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THE SITUATION ROOM

CIA Corruption Probe; President Bush to Give Immigration Speech Monday Night; Iraq: Militia Challenge

Aired May 12, 2006 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time.
Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you tonight's top stories.

Happening now, a corruption probe targets a former big shot over at the CIA. His office and his home are searched today, an extraordinary move.

It's 700 p.m. here in Washington, where law enforcement officials investigating allegations involving prostitutes and poker games amid a lot of other allegations.

Also this hour, President Bush versus President Clinton. The two leaders are compared in our brand new poll. The results say a lot about the current state of the White House, and the results may surprise you.

And a novel idea. When U.S. warplanes were about to bomb Iraq, what was Saddam Hussein doing? Apparently, he was writing a book that's now about to be published.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with a developing story. President Bush considering sending National Guard troops to the border with Mexico to beef up security. We're going to have extensive coverage on that. That's coming up in a few moments.

But first, there's another important story that we're following, a developing story of a wide-ranging federal investigation. It involves a search, possible seizure. It involves sex and the CIA. It's unfolding right now here in the nation's capital. The FBI and four other government agencies are investigating a man who only four days ago was the number three official over at the CIA.

Our Joe Johns is joining us now from the newsroom. He's got details -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf.

The searches are part of an investigation that at least for now appears to be expanding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice over): Around 8:00 a.m., the FBI and other law enforcement agents conducted simultaneous searches at the home and office of the former top CIA official who just resigned this week.

APRIL LANGWELL, FBI SPOKESWOMAN: I can confirm that we executed search warrants at the home and offices of Dusty Foggo this morning.

JOHNS: Kyle "Dusty" Foggo was the agency's executive director now caught up in an investigation that started with former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who is serving jailtime after pleading guilty to accepting bribes. Officials will not say what they were looking for in the searches.

LANGWELL: Because the search warrant is sealed and it isn't part of an ongoing investigation, I can't comment any further at this time.

JOHNS: As part of the broader investigation, law enforcement sources say both the FBI and the CIA's inspector general are looking into whether Foggo did anything wrong in awarding a contract to a company with ties to his longtime Brent Wilkes, who's been implicated but has not been charged in the Cunningham probe.

Also, gaining the attention of investigators is that Foggo attended poker games Wilkes hosted at two Washington hotels. A CIA spokeswoman has said Foggo insists he did nothing wrong, saying that the government contracts for which he was responsible were properly awarded and administered.

Sources familiar with the case say they are also investigating allegations that Wilkes provided prostitutes at some of those hotel suites for Congressman Cunningham. The CIA spokeswoman says, while Foggo was at some poker games at those suites, he did not witness any "untoward behavior."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Wilkes' and Foggo's lawyer have not returned CNN calls, but they have said their clients deny any wrongdoing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Joe Johns, thanks for that.

Dusty Foggo resigned from the CIA three days after the agency's director, Porter Goss, announced his resignation. A CIA spokeswoman says the Foggo investigation has absolutely nothing to do with Goss' decision to step down.

Earlier, I asked the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra, about Foggo and Goss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER HOEKSTRA (R), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think I know Porter pretty well. His integrity is unquestioned. I can't believe that he would have anything to do with what is going on potentially with Dusty Foggo. He would be the person that would lead the effort to get corruption out of the CIA.

BLITZER: And do you know this Dusty Foggo? Have you ever met him?

HOEKSTRA: I've met Dusty Foggo, yes.

BLITZER: What do you think of him?

HOEKSTRA: The -- I don't -- I've not had a lot of experience with him. I did have dinner with Dusty on one occasion. But the kind of details that coming out today, I -- you know, like I said, I have only met him a couple of times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Congressman Peter Hoekstra in THE SITUATION ROOM earlier today.

Also tonight, President Bush is trying to get ready for a new debate, a politically charged debate over immigration, and he's getting ready for a prime-time address to the nation. He'll give his nationally televised speech on this immigration issue Monday night.

Let's go get some specific details from our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux.

What's the expectation, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, certainly this a very clear signal that President Bush is making immigration reform a top domestic priority. Senior aides saying that is why he's going to be using this prime-time address to talk directly to the American people. He also, of course, wants to give members of Congress of a push to say, look, I need a piece of legislation that I can sign on this issue, and sign into law essentially.

The three elements of the speech, we are told, first he's going to talk about border security. He's also going to focus on interior enforcement, as well as a guest worker program.

