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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

New Leads in Reasons for Killer Rampage; Budget Highlights Complex Relationship Between President, Congress; Obama-Clinton Power Duo; Nation's First Stimulus-Financed Project Begins in Maryland

Aired March 11, 2009 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight from Alabama, where investigators have a possible motive in the shooting spree that left 11 people dead. This is the man who went on the deadly rampage; he killed relatives, strangers, children. Take a look at this face.

We know this 28-year-old man at one point worked for a day as a police officer. We also know he had no criminal record. But why did he arm himself with assault rifles and turned three towns into his own killing field? Tonight we may finally have the answer.

For the latest on the breaking news, let's go to Sean Callebs live in Geneva, Alabama. Sean, what have we just learned?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, really this is the question people in this area have asked for the past day here. We've talked to the lead investigator of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation Barry Tucker. He told me it's not one specific thing but multi-pronged.

And they're looking at a couple things. One, McLendon's state of mind; he was depressed by all accounts in talking to his friends. And secondly, was really down about, quote, "his position in life, his job, the economy." He felt that he should be doing much better as a 28-year-old man.

That may help people in this area who have been asking all along, what sparked this violent rampage?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH MYERS, GENEVA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPUTY: I just know my wife and my baby girl is in heaven with Jesus right now.

CALLEBS: Clutching pictures of his family Sheriff's Deputy Josh Myers mourns two of the victims from yesterday's shooting his wife, Andrea and his 18-month-old daughter, Corinne.

MYERS: I just don't understand why anything like this would happen. I don't know what to say.

CALLEBS: His two other young children survived the single deadliest criminal rampage ever in Alabama. It lasted less than an hour, covered 24 miles and left three towns in bloodshed and tears. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all shocked and grieved by these events.

CALLEBS: Authorities say 28-year-old Michael McLendon began his deadly spree by killing his mother in Kinston and setting fire to the house. He then drove to the town of Samson, where he shot and killed five people on his uncle's porch including relatives and Deputy Myers' wife and child.

His three-month-old daughter was saved by a neighbor.

ALINA KNOWLES, SURVIVED SHOOTING: Picked her up, saw him coming up the road, ducked, so he wouldn't see me as he was coming up this way. I ducked and was still ducking and was trying to keep him from seeing me with that baby.

CALLEBS: McLendon continued the carnage killing his grandmother who lived next door to his uncle and firing randomly, killing a pedestrian and a woman at a gas station.

Armed with assault weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, McLendon headed to Geneva. He shot at officers in pursuit, wounding a police chief.

JANIE HOWELL, WITNESS: We heard the spray of gunfire and when I pulled off the highway to keep from getting hit, he shot my van. And he shot the Purdue truck in front of me. And then he took off running and the trooper took off after him.

CALLEBS: After 50 minutes of terror, McLendon ended up here at a metal shop where he once worked. He got into a shootout with police and then took his own life.

MAYOR WYNNTON MELTON, GENEVA, ALABAMA: I personally know everyone that is involved, both the shooter and the victims. That makes it more difficult to have to deal with.

CALLEBS: Authorities say they don't have a motive. What they do know is last week McLendon quit his job at a food distribution company. And at one time he trained to be a police officer in Samson.

GOV. BOB RILEY, ALABAMA: It really is devastating to a community this size. You know, this doesn't happen in small towns.

CALLEBS: But it did. For the towns and for a man who will never see his wife and daughter Corinne again.

MYERS: My baby girl, Corrine Gracy, the sweetest thing in the world. I don't even know how to comprehend what's going on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, imagine, hard to comprehend.

So what about his mental state? I mean, what are authorities saying? CALLEBS: Well, this was a significant break that the investigator told us came just in the last several hours. So right now, they're trying to find out about McLendon's mental state. Was he on antidepressants?

And this is something that apparently built up. He talked to friends about being depressed, about his overall position in life, the economy, the frustrations. He quit his job last week.

Look, they've at specific things, was he a disgruntled former employee? Is that why he went to his old shop? Well, by all accounts now, no. That wasn't the problem.

Secondly, could it have been a domestic issue? Did he have a girlfriend? Were there problems? Again, another dead end.

So right now they're looking at his mental state, overall frustration with the economy and the belief that he should have been better off in life.

It may not be the answer people in this area want, but, look, down the road it may lead to some sense of closure.

