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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Unemployment Benefits Bill Approved; President Obama Prepares to Unveil Latest Health Care Reform Plan; Chile Devastated After Massive Earthquake

Aired March 2, 2010 - 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: Breaking news tonight, welcome news to 100,000 people unemployed: Jim Bunning, the senator who blocked an emergency bill extending jobless benefits, Medicare funding, health insurance, and highway building, has backed down.

He tried to stop it, he says, because the bill wasn't paid for. The fact that he chose this one to make a point earned him the opposition of many fellow Republicans and handed Democrats a P.R. bonanza.

Just a short time ago, the Senate did what it's been trying to do since last Thursday, which is pass a bill.

Dana Bash has the breaking news on how this slowdown and showdown ended.

But, Dana, before we get onto the politics of this whole thing, because this thing is awash in partisan politics, I want to start with the hundreds of thousands of people who would have been affected by all this bickering. An estimated 100,000 people had already lost their unemployment benefits. Thousands of federal workers had already been furloughed. How quickly will this money now get to those folks?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Democratic sorts tell me that they expect this bill to go to the president's desk tonight, that he will likely sign it tomorrow morning, and the money should officially start flowing then.

But the agencies that were affected by this are not waiting for that. In fact, I spoke with one official at the Transportation Department tonight who said that they have already gotten word to the 2,000 workers who were furloughed from this to come back to work tomorrow morning. They're trying to get the word out to them by e- mail, on the Internet, through Twitter, et cetera...

COOPER: Right.

BASH: ... to say, come on back tomorrow morning.

COOPER: So, why did Bunning back down now?

BASH: He got an agreement from the Democrats that he would get one vote tonight and a couple down the road that would give him what he wanted, which is to make the point that he wants these benefits to go through, but not without being paid for.

He didn't want it to add to the deficit. Listen to the argument that he made on this point earlier tonight on the Senate floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JIM BUNNING (R), KENTUCKY: We must get our debt problems under control, and there is no better time thank now. That is why I have been down here demanding that this bill be paid for.

I support the programs in the bill we are discussing. And, if the extension of those programs were paid for, I would gladly support the bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, Anderson, we have seen evidence and examples -- I have firsthand -- of Senator Bunning being ornery and direct in other times.

And I want to read you a quote that he gave, didn't utter it on the Senate floor, but he released it officially from his office, on this issue.

He said: "I hope Senate Democrats tonight vote for their own pay- fors and show Americans that they are committed to fiscal discipline. I will be watching them closely and checking off the hypocrites one by one."

Well, as expected, Anderson, Bunning's measured to pay for this $10 billion package failed. And all but three Democrats and one independent voted against it. So, I think he had a lot of check marks on his roster there.

COOPER: Well, it's interesting. I mean, there has obviously been a lot of focus on Senator Bunning, and a lot of liberals and Democrats have been hitting him with this for being obstructionist and standing up -- standing against this.

But -- but he argued that the Democrats could have worked around him, that -- basically, that they were playing politics as well. And he kind of has a point, right?

BASH: They could have. They have the Senate procedures to do that. They -- it would have taken some time, but they absolutely could have overruled his objections, because, as you saw with this final vote, there definitely were the votes to pass this package.

They didn't do that, for several reasons. One is because they said it would just take some time. But I think, most importantly, politically, they understood that the idea that they could rail against a single Republican senator holding up money that went to benefits for jobless Americans...

COOPER: Yes.

BASH: ... they knew that that was a political winner, and they also assumed that, at the end, he would back down.

But I got to tell you, the personality that Jim Bunning has, it wasn't easy for his Republicans, who also saw this as a political nightmare, to get him to back down tonight.

COOPER: All right, Dana, a lot of fast-moving breaking news.

Dana, thanks for the reporting.

Let's talk strategy now and the bitter debate Senator Bunning touched off, with some praising him for taking a stand, others asking why on earth he chose this bill to do it.

With us tonight, political analyst and syndicated columnist Roland Martin, and Erick Erickson, editor of RedState.com.

Erick, let me start with you.

We heard Senator Bunning strategy that he was going to be looking for Democrats who are hypocrites. He said this is all about the so- called pay-as-you-go principle...

ERICK ERICKSON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REDSTATE.COM: Right.

COOPER: ... that, in order for Congress to approve new spending, they have to account for where the money is coming from.

But that -- that rule was actually just signed into law by President Obama last month, and Bunning voted against it. So, isn't he kind of a hypocrite on this?

ERICKSON: Well, you know, the majority of the Senate wanted that law. Senator Bunning voted against it.

Well, now the majority of the Senate is saying, let's ignore the law we just passed. I mean, we can play hypocrisy back and forth, but the fact is that the Senate passed it, the president signed it, and now they want to ignore it.

COOPER: But there have been plenty of times when Senator Bunning had actually voted for increased spending without accounting...

ERICKSON: Right.