Now, we are told the president is going to make news in this speech. What is that news? One possibility here, the -- one option the president is looking at when it comes to getting tougher on border security, enforcing security, he is considering using, enhancing the National Guard to patrol the border in the south, perhaps a couple thousand on that border. They're already being used, but in an enhanced capacity. Also for the federal government to pay for it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I understand that Tony Snow, the new White House press secretary, started off his new job effectively meeting with reporters earlier this morning. Suzanne, how did that go?

MALVEAUX: It's fair to say it was a fiasco. And I think Tony Snow would actually agree.

It's the informal briefing that they have off-camera. Usually it happens in the briefing room.

He decided he wanted to be more informal, move it to his own office. The problem that happened here, however, is he started about 10 minutes early, the door was shut. So a lot of reporters were standing outside, didn't realize they were missing the briefing.

When they opened the door and they did realize, however, there wasn't enough room actually in his office. So you had reporters who were lined up outside, around the hallway, trying to hear what he was saying.

This guy is six feet tall. He got up from his desk. He started shouting at one point. People still couldn't hear what he was saying.

Ultimately, Tony admitted that it was a big mess and apologized profusely. He was very good-spirited, very good-natured about the whole thing, and he said, "OK, next week we're going to have it in the briefing room."

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House.

Thanks very much. You'll be going to a lot of those briefings.

Suzanne Malveaux and Joe Johns, by the way, part of the best political team on television.

And remember, you can see the president's immigration speech live here on CNN. Lou Dobbs is going to be joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Our coverage begins 7:00 p.m. Eastern, Monday -- 7:00 p.m. Eastern here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Now to Iraq, where militia groups are beginning to rival insurgents as a threat to both Americans and Iraqis. Even President Bush now says militias are perhaps the main challenge in Iraq.

CNN's Brian Todd is watching this story. He's joining us here in Washington -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's an escalating problem in Iraq with a new air of urgency tonight after the president's remarks. U.S. military commanders tell CNN these militias are getting more violent and more brazen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice over): Near the central Iraqi city of Baquba, captured fighters wearing Iraqi uniforms, held by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. They're not who they appear to be.

U.S. military officials say some of these men confessed to being members of the notorious Mehdi militia, linked to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. They had gotten hold of Iraqi army uniforms, gone around in pickup trucks kidnapping villagers. U.S. and Iraqi forces were tipped off and intercepted the militia.

LT. COL. THOMAS FISHER, U.S. ARMY: When they got there they found a force of about 40 individuals and seven vehicles and proceeded to engage those criminal forces.

TODD: A firefight that left five militiamen dead, dozens of others apprehended. But some got away with kidnapped victims.

A senior U.S. military official on the ground tells CNN, "Groups like this are one of my biggest problems," a problem that's gotten the attention of his commander in chief.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Perhaps the main challenge is -- is the militia that tend to take the law into their own hands

TODD: In Baquba, Baghdad and elsewhere, local residents tell CNN these lethal militias are the real power in the streets, answering only to their leaders like al-Sadr, not to American forces or Iraqi government officials. The problem, the failure to fill key cabinet positions, leaving a power vacuum in Iraq.

LT. GEN. ROBERT FRY, BRITISH ROYAL MARINES: We have had an extended political hiatus while this government has been standing up, and that has permitted radical politicians and some militias to claim, to represent, to regulate and to protect their own communities.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: We're told that a new Iraqi cabinet could be named as early as Sunday, but even then the job of containing the militias would only begin. And the scope of these sectarian killings is staggering. Iraq's president says last month alone the Baghdad morgue reported more than a thousand victims of day-to-day violence -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting.

Brian, thanks very much.

Let's go up to New York. Jack Cafferty is standing by with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: But the news media is supposed to talk about all the good stuff going on over there, right? The thousand bodies they hauled into the morgue last month, we shouldn't be dwelling on that.

BLITZER: Right.

CAFFERTY: Right.

U.S. troops, Wolf, you'll be happy to hear, will be home from Iraq by 2007, according to Representative John Murtha. The Democrat, Vietnam vet, tells The Associated Press either President Bush will bow to public opinion or Democrats will have won control of the House by then and force the White House into action.

Murtha predicts a tidal wave in the upcoming November midterm elections, putting Democrats in the majority in the House. He thinks his party will gain as many as 40 or 50 House seats. The Pennsylvania congressman adds that President Bush would have to bring more than half the troops currently in Iraq home before Election Day in order to gain any notice from the voting public.

So here's the question: Do you think that U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by next year, 2007?

E-mail your thoughts to caffertyfile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile.

Mr. Murtha is in the news again.