COOPER: Sean Callebs. I appreciate it Sean, staying on the story, unimaginable grief for so many people in these small communities.

As for Josh Myers the suffering is not going to end. As you just heard the sheriff's deputy responded to the shooting only to find out his wife, Andrea, and young daughter Corinne were killed.

He spoke more about his wife outside his home. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MYERS: Every day she was up on the porch with my kids talking with the neighbors just like they were family to us. She hardly knew anybody here to even have enemies. She was a stay-at-home mom. We have three kids. You know, she was a super mom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, police say the killer Michael McLendon had no criminal record. Sean mentioned that. He was 28 years old. People said he was friendly. So the question is how do you make sense of what happened?

That's what authorities are trying to figure out.

We're talking to our own authority, Kris Mohandie, is a veteran forensic psychologist who works with law enforcement on identifying violent behavior. I just spoke to him a few moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Kris, this guy had no criminal record. People from his job said he was reliable. Others said he was well liked. Some said he was quiet. But do killers like this just snap?

KRIS MOHANDIE, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: In my experience killers like this do not just snap. While initial reports may present that he seemed normal, as time passes, we will learn more about him, about the leakage of his underlying, violent fantasy life and the fact that he was not quite normal.

COOPER: I mean, you hear the profile of these killings. What do you think, what jumps out at you about this person?

MOHANDIE: What jumps out to me about him is that he washed out of the police academy, which suggests that there are some problems there. That he had quit his job last week. And that his method of killing these people was very cold blooded, calculated and detached, just like we see in other mass killings.

COOPER: Some witnesses said that he pulled up and started firing without saying a word and there was no expression.

MOHANDIE: It is typical in these events for the killers not to have any expression because it's driven by fantasy not anger. The anger happened a long time ago for events we'll learn about as time passes and it gets converted to cold-blooded revenge.

COOPER: So that's interesting though, that it's a fantasy. It's not done in anger. I mean, he's clearly angry about something or has grudges, yes?

MOHANDIE: He is clearly got anger and grudges but that's for things that have happened long past that he's gunny-sacking, that he is holding on to. And what he's doing with that instead of feeling it as an angry kind of emotion is he has converted it to a fantasy of revenge.

And all that he does is invested in the planning and the execution of those actions. And so it's very much planful (ph), methodical and detached; that is the norm in these kinds of events.

COOPER: It's strange though, and perhaps it's not strange to you but it struck me, I mean, this is a person who at some point seemed to want to be a police officer, went through some police training, washed out of the training that they had.

I mean, why be motivated to help people and be a police officer if you also have this other side of you?

MOHANDIE: Well, it appears that he wanted to be a police officer at some point and while that may speak to a desire to help others, often what we find in individuals that perpetrate these kinds of actions is that they were want-to-be warriors. Want to be in the military, want to be police officers and when they're not able to cut it there, they end up having these kinds of fantasies of acting out those impulses in other venues.

And so this warrior mentality, this pseudo-warrior thing is reflected in seeking out a law enforcement position, not being able to cut it and in acting out his power needs in other ways.

COOPER: So are there clues that someone can look for, warnings that, you know, someone might be capable of something like this?

MOHANDIE: In most of these cases -- at least two-thirds -- there will be clues, there will be leakage of the fact that they want to get even with people, that they can't let go of their anger and that they're harboring homicidal impulses.

That usually gets telegraphed to other parties who I suspect will come forward as the days pass in this case. And what we need to do is be vigilant for those clues. Get those to law enforcement or human resources if a co-worker or the mental health community if it's a family member and we will find that there will be those clues as we look at this case in the future.

COOPER: We've got be vigilant. Kris Mohandie, I appreciate it. Thanks.

MOHANDIE: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, hours after the shooting spree in Alabama, another gunman went on a deadly rampage, but this time he targeted kids, killing 16 people including himself. This all happened in Germany.

The 17-year-old suspect returned to his former high school -- his former school, where he opened fire on students and teachers. Many of the victims were shot in the head. Officials say a couple of them were still holding their pens.

The gunman then drove to another town and killed two more people there. This grainy, amateur cell phone video obtained by the Associated Press; it appears to show the gunman walking around near cars parked on the street. At one point there he has apparently -- get down on the ground.

The moment when police believe he killed himself has been edited out of the amateur video. The motive remains a mystery.

