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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Iraq: The Endgame; Defiant Vice President; Cop in Court; Poll Vaulting; War Hero's Worries; Planet in Peril

Aired June 25, 2007 - 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: A friend of Cutts' is also charged with obstructing justice. The search for Davis ended in the worse possible way. This weekend her body found in a park. We'll have the latest tonight.
Also Vice President Dick Cheney claiming that he's not really part of the executive branch. We're kind of raising the question, why then did he claim executive privilege in the legal battle over his energy policy task force a while back? A constitutional battle is heating up tonight.

We begin, however, with Richard Lugar's stunning speech on the Senate floor. Just a short time ago, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called for a new direction in Iraq. His message could not have been clearer. Listen.

(BEGIN BREAKING NEWS)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved.

Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long-term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, those words coming just months after the so-called surge in U.S. troops in Iraq are a striking departure from Senator Lugar's previous support for President Bush and his Iraq strategy.

CNN's Dana Bash joins me now from Washington.

Dana, did the administration have any idea this was coming?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are told that the Senator has been making it pretty clear privately to the administration, the president himself, for some time that these are his feelings. But this, in terms of the public debate, the political debate, this really is a defining moment, Anderson.

Senator Richard Lugar is perhaps one of the most influential and most respected Republican voices in Congress when it comes to foreign policy. And until now, he has been pretty muted in his public criticism of the president's policy in Iraq.

Tonight, what Lugar declared is that the president's strategy to send more troops to Iraq is not working and must be changed now.

He said waiting until September to reassess, as the White House has requested, is a mistake because the political clock will have run out by then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUGAR: A course change should happen now. While there is still some possibility of constructing a sustainable, bipartisan strategy in Iraq.

If the president waits until the presidential election campaign is in full swing, the intensity of confrontation on Iraq is likely to limit the United States' options.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now here's why this is so significant, Anderson. This gives wavering Republicans -- which there are many -- political cover to come out in a much more robust way against the war.

And Democrats will say if you don't believe us when we say the president's Iraq strategy is off the rail, then listen to this very thoughtful red state Republican.

In fact, as soon as Lugar finished that lengthy speech tonight, the Senate's number two Democrat came out on the Senate floor and he called it akin to Robert Kennedy first coming out against the Vietnam war 40 years ago -- Anderson.

COOPER: So Lugar is talking about a course change. Does he really spell out what he thinks should happen next?

BASH: Well, in terms of whether or not -- the big question, right, whether or not troops should be withdrawn completely as some Democrats have talked about. He says that is not what he wants. He does say he wants to draw some troops down from Iraq, but he wants to refocus them in other areas of the Middle East.

Because Lugar is not just saying the president's Iraq policy has failed, he's warning that it's destroying U.S. credibility in the Middle East.

Then he's also saying it's time to just drop the idea of the United States making sure that there is a pluralistic, multiethnic democracy in Iraq. That is an outright repudiation of the president's vision for Iraq -- Anderson.

COOPER: What happens next? You say this sort of allows cover for other wavering Republicans to come forward.

BASH: That is going to be the big question. I would not be surprised if I go to Capitol Hill tomorrow and we hear more Republicans say, you know, we think that Richard Lugar -- again, who is perhaps the most if not one of the most influential voices, as I said, on the issue of foreign policy on Iraq -- if they say, you know, we agree with him.

This could be sort of the dam breaking, if you will. We've heard moderates coming out saying they don't agree with the president, we've heard some mavericks coming out, but nobody of the ilk of Richard Lugar.

We expected to hear something like this from him or maybe Senator John Warner, the ranking -- or another influential Republican on Iraq in September, not now. This is very, very significant.

COOPER: A big night. Dana Bash, thanks for that.

(END BREAKING NEWS)

COOPER: Keeping them honest now. Senator Lugar's switch comes at a time when the administration clearly seems to be trying to back pedal from the benchmarks it widely touted to win support for the increase in U.S. troops.

Remember September? That was supposed to be the deadline for showing progress. We heard it from the president, General Petraeus and others. But now that message is morphing. The date no longer seems so certain.

What we've done is we've taken some statements made over the last several months to kind of show you how the statements seem to be morphing, going all the way back to last December. That's where we begin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think anybody has a definite idea about how long the surge would last. I think for most of us in our minds, we're thinking of it as a matter of months. Not 18 months or two years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As General Petraeus has said, sometime in late August, early September, he plans to come back and talk to the political leadership in Washington and give them his honest assessment as to what's possible here in Iraq.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What I would suggest is rather than that it's sort a pivotal one, it is the first opportunity to be able to take a look at what happens when you've got it up and running fully for a period of months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we'll see some trends and be able to point in some directions by September. The full impact of the surge is really just beginning to be felt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN BREAKING NEWS) COOPER: So, sounds like they're changing the tune. Just a week ago, on the Sunday talk show circuit, General David Petraeus said that September would provide a snapshot -- that's the word he used -- a snapshot of the situation in Iraq, and the success of the surge. A Polaroid, not a portrait, in other words.

