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Fire Threatens Luxury Homes; Missouri Candidates Make Last Minute Push; GOP Incumbent Tries to Catch Ohio Challenger; George Allen Lagging Behind Democrat Challenger; Florida Candidate Refuses to Appear with Bush; Saddam Hussein Sentenced to Death; Church Members Support Outed Pastor; Yet Another New Wildfire Takes Off On High Winds In Southern California

Aired November 6, 2006 - 13:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CO-HOST: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Kyra Phillips is off today.
DON LEMON, CO-HOST: And I'm Don Lemon.

It is the final push. It's the big guns on the campaign trail. Who is ahead, who is in trouble and when will get your vote? CNN is your election headquarters, and we've got live reports from all the hot races.

WHITFIELD: And the fall from grace. A pastor forced out of the pulpit but his church and his family moves on. The secrets, the lies and the recovery straight ahead.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: We begin this hour in the CNN newsroom with a developing story happening in California. Let's head straight to the breaking news desk and T.J. Holmes.

T.J., what do you know?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: This is the fire we've been watching in Rialto, California, been burning for the past three hours or so. The threat here is that this thing is getting dangerously close to homes. Up to 100 homes being threatened by this thing.

And you can see just that fire and those flames and that smoke actually we're seeing there just being thrown about by the winds down there. And that is what's driving this fire right now.

Again, started a couple hours ago. This is the Rialto, which is about 60 miles or so east of Los Angeles. If you're familiar with that area, give you some perspective there of where this is happening.

But again, the firefighters don't know exactly how this started. We heard from our affiliate earlier that this originally had started at an abandoned pipe business, an abandoned business.

And firefighters, their plan, was to go this route. To let that fire burn itself out at the actual abandoned building. But then it started to spread. They wanted to drop some water on it. The firefighters on the ground did not want to attack it from the ground, actually.

What they wanted to put all their resources to on the ground was to set up kind of a perimeter and set up some defense. Because this thing was literally across the street in some of the pictures you saw across the street from luxury homes. It's near the Sierra Lakes golf course. Also country club there that's very nearby.

But, really, you can see right there at the bottom of your screen, literally right across the street, there were homes, several luxury homes. And, again, we're being told up now to 100 are being threatened by this fire. Firefighters are not ordering evacuations just yet, but they are asking people to voluntarily evacuate at this point. Don't know many -- how many people are heeding that advice right now.

But again, this is something we've been keeping an eye on for the past couple hours. Not exactly a situation that -- completely under control just yet because of those winds. We've been hearing up to 30 mile-per-hour winds that are pushing and fanning this thing. So firefighters, again, have another situation on their hands.

Of course, that big Esperanto fire we're watching just a week, week and a half or so ago. So another situation there and another one we're going to keep our eyes on, guys.

WHITFIELD: And the campaign clock is winding down. Last-minute barnstorming is heating up and the balance of power is at stake. Less than a day to go before the mid-term elections, candidates across the country are in their 11th hour push to get your vote.

CNN is your election headquarters. The best political team on television is on the campaign trail, covering the races that could end up the Republican's grip on Congress. We begin with a showdown in the Show Me state, the Missouri Senate race, one of the most closely watched in the nation, in a virtual dead heat for months now.

Our Jonathan Freed has the latest from St. Louis.


JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, campaign workers on both sides of this race are telling us that at this point they are not expecting to get any rest until it's all over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. We've got a lot of precincts that we're working on today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we'd appreciate your supporting Jim Talent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is to help promote the whole Democratic team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

FREED: Missouri's Senate race couldn't be closer, and in the closing days of a close election...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we'll see you soon.


FREED: ... the campaign volunteer becomes a powerful player.


FREED: Jim Talent supporters know keeping the Republican in Washington could also determine if the GOP keeps control of Congress.

(on camera) All of the experts are saying when a race is as close as this one is, it comes down to turnout. Who actually comes out and votes, which is what you guys are doing today, trying to get out the vote. Do you feel a sense of responsibility because of that?

EMILY LORINO, CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER: I think so, definitely. I mean, it's our responsibility as volunteers and interns and of, like, people of Missouri to go around and make sure the voters are getting out.

FRED (voice-over): Democrat Claire McCaskill's troops says they're motivated by a desire for change.

(on camera) This is not easy work. It could be long. It could be cold.