Needless to say, people have been talking about these two incidents all day long. You can join the live chat now at AC360.com. Also check out Erica Hill's live web cast during our breaks tonight.

Also in the news, President Obama promising to fight excess spending; then why did he decide to sign a budget bill today and loaded with questionable projects? Does he have a point or is he breaking a promise? It's your call. We've got the facts to help you decide.

And later billionaires and the billions they've lost in the recession. How is Oprah Winfrey doing for instance? We'll find out. New numbers and guess who's actually made even more money this past year.

Plus, two powerful women, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. What they said today to honor women around the world. And the first lady's take on the former first lady.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: The woman who is running this department, this big, huge effort, has always been such a committed person, friend, supporter to me. We are honored and thrilled to have her serving in this role.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Today the president signed a budget bill mostly written during the Bush administration loaded with pet projects, put there by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. He did it behind closed doors.

The Senate passed it on a voice vote meaning no one is actually on record for it or against it; that's how it works in Washington. Today President Obama tried making an example of all this as something he'd never go along with again.

The question is why did he go along with it this time? Ed Henry has the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In the morning a crusade against lawmakers' pet spending projects.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Earmarks have been used as a vehicle for waste and fraud and abuse. Projects have been inserted at the 11th hour without review and sometimes without merit in order to satisfy the political or personal agendas of a given legislator.

HENRY: In the afternoon, the president signed a $410 billion spending bill stuffed with 8,570 earmarks.

REP. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: This gives voice to St. Augustine's lament, "Give me sobriety but not yet."

HENRY: The president flew all the way to Denver to sign the stimulus bill but signed this one behind closed doors.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No reason other than the fact that some things are signed in public and some aren't.

HENRY: Earmarks are less than one percent of the federal budget. Cutting them would not get the nation out of debt but Mr. Obama made bold promises of change on the campaign trail.

B. OBAMA: While I pledged to slash earmarks by more than half when I'm President of the United States of America.

HENRY: Now White House aides explained it away by noting this bill is left over from last year.

He could have vetoed it. Why wouldn't he?

GIBBS: Let me give you yesterday's answer. The president believes that despite protestations that appropriations bills designed to be completed before September 30th of the previous year are last year's business.

HENRY: There's plenty of last year's business inherited from former President Bush, but Mr. Obama has not used that as an excuse to avoid tackling issues like the Iraq war.

The real reason? A veto would have sparked a time-consuming fight with Democratic leaders like Steny Hoyer, who recently said, "I don't think the White House has the ability to tell us what to do."

A battle that senior White House aides privately say would delay key initiatives like health reform at a time when critics already charge the president is spread too thin.

B. OBAMA: You can't have Congress bogged down at this critical juncture in our economic recovery. But I also view this as a departure point for more far-reaching change.

HENRY: That's why the president laid out principles to reform future spending bills, including each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings. Any earmark for a for-profit company should be open to competitive bidding. And Federal agencies would get 20 days to determine whether a project is worthwhile.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So Ed, does this plan have any chance of working?

HENRY: It's going to be an uphill battle. As you can see there are already Democratic leaders who are concerned about it. We should also point that about 40 percent of the earmarks in this bill came from Republicans.

So it's not just Democrats who are along for the ride. And as the president's former rival, Republican John McCain, said today, he thinks this was a missed opportunity because rather than putting out principles the president he thinks should just threaten to use his veto pen.

That may be the only thing that lawmakers will listen to, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Ed thanks, from the White House tonight.

Some prospective new budget numbers today showing a $765 billion deficit in the last five months; people lose jobs, the tax revenues go down. President Obama promises to cut spending but only after the recession passes because spending cuts during a downturn can make things worse by taking money out of the economy. Let's "Dig Deeper" with senior political analyst, David Gergen, and David Walker, who ran the Government Accountability Office under Presidents Clinton and Bush and CNN's Joe Johns.

David Gergen, why did the President Obama sign the bill? He could have vetoed it.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, you know, there's an old adage in Washington. To get along, go along. And I'm afraid that's what happened today.

To be fair, President Obama has kept far more of his campaign promises than many of our recent presidents, and he deserves credit for that.

But on this one, I think that those of us who are looking for more fiscal discipline are disappointed because this was an opportunity -- on two levels I think are disappointed. One is these earmarks just stood out and he could have easily taken a shot at them and said enough is enough.

