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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Last Stand on Health Care Reform; Capitol Hill Scandal; Do Rich Candidates Win More?; Prostate Screening Questions

Aired March 3, 2010 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Good evening, everyone.

Tonight, President Obama's final push for his health care reform plan; it is doubtful any Republicans will go for what he is offering them, but will enough Democrats even support him to get it passed? And is the president abandoning his principles to get things done?

We have all the angles tonight, plus David Gergen, Donna Brazile and Bill Bennett covering all sides.

Also ahead, she's got no political experience at all, but with $50 million to spend she wants to be a U.S. Senator, Linda McMahon, wife of wrestling honcho Vince McMahon. And the question, is politics just another game for the rich?

Plus, seconds of terror as the warning goes out, another killer wave could be on the way. We are live in Chile where the earth is still moving and people are running scared.

First up tonight, the beginning of the end to what President Obama today called a long and wrenching debate and man, has it been; long, wrenching and bitterly partisan, hard to watch and frequently tough to follow. This afternoon at the White House, a photo op, the president surrounded by doctors in white lab coats, Mr. Obama laying out a final chapter to a story that's now run about 12 volumes over.

Ending it the way he wants may not be simple or easy. The issues are complex; the political road he's choosing bumpy. "Raw Politics" tonight from Ed Henry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He came out swinging. The president unveiled his pitch for health reform that Democrats have been demanding for months.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.

They are waiting for us to lead. And as long as I hold this office, I intend to provide that leadership. And so I ask Congress to finish its work and I look forward to signing this reform into law.

Thank you very much, everybody. Let's get it done. HENRY: It was a crowd-pleaser, but it wasn't exactly new. The president falling back on familiar arguments he's made dozens of times before: getting tough with the insurance industry, ending pre-existing conditions, stopping coverage from being dropped when you get sick and halting individuals from being forced to pay unlimited amounts out of pocket.

He also made one last run at wooing Republicans, adding provisions to cut frivolous lawsuits, new incentives for health savings accounts and noted he met with the opposition for nearly seven hours at last week's summit.

OBAMA: And since then, every idea has been put on the table. Every argument has been made. So, now is the time to make a decision.

HENRY: Top Democrats close to the White House say the president knows full well Republicans are not going to compromise. So, without ever using the word "reconciliation", the president made clear he plans to use the legislative shortcut that could force his health plan through Congress on simple majority votes.

OBAMA: Now it deserves the same kind of up or down vote that was cast on welfare reform, that was cast on the children's health insurance program, that was used for COBRA health coverage for the unemployed and by the way, for both Bush tax cuts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Ed, a kind of a dig at Republicans there, just a reminder that they have done this method in the past before.

I want to read you something though that President Obama said about the health care overhaul while campaigning in Chicago back in 2007. And as critics say, look this is just -- he flip-flopped on this.

He said, quote, "This is an area where we're going to have to have 60 percent majority in the Senate and the House in order to actually get a bill to my desk. We're going to have to have a majority to get a bill to my desk that is not just a 50 plus one majority."

Clearly now, he is going back on what he said on the campaign trail, basically saying he's prepared to ram this thing through Congress with a 50 plus one vote. What's the calculation now of the White House? They just think they got to get this thing passed, no matter what?

HENRY: Absolutely. They've gone so far down the road that they've got to get it done, essentially at all costs. Now, when you talk to advisers to the president, they say look, essentially, that was when the president thought maybe Republicans would meet him halfway. They did want to have a super majority, but they feel that at every turn, Republicans have just blocked this and they have no other resort to use a simple majority. And as you heard the president himself say, the Republicans have used reconciliation, this tactic many times, including for the Bush tax cuts and they basically feel this is make or break.

And what's fascinating to me, loving -- you know, covering politics, normally, a lot of these debates are preordained. The legislative leaders in both chambers know how it's going to go, they know where the votes are.

This is one with rolling the dice. They really don't know how all of this is going to end up. But the president has gone so far down the road that he can't accept failure. So they are going for everything with this because his legislative agenda is hanging in the balance.

COOPER: Did they ask all those doctors to put on lab coats? I mean, they must, right? Do they pass them out? How does that work?

