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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Hurricane Irene Floodwaters Rising; Khamis Gadhafi Killed; Pan Am 103 Bomber Located

Aired August 29, 2011 - 20:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Gloria, thanks very much. Good evening. We begin with breaking news. Floodwaters still rising from Hurricane Irene, rivers and streams still cresting as we speak; entire towns submerged or destroyed. This didn't end when the wind died down. This was and continues to be a very big deal and water is the reason why.

You're looking at where the town of Prattsville, New York used to be. Prattsville, parts of it are gone. A town of about 600 people, parts of it washed away. Everyone got away safely, but they don't have much to return to.

This is what it looks like at ground level. The correspondent who shot this compared it to Joplin, Missouri, after the tornado. She was stranded by rising floodwaters. She joins us shortly, still stranded there, actually, tonight.

Irene dumped as much as a foot of rain on the northeast onto already waterlogged ground into already full rivers and reservoirs. Look at that truck trying to get through the water. That water has to go somewhere and it doesn't care what or who is in the way.

This scene in New Jersey where even big military trucks were having a hard time getting around. From Virginia to Vermont, rivers and streams are overflowing. Some now well above record flood levels or soon to be. Largely because of flooding, damage from Hurricane Irene could hit $7 billion making it one of the 10 most expensive disasters in American history. As many as five million people are still without power, five million people. Lines are down nearly everywhere Irene hit. Several people have been electrocuted, some have drowned.

A short time ago, the death toll rose to 27 when we learned of three new deaths in Vermont. We're going to have more on the danger shortly, but first how we got there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Saturday morning, 7:30 a.m., Hurricane Irene makes landfall as a Category 1 hurricane.

Waves slammed the North Carolina coastline as the storm packs winds of up to 85 miles-an-hour.

(on camera): Take a look this way. Nothing but foam. The sea is absolutely white, just all churned up, whipped by this wind and, again, we're getting hit with some of those strong gusts, right now.

What you are looking at here is houses that are about underwater in places. And this is the Bogue Sound. You can see that. You're looking out, right now, at the Bogue Sound that has come inland, here. And there goes the camera, you can feel the wind and the rain. We have waves literally racing inland.

(voice-over): Irene drops more than 15 inches of rain here causing massive flooding before moving north. In Virginia, rivers swell, neighborhood streets fill with water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is normally a road but it has turned into a huge lake and it -- it's about -- it's a few blocks long and about three to four feet deep, that's way too deep for your car.

COOPER (voice-over): Irene is still a Category 1 hurricane when it hits New Jersey, early Sunday morning and the winds and driving rain pound the shoreline.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These waves are scary.

COOPER: In Long beach, New York, waves surged beyond sand barriers created to protect the city.

ROB MARCIANO, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You get a sense for the winds here on the coastline. This boardwalk, now, and it's breached it. And Street flooding, I can see, still a huge, huge issue.

COOPER (on camera): A very serious storm, a category one storm. There have been fatalities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoa. Let's get out of here. Let's get out of here. Grab the mike.

COOPER (voice-over): New York City is spared the brunt of the storm, Only heavy rain and flooding in areas of lower Manhattan. But as Irene continues north, Vermont is pummeled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was just woken up 15 minutes ago with a policeman knocking on my door telling me it was time to get out of town because we are flooded.

COOPER: Hotels and residents are quickly evacuated as waters through Brattleboro cresting the banks of the river.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks like the Whetstone Brook is flooding up Route 9 in West Brattleboro and bridges are out. Main Street is closed, here in Brattleboro. Haven't seen it like this in a long time.

COOPER: With waters continuing to rise in rivers and creeks in many states, heavy flooding could be a major problem in the days to come.

(END VIDEOTAPE) Amazing how fast that water is moving. That's the breaking news, right now. Rivers still rising, Vermont faces the worst flooding since 1927, 260 roads affected. Numerous bridges -- look this one, including some straight off a picture postcard. It's one of those covered bridges just getting overcome with water. The water finally retreating in places, but still cresting, or yet to crest in others.

Gary Tuchman has been traveling throughout Vermont, joins us now from North Williston.

Gary, what's the situation, there?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we're in the northern part of Vermont near the state's biggest city of Burlington. And these are waters from the Winooski River, but we're nowhere near the Winooski River. The Winooski River is behind me about a quarter mile. This is a street. And the flooding in northern Vermont is just starting to crest as we speak, a day after the tropical storm came through.

But the worst damage and the worst devastation is not in the northern part of the state, it's in the south part of the state, where we spent much of the day, and that's where creeks and brooks became raging rapids, Hundreds of places that, in some cases were just ponds, where children used to swim, became rapids. And in three cases, there were fatalities. Three people dead in Vermont, another person is missing.