With those words in mind I'm joined now by former Presidential Adviser David Gergen in Boston and CNN's Michael Ware in Baghdad, keeping them honest.

Michael, first of all, just this timeline -- September clearly was the date months and months ago, many -- we were hearing on this side of the Atlantic about when we would know. What are you hearing on the ground there from military officials? Do they already feel like they know how it's going?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, in fact, indeed, Anderson, it's quite the opposite. I mean, here on the ground, since the beginning of the announcement of the surge, since the first deployment of the troops, since General Petraeus and his top ranking commanders began dealing with the journalists, with the media on the issue of the surge, they had been downplaying the notion of September. They have been highlighting how illusory September really is.

I mean, bear in mind, the surge troops have only now just arrived within the last couple of weeks. The surge troops have only now just begun their first massive operation. Indeed, the largest operation involving U.S. forces since the invasion itself.

So in many regards, the surge has only now just begun. So they've been saying from the beginning, you got to wait for the troops to get there, you got to give them time to act, and then we're going to sit back and wait for the consequences to flow.

So they've been saying September. Best guess, all we'll be able to say is if the strategy is on track or not, not whether it's worked or not.

So basically, General Petraeus is going to have so many different pieces of data, so many different opinions flying into him, he's just going to be going on gut instinct, quite frankly, come September.

COOPER: David Gergen, does it seem to you as if this administration, though, is trying to back pedal on the September date?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Sure. They have been trying to downplay its significance to buy themselves more time. The snapshot idea -- you know, we'll give you a snapshot and a part of a moving picture is obviously intended to give them more time until the spring if they can get that.

But the speech by Senator Lugar tonight is a dramatic break with the administration. Dick Lugar has been a pillar of the foreign policy establishment in this country now for a couple of decades. One of the most respected members on either side of the aisle, his voice carries enormous weight. And what he is basically saying, Anderson, it's not a question just to whether the surge may work in the short-term or not. He's basically saying given the political fragmentation in Iraq, given the fact the surge will take a long time regardless, and given the fact that the politics in this country prevent us from staying for the long haul, we have to face up to the reality that if we hang in there, it's going to diminish us as a world power on all sorts of other fronts. It's really going to diminish our national security. So that we have to change course in order to preserve our strength as a great power.

He's not saying simply -- this is not simply about the surge, it's an agonizing speech which he's obviously been thinking about a long time that it breaks dramatically with where the administration is.

It has the same kind of weight as the Iraq Study Group in the sense it comes from such a person of stature that it really begins to -- it does change the discourse.

COOPER: Michael, this September benchmark was designed to give the Iraqis cover for reconciling political differences. The whole idea of the so-called surge or escalation which is basically what it is, was to improve the security situation so there could be political progress. Have they made any political progress at this point?

WARE: No. We know that they've stalled. And to be honest here on the ground, there's absolutely no real expectation that this so- called Malachi government -- because indeed it really isn't a government, it's just a patchwork of opposing militias, almost none of whom are loyal to Prime Minister Malachi -- were ever going to meet these benchmarks.

Even if Prime Minister Malachi sincerely wants reconciliation or to achieve political gains on any of the other key fronts, he honestly doesn't have the power to deliver.

So the concept that the surge would buy him time, yes, that's certainly the way it was sold. But honestly, in real politic, there's very little chance of that.

And the surge is one thing in achieving whatever goals it has set out to achieve. Whether America can win the war overall is a totally different question.

As a very senior officer said to me just the other day, it's time for America to start dumming (ph) down its notion of success in Iraq. Because the picture people have back home just simply is not going to achieve. Nonetheless, pulling out is going to be such a disservice to U.S. foreign policy and national interests for generations to come, it's simply not an option.

COOPER: And David, for this administration, I mean, there is no Plan B.

GERGEN: That's exactly right. And when you look at the Senator Lugar's speech, he's not saying let's pull out. He is saying let's downsize. And that is moving toward, in effect, a Plan B.

And you can talk to people privately in the administration, I have in recent days, there are serious people inside are beginning to think yes, we do have to think through a Plan B. What would it look like? Well, we might -- if we downsized to say, 75,000 troops, we might put one large group, one contingent in the north, to make sure the north doesn't erupt, the Kurdish area, another in the south, and Baghdad would probably -- you know, would be -- we'd get off the streets of Baghdad and it would probably become another Beirut to the extent that it already isn't there. Michael knows that so well.

But I think all the signs now point even more heavily tonight, that the military -- our U.S. military on the ground do not think they can come back and report in September that this has been an astonishing success.