BLITZER: Well, he's experienced in these issues. We'll see if he knows what he's talking about, Jack. Thanks very much.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

BLITZER: And President Bush is considering sending U.S. troops to the border with Mexico. We're going to have a lot more on this story. Our coverage of that will continue.

Also, Saddam Hussein was reportedly spending the night before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq putting the finishes touches on his novel. We're going to tell you how it was smuggled out and when it's hitting the presses.

Also, Bush versus Clinton. How does the current president stack up against the previous one? We hit the streets to find out. We have some new poll numbers that will surprise you.

And teaching the A-B-Cs of gay history. Is that what a school is supposed to do? There's a huge textbook controversy developing in California. We're going to take you out there for a closer look.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: He was a ruthless dictator. Now he's a defendant accused of crimes against humanity. But did you know that Saddam Hussein is also an author?

Zain Verjee is joining us now. She has the story from the CNN Center -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, Saddam Hussein is actually credited with four novels. The latest is about to be published for the first time in Japan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE (voice over): According to his eldest daughter, Saddam Hussein finished writing his book just one day before U.S. warplanes began the so-called shock and awe bombing of Baghdad in March of 2003. Raghad Hussein says she herself carried the manuscript out of the country when she flowed to neighboring Jordan. But the kingdom banned publication of the book, fearing it could lead to political problems. Now, three years later, a Japanese company is poised to publish Saddam's book under the title "Devil's Dance". In it, he tells the tale of a tribe living along the Euphrates River some 1,500 years ago. Its members managed to resist and ultimately expel an invading tribe, a plot that may be a metaphor for alleged Jewish and Christian efforts to subvert Arabs and Islam.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: The publisher is printing 8,000 copies of the 256-page book. It's going to sell for abouts $14, Wolf, but it's not exactly clear who is going to get the profits.

BLITZER: All right, Zain. Thank you very much.

There's a developing story we're following tonight in Nigeria. Up to 200 poverty-stricken people seemingly trying to steal oil from a pipeline wound up paying for it instead with their lives. Right now, charred and burned bodies are scattered across a beach near Lagos after the pipeline exploded.

CNN's Jeff Koinange is joining us with the story from Nigeria -- Jeff.

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a scene of utter devastation. It seemed like someone literally dropped a bomb on this place. Black smoke billowing into the skies. Charred bodies littering the landscape.

In the words of the police chief, "What a horrible way for people to die." And this is his account of events. Apparently vandals tapped into the gas pipeline, wanting to siphon off fuel to sell into the open market, and probably someone lit a cigarette or maybe a motorcycle backed up, a spark flew, and literally instantly incinerated everyone in sight.

The Nigerian government quick to say this was not an act of terrorism, saying this was strictly an act of opportunism, vandals wishing to make a little money, but with devastating consequences. The last time an incident like this happened several years ago, upwards of a thousand people were instantly incinerated.

The police chief here telling us, "Don't be surprised if that death toll continues to rise" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeff Koinange.

What a horrible story.

Jeff Koinange reporting from Nigeria.

And still to come tonight in THE SITUATION ROOM, President Bush expected to roll out plans to send National Guard troops to the border. Is that a better security plan for the United States, or is it pure politics? We're taking a closer look at that in our "Strategy Session". That's coming up. And Bush versus Clinton. How does the current president stack up against the previous one? We have some brand new poll numbers that will surprise you. They certainly surprised me.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Zain Verjee joining us once again from the CNN Center with a quick look at some other news making headlines tonight.

Hi, Zain.

VERJEE: Hi again, Wolf.

Well, authorities in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, are asking some residents to leave their homes after an explosion and a fire at an oil refinery today. Officials say the fire is now being contained and it's burned itself out. There are no reports of any injuries. It's not yet known what caused the explosion.

A new warning about the antidepressant Paxil. The drug's maker and FDA are sending a letter to doctors warning Paxil may increase the risk of suicidal behavior in young adults. The FDA says that in clinical trials of nearly 15,000 patients given Paxil or a placebo, 11 of the patients given Paxil tried to commit suicide. Eight of them were between 18 and 30 years old.

The deadline to enroll in Medicare's new drug benefit program is this Monday. Under the new program called Medicare Part D, seniors can sign up for one of competing plans offered by different private insurers. Each plan coves different prescription medications.

Critics say that it's just too confusion. The program could become a major election issue this November.

And Wolf, take a look at this. American runner Justin Gatelin set the world record today in the 100-meter dash. A really incredible speed. Take a look at this.

He sprints and he overtakes the lead runner there and clears the finish line in 9.76 seconds. Pretty amazing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That is amazing.

VERJEE: Yes.

BLITZER: Congratulations to Justin on that.

