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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Obama Signs Budget Bill; Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama Honor Women
Aired March 11, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight from Alabama, where investigators have a possible motive in the shooting spree that left 11 people dead.
This is the man who went on the deadly rampage. He killed relatives, strangers, children. Take a look at his face. We know that this 28-year-old man at one point worked for a day as a police officer. We also know he had no criminal record.
But why did he arm himself with assault rifles and turn three towns into his own killing field?
Tonight, we may finally have the answer.
For the latest on the breaking news let's go to Sean Callebs live in Geneva, Alabama.
Sean, what have we just learned.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, really, this is the question people in this area have asked for the past day here. We have talked to the lead investigator for the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Barry Tucker.
He told me it's not one specific thing, but multipronged. And they're looking at a couple things, one, McLendon's state of mind. He was depressed, by all accounts, in talking to his friends. And, secondly, was really down about -- quote -- "his position in life," his job, the economy. He felt that he should be doing much better as a 28-year-old man.
That may help people in this area, who have been asking all along, what sparked this violent rampage?
JOSH MYERS, VICTIMS' RELATIVE: I just know that my -- my wife and my baby girl is in heaven with Jesus right now.
CALLEBS (voice-over): Clutching pictures of his family, Sheriff's Deputy Josh Myers mourns two of the victims from yesterday's shooting, his wife Andrea and 18-month-old daughter, Corrine.
MYERS: I just don't understand why anything like this would happen. I don't know what to say. CALLEBS: His two other young children survived the single deadliest criminal rampage ever in Alabama. It lasted less than an hour, covered 24 miles, and left three towns in bloodshed and tears.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're all shocked and grieved by these events.
CALLEBS: Authorities say 28-year-old Michael McLendon began his deadly spree by killing his mother in Kinston and setting fire to the House. He then drove to the town of Samson, where he shot and killed five people on his uncle's porch, including relatives and Deputy Myers' wife and child. His 3-month-old daughter was saved by a neighbor.
ALINA KNOWLES, RESCUED SHOT CHILD: Picked her up, saw him coming up the road, and ducked, so he wouldn't see me as he was coming up this way. I ducked, was still ducking and moving around their van, keeping -- trying to keep him from seeing me with that baby.
CALLEBS: McLendon continued the carnage, killing his grandmother, who lived next door to his uncle, and firing randomly, killing a pedestrian and a woman at a gas station. Armed with assault weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, McLendon headed to Geneva. He shot at officers in pursuit, wounding a police chief.
JANIE HOWELL, EYEWITNESS: We heard the spray of gunfire. And when I pulled off the highway to keep from getting hit, he shot my van and shot the Perdue truck in front of me. And then he took off running. And the trooper took off after him.
CALLEBS: After 50 minutes of terror, McLendon ended up here at a metal shop where he once worked. He got into a shoot-out with police and then took his own life.
WYNNTON MELTON, MAYOR OF GENEVA, ALABAMA: I, personally, know everyone that is involved, both the shooter and the victims. And that makes it -- makes it more difficult to have to deal with.
CALLEBS: Authorities say they don't have a motive. What they do know is, last week, McLendon quit his job at a food distribution company, and, at one time, he trained to be a police officer in Samson.
GOV. BOB RILEY (R), ALABAMA: It really is devastating to a community this size. You know, this is -- this doesn't happen in small towns.
CALLEBS: But it did, for the towns and for a man who will never see his wife and daughter Corrine again.
MYERS: My baby girl, Corrine Gracy, the sweetest thing in the world. I don't even know how to comprehend what's going on.
COOPER: Yes, I imagine, hard to comprehend. So, what about his mental state? I mean, what -- what are authorities saying?
CALLEBS: Well, this was a significant break that the investigator told us came just in the last several hours. So, right now, they're trying to find out about McLendon's mental state. Was he on antidepressants?
And this is something that apparently built up. He talked to friends about being depressed, about his overall position in life, the economy, the frustrations. He quit his job last week. Look, they looked at specific things. Was he a disgruntled former employee? Is that why he went to his old shop?
