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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Desperate Search Continues For Mount Hood Climbers; The Case Against Warren Jeffs; Can Democrats Deliver on Their Promises?

Aired December 14, 2006 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
A cell phone signal high on Mount Hood brings new hope and urgency to the rescue of three trapped men.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Cell phone signal, rising hopes -- is one of the climbers trying to send a message? Will the weather clear in time for rescuers to reach him?

The senator's brain surgery -- Congress in the balance, his life on the line -- what doctors discovered and what you need to know about a silent killer.

Also, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs -- the sex-crimes trial is on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on this state, is what we have to say. There was no rape in this case. Mr. Jeffs is not on trial for practicing polygamy.

ANNOUNCER: So, what kind of case does the state have against him, and how are his followers taking it?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Reporting tonight from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And good evening again. We want to welcome our American viewers everyone watching around the world on CNN International right now.

It's now been a weak since three missing climbers set off to scale Mount Hood's, Oregon's tallest peak. What was supposed to be a two-day trip has turned into a desperate race against time and weather. The last time anyone heard from the men was four days ago, when Kelly James made an SOS call to his family.

That call, from a cell phone, launched a massive search involving potentially life-saving technology, including unmanned drones and heat sensors. But none of it does any good, unless rescue climbers can get high enough.

And, so far, blizzard conditions have stopped them -- tonight, a new clue and possibly new reason for hope.

With that, CNN's Dan Simon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This video from a rescue team shows the fierceness of the elements. As bad as it looked then, two days ago, it's far worse now.

Imagine hurricane-force winds with an arctic chill. The weather is so severe, so unrelenting, that rescuers themselves are hunkered down at their base camp, unable to do anything, beyond search the low levels of the mountain.

Even these radio-controlled drones, small airplanes equipped with thermal imaging, have to sit idle.

BERNIE WELLS, HOOD RIVER CRAG RATS SEARCH AND RESCUE: It's really frustrating, you know? I mean, we're not getting no breaks. It just shows you what Mother Nature can do. You know, all the technology we have, Mother Nature is still in control.

SIMON: Still, even in this frigid wind, new hope for one of the climbers, Kelly James, who had told his family Sunday that he was holed up in a snow cave, while the other two climbers went for help.

(on camera): The sheriff's office said, another ping from James' cell phone had been detected some time early Tuesday morning, just a tiny electronic signal picked up somewhere in the wilderness. But nobody could actually tell whether the phone had suddenly turned on or if it had been on the whole time.

(voice-over): The family, desperate for any positive sign, finally got one.

FRANK JAMES, BROTHER OF KELLY JAMES: My heart was in my throat when I heard that, because, if it's true, it means that Kelly is alive and that he has his wits about him. And those are the two things that I think we're -- we're -- we're very eager and -- and hope are, in fact, true.

SIMON: But authorities say they don't if it's really a sign that James is holding on. His wife says she has confidence that he is.

KAREN JAMES, WIFE OF KELLY JAMES: You know, my -- my husband proposed to me on Mount Rainier, and we're planning our 50th wedding anniversary there. So, I know he is coming off this mountain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really can't say enough about everything you're doing. It just means the world to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

SIMON: Family members met with the rescuers trying to find the climbers, but sidelined by nature. Everyone is hoping lighter weather, expected this weekend, will allow them to find the three missing men somewhere up this mountain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Dan, let's talk about this cell phone signal. What do we know about it? What does it mean? Does it mean these guys are on the move?

SIMON: Well, originally, authorities thought perhaps Kelly James was on the move. We're only talking about one cell phone here. It's Kelly James' cell phone.

And, originally, they thought that -- that, based upon where the pings were coming from, that -- that perhaps he had moved. But -- but what we're hearing tonight -- and -- and we're talking about three pings here -- one on Sunday, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday -- all three pings came from the same location.

They think they have zeroed in on exactly where he is, somewhere on the Eliot Glacier, which is on the north side of the mountain, at about 10,000 feet. They believe that's exactly where he is.

Anderson, let me tell you something. Where we are right now, we're about 12 miles from the base of the mountain. And we have been talking about the weather all day. And the situation is just getting worse by the minute.

Like I said, we're -- we're a good ways away, and the gusts just keep coming and coming and coming. Our -- our tent here right -- right in front of us was nearly just blown over.

COOPER: Dan, appreciate the reporting. Thanks for that. We will continue to check in with you throughout these next two hours.

Without actually being on a freezing mountain slope, like Mount Hood, in blizzard conditions, it's hard to imagine just what these men are facing.

CNN's Rick Sanchez now joins us live from Loveland Pass, Colorado, to try to show us what it's like -- Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson.