HENRY: They -- last time when they started this whole debate, it was in the Rose Garden and they passed them out and they caught some flack from Republicans. And so I didn't see, I was not in the East Room today whether or not they literally handed them out.

COOPER: Right.

HENRY: But the White House has explained previously, that look, these are doctors themselves. They are comfortable wearing the white coats. Republicans have said, look, these are essentially campaign props in the White House.

COOPER: Right.

HENRY: And it's just yet another example of how they can't agree on anything.

COOPER: Yes.

HENRY: Everything is all back and forth, nasty back and forth.

COOPER: And both sides do it, frankly, these photo ops. So what --- that's what the president wants, Ed. Thanks.

Ed just mentioned a bit about how he's going to try to get it, it's a confusing process. In a moment, we're going to try to break it down very clearly.

But first, what is happening now? Let's talk about the politics. Earlier, I spoke with senior political analyst, David Gergen, political contributor and conservative voice, Bill Bennett, who's the author of the new book, "A Century Turns, New Hopes, New Fears" and also political contributor and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So Bill, I mean, the president's plan is basically a modified version of what the Senate blueprint that -- that includes some Republican ideas. Is it going to be enough to actually get any Republicans onboard?

WILLIAM BENNETT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think he gets Republicans but I think they may be able to get it. If you were betting, I think it's very close to an even bet. I think it's going to be very hard.

But the thing I keep coming back to, I was thinking about this earlier in the day, the time they get it, if they get it, this will be one-third of his presidency, about 14, 15 months. You know, it is a lot of time.

It is not the nation's number one priority. And most Americans don't agree with what it is he is proposing. So, that's, for whatever reasons he has, it is a high-risk venture.

COOPER: Donna Brazile, do you agree with this, that this is not the nation's priority?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think the nation's priority right now is to create jobs and to lower the deficit and one thing that this bill will do is both.

Look, the president said today that he's taken the best ideas from both parties. He has put together a smaller package of items that they will have to reconcile, but if the House Democrats can accept the senate version of the bill, if the senators will stick together, we will have a bill before Easter.

COOPER: David, it's interesting though, this is exactly what then-candidate Obama said he was best at, getting people from divergent points of view to agree on something and actually get things done. It hasn't worked out that way. I mean, what did you think of what he said today? What do you think of his chances moving forward?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, he inherited a political dynamic in Washington that was unhealthy. And then by contracting out the writings of the bill to the House and senate Democrats and the process then followed, the Republicans felt very marginalized and didn't have a seat at the table, especially in the House.

And to come at this last minute with essentially a 2,000-page- plus bill and say we would like to add a few amendments for Republicans, it's just not going to fly. It is -- I think it helps him with his outreach to the country, to show that he is being reasonable. I think it may help him with some moderate Democrats, but it was -- it was just built-in that he wasn't going to get Republicans.

Republicans believe that this is a fundamentally flawed plan. And I think he mischaracterized the Republican opposition today. So basically he said today if you vote against my bill, that's because you are voting for the insurance companies.

This is not about insurance companies from a Republican point of view. It is about -- you know, it is about government intervention, a large cost. It has significant question marks about it.

COOPER: Yes.

GERGEN: And Democrats believe that we have a moral responsibility to provide coverage. That's a legitimate argument. The insurance argument, I think, is a side argument.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: My conversation didn't end there. Up next, take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENNETT: If you will listen one minute, Donna, we were -- we were --

BRAZILE: I will listen, but I will not let you demagogue just simply because --

BENNETT: Just -- just listen a minute please. We were in this --

BRAZILE: -- you desire. I will listen but don't demagogue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: More of our panel.

Hey, we're also going to have Dana Bash on just how Democrats plan to get health care reform passed. Not as easy as you might think.

Weigh in if you want, the live chat is up and running at AC360.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We have more from Donna Brazile, Bill Bennett and David Gergen in a moment.

But first we just kind of wanted to explain exactly what happens now in terms of getting a vote on health care reform. Dana Bash has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): So what happens now? Well, President Obama says he wants a simple up or down vote for his health care plan. But for Democrats here in Congress, getting that done is anything but simple.

Let me lay out what the Democrats' plans are by starting right here in the House.

(voice-over): The idea is for House Democrats to pass the same bill already approved by the Senate in late December, but House Democrats don't like some of what's in that Senate bill, so they won't do that without making some changes, a separate package.

