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"Failure" Wanted; Living on Food Stamps; State Secretary Clinton in the Middle East

Aired March 2, 2009 - 23:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, with the economy tanking and the stock market today finishing at its lowest level in nearly 12 years, it may be hard to imagine that somebody out there actually wants the President's recovery plan to fail. But this man does.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed?


COOPER: Rush Limbaugh addressing conservatives, throwing down the gauntlet.

We'll look at who agrees with him and who's outraged, and who just fell all over himself apologizing for doubting Rush.

First though, the brutal day on Wall Street: the DOW dropping 300, finishing below 7,000. Remember all that talk of a bottom being around 7,500. Today it sure seemed like there is no bottom in sight.

Chief business correspondent Ali Velshi is here. Ali, what's going on?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is quite a day. Because of the fact that we got this news from AIG about the fact that it was the biggest quarterly loss in corporate history in the United States, $62 billion, and the government is putting aside another $30 billion for AIG.

There was also news from HSBC, Anderson. It's cutting out a lot of U.S. business and laying-off 6,000 people. That's 6,000 more people -- 6,000 people further away from an economic recovery.

So I think folks at home are very worried about this; a 300-point drop. Anderson, you and I have been around for bigger drops on a numbers basis and on a percentage basis. But we're at a level on the stock market that we shouldn't have that much room to go down.

These are the levels that people, even the most pessimistic were calling a bottom on the market. So that's a concern, Anderson.

COOPER: You mentioned AIG. Why is AIG such a big deal?

VELSHI: Look, AIG -- remember when Lehman Brothers failed in September? Lehman Brothers simply wasn't as influential in the economy as AIG was. And its failure, which has now seen by many as a mistake really set off a global economic crisis.

AIG is a lot more expensive, even if it's a little more costly.


VELSHI: $1,400 -- that's how much every family in America is paying to bail out insurance giant AIG. Why should the company get your hard-earned money? Because you could end up paying a lot more if the company goes down. Here's why.

AIG has 74 million insurance policies, in 130 countries worldwide. And it covers everything.

It insures major airlines against catastrophe. It insures big budget Hollywood movies against injuries to their stars. It even insures oil companies against hurricanes wrecking their offshore rigs. All pretty standard stuff.

But here is why the company's tanking. AIG insured millions of mortgages that were repackaged and resold to investors and lost billions when the housing bubble burst. Now it has to pay out on those policies.

So why keep bailing AIG out? Because business simply wouldn't happen without insurance companies, which take on risk and there is no one bigger in the risk business than AIG.

And that's where the too big to fail argument comes in. What would happen if the government did let AIG fail?

ROBERT LENZNER, "FORBES": We don't know, to be honest. You know, I don't even think the Secretary of the Treasury knows. I don't really believe Bernanke knows. It's unknown what would happen if you let it go bankrupt.


COOPER: Ali, what's so scary about this, apparently not only do we not know what would happen if they went bankrupt, but we don't know if all this money being tossed at AIG is even going to work?

VELSHI: This is the fourth time the government has been involved, this time adding another $30 billion, a sort of a credit line to AIG. The taxpayer is now into AIG for $162 billion. A lot of analysts are saying that number could go up to $250 billion, Anderson, a quarter of a million.

I asked AIG's CEO Ed Liddy about that today. And he said, he acknowledged that that high end of the estimate could actually be true, Anderson.

COOPER: All right Ali, thanks.

Let's "Dig Deeper" now with David Walker who ran the Government Accountability Office under Presidents Clinton and G. W. Bush and correspondent Joe Johns.

David, people were talking about a bottom a while back at 7,500. We're now see it's below 7,000. Is that even -- should people even be focusing on a bottom now?

DAVID WALKER, FORMER COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE U.S.: Nobody really knows what the bottom is, Anderson. I mean, I've heard people say within the last couple of weeks that if we were just looking at current projected short-term earnings it could go down to six.

Let's hope it doesn't. I think Alan Greenspan talked about irrational exuberance several years ago. I think we have a rational pessimism now. There's a tremendous amount --

COOPER: It's not rational what's happening?

WALKER: It's not rational to a great extent. There's a lot of people that are out of the market. They've got their money parked. Treasuries frankly are benefiting from that. Because people would rather not have much of a return and not see their principal go down than take a risk on the market.

So I think there is some irrational behavior.

COOPER: We've been talking about a recession. Is it possible we could be in a depression or soon be in a depression?

WALKER: Well, let's hope not. And I think we're going to get through this. I really do. I think in the case of AIG, it's so huge, it's so multifaceted, it's such a global player, that people are afraid of the unknown, if you will.

And so it's much different than Lehman Brothers. But I think we can avoid a depression. But -- and I think we will.

