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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Are CAT Scans Killing Patients?; Joe Lieberman Forces Health Care Reform Pullback
Aired December 15, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: a common medical test that's a lot more dangerous than you think. Researchers now believe C.T. scans could actually be killing thousands of Americans, delivering too much radiation, and causing deadly cancers. We will up close with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta tonight.
Also ahead, "Raw Politics": Senator Joe Lieberman has almost single-handedly forced Senate Democrats to scrap their hard-won compromise on one of their key components of health care reform. So, how did he do it? And is he really the most hated man in Washington tonight?
And later, in "The Shot," Larry King takes us behind the scenes of his interview with the cast of "Nine" today, just Larry in a room full of beautiful women,. He will tell us what went on during the commercial breaks.
First up: the medical tests you may have had and the hidden risks you might have been exposed to. We're talking about C.T. scans. Now, they're used to take images everything from your heart to your head to your pelvis. Doctors and patients like them because they're -- they're noninvasive, they're fast, and they're painless.
But, tonight, there are serious questions being raised about their safety.
Come over here. Take a look at this wall. Now, this -- well, this is what a C.T. scan looks like. This is actually a C.T. scan of my heart. I had it done in 2004 for a story that we were doing on heart disease. It runs in my family on my dad's side.
Now, when you look, when you get a scan like this done, you know you are going to be exposed to radiation, right? And it has long been thought that the ordinary chest C.T. scan would deliver about the same amount of radiation as 100 X-rays.
But now researchers found that the radiation doses delivered by C.T. scanners actually varies widely, even within the same hospital with the same types of scans.
Take a look at this. C.T. scans actually can be equal to about 440 times conventional X-rays, instead of just 100. Now, use of C.T. scans have -- have tripled since the '90s. They may be getting overused, in fact, and, according to this -- this study, in 2007, about 72 million C.T. scans were performed in the U.S. So, researchers wondered how much cancer all of these scans in just one year could be causing? And that's where this gets really scary. Take a look. They calculated that 29,000 future cancers could result from all those scans done just in that one year, done in 2007. And they estimate that these 29,000 cancers are going to appear in the next two to three decades, causing nearly 15,000 deaths.
For women and young patients, the risks are greatest, and they are -- also vary by type of scan. For instance, for heart scans, which typically use the highest dose of radiation, researchers calculate about one in 270 women who receive a heart scan at age 40 will develop cancer as a result. For men, it's about one in 600.
Now, as someone who has had a couple of these now over the years, this is scary stuff.
Sanjay Gupta has also had a bunch. This is actually a C.T. scan of Sanjay's heart done back in 2004. I talked to Sanjay earlier today about these new studies.
COOPER: What's the headline from this? I mean, this seems incredibly alarming when you first look at it.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it is.
And I think, again, it is worth pointing out, I have probably, over the day today, gotten 40 e-mails and talked to several people who say, you know, a reminder that this again is projected numbers. This is based on modeling.
And no one is saying tonight that anybody who has had CAT scans for sure is going to get cancer. This is somewhat theoretical
COOPER: Well, what does that mean, though, that this -- what does this mean, that it is theoretical, that it is based on modeling?
GUPTA: Well, you look at the amount of radiation being given off by these machines. And, in this case, they actually compared it to the radiation doses that they saw during the atomic bomb, during Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and tried to actually extrapolate the amount of radiation they saw there, cancer rates they saw, and tried to model that will on C.T. scans and the radiation being given today.
The American College of Radiology will point out, look, hang on. That was a much less controlled situation. We control C.T. scanners a lot more.
COOPER: But it is certainly cause for center. And if you're going to have a C.T. scan done of any kind, it is important to make sure that it is essential that it's -- that it's -- that the procedure is done, that it's not just some sort of added thing that's tacked.
GUPTA: There was a big thing about full-body C.T. scans a few years back. I think you and I talked about that, people just getting these C.T. scans just to see if there is anything going. That's probably not a good idea.
COOPER: Sanjay, we got those CAT scans done back in 2007. Knowing what you now know, would you have chosen another kind of tool, besides the CAT scan?
GUPTA: Well, you know, it's worth pointing out that there are risks and benefits with everything. And that is particularly true in medicine.
You and I both had these -- these tests done. I have a pretty strong family history of heart disease on my father's side of the family. And, Anderson, I think do you, as well, right?
COOPER: Right. Yes, definitely.
GUPTA: With me, there was a series of tests ahead of time they -- that they do before getting to a test like a C.T. angiogram, and trying to figure out if I have risk factors. But, in my case, they -- you know, the doctors deemed that it was a good screening test to have.
But, you know, Anderson, you probably know this. About a third of CAT scans that are done right now, this particular study says, may be unnecessary. And there are a lot of other tests out there potentially that could also serve the purpose.