But secondly, I think that there is a feeling, a growing feeling, Anderson -- I was in New York yesterday and saw David Walker and a number of other people who are leaders in the financial community who, many of whom continue to support President Obama -- but they and others are saying, when is he going to stand up and say no to some of the congressional Democrats.

COOPER: David Walker, did the president have another option on this one?

DAVID WALKER, FMR. U.S. COMPTROLLER GENERAL: I think he should have vetoed it. There is a growing credibility gap.

Number one, people need to understand the earmarks don't result in additional spending. They direct how money is going to be spent and not how much money is going to be spent.

Look, this bill was an 8.3 percent increase over last year and 10 percent increase for the Congress. That can hardly be described as being fiscally responsible.

COOPER: Joe, is the president trying to have it both ways? I mean, he made a lot of comments about earmarks during the campaign. In fact let's show one of the things he said about earmarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. OBAMA: Senator McCain likes to talk about earmarks a lot. And that's important. I want to go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don't work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joe, he did put forth new rules to prevent abuse of future earmarks. Critics say he's broken his campaign promise. JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That line by line remark, I remember when he said that, and it didn't sound right when he said it, because everybody knows the president doesn't have a line item veto.

On the other hand, he's dealing with realities up there and one of the things a lot of people are missing is that from my reporting there is a belligerent mood on Capitol Hill particularly among some of the Democratic leaders about this issue of earmarks.

They say there are a lot of members of Congress. All they got is a vote, a press release and an earmark. So why do you want to take that away from them? I called one Congressional leader's office last week asking about earmarks and I can't repeat what was said to me on the phone. I mean, it was profane.

So there are a lot of people on Capitol Hill who think earmarks, authorized earmarks are their right. They don't, of course, agree with all the corruption that goes along with some of these earmarks that get slipped in due to quid pro quos and things.

COOPER: Cursing out Joe Johns, that is just not right. We're going to have more with David Gergen and David Walker and Joe Johns in just a moment.

And we're going to have to continue the conversation and focus in part on the possibility of a second big stimulus. Does the economy need it? Can the president actually get it passed? Stay tuned for that.

And later, Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol -- sad news -- back in the spotlight. Her marriage plans to her baby's father, Levi, apparently those are off. We're going to tell you what happened with her engagement to Levi.

And later, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton together today. We'll tell you why. And what they said about helping women break through the glass ceiling, tonight on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're talking money, politics and President Obama. He's taking heat for signing a budget. As Ed Henry reported it's not exactly his budget but it was certainly his to veto if he wanted to.

We're "Digging Deeper" tonight about that and the possibility of even more medicine, expensive medicine for the economy. With us again -- David Gergen, David Walker, and Joe Johns.

David Gergen, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said today the current state of the economy is, quote, "A global crisis which requires a global response." I mean, is the translation of that that the U.S. is going to have to cough up even more money for this?

GERGEN: I think it may well be, Anderson. First of all, it's good to see Tim Geithner starting to make the rounds of television interviews. That's a healthy sign. But, more importantly, he's right that this is not just a U.S. problem but a global problem. It has to be more global demand. And the president is going to be going to London in just two or three weeks to talk to leaders of other nations but in asking them to step up to spend more he's going to be, "OK. We're going to do it. You're going to need to do it, too."

Nancy Pelosi just said in the last couple days she's open to a second stimulus. Republicans are saying, "Hey look. Tell us what you've done with the first stimulus first," so there's going to be a fight if they do it.

But I think we're heading toward a second stimulus -- the son of stimulus as we talked about the other night.

COOPER: Yes, David Walker, the sequels of movies are never as good as the first; son of stimulus? What are your thoughts on that?

WALKER: I think it's likely we're probably going to see another stimulus bill or probably this summer. And hopefully this one won't have to be as expensive but hopefully it'll be a 100 percent stimulus.

The fact of the matter is, of $787 billion stimulus bill that was signed into law recently, only about one-third of it met the definition of the stimulus. Meaning that it would end up hitting the economy within a year.

COOPER: So Joe Johns, that's not -- I mean, it's going to be a tough sell in Congress, no?

JOHNS: Probably. I mean, David Obey I hear over at the Appropriations Committee is trying to get some thoughts down on paper so they're not caught flat-footed if there is a need for another one.