COOPER: ... for where the money is coming from. There is a press release we got from February 2003 where he's touting -- "Bunning touts extended benefits for Kentucky's unemployed."

In 2003, there was the Bush taxes.

ERICKSON: Right.

COOPER: 2001, the Bush tax cuts as well.

ERICKSON: And that was before the pay-go law was put into effect a couple of weeks ago. And, also, you know, Senator Bunning really has nothing left to lose. He doesn't care about Mitch McConnell's tenure as minority leader.

They're not even talking anymore. He's ready to go out and stick it to both sides really. And he has got a point, now that pay-go was into law a few weeks ago.

COOPER: Roland, what about Erick's argument, that, basically, Senator Bunning was standing on firm ground, on principle that, if you want to pass a bill, you have to be able to pay for it?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, Senator Bunning is a gutless politician with principle.

Anderson, you asked the question of Erick. He wouldn't answer it. Yes, Bunning is a hypocrite. He talked about the rising deficit. He went along, under President George W. Bush, when the deficit went from $5 billion to $10 billion.

And, look, I support the notion of pay-as-you-go. But what I also appreciate, when politicians don't stand before us and play a little game, and lie to us, where, all of a sudden, oh, no, it's so important to me now, because I'm not running for reelection, when, if he was running, he wouldn't have done had this.

And, so, yes, great job.

ERICKSON: We don't really know that.

MARTIN: Well, no, no, no, you know he wouldn't have done it. You know it, Erick.

ERICKSON: The law changed.

COOPER: And, Erick, I want you to be -- Erick, I want you to be able to respond. But we have got to take a quick break.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We're going to have more from both of you on the other side of this break.

Join the live chat right now. Let us know what you think about this. Is this hypocrisy on both sides? Join us at AC360.com.

President Obama is back in Washington also ready to unveil his final push for health care reform and what he plans to offer Republicans. We have tomorrow's details tonight.

And also tonight, a live report from Chile and a visit to a hard- hit village that was there one moment and utterly devastated the next.

And, also, all that attention on killer whales, we're going to look at the billion-dollar bottom line. They're theme park brand names, these whales, these dolphins, these -- a lot of other animals. Is keeping them penned up humane? Is it the right thing to do? Jack Hanna joins us, and Gary Tuchman takes us to a place where the downside of keeping animals captive will break your heart. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Continuing our breaking news coverage, the Senate just moments ago turning back on the jobless benefits, health insurance and Medicare funding for a lot of Americans -- turning them back on, I should say.

The funding expired yesterday, after retiring Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning single-handedly blocked it Thursday night. Tonight, he dropped his opposition on the floor, but not his objections to how the bill is paid for by deficit spending. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUNNING: If we cannot pay for a bill that all 100 senators support, how can we tell the American people with a straight face that we will ever pay for anything? That is what senators say they want. And that is what the American people want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Back now talking strategy with political analyst Roland Martin and blogger Erick Erickson from RedState.com.

Erick, I want to start off with you.

I think, before the break, Roland had used the term gutless politician.

(LAUGHTER)

ERICKSON: Well, you know, if we're going to label Senator Bunning a gutless politician, let's label them all gutless politicians...

MARTIN: Yes, they are.

ERICKSON: ... because this is politics. The same politicians this week who are railing against Republicans filibustering health care were a few years ago championing the use of the filibuster to block judges.

And this is the way the game is played in Washington, and it largely is a game. I do think, though, that Senator Bunning has a very valid point, which is, where is the money going to come from to pay this, when, two weeks ago, the Democrats had a great signing ceremony to sign into law the pay-go legislation, saying they would pay for all the money they're spending, and now they're not.

MARTIN: So, why did he vote against it? Why did he vote against it? If he felt that this law was so important, why did he vote against it?

ERICKSON: Well, probably because exactly what we're seeing right now. It was meaningless legislation.

MARTIN: Right.

ERICKSON: They were worried about appearance, but not worried about substance.

MARTIN: No. You know what? I would appreciate if Senator Bunning actually went to the well and apologized to Americans for being one of those politicians who participated in rising this deficit, as opposed to...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: ... on somebody else.

ERICKSON: I guess they all need to apologize, then.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, Roland, to Erick's point, though, isn't this kind of like Kabuki theater? The Democrats were kind of looking this...

MARTIN: Yes.

COOPER: ... because it allowed them to -- to, you know, be bashing Republicans and showing the Republicans are being obstructionists.

MARTIN: Of course.

COOPER: So, it is a game.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Yes.

COOPER: And, I mean, the American people are kind of fed up with these games.

MARTIN: No, actually, they're not, because it's called politics, because you have people on the left and people on the right who actually sit back, and they watch this thing go over and over and over again.

And, also, what happens every year, you see 90 percent to 95 percent of incumbents being reelected. So, American -- the American voters are participants in this game, because they also allow it.

COOPER: Does...

ERICKSON: Which is...

COOPER: Go ahead, Erick.

ERICKSON: I think this is why the Tea Party movement, for example, is coming on, because people are, I think, getting tired of this.