Well, by all accounts now, no, that wasn't the problem. Secondly, could it have been a domestic issue? Did he have a girlfriend? Were there problems? Again, another dead end. So, right now, they're looking at his mental state, overall frustration with the economy, and the -- the belief that he should have been better off in life. It may not be the answer people in this area want, but, look, down the road, it may lead to some -- some sense of closure.
COOPER: Sean Callebs -- appreciate it, Sean, staying on the story.
Unimaginable grief for so many people in these small communities. As for Josh Myers, the suffering, that is not going to end. As you just heard, the sheriff's deputy responded to the shooting, only to find out his wife, Andrea, and young daughter Corrine were killed. He spoke more about his wife outside his home. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MYERS: Every day, she was up on the porch with my kids talking with the neighbors, just like they were family to us. She hardly knew anybody here to even have enemies. She was a stay-at-home mom. We have -- we had three kids. You know, she was a super mom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, police say the killer, Michael McLendon, had no criminal record. Sean mentioned that. He was 28 years old. People said he was friendly.
So, the question is, how do you make sense of what happened? That's what authorities are trying to figure out.
We're talking to our own authority. Kris Mohandie is a veteran forensic psychologist who works with law enforcement on identifying violent behavior. I just spoke to him a few moments ago.
COOPER: Chris, this guy had no criminal record. People from his job said he was reliable. Others said he was well-liked. Some said he was -- he was quiet. Do killers like this just snap?
KRIS MOHANDIE, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: In my experience, killers like this do not just snap.
While the initial reports may present that he seemed normal, as time passes, we will learn more about him, about the leakage of his underlying violent fantasy life, and the fact that he was not quite normal.
COOPER: When you -- I mean, you hear the -- the profile of these killings, what do you think? What jumps out at you about this person?
MOHANDIE: What jumps out to me about him is that he washed out of the police academy, which suggested there are some problems there, that he had quit his job last week, and that his method of killing these people was very cold-blooded, calculated, and detached, just like we see in other mass killings.
COOPER: You know, some witnesses said that he pulled up, started firing without saying a word, that he had -- and there was no expression.
MOHANDIE: It is typical in these events for the killers not to have any expression, because it's being driven by fantasy, not anger.
The anger happened a long time ago for events we will learn about as time passes. And it's -- and it gets converted to cold-blooded -- cold-blooded revenge.
COOPER: So, that -- that's interesting, though, that it's -- it's a fantasy, not -- it's not done in anger. I mean, he's clearly angry about something, or has grudges, yes?
MOHANDIE: He's clearly got anger and grudges, but that's for things that have happened long past that he's gunnysacking, that he's holding on to.
And what he's doing with that, instead of feeling it as an angry kind of emotion, is, he has converted it to a fantasy of revenge. And all that he does is invested in the planning and the execution of those actions. And, so, it's very much planful, methodical, and detached. That is the norm in these kinds of events.
COOPER: It's strange, though -- and perhaps it's not strange to you -- but it struck me, I mean, this is a person who, at some point, seemed to want to be a police officer, went through some police training, washed out of -- of the -- the training that they had.
I mean, why be motivated to, you know, help people and be a police officer if you also have this other side of you?
MOHANDIE: Well, it appears that he wanted to be a police officer at some point.
And -- and, while that may speak to a desire to help others, often, what we find in individuals that perpetrate these kinds of actions is that they were wannabe warriors, wannabe in the military, wannabe police officers, and when they're not able to cut it there, they end up having these kinds of fantasies of acting out those impulses in other venues.
And, so, this warrior mentality, this pseudo-warrior thing, is reflected in seeking out a law enforcement position, not being able to cut it, and -- and acting out his power needs in other ways.
COOPER: So, are -- are there clues, you know, that someone can look for, warnings that, you know, someone might be capable of something like this?
MOHANDIE: In most of these cases, at least two-thirds, there will be clues, there will be leakage of the fact that they want to get even with people, that they can't let go of their anger and that they're harboring homicidal impulses.
That usually gets telegraphed to other parties, who I suspect will come forward as the days pass in this case. And what we need to do is be vigilant for those clues, get those to law enforcement or human resources, if it's a co-worker, or to the mental health community if it's a family member, and we will find that there will be those clues as we look at this case in the future.
