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Former Bush Insider to Release Bombshell Book?; Polygamist Leader Sentenced; Interview With Christopher Hitchens

Aired November 20, 2007 - 20:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Well, tonight, there's an explosive new allegation from a former White House insider. What he is saying that his bosses, including the president and the vice president, set him up to lie to the American people.
We are talking about former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

Now, here's what he's going to reveal in his new book -- quote -- "I stood at White House Briefing Room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. There was one problem. It was not true," he goes on to say. I had unknowingly passed along false information, and five of the highest- ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so."

He goes on to talk about Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff, and the president himself."

Obviously, he is talking about Andy Card. How is the administration reacting to this?

Well, CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux has gotten a statement on this within the last couple of hours.

Suzanne, thanks for joining us. What is this statement strategy? What is the White House saying?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, it's really just a once-sentence statement from the White House, the spokesman Scott Stanzel, saying here the president has not misled his spokespeople, nor would he.

Now, Rick, this is a book that is not even going to come out and be published until April, but the White House is wasting no time in trying to put out this fire of the suggestion, any suggestion that the president tried to mislead his spokesman Scott McClellan or anybody else when it comes to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

SANCHEZ: Scott McClellan had done some interviews in the past and I know that you have been carefully following the statements that he has made in the past. Did you see this coming?

MALVEAUX: We really didn't see this particular thing coming. I know that he has been working on this book in Austin. He is still working on it, we're told. It's not even finished here.

But if you look at the language very carefully here and he says involved, and uses those five individuals including the president, it's the same kind of fuzzy, vague language that he used before at the podium. Essentially, you don't really know what he is suggesting here, whether or not he intentionally misled or if somebody else misled him.

But I want to point to a Larry king interview that was done in March that suggests perhaps the president himself was misled.

Larry King asked Scott, "Were You Lied To?"

And then Scott replies, saying, "Well, Larry, I said what I believed to be true at the time." And He says, "It was also what the president believed to be true at the time based on assurances that we were both given," suggesting perhaps that even the president didn't know himself what the truth was -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Suzanne, stick in there. If you get any information, let us know. We will put you back on and we will talk about it.

In the meantime, we have another blue-ribbon panel to talk to about this. But because I know that this is not one of those easy to understand television broadcast stories, sometimes easier to put in newspapers, let me try and break it down for you, as best I can. Let's go over to the wall and we will take this one step at a time, as you follow the logical enthymeme of this story.

It was January 2003. President Bush says in a speech that Saddam Hussein tried to buy uranium from Africa. It appears to not be true. So who calls him on it? July 2003, that man you're seeing right there, Joe Wilson, he is the very first to call the president on the statement, writing in an op-ed saying that essentially the president of the United States was wrong in his speech.

Eight days later, let's you now to this lady. The administration leaks that Wilson's wife, that's Valerie Plame, is a CIA operative. Wilson starts calling this revenge on the part of the administration for what he had said and that's why he says they are including her. Are you following this?

This past March, it was Scooter Libby who took the fall it seems, Cheney's former chief of staff. He was convicted now -- and this is important -- convicted of lying about all of this. He was not convicted of being the person who actually leaked the story. That seems to remain somewhat fuzzy.

Now, the president's former press secretary says these five people -- let's put it up -- are the ones who lied to him, the president, the vice president, Scooter Libby, then White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Bush adviser Karl Rove as well.

Joining us now, David Frum. He's a former speechwriter and a special assistant to the president. He is now with the American Enterprise Institute. He's also the author of "An End to Evil: What's Next in the War on Terror." Also with us, "Vanity Fair" columnist Christopher Hitchens. He is the author of "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." And the on phone with us also, "Newsweek" investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, whom I'm sure you know has written many articles, but also the co-author of "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War."

Michael, let's start with you. You are on the phone.

Are you shocked by these accusations/revelations by McClellan?


MICHAEL ISIKOFF, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "NEWSWEEK": Yes, I don't know about shocked, but it is surprising to hear from Scott McClellan saying this.

What he is actually saying if you look closely at the wording is not that big of a surprise. Anybody who followed this case closely, you would draw the same conclusions, that Scott McClellan said from the podium that Karl Rove was not involved in the leak and that Scooter Libby was not involved in disclosing Valerie Plame's identity.


ISIKOFF: We later learned that both of them were in fact very much involved. And Scott McClellan had said that he had checked with the president when he had cleared Karl Rove's name.

We learned during the Scooter Libby trial that Vice President Cheney himself took a very active role in getting McClellan also clear Libby's name. So, the facts were sort of out there. Again, the only real surprise is that Scott McClellan is now sort of copping to it.

How far he is going to go in the book and whether he's going to divulge details of the conversations that he had with the president, the vice president, with Rove and Libby, we just don't know yet.