People are tired of the joke that is Washington. They're tired of guys going to Washington, saying they're going to cut spending, and they raise spending, cut taxes, and they raise fees, and -- and talking out of both sides of their mouth.

The American people, I think, are kind of getting tired of it. Washington is becoming a bigger punchline than ever.

MARTIN: But you know what, Anderson?

ERICKSON: I mean, my God, look at Kay Bailey Hutchison in Texas going down to defeat tonight probably.

MARTIN: But, Anderson, I will be honest and admit the same American people, they have no problem taking those pork-barrel funds. They never want to send the money back.

And so the American people also have a stake in this. And they can't just say it's all on them, because they also love taking this money that keeps coming back to them.

ERICKSON: That's true.

COOPER: So, Erick, in the end, who benefited from this? Did the Democrats get the hit that they hoped to get? Did -- did -- you know, Republicans, did they -- by -- by not supporting Jim Bunning, did they, you know, not come out of this looking bad?

ERICKSON: You know, I think that probably the Democrats will benefit a little more. Sadly, the people who are going to benefit most are the ones who are going to able to collect unemployment benefits for -- some more, instead of having to go out and look for a job.

MARTIN: Oh, you know what? You know what, Erick? That is a trifling comment to say.

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: I think it's dead on.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: No, hold on, hold on. Erick, one second.

Erick, you have you a job. I have a job. Anderson has a job. But I know many people who would love to work, who work in Detroit, who work in Oakland, who work in New York, in L.A. who would love to be able to go get a job.

And I think it is wrong for people like you to denigrate those who would love to work.

ERICKSON: Look...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: But, Erick, it's a reality. Some folks are in a situation where they have gone six, 9, 12, 15 months...

ERICKSON: And there are some folks who are still collecting unemployment benefits, when they don't need them. And that's part of Bunning's objection.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: No, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: You know, I don't think it's a coincidence that the states that pay the least amount of unemployment benefits over time have the lowest unemployment. When we keep subsidizing the behavior, the behavior continues.

MARTIN: Let me be clear. Again, though, you can -- that's a nice little line, but there are people who are Republicans, who are Democrats, who are independents, people who don't even affiliate with a party who are unemployed.

And I think you insult Americans when you suggest that those getting unemployment benefits don't want to go get a job.

ERICKSON: Look, you know, the unemployment stories are tragic, but so is the deficit for our children and grandchildren. At some point, we are going to have to fish or cut bait on the serious issues.

MARTIN: Well, then you know what? I pray you God you get in a situation where you have to ask for unemployment benefits if you can't get a job.

ERICKSON: Well, you know, I appreciate that, but, again, there are people -- in fact, I was talking to a golf course owner the other day who has members of his golf course applying for jobs at his golf course that he knows they are not going to do just because they want to keep getting their unemployment benefits and have a little more vacation.

Until the government comes up with regulations that can stop people from cheating on unemployment, we are going to keep having these situations.

MARTIN: Fine. Call those out, but don't you sit here and say all the folks who are getting it somehow don't want to go to work. Many folks want to go to work, and they do not like having to apply for those unemployment benefits.

ERICKSON: I think there are -- there are other ways they can get some money and help themselves out.

MARTIN: OK, like what? Like what?

COOPER: We have got to leave it there, guys.

Erick Erickson, appreciate it, Roland Martin, as well.

ERICKSON: Thank you.

MARTIN: Thanks, Anderson.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... discussion.

President Obama, meantime, setting to move on health care reform. He's going to be on TV laying out what he plans to push for, which Republican proposals he can accept, and how he plans to get a final bill passed, with or without GOP support.

Tonight, let's have a sneak preview of what he plans to offer the opposition tomorrow.

Ed Henry joins us with that. He's down in Georgia, where Mr. Obama spent the day.

Ed, what do we know?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we are getting new information tonight about what the president is going to say tomorrow.

And it really amounts to his last-ditch attempt to get a bipartisan health bill. First of all, he's going to have a couple of key provisions in there, basically talking about -- about $50 million in tort reform, trying to cut down on some of those medical malpractice suits that Republicans have been complaining about so much, also new incentives for health savings accounts.

That's a big deal for conservatives. They have been pushing that for a long time. They think that will drive the cost of health care down. But what's interesting is, top Republicans like Congressman Eric Cantor already coming out tonight saying that this is not good enough. They still want the president to start over.

And so what I'm picking up from top Democrats on Capitol Hill is, they're frustrated with the White House, and they're wondering, why is the president even bothering reaching out to Republicans at this late stage? These Democrats are privately saying, this sounds a lot like window dressing, that, instead, the president should be focusing on getting Democratic votes. It's clear the Republicans are not going to join the president. He should be focused on getting Democratic votes on reconciliation, that legislative maneuver to push this through, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. And -- and, I mean, explain reconciliation, as best you can.