But, it was incredible, the sights we saw. At one particular place, we saw rapids going through a building, a building that had collapsed and was hanging precariously over the waters. Old timers we've talked to have never seen anything like this. The state hasn't seen flooding like this for more than eight decades.

Fortunately the waters receded in this southern part of Vermont, but many homes are flooded and what we see during these catastrophes, is the water recedes, but the problems don't, because many of the homes, hundreds of homes in the state of Vermont, are full of mud right now, and here in northern Vermont, as soon as the waters start to recede, the homeowners here will see their homes are full of mud, too and there are a lot of repairs to make.

You know, the state of Vermont, Anderson, is known for its skiing, it's known for its green mountains, but it's inland, it's on the Canadian border, it's not known for hurricanes and tropical storms and the people in this state are suffering greatly, today. Back to you.

COOPER: And Gary, I mean, how long has the water been at that height at that location?

TUCHMAN: Well, right now, it's really in the process of cresting. Within the next couple of hours, authorities believe it will diminish and they think by tomorrow all this water, and it's a huge amount of water with a strong current -- they think it will all be gone. That's what's amazing about hurricane and tropical storms, you see all this water and you can't imagine it disappearing, but it does. One of the cases where it didn't is where we spent a lot of time, Anderson, New Orleans, after Katrina. That was because of the levee failure. That water stuck around a long time. This water will disappear, but the mud will remain, the problems will remain for a long time.

COOPER: Yeah, no doubt about it. Gary, appreciate that update. Be careful out there.

A few hours west, a small town has suffered major damage. More video here of what -- of the area around Prattsville, New York. This is Prattsville, New York, a town established back in 1824. Briefly a boomtown thanks to local Hemlock trees which were used in leather processing. But until the flooding hit, there were a little bit more than 300 occupied homes in Prattsville. Right now that is anyone's guess how many homes might still be able to be occupied.

Correspondent, Megan Cruz, and her photographer, both from cable news (INAUDIBLE) YNN are responsible for the video you're seeing. I spoke to her a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

So Megan, you said last night this town looked like it had been wiped off the map.

MEGAN CRUZ, YNN REPORTER: Oh definitely. We arrived here, probably the late afternoon and we didn't know what Prattsville looked like. I mean, this is not in our usual coverage area, but when we came it was just all water. I would not have known that there was even an established community unless somebody said, you see that house here, there are supposed to be other houses around there.

COOPER: And you've been trapped there since last night, right?

CRUZ: I have. I have. Let me just give you an idea of the flooding, so you understand why we were probably trapped here last night. If you could just follow me over here.

Can you see where the Schoharie Creek is, right now? Imagine where I'm standing, that creek flooded to this point and actually a mile out of town, even more. So, definitely this is flooding that no one has seen here before. And yes, all the other smaller roads around this area have been flooded. So, we're being told that there is no way for us to get out.

COOPER: So, for residents there, I mean, what comes next? When will they be able to go back to their homes?

CRUZ: It's on a case-by-case basis. Some people, their homes have just been flooded, you know, throughout the basement, others, not so much, even more, actually. So, they are staying at some of the area's two shelters or they're staying with family and friends on higher ground. So, it's different for every person. But yes, I mean, a lot of people have been affected. If you can see the video that we shot, I mean, this town has just been devastated. There are parts of the main street that there are plots of land that people are like, you know, there used to be a gas station there, there used to be a home there and all it is just land that's been completely swept away. So, right now it's just recovery on their mind.

COOPER: And at this point, have officials -- I mean, do they have a toll of how many properties have been destroyed, how many homes?

CRUZ: No, they're still serving the area. What they do know is that of the 800 residents in this town, all have been accounted for. They did have to rescue 31 people on Sunday, but in terms of people, they're fine, they're still evaluating the property.

COOPER: And you're going to stay there tonight, as well, for the same reason?

CRUZ: That's what I just heard. Our assignment desk just called me up and said they have spoken to the sheriff and that the roads around us have not been opened yet, so I don't know. I'm hoping that I can try to figure something out, but at this point, yes, it seems we might have to stay here another night.

COOPER: Well, it's great that they were able to rescue all the folks and that no one was -- lost a life or was really injured. Megan Cruz, good luck to you and your crew. Appreciate the work and thanks very much.

CRUZ: Thank you. No problem.

COOPER: All right, let's turn now to the bigger picture and where things go from here with Chad Myers in the CNN Weather Center.

So Chad, what does it look like?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just an awful lot of flooding still to go, because now all of this water that's up a hill has to come down a hill. We have all these purple maps, now -- all these purple spots. I want you to be able to go tonight to something called water.weather.gov. And if you're in any of these areas where the water has to run downhill to get to the ocean or the sound, even whether it's New Jersey or up into Vermont or on up toward Lake Champlain, you can actually go there and see what your creek or stream is forecast to do. It's a great Web site, you might want to really take a hard look at what you might have to expect.