Zain, thank you very much.

A new documentary is about to be released. It's already being released in New York, in fact, and it involves the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. It may not, though, be the best P.R. for someone considering a run for the White House.

Let's bring in our Mary Snow. She's covering the story from New York -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, some are comparing this controversial documentary to Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911," which was so critical of the Bush administration. Others are praising the film, saying people should see it, especially if Giuliani does run for president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The honorable Rudolph Giuliani.

SNOW (voice-over): He has come to be known as America's mayor. Rudy Giuliani rose to national prominence for his leadership in New York on 9/11.

He's considering a run for the White House in 2008. Filmmaker Kevin Keating does not want to see him as president. He has come out with the documentary "Giuliani Time." Keating portrays Giuliani as an authoritarian while he was mayor.

KEVIN KEATING, FILMMAKER: I would characterize him as dangerous, dangerous to our constitutional rights, to our legal system.

SNOW: The film includes interviews with officials, like William Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner.

WILLIAM BRATTON, FORMER NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: He does rule by intimidation, by fear. That's well known. And he delights to be known as a tough guy.

SNOW: The film highlights controversies that took place during Giuliani's tenure, such as police brutality, protests over a public art exhibit he called sick, and policies on welfare that came under fire.

Giuliani did not participate in the film and his office declined comment on it. New York Republican Congressman Peter King is among the Giuliani supporters in the film. King calls Giuliani a great mayor and says liberals will be on the attack.

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I mean, Rudy Giuliani is going to bring out all the Michael Moores of the world. And if we have Michael Moore on one side and we have real Americans on the other side, Rudy wins that fight.

SNOW: Former Democratic New York City Mayor Ed Koch praises the film, calling it a piece of history. He wrote a book called "Giuliani: Nasty Man," but voted for Giuliani twice. He predicts the film may have an unexpected result.

ED KOCH (D), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: If this film is seen in parts of the United States outside of New York City, it would actually bring in some supporters to clamor for Giuliani's brand and seek his election as president.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SNOW: Now, again, Giuliani's office declined any comment on the film, which will open in other U.S. cities later this month -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow reporting for us.

Mary, thank you very much.

And just ahead, immigration divide. Should the president send National Guard troops to the border with Mexico? Or is he playing politics with national security? We're going to take a closer look at what's going on right now. That comes up. It also comes up in our "Strategy Session".

Plus, political investigation. Did an administration official refuse to give a government contract to someone for criticizing the president, or was it all just an offhand joke? We have that story as well.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

It's a hot-button issue for millions of Americans, and now the White House is calling it crunch time. President Bush will devote prime time to discuss immigration reform. Monday evening, the president will tell Americans how he will proceed. Might one of the items he talk about involve the dispatch of U.S. troops to the border with Mexico?

Our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Pentagon has been asked to draw up options for the military to help beef up security along the U.S.-Mexico border. And Pentagon sources tell CNN one idea under consideration is to have the federal government pick up the tab for several thousand additional National Guard troops to be activated in the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Under that option, the guard troops would remain under the control of state governors as they were during Hurricane Katrina and would be limited to a supporting role, providing logistics, intelligence and surveillance help to civilian authorities.

That's already being done on a small scale by several hundred guard troops. But the numbers could jump to several thousand.

FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: This is a job that we can train our forces to perform. We can utilize the panoply of sensors and detection devices and monitoring equipment and military hardware to ensure that we do not continue to be subjected to what amounts to an onslaught every single day. MCINTYRE: Still, don't expect to see U.S. troops on the front lines patrolling the border, officials say. But with helicopters, unmanned spy planes, and sophisticated computers and communications, the guard could be one the Pentagon calls a force multiplier for the overburdened U.S. Border Patrol and local law enforcement.

Active duty U.S. troops are barred from domestic law enforcement by a Civil War era law known as Posse Comitatus. But National Guard troops under state control can perform some law enforcement functions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: That was Jamie McIntyre reporting from the Pentagon. And by the way, the Pentagon says in theory it could sustain a National Guard for us of up to 10,000 troops along the border with Mexico, just by rotating troops in and out for their regular training cycles.

It will be the president's 21st nationwide address since he took office. Monday night's speech will focus on the potentially divisive issue of immigration and what the United States' government should do about it. But will President Bush's address boost his sinking poll numbers or cause them to drop even more?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Joining us now in today's "Strategy Session" to talk all about this, our CNN political analyst and Democratic strategist Paul Begala, and Terry Jeffrey. He is the editor of "Human Events."