This was all along a hail Mary pass. And, you know, we are -- and -- and what Senator Lugar is saying is let's wake up to reality and get ready for that. Let's not get into a precipitous withdrawal come September, October.

COOPER: A big development tonight.

David Gergen, appreciate it.

Michael Ware, as well.

Thank you very much, guys.

(END BREAKING NEWS)

COOPER: Another battle for the White House tonight. The executive branch of government -- now, you would think that would include more than just the president. That's what we all learn in history books. At least the vice president's office, not to mention all the other top officials working in and around the White House.

But hang on, Vice President Dick Cheney says no, he should not be included in the executive branch, at least not when it comes to disclosing how many documents the government classifies, to keep them out of the public eye.

This is the same Vice President Cheney who claimed executive privilege to avoid having to tell Americans who participated in his energy policy task force.

A contradiction? Well, it is creating a big uproar on the Hill tonight and the White House is scrambling to explain the vice president's claim.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... go back to Vice President Cheney again and the argument that he's not part of the executive branch. Does the president believe he's part of the executive branch? DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I think that that is an interesting constitutional question. I'll see if I can get more from the vice president's office to see if they -- how they connected the two.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, also though, you mentioned a moment ago that the vice president gets his paycheck from the Senate. Does the White House then also believe he should get funding for the vice president's office from the legislative branch instead of from the executive branch?

PERINO: I don't know. Look, I'm not a legal scholar. And there's plenty of them that you can find in Washington, D.C. Look, you can try to call his office and try to get more information. And I would ask you to call over to the Justice Department. I don't know why he made the arguments that he did. But I -- it might not have been clear to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little surreal. I mean, how is it possible...

(CROSSTALK)

PERINO: You're telling me.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...that you can't give an opinion about whether the vice president is part of the executive branch or not.

PERINO: Look, all I know is that...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little bit like someone saying I don't know if this is my wife or not.

PERINO: I think it's a little bit more complicated than that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, clearly a difficult day for the White House trying to explain themselves.

Joining me now is CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry.

We just heard the White House basically struggling to explain the vice president's decision. The briefing what was bizarre. We just saw you there. What is going on here?

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what's really going on is that the vice president doesn't want any scrutiny. We've known that for a long time. He doesn't want the press prying around. He doesn't want the Congress prying around. And so he crafted this legal argument that on its face is absurd. Let's face it -- Republicans privately admit that. But what's going on is that the White House, rather than saying, you know what, that doesn't really make sense, let's correct that, let's move forward, let's find a different way. Instead, they don't like to admit mistakes. They dig in deeper and deeper.

And we've seen it happen on Iraq, as you've been talking about for the last 10 minutes. We've seen it on Alberto Gonzales as well. And rather than saying, you know what, there was a mistake made. Let's move on, they dig in deeper and deeper -- Anderson.

COOPER: Is the vice president basically just trying to buy time, though?

HENRY: He is trying to buy time, mostly from this Congress that all of a sudden is sending subpoenas the way of the White House. And the vice president realizes that if he starts giving some information here, he's going to have to start giving even more information down the road.

But what's really interesting is that today the president invited some presidential scholars, high school students to the White House. And before this meeting, CNN has learned, these high school students approached the president and handed him a letter signed by 50 of these high school students, saying we want you to make sure that torture is not going on, make sure that detainees are being treated properly. And we're told that the president said I can assure you that detainees are not being tortured. We respect human rights. But it was quite a moment that high school students were moved to confront the president face to face.

When you read this four part series in the "Washington Post," day after day, very senior people like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, were afraid to stand up to Vice President Cheney over the last few years and say, wait a second, this is not the right strategy, but yet high school students are not afraid to do that -- Anderson.

COOPER: Remarkable developments.

Ed Henry, appreciate it. Thanks.

Up next, the murder case that is grabbing the headlines now in the hands of a judge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): Showdown in court, between the cop accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and unborn child and the victim's mother who wants justice.

PATTY PORTER, JESSIE DAVIS'S MOTHER: Absolutely I wanted him to see me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did he look at you?

PORTER: Yes, he did. COOPER: Tonight, new details on the murder of Jessie Davis and her baby.

Plus a singing Senator.

(SINGING)

Tonight, raw music in raw politics. We'll explain when 360 continues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATTY PORTER, JESSIE DAVIS'S MOTHER: Blake is doing as well as can be expected for a 2-1/2-year-old whose mom is not coming home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he understand that?

PORTER: No. We tell him that his mom is with Jesus in heaven. And he still asks for her, and he calls her. He has an old cell phone and he calls her and talks to her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (on camera): A very difficult day for Patricia Porter, the mother of Jessie Davis.

The weekend began with hope that Jessie and her unborn child, Chloe, would be found alive.