Something else people in North Carolina had no idea they were going to expect today -- tornadoes. Big storms, right now. Here's Raleigh, Goldsboro and all those tornadoes, spinning storms, headed toward the ocean, headed out toward the outer banks where they can't even get out of there, at this point in time.

The next thing I want to show you is what Rutland, Vermont looks like, can't even get out of town. I talked to our iReporters there, Mr. Ritter (ph) said can't get out of town at all, all the bridges are gone.

And then Tropical Depression No. 12. I know you wanted to hear about it. It's Katia. K-A-T-I-A, kah-tee-ah is the pronunciation. It replaced the name Katrina because it's the six year anniversary of Katrina, today, and they recycle names every six years, but not if they're a memorable storm and Katrina obviously was, so that name will never come back. Tropical Depression 12, right now, forecasted to be a Category 2 hurricane in five days. Not that far from where Irene was, but this looks more like a right-turning gutter ball than a land- falling hurricane.

Obviously, Anderson, we all know about the forecasts, how they come and go, turn left and right. Still too early to tell. We'll keep watching.

COOPER: Yeah, well, let's hope. Chad, appreciate it.

You see the pictures, you hear the reporting and wonder what you can do. You can get involved if you want. Go to CNN.com/impact. We're going to give it to you again, CNN.com/impact if you want to help those in the affected areas.

We're going to stay on this story throughout the hour, update you on any new developments. Let us know what you think. We're on FaceBook, follow me on Twitter. @Anderson Cooper. I'll try to tweet something, tonight.

Up next, a CNN exclusive. In Libya. Nic Robertson locating the Pan Am 103 bomber. The one who was let out of prison to die, the only person held responsible for the bombing of that plane for all those deaths, stayed alive for two years after being released from prison. He appears to be in pretty rough shape, right now. You'll hear what his family has to say about his outlook and what's happening in Libya.

Later, another villain on the critical list;: Self-proclaimed prophet and convicted sex offender, child rapist, Warren Jeffs, the latest on his condition. His condition has taken a turn for the worse. We'll tell you why he is now in a coma. He looks completely different than he did just a few weeks ago at trial. and whether the state can keep him alive against his will.

First let's check in with Isha Sesay -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, new reports tonight in the disappearance of Robin Gardner who vanished in Aruba. Reports, the man she went there with made what sounds like a stunning admission. You'll see what we found out and what authorities are doing about it in "Crime and Punishment," That and more when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A lot of late news out of Libya, tonight. Among the new developments, a claim that Khamis Gadhafi is dead, one of the dictator's sons. He was the former head of the regime's ruthless 32nd Brigade. That's a video of him visiting children in the hospital. Reportedly killed in battle. An opposition official making the claim saying that Khamis was wounded in battle near Misrata, died in a local hospital and was buried nearby.

Meantime, Gadhafi's wife, his daughter, Aisha, and two sons, Hannibal and Mohamed have fled to Algeria. That's according to the Algerian foreign ministry. The new Libyan government wants them back. They left behind a pretty decadent life for kids of a dictator who claimed to be a simple Bedouin.

Opposition fighters had Hannibal home uncovered case after case, hundreds of bottles of fine Bordeaux, crystal champagne. They also discovered the family's Ethiopian nanny, her body horribly burned. She's still alive. She said she was tied and tortured by Hannibal's wife who poured boiling water over her. She certainly looks like it. Her failing, she says, was refusing to beat Hannibal's toddler who wouldn't stop crying.

Separately, over the weekend, CNN's Nic Robertson managed to locate the Pan Am 103 bomber. Here is his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We found Abdel Basset al-Megrahi's villa in an up market part of town. At least six security cameras and flood lights outside.

(on camera): This Magrahi's house, this is where he's been living for the last couple of years. We're going to knock on the door, see if we can get any answer. Hello?"

(voice-over): For 15 minutes or so, nothing.

(on camera): I'm not sure if they've heard me, so let's try the last ditch means, which is just shout over the wall.

Hello? Hello? Hello?

(voice-over): Then all of a sudden, someone comes. Nothing prepares me for what I see. Megrahi apparently in a coma, his aging mother at his side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just give him oxygen and nobody give us the advice and some food by injection.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Mmm-hmm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you see, his body is weak.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): He'd been expected to die almost two years ago, but convicted Pan Am 103 bomber, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, lives, only just.

This wasn't the way he looked when he was released from a Scottish jail two years ago. He came home to a hero's welcome, freed on compassionate grounds because doctors said he'd be dead in three months. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: The only man in Libya held responsible for that bombing, so far. Nic Robertson joins us from Tripoli along with our own Arwa Damon.