Smart strategy, Paul, for the president to go out Monday night, deliver this speech on immigration reform to make sure he's got his party basically behind him?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: If he can unite his party, it's a good political strategy. But his position seems to me -- and Terry can say it better -- it seems to divide conservatives. He's for basically Ted Kennedy's position on what conservatives call amnesty. I think it's not amnesty. But amnesty, they call it, for illegal aliens.

What is interesting for me, though, is that there is no news in this. The president's position on immigration ...

BLITZER: There might be some news. If the president announces he's going to deploy National Guard troops to the borders with Mexico, thousands of troops, which a lot of his conservative base would be thrilled if he were to do that, that would be news.

BEGALA: It would be. But the question is, is that responding to some immediate crisis or instead to his poll numbers? I suspect the latter. And I'm going to accuse the president of the United States of contemplating moving troops around at a time of war, when we're at war 6,000 miles away, to boost his poll numbers.

Because there is no immediate -- the border today is just as porous as it was the day he came into office. It was porous then, it is porous now. If he starts committing troops, when our Guard and reserves are already overstretched by his foolish war in Iraq, then I think he has done a terrible thing. And it is a big mistake.

TERRY JEFFREY, HUMAN EVENTS EDITOR: Can I ask Paul a simple question? Yes or no, do you think troops should be deployed to the border to stop the flow of illegals?

BEGALA: No, no.

JEFFREY: So people should keep coming?

BEGALA: We should do other things, but we have -- our Guard and reserve -- where are you going to get them from? Our Guard and reserve are being shot to ribbons right now in Iraq because of Mr. Bush's dishonest war. For him now, when his poll numbers are...

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY: Should we or should we not deploy troops at the border?

BEGALA: What point of no don't you understand?

JEFFREY: You say no, OK. Two things, Wolf...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: But listen -- no, no, why is the president doing it today, not five years ago?

JEFFREY: Hold on, hold on. Two things, deploying National Guard followed by military force at the border to make sure neither illegal aliens or potential terrorists can get across the border is good public policy because we do have a security problem.

Admiral Loy, the deputy of Homeland Security secretary, last year told the Intelligence Committee they had reason to believe al Qaeda might try to come across the border. That alone justifies that clearly we have a problem with illegal immigration.

Second, it is in fact excellent politics. It wouldn't just be conservatives who would stand up and cheer if the president did it. People all over this country would stand up and cheer. There's some talk in Washington that the president is considering it. The Department of Homeland Security has been talking to the Pentagon about what military assets can be used to secure the border.

If the president comes out with a plan and effectively says I have ordered Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Chertoff to come up with a strategy for securing the border by July 4, it will be a grand slam on policy and political grounds.

BEGALA: The problem is, George Bush is not you. You're a principled conservative, Terry. You actually believe that. And you would have done it five years ago, as soon as you got your hand off the Bible when you were sworn in as president, God forbid, right? He doesn't believe this. If he did -- if our commander in chief thought we needed troops on the border, he would have deployed them there five years ago. But he didn't because he didn't think we needed it. Now he thinks perhaps that he may need it to shore up his poll numbers among conservatives. That's using the military for political purposes, which is I think a monstrous thing.

BLITZER: Let me just say, if the president were to deploy National Guard or reserve forces to the border, beef up border security, would the conservative base of the Republican Party go along with the guest-worker program that would allow 12 million or so illegal immigrants in this country eventually over 11 years to become citizens of the United States?

BEGALA: No, they wouldn't.

BLITZER: Because that is part of the package.

JEFFREY: I agree with you.

If -- actually, if the president comes out with a plan on Monday that seems like he's offering a quid pro quo -- "Look, I'm finally going to secure the border, but you have got to give me my amnesty for as many as 12 million illegal aliens" -- it will look opportunistic. He will sound like the president Paul Begala says he is. And it will backfire. If...

BLITZER: Because that's the Senate compromise, as you know.

JEFFREY: Right.

BLITZER: The Senate language that Bill Frist endorsed, with Harry Reid, calls for this guest-worker program...

JEFFREY: Right.

BEGALA: Right.

BLITZER: ... eventually leading towards citizenship.

JEFFREY: Right.

Wolf, there's tremendous political potential upside for the president here, and tremendous peril. If he looks like he's basically siding with both the Republicans and the Democrats in the Senate to try and roll the House on an amnesty, and he's talking about potentially deploying troops at the border as a fig leaf or some kind of, you know, fake to the fullback when you throw the bomb to the -- you know, to the receiver running for amnesty down the sideline, it will be a political disaster.