Those changes are what Democrats are planning to push through without Republican votes, using that process known as reconciliation. Reconciliation means Democrats only need a simple majority, 51 votes in the Senate.

(on camera): Democrats say the first and most important step in making all of that work is getting that package of changes just right, especially to muster enough votes here in the house.

(voice-over): Some examples from the House Speaker.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: That would be affordability for the middle class, closing the doughnut hole for seniors, ending the Nebraska fix and make -- having state equity for all states, and fourth -- just to name the major ones -- changing the pay for -- from the excise tax.

BASH (on camera): Another obstacle Democrats are grappling with is trust. Democrats in the House don't want to be left twisting in the wind. Some of them simply don't trust that their brethren over here in the Senate will actually follow through and pass the package of changes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're working on having that faith verified.

BASH (voice-over): Another hurdle, and it's a big one, is whether Democrats themselves have enough agreement, especially in the House, to find the votes for all of this.

And it's an election year. Democrats are already nervous about getting re-elected and Republicans are stoking that by warning the health care bill will bring them down.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: So, I want to assure our Democratic friends that if they are somehow able to pass this bill in the House, it will be the issue in every race in America.

BASH (on camera): So you see, both politically and procedurally, this so-called simple up or down vote is really very complicated. As one Democratic source put it to me, the president's new pressure helps, but it doesn't guarantee health care will happen.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Yes, no guarantee at all. Let's talk "Strategy" again with David Gergen, Bill Bennett and Donna Brazile.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Can he get enough Democrats to support this? I mean, Republicans are being critical of Democrats for ramming this through --

BENNETT: Yes, yes.

COOPER: -- or attempting to ram this through, but President Obama today was saying, well, look, Republicans have used that move in the past to ram through their legislation.

BENNETT: I think it's dis-analogous in at least one important way and parliamentarians will have to deal with some of the reconciliation language. Yes, reconciliation has been used, not for something that is both this big and this much opposed by the American people. That really --

BRAZILE: Oh, I disagree.

BENNETT: Politically, there's real question as to whether they are better served by having this fail or pass. I think if it passes and it's probably worse for them politically. Now, I'm opposed to it on policy grounds.

But I think Democrats, be careful what you wish for, you may get it but it will hurt them.

COOPER: Donna?

BENNETT: Because of the public opposition.

BRAZILE: You know, every time the Democrats have sat down with Republicans, they have moved the goal post. They first said that we won't support it because of the public option. And we won't support it because it covers too many people. We won't support it because it's not free --

BENNETT: No one ever said that.

BRAZILE: Yes. Democrats have tried to work with Republicans throughout this entire process to bring the best ideas that they could put forward to reform the system. We have both -- both parties agree that the system is -- the health care, the current system is broken.

For those Americans today who are finding their health insurance going up 35, 40, 50 percent, they want relief. They want Congress to get something done. They don't want to hear about --

BENNETT: Something.

BRAZILE: -- while the Republicans are disagreeing because of the polls. That is not the way to govern and that's not way to produce legislation.

BENNETT: Something done, but not this done. They really have been pretty clear that they don't want this kind of big government plan.

Now, first of all, he does have Democratic opposition he has to deal with in the House. So we don't know what's going to happen on thing like abortion.

But again, to cite as he did today and what has happened all day in the summit, this person's problem, that person's problem tells you, you have a problem. It doesn't tell you what the solution should be. And each time the president has put forward this -- a version of this solution or the Democrats, the American people have said no.

COOPER: David, do you -- I'm sorry.

BRAZILE: You know abortion is easy, Bill, because no public funds will be used to pay for abortions. That's been the law for 33 years. That's -- that's the law.

BENNETT: Why won't Bart Stupak -- why won't Bart Stupak support it?

BRAZILE: But this will lower cost, increase access to 31 million Americans.

BENNETT: Ok. Ok.

BRAZILE: We are paying it --

BENNETT: Your argument is with Bart Stupak.

BRAZILE: You and I are paying $1,000 and more in health insurance costs each year because of uncompensated care.

BENNETT: Maybe --

BRAZILE: -- is to lower our cost.

BENNETT: No chance to respond. Ok.