COOPER: And David Gergen, also now just joins us. He had some technical problems. David, there was talk this weekend from some economists about the possibility of a depression.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Certainly was, Anderson. And some economists have now upgraded the possibility of depression to about 25 percent, a one in four chance of a mild depression, which would be a long protracted downturn in the economy.

I think what it does raise -- and I'd be interested in David Walker's view on this -- it raises a fundamental question about the President's own priorities. I think a lot of us have appreciated how bold he is.

And certainly the country is behind him for health care reform and energy reform. But I think the question is arising, given the global nature of this and how complex it is, whether he ought to focus entirely on trying to stabilize this economy now and not engage in a lot of time spent on these other issues.

He needs to put a Treasury team together. And he doesn't have a number two over there. He needs to get a global response to this. A lot of these things don't seem to be working. Even the stimulus plan now economists are saying may be totally overcome by the sinking quality of the worldwide economy.

COOPER: Before I get to David Walker answering that question, Joe, I mean, the White House clearly seems to think, trying to, you know, swing hard and swing along is the way to go. And try to take on all these things at once rather than just trying to focus on the economy.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's a very tough sell for them. Because there are a lot of people out there who I've talked to who have suggested they're getting worried now that this administration is looking at potential rosy scenarios down the road which might not happen.

Looking at a possible three percent or four percent growth next year and maybe that doesn't happen. Because a lot of people are concerned, you know, about AIG being that punch to the gut that throws everything up in the air.

Maybe they say this administration does need to just focus on this one thing right now because it's the most important thing for the country.

COOPER: David Walker, you've worked for two administrations. Should this administration focus more just on the...

WALKER: They've got to focus more. They really do. They've got to focus on getting credit going, flow of credit. They've got to focus on the financial institutions.

COOPER: What does it really mean though, I mean, what specifically should they be trying to do? If they're focusing more, what are they doing with their time?

WALKER: Well, we still don't know what the plan is yet. We haven't heard the plan from Treasury Secretary Geithner. I mean, we need to make -- we need to determine what's going to be done with the troubled assets, whether or not something could be done such as a bank restructuring corp. Or whatever to be able to deal with some of these troubled assets where there's a sharing of risk and reward. Where there may have to be some more capital infusions.

I'll tell you this. We should not be spending hundreds of billions of dollars on health care reform. If we do health care reform, it should save money, not spend money. We've already promised a lot more than we're ever going to ever be able to deliver.

COOPER: And David Gergen, that is not what this administration is doing. They are saying health care reform is vital for fiscal health?

GERGEN: That's right. And I certainly understand this. They believe in sort of this big bang theory. You take a crisis and use it to solve everything at once. And I think much of the country supports him on this. I can't emphasize that enough.

But, you know, based on my experience of how hard it is to get multiple things done simultaneously in a White House or any administration, and given the gravity of what's going on now, Anderson, to go to David Walker's point, they need to be focusing with intensity on trying to come up with a bank plan that begins to stabilize the financial institutions.

And that takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of effort. And to have the White House this week now, they're having something -- I think it's very worthwhile, and that is the health care summit this week. I totally understand that in the context if you can get health care done.

But do you really want to divert as much attention and energy away to that right now when the economy is sinking in the way it is? That's what's I think is open to a real debate. And I have come away from thinking the big bang is a good idea to begin to really ask, do they need to focus just intensely now than into getting this economy stabilized?

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there. David Walker it's good to have you on. David Gergen and Joe Johns, we're going to talk to Joe a little bit later on about Bernie Madoff.

It's a good conversation. We're going to continue it online right now. You can join in the live chat at You can also check out Erica Hill's live webcast during the break.

Coming up, the latest on Rush Limbaugh's attack on President Obama and the head of the RNC then tried to take on Limbaugh up and now guess what? The head of the RNC is kind of tripping over himself apologizing.

We'll also get you up to date on the massive winter storm and who's still getting hammered right now.

And as I mentioned, a new Bernie Madoff outrage. He allegedly scammed people out of tens of billions of dollars. Now he wants to keep his fancy Manhattan Penthouse. That's not all he says he's entitled to. We'll show you how many tens of millions more he wants to keep.

And a dramatic rescue at sea. Today, one man found; the search for three more, including two NFL stars, getting a new boost. We'll be right back.


COOPER: More now on Rush Limbaugh's no holds barred attack on President Obama. A top Republican's attack on him and now that top Republican's apology. Hard to keep it all straight.

In what Limbaugh called his first national address, the radio talk show host capped off the three day Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend with a war cry challenging Republicans to take back the nation.

It's a challenge President Obama appears ready to meet. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't come to Washington to take the easy route or to work for the powerful and the well-connected interests who have run this city for too long.