But, you know, as we talk about this, and the thing that's important to say that the American College of Radiology and other organizations don't completely accept all these findings and all these increased cancer risks. And, to be fair, there has not been a documented case of a C.T. scan subsequently leading to cancer.
COOPER: Well, what is somebody supposed to do? You and I both have a family history of heart disease on our dad's side. What is the alternative to getting one of these C.T. scans?
GUPTA: Well, you know, there -- there are tests -- for example, someone is having symptoms of some sort, shortness of breath or chest pain or something like, most likely, they are going to get tests that are not quite like this one first, a stress test, for example. Someone runs on a treadmill. They may get an echocardiogram, where they're actually doing sort of ultrasound to the heart.
The gold standard test, incidentally, Anderson, is a -- is an angiogram, which I know you have heard of as well. But that involves actually putting a catheter near the heart and injecting dye and taking pictures there.
It may has less radiation, but that also carries a set of risks. So, like I said, you know, you know, it really comes back to a risk- benefit analysis of all these things. Do you risk the extra -- the extra radiation vs. getting an angiogram and the risk of potentially having a stroke or something like that, which that can sometimes cause? COOPER: And, I mean, we saw how the levels of radiation can vary depending on the technician who is actually giving the dose. Is there an acceptable level of radiation?
GUPTA: Yes, I thought that was amazing. I mean, the same exact procedure, same hospital, two different machines, and you can get up to 13 times the difference in radiation doses.
As far as acceptable levels, it really depends on the type of procedure being performed. So, the -- the test that we're talking about that you and I had, they talk about 22 units of radiation. Now, that doesn't mean anything to a lot of people.
For -- but, for an abdominal CAT scan, for example, it's typically around 30 units of radiation. But, again, in some hospitals, you can have one machine that does 30 units of radiation and one that does 90, 120, much more. So, there is very little regulation at least even within the hospitals themselves.
COOPER: So, is there a way that a patient can find out what the acceptable level of radiation is before the procedure, for a particular procedure?
GUPTA: I think most of this has been sort of internally regulated within the industry.
So, I think this is -- this is a little bit of a surprise to many people to hear tonight that there can be such wild variations. So, there's really two things. One is that they have to sort of lower the amount of radiation being given off by these machines in general. That is just be an improvement of the technology. But, to your point, try and reduce the variations, so patients don't have to ask about this.
COOPER: We talked how women are more at risk. Who else is at risk, and why these particular groups?
You know, so, women more at risk, probably because, frankly, they're usually more diligent about health care and, as a result, get more screening tests, including tests like this one.
But -- but, interestingly, it was really people around the ages of 35 to 54 who seemed to be the most at risk, again, according to this modeling. And that's really probably because that's the time that people are starting to get screening tests. It's also the time where people start -- may notice things. You know, if they have had some problems that have been longstanding, they may start to notice it around that age group as well.
So, 35 to 54 seems to be the -- the -- the highest target area.
COOPER: All right. Good advice. Sanjay, thanks.
GUPTA: Thanks, Anderson. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Well, you can find out more facts about C.T. scans on our Web site at AC360.com. That's where you can also join the live chat now under way. AC360.com is the address.
In a moment: Joe Lieberman, possibly the most hated guy on Capitol Hill tonight, at least among Senate Democrats, how he ended up calling so many shot in the health care debate, and what happens next to that Senate bill.
And later, remember all the talk by President Obama about cutting earmarks, the pork spending or congresspeople just love? Well, there is another massive pork-filled spending bill, $447 billion that includes billion in earmarks. There's nearly a million dollars for a shrimp. Sound like money well spent?
It's your money. That's just the beginning. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
COOPER: Well, it seems like it happened overnight. Senator Joe Lieberman became the most powerful voice in the health care battle and possibly the most hated man on Capitol Hill.
Lieberman essentially forced Senate Democrats to drop a key compromise hammered out just last week that would have allowed Americans to buy into Medicare starting at the age of 55. Now, he said he wouldn't support a bill that included it, and now it is likely gone. We are going to hear from Senator Lieberman in just a minute.
But, first, let's take a look at why he was able to get Democrats to drop the compromise they worked so hard for. It is all about the numbers -- or one number in particular, 60. If all the Democrats support the bill, they still need Lieberman to reach their magic number of 60 votes.
Tonight, he tells CNN that he is leaning toward a yes vote. But, even with Lieberman on board, it is not a done deal. That's because Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska says he still has concerns about the abortion language in the bill.
So, if Nelson is out and Lieberman is in, Democrats still have 59 votes only. So, how can they get to 60? Well, you bring in the wild card, Republican Olympia Snowe. Now, Democrats are hopeful that she may vote yes, but it is far from a sure thing.
Just today, Snowe expressed concerns about Harry Reid's Christmas deadline, calling it -- quote -- "not logical."
Now let's go back to the man still at the center of the debate, Senator Joe Lieberman. Dana Bash has the interview and tonight's "Raw Politics."