What we want to do is try and find a place that would give a sense, a feel of what these stranded mountain climbers must be experiencing. Boy, did we find it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ (voice-over): From a distance, Rocky Mountains' summits seemed to melt into the clouds. As we get closer, though, they reveal their danger. That cut is called Seven Sisters. See the seven parallel paths? Each one is a known avalanche zone, where skiers and mountaineers have been trapped or killed.

(on camera): You are not going to be able get out of the way once that thing gets -- gets rolling?

MICHAEL ALKAITIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN MOUNTAIN GUIDES ASSOCIATION: Oh, no, no. You will be -- you will be right in it.

SANCHEZ: Really?

ALKAITIS: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Chances of surviving?

ALKAITIS: Oh. I -- I couldn't say. Not very good.

SANCHEZ: Not good?

ALKAITIS: Yes.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): As we drive higher, we're met by a sudden ground blizzard. I expected it to be extreme, but this is unmanageable.

(on camera): There are places on Earth where you feel God's fury, but I can't imagine any of them being any worse than this that we're feeling right now.

We're at about almost 12,000 feet. This is the Continental Divide. I have been in enough hurricanes to know what hurricane-force gusts, if not winds, feel like. This is easily at least 60-mile-an- hour gusts that are blowing through here. At times, it's difficult to stand up. It's a -- it's a biting cold. It's hard to see. In fact, it's downright painful.

The question now is, if you're stuck in these conditions, what do you do? How do you survive?

(voice-over): We have elicited the help of two renowned mountaineering experts, who teach, the first order of business is to build a snow cave. Without it, you will not survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would just get in there, into that cave, get on our pack to insulate ourselves from the snow...

SANCHEZ (on camera): I see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and stay warm, huddled close together all night.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Even in a snow cave, you can still get slammed by an avalanche. But experienced mountaineers avoid it by taking into account both slope and snow density when figuring out where to camp. (on camera): We can't see the top of that peak. Look straight up there. Because of this wind, you can't see it. But could that start an avalanche at any time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not tall enough...

SANCHEZ: I see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... right now to start an avalanche. If it did slide, it would -- it has no energy.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): But, by far, the biggest killer is the weather itself. Within hours of being exposed, mountaineers can suffer hypothermia, which causes them to become strangely illusional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you would eventually become euphoric, think that the snow is really warm and soft, and lay down and go to asleep forever.

SANCHEZ: It is why some victims are found disrobed. They actually believe it's warm in freezing weather. Experts, who recommend not going into these conditions without a shovel, a backpack, a headlamp, a compact stove to melt water, and at least a sleeping bag, say, even with these items, under extreme conditions, you will still only be able to hold on for so long.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Rick, it is incredible to see the -- the wind and snow like that. How long can -- can one survive in a snow cave?

SANCHEZ: If he's in a snow cave, or any one of them that has been able to make a good snow cave, if they know what they're doing, the experts tell me, they can survive up to weeks, as long as they have the proper equipment, including a little stove.

Remember, the key is, after you get out of the elements, not dehydrating. They could probably start to dehydrate seriously, even perish within three days. So, if he's got a little stove, or they have a little stove, inside that snow cave, and they can melt ice, melt snow, and drink -- make enough water so they can drink periodically, forget about the food. They don't have to worry about that for a couple weeks. They could survive for a couple of weeks in that snow cave, possibly by the time the rescuers get to them.

COOPER: Well, these are...

SANCHEZ: That's what I'm told by these experts.

COOPER: And these are three very experienced climbers.

Rick Sanchez, thanks for that report.

In Dallas tonight, a prayer service was held for the missing climbers. The city is home to two of the men, Kelly James and Brian Hall. Their families are not giving up hope.

Joining me now from Mount Hood is Frank James.

Frank, we spoke last night.

It must be an extraordinary moment for you to learn that Kelly's phone released a signal on Tuesday morning.

JAMES: Absolutely. That's -- that's what gives us great hope.

As I said before, that it -- it indicates, one, that he has his wits about him, and that he's alive. And those are the kind of things that give me hope. It also gives hope to the other families as well, because, if Kelly's alive, there's a good chance that the other two are alive as well.

COOPER: For -- for those of our viewers who don't understand, what does this mean, to -- that the phone released a signal, or a ping? Does that mean he's actually trying to call? Do we know?

JAMES: Well, Anderson, we really don't know specifically.

I talked to the sheriff's office today about that. And they -- they think it -- it could mean that he was turning it on and off. That's -- that's the speculation. Some kind of signal was sent out. And the technology, as good as it is, wasn't able to determine exactly what that -- that precise activity was.

COOPER: Of course, as all of us know who have been following this, the weather is just not cooperating. The has limited rescuers to -- they haven't been able to go above 8,500 feet.

What -- what's the weather outlook in the coming days? Do you know?