I came here to work for the American people. I came here to deliver the sweeping change that they demanded when they went to the polls in November.


COOPER: A sweeping change, but at what cost? Candy Crowley has tonight's "Raw Politics."


LIMBAUGH: Thank you so much.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Does Rush Limbaugh wants President Obama to fail? No retreat, baby. No surrender.

LIMBAUGH: They hoped George Bush failed. So where is it, what is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed?

CROWLEY: He ruled the roost and raised the roof at the annual gathering of CPAC, a group of conservative activists, where no last name is needed.

Not everyone is so enthused about Rush. The head of the Republican National Committee did something rare for a Republican: took on the country's leading conservative voice.

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it's incendiary. Yes, it's ugly.

CROWLEY: No such thing as getting the last word with a guy who has a microphone.

LIMBAUGH: It's time, Mr. Steele, for you to go behind the scenes and start doing the work that you were elected to do instead of trying to be some talking head media star. CROWLEY: Limbaugh calls the President one of the most gifted men he's ever seen, even as he excoriates the administration for big spending, big brother, anti-individualist policies.

LIMBAUGH: President Obama is so busy trying to foment and create anger in a created atmosphere of crisis, he is so busy fueling the emotions of class envy, that he has forgotten it's not his money he's spending.

CROWLEY: How to solve a problem like Rush Limbaugh. Hero to the Republican base the party cannot afford to alienate. But getting back into power means expanding the base and Limbaugh is controversial and problematic. He see, he is not.

LIMBAUGH: Aside from the bastardization of the Constitution that the Obama plans are, that TARP is, it's not constitutional. Aside from that, where's the evidence that the people authoring all this have ever succeeded in any similar plans before? There is none.

CROWLEY: Oh, how Democrats love Rush Limbaugh. Figuring the tighter they can tie him to Republicans, the longer Republicans stay a minority party.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think maybe the best question, though, is for you to ask individual Republicans whether they agree with what Rush Limbaugh said this weekend.

CROWLEY: On CBS's "Face the Nation," the president's chief of staff called Limbaugh the voice and intellectual force of the Republican Party.

RAHM EMANUEL, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: And whenever a Republican criticizes him they have to run back and apologize to him and say they were misunderstood.


Late Monday, Michael Steele told Politico he was trying to get in touch with Limbaugh to tell him, "I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership," which tells you a little something about the power of Rush Limbaugh.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: A little something, indeed. There's another angle to the story.

Tonight Governor Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, now issued a statement saying, "Chairman Steele's reversal this evening and his apology to Limbaugh proves the unfortunate point that Limbaugh is the leading force behind the Republican Party, its politics and its obstruction of President Obama's agenda in Washington." All right, let's talk strategy.

Back with us, David Gergen and also joining us, political analyst Roland Martin and Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, author of the book "Personal Faith, Public Policy."

David, I'm going to ask the same question to all three of you, I just kind of rapid a fire off the top. Is it appropriate for Rush Limbaugh to say he hopes the President fails in his efforts?

GERGEN: When you hear the rest of the sentence, it seems to me that's what often happens in opposition -- when people are in opposition. They often sometimes don't say it. But I think he said what a lot of people think that are -- who are in opposition all the time.

I think you have to hear the rest of the sentence. I think what he lent himself to -- but listen, I don't think that's the real point of this. I think the real issue here is that the Democrats completely outfoxed the Republicans on this thing.

For some days now James Carville has been going around saying Rush Limbaugh is the king of the party. Rahm Emanuel, his friend comes along and says essentially the same thing, Rush gives this speech.

What does Mr. Steele do as Chairman of the party and he takes the bait -- he takes the bait and goes after Limbaugh. And now, creates this brouhaha which makes the Republicans look like they're self- immolating.

I don't know where Steele got into this. I don't know why in the world he wanted to be in the middle of this.

COOPER: I want to get into the GOP politics more after the break. But there are a lot of Democrats who are outraged by Rush Limbaugh said about wanting the President to fail. Do you think it was appropriate?

ROLAND S. MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, he's a radio talk show host. He's the host a radio show and we say all kinds of things along those lines. He has a right to actually say it.

But I do believe it is different when you're in a public policy position, if you are a member of Congress to say that about the President of the United States. And so that is Rush's stance. That is Rush's viewpoint.

The problem is when political leaders begin to make those kinds of statements. That's what you don't want to hear from somebody who's in public office about the President.

COOPER: And Tony Perkins, given the crisis, given the financial stakes for a lot of people, if the President's policies fail, doesn't the public fail as well? TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Well, I think people want the President to succeed in doing the right thing. But I think as David pointed out, it was the agenda of the President that people want not to succeed.

But I think what we see of Michael Steele has proven the old fact that you don't pick a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel or a guy who's got a microphone that speaks to millions.