BRAZILE: So hopefully, Mr. -- Mr. Stupak, Bill, will agree with Ms. Pelosi and -- and members of the senate that this bill will not allow public funds to be used for abortions.

BENNETT: Well, we will see. I mean, we will see.

You know, if I had to bet, I would say, probably, he will be able to get this through only with Democrat votes. I don't -- I think it's bad policy to do that. I also think it's going to be very bad politics, because of the opposition.

The thing has been tainted in the process with the "Louisiana Purchase", with the "Cornhusker Kickback". And you've got these corruption stories coming out on -- on Rangel and Paterson. I'm not saying they are -- they are part of this, but there is a sense of real distrust of Washington.

We have got these corruption stories. We were in this box several --

BRAZILE: Oh, God. What about Ensign? What about Vitter? Let's start bringing up all the members under investigation, Bill. (CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: We were -- if you will listen one minute, Donna --

BRAZILE: I will listen but I will not to let you demagogue just simply because you desire.

BENNETT: Listens, just listen a minute please.

BRAZILE: I will listen, but don't demagogue.

BENNETT: We were in this box last time -- we were -- and got what we deserved. We had Abramoff and we had Mark Foley, and we had Duke Cunningham. And we got our heads handed to us. And that's where a lot of the focus of the corruption was.

Now you're looking at Rangel and you're looking at Paterson. You're looking at a government that people distrust. You're looking at this TEA party thing going on. And with the "Cornhusker Kickback", "Louisiana Purchase", and other indices, and then you pass this thing, over the express wishes of the American people, I think it is a political disaster.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: All right --

BENNETT: But it's policy that matters.

COOPER: -- but we're going to focus on Rangel in just a moment.

But, David, I just want you to be able to -- to jump in here. Do you think, politically, this is bad for Democrats if they pass it?

GERGEN: I have -- I'm deeply troubled by what it means for the country, Anderson.

I -- I agree with Donna that the current system is intolerable. It has to be fixed. But there is a question of whether this is the right fix. And what deeply troubles me is that all the major social reform we've had going back to the Great Depression, all the major bills, whether it is social security or Medicaid -- or Medicaid -- or civil rights, one and two, have all been passed with bipartisan support, have all drawn, you know, a lot of senators from the other side.

And to pass this with no Republicans and in the teeth of public opposition invites a volatility and a campaign that's going to be about repeal (ph). And it just seems -- that is not a healthy way to make social policy though. I'm troubled that this is where we've wound up. I do not think it's good for the country to be in this position.

COOPER: Interesting discussion.

Donna Brazile, Bill Bennett, David Gergen, thank you all. I appreciate it.

GERGEN: Thank you.

BENNETT: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Speaking of major players --- Bill Bennett just mentioned him earlier -- Congressman Charlie Rangel, one of the biggest in Washington, hundreds of billions of dollars flowed through the committee he chairs. And after plenty of allegations of shady dealings, he finally steps aside today, temporarily, he says.

But how come it took so long? And does it say something about all those Washington promises about accountability and fighting corruption? We are "Keeping them Honest" tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Today, a dramatic turn in the ethics storm swirling around House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel. The head of the powerful tax-writing committee finally did what so many have been pushing him to do. He stepped down; a move he said today was temporary. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D-NY), HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: In order to avoid my colleagues having to defend me during their elections, I have this morning sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi, asking her to grant me a leave of absence, until such time as the Ethics Committee completes its work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, for Rangel's decision it is -- well, for many, it's long overdue. He's been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for more than a year for a long list of alleged rules violations involving financial disclosures and a lot more. Remember, this is the guy who actually writes the tax laws we all have to follow.

Last week, the hot water Rangel has been in got even hotter allowing Republicans to point at Democrats and say what happened to all those promises about accountability and cleaning up corruption?

Well, tonight, Joe Johns is "Keeping them Honest".

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Rangel really had a choice today, jump or maybe get pushed out. This all started, like you said, last week, when the House Ethics Committee said Rangel violated a rule banning House members from getting their travel expenses paid for by outside interests.

Well, Rangel went to a business conference in the Caribbean a couple years back that was paid for by a big bank, a big pharmaceutical company, big phone company. You get the idea. And the Ethics Committee said his staff knew corporations were bankrolling the conference, but wasn't able to prove that Rangel himself knew.