JAMES: Well, I -- I know that it's not -- not awfully good.

A couple things they have said to us is that there are some possibilities tomorrow. With this -- the -- the wind is so heavy and so -- so fast, that it may move the front more quickly through, which could open up an opportunity, perhaps tomorrow or Saturday.

So, again, the families are very, very hopeful that the rescuers will be able to get up on the mountain, and -- and find our -- our family members.

COOPER: And how -- how are you holding up? How -- how are the other family members holding up? I mean, this is unmanageable.

JAMES: Yes, it is. It is hard. And I'm not going to pretend that it's not.

There are tears. We are holding each other -- holding each other up. We -- we have gathered together for prayer. These are strong people. I have said this before. These are three very strong men, very experienced climbers. But they come from very good stock. And the families are strong, too.

COOPER: Well, Frank, a lot of thoughts, and, as you know, a lot of prayers out there for -- for your brother and for -- for all three of the -- all three of the climbers. We wish you the best. And we will -- we will be continuing to follow this.

Frank, thanks very much.

JAMES: Thank you very much.

COOPER: All right.

JAMES: We appreciate it.

COOPER: Well, stay strong.

Some perspective on the icy volcano the climbers are stranded on. Here's the "Raw Data."

At 11,239 feet, Mount Hood is the highest peak in Oregon. But it's dwarfed by Mount McKinley in Alaska, the tallest mountain in America, with a summit soaring more than 20,000 feet. Alaska is home to the 16 tallest mountains in the U.S. In the lower 48, Mount Whitney, in California, is the highest. And that's the "Raw Data" for tonight.

A lot of people out there working tonight at Mount Hood -- a lot of prayers being said.

Later tonight, a 360 special report: Nearly nine in 10 Americans call themselves Christian. Their faith, though privately held, also plays out in the public arena in ways that affect Christians and non- Christians alike. We're talking about, of course, abortion, education, marriage, privacy, you name it. The question is, what is a Christian today? How is the definition evolving, and what does it mean for the country's future?

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PASTOR RUSSELL JOHNSON, FAIRFIELD CHRISTIAN CHURCH: Secularism, materialism, intellectualism, hedonism.

COOPER (voice-over): Pastor Russell Johnson rallies so-called patriot pastors behind conservative issues. He preaches, America is in the grips of a war over its moral soul.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You have said, this is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell.

JOHNSON: I do believe there's a battle between right and wrong. I do believe that there is a forces of darkness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And all God's people shouted...

COOPER: Many Christians believe the end-of-days prophecies in the Bible are happening right now.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you see what's been happening in the Middle East as the beginning of the end of time?

PASTOR LARRY HUCH, NEW BEGINNINGS CHURCH: The beginning of the end as we know it, yes, yes. You look at -- you look at the Bible, and you see all these things lining up, and it's not a coincidence.

COOPER: And there is a fast-growing group, millions of Christians, who say if you believe, truly believe, you will prosper.

PASTOR CREFLO DOLLAR, FOUNDER AND SENIOR PASTOR, WORLD CHANGERS CHURCH INTERNATIONAL: The word of God is the gateway to the world of wealth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, what is a Christian? Where do you fit? Christian or not, you might be surprised -- a 360 special report coming up. That's in our second hour tonight, at 11:00 Eastern time.

And coming up in this hour: the latest on a U.S. senator's condition after tricky brain surgery -- the political implications of his sudden illness, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the time bomb that could be ticking away inside anybody's body.

Then: He's going to trial, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs -- the charges and the reaction among his followers.

And later: They live in their 90s and longer. What is their secret? How far would you go to be like them, staying alive, staying fit until late in life?

You're watching 360. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Capitol Hill tonight, a live shot there -- control of the Senate perhaps in flux.

A Democratic senator is in intensive care at George Washington University Hospital right now, recovering from emergency brain surgery.

In a moment, the medical condition that put him there, a killer that only seldom strikes, but is rarely detected until it does.

First though, how Tim Johnson, the Democratic senator from South Dakota, is doing.

With that, here's CNN's Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After spending most of the night at the hospital with his colleague, the incoming Senate majority leader tried to sound optimistic.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY-LEADER DESIGNATE: We're all praying for a full recovery. We're confident that will be the case.

BASH: The Capitol physician announced, surgery to remove blood from Senator Tim Johnson's brain was successful.

And, by the afternoon, former Senator Tom Daschle emerged from the hospital telling CNN, he's confident his friend be able to return to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see him?

TOM DASCHLE (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: It looks encouraging, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no way he's going to give up his seat, I guess?

DASCHLE: No need to.

BASH: But there is little information about the South Dakota Democrat's prognosis, so no relief from the uncertainty gripping the Capitol as to whether Senate Democrats will be able to hold on to the narrow majority they won in November.