CLARISSA GAFF, CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER: Well, obviously, we want Claire McCaskill to win, and there's so many issue where the Democrats are stronger than the Republicans right now. And the Iraq war, I haven't done -- I haven't appreciated anything the Republican Congress has done involving Iraq.

FREED (voice-over): There is passion on both sides, and Talent's people are eager to prove voters will come out and show support for the GOP.

LORINO: Although the polls are saying we're in a dead heat, I'm feeling a strong push for Senator Talent, and I'm hopeful for Tuesday.

FREED (on camera): Are you guys feeling like you're going to put her over the top, the campaign will succeed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm feeling really good about it.

GAFF: I think there's a really good chance that Claire will win Missouri, and I think we're part of that.

FREED: Even polls that show the Democrats slightly ahead are still essentially within the margin of error. They just don't make races any closer than this one -- Fredricka.


LEMON: All right, Jonathan. WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Jonathan.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

WHITFIELD: Your turn.

LEMON: From the controversial voter I.D. law to a confrontational Senate race it's been a bumpy campaign season in Ohio, and the candidates are still hard at work on election eve.

CNN national correspondent Bob Franken joins us live from Columbus.

Hey, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. Yes, just think of it as a surprise fight that's gone all the way, all 15 rounds, and the boxers are barely able to stand up, but they're still up there swinging as best they can.

Well, that's what we have here. The one who is losing, the one who's now the underdog, the Republican, is trying to flail as much as he can to try and play catch-up.


FRANKEN (voice-over): The last days reflect the style of each Senate candidate. Democrat Sherrod Brown, the poll-leading challenger, held a loud rally here last night here in a Columbus church, accompanied by space hero and Ohio native John Glenn.

SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: John Glenn, thank you. It's an honor to be introduced by you.

FRANKEN: The Republican, incumbent Senator Mike DeWine, was methodically trying to play catch-up, fueling up at a pancake breakfast.

SEN. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: Pancakes look good. What's going on?

FRANKEN: DeWine insists his six- to eight-point deficit looks good.

DEWINE: We're closing, we're closing. A poll this morning had us six down, but we're moving in the right direction, and we're going to close it and win.

FRANKEN: The Democratic challenger describes Republicans as desperate.

BROWN: They're angry, and they can't stand it that they might lose their job. And they're saying, "I want my blankie."

DEWINE: Good morning, good to see you this morning. FRANKEN: National Republicans decided to blanket other states with money. They've cut off their spending for the Ohio Senate race, but the TV ads are still incessant from both sides.

DEWINE: I'm Mike DeWine. I approve this message to keep fighting for all our families.

BROWN: I'm Sherrod Brown. I approve this message. It's time to put the middle class first.

FRANKEN: Ohio Democrats have gotten a big boost from the state GOP's corruption problems. Convicted for receiving bribes just resigned congressman Bob Ney is considered an embarrassment by his own party. Outgoing Governor Bob Taft pleaded no contest and was fined $4,000 for failing to report gifts. Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the man who wants to be governor, is far back in the polls.


FRANKEN: It's interesting about the polls. They change moment by moment. The polls that we've been citing have this below a double digit separation between Sherrod Brown and the Republican Senate incumbent Mike DeWine, but there's a new poll just out, done by the University of Cincinnati for the "Cincinnati Inquirer". It shows 11.5 percent spread.

In the next minute, that could change again, Don.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much for that, Bob Franken.

WHITFIELD: Racial slurs and sexy fiction, issues in one of the bitter and hotly contested Senate races in the country. CNN's Ed Henry is watching the final appeal for vote in Richmond, Virginia, and it is neck and neck.

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good afternoon, Fred. One of the many dead heats all around the country, but this Virginia race, particularly close, particularly nasty, as well as you noted. Charges of racism flying against the incumbent, Republican Senator George Allen, because of that infamous "Macaca" moment where he referred to a supporter of Democrat Jim Webb as "Macaca". That considered a racial slur. He has apologized for that.

Jim Webb, the Democrat, as you noted, he has faced allegations of sexism because of novels he's written, magazine articles that Republicans believe show sexism towards women in his attitude.

Some of that anger on display this morning when Senator Allen was out in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Vienna, Virginia. He was at a metro stop, trying to rally his supporters. He was being jeered by protesters, including peace mom Cindy Sheehan, Iraq just one of the very big issues hanging over this race.