I think Rush Limbaugh is more in touch with the conservative base of the Republican Party than most Republican leaders.

COOPER: Do you think he's a leader of the GOP?

PERKINS: I don't think -- I mean, he's technically not the leader. But I think he is -- he speaks. He listens. And he talks about conservative issues. He is on the entertainment side.

But he does have an understanding of policy. And he does talk about putting all of those things together and its impact upon the country. And he identifies with conservatives, and they identify with him. That's something that's not happening with the Republican Party.

COOPER: No doubt about that. We're going to talk more about this right after the break. Stick around. We'll have more with our panel.

Also tonight, Bernie Madoff, he is already allowed to wait for his trial from this comfort of his fancy penthouse. There he is, running into his penthouse right here.

But should he be able to keep that penthouse and tens and millions of dollars in personal savings? You're not going to believe what he's demanding today.

And later, new developments in the search for two missing NFL players lost at sea. That's their boat that was overturned. One of the shipmates was pulled from the sea hanging on to that boat. There he is. He tells his story of survival and provides new clues where to look next for those still missing. Details ahead.


COOPER: Tonight GOP Chairman Michael Steele is apologizing for taking a swing at conservative favorite Rush Limbaugh, apologizing for what he said just this weekend to CNN's D.L. Hughley. Take a look.


D.L. HUGHLEY, HOST, "D.L. HUGHLEY BREAKS THE NEWS": Like Rush Limbaugh, who is the de facto leader of the Republican Party.

STEELE: No, he's not. I'm the de facto leader of the Republican Party.

HUGHLEY: Then you know what, then I can appreciate that. STEELE: And so let's put it into context here. Let's put it in the context here, Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it's incendiary. Yes, it's ugly.


COOPER: Our "Strategy Session" continues with David Gergen, Roland Martin and Tony Perkins.

So now Michael Steele has apologized for that. On Politico says he's going to apologize to Rush Limbaugh. David, Democrats would like us to believe though, that Rush Limbaugh is the head of the Republican Party. Is he, in your opinion?

GERGEN: No. No. But I think he's an extremely important voice in this country and has been for a number of years. He does give voice to a lot of discontented, often populist kind of conservatives. Much of the country does not like him; turns it off, has an intense distaste for him.

But he does have a following. We've had people like this in the past who were the Huey Long-type figures who have a following. Do they represent the party? Not at all. But the problem for the Republican Party is they don't have anybody else who does represent the party. There's a vacuum.

And what they need is an idea person like Newt Gingrich who was featured in a big magazine package the "New York Times" this Sunday. He led the Republicans out of the wilderness back in 1992, 1994, with a set of ideas. What we have not heard from the Republicans is a coherent policy response to the Obama agenda.

COOPER: Go ahead.

MARTIN: And let me go Ashton Kutcher and MTV here. Michael Steele punked-out. You're the chairman. You need to stick by your original comment. You look weaker coming back and apologizing from your comment.

There was a previous congressman did the exact same thing, said, look, Rush isn't here, having to vote on these various measures, came back apologizing as well.

Your initial reaction is likely your -- the most honest reaction. Yes, you're probably going to get the phone calls and the letters. But you stick with that. His problem now is, he looks like a weaker chairman today than he did on Friday.

COOPER: And Tony, I want to read something David Frum, a conservative writer, wrote this about Limbaugh on the New Majority Web site. He said, "With his private plane and his cigars, and his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self- indulgence, exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy, and our party. And we're cooperating."

Have the Republicans fallen into a trap set up by the Democrats on this?

PERKINS: I'm not sure. I think it goes back to what David said.

But if you look at talk radio, I mean really, Rush Limbaugh has made talk radio.

And what you described his personal background and all of that, that's not what he talks about on the radio. That's not --

MARTIN: Of course not. He ignores that.

PERKINS: That's what's made him popular, though. But I think David is absolutely right. The reason that Rush Limbaugh all of a sudden has become a big target, and everybody wants to take shots at him, the President tells the Congress not to listen to him, and the President's staff is now saying he's the de facto leader of the party. The fact is there are not cohesive voices within the Republican Party providing leadership, giving those ideas.

It's kind of like the Republican Party has an identity crisis at the moment. And Rush Limbaugh is the only figure out there that has consistency; that has the same message that's been out there unifying conservatives for years.

MARTIN: But Anderson, the base is the problem. And that is you can appeal so much to the base. But you cannot win a national election just with the base.

PERKINS: But you can't win without them.

MARTIN: But you know what and Tony is right. They're fractured right now. There was no major social conservatives speaking at CPAC this weekend. Dobson is stepping down as chairman of Focus on the Family, will still be a spokesman.