I mean, what does he have to do to push this thing through? Can he? How many votes does he need? What does he need to do? HENRY: He needs a simple majority. So, for example, in the Senate, it would be 50 senators, plus Joe Biden as the tie-breaking vote.

But my colleague Dan Lothian and I have each have spoken to Democratic officials tonight saying the president tomorrow is not going to use the word reconciliation. He doesn't want to get in the legislative weeds and talk about that legislative maneuver. Instead, he's going to say, "I want an up-or-down vote."

That's really code for reconciliation, but he doesn't want to get into the legislative weeds. But the bottom line is that, as of tonight, he does not even have the votes in the House and the Senate, the simple majority. Even though they're lowering the threshold from that supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate, the president still doesn't have the votes.

And that's also why Democrats on the Hill are a little frustrated. They think the president should have sort of grabbed the bull by the horns a lot earlier in this debate, that what he's doing tomorrow, he should have done that a long time ago. Maybe they would have gotten it done.

The White House, though, is confident tonight that the chips are down, and they think the president can finally grab everyone's attention tomorrow and finally get this done. But they have still got to get those votes. They don't have them yet, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. All right. Ed Henry, appreciate the reporting, as always.

There's a lot more at AC360.com right now, including a glossary of some key terms you might to want to try to make sense of the health care debate, vital words on obviously a vital subject.

Coming up next tonight: the latest live from Chile, Secretary of State Clinton's visit, rescue efforts continuing. But we have some striking new video of the quake itself, what it looked like and sounded like when it struck, and what it looks like now in a fishing village that was hit hard, not so much by the quake itself, but by that tsunami after.

Also, back home, how does a family simply vanish? A couple, two toddlers gone, their car found empty -- the question is, what happened? That's our "Crime & Punishment" tonight.

And, in the wake of the SeaWorld tragedy, Jack Hanna joins us. We are going to get his reaction to what we uncovered about what happens to a lot of performing animals after their performing days are over.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, let's get some of the latest on some other important stories we're following.

Brianna Keilar is here with a 360 news and business bulletin -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Second Amendment is back in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justices today heard arguments in a case that challenges handgun bans in the Chicago area. The court is being asked to extend its 2008 decision striking down a federal gun ban in Washington, D.C., to state and local jurisdictions. A decision is expected by the end of June.

Ford took the market lead in car sales last month, outselling both General Motors and Toyota. Ford's U.S. sales surged 43 percent, while GM's rose 12 percent, and Toyota's fell 9 percent. Analysts say most of Ford's gains were from sales to businesses and rental car companies.

And the U.S. Postal Service is renewing its effort to drop Saturday mail delivery. It's also proposing rate hikes and other service changes. Business was down 13 percent last year, and the post office is facing a projected $7 billion loss this year.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell could be in trouble again for her temper. New York police say that she slapped and punched the driver of her Cadillac Escalade today, bruised...

COOPER: What?

KEILAR: I know. Can you believe -- you can believe this, right?

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Yes.

KEILAR: But, apparently, she bruised his cheek. That's what they're saying. And they're considering whether to charge Campbell with a crime.

Of course, Anderson, you know that she's faced a whole series of lawsuits and criminal cases accusing her of attacking her household employees, but also those two police officers at London's Heathrow Airport.

COOPER: Right. Right. She had some lost luggage, as I remember, and she like kick and spat at some police officers, and -- and I guess hit her maid also in another incident.

How many -- like, who...

KEILAR: Yes. You can't even keep track of them.

COOPER: Who gets in fights these days? I don't...

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: I don't understand.

KEILAR: You can't. I think, if you were offered a job with Naomi Campbell, you just say, no thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Right. How does she get people to work for her? I mean, it's got to be -- that can't be easy.

KEILAR: Ka-ching.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Yes, Brianna, I guess. Thanks.

Just ahead, we are going to go live to the quake zone in Chile for the latest on the rescue and recovery efforts there.

And still ahead: wild animals trained to perform, like this kangaroo, once a star performer in a Texas road show. He lost his arm in a boxing match with a human, if you can believe it. Is it fair to compare his plight with killer whales kept in captivity? Jack Hanna joins us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Santiago, Chile, today. She brought 20 satellite phones with her.

Three days after the 8.8-magnitude quake, aftershocks are complicating the rescue efforts. Look what happened today. Rescue workers searching for people trapped in a 15-story building jumped out of the building themselves as it began shaking. It's a terrifying moment for any rescuer.

A CNN camera crew just happened to be there. There have been at least 12 aftershocks in the past 24 hours alone.

Well, tonight, the death toll is approaching 800, that number expected to rise.

Still, Karl Penhaul went to a town hit by three tsunami waves.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the shoreline or from the high ground, the coastal town of Dichato looks the same, almost total destruction.

"This is a catastrophe. This was a great tourist and fishing community. Now it's like firewood," he says.

This was the scene shot by amateur videographers minutes after three tsunami waves swept away people and their homes. Witnesses say the waves rolled in five meters, or 15 feet high, shortly after the quake.