Senator Allen, though, tried to overcome that and rally those supporters.


SEN. GEORGE (R), VIRGINIA: It's a close race. The world's controlled by those who show up. I've told all of you all here Mark Twain used to say thunder is impressive, but it's lightning that does the work. And these folks here are the lightning and the voters need to turn out.


HENRY: Now, Democrat Jim Webb has been focusing his energy in the final days here in rural parts of Virginia, the so-called red counties that he's trying to make some end roads. He's been doing that by campaigning with the last two governors of this commonwealth both Democrats, Mark Warner, the former governor, Tim Kean, and the current governor here of this commonwealth.

And the message has been trying to use that centrist playbook that both Warner and Kean have used before and pushed back against the White House and tie the incumbent to unpopular Republican policies.


JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: The biggest problem in American government today is, in the Karl Rove era, there is so much negativity out there that by the time the campaign process ends, you've got people staring down at each other in the United States Senate rather than trying to work together. And I say we're not going to do that.


HENRY: Now, perhaps the most fascinating part of this race, most fascinating of all, is that George Allen was headed for a very likely White House bid in 2008. This race was supposed to be a slam dunk. It was considered a stepping stone. He was going to move right on and be one of the frontrunners for the Republican nomination in 2008.

Instead, because of some of those self-inflicted wounds, because of the anti-incumbent mood out there, he's now going to be lucky to hold onto his Senate seat. Most observers expect he's not going to be able to run for president, win or lose here -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: So Ed, when it pertains to George Allen, is he getting any high-powered, high-profile support out there campaigning on his behalf today?

HENRY: Both sides trying to get celebrities on the trail. Today the Democrat Jim Webb will have former President Bill Clinton. Last night George Allen had Rudy Giuliani, of course, known as America's mayor, a very popular figure.

What's interesting tonight, a last-minute gamut from the incumbent, George Allen, has bought TV time all across the commonwealth, two minutes of time. He's going to appear with the senior senator, John Warner, and is going to basically try to address voters directly in the final hours and say that mistakes have been made in Iraq, but they're going to try to steer a new course and say that Democrats, all they want to do is complain and that he and John Warner will try to find a new course.

As you know, John Warner, chairman of the armed services committee, recently came back from a trip in Iraq and said the situation is going sideways. That's a very big issue for George Allen to deal with, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ed Henry, thank you so much on the trail of both Webb and Allen in Virginia -- Don.

LEMON: President Bush is making one last push for fellow Republicans. He's campaigning in Florida, Arkansas and Texas this election eve, but one candidate Mr. Bush is trying to help will be elsewhere, campaigning with a former Bush rival.

CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he'll spend the night.

Suzanne, where the president has campaigned and who he appears with has been a controversial aspect of this election up until the very end. We know that. How is the House handling -- the White House handling the fact that Mr. Bush could do more harm than good in some of these places?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Don, all you have to do is look at what's happening in Florida today. Pensacola, Florida. This is where the president's brother, Jeb Bush, is stepping down as governor, and there is a really big race that is happening there. The president is going to go to a huge rally, about 10,000 people.

But the one person who is not going to be there is the marquise candidate, the Republican candidate for that governorship spot. And, of course, that is Charles Crist.

Now Charles Crist's campaign manager, I spoke with him. He said he told the White House yesterday, last night, that Crist was not going to show up at this big event after all, that he wants to win. And he's going to go and try to attract independents, moderate voters. They are not in Pensacola, so he is taking off, hitting about 10 different places today where he hopes to attract their attention.

These are places where the president is not popular. President Bush in Pensacola, this is a very red district. They've got three military bases. This is where the president, of course, will do well in rallying the Republican base.

So the campaign is saying, look we don't mean to dis the president, but we're trying to win here. And we just don't think this is the best place the day before elections, of course, for our candidate to be, to be seen with President Bush.

The other thing, Don, that is very noticeable here is that Crist has actually met with and rallied today with Senator John McCain, earlier. This is in Jacksonville, Florida. As you know, McCain is a moderate, a 2008 presidential hopeful and, clearly, somebody who is looking as the future of the party -- Don.

LEMON: Well, OK. So, obviously, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war on terrorism is going to come up. It's going to play in the polls tomorrow. At least that's what everybody is saying. Now I understand that President Bush has added a new line to the campaign stump to defend the war on terror.