Tonight we know both are dead. Their remains were buried in a shallow grave. We also know that Davis's ex-boyfriend, a married cop, is charged with their murders.

And he's not the only one under arrest. There are new developments in the case, new details of the crime, the evidence and a rumored confession. All as the victim's family stares down the alleged killer in court.

CNN's Jason Carroll has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The State of Ohio vs. Bobby Lee Cutts Jr.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bobby Cutts Jr. made his first appearance in court since being charged with murdering his former girlfriend, Jessie Davis and her unborn child. She had been 9 months pregnant.

Jessie Davis's mother stood throughout the hearing and looked Cutts straight in the eye. She wanted make sure he knew she was there.

PATTY PORTER, JESSIE DAVIS'S MOTHER: I believe my whole life has prepared me for this moment and I'm not sitting down when I see Bobby Cutts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patty, what was going through your mind when he walked into the court?

PORTER: I can't really verbalize the things that were going through my mind, but I wanted to make sure that he knew I was there.

CARROLL: A friend of Cutts, Myisha Ferrell, was charged with obstruction of justice. Davis's mother also stood throughout Ferrell's appearance and looked her in the eye.

Cutts and Ferrell were arrested this weekend after investigators found Davis's body in a park.

A source close to the investigation tells CNN, it was Cutts who led investigators to Davis's body.

Cutts says he's innocent. His attorney refused to comment on rumors that Cutts confessed.

BRADLEY IAMS, BOBBY CUTTS' ATTORNEY: I'm not going to talk about the evidence.

CARROLL: Investigators say Ferrell was a high school friend of Cutts and is unemployed. Cutts's attorney declined to say whether they've been romantically involved.

Authorities searched her home, but still have not revealed what they found.

Davis's mother said her daughter did not know Ferrell. She also says Cutts is not the man she thought she knew.

PORTER: We knew Bobby Cutts up to a certain day in this. And from that day on, we did not know him at all.

CARROLL: The Davises say they came to court seeking not vengeance, but justice for their daughter who they say has been portrayed unfairly.

PORTER: The only way I can conceive this is if you would go to a trash yard and you would see garbage and rubbish and trash, and then you look around and you see this little pink cashmere sweater on top of it and you go, what's that doing there? People who know her, know what a wonderful person that she was.

CARROLL (on camera): Bail for Ferrell is set at half a million dollars. For Cutts, $5 million. Both are expected in court next week.

But autopsy results, which could reveal how Jessie Davis was killed, not expected for weeks. Jason Carroll, CNN, Canton, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Just a few days ago, Bobby Cutts Jr., of course, was free and he was talking. Some of what he said is on tape and we have it. It was given during a lengthy interview with Todd Porter, a reporter for the "Canton Repository."

I spoke with Todd Porter earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

Todd, you conducted the only interview that Bobby Cutts Jr. has done. I want to listen to some of what he told you. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD PORTER, "CANTON REPOSITORY" REPORTER: Do you believe Jessie will be found alive?

BOBBY CUTTS, BOYFRIEND OF JESSIE DAVIS: Hopefully she'll be found alive.

T. PORTER: Bobby, did you have anything at all to do with the disappearance of Jessie?

CUTTS: No, I didn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: What did he tell you about what happened? What was his story then?

TODD PORTER, "CANTON REPOSITORY" REPORTER: Well, he didn't really -- he didn't at all expand on those answers at all. Talking about a timeline or an alibi were questions that were off limits.

COOPER: What do we know as fact in terms of what he has told authorities? Do we know anything?

T. PORTER: We don't know anything about what he has told authorities other than -- what we know as fact is he's charged with two counts of murder and a high school friend of his is charged with obstructing justice right now.

I can tell you within the last hour and a half, Canton Rep.com, what we're reporting is on Thursday morning, the day that Jessie Davis is to have alleged to have gone missing and murdered in her home according to police documents, Mr. Cutts was supposed to meet with a local high school football coach very close to his house. That meeting was supposed to take place at 9:00 a.m. He showed up 90 minutes late. He was meeting about perhaps getting a promotion from an eighth grade coaching job to a freshman coaching job.

And I'm told by a source close to Mr. Cutts that he would never have missed that meeting or been late for that meeting because coaching football was something that he adored. It was something that was very important to him.

And as a matter of fact, Anderson, in that interview that I conducted with him, he spoke about coaching football and how much that meant to him. He did -- ultimately did not get the job because he showed up late and he -- something just wasn't right about him, what I'm told by school officials there.

COOPER: A source close to the investigation has told CNN that Cutts helped police find Davis's body. Have you heard that?

T. PORTER: I've heard that as well. That's -- it's unconfirmed at this point. But it does make sense because the search was going on in Stark County on Saturday. The search was called off. And well away from the search, about 40 miles away from the search is where Jessie Davis's body was found.