The what-ifs are unavoidable. If Johnson's Democratic seat were to become vacant, South Dakota's governor, a Republican, would pick a replacement to serve out his term. If the GOP governor picked a fellow Republican, the Democrats would lose their 51-49 majority. The Senate would become evenly split, 50-50.

Since the vice president casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate, Republicans would then be in control.

The Senate's Democratic leader dismissed any talk his party could lose power.

REID: There isn't a thing that's changed. The Republicans selected their committees yesterday. We have completed ours. The -- I have a very busy schedule today, going ahead and getting ready for the next year.

BASH: The fact is, the only way a governor can replace a sitting senator is if he dies or if he resigns.

JAMES THURBER, CENTER FOR CONGRESSIONAL AND PRESIDENTIAL STUDIES DIRECTOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Senators can serve indefinitely, even though they're gravely ill. We have had lots of examples of that. There's no way to legally remove them, unless they're convicted of high crimes and treason.

BASH: In 1969, another South Dakota senator, Karl Mundt, suffered a stroke and refused to resign. He ended up serving four years without casting a vote.

The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, had surgery for a brain aneurysm in 1988, and did not come to work for seven months.

(on camera): For all their optimism in public, privately, Democrats are still quite concerned, because Johnson's prognosis is still a mystery.

As for Republicans, one GOP senator said, any talk of shifting power away from Democrats or replacing Senator Johnson is -- quote -- "ghoulish."

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, more now on the medical angle and word today that the senator seems to be responding as hoped.

I talked about it earlier today with CNN M.D. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sanjay, the Capitol physician says that the senator is -- is recovering, and -- and that's he responding to stimuli. What does that tell you?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's very significant, actually, Anderson.

And I think the biggest concern for a lot of docs listening to the story was that he was going to have troubles with his speech, meaning not only the ability to speak, but also to receive communication, to be able to understand that.

And the fact that he's actually responding to words, as that statement said, I think is very significant. You know, we're talking about something known as an arteriovenous malformation. It's a big word, but, basically, it's a cluster of arteries and veins together that could possibly bleed.

And, in his case, it obviously did bleed. You can see these images that we have shown, basically, of the -- you can see that cluster of -- of -- of blood vessels there, Anderson. You have some arteries coming into it some veins coming into it. Most likely, the senator had this his entire life. And -- and yesterday was the day that it bled.

But it sounds like, at least, pretty encouraging, these -- these initial reports of his recovery.

COOPER: So, this is something you're born with?

GUPTA: Most likely congenital sort of thing. I mean, there are a few people who have what's called an acquired arteriovenous malformation. But, most times, it's congenital. You're born with it. You have it your entire life, and...

COOPER: Do you have symptoms? GUPTA: Well, that -- that's the interesting thing. Oftentimes, you may have no idea that you have had this thing. You may not have any headaches or any kind of problems whatsoever, and the first time that you actually know that you have it is when you have something very significant happen, like happened with the senator.

And some people go their -- their entire lives, and never even know that they had it.

COOPER: What -- what area of the brain is affected by -- by this thing? And -- and is surgery the only option?

GUPTA: Well, in -- in -- in the senator's case, you know, if you -- we listened to his speech at the time that this all transpired, and -- and he seemed to have some troubles with his speech, which meant to me that it was in a specific area of the brain.

I want to show you this on the brain model, Anderson, if you can see. But this area of the brain here, called the left temporal area, is -- is some of the -- the highest priced real estate, if you will, in the brain. It's responsible for the ability the speak, to receive speech. This area here is responsible for strength on the right side of the body.

I think, based on everything that I had heard, that that was the part the brain that was probably affected in the senator's case. He had an operation because he already had so much bleeding. And that was the way to treat it in his case.

But there is something known as radiosurgery, which you actually use high beams of focused radiation to sort of fry this, if you will, this -- this AVM. Or you could even use some -- some glue-type material to sort of fill up that tangle of blood vessels, so it doesn't bleed in the future.

COOPER: It -- it does sound similar to a stroke. How is it different?

GUPTA: Well, you know -- and I talked to a lot of doctors about this today, because it -- it does get confusing.

What a stroke typically means is that there has been some sort of interception of blood flow to the brain. So, you know, you have these arteries in your neck, for example, and if they become blocked, for whatever reason, you might not be getting enough blood flow to the brain. And that can cause a stroke.

In his case, it was actually that he had bleeding within the brain from that tangle of blood vessels. And it causes almost the exact same symptoms of a stroke. It's just that what caused it, it's a little bit different.

COOPER: And the prognosis?

GUPTA: Well, you know, you can get these sort of malformations in several different areas of the brain. And the prognosis is different based on every area.