MALVEAUX: Well, certainly over the weekend you heard that news Saddam Hussein, the death sentence, the verdict, of course. President Bush is using that to make two points here, essentially to defend his decision, once again, despite not finding weapons of mass destruction, to remove Saddam Hussein and invade Iraq, his Iraq war.

Also, of course, he's using the case to argue that Republicans are strong when it comes to national security.

So what you're hearing, we heard it yesterday. We're hearing it today. This new line where he is thanking the Iraqi people, congratulating them. He's also thanking the troops, essentially the president realizing that the Iraq war, No. 1 issue for voters. And also this election clearly a referendum on that war and the president -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Suzanne Malveaux in Crawford, Texas, thank you so much for that.

And get more election coverage, and you can get it free right on your desktop. All day today, check this out: CNN Pipeline is free. That's amazing. Free.

WHITFIELD: I like that.

LEMON: It's a good service. With behind the scenes access for live feeds, campaign coverage you won't find anywhere else. CNN Pipeline free all day today. I'm like, come and get it, it's free. Go to for that.

WHITFIELD: All for the taking.

All right. Let's go back to the newsroom where that California fire is threatening homes. T.J. Holmes is in the newsroom with more -- T.J.

HOLMES: Yes, Fredricka, about 100 homes being threatened by this thing. And each time we get an update on it, it has grown. And now we're up, according to A.P., at least 300 acres have been burned by this fire.

You're seeing some of those huge flames that are really being fanned and fueled by the wind. Up to 30 mile per hour winds are pushing this thing. And we saw earlier where it started. It is literally right across the street from hundreds of homes, really a golf course and country club and a lot of expensive, luxury homes literally right across the street from this thing.

Firefighters, hundreds of them now, on scene fighting this. They are using helicopters, airplanes, dumping fire and retardant on this fire, trying to fight it that way and using their resources on the ground actually to try to set up a defense wall and keep this thing from spreading into some of those homes.

But again, each update we get, this thing continues to grow, fanned by those -- that wind that is blowing down there. So we're going to continue to be on this thing, keep an eye on it and continue, probably, to bring you updates throughout the afternoon -- guys.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, T.J. Fingers are crossed. Hopefully, it gets better and better.

LEMON: Yes, did you see the homes?


LEMON: It looks it was very, very close.

WHITFIELD: Correct. Hopefully it doesn't really touch them.

All right. Well, the trial, the verdict, the outrage, you know what I'm talking about. Saddam Hussein gets the sentence everyone seemed to expect: death by hanging. We'll take you live to the Iraqi capital for some reaction.

LEMON: And the next one was the most popular -- popular clicked on, on, a dark past, an uncertain future, a closer look at the person and political implications of one preacher's demons. That is ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Guilty, death by hanging? The verdict and sentence for former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Not wholly unexpected, and the same could be same for the aftermath.

CNN's Aneesh Raman is in the Iraqi capital.

So Aneesh, give us a sense of what is happening right now.


Reaction today in the verdict and sentencing of Saddam Hussein surprisingly being viewed by Iraqis through the lens of present day sectarian divides.

North of us in a Sunni stronghold, they went out onto the streets, demonstrators holding up pictures of then President Saddam Hussein. They carried banners, as well, that read, "My blood, my soul will be sacrificed for Saddam." They called this trial and the entire process illegitimate, born, they say of an illegitimate war. They say that this is exacting revenge by the Shia-dominated government.

Meanwhile, similar scenes but the opposite message coming from Shia areas of Iraq. Specifically, these images coming from Sadr City that you're about to see in Baghdad. There, they celebrated a day that they have been waiting years, if not decades to see. Saddam Hussein found guilty of crimes against humanity, finally for them getting, in their words, payback. As Saddam will now, according to this sentence, face death by hanging.

These two snapshots, though, really extremities. We don't mean to suggest that all Sunnis in Iraq are supporting Saddam and see this trial as illegitimate nor Shia coming out celebrating. The Shia major party here, the IIP, came out saying that justice was served and that Iraq must move forward.

And an extensive curfew that we saw put in place in Baghdad lifted a few hours ago. And outside Sadr City we didn't see an outpouring, really, of Iraqis celebrating on the streets.