SANCHEZ: Let's talk about what he is saying right now, because obviously he's a guy who is trying to clear his own name. He essentially says, they told me to say something that they knew wasn't true.

David Frum, what does it say about the man that you used to work for, the president of the United States?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Rick, you began by saying that this is a difficult story to convey on television.


FRUM: So, that may explain why almost everything you said was completely wrong and the crucial facts of the story were entirely omitted from your summary. No one is saying that the president lied, certainly not Scott. What he said was -- he actually is very clear at least in the little bits of this that have dribbled out -- that he doesn't think that the president and the vice president said anything wrong to him.

What he is saying is that he was put in a situation where he said things that turned out not to be true. Others allowed him to do that, that is, they withheld from him information, which is not the same thing as lying to him.

Meanwhile, we do know...


SANCHEZ: Wait. Let's stop you for a minute. I think it's an interesting point that you are making.

You are saying that Scott is saying in his book apparently that he was extremely...

FRUM: I have no idea.

SANCHEZ: ... upset about the fact that they withheld information for him. And you are saying -- it seems to me like you are...


FRUM: I have no idea what he said. I just know I read the same summary that you did.


FRUM: And it didn't say any of the things you just said on the air.

SANCHEZ: Christopher Hitchens, let's go to you. What's your take on this?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": Well, I am also sorry to have to say I disagree completely with your timeline.


SANCHEZ: It wasn't a timeline. It was not a timeline.


SANCHEZ: What we were trying to do -- as a matter of fact, Christopher, if you try and tell this story as a timeline, you get totally lost.

HITCHENS: I couldn't see what you were pointing at. I could only hear.

But the crucial point is this, as I have demonstrated in a series of pieces in "Slate," which anyone can look it up.

SANCHEZ: Correct.

HITCHENS: Saddam Hussein's chief nuclear envoy, Wissam Zahawie, was in Niger. He was actually -- happened to be there also, as the BBC established, at the same time as A.Q. Khan, the leader of Pakistan's nuclear Wal-Mart.

It's possible both those two guys were there on holiday in this rather unlikely place. I think it's extremely unlikely. Joseph Wilson missed it because he was a man who didn't know anything about the subject and had in fact been sent there, though he later denied it, on the initiative of his wife, who did work for the CIA, though she wanted to deny it.

And no one has ever shown that the leaking of her name, if it was a leak, was done to discredit the president's war policy -- or, rather, the president's war critics, because the two people responsible for the leak, Richard Armitage -- you said we didn't know. We do know.


HITCHENS: ... and the person who printed it, Robert Novak, were both very dedicated, consistent public opponents of the president's policy in Iraq.

So, as Michael Isikoff's book has repeatedly demonstrated, this is all a non-story in barely a teacup.


HITCHENS: And now here's Scott McClellan completely muddying the waters again.


SANCHEZ: Let's go back to Michael Isikoff, then, because I think we have some -- we have different interpretations of this.

It seems that the president did make this statement. It seemed that Joe Wilson did try to call him on it, as I had just stated. And it does seem that, after that fact, it was Joe Wilson's wife who was seemingly outed.

Now, without revealing any names as to who did what to whom, were those not the circumstances in this story?

ISIKOFF: Well, look, it is a very complicated story.

HITCHENS: No, it isn't.

ISIKOFF: And everybody who is speaking has pieces of the truth here. And it really is a matter of where you want to put the emphasis. With all due respect to my friend Christopher, there were a number of United States government investigations after the fact, most prominently the Duelfer report sponsored by the CIA, which looked at this issue exhaustively and came to the conclusion that the president's 16 words were wrong, that Iraq did not have an active nuclear program at the time we invaded Iraq and that there was no effort to get -- by the Iraqis to purchase uranium from Niger, for the simple reason that, if they didn't have an active nuclear program, they would have had no reason to acquire uranium.

So, the president's statement was wrong. What Joe Wilson said before the war is a little fuzzy because we have no written report from him himself. We have a CIA report based on an oral briefing. He certainly tried to call them after the fact in July, say he had told the president -- or told the administration this information was wrong, and it was then when the pushback began.

The pushback began from the White House. Although Richard Armitage was the primary leaker to Robert Novak, we also know that Karl Rove disclosed Valerie Wilson's identity to Matt Cooper, and Scooter Libby disclosed it to Judy -- to Judith Miller. And they had a very big interest in pushing back and discrediting Joe Wilson.


SANCHEZ: A lot of moving parts, and it's a difficult story to tell in so many words.

Guys, we are out of time.

David Frum, thanks so much for being with us. Michael Isikoff, as usual, thank you.

And, Christopher Hitchens, you stay right there, because you and I have another conversation we are going to take up in just a little bit.


SANCHEZ: Fact: The violence in Iraq is going down. Are Democrats secretly displeased by that? That's a heck of a thing to say, isn't it, Christopher Hitchens? You said it. Now defend it. He's next.