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You talk to a lot of Democrats, and there is a fundamental feeling among many of them that you have animus towards the president, that you have animus towards your former party, and that they say that this is all about Joe Lieberman.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Well, that is just poppycock. I mean, this is all about what I think health care reform should be.
The president and I have a very good, mutually respectful relationship. If I had any sense of vendetta against the Democratic Party, I wouldn't be in the Democratic Caucus today. I'm an -- I'm an independent Democrat.
BASH: In nine years, you have gone from the Democratic vice presidential candidate...
BASH: ... to, let's face it, one of the most despised people among many Democrats.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I hope not.
BASH: Among many Democrats.
BASH: And how does that -- how does that sit with you?
LIEBERMAN: I don't -- I don't enjoy the personal vendetta. I certainly don't like people attacking my wife, which is outrageous.
But I have been at this a long time, and in the end, if you try to please everybody, you will do nothing.
In this very polarized time in our politics, if you take a stand, a bunch of people will think you have done something great, and a bunch of people will think you have done something awful.
You have got to decide. I have got to decide that I have done the best I could to do what's right and best for my country and my state.
BASH: Howard Dean has on his Web site: "If Barack Obama's health care plan gets changed to exclude a public option, like Medicare, then it is not health care reform."
LIEBERMAN: So, I -- I would turn back the question that people have asked me to Governor Dean and others who may be raising this possibility of voting health care reform, people on the left side of the party. Would you really, because you couldn't get everything you want, stop this extraordinary reform? I mean, it -- it will provide, by all the experts' estimates, insurance to 30 million people who don't have it now.
BASH: So, couldn't somebody ask that very question of Joe Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: They have. That's why I'm throwing it back to them...
LIEBERMAN: ... because I think, you know, this bill is a generous bill. And to adopt it now is a -- is a stretch, but it is important to do.
And I'm -- basically, I'm -- I have said to my colleagues, don't push this too far. You know, you can -- you can try to do so much, that you end up doing nothing.
BASH: Any chance Joe Lieberman would run as a Republican?
LIEBERMAN: I -- I don't know what I will run as.
LIEBERMAN: I like being an independent, so that is definitely a possibility, but I would say that all options are open.
LIEBERMAN: Yes. It is unlikely that I would run as a Republican, but I wouldn't foreclose any possibility.
COOPER: Dana joins us now, along with former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson and Huffington Post contributor Tanya Acker.
Dana, pretty remarkable that Senator Lieberman left the door open to running for reelection as a Republican. I mean, you have Senate Democrats who are making this big concession to get him on board, and then he goes and says that on national television. How is that going to go over?
BASH: You heard my surprise, Anderson. I said, "Really?" I almost fell off my chair, I have got to tell you.
How is it playing? I talked to one Democratic leadership source who said that it fell like a -- quote -- "lead balloon here," as you can imagine.
Now, you understand and you heard Senator Lieberman acknowledge, he knows that there is a lot of anger out there. In fact, when he was at that private meeting at the White House today, he raised it in -- in his speech to his colleagues and the president. He knows that they're angry at him. So, the fact that he is saying that, even considering running as a Republican when he runs for reelection in the Senate, that is certainly stoking the fire that's already raging towards him.
COOPER: Tanya, Senator Lieberman really, I mean, has the Democratic leadership, frankly, the White House backed into a corner. Unless they get both Olympia Snowe and Ben Nelson, Lieberman is the most important member of the Senate right now.
TANYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, as you pointed out, Anderson, it is just a numbers game. He is needed because we have got to get to that number of 60.
But the interesting thing in that interview was, I like what he said about taking a principled stance, because it seems to me that Senator Lieberman is taking a principled stance against himself. I mean, he is now opposing a Medicare buy-in that he used to support, that he used to be on board with.
And I guess the word now is that he doesn't like it anymore because too many liberals like it, which to me sounds like playground, spoiled-child politics. So, I don't quite understand where his principles are coming from.
COOPER: Well, Michael...
ACKER: But it is just a numbers -- it's a numbers game right now.
COOPER: Michael, as you know, he says, well, the world change with the economic collapse, and that's why his opinion changed. Does the Republican Party want Joe Lieberman?
MICHAEL GERSON, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I don't know. I mean, they depend on him in many ways, given the fact that they have almost no influence in the Senate, because with a 60- vote majority with the Democrats. So, he's played a very important role in this process.
But, you know, I spent some time on Capitol Hill working as a staffer in the Senate, and you don't get influence by being liked in the Senate. You get influence by being the squeaky wheel, which he has been in this process. But now they need to move on, because, you know, his vote is not the decisive one. They need one more after him.
And his looks likely now, but Nelson is a real question mark. And Snowe has made some statements as well that -- that must disturb the White House.
COOPER: Yes, I want to talk about more -- more about that in just a moment. Stay tuned.