COOPER: Got to be vigilant.
Kris Mohandie, appreciate it. Thanks.
MOHANDIE: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, hours after the shooting spree in Alabama, another gunman went on a deadly rampage. This time, he targeted kids, killing 16 people, including himself.
This all happened in Germany. The 17-year-old suspect returned to his former high school, his former school, where he opened fire on students and teachers. Many of the victims were shot in the head. Officials say a couple of them were still holding their pens. The gunman then drove to another town, killed two more people there.
This is -- this is some grainy amateur cell phone video obtained by the Associated Press. It appears to show the gunman walking around near cars parked on the street. At one point -- there he is -- appearing to get down on the ground. The moment when police believe he killed himself has been edited out of the amateur video. The motive remains a mystery.
Needless to say, people have been talking about these two incidents all day long. You can join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. Also, check out Erica Hill's live Webcasts during our breaks tonight.
Also in the news, President Obama, promising to fight excess spending, then why did he decide to sign a budget bill today loaded with questionable projects? Does he have a point, or is he breaking a promise? That is your call. We have got the facts to help you decide.
Later: billionaires and the billions they have lost billions in the recession. How is Oprah Winfrey doing, for instance? You will find out new numbers. And guess who's actually made even more money this past year?
Plus, two powerful women, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, what they said today to honor women around the world -- and the first lady's take on the former first lady.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: The woman who is running this department, this big, huge effort, has always been such a committed person, friend, supporter to me. We are honored and thrilled to have her serving in this role.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Today, the president signed a budget bill mostly written during the Bush administration loaded with pet projects, put there by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. He did it behind closed doors.
The Senate passed it on a voice vote, meaning no one is actually on record for or against it. That's how it works in Washington. Today, President Obama tried making an example of all this as something he would never go along with again.
The question is, why did he go along with it this time?
Ed Henry has the "Raw Politics."
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the morning, a crusade against lawmakers' pet spending projects.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Earmarks have been used as a vehicle for waste and fraud and abuse. Projects have been inserted at the 11th hour, without review, and sometimes without merit, in order to satisfy the political or personal agendas of a given legislator.
HENRY: In the afternoon, the president signed a $410 billion spending bill, stuffed with 8,570 earmarks.
REP. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: This gives voice to Saint Augustine's lament: Give me sobriety, but not yet.
HENRY: The president flew all the way to Denver to sign the stimulus bill, but signed this one behind closed doors.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No reason other than the fact that some things are signed in public, and some aren't.
HENRY: Earmarks are less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Cutting them would not get the nation out of debt. But Mr. Obama made bold promises of change on the campaign trail.
OBAMA: Why I pledged to slash earmarks by more than half when I'm president of the United States of America.
HENRY: Now, White House aides explain it away by noting, this bill is left over from last year.
(on camera): He could have vetoed it. Why wouldn't he veto it?
GIBBS: Let me give you last -- let me give you yesterday's answer. The president believes that, despite protestations, that appropriations bills designed to be completed before September 30 of the previous year are last year's business.
HENRY (voice-over): There's plenty of last year's business inherited from former President Bush, but Mr. Obama has not used that as an excuse to avoid tackling issues like the Iraq war.
The real reason? A veto would have sparked a time-consuming fight with Democratic leaders, like Steny Hoyer, who recently said, "I don't think the White House has the ability to tell us what to do" -- a battle that senior White House aides privately say would delay key issues like health care reform, at a time when critics already charge, the president is spread too thin.
OBAMA: We can't have Congress bogged down at this critical juncture in our economic recovery. But I also view this as a departure point for more far-reaching change.
HENRY: That's why the president laid out principles to reform future spending bills, including, each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings. Any earmark for a for-profit company should be open to competitive bidding. And federal agencies would get 20 days to determine whether a project is worthwhile.
COOPER: So, Ed, does this plan have any chance of working?
HENRY: It's going to be an uphill battle.
As you can see, there are already Democratic leaders who are concerned about it. We should also point out that about 40 percent of the earmarks in the bill came from Republicans. So, it's not just Democrats who are along for the ride.