And later:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a president who seems like he is always looking directly into the sun.

SANCHEZ: Frank Caliendo, the new master of impersonations.

We are back in 60 seconds.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back to OUT IN THE OPEN. I'm Rick Sanchez. You know, it's kind of hard to believe, but after more than four bloody and deadly years, suddenly, things seem to be getting better instead of worse in Iraq, certainly if nothing else from a violence standpoint. And you are starting to see things that you didn't see before.

In fact, "The New York Times," it's "The New York Times" who is making this point. Where do you guys want me to show this? Here you go. Take a look at this. This is a headline. "Baghdad Starts to Exhale as Security Improves." And it goes on to show this wedding that is taking place. It says a bride and groom surrounded by friends and a band dressed for their wedding.

Down here, it has another picture. It says their favorite survives. The Baghdad restaurant Al-Fari (ph) is now thriving once again as people are coming to eat there. This is Iraq that they are talking about.

Christopher Hitchens has been writing about this as well. One of the best reasons to "Slate" magazine or certainly "Vanity Fair" is Christopher Hitchens, my reason anyway.

HITCHENS: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Something that has made a lot of people stand up and take notice in this quote, though, in one of his latest writings.

He says -- let's put it up -- ready? "What worries me about the reaction of liberals and Democrats is not the skepticism, which is pardonable, but the dank and sinister impression they give that the worse the tidings, the better they would be pleased."

And Christopher is joining us once again.

Always a pleasure to talk to you, Christopher.

Are you are saying that the Dems would be happy to see things somewhat fall apart in Iraq?

HITCHENS: I'm saying it would be easy for them to disprove that suspicion on my part, but they don't seem interested in dispelling it. They don't owe me an explanation.

But to take an example, we have just inflicted a battlefield defeat on al Qaeda in Iraq. That's the real news that "The Times" has also been printing. And our very valorous generals and soldiers have been telling us we have kicked their bottoms in Anbar Province in particular.


HITCHENS: That's important. In a keystone state in the region, we smashed al Qaeda. We helped the people to turn on it, the people who they had alienated and who they had so cruelly maltreated -- pretty impressive news. Harry Reid says, al Qaeda wouldn't be in Iraq if we weren't there. In other words, the existence of al Qaeda is the fault of the United States.

I think not. Al Qaeda existed a very long time and was trying to take over Iraq a very long time before we got there.


HITCHENS: A lot hangs on that.

SANCHEZ: Let me take a contrarian position with you on this.


SANCHEZ: Would it surprise you or should it surprise you or anyone that a politician in the United States would want the policy of his opponents to fail, which is -- I mean seriously?


HITCHENS: Not if you put it like that, but I hope if anyone on the Reid side is watching this, that your question would make them feel uneasy.

In other words, would they want al Qaeda to have been able to claim a military victory over the United States? Which they would have been able to do if we had left six months ago on the John Murtha deadline or the Cindy Sheehan deadline or the Michael Moore deadline. All of these are different.

But suppose we had either been getting out, saying we were leaving or had gone six months ago.

SANCHEZ: Right. Touche.

HITCHENS: Al Qaeda would be now saying before the whole Muslim world, we took on the United States and we beat them in Iraq and we drove them out.

Aren't you glad you didn't have to hear that?


SANCHEZ: No, you're right, but there was an interesting article in the upper fold of "The Washington Post" yesterday. And I don't know if you had a chance to see it.

But it's essentially saying the Bush administration is on a roll, but it may be too little too late, because the American people have essentially said Iraq is behind us. It didn't work.

So, is it really about the Dems or is it about the American people who are close to saying now -- three-quarters of them are close to saying we want out of Iraq. HITCHENS: No, I don't think that while -- if the implications of what I have just said are allowed to be discussed and sink in, that people will take that lie.

I will ask -- I will put it again. Do you wish you heard al Qaeda claiming a battlefield victory over the United States, instead of the other way around? I don't think there is really more than one way of answering that question.

And so for people to say that going into Iraq was -- which is another glib phrase you hear from the Democrats -- was a distraction from the real fight against al Qaeda, this was the real fight against al Qaeda.

SANCHEZ: Christopher Hitchens...


HITCHENS: And we didn't even know we were winning it. And now we have. Well, I think that's something to give thanks for, don't you?

SANCHEZ: Well, doing better, doing a lot better.


SANCHEZ: As you say in your article, it's not over yet.

Christopher, always a pleasure to talk to you.

HITCHENS: Thanks for saying so. Thanks for your kind words in general.

SANCHEZ: Next, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs gets his sentence. We're going to tell you what that is.

And Glenn Beck has the popular perspective on immigration. I don't. That's why we're going to argue about it. It's coming up in just a bit.