You can make out a house roof floating off, and the town's center flooded. Now that same area is dry, fishing boats dragged more than two miles from their moorings by the tsunami. Rescue workers combed the sludge and debris for bodies.

"They're combing the wreckage by following the path the waves took as they swept into the town," he says.

Then the earth begins to heave again.

(on camera): There's just been an aftershock, and the leader of the firefighters has called for his men to suspend their search and head to what he calls a security zone.

(voice-over): Police in this town of 5,500 confirm eight people died in Saturday's tsunami, but say around 50 are still missing. The survivors are struggling to come to terms with what hit them.

Sixty-eight-year-old Anna Pennanotta (ph) takes us down through Violent Street. Her house was a block away, on Petunia Street. Now there's nothing to go home to.

She tells me, when the quake struck, she ran out in her night clothes. A neighbor's house withstood the shaking, but they were too old and frail to outrun the waves. They died.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Karl Penhaul joins us now from Concepcion.

Karl, it's hard on this end to kind of get a sense just of -- of how well, you know, efforts are going, not only to find those who may still be trapped, but -- but also to help those who are still living with -- with food and shelter. How is it going, from your -- from your vantage point?

PENHAUL: Well, I think, the Chilean government, on the one hand, has been trying to give this perception that they didn't need help from the outside world, that they had this under control, they had a history of dealing with earthquakes.

And what we saw on the ground, particularly from that community of Dichato and also another coastal community that we went to yesterday, they say that they have little -- have had little or no aid from the government.

That community of Dichato just today, in the afternoon, had its first food supplies and drinking water supplies from the government. That's three days, three-and-a-half days after the earthquake struck and after their town was devastated by a tsunami.

People on the ground do not think that they are getting supplies quickly enough. In Santiago, the capital, in Concepcion, a different story, but in the outer-lying area, the harder-hit areas, the coastal areas, where most of the deaths were, aid has been very slow getting there -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Karl, in Haiti, we saw hundreds of thousands of people sleeping in the streets in these makeshift tent encampments. Is that the same situation now in the streets in Concepcion and -- and in other towns?

PENHAUL: Here in Concepcion, I don't get that sense of flashback. A lot of people are sleeping outside, and they're setting up little fires outside but you don't see them in the great quantities. There are enough structures here in the main city, Concepcion, still standing that people seem to be absorbed into them, in staying inside.

But in the coastal towns where the water, not the earthquake but the tsunami has done the devastation, there is nowhere to stay. And so, once again, there you do see these small tent cities, not on the scale of Haiti because these are smaller coastal communities, but nevertheless, virtually all the population are living outside. It gets cold here at night. It still is staying dry, and they desperately do need food and especially drinking water, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Karl Penhaul live in Concepcion. Karl, again, thanks for the reporting.

Here's something else about the earthquake in Chile which is really fascinating. Scientists at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory say it may have actually made our days shorter. And here's how they explained that.

An earthquake like Saturday's can nudge some of the earth's mass closer to its axis, which makes the planet rotate faster, shaving a tiny bit of time off one day, 1.26 micro seconds by their calculations, which is just over one-millionth of a second. It's not enough to notice, but it's still pretty amazing.

Another way to think about it, it's basically the same thing that happens when ice eight skaters, like this one on a YouTube video, spin faster by pulling their arms closer to their bodies. Moving faster and faster and faster.

Join the live chat happening right now at AC360.com.

Up next, big money and big questions about keeping animals in captivity. SeaWorld is defending its use of animals like the killer whale that fatally attacked a trainer. They say it's all about educating the public about animals. But critics say the bottom line is money, not what's best for animals. So is it humane what they're doing? Tonight, we're going to investigate what happens to some animals after their performing days are over. We'll also talk live with Jack Hanna after the break.

And later, gone without a trace, an entire family from California. We have the latest on the mystery. Where are they? Ahead on "Crime & Punishment."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In Orlando, SeaWorld is reviewing its policy on how trainers interact with killer whales after last week's fatal attack on Dawn Brancheau, a trainer. Tilikum, the 12,000-pound whale which held Brancheau in his mouth for 40 minutes and who has now taken the lives of three people will, according to SeaWorld's president, remain an important part of its team of whales.

Tilikum was sold to SeaWorld in 1991 with a value estimated at $1.5 million.

Killer whales and dolphins are obviously popular attractions at SeaWorld and other marine parks, but other places have a wide range of animals that are used to entertain crowds. Now, supporters say these animals can help educate people about animals they night not otherwise see, but critics say it's really all about money, and what happens to some of these animals is not humane.

We're going to talk about it all in a moment with Jack Hanna, but first Gary Tuchman investigates what happens to some animals when their days in the spotlight end.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Babe, the elephant, used to perform in a traveling circus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's got two broken legs, the front right and the rear right.

TUCHMAN: Now the 26-year-old African elephant is being taken care of at the largest wildlife animal sanctuary in the country, a Humane Society of the United States facility, where more than 1,200 animals live on 1,300 acres in east Texas.