He's got to prove to the country on Monday night he is serious about securing the border. And then he has got to follow through by actually taking the steps to secure the border. And he -- if he does that, it's going to be tremendous for him.

BLITZER: I don't think there's any chance this president is going to back away from his guest-worker program.

BEGALA: I think not. I think, on that one, he has a firm position. And he seems to have conviction behind it.

Whether it is wise or unwise politically, he can't move off that now. His problem is credibility and competence. It's two problems. People don't believe him anymore.

I mean, I talked to an old friend of mine in Texas who used to be a very big Bush supporter. And he said: My problem is, I turn on the TV now, and I see George -- and he knows him well enough to call him by his first name.

He said: I just can't believe anything he says.

When his old friends in Texas are saying that, he's through.

BLITZER: If the president beefs up border security, whether deploying troops or some other way to the border, but allows the McCain-Kennedy version of this compromise basically to go forward, I assume it will pass in the Senate, relatively easily. Will it pass in the House of Representatives, as part of this conference committee report?

JEFFREY: First of all, I'm against it.

But if the president actually secures the border, he's going to have a lot more leverage over that conference committee. There are going to be Republicans from the House who are going to be absolutely opposed to amnesty. But his ability to get by them and actually get a bill back to the House with some kind of guest-worker program will be greater.

Conservatives will still oppose it. It's a bad idea. But Paul is right about one thing. The president has a credibility problem. And I think the border, more than anything else, symbolizes that credibility problem. He has got to secure it.

BLITZER: A serious, good discussion. Thanks to both of you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And coming up, who do you think is more honest? President Bush or former President Clinton? We'll reveal our new poll numbers on that question. That's coming up.

Plus, textbook controversy. California considers requiring gay history to be included in schoolbooks. We're going to go live to Los Angeles for details. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: President Bush won the White House in 2000, in part by running as an antidote to the scandal and the controversy surrounding the Clinton presidency. Six years later, Americans are comparing these two presidents and their problems in our brand new poll. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is crunching all of the numbers. He is joining us live -- Bill.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, how bad has it gotten for President Bush? So bad it may be making his predecessor look better.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This year the first of about 78 million baby boomers turn 60 including two of my dad's favorite people, me and President Clinton.

SCHNEIDER (voice over): His dad may not be alone in that opinion, or at least one of those opinions. Asked their personal opinion of George W. Bush recently, the public was unfavorable, 57 to 40 percent. Their opinion of Bill Clinton, almost the reverse, 57 to 38 percent favorable. We asked people to compare the last two presidents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's scary, comparing Clinton to George W.

SCHNEIDER: Which president did a better job on the economy, Clinton by a mile. For many Americans, the 90s were boom years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he was president, my business did well. And I made a lot of money. And so I kind of miss that.

SCHNEIDER: Who related better to problems affecting ordinary Americans? Again, Clinton by a mile. He felt your pain. After 9/11, national security became Bush's strongest issue. Who leads on that issue? Clinton, by a nose. Why not Bush?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got me concerned. Yes, it's -- we're in Iraq, and he's talking about going to Iran.

SCHNEIDER: Now for a tough test, character.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ethics kind of took a side trip for eight years while he was in office.

SCHNEIDER: So which president do Americans now consider more honest and trustworthy? A close call, but slightly more people say Clinton. The controversies over weapons of mass destruction and CIA leaks have taken a toll on President Bush's reputation. Could a wave of Clinton nostalgia be setting in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel nostalgia for the Bill Clinton era?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all. I was not the Bill Clinton admirer.

SCHNEIDER: Looks like people are divided about that too. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Clinton divided the country, and so did Bush. Who do people think divided it more? Answer, Bush by a big margin, a divider not a uniter -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Important report. Thanks very much, Bill Schneider, for that.

We're following a developing controversy over textbooks in California. The legislature out there is considering a bill that would require school history books to include the contributions of gays and lesbians.

Chris Lawrence is joining us now from Los Angeles with more -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, California public schools can already offer instruction about gays and lesbians voluntarily. This bill requires them to be included like any other group.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice over): Millions of public school students would read about gay and lesbian people's contribution to history if a California bill becomes law. The state's Senate approved the bill, which allows identification of sexual orientation and bans textbooks that portray gays and lesbians in a negative light.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is fantastic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is terrible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's long overdue.

LAWRENCE: From parents to politicians, reaction was mixed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you write people out of history they don't feel significant.

LAWRENCE: Some parents say textbooks have been changed before to include women and minorities, and historical role models boost self- esteem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Jewish immigrants found out that Einstein was Jewish, that person might feel, wow, you know, Jewish is OK, and I feel good about myself.