He argued that he shouldn't have been punished for what he called mistakes of his staff. Here's what he said. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANGEL: Common sense dictates that Members of Congress should not be held responsible for what could be the wrongdoing or mistakes or errors of staff, unless there's reason to believe that the member knew or should have known. And there's nothing in the record to indicate the latter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: In other words, the powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee saw nothing unusual in receiving an expense-paid trip to the Caribbean, even though there were apparently corporate signs and banners all over the place at the conference.

Peter Flaherty, a guy we talked to, is with the conservative group that's been bird-dogging Rangel. He actually went to one of these conferences.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER FLAHERTY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL LEGAL AND POLICY CENTER: It's implausible that Charles Rangel did not know that big companies were bankrolling the event. Their logos were on the podium. They were on a banner above the podium. Speakers thanked the sponsors repeatedly. I know. I was there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joe, I mean, what -- are there still about half-a-dozen allegations out there that Rangel has been doing shady dealings? I mean, what about all the money that he forgot to disclose?

JOHNS: Yes, that's right, Anderson, questions about the half- million dollars in assets he failed to report on government disclosure forms; that could be an even bigger challenge for him.

After all, like you said, does the guy who runs the committee that writes the tax laws actually think about it when he ends up failing to report a half-million dollars in assets? And then, when you tick-off some of the other stuff, it really sounds pretty bad.

There's Rangel's Dominican Republic beach house -- we've got some pictures of him relaxing on the beach there -- questions about whether he disclosed all of the rental income he got from that, questions about how he used four rent-controlled apartments in New York and whether all of them could have been considered a primary residence, questions about whether he used his official position to do favors for an oil drilling company that was doing favors to him, all of which he has adamantly denied, of course. He says it's sloppy bookkeeping. Other people, he says, including his wife, handled some of the finances. He says he hired an accountant now and has already paid back something like $11,000 in back taxes.

Bottom line, from Rangel and all his defenders, they are all saying there was never any intent to break any rules.

COOPER: That has got to be about the most unflattering photograph of any member of Congress I have ever seen.

JOHNS: I know. It's pretty bad.

COOPER: Note to self: don't fall asleep on some beach if you're a member of Congress. Yikes.

You know, he seems to be blaming an awful a lot of other people, I mean, bookkeepers, his staff, his wife. Democrats, you know, talked a lot about fighting corruption when they came to office, but no one seemed to be pushing him very hard, until now.

JOHNS: No, you're -- you're right. And this is really all about accountability.

You remember, a few years back, the Democrats ran and they got control of Congress claiming there was what they called a culture of corruption on Capitol Hill. Now, it's another election year and this time the Democrats could end up defending themselves on pretty much the very same grounds.

COOPER: Yes, no doubt. They're definitely going to have to. Joe, I appreciate the reporting. Thanks very much -- "Keeping them Honest".

Congressman Rangel will be a guest on "LARRY KING LIVE" tomorrow. You can hear what he has to say for himself starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up next: can you buy a senate seat? Well, one mega- millionaire candidate is being accused of trying to do that. She is the wife of -- wife of Vince McMahon, the head of Pro wrestling. She says she's going to spend $50 million of her money to win. Is that fair?

Also, guess which of these three Members of Congress are the richest Members of Congress on Capitol Hill? We're going to tell you tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, Washington may be broken, the government, but the folks we elected to run it are certainly far from broke. The Center for Responsive Politics says 237 members of Congress are millionaires, according to their most recent reported assets.

So, do you know who the richest five are, the top five? We are going to show you right now.

First, from the state of Massachusetts, we have Senator John Kerry. The Democrat has an average net worth of nearly $209 million.

All right, let's go to the number fourth richest member of Congress. For that, we have to go to the state of Virginia, Senator Mark Warner. The Democrat has reported assets of about $209 million.

So, let's go to the next name on the list. The next is in Wisconsin, Senator Herb Cole. The Democrat's estimated worth is roughly $214 million.

Now, the second richest member of Congress, actually, for the top two, we go to the state of California. Second on the list, Representative Jane Harman, estimated net worth $244 million.

All right.