Plus, a massive will spending bill, thousands of earmarks, billions of dollars of your money, including $750,000 for exhibits at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Iowa. What? What happened to the Obama administration's promise to cut this kind of pork? We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Also ahead, Larry King and the cast of "Nine." We wanted to find out when the cameras were off tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Was there a woman? Well, who -- who caught your eye there in that grouping?
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Well, they were all pretty...
COOPER: Yes, yes. It's...
KING: ... good-looking.
I will tell you who -- well, maybe it is because of the way she was sitted directly in front of me...
KING: ... or seated -- is Fergie.
COOPER: Oh, yes.
KING: Fergie ain't bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Joe Lieberman says he is moving in the direction of voting for the Democratic health care bill, but only if the provisions allowing for early Medicare buy-in and a new public health insurance option are removed. Well, it looks Lieberman is going to will get his way. President Obama said today it is impossible to please everyone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The final bill won't include everything that everybody wants. No bill can do that. But what I told my former colleagues today is that we simply cannot allow differences over individual elements of this plan to prevent us from meeting our responsibility to solve a longstanding and urgent problem for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right, let's go back to our panel, CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, and Huffington Post contributor Tanya Acker.
Dana, is this just what happens with a narrow over majority in Congress? I mean, bills get watered down, to the point where you can squeeze them through and -- and claim victory?
BASH: Pretty much it does.
But what is so stunning about the dynamic that has been going on is that 60 seats in the Senate, that is actually a huge majority. And, as Michael said before the break, because of that, Republicans are -- are an afterthought, at best.
And what the president has been having to deal with, the cold reality all year, is that it is very hard to corral a very diverse caucus. And that's what he's dealing with.
And I know we have been talking a lot about moderates like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson. But we have heard that the president got -- heard a lot of angst from liberal senators at the White House today, frustration that their concerns and their policies and priorities are not being heard, particularly on the whole idea that they too believe that the government has a stronger role for health care reform.
COOPER: Well, Michael, that's the irony here. I mean, the Democratic leadership drops the more liberal positions to please moderates. Conservatives, Republicans are still going to blast them with big-government attack ads this year. And the liberal base is upset with them -- them, too.
I mean, no one seems to come out of this very happy.
GERSON: That's true.
But I had always assumed that Senator -- the majority leader, Senator Reid, would do whatever it took to get this bill done, to get the support of these last few moderates to get over the 60 votes that he needed, and then rely on Obama to make the case he started to make today to the liberal base of the party, saying, it is this or nothing.
And I -- I think that is going to be a pretty, you know, compelling message coming from a president that is still very popular with his liberal base.
COOPER: Well, Tanya, what about that? I mean, DNC -- former DNC Chairman Howard Dean says, you know, basically to liberals, this is nothing, and we should go back to the drawing board.
ACKER: Well, I think that -- I disagree that it is nothing. I still think that the bill that is on the table, even with the compromises that have been made, is a significant step in terms of giving coverage to 30 million Americans who don't have it.
So, I'm not prepared to say that it is nothing. But you know what? I would just like to throw back -- and I'm not sure I'm prepared to call Joe Lieberman a moderate. But I would throw back at him, and I think I'm glad that Dana asked that question.
I think that we have seen a lot of concessions being made to the more right-leaning side of both the party and, frankly, the Senate as a whole, even though we're not getting much back. And, so, I just think that that's something that, moving forward, that the Democrats are going to have to think more carefully about.
COOPER: Well, Michael, the other thing everyone is going to have to think a lot more carefully about is what happens. I mean, even if this thing passes in the Senate, it then has to be reconciled with the House version, which goes a lot farther than what the Senate version does.
GERSON: Well, it's going to be a nightmare reconciliation. You have a public option in the House bill. You have got more restrictive abortion language in the House bill than in the Senate.
COOPER: Right, the Stupak amendment in the -- in the House bill.
GERSON: Exactly, which is going to be an interesting, you know, back and forth.
And then you have the matter of how you pay for a lot of this. The -- you know, the Senate bill puts the tax on Cadillac plans, which unions don't like. And the House bill taxes the -- the wealthy, not necessarily the best public policy during a recession, where you want to do job creation.
So, there's a number of kind of hurdles as we move forward.
COOPER: And, Dana, in terms of timing on all of this, I mean, when does something arrive on the president's desk? Is there any way to kind of get a prediction?
BASH: Well, the next big step is to hear from the Congressional Budget Office, their analysis on how much this costs. Senate Democrats are hoping to get that tomorrow. If that happens, then they're hoping that the ball will be rolling to have the first incredibly important vote on the compromise idea, perhaps on Sunday.
That will be really the vote to tell us whether the 60 -- 60 senators are there. And they hope that that would maybe finalize this bill by about December 23, two days before Christmas.