COOPER: I want to play just another excerpt from your interview with Cutts. This one is about his personal life. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. PORTER: Do you understand why people or how people are viewing and portraying you? You're a married man who has fathered one child and is expecting a second with another woman. Do you understand, you know, where people are coming from with all that?

CUTTS: I mean, I understand that, but everyone has problems. Me and my wife, I mean, we're still married, but we weren't together and things happened when we weren't together, so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Cutts was obviously married, as he talks about. He was involved with Jessie Davis. And then this Myisha Ferrell, who was in court today, what do we know about their relationship?

T. PORTER: The only thing I know about their relationship is they were high school friends. She doesn't typically fit the profile for, you know, a woman that Mr. Cutts dated.

COOPER: So as far -- all we know is that they were high school friends, but clearly authorities believe she played some role in what transpired?

T. PORTER: Well, she's -- she's charged with obstructing justice and right now what that means is she's impeded their investigation in some fashion and as it relates to being forthcoming with information or truthfulness.

COOPER: Why do you think he talked to you? I mean, why did he do an interview with you?

T. PORTER: Well, I knew Mr. Cutts. I first met him about 3-1/2 years ago when he played for a local minor league indoor football team and I did a story on him about the local police officer who worked the midnight shift, who was playing football on his off days for the local minor league football team, the indoor football team, for about $200 a game.

COOPER: So he clearly knew you, perhaps felt comfortable with you. In that interview, did you feel he was trying to convince you or convince listeners of something?

T. PORTER: I don't know if he was trying to convince me or listeners. It would really be speculation and conjecture on my part to -- to try and read, you know, what was in his mind for doing the interview.

I can tell you that during the interview he looked like a man who was emotionally drained and physically tired.

COOPER: Todd Porter, you've been all over this. We appreciate it. And thanks for talking with us.

T. PORTER: Anderson, thank you for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, we came across some disturbing statistics for tonight's raw data. According to a 2005 report by the American Journal of Public Health, murder is one of the leading causes of death for pregnant women. From 1991 to 1999, 617 pregnant women were murdered in America. That accounts for 31 percent of all pregnancy deaths during the time period; 56 percent of the victims were shot to death.

Now here's Kiran Chetry with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, doctors aren't yet ready to call it an addiction like alcoholism, but how do you know if you or your kids are spending a dangerous amount of time playing video games? How much is too much? Or does it depend on what kind of game you're playing?

Well, we have the bottom line for you tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 a.m., Eastern.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Well, still to come, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he is not running for president, but tonight, we know what kind of impact he could have if he entered the race. A new poll in raw politics.

Plus Tammy Duckworth, a war hero who lost both her legs in Iraq is now facing a new battle because her husband is heading off to war. The story, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(SINGING)

COOPER: Ah, yes, brings back memories of rainbow suspenders and "Happy Days" lunch boxes. That is the 1970s AM classic, "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing."

Joy, in Chicago, one of our viewers, thought it would be a great theme for a 360's campaign coverage. Even though, Joy, we made it clear on the rules that music from Leo Sayer, Journey or Sheena Easton were not allowed. Although, I think I did say Leo Sayer was maybe allowed, so we'll let this slide.

We have gotten a ton of responses from viewers suggesting different campaign songs. You can just go to CNN.com/360, hit us with your best shot, so to speak.

As for our political coverage, we have the latest tonight on the race, a big court ruling, even a little singing.

CNN's Tom Foreman has the raw politics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, with summer just starting out, no one is hotter in the presidential decathlon than the guy who is poll vaulting.

(voice-over): He's still not in the race, but New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is rocketing upward.

Our latest CNN numbers hot off the griddle show Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani pretty much even.

But in a three-way race, an Independent Bloomberg pulls a hefty 17 percent.

The raw politics perspective, that's about what Ross Perot got and almost half of America doesn't even know Bloomberg is -- yet.

Mitt Romney knows where the money is -- in his back pocket. He's leading the dollar chase for Republicans, but admits for the second time, he's going to give money to his own campaign.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a nightmare. It is a nightmare.

FOREMAN: Romney says he's just got to do it to get his name out there, even as he comes under blistering attacks for being a flip- flopper on issues.

But, he's got a personal fortunate of at least $190 million, so the check is probably good.

Some quick hits. Campaign finance reform -- ha! Under the steering of John McCain, Congress passed a law to restrict commercials by special interest groups who want effect the election. But now the Supreme Court says can't do it. Cuts into free speech. Expect a barrage of such ads as a result.

Free speech at a gay pride parade in San Francisco. Elizabeth Edwards says she's fine with gay marriage. Her husband, John, however, says he's against it.