So you have that issue. You have fiscal conservatives. You have Mitt Romney winning the straw poll. So you have a party that is trying to figure out where it's going. And so Steele has his part, all these different wings of the party.

But look, as long as you have a radio talk show host driving the agenda, you've got a problem as a party.

GERGEN: He's not -- he's not driving the agenda.

MARTIN: He's driving the conversation.

GERGEN: He's driving the conversation. He's helping to drive the conversation. And that's because people like Michael Steele are adding to it by attacking him. And that was one of the dumbest things I've seen a party Chairman do in a while.

MARTIN: But did he attack him or was he being honest? I don't believe he attacked him.

GERGEN: When he says -- when he says his material -- he's ugly, somehow usually you do take that as criticism.

COOPER: So where do you -- where does this go? I mean, do now -- obviously Michael Steele is not going to say this again. And folks are going to be much more cautious on the Republican side about criticizing Rush Limbaugh if they were inclined to in the beginning.

But the real question is, where are they going to search for a leader, is that right, David? Is that what you're saying?

GERGEN: Yes, that's right. And I think, Anderson, what they must do now is go -- this often happens after a party has taken a real drubbing in the elections. It goes through -- it flounders for a while what it looks for a new voice, a new set of leaders.

This will happen over time, they thought it was going to come from the governors. That's why they put Bobby Jindal up. And he flamed out the other night.

So they're floundering right now looking for a new set of voices and a new set -- very importantly, a new set of ideas.

COOPER: Final thought, Tony.

PERKINS: Well, I think it's much deeper than just the voice. I think you've seen the party moving into the wilderness politically over the last two elections because they've moved away from those very core ideas that Republicans and conservatives identify with.

Rush Limbaugh has had that message that's consistent. And I think as long as people continue to listen to him, and you have to admit, he is one of the most -- he is the most influential talk radio guy in the country.

COOPER: No doubt about that.

PERKINS: And he will continue to drive the conversation. Because no one else is willing to step up and do it from the Republican Party side.

COOPER: We've got to leave it there. Tony Perkins, it's good to have you on. David Gergen as well, and Roland Martin, thanks as well.

MARTIN: Thanks Anderson.

COOPER: Up next, Bernie Madoff under house arrest. We all know that. Penthouse arrest I should say and not jail and confines in his own ritzy home. If that doesn't bother you, stay tuned. His Upper East Side prewar four-bedroom plus maids quarter apartment, he wants to keep it. And a whole lot more; tens of millions of dollars more.

We're going to be live with a new twist in the story. Something to think about as you watch your own investments plummet.

Also tonight, the latest on the wintry mess, affecting so much of the country. We'll see where the storm is headed now.

And a rescue at sea. Where are the other three people washed overboard, including two NFL players? The latest ahead.


COOPER: New outrage tonight in what may be the worst con job ever seen. Bernie Madoff who's accused of committing a $50 billion fraud is awaiting indictment in his swanky penthouse apartment -- not in jail on Rikers Island, not in a federal detention center downtown, not even a local precinct house -- in his penthouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Already he's been in trouble accused of siphoning off jewelry and other assets -- that's a shot of him from ABC News at his computer the other day.

Tonight in new court documents, a new claim. He wants to keep the penthouse and a whole lot more, quite a lot more.

Joe Johns is back now with details in this "Crime and Punishment" report. Joe, what does he want?

JOHNS: Anderson, it's the kind of thing people who lost money to Madoff are going to find hard to believe. That $7 million apartment Madoff's under penthouse arrest in, well, it's owned by Ruth Madoff, Bernie's wife. She owns a lot of other stuff, too, apparently municipal bonds, a bank account that all add up to about $62 million. The Madoffs' lawyers say she should be allowed to keep all that.

COOPER: Under what justification are they saying this?

JOHNS: Plain and simple, they're essentially saying that these items were unrelated to the alleged fraud that Bernie Madoff was involved in. Basically they're saying Mrs. Madoff did not get her stuff as a result of any alleged crime her husband may have been involved in. And if the government wants to take those assets, it's simply going to have to go into court or otherwise and prove it.

COOPER: We don't know how she got money or what her involvement was, if any, or what the kids' involvement was, if any -- all that still being investigated. We have a floor plan of what the apartment looks like inside. It's two-story, four-bedroom, five bathrooms, a kitchen, library, a penthouse. In New York, this is a considered a huge apartment. They say its estimated value of $7 million -- I wouldn't be surprised if it's a lot more than that. Considering the level of outrage, is there any chance he really could keep this apartment?

JOHNS: Well, there's certainly a possibility there. But, I mean, who knows. It all depends on whether these were actually fruits of the crime and what part of this property actually was fruit of the crime.

COOPER: How much money is available to give to the victims of the other -- of the main alleged fraud here? Do we know?