So for a lot of Iraqis, I think, it's the present, it's the future that override any reconciliation with the past that might have come from this verdict, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And Aneesh, thankfully the violence that was predicted didn't immediately follow, but, this is still not over. Let's talk about the appeals process, how this death by hanging is not likely to happen any time immediately because of the appeals process.

RAMAN: Yes, there's an automatic appeals process that kicks in because Saddam was sentenced to death. Within 30 days the defense and the prosecution must submit their motions to the appellate court within the Iraqi high tribunal. That court, though, has as much time as it wants, really, to make its decision.

But we've been told by court officials not to expect it to be too lengthy a process, that the appellate court, really, is just reviewing the document. And we heard late today from the chief prosecutor in the trial, saying he thinks an appellate decision could come by January, by early next year.

He, of course, benefits from that because a quick appellate process means a case that he made was succinct.

But we have heard from government officials that this execution could be carried out mid-next year. If the appellate court upholds the death sentence, Saddam must be hung within 30 days, despite the fact that he faces other trials, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: If they uphold it. All right. Aneesh Raman from Baghdad, thank you.

LEMON: A fallen pastor apparently finds forgiveness from his flock. Members of Ted Haggard's New Life Church responded to his emotional confession and apology with tears and also applause.

CNN's Sean Callebs has the latest from Colorado Springs.


TED HAGGARD, PASTOR, NEW LIFE CHURCH: ... and lead you in prayer. Would you join your hands together? SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tears at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs after the swift and humbling fall from grace of one of the leading evangelicals.

HAGGARD: Do you remember last week when we did the volunteer choir?

CALLEBS: Ted Haggard, accused of a homosexual affair and drug use. Haggard's long-time friend and the head of the oversight committee that removed him from the pulpit, the Rev. Larry Stockstill, read Haggard's mea culpa to the congregation.

LARRY STOCKSTILL, NEW LIFE CHURCH: The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar.

CALLEBS: Haggard has denied having a gay affair, but Stockstill has his doubts about Haggard's sexual behavior.

STOCKSTILL: He had developed a pattern of deception, and that is why it took us so long to really arrive at the truth. We still haven't. We know that's going to take a period of time.

MIKE JONES, HAGGARD'S ACCUSER: The thing about homosexuals...

CALLEBS: Mike Jones, the former gay prostitute who made the allegations, tells CNN he feels vindicated, even though he failed a lie detector test when asked about the alleged three-year affair with Haggard.

Jones tells CNN he will take another polygraph test.

Jones says he deliberately came public days before Tuesday's midterm election.

JONES: I don't know how many minds have changed. I don't know how many votes might have changed, but I still, for my fellow community, friends, I needed to bring this out.

CALLEBS: With the issue of gay marriage on the ballot in Colorado and other states, Jones wants to show what he calls the hypocrisy of Haggard and other evangelicals.

But many members of Haggard's former flock emerged from the service saying what happened will not affect the way they vote Tuesday.

JONES: I think it's going to encourage more people to go to the polls. I certainly hope that's true.

HAGGARD: All right, good, good, good. Come on, everybody.

CALLEBS: Haggard was at the top of his profession, even taking part in occasional conference calls with the White House. The controversy is only one reason members of the religious right may feel disenfranchised right now, according to an academic who studies the evangelical movement.

PROF. RANDALL BALMER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Add to that a growing discontent on the part of many evangelicals with both the Bush administration and the Republican party, as well as the leadership of the religious right, and I think this is -- this is a big scandal.

CALLEBS (on camera): With as many as 60 million people in the United States claiming to be evangelical, the stakes are high. For the past two decades, evangelicals have been a powerful voting block courted by Republicans. The question, as election day approaches, will they once again be a safe bet for the GOP?

Sean Callebs, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


LEMON: All right, Sean.

And later this hour we're joined by author Nancy Heche. Her new book, "The Truth Comes Out", deals with the shock of finding about -- out about her husband's secret gay affairs. And if her name sounds familiar, she's also going to talk about the surprise and anguish she felt when her daughter, actress Anne Heche, began a lesbian relationship.

WHITFIELD: And this happening right now. Homes are threatened by a wind-fueled wildfire in California. The latest from southern California straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Rialto, California, we want to take you to an update. T.J. Holmes at the breaking news desk.