SANCHEZ: It's time for our pictures now. This is the best video of the day.

Sentencing today in a story that we have been following for you, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. A judge in Utah has given Jeffs two terms of five years to life to be served consecutively. He was convicted of being an accomplice to rape. He arranged the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin. Jeffs of course leads the breakaway Mormon sect that practices polygamy.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Glenn Beck's got attitude. So do I? And when it comes to immigration, you may need a border fence between us. GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK": I believe illegal immigration as done by the corporations is slavery.

SANCHEZ: And look who dropped by to say hi.

FRANK CALIENDO, COMEDIAN: Somebody get me a visor.

SANCHEZ: He's got him down and he brings it OUT IN THE OPEN.



SANCHEZ: Welcome back to OUT IN THE OPEN, where we try and speak truth to power. I'm Rick Sanchez.

It's so easy to minimize our nation's problems with sloganeering. And it's obviously a winning formula. If you're a politician or a commentator, all you got to do is stick to what I call the M&M strategy this year, Muslims and Mexicans.

But isn't terrorism more than that and isn't immigration more complex than that? That's the backdrop for my next segment with Headline News' own Glenn Beck.

By the way, he's a great guy and he's written a new book. And it's called "An Inconvenient Book." Funny read, interesting read -- you learn some things, too -- "Real Solutions to the World's Biggest Problems".

Glenn Beck, thanks so much for being here. Man, you are hotter than a pistol. Think about it, radio, television, and now a book.

BECK: Crazy. Stage show next week starts, nine different cities.

SANCHEZ: What a wonderful way to put a book together. It's fun to read it and go through it.

BECK: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: The one issue obviously that I always talk about and I have arguments with people about is immigration.

BECK: Sure.

SANCHEZ: Immigration is so hard for me. And it's because I'm an immigrant. I came to this country as an immigrant, so it's so hard for me to suddenly put myself in a situation where I could possibly say, well, I got mine, the heck with all these people coming...


BECK: Nobody is saying that. That's unfortunate that you view it that way, because nobody is saying it that way.

My view of immigrants comes from the base of the Statue of Liberty and the plaque, the last line.


BECK: Everybody focuses on, give me your tired, your huddled, your masses yearning to breathe free. That's great, but the last part is I hold my lamp beside the golden door.

Man, I want people to come through that golden door. I want people who see the door as a golden place, as something...


SANCHEZ: But you are saying that the people who are coming here from Mexico -- now, of course, you are going to say illegally -- don't see that, don't have that, don't have that value?

BECK: Well, some of them don't. There is a big movement in the United States of not assimilating.

SANCHEZ: Listen to what you say here. "There is a different between law-abiding Ellis Island immigrants and those who come here in the dark of night and slip into the shadows."


SANCHEZ: It almost sounds like the guys who are coming from down there are bad guys slipping in through the shadows, and everybody who came through Ellis Island was a great guy.


BECK: No. There were mob members that came through Ellis Island.

Again, I go back to the Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty is, there is a golden door. I hold my lamp beside the golden door.


BECK: The Statue of Liberty represents light of the world, the light of freedom, and it is the pathway. It is the beacon. There is order to all things.

SANCHEZ: What's the difference between somebody coming from Mexico and somebody who came through Ellis Island? What's the difference?

BECK: You mean coming in -- not coming in across the border at the middle of the night?

SANCHEZ: Right. What's the difference? What's the real difference?

One came -- let me help you.

BECK: Yes. SANCHEZ: One came through Ellis Island basically uninvited, showed up, got off a boat, got some papers stamped and was able to walk into the country.

BECK: Yes.

SANCHEZ: The other one is coming to the United States invited by big business, invited by -- all but recruited by...


BECK: Right. Here, OK. Let me throw a lifeline to you.

SANCHEZ: All right. Go ahead.


Because that's what I try to do in the book is try to show you how we can solve things, that it's common sense, and we have more in common than we have apart.

SANCHEZ: It is a complex issue that is going to require some big minds, people like yourself, who are thinking this through, and for all Americans to somehow sit down and figure this out without putting all the blame on the Mexican who came over the border and came over illegally.


BECK: You're jumping the gun. It's not going to take that.

It's going to take that, once we address the real issue, and that's what this chapter in the book does. It addresses the issue that you are not even -- you're seeing a puppet show. You are seeing cries of racism and cries of everything else as a puppet show.

The real issue is internationalism. It is the loss of sovereignty by design for global corporations. Once we all look at the real issue, then we say, OK, that's really bad. Let's solve the issue. And we can solve it quickly.

SANCHEZ: And it's hard for people to see that, though.

Glenn Beck, thanks so much for being here. We certainly appreciate it.

BECK: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Again, the book is called "An Inconvenient Book: Real Solutions to the World's Biggest Problems."

Good guy. Thanks.