JOHNS: Well, it seems that they're still trying to find that out. They're still looking for money. There's a trustee appointed to handle the Madoff case. He has said he's recovered about $950 million which is a lot. But when you think about it, it's a drop in the bucket if the $50 billion figure is the actual amount of the fraud.

COOPER: It's unbelievable. Joe, appreciate it. Thanks very much. Tonight's Crime and Punishment report.

Still ahead, a dramatic rescue at sea and the latest on the search for three missing men, including two NFL players.

But first Erica Hill joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CO-ANCHOR: A brutal late winter storm continues to pound the East Coast, dumping up to a foot of snow in many places. It stretches from Atlanta all the way up through to New England. The storm closed school for millions of kids today, grounded more than 1,000 flights and caused at least four deaths.

Congress today introducing legislation to overturn the controversial ban on gays serving in the military, serving openly, that is. The political fight over "don't ask, don't tell" could pose some big problems for President Obama. While the president supports the ban, aides worry the debate will complicate efforts for economic and military reform.

Former Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich back in the news with a six figure book deal; Blagojevich, who denies trying to sell President Obama's senate seat, promises to, in his words, expose the dark side of politic has he witnessed while in office.

In Vegas, illusionists Siegfried and Roy tempting fate this weekend in a return to the stage with the massive tiger that mauled Roy Horn back in October of 2003. Left partially paralyzed by that attack, doctors describe the Horn's recovery as miraculous. Thankfully Saturday's performance, Anderson, went off without a hitch. I don't know that I would have tempted fate like that. But that's me.

COOPER: Just for clarity's sake, I think, we said that the president supports the ban. You meant to say he supports overturning the ban.

HILL: Oh, yes. Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next -- actually, let's do it right now. Our "Beat 360" winners: our daily challenge to viewers to show up our staffers by coming up with a caption better than the caption we can think of for a photo that we put on our blog every day.

Tonight's picture: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking at a news conference in Egypt following an international donors meeting for rebuilding the Gaza strip. Our staff winner tonight is Jack. His caption, "Turns out as with other aspects of life, when it comes to nuclear proliferation, size matters." Jack Gray.

Our winner is David from New York. His caption, I was this close to winning the "Beat 360" contest. HILL: I like that.

COOPER: David, thanks very much. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.

Coming up next, what it's like to eat under $6 a day. CNN's Sean Callebs volunteered to live on food stamps for 30 days to see what it's like for the growing number of Americans who can no longer buy their own food.

And a frantic search at sea. One man found clinging to this capsized boat; three others, including two NFL players still missing right now. We'll bring you the latest.


COOPER: Tonight a reality check on the recession, a very personal reminder of how so many people are feeling the pain.

Consider this: More than 31 million Americans right now are in the food stamp program -- thirty-one million. That's nearly 13 million households. But the numbers don't tell the whole story.

What's it like to be in the food stamp program? We asked our correspondent, Sean Callebs, to find out. We gave him $176 to buy food with for the entire month of February. A hundred and seventy-six dollars is the maximum amount one person in Louisiana, where Sean is, can receive. So how did he get by? Here's his "Up Close" report.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The first challenge was learning to shop and find a way to eat three meals on just $6.28 a day. Lakisha Darensburg (ph) agreed to help. She's been on and off food stamps for several years.

Rule number one, name brands are out the window.

LAKISHA DARENSBURG, HAS BEEN ON AND OFF FOOD STAMPS: You think you're getting a good deal, two for this, two for that. In reality, you're really not.

CALLEBS: Because it adds up quickly.


CALLEBS: Rule number two, steaks and fish are way outside the budget. I had to count on ground beef, chicken and eggs for most of my protein.

DARENSBURG: This is 89 cents.

CALLEBS: I like that. That's in my window.

The first trip to the store 30 days ago took a big chunk of my cash, more than $70. I remember thinking, "No way I'm going to pull this off."

At the end of the first week, I traveled from New Orleans to Spring Lake, New Jersey, a long-planned trip to spend some time with my teenaged son, Ryan. To put it mildly, he was less than confident I could pull this off.

Are you surprised I'm sticking to this so well?

RYAN CALLEBS, SEAN CALLEBS' SON: Yes. Usually you eat a lot more.

S. CALLEBS: Do I eat this healthy usually?


S. CALLEBS: I eat this healthy.

That's a debate for another time. In Ryan's kitchen, dinner with food I had packed for the trip.

The repetitive diet gets old, like rice and pasta, beans, a lot of things like that. So it's nice I'm having some chicken tonight.

I don't have a lot of money left. I'm not worried so much now about the money. I'm worrying about eating stuff that's nutritious.

Then it was back to New Orleans.