But then it goes to what Michael was just saying. What do you do about negotiating with the House? Earlier, they had said maybe it wouldn't take so long. That's what the speaker has said. But now that there is no government-run option at all, it probably will take a little bit longer, and it might be hard to get it to the president's desk by year's end. But nobody has vacation plans here. A lot of people are preparing to stay through December 31.
COOPER: Well, appreciate it tonight. Dana Bash, Tanya Acker, thank you.
And, Michael Gerson, always good to have you. Thank you.
GERSON: Thank you.
COOPER: Still ahead: Congress just passed a huge spending bill, and it is loaded up with 5,000 earmarks, including more than $650,000 for irritable bowel syndrome research. I'm not making this up. What happened to the Obama administration's promise to end this kind of spending? Well, it's enough to make anyone irritable. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Also ahead: The ESPN anchor -- ESPN anchor who was secretly videotaped naked in hotel rooms faces her stalker in court, and tells the judge she hopes he never sees the light of day -- her emotional plea coming up.
COOPER: Still ahead: important news for parents. We are going to tell you why hundreds of thousands of swine flu shots for kids are being recalled.
But, first, Tom Foreman has a 360 news and business bulletin -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.
Some Guantanamo Bay detainees will soon be moving to a prison in Illinois. The government will buy Thomson Correctional Center, which is located about 150 miles from Chicago. It will be transformed into a federal prison that exceeds supermax standards. No more than 100 detainees from Guantanamo will be housed there.
A massive recall to tell you about. More than 50 million Roman- style shades and roll-up blinds are being recalled because of a risk of children being strangled by the cords. The move comes in the wake of eight deaths linked to the products in recent years.
The pioneer of TV evangelism has died. Oral Roberts died from complications of pneumonia today in Newport Beach, California. He founded a multimillion-dollar ministry and a university in Oklahoma that bears his name. He was 91.
Washington, D.C., city council has voted to legalize gay marriage. The mayor says he'll sign the bill. The measure must also get approval from Congress, which has the final say over district laws. If that happens, same-sex couples could get married in the nation's capitol as early as March.
And Australian scientists have discovered an octopus that collects coconut shells for shelter. It's unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal. Pretty exciting stuff.
COOPER: Pretty cool.
FOREMAN: Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? The octopus does.
COOPER: You're dating yourself, Tom.
FOREMAN: I try. COOPER: Up next, lawmakers have a new spending bill. And packed inside thousands of self-serving earmarks. Are they actually helping the country or just the politicians? We're Keeping Them Honest.
Also tonight, Larry King talking to the cast of "Nine" earlier tonight. He's got questions for them. And we have one for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What was harder? One Carrie Prejean or nine stars?
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": One Carrie Prejean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Let's get back to Washington and a story we've been following for two years now. Earmarks. Those big, fat presents known as pork that lawmakers stuff into spending bills for themselves and their constituents.
Now, in the summer of 2007 you may remember our investigative unit assembled a team of interns to ask every member of Congress to disclose their earmark requests which at the time wasn't required by law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you give me a copy of the congressman's earmarks this year?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We requested all this information from every member of the House and Senate. Most lawmakers never even bothered to call us back. A couple did, thought, and thought it was a good idea to post the requests online.
The last January new rules were made issued, requiring all lawmaker to disclose all earmark requests. But apparently, that hasn't eliminated Congress's appetite for pork.
The $447 billion omnibus spending bill passed by the Senate over the weekend is packed with earmarks. Now not all earmarks are pork. Some are legitimate spending requests. But some of what they want to spend our money on just seems downright odd.
Joe Johns tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
Joe, so who's getting the money and what's it being spent on?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, there are 5,000 pet project earmarks, which by themselves are worth almost $4 billion. A lot of transportation projects: highways, rail projects, as well as public buildings. Looking through the bill, we saw some money set aside for thing like theaters. We haven't found as many funny sounding projects as we've seen in the past, things like $50 million for a rainforest in Iowa. That's because lawmakers are basically afraid to ask for them now that all of this is made public.
Still, there are some projects that are starting to raise eyebrows. Something like $700,000 for shrimp industry fishing research in Maryland, three quarters of a million for an exhibit, something called -- get this -- the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Iowa; almost $300,000 for the elimination of blight in Pennsylvania; and about $700,000 for equipment for the Institute of Irritable Bowel Syndrome Research in California.
COOPER: So who's spending the most of the tax money?
JOHNS: Well, we're keeping our eye on a lot of people, including Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who always gets a lot of earmarks. He's the top Republican on the appropriations committee raking in, we think, about $160 million. Probably more, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. They're the people who do this research on their own.
Another senator, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, apparently has over $60 million in earmarks so far. We're not quite sure what the final numbers on that are going to be. It takes a while to finish the research.
COOPER: All right. You mentioned a couple Republican senators. What about Democrats?
JOHNS: They're probably actually going to have more earmarks than the Republicans. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii looks like he could have almost $100 million worth of earmarks by our calculations. Senator Patty Murray of Washington state could have raked in about $69 million.