I -- I'm concerned about him, specifically, because of the fact that his speech was affected. And that means that some of the most valuable parts of the brain -- every -- every part of the brain is valuable, but the highest priced real estate seems to have been affected in his case.

I'm encouraged that he is responding to speech. I would like to see him be able to talk, and see -- see that happen within the next few days.

COOPER: All right, Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, we have some breaking news now in a health story that sent dozens to the hospital and scared the daylights out of millions.

Taco Bell says the Centers For Disease Control tell them, the E. coli outbreak at locations in four Northeastern states is officially over. The CDC is now tentatively identifying bad lettuce as the culprit, and, according to Taco Bell, says the contamination likely happened before it got to the restaurant.

Coming up tonight: Many of you voted for them. They promised big changes in D.C. So, what is on the Democratic agenda? And how far -- well, how are they doing so far? Former presidential adviser David Gergen weighs in.

And later: the secret to longevity. What do these people know that you should know and I should know about living longer and better? -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: The Democratic agenda, big talk, big promises -- how their plans might affect your life. And can they walk the walk? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

David Gergen joins us -- next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: This all comes back to the American people. They have to have confidence that Congress is here to work in the people's interests, not the special interests. They have to know -- and I honestly believe that you cannot advance the people's agenda unless you drain the swamp that is Washington, D.C.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Draining the swamp and getting things done -- Democrats have been making some pretty big promises. The question now: How will their plans affect your life? And can they deliver?

Here to talk about it, former presidential adviser David Gergen.

David, always good to see you.

You know, the Democrats' goal -- they have announced this goal for the first 100 hours. It's pretty ambitious. They're talking about raising the minimum wage, reducing the deficit, energy independence, ethics, and intelligence reform.

Are -- are these the right issues for Democrats to focus on?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: I think they're important issues.

Most of the initiatives are rather modest, but they are important for -- in the lives of many Americans, raising the minimum wage, reducing student loan -- interest on student loans. Rolling back the subsidies for big oil, I think a lot of Americans would like to see that -- also, advancing stem cell research.

What's notably absent from this, Anderson, is a way forward in Iraq. They are -- they are -- they are...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, that's no coincidence, though. I mean, do you think they're...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... they're just waiting to kind of keep the president wrapped around this, or -- or...

GERGEN: Clearly they plan to do a lot of back seat driving on Iraq. But they're going to let the president keep his hand on the wheel. And you know, they don't have much confidence in his steering.

But I -- it does seem like there is an opening, given the backing in the White House for the Democrats to provide a stronger voice right now, before he makes his announcements on what they really want, which is a disengagement over time. As opposed to the kind of ideas that are now floating around the White House, and that is either to increase the number of troops in there, to have a surge or, indeed, to have an open-ended long-term presence with our fighting forces. And the Democrats are opposed to both of those, but they're not saying much about it.

There's one other change here, Anderson, that they're emphasizing, at least Mrs. Pelosi, maybe if she doesn't intend to communicate this, but she's always been emphasizing in the past, giving the government power to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs, for seniors. That doesn't seem to be part of the -- at least not at the top of the agenda she's communicating.

They've run into a lot of opposition even among their own Democrats in the Senate but more importantly in the White House and among the pharmaceutical companies. It will be interesting to see if she wants to take on that fight.

COOPER: It's got to be a tough time for Nancy Pelosi and for the Democrats, in some respects, because I mean, there is so much voter expectation of change on the ground in Iraq that they voted for change, they voted for something new, a new way forward, to use that phrase that everyone now seems to be using.

And yet, they are limited in what they can really do to make that change happen. And if they don't bring about change, do they then bear the brunt of voters' anger?

GERGEN: Well, that's an interesting question. I think that if the president -- if the president does what we all think he's now going to do, which is not to disengage but to go for victory, and whether he increases more troops or not, we'll have to wait and see, but he has to hang in there for victory, you know, I think the president administration of Republicans will bear most of that. And John McCain, for example, may pay a heavy price.

If he -- the Democrats need to show some sense of what they really believe that they want to show that there are constructive opposition to that. And as I say, I think they've sort of lost their voices here in the last few days. They have -- they've been preoccupied with other things.

And it's not as if they're at the table in trying to -- in trying to convince Americans, no, we really should not have an open-ended commitment. What they're going to do, in effect, is give the president some extra time. And then he may have three or four months to show if his plan could possibly work. We'll have to wait and see if it does.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, because I mean, all along this administration has said, look, we take, you know, our marching orders, if you will. We take our advice from commanders on the ground. Now you have John Abizaid -- General Abizaid saying, an influx of, you know, 30,000, 40,000 more troops isn't really going to do much more of anything. And yet, that seems to be where the president is going.