Let's look at the richest member of Congress, also from California, Republican Representative Darryl Issa; estimated net worth, $251 million.

So clearly, to get power, you need to have money, yours or other people's. That's the cost of entering Washington. And it's a series that we're launching tonight.

These days when it comes to spending, the sky is the limit.

In Connecticut, Linda McMahon, wife of pro-wrestling honcho Vince McMahon, says she is going to shell up to $50 million to be that state's next senator.

Randi Kaye reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a look at this. That woman, in wrestling jargon, she's getting tombstoned.

Two things you need to know about her. First, she hates to lose and will do anything to win. Second, she's worth hundreds of millions of dollars and plans to spend tens of millions of her own to become the next U.S. senator from Connecticut.

Her name is Linda McMahon. She and her husband, Vince McMahon, co-founded World Wrestling Entertainment, a billion-dollar business. They brought us Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. So Linda McMahon isn't just rich; she's really rich.

Dave Leventhal at the Center for Responsive Politics tracks campaign spending. He says there is no recession in politics.

(on camera): Do you have to be rich to get elected these days?

DAVE LEVENTHAL, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: You don't have to be rich, but it sure helps to be rich. KAYE (voice-over): In New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg poured at least $90 million of his own into his re-election campaign and won. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine: more than $40 million to win in 2005.

Back in the Connecticut smack-down, McMahon's opponents in the Republican primary are millionaires, too, but small-time compared to McMahon. Former congressman, Rob Simmons, is worth about $2.5 million.

ROB SIMMONS, CONNECTICUT SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, we don't have $40 million or $50 million. We don't need $40 million or $50 million. We need people. We need people. And tonight, we got people.

KAYE (on camera): Do you believe that you have to be rich to win?

SIMMONS: No, I do not. And I'm not rich, and I've won.

KAYE: McMahon has never held political office but says she's willing to spend $50 million of her own money on this campaign and finance it herself because she is refusing to accept money from special interest groups.

(voice-over): Personal financial disclosure forms show McMahon has so much cash, she keeps $1 million in a bank account and has more than $15,000 in uncashed checks.

At the Republican primary debate in Hartford this week, McMahon was asked if she's trying to buy the election. Her opponent, Simmons, says it's a valid question.

(on camera): You've raised about $3 million?

SIMMONS: Yes.

KAYE: Your opponent, Linda McMahon, has said that she's willing to spend $50 million that she has, her own money, on her campaign. How do you compete with that?

SIMMONS: It's hard in some respects to compete with somebody who has just a ton of money.

KAYE (voice-over): Being independently wealthy allows McMahon to spend more time with voters, less time fund-raising. She can blanket the state with advertising and pay top dollar for staffers. Her chief of staff earns nearly $300,000 a year.

(on camera): So money talks?

LEVENTHAL: Money does talk.

KAYE (voice-over): But for candidates like Linda McMahon, who pay for their own campaigns, talk may not be enough. The Center for Responsive Politics says 40 out of 51 congressional candidates who spent half a million dollars or more on their 2008 campaigns lost or quit. Proof, perhaps, that even the richest person in the world needs a message voters believe, not just a good act.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Hartford, Connecticut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Ouch.

Our series continues tomorrow.

We're also following several other important stories tonight. Brianna Keilar has the "360 News & Bulletin" -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we begin with a developing story: a powerful earthquake in Taiwan. The magnitude 6.4 quake struck the southern part of the country. As of now, no reports of injuries or damage, but we will continue to monitor that situation.

Now also tonight, new troubles for New York's embattled governor. Te State Commission on Public Integrity says David Paterson broke ethics rules when accepting free World Series tickets last year. This comes as Paterson stands accused of intervening in a domestic violence incident involving one of his advisers.

The government expecting to turn a tidy $2 billion profit on part of its loan to Bank of America when it puts the bank's stock warrants up for auction tomorrow. The government will now likely break even on the bank bailout, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

And Anderson, a Virginia congressman is pushing to have Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill, replacing Ulysses S. Grant.

COOPER: Interesting. We'll see if that happens. Brianna thanks very much.

In Chile tonight, the death toll will -- is actually about 802 right now. We're going to have a report from Karl Penhaul. There was a scare about a tsunami. A lot of people have been running, thinking they were running for their lives.