LAWRENCE: California spends $400 million a year on textbooks. And a lot of them would have to be changed to reflect the contributions of gays.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If, in fact, there is a discussion in English about Oscar Wilde, it will reference the fact that he was gay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just makes me a little uncomfortable.

LAWRENCE: Rosemary Fogg (ph) says sexual orientation should only come up if it had something to do with the historical event itself. Harvey Milks's murder in San Francisco fits that criteria. He was an openly gay politician gunned down by an anti-gay conservative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both Mayor Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed.

LAWRENCE: Fogg would not want sexuality mentioned when it comes to say an author or inventor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wouldn't say, oh, he was a straight person, you know. Unless it's totally relevant to their part in history, I don't know if that would be something I'd want part of the curriculum.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: A lot California Republicans say the legislature has no business dictating how history books are written. They're going to fight this bill when it comes before the state assembly in June, and ultimately Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also has to approve it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris Lawrence in L.A., thank you.

Up ahead, hurricane season almost here, only days away. But this year, there are hundreds of new products to try to help people make it through. We're going show you what's out there right now.

Plus, "Da Vinci Code" controversy, why an albino man is now protesting against the movie with a film of his own. Our Jeanne Moos has that story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Hurricane season is less than three weeks away and as millions of Americans prepare for the next big storm,they're finding a slew of new products out there designed to try to help them ride it out.

Who better than CNN's John Zarrella, who joins us now with "The Bottom Line" from Miami -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's exactly right. You know, in the past, besides ice, water and gasoline, there really wasn't much to get you through a hurricane, but now in the wake of the past two seasons, companies are recognizing that there is a market out there for hurricane products.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA (voice over): It's called a Zerolet. And it's not just any toilet. (on-camera): So you're telling me that solid waste literally becomes this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Powder.

ZARRELLA: Powder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sterile powder.

ZARRELLA (voice over): Heating elements in the tank do the trick. The water comes from this tank. No dependence on city water and sewer that might be out after a storm. The $3,000 Zerolet was one of hundreds of new products on display at a hurricane conference in Fort Lauderdale.

There's a sandbagger. And...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an alternate to a sandbag. The company that makes it actually calls it the door dam.

ZARRELLA: In the aftermath of last year's mean season, companies have discovered there are big bucks in products designed to make life easier and emergency response better during and after a hurricane. The breakdown in communications was a major issue after Katrina.

EVAN KAGAN, GLOBAL SATELLITE: I think after we saw with Katrina and we saw the failures that were taking place, everyone sees the need for it now.

ZARRELLA: Now the market is flooded with high-tech satellite communications equipment from handheld to SUV mounted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look around, and you say, boy, I need this, and boy, I need that. And hopefully, we can get some of that.

ZARRELLA: For the average consumer, there is a $25 light that can stay bright for 75 hours on one LED battery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can flip the heads around and now you have a powerful wide angle flashlight.

ZARRELLA: For insurance purposes, Arkiva will document and store a visual record of all your possessions, even photo albums.

BRUCE ROBERSON, ARKIVA: People during Katrina in the Gulf Coast states, places like Waveland, Mississippi lost all their memories.

ZARRELLA: Hurricanes have suddenly spawned an emerging market of products and devices to make getting through the storm a little less painful.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: Now, Wolf, I can tell you that that Arkiva product for $299, house up to 5,000 square feet, and these lights. They are really pretty good. You can actually take off one end, string more than one of them together, make it a spotlight or a wide angle light.

I was going to send it to you, Wolf, but I think I'm going to need it a little more this summer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I think you will. John Zarrella on the scene for us in Florida. As always, stay with CNN for complete hurricane coverage. That's coming up this summer.

Jack Cafferty is watching all of this. He's in New York -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Let's just hope there is no hurricane coverage this summer. That would be my hope.

BLITZER: That would be all of our hope.

CAFFERTY: Yeah.

Representative John Murtha from Pennsylvania says U.S. troops will be home from Iraq in 2007. He thinks one of two things will happen. Either President Bush will bow to public pressure, or Democrats will win control of the House and then force the issue.

The question is, do you think U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by next year?

Dominic in Traverse City, Michigan writes: "How can we expect U.S. troops to leave Iraq? We're building hugely expensive permanent bases there. These permanent bases were never described as gifts for the Iraqi people; they're been built to house U.S. troops permanently."

Vincent in Spring, Texas: "That depends on when the Iraqis form their government and how we reform ours."

John in Atlanta: "U.S. troops will be in Iraq as long as there's oil in Iraq."