GERGEN: Isn't that interesting? I mean, John McCain, Senator McCain is pushing for more troops, you know, anywhere up to 30,000. And all sorts of reports are leaking out now that the president is seriously considering a surge in the number of troops, even though the Army said they'd have a hard time sustaining that.

But there doesn't seem to be any push from the military itself, whether it's in the Pentagon itself or over on the ground, as you say, in Iraq. It's very hard to see who the commanders are pushing for this surge. The president has said in the past he would listen to the commanders. Right now they seem to be listening to a different voice. His own voice is about victory as we know. I think he's -- I think he's spending some time listening to his own voice as well as listening to others.

COOPER: This president, in some ways, is boxed into a corner. If he changes course, if he basically then admits what he's been doing hasn't worked. And yet, you know, there's a price for sending in more troops. It is a gamble.

Gergen: It's doubling down your bet, isn't it? And it -- and it could come back even worse.

But this president, you know, is nothing, if not resolute and, let me say, overly stubborn and in denial about the nature of things there. If -- if he truly intends to increase the number of troops, he'd better have results pretty darn fast. Because he'll have a real fight on his hands back here.

The confidence levels in his handling of this war have plummeted. There's more confidence in the Democrats handling this in some polls now than in the Republicans. But I'll have to tell you something. The Democrats have to step up to this. They cannot do this as silent -- a silent party.

COOPER: We'll be watching.

David Gergen, always good talking to you. Thanks, David.

GERGEN: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up now, a legal battle. Jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs facing a judge today and receiving some pretty bad news about his own future. That's next.

And later, living beyond 100, staying young at a very old age. How far would you go to do it? Part of our special series when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: No, it's not Kenny G. It's the musical stylings of Warren Jeffs, former FBI fugitive, polygamist sect leader, and as he just heard, songs silenced. His thousands of followers stand behind him still. Tonight he's behind bars inside a jail house. Please, let's turn that off.

Earlier today, Jeffs was in court. So was CNN's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time since he was apprehended and charged with being an accomplice to rape, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was asked to make a plea. JUDGE JAMES SHUMATE, WASHINGTON COUNTY, UTAH: To these two offenses, Mr. Jeffs, how do you plead?

TUCHMAN: Jeffs said not guilty. You couldn't hear him or see him, because the court operated video system missed the moment. But the plea came just after the judge decided this man, who's been accused of performing marriages of many underage girls, must stand trial beginning April 23.

SHUMATE: I do find that there's probable cause that you committed counts one and count two as an accomplice, a party to two different acts of rape.

TUCHMAN: During this preliminary hearing the judge heard from the alleged victim, who was 14 when she says Warren Jeffs commanded her to marry her 19-year-old first cousin.

"JANE DOE", ALLEGED RAPE VICTIM: And the entire time I was there, I was -- I was crying. And I just -- I honestly just wanted to die, because I was so scared.

TUCHMAN: But Jeffs' attorney said he was following God's orders and didn't know the girl was having sexual intercourse against her will.

WALTER BUGDEN JR., WARREN JEFFS' LAWYER: There was never a report of sexual intercourse or rape to Mr. Jeffs.

TUCHMAN: But the judge cited her many complaints about the marriage.

SHUMATE: Marriage, as discussed by these parties, did also include the concept of sexual intercourse.

TUCHMAN: Jeffs is not accused of physically raping the star witness, but the ex-husband, who prosecutors say is criminally responsible, is not being charged as of now.

BRIAN FILTER, PROSECUTION'S SPOKESPERSON: There are valid tactical and legal reasons why that hasn't happened yet.

TUCHMAN: Prosecutors could be considering not charging the ex- husband in exchange for testifying against Jeffs. But could a jury be troubled by the alleged rapist was not charged by a crime and the alleged facilitator is?

PROF. LYNNE HENDERSON, UNLV LAW SCHOOL: No case that involves rape is a slam dunk. And he's charged with being an accomplice to rape, which adds a little wrinkle to it.

TUCHMAN: The alleged victim and her ex-husband, whose name we're not using because he hasn't been charged, lived in this house in a compound in Hilldale, Utah. It's not clear if the ex-husband still lives there. But we had hoped to get a comment from him by trying to get beyond the walls. (on camera) We've come here before, and rung the call bell, and it just rings and rings. They have a camera here and a camera there. They know who we are, and they're not particularly inclined to respond to us.

Hello. Hello.

(voice-over) There was no answer. The ex-husband is still active in the church. And although he wasn't in court at least 18 church members were. They rose in respect when their prophet entered the room. Jeffs smiled at them, and most of them smiled back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's at peace. He's at peace.

TUCHMAN: Smiles disappeared, though, after the judge's decision, which could lead to life in prison if Jeffs is found guilty of these crimes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So Gary, does he stay the leader of the church while he's behind bars and even if he's convicted?