What do you know?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN NEWS ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Yes, we've been keeping an eye on this things. And, again, it keeps growing. We keep it is destroying more and more acreage out there, I guess. We'll get the latest now from Bill Peters, who is with the California Department of Forestry.

Sir, thank you for giving us some time here.

If you can update us, just how bad is this thing?

BILL PETERS, CA. DEPT. OF FORESTRY: The best we have is about 500 acres, and a couple hundred firefighters out there with their equipment. And, of course, aircraft and fighting the fire pretty hard.

HOLMES: How are you going about attacking this thing? What is the best course of action for you right now?

PETERS: First off, of course, always when we have a fire is the protection of life and then property. So, we have structure protection teams that are out there in the community there, that is adjacent to the fire threat. And, otherwise, we're using our aircraft and our hand crews to drop retardant line, cut hand line, to slow the progress of the fire down.

HOLMES: Give us a better idea of just how many homes and how big a threat to the homes the fire is right now. And, I guess, is that threat getting worse as we go along?

PETERS: I can't give you numbers for homes, but what I can tell you is that northern area of Rialto is fairly recent construction, so they have the benefit of being built with the latest fire codes that we have in California, which are some of the most stringent in the nation. The homes can withstand a lot of embers and things like that that might start home in other fires -- that will help firefighters to fight this blaze.

HOLMES: We've been talking, as well, for the last hour or so, about -- and seeing these pictures. We can tell there's wind down there and up to 30 miles per hour is what we've been reporting, and been hearing. And is the win certainly giving you fits?

PETERS: Of course, it is, very problematic at this point in driving the fire through all the areas where there is vegetation. And it just kind of leaps it ahead, if you will. So that pushes it, makes the fire very dynamic for the firefighters. And we just kind of have to fight in the lulls to help get a handle on this.

HOLMES: Last thing here, just real quick, any evacuations mandatory at this point?

PETERS: No mandatory evacuations. There have been some voluntary evacuations, but nothing mandatory.

HOLMES: All right, again, Mr. Bill Peters, from the California Department of Forestry, getting us up to date on this fire in Rialto. And again, we'll keep our eye on this thing and continue to update you as it warrants -- Fredricka.


When it comes to oil supplies, one big wildcard is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Cheryl Casone joins us live from the New York Stock Exchange with more on his latest comments.

Just as fiery?


Hey, there, Fred.

Yes, Chavez threatened again, over the weekend, to halt oil exports to the United States. He's concerned the U.S. may try to influence the election in Venezuela, or not recognize the results if they favor him as the winner. His main challenger has accused him of threatening to fire employees of the state-run oil company who oppose him.

Venezuela supplies 12 percent of all U.S. crude imports. But this move would damage Venezuela's economy, as well, because the U.S. is the biggest buyer of that country's oil.

So, Fred, who can forget Chavez, at the U.N., in September, when he called President Bush the devil. He's always worth something. That's for sure.

WHITFIELD: All right, so what kind of reaction is taking place?

CASONE: Well, very little response from the Bush administration, but U.S. consumers are certainly taking sides on this one. Since Chavez made those comments at the U.N., sales of CITGO gasoline -- which is controlled by Venezuela, it's a state-owned oil company -- have take a nice little tumble. Some gas station owners even switching to other brands, including the 7-Eleven chain of stores. And CITGO has said that it will stop supplying fuel to nearly 2,000 gas stations, in 10 states, because of those weak sales.

Today, oil prices rising back above $60 per barrel, but according to the Lundberg survey, gas prices fell over the last two weeks, to an average of $2.18 per gallon for self-serve regular. Prices have fallen 84 cents in the past three months. But the survey does predict the downward trend might just be over. So, fuel up now.

All right, now, let's take a look at those stocks because they're trading higher. The Dow industrials up 106 points. Finally, some green numbers right now. And the Nasdaq composite also jumping up 1.5 percent. That's the latest from Wall Street, back to you, Don.

LEMON: All right. Thanks very much for that, Cheryl.

Forget shampoos and nit-pick, there may be a new way to get rid of head lice. University of Utah biologist has invented a kind of super blow drier -- stop laughing, Fredricka -- to treat his own kids.

WHITFIELD: Very subject.

LEMON: Yes, it is, very serious.