Immigration development to tell you about now. This is a developing story that we have been following for you. It's about that crackdown on illegal immigrants in Irving, Texas. We have just learned after -- by the way, you will recall that in Irving police have been handing over suspects who happen to be illegal immigrants to immigration officials for minor offenses. This has caused a lot of controversy in Irving.

Well, now "The Dallas Morning News," as we are now getting this information, is reporting that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have told Irving officials to slow down, to stop turning over suspected illegal immigrants who have been arrested for class-D misdemeanors or minor offenses.

This is obviously an interesting development on this story. We're going to stay on top of it. And, as we get more information, we are going to be sharing it with you. Stay with us.

Meanwhile, some people in Washington State have their own way of dealing with illegal immigration. And we are going to show you about that one.

It's coming up in 60 seconds. Count us down.


SANCHEZ: We call this "Rick's Pics." It's some of the best news video of the day. We're going to start with a couple of animal stories. You're ready?

First, you're going to see a deer getting out of the way the very last minute. Show them, Danny. Whoa! He's going over that car. One more time. This time in slow motion. If he hadn't done that, he would have been hit. That's in Missouri.

Now, let's look at this situation. Here's an animal that couldn't do that for himself, so he needed some good people to come along and help. You see that? That's a 600-pound sea lion. He's wandering in a popular tourist spot, and they're wondering why he has been here for a week now.

Well, it turns out he's got 40 fish hooks stuck in his mouth, his flippers, his chest, and his ears. So they had to come in and they finally got him, and they're celebrating. They're so happy because they helped this poor animal now.

Don't you wish sometimes that people could be as nice to each other as they are to animals? Good question, right? Case in point.

This is a side of Napa Bon (ph) Washington. Just read what it says, and you could decide for yourself. There you go. What do you think? Yes. All right.

See more great pics on We'll be back.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): A southern minister's shocking conversion.

REV. DENNIS MEREDITH, TABERNACLE BAPTIST CHURCH: Help me, somebody. Can I get real, real in here?

SANCHEZ: What made him risk losing his congregation? It's an amazing story of defiance.

And stick around for Frank Caliendo.

FRANK CALIENDO, ENTERTAINER: It's like a sketch for Robin Williams. Oh, my God. Look at this.




SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Tonight, we're going to take a look at one fire and brimstone pastor in an Atlanta church in the conservative south, had a radical conversion suddenly that changed just about everything for him personally and for his church. It's an amazing story.

What happened, right? And could a possibly church change your church too, in the future? CNN's Dan Lothian now reports on a message that not everyone wanted to hear.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Reverend Dennis Meredith steps on to the pulpit...


LOTHIAN: ... it's hard for people in the pews to fall asleep.

MEREDITH: Help me, somebody. Can I get real, real in here?

LOTHIAN: Nothing is subtle at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta. Not the music and definitely not the message.

MEREDITH: If you could come down to the aisle holding your partner's hand, enjoy church. Amen. I'm happy for you.

LOTHIAN: And I think that Jesus says whose swear of evil, let him talk. What's the make up of your congregation?

MEREDITH: Currently, I would say it's probably 85 percent gay/lesbian.

LOTHIAN: Tolerance and the acceptance of gays end up in his sermons like a broken record.

You were hitting it all the time.

MEREDITH: Oh, yes. I mean, I think I believe people learn by repetition. LOTHIAN: It wasn't always that way at Tabernacle Baptist Church. In fact, Reverend Meredith used to condemn homosexuality from that pulpit. His old message?

MEREDITH: That homosexuality was wrong and that it was a sin and that you need to change your lifestyle.

LOTHIAN: And that was just fine with his then mostly heterosexual congregation.

DEMARCUS HILL, FORMER PARISHIONER: You don't accept the person just as they are and allow them to remain the same.

LOTHIAN: Or do you? A few gays and a few thought so when they protested to the preacher in private.

MEREDITH: I was put in touch with the feelings of the pew. You know, what a person felt like when you say that.

Amen! Amen!

LOTHIAN: The fiery minister who would never back down was about to change his anti-gay rhetoric. The tipping point was a personal secret.


SANCHEZ: Dan, all right. But what was the secret? What happened? What was this thing that made him change? You're going to find out in exactly 60 seconds. Stay right there.


SANCHEZ: Back to the story. We're talking about the transformation of a conservative pastor from a southern Baptist church in Atlanta. What was the secret that changed just about everything for this remarkable man? CNN's Dan Lothian continues his report on this startling conversion.


MEREDITH: Who I'm not happy for is those of you who are still hiding in the closet and your friends on the other side of the church, and you know y'all.

LOTHIAN: Reverend Dennis Meredith hasn't always been this outspoken about the acceptance of gays and lesbians.

MEREDITH: If the Lord has set you free, you ought to be free indeed.