DIANE MILLER, BLACK BEAUTY RANCH: We're here to provide permanent sanctuary for animals who come from all different manner of cruelty and abusive backgrounds.

TUCHMAN: Babe's legs are hurt from his treatment back in the performance days. A sad situation, but certainly not something you could compare to the treatment of killer whales. Right?

(on camera) Isn't it apples and oranges with the killer whales at a place like SeaWorld?

MILLER: I think that it's very similar in concept. You know, sea mammals, just like these terrestrial land animals that we have here at Black Beauty Ranch, sea animals are also wild animals that are being taken from their natural habitats and asked to perform for people in a very unnatural setting.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The director here shows us horses at the sanctuary who are hurt and sick after performing in circuses and shows.

And then there is this animal.

(on camera) This is Roo, the kangaroo. Roo used to be one of the stars at a roadside attraction here in Texas. His specialty was that he boxed. He boxed human beings. Once when he was fighting a human being, he broke his left arm. Ultimately, it had to be amputated by a veterinarian.

(voice-over) So is a comparison between these animals and the killer whales fair? The SeaWorld employee in charge of the whale's training says totally unfair, that SeaWorld's whales are stimulated and happy.

CHUCK TOMPKINS, CURATOR OF ZOOLOGICAL OPERATIONS FOR SEAWORLD: I have known them for 32 years and, you know, I have spent my whole life taking care of animals, and to have somebody make a reference that, you know, these performing animals are mistreated is just so offensive I can't even put it into words.

TUCHMAN: There are people who say money affects decisions about animal welfare. A former senior scientist for SeaWorld in the 1980s tells us the parks could not financially afford to ever get rid of their killer whales. It would heavily damage the bottom line. But...

JOHN HALL, FORMER SEAWORLD SCIENTIST: I will say they spend a great deal of money on their facilities and taking the best care of the animals that they know how. I think that the whales probably would prefer to be in the ocean, but that's obviously not an option.

TOMPKINS: Most of them have been raised in the care of man their entire lives. It would be torture to put these animals back into a wild environment.

TUCHMAN: Aquariums and zoos all over the world have star attractions, whether they're pandas or tigers or apes, that would certainly affect the bottom line if they were to leave.

Richard Farinato used to be the assistant director of zoos in Boston and Greenville, South Carolina. That zoo had a star white tiger.

RICHARD FARINATO, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, GREENVILLE ZOO: There were days, for instance, on a Sunday when the zoo was busy with the white tiger area it would be twice the crowd that we'd see.

TUCHMAN: Babe is on a diet because of her condition.

(on camera) She weighs 6,800 pounds, but she used to pay 7,500 pounds? Seventy-six hundred pounds. Good job losing those 750.

(voice-over) Unlike the killer whales, Babe isn't ever going back to work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And Gary Tuchman joins us now. Gary, do the people...

TUCHMAN: Anderson, I will tell you -- I'm sorry, Anderson. I certainly didn't mean to step on you talking, but I will tell you this important fact. I asked Diane Miller, the director here of the ranch, if she realistically thinks there's a possibility that a large corporation like SeaWorld would make the decision to free its killer whales.

And she tells me she doesn't think it will be imminent, but she hopes to change opinions with other people one person at a time and, ultimately, maybe they'll make that decision.

But we had talked to the people who work with the whales at SeaWorld. They scoff at that. They're also are very insulted by that, because they are very fervent in telling us that they believe their killer whales are very happy and very healthy -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Appreciate the reporting, Gary, thanks.

Keeping -- so keeping pandas, killer whales, white tigers and other animals in captivity, is it more about money and protection than education? Let's dig deeper. And frankly, is the comparison even fair? Let's dig deeper now with Jack Hanna, director emeritus at the Columbia Zoo. He's also on the board of directors of the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens conservation fund.

Jack, thanks for being with us. First of all, do you think it's fair to make a comparison to, you know, the way elephants are handled in a circus or, you know, animals in some of these, you know, roadside attractions and killer whales and dolphins at SeaWorld?

JACK HANNA, DIRECTOR EMERITUS, COLUMBIA ZOO: No, I don't, Anderson. The numbers you're talking about at these roadside attractions are so minimal it's not even worth talking about. Every animal's life is worth talking about.

And I know the facility in Texas. I've been there before when Clayton Eamer (ph) was alive. And it's a beautiful facility. However, that's a small amount of numbers. The zoological world has tens of thousands of animals, Anderson, and 99 percent of animals in zoos come from other zoos. Eighty percent of whales at SeaWorld come from SeaWorld, born there.

COOPER: But you say the value in a place like SeaWorld is educating the public about animals they might otherwise not see. But if those animals -- I mean, the Humane Society of America basically says, you know, killer whales should not be kept in these kind of conditions, because they are essentially social creature. They live in pods. They have family members. And this is a completely unnatural environment and is not healthy for them.