TUCHMAN: Yes, I think it's fair to say, Anderson, that the people in these communities of Hilldale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, still consider him their leader. They tell us, in most cases, off camera, they love him, revere him. And they think he's being persecuted because of his religion.

But if he is convicted, and he ends up getting up to life in prison, it's not clear what would happen at that point. Because as we all know from watching the story and from watching previous stories, one of the big starts of being the leader is performing marriages. And if he's behind bars the rest of his life, he's not going to be able to do that.

COOPER: All right. Gary Tuchman, thanks.

Woody Allen once said he doesn't want to achieve immortality through his work; he wants to do it by not dying. That may be impossible, but many Americans' lives -- of course it's impossible. But many Americans are not only living past 100; they're thriving. The question is, what is their secret? We'll take a look at that, coming up.

Plus, what is a Christian? How do you fit in? A CNN special in the next hour, starting about 17 minutes from now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A programming note now about our special report coming up at the top of the hour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): From the Christians who believe the end is near and who look forward to that moment...

DARRELL BOCK, DALLAS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: The next thing that happens on the calendar is that Christ comes to gather his church. They're raptured and taken out of the world to be with him in heaven. He meets them in the clouds.

COOPER: ... to those Christians whose reading the gospel means promises of success...

LISA OSTEEN, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: Open up the doors for them to have well-paying jobs with full benefits, Father, in the name of Jesus.

COOPER: ... to those conservative Christians who rail against those who don't agree with their faith.

TUCHMAN: Do you think you have the same spirit as Jesus?

PASTOR RUSSELL JOHNSON, FAIRFIELD CHRISTIAN CHURCH: I think Jesus looked at some people and he said, "You all are dead man's bones. You have the stench of -- the stench of death all over you."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And that's only part of a growing and changing faith that encompasses the conservative and liberal, warrior and pacifist, the entire spectrum of American life, and touches us all, Christian or not. What is a Christian? A 360 special report starts in about 12 minutes from now.

Avoiding the hereafter, whatever it turns out to be, for as long as possible. Elizabeth Bolden was born before the invention of movies, radios, even the electric stove. When she died in Tennessee on Monday, she was 116 years old, believed to be the oldest person in the world.

Well, today, a record number of Americans are living beyond the century mark. And it's not just because of good genes.

Again, CNN's Gary Tuchman as we continue our series, "How Far Would You Go?"

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): At least four days a week for 15 minutes a day, Marge Jetton petals 30 miles an hour on her stationary bike.

MARGE JETTON, 102 YEARS OLD: One, two, three, four, five.

TUCHMAN: And she does multiple reps with her dumb bells. Not too bad for a woman who became a senior citizen in the 1960s.

(on camera) You don't look 102.

JETTON: Well, thank you, sir.

TUCHMAN: And if you're driving on the streets of Loma Linda, California, you might just see Marge behind the wheel.

JETTON: I always drive slowly, because I can get more mileage to my gas that way. Did you know that?

TUCHMAN (on camera): I did know that. You're right. You're right.

JETTON: Well, not very many men do.

I don't want the bun, but I want the hot dog. How about having two of them?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Marge is mentally sharp and physically fit and lives a busy awarding life at her senior hotel. She's been around for 18 presidents of the United States.

(on camera) Which president did you think you liked the best of all the presidents?

JETTON: Jimmy Carter was a good president. He still is a good man doing -- working for humanity. And of course, everybody liked Reagan. He has a personality that you have to like.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We first met bipartisan Marge last year, just after she turned 101.

(on camera) Why do you walk so fast? You have a tough time having people keep up with you?

JETTON: Somebody rings a bell, you've got to hurry. I've been a nurse for many years.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): A year later, no signs of slowing down.

(on camera) You're even exercising harder, more strenuously than when I saw you last year.

JETTON: You think so?

TUCHMAN: I do think so. How are you able to do that?

JETTON: I'm showing off, I guess.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Marge, whose husband died just three and a half years ago, is a Seventh Day Adventist. The Christian denomination preaches good health, and followers are not supposed to drink, smoke or eat many types of meats. Marge's hot dog, by the way, is made of tofu.

A National Institutes of Health report says Adventists in California live five to eight years longer than other people in the state.

Across the Pacific Ocean is the Japanese island of Okinawa, where people have the longest life expectancy in the world.

Danny Nakamura (ph) is a fisherman who chases fish in the open sea. He's 90 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My children tell me to stop fishing, but it's fun.

TUCHMAN: Ushi Okushima lives in a nearby village. Ushi's boyfriend is a young man of 77. She's 104.