LOTHIAN: He used to call it a sin. What he didn't know was how much those words were hurting someone he loved. Michael Meredith, the minister's son, was living with a secret.

MICHAEL MEREDITH, REV. DENNIS MEREDITH'S SON, TABERNACLE BAPTIST CHURCH: Well, I was aware as long as I can remember that I had an attraction towards men.

LOTHIAN: But he kept his secret locked in the closet until his 21st birthday.

MEREDITH: He called us into his bedroom and he said, "Dad, momma, I just want to tell you all, you know, that I'm gay."

LOTHIAN: How did it make you feel after you were able to come out to your father?

M. MEREDITH: You know what? I felt like a new person. I felt like I had been hiding who I was.

LOTHIAN: It was disturbing news to his mother, but his father had a sudden change of heart. He says he gave his son a warm embrace and began riding in a new direction.

LOTHIAN: Just as daring off the pulpit on his bright yellow Harley, Reverend Meredith put his new message of tolerance in acceptance into overdrive.

Some church leaders tried to put on the brakes. To make matters worse, many members like Demarcus Hill began to leave.

DEMARCUS HILL, FORMER PARISHIONER: I did not want to follow in the way of a man that I felt may lead into destruction.

MEREDITH: That was pressure because money was walking out of here, and you got money to run this thing.

LOTHIAN: His outside speaking engagements dried up too.

You become toxic?

MEREDITH: Yes, I guess. I used to preach all over the country, but I don't get those invitations no more.

LOTHIAN: After struggling for a few years to keep his church afloat, new faces started filling the pews. Many of them gay and lesbian. Michael is now the music director. Another son, Taylor, who is not gay is also involved in the ministry.

TAYLOR MEREDITH, TABERNACLE BAPTIST CHURCH: It's ultimately about diversity and appreciating God's diversity and what, you know, every all the differences in the world.

LOTHIAN: But Tabernacle Baptist Church is fighting tradition and the deep belief by some that this warm embrace of homosexuality is wrong. Dan Lothian, CNN, Atlanta.


SANCHEZ: Joan Rivers, Michael Jackson, Kenny Rogers. Make you wonder if cosmetic surgery isn't always risk-free? The truth about consequences from embarrassing to life-threatening. It's OUT IN THE OPEN. Here's a guy who's sharp without a knife.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I go sour, I go with a weasel. And if I go bigger, of course, above course.

SANCHEZ: Need a laugh? Stick around.



SANCHEZ: You saw this "Rick's Pics." I'm not sure why, but it's in Hialeah. Three guys try to hold up a huge store there in Florida. Now, you see one of them on the surveillance tape right there. He approaches a security guard. Look closely at the upper right corner. That's where the guard is sitting. See him right there.

Look what the guard does. He kicks the gun away from the guy. This guy is 71 years old, but he's a military veteran. One of the robbers approaches the guard. He kicks the gun right out of his hand like a Kung Fu move or something. Is that what they call it? The robbers ran. The guard fires at them. Police are still looking for the suspects.

Larry King is going to join me in just a little bit. He's going to be talking about a big exclusive he has tonight. Larry has the plastic surgeon who operated on Kanye West's mother, Donda, who died just hours after the surgery. We're going to bring you this. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: You know, it's terrible and easy to forget that plastic surgery can be a very extreme and dangerous makeover. Television dramas and reality shows can make plastic surgery seem as simple and easy as changing your hairstyle or your hair color. That's not good.

Today's funeral of hip hop star Kanye West's mother, Donda West, provides a stark reminder of just how dangerous plastic surgery can actually be. She died after a tummy tuck and breast reduction.

Tonight, Larry King has an exclusive interview with the man everyone wants to talk to, the doctor who performed plastic surgery on Donda West. Larry is good enough to join us now to give us a look at this interview tonight.

Well, you got the guy everybody's been wanting to hear from, Larry.

LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: I know. Yes, Rick. I'm on vacation this week, but naturally, I came out. I've got the whole family here in New York and the kids enjoying things, but this was too important to pass up. Dr. Adams is flying here right a little while ago to be on the set with us in New York, and we'll discuss every aspect of this extraordinary case that may or may not have resulted in the death of a woman.

SANCHEZ: And by the way, this is the guy who has made appearances in the past. I mean, he has been kind of a celebrity doctor. Hasn't he?

KING: Yes. A regular on panels, on featured television shows. He is not a stranger to the tube. And so, in that regard, you might well think he would handle himself quite well. Let's see.


KING: I'm interested in talking to him.

SANCHEZ: This should be good. A lot of people are looking forward to it. Larry King, thanks so much. I'll be watching.

KING: Thanks, Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right. More now on this shocking reality of plastic surgery in and of itself. It does. It does look simple on television. Just a little nip and a little tuck, so to speak, with the promise of glamour and eternal youth. But you can't forget that there are really medical risks involved in something like this, and that's why we've been doing these stories.