A lot of people of course are saying wait and see what this first stimulus actually does. It is also clear, though, that Republicans are lining up and getting ready to start whacking the administration every single day on spending, including stimulus spending.

So, yes, probably going to be a fight but at the end of the day they look at it and say, "OK. What else are we going to do? You know, what else can you do?"

COOPER: David Gergen, there's also a fight that President Obama is in a good position to win, given that he still has overwhelming support among the American people, much more so than it seems Republicans in Congress have.

GERGEN: He does have overwhelming support, Anderson. But there is a question of whether people are going to get fatigued and they're going to wonder, what about the first one? Is that not working?

And that's why it's been so important to have somebody in there of a major national stature like Jack Welsh overseeing the first one. So people have confidence that this is actually going to good use; that it's going to good places. And it's starting to turn over. David Walker has a good point. There are a lot of people like me who wonder, is this really going to do much good, the first one?

COOPER: David, we learned -- David Walker, we learned today that banks -- some banks that received bailout money don't like the conditions. They want to return the funds. Is that a good thing?

WALKER: Yes, I think it is. I think we have to recognize reality. There are a number of banks frankly that were strongly encouraged to take the TARP funds because they didn't want there to be a taint associated with it. And when they were given the funds there weren't any strings attached to it.

Now they find out that there is a lot of transparency, there is going to be some strings attached to it, so they're going to give it back. I think we have to learn from what went wrong the first time. We didn't have objectives, we didn't have criteria. We didn't have conditions.

We need to not repeat the same mistakes.

COOPER: Joe Johns, do we know when Tim Geithner is going to come forward and flesh out the details of, you know, basically the bank bailout?

JOHNS: That's not clear at all. You know, I mean, one of the big problems with the bank bailout, among other things, is just the appearances of it. People don't get it.

You know, you're spending all this money on these banks and every time you turn around, there's another story out there about the way they're using the money that doesn't seem to make sense or is questionable.

So there's a real issue just of optics. And until they really deal with that, and also that fact of forcing these money down the throats of banks because they say they don't want to create some type of a stigma or whatever, that doesn't sound right either.

A lot of things that they have to work out in the public relations of it, and I think David hit a very good point, with Geithner out there maybe that makes some difference.

COOPER: All right. We'll see. Joe Johns --

GERGEN: Let me just add Anderson.

COOPER: David Gergen go ahead.

GERGEN: This only emphasizes that Joe Johns is right. There is a lot of confusion now about what the administration strategy is. And I think Andy Grove from Intel was absolutely right in "The Washington Post." This is one more big argument why he has to focus intensely on the economy, help everybody understand how this is going to work, help to encourage confidence to come back.

And by doing 15 different things in a week, you get confused about what's going on.

COOPER: Yes. David Gergen, David Walker, and Joe Johns, thanks. I appreciate it, good discussion.

Next on the program -- the road to recovery: building a highway and betting on the future. It is among the first of the stimulus projects, but will it bring jobs? We're following the money.

Also Chris Brown and Rihanna and more fallout tonight. Rihanna's alleged abuser made news today. We'll tell you what it is ahead.

Also later, leading ladies, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton -- the power duo together today. What were they doing and why were they teaming up? We'll talk about that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We spend a lot of time in this program talking about the bits and pieces of bills out of Washington that make people mad or show the president and others doing one thing and saying the opposite. We highlight these broken promises because frankly people in power who spend your money ought to be held accountable for what they say.

By the same token, we also try to highlight promises that are kept and money that is well spent. Tonight Tom Foreman follows the money down a road in Maryland.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Signs along this bumpy stretch of Maryland highway say "Men Working," and Washington hopes that means the stimulus is working, too. This highway project, just miles from the capital, is the first launched on money from the stimulus package and it came just in time for the private company hired for the work.

American Infrastructure had about 2,000 employees, but they've lost plenty.

SHAWN CASEY, AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE: Approaching 350 people.

FOREMAN: 350.

CASEY: That's correct.

FOREMAN: And largely that was because construction was down so much.

CASEY: That's correct.

FOREMAN: And how many do you think you can bring back now?

CASEY: We're hoping to get everyone back.

FOREMAN: They've already started.

Tim Radel is back. He was laid off in January and worried about how he would provide for his wife and children. He knows many voters have doubts about the stimulus spending.