HANNA: The Humane Society, Anderson, you look at what they do as far as their research and their knowledge, doesn't even compare to what SeaWorld does, Anderson, whatsoever.

The killer whales at SeaWorld -- what happened 50 years ago, Anderson, when no one knew what an orca or killer whale was, what was happening? They were being killed by fishermen. Not all fishermen. Certain of these killer whales were eating fish. They were killing the killer whales like crazy. Today, what about the killer whales? SeaWorld brings us more knowledge and more appreciation of the killer whale in the worlds of the sea than anybody in the entire world.

No one talks about, Anderson, the last ten years what SeaWorld done to save the manatee. Anybody will tell you -- I'm jumping to manatees now, because it's important.

SeaWorld -- I hope SeaWorld, Anderson, makes billions of dollar, billions. I hope they do. Why? Because the animals they rehabilitate and spend more money on rehabilitating animals than anybody in the world.

We're talking about the manatee this year has had a terrible time, as you know, Anderson. There's an animal on the verge of extinction. And you don't see it in the history books. If it hasn't have been for SeaWorld, the manatee would be gone, probably, in ten years.

COOPER: In terms of the animals and in terms of killer whales they have in their pens and their pools, do you believe -- beyond a greater good, do you believe it is actually good for those animals to be in basically a relatively small pool, not in their natural environment, or even any more ocean-like environment in which, you know, killer whales don't normally spend so much time at the surface. They develop sorts of infections when they're in these things.

We're looking at the dorsal fin of this killer whale, which is slumped over. That only happens to killer whales in captivity.

HANNA: I doubt that very seriously, Anderson. I felt it up in Glacier Bay where they've been flopped over.

COOPER: I read one percent, according to the Humane Society. It says about one percent of orcas in the wild.

HANNA: All I can tell you, Anderson, you're talking to a person for 41 years of my life. That's why I enjoy interviews with you, because you're one of the few news people, if not only one in the world that has traveled places like where we go to Rwanda. North Pole, South Pole, I've watched your shows, and I appreciate what you bring to us because you bring those facts. The facts are simple.

When I go to Glacier Bay and other parts of the world to film the killer whale, the behaviors I see there, Anderson, some of the exact behaviors are the ones that I see at SeaWorld. Believe you me I wouldn't put up with one instance -- some people say I get paid by SeaWorld. Anderson, I'm on their conservation fund, which we dole out millions of dollars to projects around the world.

Do I make appearances there? I sure do. Half of them for free. Half of them, I just talk to people about animals and get paid.

So I'm not doing this for SeaWorld. I was doing this 30 years ago for SeaWorld before I even knew what SeaWorld was because I believe in what they do. These whales, Anderson, are very, very important. I can't tell you. They're very happy. If they weren't happy, Anderson, they would have scratches on them. They would have nose bleeds on them. They would lose weight. They wouldn't breed. They wouldn't eat. That's what happens to animals that don't adjust to this.

Now, let me give you one more quick example. At the Columbus Zoo, we're opening in two weeks a $21 million polar bear and grizzly bear habitat. Grizzlies with streams, living trout. Polar bears with tide pools.

And guess what the Columbus Zoo does, along with 220 other zoos and aquariums? We put in $32 million for projects around the world. We just got through putting $400,000 at the Columbus Zoo alone in polar-bear research up at the North Pole.

And I can give you example after example in this country with zoos who are doing this. I hope that all zoos and SeaWorld make billions of dollars. We had 182 million people last year, Anderson. So we know we're growing.

I don't know about PETA and HSUS, all this other stuff. But I know what we're accomplishing. We're accomplishing the hearts -- touch the heart and teach the mind. That's what we're doing, Anderson.

COOPER: Last night on the program we had someone who was very critical of SeaWorld, and tonight we wanted to have somebody who was supporting what they were doing. So we'd like to show both sides.

Jack Hanna, it's always good to have you on. Appreciate you being with us.

HANNA: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: You can go to AC360.com to read more about these two competing perspectives on animals in captivity. Let us know what you think at the live chat happening right now at AC360.com.

Coming up next on the program, a strange story, the search for a missing California family. Their SUV found near the Mexican border. Were they kidnapped by a drug cartel? That's one theory. The story and the details, coming up.

Also tonight, O.J. Simpson's suit, he wore it when he was acquitted. But is it now headed to the Smithsonian? We'll tell you ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It's been nearly a month since a family from southern California disappeared, gone without a trace. Take a look at some of the home video of the family: a businessman, his wife, their two young kids. They vanished. Their dogs were found in their home, unattended, without food and water. Also their SUV was discovered abandoned just two blocks from the Mexican border. Authorities are poring over security tapes from border checkpoints, hoping for a break that will try to try to solve this mystery. With tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report here's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a Saturday, one to two.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a home video Joseph and Summer McStay and their boys, Gianni and Joseph Jr. appear just like any other middle-class family, but this family has disappeared. What happened and where they went are now agonizing puzzles for friends and relatives, Summer's mom among them.

