecting their children or doing a bad job. This is just a very strong germ.

GUPTA: So how did April get infected in the first place? No one knows. Both her husband and their older child, 7-year-old Cathy, have been tested. Doctors say it didn't come from them.

FRANS: It's kind of hard because I don't really know what it is, and, you know, there's no real answer on what causes it or how I got it.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Erica Hill has some of the business stories we're following right now.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a bear today on Wall Street. The markets fell amid lackluster sales reports from retailers, including Home Depot. The Dow closed down eight points, the NASDAQ lost nine, the S&P 500 fell two points. Stocks actually rose earlier in the day, amid a tame inflation report suggesting the Fed could stop raising interest rates. And that inflation report from the Labor Department shows prices outside of the volatile food and energy areas rose by just .1 percent last month. Meantime, in a separate report, the Commerce Department says housing starts fell 7.4 percent last month. That is the third straight monthly drop, and the lowest number of starts since November 2004.

And in closing arguments in the Enron trial, the defense said the government manufactured the case against the bankrupt company's former executives. The lawyer for Jeffrey Skilling says his client and Kenneth Lay committed no fraud because none existed. He says the government bored down on Enron as it would the mafia, intimidating employees to point fingers at their bosses. Strong words there in the closing arguments -- Anderson.

COOPER: I'm pointing the finger at you, Erica Hill.

HILL: That's not very nice, you know.

COOPER: There you go. Erica, thanks.

HILL: Good night.

COOPER: So, all he wanted was a job. The next thing he knew, he was in front of a camera on live TV by mistake. He was suddenly a talking head expert. Meet the wrong guy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, we've all had our share of interesting job interviews, and some stand out more than others, but really nothing compares to the one are you about to see. It was captured live on camera as a hopeful applicant walked in looking for work and ended up as a guest expert on TV.

CNN's Jeanne Moos reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the story of two guys, named Guy, and how the BBC got the wrong guy. Not Guy Kewney, but Guy Goma.

GUY GOMA, MISTAKEN FOR GUEST EXPERT: I was so shocked.

MOOS: You'd be shocked too if you came to the BBC, applying for the job in the IT department and then ended up live on TV, being mistakenly introduced as an expert on a complex court case involving Apple.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what does this all mean for the industry and the growth of music on-line? Well, Guy Kewney is the editor of the technology Web site newswireless. Hello, good morning to you.

MOOS: As the BBC's competition put it...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There had been a monumental mix-up.

MOOS: The British papers are having a field day. The real expert and the job seeker were waiting in separate reception rooms, when a producer went to the wrong room and brought up the wrong guy.

That look of shock is worth a second look.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Guy Kewney is the editor of the technology Web site, newswireless. Hello, good morning to you.

GOMA: Good morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you surprised by this verdict today?

GOMA: I'm very surprised to see this verdict to come on me because I was not expecting that.

MOOS: Meanwhile, the real expert, Guy Kewney, was still in reception, watching himself being introduced on TV.

GUY KEWNEY: It was one of those moments where you think, good God, what's going? There can't be another blog called Guy Kewney.

MOOS: The wrong guy tried valiantly to answer questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think now more people will be downloading online?

GOMA: Actually, if you can look everywhere you are going to see a lot of people downloading.

MOOS: Later he described the experience like this.

GOMA: I was like scared. I said, whoa.

MOOS: But he didn't say whoa, he kept going. Maybe he should have gotten a hint this wasn't the usual job interview earlier.

(On camera): So after they pick up the wrong guy at reception, they bring him up to a room where they do what they do to all TV guests, put on makeup.

GOMA: They started brushing my face. I say, what's going on here?

MOOS (voice-over): Now what's going on is that the tabloids are fighting over the wrong guy. The BBC apologized and interviewed both guys, since Guy Goma was so good at being an expert. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While we've gut you here, EU membership to Bulgaria and Romania, do you think that's a good thing.

GOMA: Not really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think interest rates are going to up or down in the next four weeks?

MOOS: Uh is not for experts. And neither is this face.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: I love that moment. More of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," radio shock jocks make a living with their zany, outrageous comments. Some get fined, some get fired, but a New York D.J. was recently arrested for his offensive remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON KUBY, KABC RADIO HOST: There are many things that are said in the United States that are viable, despicable, shouldn't be said, should never be said. But the First Amendment protects that type of speech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now what I'm really worried about is that, what's he going to do now that he's fired? Is he going to carry out on these threats?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Find out what the D.J.'s threats were and if he's banned from the airway for good, tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," starting at 6:00 a.m., Eastern.

Thanks for watching.

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