Arwa, you mention Gadhafi's son Khamis, who commanded that feared militia in Libya, reportedly, according to opposition, he's been killed. Do we know anything about the circumstances surrounding his alleged death? Because, as you know, opposition forces have claimed, you know, before they've captured or killed people and it turns out not to be the case.

ARWA DAMON, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. In fact they claimed Khamis had been killed on a number of occasions and that most certainly turned out not to be true. What they are now saying is that he was killed in battle on Sunday around 40 miles to the southeast of Tripoli. They say hat they buried his body in the desert, but they've put forward no real evidence, there's no images to corroborate their claims, whatsoever. They have in the past made allegations that certain members of Gadhafi's family had been detained. They then came out and admitted that that was part of the psychological warfare. So, until there is concrete evidence that he was in fact been killed, this most certainly should be treated with a certain level of skepticism, Anderson.

COOPER: So Nic, other members of the Gadhafi family have fled to Algeria. Do we know how they were able to get there? Because it's not just women in the family, there's also two Gadhafi sons -- Mohamed and was it Yunis (ph), I think his name is.

ROBERTSON: Yeah...

COOPER: Hannibal, I'm sorry.

ROBERTSON: Mohamed and Hannibal and their children fled, yeah. And mostly, I think, most people here believe Gadhafi and a lot of his family were in the south of the country and will have just driven westward to the border with Algeria. The crazy thing, if you like, about the situation right now, Algeria is the only country around here that still recognizes Gadhafi as the legitimate ruler here, and they say that they've taken the family in on humanitarian grounds. But already the National Transition Council here says we want them back, we want to put them on trial -- unspecified charges, so far. And beyond that, they say if Algeria doesn't hand them back, they'll treat it as an act of aggression against the will of the Libyan people. They're really drawing a line in the sand, here. It's almost you get the impression, and if you think the same Arwa, you get the impression that they don't want Moammar Gadhafi and anyone else going out there. It's a message to Algerians, too.

COOPER: Yeah, and Arwa, I mean, this guy, Hannibal, and also Mohamed, the sons, I mean, we've seen a number of sons like Saif, the son who's now, Khamis, who's allegedly been killed, who have a very active role in the military, in militia, in the government. Do we know much about these two sons? Are these sort of the playboy sons? I mean, I know there were a bunch who used to -- gave a lot of money to American entertainers to perform in St. Bart's and clubs. Are these kind of, people who were just living off the state or getting a lot of money from businesses, doing and kind of traveling around the world? Were they kind of playboys?

DAMON: It would appear to be the case. I mean, Hannibal himself, has had a number of instances where there have been allegations that during various visits to Europe he was beating up police officers. On a number of occasions he was also accused of beating up, breaking his wife's nose, even.

As for Mohamed, he is, if I'm not mistaken, Gadhafi's oldest son, from a different mother than Hannibal, as well. Neither of these two sons have any charges, at this stage, brought against them in the International Criminal Court. Algeria is saying that it is allowing these specific family members access to the country on humanitarian grounds, but again, as Nic was mentioning, this most certainly is something that the National Transitional Council does not want to be an option for Gadhafi or for any of his other family members, like Saif, like Khamis. They do not want to see them running away to Algeria and escaping justice.

COOPER: And we'll show you pictures of Hannibal's home that are (INAUDIBLE), it's now been occupied by opposition members. And you interviewed the nanny who had been, she said she had been badly burned with boiling water from Hannibal's wife because she refused to beat their little toddler son, quite a scene there.

Nic, you also had these remarkable images. You got into the home of the Lockerbie bomber who was released by the Scottish government two years ago. He looked in really bad shape. I mean, I feel like I had seen pictures of him a few months ago in which he was visible or he was at some sort of an event. It looks like he's declining very quickly. I mean, was that legitimate? Are those real? You don't think -- he wasn't faking it while you were there, was he?

ROBERTSON: You know, when you go into a situation like that you always think in the back of your mind, are they faking it? I saw Megrahi two years ago, he was about 10 feet from me, he was on a stage, this was an event just after he came back into Libya. He looked much better back then than he does now. And I really got the impression that his family were tense, nervous, the -- you got the impression that they were very low at that moment, really just sort of sitting in the room there, waiting for him, in a way, to die, if you will. And he didn't look -- I mean, I kept looking. I went back and looked at the video, did his eyes move, how was his head on the pillow, did it look like the pillow had been there for a long time? But really, when you looked at his skin, it looked very thin. When you looked at his wrists they looked very thin. This did seem to be a man who is perhaps on his last days. But not being a doctor, not doing proper medical checks, you cannot sort of say with a hundred percent certainty his real state of health here, Anderson.