By the third week, I was more comfortable in the kitchen. I felt like I was in a groove and would make it. Then, the last few days, a major problem: my money was gone, and I was left with things I just didn't want to eat. Plus, stuff that's just bad for you: instant mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and this can of chowder I bought for a dollar that came loaded with 70 percent of the recommended salt intake for an entire day.


COOPER: So Sean, you're joining us now from your kitchen. Did you lose weight over this month?

S. CALLEBS: Yes, I did. I think if you look even at the start of the shopping, going to that grocery store and look now, my clothes are significantly more loose. I probably lost close to ten pounds in that short bit of time.

But you know, I really also cut out snacking for the most part. Didn't have the money. No alcohol for the entire month.

But I want to point out it's a very carb-heavy diet. Look, this is what I have left: a lot of pasta, some rice, some more mac and cheese. And there's that can of soup we've talked about so much. So it can put pounds on you if you don't stay active.

COOPER: Food stamps, though, are supposed to supplement people's diet, correct? S. CALLEBS: Exactly. That's what the federal government really stresses. This is a supplement. It's supposed to get you through, in addition to the income you have in.

But times are so tough right now, I've gotten hundreds and hundreds of e-mails on the blogs that we've had every day, people who have worked on Wall Street, realtors, tech industry, people who never thought they'd have to be in line to get food stamps. These people don't have any money. So the food stamps are basically all they can use to buy groceries.

COOPER: You're now off this. I think you had your first -- your first meal today not on food stamps. I think you had a cheeseburger. Right? We have a photo of it. It must have been quite satisfying.

S. CALLEBS: Yes, let me know when the photo pops up -- it's a place you've probably been to, Port of Call here on Esplanade, just outside the Quarter; very famous for their cheeseburgers. I didn't have a seven-course meal or anything grand.

This thing's been very sobering; all the e-mails coming in, people talking about how tough it is. I think my shopping habits have seriously changed, Anderson, for the foreseeable future.

COOPER: Well, Sean, you said you didn't have anything grand. Can we put that picture back up? Is there a baked potato under all that sour cream? Is there an actual burger under that cheese?

S. CALLEBS: That's not sour cream. That's whipped cream.

COOPER: All right.

S. CALLEBS: How about that?


S. CALLEBS: More calories than I had in a whole month.

COOPER: Sean, appreciate it. Thanks very much. A long month, I'm sure. Appreciate it.

Next on 360, it's like the campaign all over again for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This time she has the whole world to try to win over. We'll check in on how she's doing as she heads into one of the thorniest places in the world.

And later, swept away: the search for those two NFL players missing off the coast of Florida. We'll have the latest on the rescue efforts.


COOPER: Hillary Clinton is on her first Mideast trip as secretary of state. Tomorrow she's going to meet with Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Palestinian officials on the West Bank. Today she was in Egypt, pledging nearly $1 billion in aid to the Palestinian people.

She also added this. Take a look.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are working with our Palestinian partners to help pave the way for a responsible Palestinian state that can be independent, accountable to its people and live in peace with Israel and its Arab neighbors.


COOPER: We asked Tom Foreman to look at how Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is handling her new role. Take a look.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton is back on the campaign trail: shaking hands, posing for pictures and telling the planet American foreign policy is changing fast.

CLINTON: I am looking for results. I am looking for changes that actually improve the lives of the greatest numbers of people.

FOREMAN: It's a tough sell. After years of festering anger, recent polling in Muslim countries concluded 77 percent believe the United States is disrespectful to their faith, either intentionally or unintentionally.

But foreign affairs analysts say the election of Barack Obama, his plans to close the prison at Guantanamo and his time line for leaving Iraq are helping. And Secretary Clinton wants to capitalize on that by building partnerships with other nations to take on everything from terrorism to worldwide economic troubles.

CNN's State Department correspondent Jill Dougherty.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: I think if there's one underlying message it's that the U.S. cannot do it alone. You hear that over and over again. Other countries have to contribute.

FOREMAN: To get others on board, she is repeating the formula that made her successful as New York's senator. There, she expanded her power by traveling to far-flung parts of the state to make friends who could be her advocates even when she was away.

So now she is revisiting many countries she first saw as first lady, reconnecting with political and business leaders, human rights groups and charities.

CLINTON: But I believe strongly we must rely on more than one approach as we strive to overcome tyranny and subjugation that weakens the human spirit, limits human possibility and undermines human progress.

FOREMAN: And once again, she is clearly hoping her approach will make a word of difference.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Two NFL players are missing at sea, their boat capsized in a storm. One person has been rescued, that happened today. But where are the others? That's the overturned boat they found. We'll have the latest ahead.

Also tonight, is President Obama losing focus? Some fear his far-reaching plans to fix the country are backfiring and even hurting his leadership. We'll talk to David Gergen about that.