And shine up the Grammy for the best foreign language recording. The big man from Massachusetts. Senator Ted Kennedy on Spanish radio.

(SINGING)

FOREMAN (on camera): OK. One more item. The annual Congressional baseball game is kicking off summer here, the Democrats against the Republicans. And as a courtesy, both sides say they'll look the other way when bases are stolen -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Tom, thanks.

More on Iraq from Erica Hill. She joins us with a 360 bulletin on some of the other stories we're following -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a suicide bomb attack at a busy Baghdad hotel has killed at least 12 people. Most of the victims are Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders. They were at the Mansur Hotel for talks on Iraqi reconciliation.

Near Lake Tahoe, California, fire crews today beefing up their air and ground assault against a huge wildfire. The blaze has already scorched 2,400 acres, destroyed at least 240 homes and other buildings. Investigators are trying to figure out if it is arson or if the fire was accidentally set.

And here's what -- and you've been waiting breathlessly for, Anderson. Your favorite jailbird. Stress on the bird there. It could be flying free as early as overnight tonight. That's right. She who must not be named says she's learned her lesson. She's going to change her ways. We're going to find out exactly what that means Wednesday night when she is scheduled to give her first post-jail TV interview to our own Larry King. Happens Wednesday, of course, right here on CNN at 9:00 Eastern. I know you're going to tune in, right?

COOPER: I'm going to tune in because I follow it so I'll certainly be watching it.

HILL: There you go.

COOPER: And no money was exchanged.

HILL: That's right, because we don't pay for interviews.

COOPER: That's right. Those other guys were going to pay about like -- it was at first $100,000 and then it went up to $1 million.

HILL: And then $1 million? I mean, that almost makes you want to go to jail. But not totally. Just almost. COOPER: Yes.

HILL: Yes. How about we move on to what were they thinking? What do you think?

COOPER: How about that?

HILL: OK, great idea. So anyway, I've been asking that question about this next story since the first time I read it. Yes, the guy who was suing for his pants, wanting $54 million. He got it down to only a couple of million. Suing the dry cleaners who he claims lost his pants. Well that Washington, D.C., judge who filed the lawsuit today, whatever he was thinking, probably thinking of a little something else tonight after a judge threw the lawsuit out today, ordered him to pay the dry cleaner's court costs -- but get this. That's only going to amount to about $1,000. Their legal bills, though, $100,000. They're still going to try to get him to pay their attorney's fees. But how about that bill?

COOPER: Crazy.

HILL: Talk about taking the cleaners to the cleaners.

COOPER: Well, you know, I'm glad this story is over because then no more puns. No more like, you know, cheesy anchor person puns.

HILL: Like the hey...

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: We got it all buttoned up today.

COOPER: Ah, I didn't think of that one. They sued the pants off you.

HILL: Oh! He's on fire tonight, that Cooper.

COOPER: That's right.

HILL: All right.

COOPER: Stay classy, San Diego.

Got to love (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Don't miss the day's headlines and raw politics with the new 360 daily pod cast. You don't need a stinking iPod. You can watch it on your computer at CNN.com/AC360podcast. Did you get that? Or get it from the iTunes store where it's a top download.

Up next, a war hero's new worries. She lost both her legs in Iraq and now her husband is heading to the war zone.

Also these stories.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER (voice-over): A manmade environmental crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the worst erosion you'll see anywhere on the planet.

COOPER: One of the world's most spectacular islands vanishing from a planet in peril, when 360 continues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER (on camera): That's Tammy Duckworth. You might remember, a double amputee from the Iraq War. Her helicopter was shot down in 2004 and she lost both her legs. Later, she ran for Congress, losing by less than 3 percent of the vote.

Well, now, Duckworth faces another loss. Her husband is headed to the war zone in just days. We were there as she said goodbye.

Here's 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A farewell parade playing out in small towns across America. Young men and women marching off to war.

In Delavan, Illinois, Iraq War Veteran Tammy Duckworth watches the troops go by. She lost both legs in Iraq and now worries she may lose something even more precious -- her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey.

(SINGING)

GUPTA: Today, he's the one heading to the danger zone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're coming right by us.

GUPTA: In November 2004, Tammy's tour in Iraq came to a tragic end.

TAMMY DUCKWORTH, DISABLED IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I just heard the tap, tap, tap, then I remember a big orange fireball in my face.

GUPTA: Her helicopter had been hit by a rocket propelled grenade.

DUCKWORTH: I don't remember my physical feelings other than absolute frustration that the pedals of the aircraft were not responding to me pushing on them.

GUPTA (on camera): The pedals weren't responding, why? You know now?

DUCKWORTH: Yes. I didn't have any legs.

GUPTA (voice-over): But tragedy brought a new sense of purpose.

DUCKWORTH: My name is Tammy Duckworth, and I'm here today to fight for my country.