COOPER: And do -- I know the U.S. still thinks that Megrahi should be behind bars. The National Transitional Council said over the weekend they wouldn't extradite him, but it does seem they're kind of backtracking now, aren't they?

ROBERTSON: Well, they've left a bit of wiggle room, here. They've said, look, OK, when a government is actually formed then they can decide and determine, here. But there does seem to be a sort of a political element. They want Megrahi's tribe to join the National Transition Council; they want them away from Gadhafi. Gadhafi went to great lengths to bring Megrahi back to Libya because Megrahi is from an important, powerful tribe. Gadhafi wanted to keep him on side. And right now the National Transitional Council seems to be wanting to win over Megrahi's tribe and this is certainly one positive way that they can do it, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, two questions, Arwa, very quickly, I hear gunfire behind. Is that celebratory or is there still fighting going on? And also, you were taken to a compound in Tripoli where there were 150 or so civilian bodies or what looked like civilian bodies. What was that?

DAMON: Yeah, first of all, the gunfire most definitely is celebratory, it has been going on for quite some time, now, ever since the rebels took over most of Tripoli. It is also the beginning Eid, the celebration at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Now that location you were talking about, Anderson, it was absolutely chilling. What it is, it was a small warehouse around 30 by 45 feet, located on the back end of Khamis's brigade head quarters, his military brigade headquarters. We spoke to a survivor who said that he had been picked up along with his brother for no apparent reason, he was held there for 18 days. There were people who were there for up to six months. There were 175 of them crammed inside this tiny warehouse. One day the guards said that they were going to be released and then that same day, at sunset the door opened. Everybody inside thought that the guards were going to be making good on their word, that they were going to finally be set free. One of the survivor said that they threw a grenade inside the room, they began opening with gunfire, indiscriminately just spraying these people who were trapped inside. He managed to make a run for it. And it wasn't until a few days later when residents in the area felt safe enough to go back to that warehouse. And when they opened the door, Anderson, they found the burnt, charred remains of what volunteers are telling us was up to 150 people that appeared to have burnt to death, perished inside that tiny room.

ANDERSON: Oh. I wish I could say it's unbelievable, but it's not, it's all too believable given what we've already seen of Gadhafi's regime. Nic Robertson, Arwa Damon, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Still ahead, Syria losing the support of a key ally given its continued violent crackdown against anti-government protesters. And there were more deaths today at the hands of security forces. We'll show you the videos.

Also the latest on the health of that polygamist leader, Warren Jeffs. Why he is listed in critical condition, tonight, in a Texas hospital. Now, these pictures you're looking at are from his trial, they're weeks old. We're going to show you a picture of him in prison that's pretty shocking. His followers, however, remain committed to him. We'll look at that, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Coming up shortly on 360, polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs who was recently convicted of sexually assaulting two kids, he is in critical condition in a Texas hospital. These are pictures of him from inside the prison. He looks different.

We'll have the latest on his condition, but first Isha Sesay has a "360 News and Business Bulletin." Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, deadly new violence in Syria. Activists say security forces cracked down on anti-government protesters in a number of villages killing at least 17 people and wounding dozens more.

The president of neighboring Turkey long friendly to Syria said he's lost confidence in Bashar Al Assad's government.

Dick Cheney's new memoir isn't release until tomorrow, but already the former vice president is being criticized. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Cheney is taking cheap shots at him and members of the Bush administration.

President Obama today announced the nomination of his new economic adviser. He's 50-year-old Alan Kreuger, an economic professor at Princeton University. If confirmed by the Senate, Kreuger will replace Austan Goolsbee who's returning to academia.

Stocks rallied on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones rose more than 250 points. The Nasdaq and S&P were higher as well. Investors were encouraged that damage from Hurricane Irene wasn't worse, consumer spending is up and that Europe's debt crisis may be easing.

Anderson, it is official. Beyonce is pregnant. She confirmed rumors last night at the MTV Video Music Awards. Beyonce said she wanted to have a baby at age 30. She turns 30 next week. She and Jay-Z were married in September 2008. How's that for a plan and sticking to it?

COOPER: Good for them. Congratulations. Time for tonight's the shot. People were glued to the TV this weekend, of course, for information Hurricane Irene. Many of us who work in the media were out covering the storm's movement.

That included one young reporter from Doylestown, Pennsylvania who filed an up to a minute report Saturday afternoon as the rain began to fall. Now this clip got a lot of air time this weekend. So if you have seen it, I think it's worth watching again. If not, take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANE HAUBRICH: I'm Jane Haubrich reporting from Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The rain is coming down more than it was before. The wind is probably going faster. I think this is just the starting of it.