It blows twice as much air as typical driers and after 20 or 30 minutes sufferers are said to be louse free or lice free. So-called Louse Buster is expensive, about $1,000 but marketers say schools can just keep one in the front office for itchy emergencies.

WHITFIELD: I'm trying to envision. That is one serious blow drier to take care of that problem.

LEMON: Yeah, if it can blow that -- right.

WHITFIELD: Well, forget the Hatfields and the McCoys, Tennessee has got Corker and Ford. More on a Senate seat slug fest.

Oh, for alliteration, that was tough.

That could tip the balance of power in Washington. You want to watch that fight, that's coming up next in NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Republican Senator John McCain, who's not running this year, says GOP control of the Senate could hinge on Tennessee, in the battle between Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. and Republican Bob Corker. Ford received some high-profile support this weekend from Illinois Senator Barack Obama. The two visited African-American churches in Nashville, and later stirred up thousands of supporters at a rally.

Stumping for Corker are McCain and retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

WHITFIELD: Disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard has left his base in Colorado Springs with his family. They are said to be seeking spiritual advice and comfort in the wake of Haggard's admission of, in his words, sexual immorality.

No doubt, the scandal hits home for Nancy Heche, the author of, "The Truth Comes Out", a devout Christian she was devastated when her husband was diagnosed with AID and his secret life was revealed. Years, later Nancy's daughter, Actress Anne Heche, shocked her mom and everyone else by having a lesbian relationship with Ellen DeGeneres . Nancy Heche, joins us not to talk about secrets, lies and recovery."

Good to see you, Ms. Heche.


Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, so as this has been unfolding for Gale Haggard. This is almost like reliving it again, for you, given learning about your husband's other life. And then, he soon thereafter dies of AIDS.


WHITFIELD: And then you also dealt with the tragedy of losing at least three of your children to other ailments and experiences. How have you been able to cope after all of these losses?

HECHE: I have a strong, strong faith in God. And I believe that if I have the perspective of God's eye, kind of a God's eye view, that I can look at things not in the moment, although I experience them in the moment. But I can also maybe step back just a little bit. And this is what I was thinking for Gale Haggard, to be able to step back just a little bit and see that this is a moment, in my personal life, in my spiritual life.

WHITFIELD: But a big moment.

HECHE: A very big moment. And a very public moment for her. For me, with my husband, it was a very isolating and secret moment. But, we live moments at a time and life is a continual -- I think -- series of spiritual growth moments, personal growth moments, opportunities to heal and grow and change. And this is certainly something that's been presented to them.

I was thinking about the name of his, of their church called New Life.


HECHE: This is an opportunity. Often in a situation like this as humbling and as sad as it is, it's an opportunity for new life.

WHITFIELD: Let me ask you, just to follow up on a couple of things you just mentioned. For you, your experience was very isolating. And it was a very secret moment. Your husband was a music minister, your family very involved in the church. Do you mean that because of Haggard's very public position, given that he was a national figure, not just one in the community.

HECHE: Right.

WHITFIELD: That everyone has learned about this at the same time for that family whereas, for you, you had to keep it close, this was very private and very humiliating?

HECHE: Yes. And, actually, I chose to keep it quiet. My husband had kept it secret. And we chose to keep it secret. It wasn't until my oldest daughter wrote a book about our family that we came out.

WHITFIELD: So that meant it had to be a huge struggle for you, personally, to deal with this because you didn't have anyone to consult with, you didn't have a number of people coming to your aid, or empathizing with you. Whereas, maybe Gale Haggard is likely to get that.

HECHE: I know, isn't that wonderful for her. I'm thrilled to see what the church is doing. That's what we hope we all will be able to do, no matter who it is. When we have problems, we hope there's someone who will come along beside us and help us and walk through it with us. Because the range of emotions is going to go from one end of the spectrum to the other.

WHITFIELD: Can I ask you about the sequence of events when your husband revealed to you that he was bisexual. And that he has been struggling with this lifestyle for some time. And then fast forward that to learning of his AIDS, what kind of time frame are we talking about? How much time did you have to process all of this information and deal with this experience?

HECHE: Well, I didn't have any time and I talk about this in my book. And, actually, I say this is why I wrote the book, because I need a book like this for myself. I wish someone had written a book like this.