GUPTA: She ran for Congress.

DUCKWORTH: The policymakers have failed us. We should focus on military resources on pursuing the terrorists who attacked our country and on capturing Osama bin Laden. Instead, President Bush and his top advisors decided to invade Iraq.

GUPTA: She fell less than 5,000 votes short of a win. Her husband, Bryan, at her side as she conceded the tight election.

DUCKWORTH: It's OK. We put up a tough fight, folks.

GUPTA: On this day, a loss is more personal.

DUCKWORTH: I'm going to miss you.

MAJ. BRYAN BOWLSBEY, TAMMY'S HUSBAND: I'm going to miss you, baby.

GUPTA (on camera): I mean, you just had this thing happen -- this awful thing happen to you over there. You must worry that something like this might happen to him?

DUCKWORTH: I am worried. I am worried. You know, we're planning for him not making it home.

GUPTA: You plan for that?

DUCKWORTH: We're planning for him being killed. He's going to be doing one of the most dangerous things you can do, which is running convoys.

GUPTA: You're planning for your husband being killed?

DUCKWORTH: Yes. And then -- that's the worst case. And then we'll pray that he doesn't get hurt and he gets to come home.

GUPTA (voice-over): Bryan is torn between caring for his disabled wife at home and serving his country overseas. The weight of his emotion, clear when we asked him if he ever considered staying back with Tammy.

BOWLSBEY: I won't say that it never crossed my mind, but I just, I can't. It's just not -- I mean there would be -- no, that's just not, not what we do.

When I look left and right at everybody else in the battalion formation with me, they're all needed here, too.

GUPTA: Bryan has clocked 19 years in the Army National Guard, but has never deployed until now. BOWLSBEY: It was unexpected that would happen this year is the only -- the only wildcard in the whole thing. Kind of makes you, OK, I thought I had an extra year to get the house ready.

GUPTA: He spent the last few months preparing their home so Tammy can be more self-sufficient.

But on this day, Bryan must leave his wife behind.

DUCKWORTH: I'm just going to miss him. I'm just going miss, you know, my best friend. But he's under orders to come home. I'm the household commander at this point and he's under orders to come home. So he would be disobeying a direct order and I do outrank him by a few months.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well ahead on 360, a place unlike any other on earth. So many animals you probably haven't seen before and they are very much in trouble. We'll take you there in our "Planet in Peril" series next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world with a wildlife and a landscape unlike anything else on earth.

But one day, however, much of it may exist only in memories and history books. That's because the forest and the animals are under threat from human consumption. We're going to show it to you tonight.

Our "Planet in Peril" series continues with Wildlife Biologist Jeff Corwin's bird's eye view of an island on the edge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST: From the air it becomes very clear that humanity has had a devastating impact on the biological wonders unique to Madagascar.

Unfortunately Madagascar is disappearing. Today, in the 21st century, less than 10 percent of the original pristine habitat remains to support all this life.

Again, 90-plus percent of what lives here is only found in Madagascar and it is quickly disappearing. It is one of the finest -- and that's a profound way to put it way of illustrating how our planet is in peril.

What was once a lush rain forest teaming with wildlife is now just a barren landscape.

RUSS MITTERMEIER, PRESIDENT, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL: This all deforested. Look at this stuff. CORWIN: The primary cause, unsustainable agriculture.

MITTERMEIER: You're getting very, very short term slash and burn agriculture. You cut down a forest, you burn it, you get crops for two or three years and then you move to the next batch of forests.

CORWIN: But not only are these forests key to the survival of wildlife, they also provide stability for the landscape.

MITTERMEIER: This is the worst erosion you'll see anywhere on the planet.

CORWIN: Without these forests, the soil just literally melts away, not only making it useless for agriculture, but uninhabitable for human beings as well.

MITTERMEIER: You can see the massive flow of silt in this river, it is literally like a coffee-colored vein of death as the life that was once in this forest is washed away into oblivion.

CORWIN: But despite this environmental catastrophe, Madagascar is far from a lost cause.

MITTERMEIER: The amazing thing, that in a country that's lost 90 percent of its original natural vegetation where all that remains is packed into an area about twice the size of the state of New Jersey, and yet every time one of our rapid assessment program expeditions goes out, we find literally dozens of new species. Everything from insects all the way up to new species of primates.

CORWIN: Conservationists and research biologists are just scratching the surface of trying to understand the diverse wildlife that exists here. In fact, in just the past 13 years they have discovered nearly 50 new species of Madagascar's endemic primate the lemur.

MITTERMEIER: So if you lose one of these little patches, it's much more significant than if you lose a patch of forest virtually anywhere else in the world.

CORWIN: For Madagascar, time just simply running out.