And then there are the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate. Senator Harry Reid could come in at about $25 million or more in earmarks. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi probably not far behind. So far, $21 million or so. Again, preliminary numbers.
COOPER: You know, I mean, it sounds like the bottom line is that the people with the power and seniority get to choose the winners and the losers, which is why the earmarking process leads to corruption. I mean, has any of that really changed?
JOHNS: Well, you know, as we mentioned, there is more transparency now for sure. Members have to make their earmark requests public. And watchdogs say they are seeing another trend, though. Lawmakers are now being more careful about the descriptions they use, and the justifications of their earmarks, so they don't get called out. Stay tuned.
COOPER: All right, Joe. Democratic Senator Evan Bayh is calling on President Obama to veto the massive spending bill. He's one of three Democrats, only three Democrats, who actually crossed party lines to oppose the bill. Senator Bayh joins us now.
Senator, why did you break with your fellow Democrats and vote against this spending bill?
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: A couple reasons, Anderson. First, it increases spending about four times the rate of inflation at a time when the deficit is out of control and our national debt is skyrocketing. So I just think fiscally, it's irresponsible.
Secondly, as you know, there are more than 5,000 earmarks, special appropriations in this bill, at a time when ordinary families are cutting back, small businesses are struggling to make ends meet. It just sends a message that Congress is just out of touch and oblivious to the concerns of ordinary people. And I think that's just deeply wrong, and it feeds into the cynicism that many people feel about Washington these days.
COOPER: I want to play something that President Obama said about earmark last March. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe, as we move forward, we can come together around principles that prevent the abuse of earmarks. These principles begin with a simple concept. Earmarks must have a legitimate and worthy public purpose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So are there specific earmarks in this bill that you believe do not, as the president said, have a legitimate and worthy purpose?
BAYH: I haven't been able to scrutinize all 5,000 of them, Anderson. There were a couple of them I saw that I kind of chuckled about, although it's not entirely a laughing matter.
But the principle is that, at a time when we're hemorrhaging red ink, can we really afford this kind of thing? And at a time when ordinary people are having to cut back, shouldn't Congress exert a little restraint?
So the problem here is not the president. I think he wants to do the right thing. The problem is that Congress needs to be restrained. And if it can't restrain itself, well, then somebody has to. That tends to be the executive branch.
COOPER: The White House is saying, well, look, you know, earmarks are down 15 percent from where they were in the last bill.
BAYH: Well, it's true. They are only $4 billion. But you know what? Even in Washington, $4 billion is still real money, and I suspect for your viewers at home, Anderson, it's the principle of the thing.
We've got a deficit in the trillions of dollars. They're asking us to raise the debt ceiling by $2 trillion. And at a time when ordinary people are having to make hard decisions about what they can afford and not afford, maybe not do the little extra thing this Christmas. Members of Congress are still insisting on getting their little special projects. It's just not right at this moment in time.
COOPER: Senator Bayh, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
BAYH: Thank you.
COOPER: If you want the raw data on the pork in the bill and how to find out how much your state is getting, go to AC360.com.
Tomorrow on the program, we're going to have more on the unusual activities that that guy, that self-improvement guru, James Arthur Ray, has used with his followers.
Ray ran that sweat lodge in which three people died this past October. He could soon face serious criminal charges. He's not cooperating with police.
Gary Tuchman talked with the woman who was one of his top employees, who told us about activities that even stunned her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELINDA MARTIN, FORMER JAMES RAY INTERNATIONAL EMPLOYEE: We had aquariums full of snakes. And you had to reach your hand into an aquarium full of snakes slithering around and reach in and find a key and pull up the key.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what if a snake decided he didn't like you?
MARTIN: Well, it has to be mind over matter. You have to work through the snakes to get that key. So luckily, we had no snake bites.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, James Ray, as I said, is not talking. His former employee is tomorrow on 360.
Coming up, Erin Andrews is speaking up. The ESPN reporter went face to face with her stalker for the first time today. Hear what she had to say about her life now and her struggle to move on.
Also, Larry King unplugged. We're going to go behind the scenes of his interview tonight with his cast of "Nine." His candid take on the Hollywood stars, ahead.
COOPER: All right. Nominations for the Golden Globe Awards were announced today. The film "Up in the Air" has the most nods with six. The musical "Nine" picked up five. It's a big-budget, big-star production with an A-list cast of Hollywood heavyweights. So what better person to interview them all than our own heavyweight, Larry King? He sat down with the entire cast and the director.
Here's the name-dropping intro. Watch.