And tonight, CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us as CNN entertainment correspondent Kareen Wynter to talk about this.

Kareen, let me start with you. What do we know at this point about Donda West's doctor, Jan Adams?

KAREEN WYNTER, ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: We know actually quite a bit, Rick. I had several conversations with Adams's uncle, Dr. Perlman Hicks, last week...


WYNTER: ... who is himself a plastic surgeon. And what was interesting here is that not only did they both, you know, go to Harvard and they were in practice together, but, Rick, get this.

He says this was something that was actually in his nephew's blood. That not only did he want to, you know, be a celebrity surgeon. He wanted to work on famous faces, but he wanted to also get his own face out there, you know. He's been all over Oprah. He's been on several television shows.


WYNTER: And even as Larry King mentioned, had his own show on the Discovery Health Channel. And so, you know, this is something that he was going after. But also, Rick, he's been in quite a bit of legal trouble -- malpractice suits...

SANCHEZ: Really?


WYNTER: Roughly $500,000 and also DUI cases, one of which he was convicted of. So, you know, he's been in quite a bit of legal trouble as well.

SANCHEZ: That's interesting that he's had all these shows but at the same time, he's had some problems in the past.

Let's go over to Elizabeth. Do you think people have misperceptions about the plastic surgeons on television?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Rick, completely. People look at a plastic surgeon on television and think, wow! He must be the best. That's why they put him on TV. But, you know, let's be realistic. Sometimes people get on TV because they're good-looking.


COHEN: Or maybe because they're in L.A., so they're easy to get to. They don't necessarily put the best medical minds or medical practitioners on television.

SANCHEZ: Hey, let me ask your group a question, Kareen. These shows like "Extreme Makeover," "Dr. 90210." I know you've been making some calls. Do these -- do they screen these doctors before they put them on the air?

WYNTER: Such an important question, Rick. We posed that to Discovery Health, and they got back to us a short time ago saying, you know what, Dr. Adams and the production company and outside production company actually pursued them saying we want to do this show. They say that they did a background check on Adams before having him sign a contract. And that while he's no longer under contract now, you know, that there are no future episodes planned, future shows for him, but he was in 10 out of 250 episodes.

SANCHEZ: Elizabeth, when people go in for plastic surgery, do they really -- do most Americans who do this know what they're getting into?

COHEN: You know what, Rick, I think a lot of people don't understand. They don't understand that any doctor can do plastic surgery. I mean, a psychiatrist could give someone a breast augmentation.

SANCHEZ: Really?

COHEN: Really. And so people don't realize that they need a board certified plastic surgeon, which Dr. Adams is not. So that's the first thing they need to look for. And people also don't get. Plastic surgeons make a lot of money, so it is in their vested interest to encourage you to undergo these procedures that are not medically necessary. And people don't get that. You're talking to a salesman. They may be a great salesman. They may be a great doctor, but in some ways they are a salesman.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It sounds you got to take the salesman part out and concentrate on their medical skills.

Hey, Kareen, the whole question about Donda West, let me just talk about that a little bit. She actually apparently got turned down by a board certified plastic surgeon, which Dr. Adams is not, correct?

So that kind of feeds off of what Elizabeth was just talking about. Why was she turned down? What do you know about that?

WYNTER: What's interesting here is he's a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. First of all, his name is Dr. Andre Aboolian, and his reps tell us that Donda West actually contacted him on several occasions back in June and two weeks before she had surgery that Adams did.

And what was interesting here, Rick, is that this doctor apparently found a preexisting medical condition. They wouldn't specify what it was, but he was concerned about this that could have perhaps led to a heart attack had she had this tummy tuck done, had she had this breast reduction, and that he wanted her to get medical clearance from an internist. Anyone over 40, it's strongly recommended that they have this and they never heard back from her.

SANCHEZ: But you know, obviously, we should just let our viewers know that there's not a specific causality here yet. There's an investigation underway, and we'll be able to report all of that to you as the information comes in.

Really good stuff, ladies. Appreciate it. Elizabeth Cohen, Kareen Wynter, thanks. Tune in to "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight at the top of the hour for an exclusive interview with Dr. Jan Adams.

Well, according to "Radar Magazine," I'm on somebody's enemies list. That's right. I'm going to tell you who it is.

And my friend, Frank Caliendo. My new friend, Frank Caliendo, who does a great job.


FRANK CALIENDO, ENTERTAINER: You can put if I came out to anything. That was the Bushes. I've got to think of that. I'm as bland (ph) as a cake.


SANCHEZ: Talk about amazing talent. Impersonations you have to see to believe. You will, right here. People are talking about him. We're back in exactly 60 seconds. Count us down.