And something to make you smile before you go to bed; a dog, a dream, the result. See what happens when this sleepwalking pet wakes up. It's our "Shot," coming up.


COOPER: Developing story out of Florida: Tonight a man was found clinging to an overturned boat today. That's the boat. The Coast Guard saved him. But right now three others from that boat still remain missing, including two NFL players. And what began as a fishing trip has now turned into a massive search-and-rescue operation.

Erica Hill has the latest.


HILL: More than 48 hours after he left for a one-day fishing trip with three friends, Nick Schuyler is back on land, recovering at Tampa General Hospital.

MARSHA SCHUYLER, RESCUED BOATER'S MOTHER: I went and saw him first. And he told me, "Mom, I kept saying, you're not going to go to my funeral." He said that's what kept him hanging on.

HILL: The Coast Guard rescued Schuyler 38 miles off the Florida coast, where he was clinging to an overturned fishing boat, wearing a life vest.

Rescuers have been combing some 16,000 square miles since early Sunday morning in six to nine foot swells. Schuyler told officials a massive wave hit the boat, sending everyone overboard. At one point, they were all clinging to the 21-foot single engine boat. It's unclear why Schuyler was the only one found there.

CAPT. TIM CLOSE, U.S. COAST GUARD: We now know we're looking for persons in the water, not the boat. So they're doing search-and- rescue planning. And we started hitting that area very hard.

HILL: When the four friends left Clearwater Pass early Saturday morning aboard Marquis Cooper's boat, the conditions were nearly perfect. Fifty-four degrees, according to the National Weather Service with light winds out of the south and clear skies.

Along with Cooper, a linebacker for the Oakland Raiders, was Corey Smith, who played for the Detroit Lions, and Schuyler's former University of South Florida teammate William Bleakley.

Sunday afternoon Cooper's wife, Rebekah, said her husband takes weather conditions very seriously.

REBEKAH COOPER, MARQUIS COOPER'S WIFE: Before he left yesterday, I asked him if he was going to be really late. And he said no because he knew that there was some weather coming through last night. So I didn't expect -- I don't think he expected anything to go wrong.

HILL: But somewhere, something did go wrong. The weather turned. At one point, the men were facing 14-foot swells. And conditions didn't calm down until Monday morning when Schuyler was found.

CLOSE: A lot of it depends on the weather conditions. Obviously, you have to be able to see the object that you're looking for, to see the boat, to see the people. And the worse the weather is, the more difficult that becomes.

HILL: Tonight the search for the three missing men continues, a fact that weighs heavily on the Schuyler family.

STU SCHUYLER, NICK SCHUYLER'S FATHER: We still have three men missing. And we're not going to talk too much until we find these guys. We're all praying for them. These guys are all very close friends.

HILL: And until they are found, Nick Schuyler's rescue will remain bittersweet.


COOPER: How is Nick Schuyler doing? Do we know?

HILL: He apparently had cuts and bruises. What they were most worried about was hypothermia, because these waters, the Coast Guard said, were 60 degrees, which may sound warm, but it's not if you're in it for any length of time.

They also were waiting to continue any further questioning with him until he'd been treated for that hypothermia.

COOPER: How did they know where to begin searching?

HILL: Rebekah Cooper, Marquis Cooper's wife, said that when he didn't come home, she called a friend who normally goes fishing with them. He knew pretty much the area that they would be going to. He actually called the Coast Guard, because he had better information and said, "Here's where I think they would normally be." And so that helped them start their search with some of those GPS coordinates.

COOPER: Unbelievable. All right, Erica, thanks. Continue to follow it up.

Up next, if you thought you had trouble sleeping, this dog will give you a run for your money, literally. It's our "Shot of the Day," and it's guaranteed to make you smile.


COOPER: All right. Time for "The Shot" -- the sleepwalking dog. This video is all over the Internet. We found it on Andrew Sullivan's Web site. You can check out how the dog's dream sends him on a race straight into -- well, you'll see for yourself.

HILL: Poor buddy.

COOPER: But he's fine. The dog is fine.

HILL: All right.

COOPER: He survived the impact. But I like how he's just sleeping, and he starts off very slow, like look, his legs are just moving a little bit.

HILL: Yes. Like most dogs do.

COOPER: And then he starts to get into a full-on run. That's amazing.

HILL: It's amazing. I always kind of figured my dog was running in place when he did that, you know, the mini moves. But I guess they really are.

COOPER: Yes. I imagine him -- I imagine him running through, like, a field of -- after like a butterfly or something.

HILL: Chasing a squirrel.

COOPER: Exactly. Something nice like that.

All right. You can see all the most recent "Shots" at

And that does it for 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.

See you tomorrow night.