Chris in Hermosa Beach, California: "Surely with his poll numbers plummeting and Republicans panicking, Bush will once again have to back-pedal on his commitment to stay the course and pull some troops out for the sake of the elections. But it appears as though the quagmire he got us into will require substantial U.S. troop deployment there for the foreseeable future."

John in Kalamazoo, Michigan: "Does being in Iran qualify as being out of Iraq?"

And Greg writes, "Yes, I believe they'll be home. I also think one day women will find me irresistible, that my hair will grow back, and that I'll win the Powerball lottery on Saturday" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thanks very much. See you back here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Monday.

And to our viewers, don't forget, Jack anchors "IN THE MONEY" Saturday afternoons 1:00 p.m. Eastern. It's replayed Sundays 3:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

Gunshots in your neighborhood. What should you do? Instead of looking for flashing police lights, you may want to check your computer. Today, Los Angeles is unveiling its newest crime-fighting tool online. Jacki Schechner standing by with the story -- Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, you may want to check and find out if your police department has a blog. That's what the LAPD launched today, and the idea is to increase communication and transparency. They also want to use it in case of emergency, to get the information out.

Their Web site in total relaunched in March, and part of the popular features that have helped make this 13 million people visiting a month to 30 million people visiting a month are these, these interactive crime maps.

Take a look at how something like this works. You touch on these little dots. These are different types of crimes, and it will give you information.

Now, they're not the only city to be doing this. We've also found crime maps in Atlanta, and this will give you density of crime, not necessarily specifics. Also, San Francisco has a well-known crime statistic mapping site. This right here. If you click on it, it will pop up information.

As for blogs, not as common but they're working up there. You can go to Boston, where they use it for crime statistics, incident reports and daily news. We also found a blog in North Oakland, and also the L.A. Fire Department has a well-read blog. Go to cnn.com/situationreport. We've posted all of these links for you there, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jacki, thank you very much.

Still ahead, "Da Vinci Code" controversy. This one is not over religion, but the portrayal of albinos. Jeanne Moos standing by. She gets to the bottom of the story. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The movie "The Da Vinci Code" opens one week from today, but it's already generating lots of controversy, mostly with religious groups, but also with albinos, it seems. They have an issue with the film. CNN's Jeanne Moos has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember when the good guys used to wear white? Well, in "The Da Vinci Code," it's the bad guy who is white -- all white. An albino monk.

PAUL BETTANY, ACTOR: Is there a secret you would die for?

MOOS: When Tom Hanks recently hosted "Saturday Night Live," there was an albino bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I object to the way albino monks are portrayed in your movie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am an albino monk, and we're pretty creepy.

MOOS: But real albinos do object. They're sick of being...

DENNIS HURLEY, ALBINOCODE.COM: The longer, the bottom of the joke, or the creepy evil assassin...

MOOS: From "The Matrix Reloaded" to "End of Days..."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've come for you.

MOOS: ... to "Foul Play." Now, albinos are crying foul over...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Da Vinci Code."

MOOS: And retaliating with...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Albino Code."

MOOS: A 12-minute parody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an albino.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Albino.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Albino.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is what I said.

MOOS: Actually, the name they prefer is...

HURLEY: A person with albinism.

MOOS: Dennis Hurley is such a person. He's also an actor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You must kill two people and steal the sacred keystone.

HURLEY: You know, my last job was at Foodmart.

MOOS: Dennis actually tried to get the part of the albino monk in "The Da Vinci Code," but it went to a non-albino, Paul Bettany.

BETTANY: Yes, I play an albino.

MOOS: But Dennis didn't get mad; he got busy making his parody film.

The real film.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A murder.

MOOS: The parody.

"The Da Vinci Code."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Witness the biggest cover-up in human history.

MOOS: "The Albino Code."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the biggest cover-up in movie history.

HURLEY: This is great. I burn easily.

MOOS: Dennis points out that real people with albinism tend to have problems with their eyesight, which would make for a bad assassin.

But this is the kind of thing that really drives them nuts. His irises were pink, with dark red pupils.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't anger the red-eyed demon.

HURLEY: We don't have red eyes. That's just a myth.

MOOS: Dennis spent almost $10,000 making this parody, and just as the movie albino beats up on himself, the real albino self- flagellates with a fly swatter.

HURLEY: Ow.

MOOS: It's enough to make the Mona Lisa grin.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Leave it to Jeanne Moos.

And thanks very much for joining us. I'll be back Sunday morning, 11:00 a.m. Eastern, for "Late Edition." Among my guests, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.

Until then, thanks very much for joining us. "PAULA ZAHN NOW" starts right now -- Paula.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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