MITTERMEIER: The impacts of this are far reaching and long-term, and it's absolutely critical now that we prevent more of this from happening and that we invest a relatively little amount needed to ensure that the remaining forest is protected. Otherwise the entire country is going to wind up looking like this. And really, over the long haul, it's going to be impossible to support human life as well.

CORWIN: Jeff Corwin, Madern Sacha (ph), Madagascar.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Deforestation is remarkable.

The shot of the day is coming up, an ugly dog that is having, well, a very good day.

Plus, will Rosie O'Donnell go from talk show host to game show host? Erica Hill will come on down, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Coming up, our shot of the day. We got to warn you, we're talking ugly here. Very, very ugly. But in the end, also kind of ugly-cute maybe. Maybe not so much.

Erica Hill joins us again with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, al Qaeda's number two man voicing support for Hamas. It comes in a message posted on Islamic Web site. Ayman al- Zawahiri calling on fellow Muslims to back Hamas leaders who took control of Gaza two weeks ago.

And in another Middle East development, Hamas has released an audiotape of its own. This one said to be a statement from an Israeli soldier who has been held captive now for a year. The Hamas called the message a signal to Israel that it wants to resume negotiations for the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldier.

The Supreme Court today handing down a defeat a former Alaska high school student. He claimed his free speech rights were violated after he was suspended for a banner that read bong hits for Jesus. He had it at a school event. The justices ruled that schools can prohibit some acts of student expression.

And the price might have been right, but Rosie O'Donnell says the location is all wrong. So she's out of the running now to replace Bob Barker as host of "The Price is Right." Rosie says she has always loved the show, but doesn't need the money and doesn't want to move her family to L.A. where the show is filmed.

Would have been a good gig.

COOPER: What are you going to do?

HILL: It happens. The showcase showdown moves on.

COOPER: Moves on. Who will it be next?

Time for the shot of the day. Get ready for ugly. We are talking really ugly. This dog, Elwood, (ph).

HILL: Whoa!

COOPER: Oh yes. Stand back. It is official, Elwood (ph) was crowned the world's ugliest dog at a county fair in northern California.

HILL: Does Elwood's (ph) tongue always stick out like that?

COOPER: I like to -- yes, apparently so. HILL: I think it really adds a little something to Elwood (ph).

COOPER: Elwood (ph) is a 2-year-old crested Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix. He's got a little Mohawk, got the bug eyes and the long wagging tongue.

I got to tell you, it was a tossup between this ugly dog contest and this ugly dog.

HILL: How about this guy? Crazy.

COOPER: Yes. This guy's -- yes, a real charmer, this one. He's a Utah prison inmate who escaped today while out for a medical appointment. During the escape, he allegedly shot a correction's officer to death with the guard's own gun. He was recaptured, thankfully, about an hour later inside a fast-food restaurant.

HILL: Just wild. And apparently he like stole a car on a highway. Stopped a car, forced the people out, took the SUV, allegedly.

COOPER: And he's got swastikas tattooed on his face.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: It's a skinhead too?

COOPER: How big of a moron can you possibly be?

HILL: Yes. Well, there you have it.

COOPER: There you go.

We want you to send us your shot ideas. If you see some amazing videos or pictures, tell us about it at CNN.com/360. We'll put some of your best clips on the air.

And mark your calendars, starting next month presidential candidates are going to have to answer your questions at the CNN YouTube debates.

I hope you've heard about this. The Democrats face off July 23rd, Republicans on September 17th. I'm hosting the first one. If I don't screw up too badly, I don't know, we'll see about the second one.

This is actually your chance to get the candidates' attention. To learn more, head to CNN.com/youtubedebates.

We'll have more of 360 after the break, including some of the e- mails that you sent to us. So state right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A lot of you commenting on the 360 blog about our "Keeping them Honest" report on earmark requests on Capitol Hill. We called every member of the House, asking them to come clean about their money requests. So far most of them have not.

Joseph in North Huntington, Pennsylvania, writes: "It's time for the members of Congress to remember we, the voters, are their employer. When it comes time for their employee review in November 2008, we can replace all of them if need be."

Barbara in Culver City, California, says: "I was dismayed to find my Congress person on the list of 'no response.' I just e-mailed her and asked her to kindly cooperate with CNN's request. Now that she knows my e-mail address, I'll probably be getting a request for a donation as her response to me!"

Most likely.

Tila in L.A. sees it differently. "I may be completely wrong, but don't you think that publishing this information is not a good idea? Let's say, how good is it for everybody in the world to know exactly what is going on in every single region of the U.S.?"

Interesting thought.

And Kristina in Chicago, writes: "I got two words for Congressmen of all parties: term limits."

As always, this segment is all about you. Share your thoughts at CNN.com/360blog.

For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is coming up next.

Here in America, "LARRY KING" is next.

See you tomorrow.

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