KING: Joining us is the cast: Kate Hudson, Academy-Award- nominated actress. This is going to sound repetitive. Nicole Kidman, Academy-Award-winning actress. Penelope Cruz, Academy-Award-winning actress and Golden Globe nominee. Dame Judy Dench, Academy-Award- winning actress. Daniel Day Louis, two-time Academy-Award winner and Golden Globe nominee. Marion Cottilard, Academy-Award-winning actress and Golden Globe nominee. Fergie, the Grammy-winning recording artist and actress. Rob Marshall, the Academy-Award-winning -- Academy- Award-nominated director. And from Geneva, Sofia Loren, the Academy- Award-winning actress.
We're out of time. So good night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Larry flew into New York for the star-studded sit-down. And we're lucky to have him here on set with us.
Nine movie stars on one set.
COOPER: Is that -- is that a record?
KING: I've never had nine on. I may have had nine on in other circumstances but never nine stars sitting in one grouping going rat- a-tat-tat. We have another one in Geneva, Switzerland.
COOPER: What was harder? One Carrie Prejean or nine -- the stars of "Nine"?
KING: One Carrie Prejean.
It's really not as hard as you think. I saw the film. It's a wonderful film.
COOPER: See, I haven't seen it.
KING: Great movie. I give it a ten. I give "Nine" a ten. You spend some time with each on the part and then you interweave what the film is like, things that occur. It's really not...
COOPER: When you have on that star wattage all together in one room, there's got to be a lot of egos involved.
KING: I asked about that. This is true. Because there are all stars, there's an absence of ego, because Nicole Kidman told me, what they regard themselves as is workers. You know, when you're at that level...
KING: ... you've made it. When you've made it, you're at a certain level. When they're all your peers.
But in other situations, I think, when you might have two stars and lesser stars, they're -- and they regard the director, they put him on a throne. So I don't think they had any conflict making that film.
COOPER: Now, I know you have an eye for the ladies. About half your memoir is all with Angie Dickinson and you in a hotel room, as I recall.
KING: Keep it up, Anderson.
COOPER: What -- who was there -- was there a woman -- who caught your eye there in that grouping?
KING: Well, they're all pretty good looking.
KING: I tell you who -- well, maybe it's because of the way she was sitting direct from me, seated, was Fergie.
COOPER: Oh, yes.
KING: Fergie ain't bad. She looked pretty good. And Nicole, you know. You wouldn't dismiss any.
COOPER: Fergie gained, like, 20 pounds for the role. She decided for the role she was playing, she needed to be more voluptuous. And so she...
KING: She's the only singer in the movie.
KING: All of these people had never -- they've sung but not sing and dance. Daniel Day Louis had never sung in his life.
COOPER: It's amazing. Because I mean, do you sing?
KING: I -- yes, I sing a little. I mean, I would like to.
COOPER: Because I mean, the idea, I've never sung, but I can't imagine never having sung and suddenly decide, "I'm going to get a role in a musical."
KING: The most amazing was the guy who played the country music star.
COOPER: Oh, Joaquin Phoenix. He played Johnny Cash.
KING: He never sang. And she never sang.
COOPER: Yes, yes. I actually brought the Joaquin Phoenix album of him singing Johnny Cash songs.
KING: Did they have that?
COOPER: Yes, they do. It's actually really good.
KING: Singing is something I think that any one of us would like to be.
KING: Because there is no bigger star than being a singer.
COOPER: Well, being on stage in front of thousands of people and just belting it out. I know it is incredible.
KING: And this movie -- remember "Moulin Rouge"?
COOPER: Yes, yes.
KING: This is similar. But it's almost an operetta. There's m -- there was more singing in "Moulin Rouge," but they were blasting numbers. It just jumps at you. Bob Marshall is such a great choreographer.
COOPER: Yes, yes.
KING: It is a really terrific film.
COOPER: It was a great -- did you catch Dame Judy Dench at all during the interview texting Tiger Woods? Because I heard rumors, but...
KING: That's pretty funny. You get one for Anderson here. That's pretty good. Break the news. Because he's had every age group.
COOPER: Thank you so much for doing this. And it was a great interview, and I'm sorry that the room is so cold.
KING: Why, Anderson?
COOPER: I like it fresh and crisp.
KING: ... the Letterman show. Do you like it this cold?
COOPER: I do, because it makes me stay awake.
KING: Either that or a death wish. This is cold.
COOPER: You like it -- you like it so hot you can grow orchids in your hallway.
Thank you. KING: Thank you.
COOPER: We put Larry's entire interview with the cast of "Nine" on our Web site. You can check it out at AC360. It's also, of course, going to be repeated at midnight on the East Coast and on the West Coast at 9.
Next, Erin Andrews in court. The ESPN reporter faced her stalker today spoke out about the hell that he put her through. Hear for yourself ahead.
And also, swine flu vaccine. We'll find out why hundreds of thousands of swine flu shots for kids have been recalled and what it could mean for your family. We'll be right back.
COOPER: All right. Let's get caught up on some other important stories. Tom Foreman is back with the "360 Bulletin" -- Tom.
FOREMAN: Hey, Anderson.