TIM RADEL, AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE: These jobs are already enough already from it. They just started talking about it not that long ago. I think it's going to work out pretty good for a lot of people.

FOREMAN: Like the people who run nearby businesses. If the road workers get confident enough to start spending again that could mean money and jobs for gas stations, restaurants, clothing stores, all the places Bryan White was avoiding while he was laid off.

BRYAN WHITE, AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE: We did a lot of cutbacks. There were times like on Fridays where we -- every Friday we used to go out and (INAUDIBLE). But we cut that out and we had to watch what we spent, you know.

FOREMAN: You think that might come back now?

WHITE: Yes. Yes, indeed.

FOREMAN: the administration readily admits this is one project, one road, a fistful of jobs compared to the 3.5 million lost. But it's a start.

RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: And that's how we're going to get the country back on its feet.

FOREMAN: This project will take about seven months.

CASEY: That's correct.

FOREMAN: But at the end of that you're hoping other projects are going to fill in behind it.

CASEY: Absolutely. More than hoping; we're counting on it. We're counting on it.

FOREMAN: And they are not the only ones.

Tom foreman, CNN, Silver Spring, Maryland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Bill Clinton is never shy about his opinions. Tonight the former president talked about just about everything, frankly. Sanjay Gupta asked the questions, guest hosting for Larry King. He'll join us next.

Also coming up, just out tonight, the new and updated list of the super rich, billionaires like Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates; there is a politician among them, too. Guess what? He got rich even during these bleak times.

And the latest bombshell from Bristol Palin, the teenage daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin -- it's not all about love and marriage anymore. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: President Obama needs all the help he can get these days. He just launched his health care reform initiative.

Just about an hour ago on "LARRY KING LIVE," the 44th president got help from number 42. Dr. Sanjay Gupta talked to former President Clinton on "LARRY KING" tonight.

Sanjay joins me now. Sanjay, you asked President Clinton about possible road blocks for President Obama when it comes to health care reform. I just want to play for the viewers some of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a simpler, clearer path to the future than we did when I was there. You don't have to have an employer mandate. You don't have to have a tax increase now. And the risk of a filibuster is less.

I think the obstacles are less than they were plus the doctors want it now. The small business community needs it now. And the insurance community even is not unified against it now. So I think we got a real shot here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you think he's right that the country is ready for reform, to reform the system in a way that they weren't in the past?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: In some ways, Anderson, its deja vu all over again. Remember back in '93 a lot of people wanted health care reform back then as well; 90 percent of the country, even 85 percent of Republicans said they wanted health care reform. It still didn't get done.

The president was somewhat wistful today I think as he was describing the changes. There seems to be more political will now. And I think as he was alluding to, Anderson, there's also the making of strange bed fellows.

You have the insurance industry who tried to scuttle the previous health care plan with the Harry and Louise ads. They are coming out in favor of universal health care. You have physicians are uniting for universal health care. So, there is a much larger and I think more forceful momentum than in the years past.

CLINTON: Mr. Clinton also spoke a lot about stem-cell research. Certainly when he was in the White House -- here's what he had to say about that today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. CLINTON: I appreciated the fact that the president wants to send a strong signal that scientific research on everything from climate change to the genome to the embryonic stem cell was too politicized in the last eight years and he wants to put it back to science. I agree with that.

But there are values involved that we all feel free to discuss in all scientific research and that is the one thing I think these committees need to make it clear. That they're not going to fool with any embryos where there is any possibility even if it's somewhat remote that they could be fertilized and become human beings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Is it realistic to have a scientific community self- regulate when it comes to stem cell research?

GUPTA: This is an important point, Anderson. I think it's something we have to keep an eye on. President Clinton I think what he was trying to say was he had all the stricter regulations back when he signed this saying federal funding could only be used for embryos that were going to be discarded.

We haven't heard the exact language from President Obama yet although it seems to be left more in the hands of the scientific committees which I think has some people a little bit concerned. How strict will the regulations be on where those federal dollars go? Will it just be for the discarded embryos as well?

We're going to have to wait and see a little bit on that.

COOPER: All right. Sanjay thanks. Good interview. Appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thanks.