My husband did not tell me, I walked into a hospital room and the doctor said to me hasn't anyone told you your husband is dying of AIDS and he died two weeks later. We never had the conversation that Gale and Ted Haggard are able to have. That's one thing I'm so grateful for, with them. That's something I envy. That they have an opportunity to grow and heal through this together.

WHITFIELD: So, for you, you're dealing with the possible loss of your husband at that time, when you learn about this when he's dying in the hospital. And then I imagine you, like anyone would be thinking, you're trying to piece it together. Was there anything I could have seen? Was there something I overlooked? Have I been in denial? Didn't I see this coming?

HECHE: I didn't see it coming. This was in a small church. This was almost 25 years ago. The doctors hardly knew anything about AIDS, let alone our conservative family, conservative church, conservative community. And we certainly didn't talk about homosexuality in the church.

So, we didn't see it coming. I had no clue. And people find that very puzzling but even today I hear families talk to me and say I didn't have a clue, either. I don't know what Gale Haggard had said about that. If we're not looking for it, we're often surprised by it.

WHITFIELD: Then when you had to deal with that in a very secretive, isolating way, as you describe it. The flip side is you had to deal with your emotions, your family's emotions, in a very public way when your daughter, actress Anne Heche, her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres became very public.


WHITFIELD: How did you cope, how did you deal with this? How much of this really blew you away?

HECHE: It did, it absolutely -- I could not believe it but what I've learned and, again, being able to step back helps a little bit. I like to say that God always gives us a second chance to get it right, and because I didn't really deal with it with my husband. I kept his secret and didn't really deal with it I think I had an opportunity this time, as you said, totally publicly.

I dealt with it as a wife, in secret, and now I was a mother in the public eye. And it was a whole different set of circumstances. Just trying to go through day by day, step by step the process. It wasn't easy and I didn't do it very well.

WHITFIELD: And your advice then to whether it be Gale Haggard, or anyone else who is dealing with learning about their spouse, after so many years of thinking they knew him or her. And then suddenly there's this other life that now comes to light?

HECHE: I think it's wonderful that there is help, there's always help available. It's so important to have people walking along side you, building a community. If it's a faith community or whatever community, you can't do it alone. And you don't have to do it alone. There's definitely help. And I'm so thrilled to see how people are stepping up with their family -- and their church. It's a difficult thing for their church.

WHITFIELD: And very courageous on your part to want to talk about it after so many years keeping it close, and now making it very public. And perhaps helping a lot of people deal with a very similar experience.

HECHE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Nancy Heche, the book is "The Truth Comes Out." We appreciate your time.

HECHE: Thanks, Fredricka.


LEMON: Fire at Gatorland. Flames and smoke rise high above a tourist attraction, it's happening in Florida. We'll have the latest in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: Plus, five kamikaze attacks couldn't stop it, but the Intrepid's latest mission is scuttled in mud. We're digging in the details right here in the NEWSROOM


LEMON: Wow, check this out. It was an early morning blaze, and it guts one of Florida's oldest tourist attractions. Most of the animals at Gatorland did hide safely in a lake, but a Gatorland officials says two crocodiles and two pythons likely perished in the three alarm blaze.

They were kept in a holding pen near the gift shop, which was a total loss. The park's famous main entrance, a giant concrete gator head, was also destroyed. Officials say they'll reopen as soon as they can. Gatorland draws as many as 400,000 tourists a year.

WHITFIELD: And then this one survived three wars, five kamikaze attacks and countless school field trips. That's the hardest part.

But time and tide got the better of the U.S.S. Intrepid today. The legendary aircraft carrier and floating museum was headed for $60 million makeover this morning. The six tugboats were enlisted to pull Intrepid from her berth on New York City's Westside, during the highest tide of the year. But, guess what? The plan hit a snag, a big one, when the ship's giant propellers got stuck in the mud. No word on when the operation will resume.

LEMON: And we're following developing story a spark, a gust, and Southern California erupts again. A new wildfire threatens dozens of homes and turns out scores of firefighters. We're tracking it in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Flooding is a concern today and possibly on election day. Rob Marciano, rainy days and Mondays, and you know the rest.


WHITFIELD: Well, Senate showdown in Connecticut.

LEMON: In Connecticut, right.

WHITFIELD: Just one of the many places where there is a serious showdown, but this one a three-term Democrat hopes to win as an independent. His opponent banks on the war in Iraq for his victory.

LEMON: That's ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.



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