SANCHEZ: Every one of us, these parents know the feeling. You want your kids to know what you know, but sometimes it's the other way around and they want you to know what they know.

That's exactly how I found out about this guy that you're about to meet. They came to me and my kids said, dad, check this guy out on the computer here.

The great impersonator, Frank Caliendo. He has been cracking me up since. His new show "Frank TV" premiers tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on our sister network, TBS, and Frank came by and paid a visit.


SANCHEZ: Joining us is a sensation, Frank Caliendo.

Go ahead.

FRANK CALIENDO, ENTERTAINER: Oh, I'll tell you. I'll take it. I'm not going to stop your compliments.

SANCHEZ: It's amazing what's going on with you.

CALIENDO: It's nuts, right?

SANCHEZ: I mean -- and it starts on the Internet where my kid comes to me and says, dad, he's 14 years old, right? You got to watch this guy. And he'd come and bring me you on the Internet.

CALIENDO: What was I doing? What was the thing that I was doing?

SANCHEZ: You were doing Bush.

CALIENDO: The Bushification?

SANCHEZ: You were doing -- your show debuts tonight. Everybody sits here. You're on Time Square.


SANCHEZ: You're on Time Square!

CALIENDO: Yes, why not? There it is.

SANCHEZ: What is your mother saying?

CALIENDO: Why are you on Time Square?

SANCHEZ: But it's also Thanksgiving weekend and everyone's excited about this. The President is talking about it. Let's watch this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The nation's greatest strength is the decency and compassion of our people. As we count our many blessings, I encourage all Americans to show their thanks by giving back.


SANCHEZ: He does have a peculiar way of speaking, doesn't he?

CALIENDO: Oh, yes. Because you got to thank by, you know, thanking, and that's what Thanksgiving is all about. It's giving thanks and thanks for giving. And when you put those two together, you know, it's a --

Ever see him get to the end of the sentence and he can't quite think of that last word and you find yourself kind of rooting for him to get it.


CALIENDO: It's like a scene from the "Waterboy." It's like you can do it! You know, you want him to get there so bad. You talk about something serious like the terrorists. These terrorists. These guys are, uh -- these guys are, uh, -- these guys are bad.

Bad or not good? That's what I love, like he's looking like he's looking directly into the sun.

SANCHEZ: Bill Clinton on the other hand, people say, wow, he really knows the issues. He's a smart guy.

CALIENDO: He can talk his way out of anything. Bill Clinton could stare at you directly in the eyes and be like, I am not here. You do not see me. I don't know what it is you're looking at, but it is not me. What is here? Isn't here just there without a "t"? I think it is, and you know how good I am with that word.

SANCHEZ: It's Thanksgiving weekend, and everybody is going to sit down and watch football and they're going to watch John Madden.

CALIENDO: Yes, I used to watch it, but I'm not there anymore. Now I just go home and make it to a duck. And what's the supper? Chicken into a duck into a turkey. You put that in the case and it turns to a duck. And there they are! Oh, it's like I started already.

SANCHEZ: And speaking of that, you know what it is about Madden that I really like? I played football and I went to college and did all that, so I kind of know the nuances of the game. But it doesn't matter with him because he tells you things like, that guy dropped the pass and that is going to be bad for his team.


SANCHEZ: It's like simplicity at its finest best, though.

CALIENDO: You got to make the catch. If you don't make the catch, then there's no way you can move the ball. I mean, you got it. That's the guy I think. It's like you got to see because if you can't see, then you don't know what you're looking at.

SANCHEZ: Can you do a little Nicholson for us?

CALIENDO: Of course, I could, Rick. What are you looking for? Huh? Is that what you'd like? A little bit of this from me? I can do it. What am I? A jukebox over here? By the way, has anybody seen my pants? What does that mean? Tune in to episode two.


CALIENDO: I am here. What are you looking for, Rick? Do you have a problem? Do you have a problem, huh? De Niro is good. Did Lou Dobbs call for me? Is that what happened? He said -- Lou Dobbs said, hey, come and talk to Rick. So I am here.

SANCHEZ: You're fabulous.

CALIENDO: You're right, Rick. You're right.

SANCHEZ: You know what -- well, you are. I mean, you're on a roll, baby. Seinfeld comes to mind because my kids forced me to go see that movie yesterday, and I'm glad I did. It's called "Bee Movie."

CALIENDO: Oh, yes.

SANCHEZ: A pretty good flick. But you're big on Seinfeld. In fact, I saw a skit where you don't only do Seinfeld --


SANCHEZ: We'll have a little more of the Seinfeld skit in just a little bit. Again, it's "Frank TV." It debuts tonight at 11:00 pm. Eastern on our sister network, TBS. The guy's amazing.

A big exclusive coming up at the top of the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE." Larry talks to the surgeon who operated on Kanye West's mom hours before she died. Stay with us.