COOPER: Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton teamed up today and talked about, well, each other. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I know a little bit about the role that Michelle Obama is filling now. And I have to say that in a very short time she has, through her grace and her wisdom, become an inspiration to women and girls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We'll tell you what happened when two of the world's most powerful women took the stage together for the first time. Their mission and message, next.

Also Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump all among the world's richest but even they have not escaped the recession. We'll tell you who tops the billionaire's list now and who fell off.

Then Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston, parents of Sarah Palin's two-month-old grandson, apparently calling it quits. We'll have the details coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Raised by a single mom, President Obama today reflected on his own childhood as he pledged to provide others with opportunities his mom never dreamed of. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

B. OBAMA: That's why so many of us are here today, because of the women who came before us who were determined to see us sit in the high seats. Women who reached for the ballot and raised families and traveled long, lonely roads to be the first in the board room or in the courtroom or on the battle field or on the factory floor. Women who cracked and shattered those glass ceilings so that my daughters and all of our sons and daughters could dream of a bigger and reachable height.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: With that the president signed an executive order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls. The mission -- to help women of all ages face challenges at home, work and to improve their economic security and status.

Now, two of the most visible champions perhaps of women's rights in the country are, of course, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Today they were talking together about their roles and their reach. Up close tonight, here's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are a powerful duo, a duo women want on their side.

M. OBAMA: I am so proud to be a woman today and every single day.

KAYE: First lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

H. CLINTON: The status of women and girls is a key indicator of whether or not progress is possible.

KAYE: Both grew up working class. Both carved out successful law careers and raised children. But it wasn't always easy. They know the challenges women face, which made this event so fitting. Together they honored women from around the globe for their courage and their strength.

FAYE WATTLETON, CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN: Just simply the coming together of these two women creates a very powerful image that's going to be positive for women all over the globe.

KAYE: The first lady's focus has been on working mothers and military wives. M. OBAMA: The president and I share the belief that communities are only as strong as the health of their women.

FAYE: Mrs. Clinton's focus is a bit more global especially with her new role as secretary of state.

H. CLINTON: The rights of women, really of all people, are at the core of these challenges and human rights will always be central to our foreign policy. It is time to break the silence.

KAYE: She has long worked to improve health care, education, and equality for women. She's fought against sex trafficking and for more comprehensive sex education.

It's not just Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Obama looking to better women's lives. This afternoon, the president announced the newly formed White House Council for Women and Girls. Mr. Obama promises all federal agencies when drafting policies will take into account the needs of women and girls.

B. OBAMA: Women still earn just 78 cents for every dollar men make. Women are more than half of our population but just 17 percent of our Congress.

KAYE: In making that announcement Obama recalled how his mother put herself through school while she struggled to raise him and his sister. He spoke of his grandmother, too.

B. OBAMA: One of the first women bank vice presidents in the state of Hawaii but I also saw how she hit a glass ceiling.

WATTLETON: Recently it has been assumed that women in this country have it made, but today is a very symbolic message that the work in this country is not done.

KAYE: Today was a good day to be a woman.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Still ahead tonight, the newly released billionaires list. One of them got richer and he's a politician.

First Erica Hill joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, on Wall Street all three major indices closing higher for the second straight session in a row. The Dow barely, but, hey, we'll take the four points. The S&P was up two, while the Nasdaq closed 13 points higher.

Nineteen-year-old singer Chris Brown is withdrawing his nominations for two Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards; the latest fallout from his alleged assault on girlfriend Rihanna. Brown will be arraigned on two felonies next month. Sources tell "People" magazine the 18-year-old daughter of former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has broken up with her fiance. Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston have a two-month-old son. Last fall the teenage parents said they planned to marry as soon as they finished high school.

An incredible rescue at Niagara Falls; an American man jumped into the icy waters on the Canadian side today plunging over the falls and survived in near freezing water for more than 40 minutes until rescuers could fish him out. The dramatic photos, taken by a tourist -- this one right here -- shows the man in the water and the rescuer on the edge of the rock. Few have survived that plunge especially unprotected.

COOPER: Wow. Unbelievable.

Time now for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can write for a picture on our blog every day. Tonight's picture president Barack Obama meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Oval Office today.

Our staff winner tonight is Kirk. His caption: "Sorry, Mr. President, must be all the pork you served up at lunch."

Not bad.

Our viewer winner is Coleen from New York City. Her caption: "One more thing I forgot to tell you, Mr. President. I also haven't paid the $1.2 million I owe in overdue library fines."