Al Qaeda is losing its power and financing, but attacks by other Islamic terrorist troops are on the rise, up 50 percent in one year. That's according to a new report by American Security Project, a bipartisan group in Washington.
In a Los Angeles courtroom, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews calls the man who stalked her and secretly videotaped her nude in hotels a sexual predator. Michael Barrett pleaded guilty in the case today. Andrews said she worries about her safety all the time now, and she plans to push hotels to improve safety for travelers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN ANDREWS, ESPN REPORTER: The hell I've been living with since I saw the videos, you know, my family and my wonderful lawyers know, but I think the bottom line is, you know, this is on the Internet still. It won't come off. It's going to be up there.
I live in hotels because of my job. And every time I check in, I am constantly looking around, thinking that he is there. Even in my house, I worry. And it is something you have to deal with in my job as well. I've been humiliated and embarrassed. And my career, I feel, has been hurt, as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: About 800,000 doses of the swine flu vaccine for children have been recalled after concerns that they lost some of their strength. The shots were for those six months to almost 3 years of age. Health officials said they don't think the children need to be revaccinated. The shots were powerful enough when they were first shipped, but tests now show the potency has fallen.
And dancing queens rejoice. The Swedish pop music group Abba is among the inductees to the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame for 2010. Also making the cut, the British rockers Genesis and The Hollies, along with punk metal pioneers The Stooges and reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff.
The 25th annual induction ceremony will be held in March here in New York City. Boy, Anderson, I can't tell you how excited I am about that. Iggy and the Stooges. Come on. We'll call up Iggy; we'll all go golfing together.
COOPER: Call Iggy? Where is Iggy?
FOREMAN: He is around.
COOPER: Yes, probably. Tom and I, our daily viewers a chance to come one a caption better than the one we can come one for the photo we put on the blog every today.
Tonight's photo, President Obama arriving at a Home Depot where in Alexandria, Virginia, where he gave a speech on energy efficiency.
Our staffer tonight, Joey. His caption: "Can I get some help here? I think Joe Lieberman has a screw loose."
The viewer winner is Sean from Dallas. His caption: "I just ran into Joe the Plumber on Aisle 12."
Sean, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.
And I hear you're doing to "Shot" tonight.
FOREMAN: I am, indeed, Anderson. We thought it would be fun...
COOPER: It worries me.
FOREMAN: Well, no it shouldn't. It's all in good fun. We thought it would be fun to mix things up a bit tonight. This week, you're filling in on "Live with Regis & Kelly."
COOPER: That's right.
FOREMAN: And this morning, the conversation was pretty lively, as usual. It eventually turned to plastic surgery.
COOPER: As it often does.
FOREMAN: And you -- why not? And you actually did a remarkable imitation. We thought that this is worth sharing with all of our friends out here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What -- why do women have their eyebrows, like -- I don't know. I've seen those ads where they're, like, threading. They have threads and they're doing something to the eyebrow. I don't know what they're doing. But then I'm suddenly -- it takes on a weird, unhuman shape.
KELLY RIPA, CO-HOST, "LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY": Let me tell you what happens.
COOPER: It's not an eyebrow.
RIPA: That is such a...
COOPER: It's a what? A stencil?
RIPA: Stencil. How do you know that, Gelman?
COOPER: I don't get it.
MICHAEL GELMAN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "LIVE WITH REGIS & KELLY": A lot of years in that makeup room.
RIPA: Let me tell you about eyebrows. And -- and women and men out there -- there are a lot of men out there, as well. Eyebrows are something that you don't know you've gone too far until you've gone too far. It's like you with the crackpots (ph).
Believe me, it's like one of those things where you start because you've got, like, a little extra hair in between, like you've got that unibrow. And you're like, "I'll get rid of my unibrow." And then you're like, "Oh, and there's a little -- maybe I'll show my brow bone if I tweeze here." And then one day, your eyebrows are gone.
COOPER: It's like lip injections. You know, suddenly you see people. And then they're like, "No, no, I've had nothing done." And like, Botox is dripping out of their mouth.
COOPER: There you go.
FOREMAN: That's good stuff. That's good stuff. Be sure to tip your waitresses.
COOPER: That's right.
FOREMAN: ... in clubs with that.
COOPER: Tom, thanks for filling in tonight. We appreciate it.
Coming up next on 360, could a common medical test be killing thousands of Americans? Serious questions tonight about the safety of CT scans. Are they being overused? Sanjay Gupta reports.
COOPER: Tonight a common medical test that's a lot more dangerous than you think. Researchers now believe CT scans could actually be killing thousands of Americans, delivering too much radiation, and causing deadly cancer. We go up close with 360 M.S. Sanjay Gupta tonight. Also ahead, raw politics. Senator Joe Lieberman has almost singlehandedly forced Senate Democrats to scrap their hard-won compromise of one of their key components of health-care reform. So how did he do it? And is he really the most hated man in Washington?