USHI OKUSHIMA, 104 YEARS OLD: We worked for long hours in the field. We grew and ate our own vegetables. We never spent our money on extra food. I think that's why I lived so healthy.

TUCHMAN: The Okinawan diet is given most of the credit for the longevity here.

CRAIG WILLCOX, AUTHOR, "THE OKINAWA WAY": They eat a lot of vegetables. These green leafy vegetables are very high in antioxidants, help control the aging process. These people are active. They're out in their gardens. They're out walking. They're out socializing.

TUCHMAN: Diet and a low stress rural lifestyle play a role on another island, this one the Italian island of Sardinia. Thanks in part to a robust gene pool that has changed little over the centuries.

More centenarians live here than any place in Italy, people like Rafaella (ph), who is now 108, to be exact, and believed to be the oldest person in the country.

All these people in these far-flung corners of the globe share some things in common: good diet, exercise, genes, luck and something that can't be overestimated, being happy.

Back in Loma Linda, Marge was very happy after being given the honor of being grand marshal at the city parade.

(on camera) Did your hand get tired from waving?

JETTON: Not particularly. My friend said that I should have had a higher seat so they could see me better.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But even without that high seat, it was easy to see how much fun Marge was having, at the center of attention in her second century of life.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Loma Linda, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: How cool is Marge? To see video clips of our special series, or give our feedback, log onto CNN.com/360. Click on our "special report" link. We want to know how far will you go?

Coming up, "The Shot of the Day", literally a shot. Watch out, Mister. What is going on in this video? Yikes. Yes, we'll explain.

First, Tom Foreman joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Tom. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson.

We begin with a terror warning. The FBI saying if terror prisoner Omar Abdel-Rahman dies, Al Qaeda might lash out in revenge. Doctors recently discovered a tumor on his liver.

Abdel-Rahman is serving a life sentence for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and has previously called for reprisal attacks if he dies in prison.

In the U.N., there's a new man in charge. Ban Ki-moon was sworn in today as the eighth secretary-general. The one-time South Korean foreign minister officially takes over for Kofi Annan on New Year's Day.

New Jersey lawmakers today passed a bill getting same sex couples all the traditional marriage rights and privileges minus the "m" word. They'll be called civil unions. The governor says he'll sign it. A ruling by the New Jersey state Supreme Court prompted the legislation.

And in China, two dolphins saved by the world's tallest man. Veterinarians called in the 7'9" gentlemen with three foot long arms so he could reach inside the dolphins to remove plastic they had swallowed. The dolphins are expected to make a full recovery. But I'm pretty sure I'll be having nightmares.

COOPER: You're going to have nightmares about a guy reaching -- his long arms reaching into the dolphin?

FOREMAN: That's like the worst dreams of a teenager.

COOPER: That's funny.

Let's check out "The Shot of the Day." It made us jump around here. Stray gun fire caught on tape. A bullet smashes through a window at a train station here in New York, nearly striking a guy. Two police officers scrambled for cover.

It was one of 50 shots fired last month by five NYPD cops half a block away, outside a club. Those shots, of course, killed Sean Bell just hours before his wedding. Two of his friends were wounded. All the victims unarmed. Amazing. The shooting is under investigation.

Well, tomorrow on "American Morning", Miles O'Brien tells about a near miss in midair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MILES O'BRIEN, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING" (voice-over): it was a beautiful day for flying. Ernst Kuehne (ph) of Noos (ph), Germany, was piloting his small two-seater 1,000 feet above some idyllic French countryside near the town of Gaff (ph).

In an instant it became a pilot's worst nightmare. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw an airplane climbing right toward him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what I did, I pulled a little bit. When you see the video, something happened. I believe it was a rope in my propeller.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yikes. Find out what happened next and learn about the safety device that could save a pilot's life. On "American Morning" beginning at 6 a.m. Eastern with the O'Brien twins.

Straight ahead tonight, a 360 special on the changing face of Christianity in America. The vast majority of Americans, of course, are Christian, but what does that mean? Are we approaching the end of days? Meet the people who believe we are. Hear what they have to say about Middle East politics.

Also, does God want you to be rich? People practicing the Gospel of wealth, and others who call it heresy.

What is a Christian? Where do you fit? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Nearly nine in 10 Americans is a Christian. So what is a Christian? How is the definition changing? No matter what you believe, no matter what your faith, chances are the answers will one day touch your life.

So, what do you believe?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Patriot pastors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a battle between the forces of righteousness and the hoards of hell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do believe there's a battle between right and wrong. I do believe that there is the forces of darkness.

ANNOUNCER: The end of days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look at the Bible and you see all these things ling up, and it's not a coincidence. It is -- it is the end of the ages as we know it.

ANNOUNCER: A gospel of money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The word of God is the gateway to the world of wealth.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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