That would be painful. Coleen, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.

Next, even the richest people in the world have been rocked by the recession. We're talking Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey -- we'll tell you how much they lost. We'll also tell you which of the top 20 richest people actually got richer last year. It won't take very long, there's only one person in that category.

Also, did President Obama backtrack on a campaign promise when he signed a budget bill today? That, coming up.

COOPER: Tonight new numbers on how the richest people in the world including many familiar faces are taking big hits in the recession. You don't need exactly to feel sorry for them but you may be surprised how much money folks like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have actually lost. And how about Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump -- did they also lose a bundle in the economic collapse?

Erica Hill joins us with the facts and the figures -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, the rich it turns out are getting poorer which is relative of course. The annual list from "Forbes" of the world's billionaires is smaller by 355 people. Of those still on the list 83 percent did lose money. Of course the ones who are still there even among the biggest losers; they're doing all right.

Let's give you an idea of how the list pans out this year. Coming in at number one, Bill Gates, who actually moved up this year to the number one spot even after losing $18 billion. Microsoft stock down 45 percent last year and that is more than half of the billionaire's bounty -- invested outside of the software giant which could help him a little bit.

He actually took top billing from his friend Warren Buffett who is actually all the way down here. He was number one last year and now is number two. He lost $25 billion last year. Shares of his company Berkshire Hathaway also down 45 percent. While the oracle of Omaha even admits he did make some, quote, dumb investment mistakes in 2008, as you can see he's still worth $37 billion. So he's all right.

Perhaps the most well-coiffed of the bunch, Donald Trump is still on the list but he definitely took a nosedive in terms of ranking down to 450 because he lost $1.4 billion. Last year he was worth $3 billion; so definitely taking a hit there. These are some of the people who lost and yet still won if you will.

What about the people who made money this year? Nearly four dozen billionaires adding to their coffers as you mentioned the man who makes a dollar a year as mayor of New York but doing pretty well with his investments including the company he started. Michael Bloomberg comes in number 17 on the list. He's worth $16 billion; that's up $4.5 billion in just the last year.

You knew that Oprah had to be on the list. This year she's also in the winner's column. Maybe not a huge gain; she's up about $200 million bucks. But I don't think any of us would necessarily say no to that. She is ranked 234.

As we mentioned though, plenty of people did lose their billionaire status. Some names that you may recognize: among them Maurice Greenberg, also known as Hank, behind AIG. We have talked about him on this program. He helped build AIG into the insurance and financial giant that it was. He was kicked out of the company in 2005, remember? But many still blame him for the company's demise.

He lost almost everything from $1.9 billion he lost $1.8 billion. He is still the largest shareholder.

You see here? Sandy Weill of Citigroup; put it together in 1998. Last year shares of that company as we know down 95 percent. He lost $600 million putting him below billionaire status.

And just real quickly, it may be really popular, the old Facebook, with kids of all ages, but poor Mark Zuckerberg, not even 25 yet couldn't hold on to the billionaire status. Last year $1.5 billion, this year we're told he's down at least $600 million. Though I think for 24 he's still doing all right.

COOPER: Yes. You know, world's smallest violin here being played for all these people. Erica, thanks.

Next, on "The Shot," run for your lives. Here come the deer on the charge and running amuck at a liquor store, no less. The deer like their liquor. The video from several vantage points ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right. For tonight's "Shot," attention, shoppers. There is deer on aisle 5. In New York, Erica, we're of course used to seeing rats in stores. But at a Pennsylvania liquor store, it was deer. They went on a stampede. Security cameras from a couple of different angles covered the charge.

Yikes. Look at that.

HILL: Pattering away. Don't worry. I cleared it.

COOPER: They leaped over the counter, slammed into some groceries, bolted out leaving behind at least one surprised customer. You can imagine if some of these deer popping into the store.

HILL: It's wild.

COOPER: Yes. When last seen, the deer were heading to the Pizza Hut to pick up some pies with their liquor.

HILL: Nice. Your line of the night might have been, something to the effect of, "You know how deer love their liquor," which I didn't know until tonight. It's newfound knowledge that I plan to put to good use at the next cocktail party.

COOPER: It's true. Deer love the mule train, from what I understand. You can see all the most recent shots on our Web site ac360.com.

That does it for 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.