I definitely feel it on my head just a tiny bit of rain. I think that this is probably going to be my -- I might think that it's the last of it, but if it's not, I will report back to you later. And that's about it. Back to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You know, she's my TV coach. You probably didn't know it. I used to take classes with her.

SESAY: You do seem to have the same hand gestures.

COOPER: I'm working on them. She taught me everything I know.

SESAY: My favorite one is at the end. She says, it's past my bedtime. I have to go now. A line I have wanted to use many times.

COOPER: All right. Much more serious news ahead. Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs in a coma tonight in a Texas hospital. This is what he looked like in prison. It's a very different look from weeks ago back when he was on trial. Ultimately convicted of sexually say assaulting two girls where he claimed were his virtual wives. He's lost a lot of weight. Look at the difference.

Plus, tonight, new details from the missing woman in Aruba, Robyn Gardner. A new report is making headlines about the man held in connection with her disappearance. He reportedly said and I quote, "she might be dead now." Martin Savidge asked Aruban authorities about that what he discovered coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Word tonight that polygamous leader Warren Jeffs is in a critical condition in a Texas hospital. Now a source familiar with his condition told CNN that he's in a coma.

If you recall, Jeffs, head of a fundamentalist off shoot Mormon sect was convicted earlier this month of sexually assaulting a 12- year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl and was sentenced to life behind bars.

Texas prison officials said Jeffs was hospitalized last night, that he had been fasting so there wasn't enough food or liquid in his system and he fell ill. Apparently, he has other medical issues as well. Just had been losing weight.

The booking photo with his head shaved was taken right after his conviction a few weeks ago. Compare that to the older photo of him showing the full head of hair was from an FBI wanted poster from several years ago.

But that's the way he looked in trial on the right. Here's this question, can he still lead his church? Is he still the leader? He was in county jail awaiting his trial just spent thousands of dollars on phone calls to his followers, effectively maintaining control over them.

Now he's a convicted sex offender in state prison contact with the outside world is much more limited. Right now that's not an issue within his isolated community as Gary Tuchman found out up close.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Warren Jeffs may be in prison for the rest of his life. But in the border towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hilldale, Utah, where thousands of Jeffs' followers live he's still the prophet.

(on camera): Do you believe the evidence they showed the jury?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe the evidence is ill-gotten and manufactured. That's what I have to go by.

TUCHMAN: So you believe it was --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know the government can do that.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's a common sentiment even though Jeffs didn't deny having sex with minors during his trial. The court has even released audio of Jeffs coaxing his victims.

WARREN JEFFS: You have to know how to be excited sexually and to be exciting, to administer that comfort and strength. And you have to be able to assist each other. No one just stands around. Everyone assists and you have to be prepared to be trained to do this, against the time I would need your help, the Lord's help through you. So listen carefully as the Lord intended that my ladies, all of my ladies, be trained.

TUCHMAN: But despite the evidence that remains strong suspicions of the world outside of the polygamous church including suspicion of reporters. Now even more so.

(on camera): I want to ask you a question. My name is Gary Tuchman from CNN. I want to ask you a question. I was at the trial of Warren Jeffs where he was convicted. Did you know about the conviction? Did you know he was convicted? If you don't want to talk --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not interested.

TUCHMAN: You're not interested in talking to me. Did you know he was on trial last week? Is there anything you want to say about Warren Jeffs?

(voice-over): Willy Jessop used to be one of Warren Jeffs's right-hand men until Jessop says he realized Jeffs was molesting children. Jessop said Jeffs' followers are warned not to pay attention to the news and if they speak to reporters -- WILLIE JESSOP, FORMER WARREN JEFFS SUPPORTER: They would be instantaneously excommunicated from the church. They would remove all of the privileges of the community.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Were you aware he was on trial last week? Were you aware of that? Miss, can I ask you a quick question? Miss, can I ask you a quick question? Can I ask you a quick question, ma'am? Do you know what happened in that trial?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know anything about it.

TUCHMAN: You don't want to know anything about it? How come?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to.

TUCHMAN: If I told you, would that offend you? The jury found him guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to know anything about it.

TUCHMAN: How come you don't?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know the information I need to know.

TUCHMAN: It's never been easy talking to FLDS members on camera. It's not because they are particularly unfriendly. It's because they're paranoid. They're downright scared. Over the years, I have interviewed several members who were later excommunicated.

(voice-over): But this FLDS follower named Emil made the decision to talk to me.

(on camera): Do you believe this is a persecution of religion?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to go back and analyze who hung Jesus Christ on the cross.

TUCHMAN: So you are comparing Warren Jeffs to Jesus Christ?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do. He's in the same position.

TUCHMAN: Is he still your prophet?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

TUCHMAN: Even though he's in prison?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Arnold Richter was excommunicated from the church earlier this year for criticisms of Warren Jeffs.