We'll have that ahead and a lot more. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight another change in cancer screening guidelines. And I want to warn you, this is confusing.

This is for prostate cancer, which kills about 27,000 Americans each year and is the second leading cause of cancer for men. The big change in these revised guidelines which were issued today by the American Cancer Society is a greater emphasis on individual counseling by doctors.

So the new guidelines recommend that most men 50 and older should seriously consider the potential risk of treatment before deciding whether to be screened for prostate cancer at all. They should talk it over with their doctors.

For men with a greater-than-average risk of prostate cancer, the guidelines advise having these discussions at younger ages. What's confusing, of course, is that for years, all of us have been led to believe that prostate cancer screening can save your life.

Let's talk to 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.

How is this different from the mammography guidelines that stirred up so much controversy last year and caused so much confusion?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, with regard to mammography and PSA, prostate specific antigen testing, neither one of them are a perfect test by any means. They're both very sensitive in terms of picking up some sort of abnormality, either in the breast or the prostate, but they're not very good at specificity, meaning being able to tell what that abnormality is. That's the starting point.

The difference really seems to be that there is a fair amount of evidence, nine big trials around the world, with regard to mammography that shows -- mammography early screening does save lives. And that's really the outcome that people are trying to measure.

With regard to prostate cancer and this PSA test, this blood test, the results are much more mixed than that. They're sort of in four big studies around the world, only one of which showed a modest improvement in survival. Three really showed no improvement in survival by getting that prostate-specific test.

COOPER: So, if it's true that there isn't any benefit for PSA testing, why should anyone get screened at age 50?

GUPTA: Right. And that's a very good question. Let me be very clear here. This is confusing, as you warned. And not everyone agrees on that, including major organizations.

What you're talking about here specifically, the American Cancer Society, the American Urological Association says people should get screened. In fact, they recommend someone get a screening test at age 40 as a baseline. And they compare that subsequently to someone who gets the screening test at age 50.

But the ACS, the American Cancer Society, the news today, they are specifically saying that we're not sure there is virtue in people getting screened at age 50. In fact, the chief medical officer, who I just talked to earlier today, says he did not get screened at age 50 because he did not see the virtue.

With regard to high-risk groups, people who have a family history and what that specifically means, they had a first-degree relative who had prostate cancer below the age of 65, brother or father. Or they're African-American, they are considered high risk. They should get the screening test and be counseled earlier.

But at age 50, you know, if you're worried about it, if you're anxious about it for some reason. Maybe you had a friend who had prostate cancer. Maybe you have another cancer in your body and you've dealt with cancer, getting the PSA test is an option for you.

COOPER: Is there a danger, though, in getting the actual screening test? I mean, why -- what's the downside of getting screened?

GUPTA: Right. So it's an interesting question because you have a test. Let's say it comes back elevated. What you don't know is what that means exactly. Could it just represent inflammation of the prostate? Could it represent a very, very slow-moving cancer? Or might it represent an aggressive cancer?

And the thing about this test is it simply cannot provide you that piece of information. We need a better screening test, and we need to know how to analyze PSAs better than we do now.

But the concern is that, if it comes back elevated, it may lead you down the road to first anxiety, then biopsy and possibly treatment. And with treatment, again, you have significant potential risks: bowel dysfunction, bladder dysfunction, sexual dysfunction; not insignificant numbers at all. So I think that's the biggest concern here.

COOPER: So, bottom line is if you're African-American or have a very close relative who has had prostate cancer, you should probably get screened and screened earlier than 50? Correct?

GUPTA: Yes, that's right. And both the American Urological Association and the American Cancer Society agree that you really need to be educated on the risks of getting screened and the benefits of getting screened.

So you know, figure out exactly what the road may lead to. Could you get a biopsy? Could you get treatment? If so the treatment -- what is the likelihood that it's going to save your life? What is the likelihood that you're going to have complications of the treatment? And if you don't get screened, what's going to happen?

You know, Anderson, there's an adage a lot of people talk about when they talk about prostate cancer, that more people die with prostate cancer than die of prostate cancer. And it's an important thing to keep in mind. If it's not something that's going to affect you in your lifetime, cause you any problems, it may be best not to get screened.

COOPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, preserving a culture and the world's second largest forest. How a new stove is helping the women in the Congo, one simple thing that makes a huge difference, when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: So imagine you live in a place where the only way to feed your family was to destroy the very forest that made your homeland special. You need the wood to build a fire that cooks your family's dinner. There's no question you'd sacrifice nature to keep your family alive, right? Who wouldn't?

But what if one simple thing could change that equation?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the second largest forest in the world; 215 million acres, a land mass more than a thousand times the size of New York City, but it's being lost at a breathtaking pace. Mostly, so the Congolese people can simply survive. They need the wood the forest provides to cook their food taking nearly 1,000 tons of wood every day.

But international aid organization Mercy Corps has stepped in with a simple idea. Help the Congolese rethink the way they cook by teaching them how to make fuel efficient stoves.

They're made out of mud, clay and straw. It takes an hour to transform the dirt into a cooking machine with help from a piece of metal in the middle. The stoves use 70 percent less wood than traditional methods and so far more than 30,000 stoves have been made, protecting habitat and improving the health and safety of the cooks.

There's less smoke with the new stoves and women no longer have to search for firewood in the forest still populated with rebel groups; one simple thing helping to provide for a unique culture and preserve the forest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A kid helping to land planes. It happened at JFK where an air traffic controller took two of his kids to work. Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jet Blue 171 cleared for takeoff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cleared for takeoff, Jet Blue 171.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COOPER: No joke. The fallout, the questions and more audio coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Coming up, tonight's "Shot", the new Internet video going viral. But first, Brianna Keilar has a "360 Bulletin" -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Anderson, Sarah Palin is working on a second book. Her publisher, HarperCollins, says there's no title yet, but the book will focus on her key values, both political and spiritual, that have been such a profound part of her life. Palin's first book, "Going Rogue", has sold 2.2 million copies.

And a "360 Follow." The Rhode Island school superintendent who fired all the teachers and staff at an underperforming high school last week said today she's willing to negotiate now that the union has agreed to changes. Those changes include support for a longer school day and providing before- and after-school tutoring for students.

Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger has flown his last flight with U.S. Airways. The man who landed Flight 1549 in the Hudson River last year is retiring after 30 years on the job, but Captain Sully will still be looking out for pilots. He will continue to press for flight safety as a spokesman for the aviation industry.

And it really makes you wonder what he's going to think of this next story.

An air traffic controller at New York's Kennedy Airport is suspended for bringing his two children to work and allowing them to radio instructions to pilots. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jet Blue 171 cleared for take-off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cleared for take-off, Jet Blue 171.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see, Aero Mexico 403 Kennedy, position hold?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Position hold, Aero Mexico 403.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what you get, guys, when the kids are out of school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jet Blue 171 contact departure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over departure, Jet Blue 171, awesome job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zero three cleared for take-off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four zero three cleared for take off. Thank you very much. You have a great day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MX 403 contact departure, adios.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Contact departure Aero Mexico 403, adios.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Contact departure. Adios amigo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: The controller's supervisor is also suspended, pending an FAA investigation. It is just so interesting, because the pilots seem to just kind of -- they're just not even really skipping a beat as they hear that.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, you feel for the kids' family and stuff. I don't know. It's -- yes, but who would want to be on a flight where a kid is doing that, I guess? I don't know.

KEILAR: They were pretty precise, but it is scary.

COOPER: Yes.

For tonight's "Shot," a very cool new music video from the band "OK Go"; you may remember these guys from a viral video a while back, showing them singing and dancing on treadmills. It was a big hit.

Now they are back with something that's also kind of worth taking a look at. Take a look. It's "The Shot" tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The song is called "This Too Shall Pass." It's on "OK Go's" newest album and it's got this cool video, where -- I don't know how long would it take them to make that thing up, but looks pretty neat; an inventive offering from the group.

KEILAR: Did you see that guy? He looked like Ali Velshi.

COOPER: Maybe it is Ali Velshi.

KEILAR: He's the bass guitarist. I always thought that when I saw them doing the treadmill thing.

COOPER: Ali Velshi, this is what he does in his spare time. He makes whirly gigs and sings.

KEILAR: Yes.

COOPER: Hey, that's it for 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.

I'll see you tomorrow night.