BLANCHE ARANDA, MOTHER OF SUMMER STAY: I love her, and I want my family home safe. I want them to come home.

FOREMAN: Their house in a suburb of San Diego showed no signs of a break-in. Joseph's younger brother Mike went there when several days had passed with no contact from his sibling.

MIKE MCSTAY, BROTHER OF JOSEPH: There was no damage to any furniture. No blood, no violence, no -- nothing broken. You know, no indication of a struggle.

FOREMAN: So what do authorities know? They know right up until the McStays vanished on February 4, everything was normal: Summer tending to the children, Joseph tending to his business selling decorative fountains.

LT. DENNIS BRUGOS, SAN DIEGO SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Mr. McStay had a lunch engagement with a worker, and they actually had several phone conversations that day, as well.

FOREMAN: They know fresh eggs were left on the counter, Summer's prescription sunglasses, too. The family's beloved dogs were left with no food or water.

And if the family had planned to go somewhere, why didn't Joseph ask someone to look after his business?

MCSTAY: You know, they would contact my mom or a family member. They wouldn't leave the business in disarray.

FOREMAN: The family's vehicle was found abandoned blocks from the Mexican border. But, again, no signs of struggle, no clue who left it there.

MCSTAY: I originally thought that someone was holding them against their will. But there's been no ransom. So -- and, you know, for him to just up and run and not tell anybody, it would have to be something pretty heavy.

FOREMAN (on camera): The mystery for many is twofold. Not only are they wondering where this family is, but they're also asking, how can a well-connected couple with two toddlers disappear from a busy neighborhood without anyone seeing anything?

(voice-over) Homicide detectives say the couple's past holds no clues as to why anyone would want to hurt them, and yet it's been almost a month since they were last seen.

Tom Foreman, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Such a strange story. Take a look at some numbers on the screen there. If you have information on the McStay family, you're urged to contact the San Diego County Sheriff's Department 858- 565-5200. Anonymous calls can be made to 888-580-8477.

Coming up next, an update on that ACORN controversy. Employees caught on tape, helping people posing as a pimp and a prostitute. Prosecutors in one city have decided if any laws were broken. We'll tell you if they were.

And is O.J. Simpson's infamous brown suit coming to a museum near you, or to the Smithsonian institution? Details ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A lot happening tonight. Brianna Keilar joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Texas Governor Rick Perry has won his bid for the Republican nomination in today's primary race. He took an early lead over Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who called Perry a short time to concede the race. Hutchison also urged her supporters to back Perry in the November governor's race. Perry will face off against Bill White, the former mayor of Houston.

Remember videos like these showing ACORN Employees advising a couple that were posing as pimp and prostitute? Well, in New York, the Brooklyn D.A.'s office says it found no laws were broken by three ACORN employees that were caught on tape last fall.

And Tiger Woods, he's back home in Florida after a week of family counseling in Arizona. He's getting back to playing golf and working out. But it's still unclear when Woods might return to the professional golfing tour. That's what a source with knowledge of Woods' schedule tells CNN.

And O.J. Simpson is rejected by the Smithsonian. The museum says it won't take the suit that Simpson wore when he was acquitted of murder for its collection. And a representative of Simpson is now going to look for another museum to take the suit. But the Smithsonian, Anderson, said it was inappropriate.

COOPER: Hmm. I wonder if there's some tax benefit for him to give away the suit. Or what -- why does he want to give away suit?

KEILAR: Well, actually, it's a dispute. I checked on this. It's a dispute between the Goldman family... COOPER: That's right.

KEILAR: ... because there could be some value. So this is part of the settlement is that it's going to go to a museum.

COOPER: All right. Interesting. Brianna, thanks very much.

For tonight's "Shot," you see a lot of things in New York. This may be a first: a coyote roaming through Central Park. That's right. Take a look. The video we found from YouTube to prove it. Although it kind of looks like a German shepherd, I'm told coyotes have appeared in various parts of the city in recent weeks.

Coyotes are not the only wild animals in the park. We found some other wily, woolly and crafty critters apparently. That's right. There's the dramatic animal video.

Look at this. Oh, very rare to capture them on film. They resemble members of the "360" crew. We're told they're elusive. They travel in packs. They also exhibit behavior similar to that of prairie dogs. Very clean animals. They groom themselves. Authorities, however, advise people to be very wary and approach them with extreme caution.

KEILAR: Aren't they distracting when they do that throughout the show? I mean, how do you even read the news?

COOPER: I like Bob scratching his ear there. Yes, it's rare that those are captured on camera, so it's -- we got -- but please, kids, don't approach them or be very cautious when you do.

There's a lot more ahead tonight at the top of the hour. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Breaking news tonight. Welcome news to 100,000 people unemployed. Jim Bunning, the senator who blocked an emergency bill extending jobless benefits, Medicare funding, health insurance and highway building, has backed down.