(on camera): How many mothers do you have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got five.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): He believes the conviction makes Jeffs more influential than ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's fascinating, but I do. They can build an image. He's not there to get in the way of the image. The image can be built into whatever they want. A perfect image.

TUCHMAN (on camera): So he's basically become a martyr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The jury didn't believe Warren Jeffs, but his devoted followers still do. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Colorado City, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So amazing to me that this exists still in the United States, this community here so isolated.

Up next, breaking news, President Obama to tour areas hit hardest by Hurricane Irene. We'll tell you where he's going and when.

Plus, "Crime and Punishment" tonight, a new report about the woman missing in Aruba, Robyn Gardner with a man being held in connection with the case told investigators in the early hours after she disappeared. That's raising eyebrows. He reportedly used the phrase, "she might be dead now." We'll talk to Martin Savidge. He's been on the case since the beginning.

And later, why part of Conan O'Brien has made it to "The Ridiculist." Team Coco, you are forewarned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. Crime and punishment tonight. A startling report about two American women missing in Aruba and what the man in custody told investigators in the early hours of the search.

Robyn Gardner was last seen August 2. The man she was traveling with, Gary Giordano, said she disappeared while they were snorkeling together.

But tonight, ABC is reporting that when investigators were talking to Giordano shortly after Robyn Gardner vanished he looked at his watch and said, quote, "she might be dead now."

Local fisherman also told ABC that Giordano seemed very drunk when reported Gardner missing. Now Martin Savidge, our reporter has been covering this story since the beginning. He joins us now live.

Martin, you talked to the Aruban authorities. What do investigators make of this guy, Giordano, reportedly telling searchers that she might be dead now?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, initially, you know, when I asked the source close to investigation. He laughed. He thought the minute of parsing phrases was getting crazy. But that said he said, we don't really see that as being so incriminating.

Keep in mind, the search had been going on for hours. It was dark. She hadn't been found. They had divers in the water. She was not an expert swimmer.

So for Gary Giordano to look at his watch after says two hours and go, she's probably dead now, they look at it as a fatalistic comment and not incriminating statement.

COOPER: I say, so we know that he told investigators that they didn't purchase any alcohol at the restaurant before she disappeared, but ABC quotes the witness as saying that he was so drunk investigators couldn't even talk to him. Do we know much about his demeanor and condition in the hours after Gardner disappeared?

SAVIDGE: Well, a couple of things. We know first of all they didn't administer a breath analysis. We don't know if he was legally drunk. But authorities do say that there was no alcohol consumed at the bar. There was nothing on the bar tab at the rum reef restaurant, which was the last place they were seen.

However, there was a closed circuit camera that did notice a couple of times Gary went to the car and came back. It seemed mysterious. But then authorities found cups inside the car and they began put two and two together that, this guy doesn't like to pay for drinks in a bar. They find it cheaper to mix drinks in the car and consume it that way.

In fact, we talked to some former girls and he said he likes to BYOB. So it's possible they could have consumed a lot of alcohol without necessarily drinking it in public plain sight at a bar.

COOPER: So that obviously the presence of alcohol I guess would cast doubt on his story about them going diving. That's not the only part of the story that raises eyebrows.

SAVIDGE: No, you know, what's interesting is that from the get- go almost police began to have suspicions, particularly with the story of the snorkeling accident. Because that particular beach where they were snorkeling, it can be pretty treacherous.

However, that day it was calm. I don't mean just slightly calm. It was extraordinarily calm. It was incredibly calm. In fact, authorities said it is rarely ever that calm.

And the first responders that went in the water, I've had contact with them and they said, you know what? We didn't feel the current. We didn't feel water trying to drag us back. They didn't struggle to get back on shore as Gary Giordano told authorities they did.

So from that very description he gave, they began to think, boy, this is not adding up right.

COOPER: Fascinating stuff. Of course, the bottom line, she is still missing. The search is still going on. Martin Savidge, appreciate it. Thanks very much for the reporting. Breaking news. Just moments ago, administration officials announced that President Obama will be touring three states hard hit by Hurricane Irene. He's going to be making stop tomorrow in Virginia, North Carolina and Vermont. The FEMA director is expected to spend time in the granite state as well.

There's obviously more happening tonight. Isha is back with a 360 bulletin. Isha --

SESAY: Anderson, officials at Yellowstone National Park say a hiker found dead was the victim of a bear attack. The 59-year-old John Wallace body was discovered Friday. An autopsy showed he died from traumatic injuries after being mauled by a bear. It's the second fatal bear attack at Yellowstone this summer.

A Los Angeles judge ruled today that details of Michael Jackson's sexual molestation case are off limits for the upcoming trial of Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray. The defense wanted a detective to testify about drugs found during a search related to the molestation case. But the judge said those events are too far in the past to be brought up at the Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial.

And HLN's own Nancy Grace will reportedly be competing on the new season of "Dancing with the Stars." We will be watching. It's not been confirmed yet.

COOPER: Get out of here.

SESAY: Seriously. I have this image. You have seen "Dirty Dancing".

COOPER: Yes.

SESAY: You know the one where Jennifer Gray runs and is hoisted aloft by Patrick Swayze? I have that image of Nancy doing that move.

COOPER: Wow.

SESAY: Can't you see it?

COOPER: Say that to her face.

SESAY: No.

COOPER: You're scared.

SESAY: Just a little bit. You say it to her face.

COOPER: She's sweet as can be.

SESAY: Ask Piers that, how sweet she is.

COOPER: Really?

SESAY: Ask him. COOPER: I will. Piers - Piers is here with a look of what's coming up in "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT." Piers, you want to weigh on that?

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": I don't think anything is going to be -- never mind Irene. The sheer devastating impact of that news you've just broken. Nancy Grace on "Dancing with the Stars"? Who would vote against her? There would be like an eruption.

COOPER: That's right, friend.

MORGAN: I'll look forward to it. Thanks, Anderson. On the show tonight in the wake of Hurricane Irene, which doesn't compare to tornado Nancy. Was it hurricane or hype? Was it more about politics than policy and do we in the media over react?

I talked to people on both sides and ask a woman who could be the next mayor of New York what she thinks. Plus billionaire Mark Cuban tweeted he'll raise hell on my show tonight. I look forward to it as I'm sure you are. Back to you, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Piers, thanks very much. Coming up, the Ridiculist. Head to head with Conan O'Brien in a winner take all battle over who has the best hair. Don't count your chickens, Conan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The "Ridiculist" is back. Tonight, we are adding the demon follicles that reside on the head of one Mr. Conan O'Brien. Now I don't know if you heard about this, but some reports came out about an online poll asking who has the best head of hair on television.

Conan came in first. I was chosen second. A close second, but second nonetheless. In my defense, it is hard to compete with a mane that can be molded into a giant red pompadour and he can do more stupid hair tricks than I can. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN: We use a German cement and inject it here. Then little steel girders are inserted. This is structurally sound. Watch what I can do. Look at that. See that? Can Mike Wallace do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

O'BRIEN: I didn't think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I can. I'm not afraid to admit it. It stung a little coming in second. Now over the years, I have spent countless hours and thousands of dollars at top salons in New York City. I try all the latest cutting edge hair products and I'm not afraid to take risks with my hair style as you see over the years. All right, the truth is I pay a very nice man named Isaac, $16 and a $4 tip for my hair cut basically on the street and it looks the same all the time. But still, how could I have lost to Conan O'Brien - to this guy?

The report came out a couple -- seriously. How could I have lost to this guy? I don't get it. All right, the report came out -- here is a baby who has Conan hair. I just want to share that. The report came out a couple of days ago and maybe I shouldn't have let it get to me.

In the poll I came in way, way ahead of Fabio. I came ahead of Ashton Kutcher and even Mario Lopez. Yes, I left them in the dust, but it's Conan's hair that tousled mess of orange cotton candy that now haunts my dreams so I ended up writing this on Twitter.

Damn you, Conan O'Brien your ginger wave is number one. I'll take number two, I guess. Conan actually responded saying, quote, "Sorry, Anderson Cooper, but as long as there is blood in my scalp my hair shall defeat yours."

Not so fast, Mr. O'Brien. Guess what? We checked the poll again today and, what do we have here? It seems the crimson tide has turned a shiny silver. That's right, check out number one. That would be one Anderson Cooper. Conan O'Brien is number two.

Sorry Team Coco. If you want to jump ship to Team Cuckoo you will be welcomed with open arms. I hope Team Cuckoo doesn't stick. Let's look at the results again. Read it and weep, Conan. Anderson Cooper, number one -- wait a minute, 24 votes? Is that right? Conan with 22 votes, Fabio with 14?

Why is Fabio even on this list? It's 70 votes for the entire survey? Whatever, so it isn't some huge Gallup poll. Is the victory any less sweet because it comes from a few dozen people voting on the pert plus Facebook page? I think not.

Because it's not about how large the playing field is. It's about who wins. I won fair and square, which is what I like to call my hair style, the fair and square. Well, either that or the Peewee Herman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're pretty much paler than I am, but not blonder.

COOPER: In my mind, I still have brown hair. So when I look in the mirror, I'm still kind of shocked every time I look in the mirror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love that story.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: All right, don't worry, Conan. It's true that I'm number one. I think we've proven that. But you still have the finest head of hair on the "Ridiculist."

That's it for "360." Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN" starts now. See you again at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on "360."