And, as the president's former rival, Republican John McCain, said today, he thinks this was a missed opportunity, because, rather than putting out principles, the president, he thinks, should just threaten to use his veto pen. That might be the only thing that lawmakers will listen to -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Ed, thanks from the White House tonight.
Some prospective new budget numbers today showing a $765 billion deficit in the last five months. When people lose jobs, the tax revenues go down. President Obama promises to cut spending, but only after the recession passes, because spending cuts during a downturn can make things worse by taking money out of the economy.
Let's dig deeper with senior political analyst David Gergen, David Walker, who ran the Government Accountability Office under Presidents Clinton and Bush, and CNN's Joe Johns.
David Gergen, why did President Obama sign this bill? He could have vetoed it.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, you know, there's an old adage in Washington: To get along, go along. And I'm afraid that's what happened today.
To be fair, President Obama has kept far more of his campaign promises than many of our recent presidents, and he deserves credit for that. But, on this one, I think that those of us who were looking for more fiscal discipline are disappointed, because this was an opportunity on two levels, I think, are disappointment.
One is, these earmarks just stood out, and, you know, he could have easily taken a shot at them and said, enough is enough. But, secondly, I think that there is a feeling, growing feeling, Anderson -- I was in New York yesterday, saw David Walker, a number of other people, leaders in the financial community, who -- many of whom continue to support President Obama, but they and others are saying, when is he going to stand up and say no...
David Walker, did...
GERGEN: ... to some of the congressional Democrats?
COOPER: David -- David Walker -- did the president have another option on this one?
DAVID WALKER, FORMER UNITED STATES COMPTROLLER GENERAL: I think he should have vetoed it.
There is a growing credibility gap. Number one, people need to understand that earmarks don't result in additional spending. They direct how money is going to be spent, not how much money is going to be spent.
Look, this bill was an 8.3 percent increase over last year, a 10 percent increase for the Congress. That can hardly be described as being fiscally responsible.
COOPER: Joe, is the president trying to have it both ways? I mean, he made a lot of comments about earmarks during the campaign.
In fact, let's show one of the -- the things he said about earmarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Senator McCain likes to talk about earmarks a lot. And that's important. I want to go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don't work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joe, he -- he did put forth new rules to prevent abuse of future earmarks. Critics say, he's broken his campaign promise.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, you know, that line-by-line remark, I remember when he said that, and it didn't sound right when he said it, because everybody knows the president doesn't have a line-item veto.
On the other hand, he's dealing with realities up there. And one of the things a lot of people are missing is that, from my reporting, there is -- there is a belligerent mood on Capitol Hill, particularly among some of the Democratic leaders, about this issue of earmarks.
They say, there are a lot of members of Congress. All they got is a vote, a press release, and an earmark. So, why do you want to take that away from them?
I called one congressional leader's office last week, asking about earmarks, and I can't repeat what was said to me on the phone. I mean, it was...
JOHNS: It -- it was profane.
So, there are a lot of people on Capitol Hill who think earmarks, authorized earmarks, are their right. They don't, of course, agree with all the corruption that goes along with some of these earmarks that get slipped in due to quid pro quos and things.
COOPER: Cursing out Joe Johns, that is just not right.
COOPER: We're going to have more with David Gergen, David Walker, and Joe Johns in just a moment.
We're going to continue the conversation, focus in part on the possibility of a second big stimulus. Does the economy need it? Can the president actually get it passed? Stay tuned for that.
And, later, Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol, sad news, back in the spotlight -- her marriage plans to her baby's father, Levi, apparently those are off. We're going to tell you what happened with her engagement to Levi.
And, later, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton together today. And we will tell you why and what they said about helping women break through the glass ceiling -- tonight on 360.
COOPER: We're talking money, politics, and President Obama. He's taking heat for signing a budget. As Ed Henry reported, it's not exactly his budget, but it was certainly his to veto, if he wanted to.
We're digging deeper tonight about that and the possibility of even more medicine, expensive medicine for the economy.
With us again, David Gergen, David Walker, and Joe Johns.
David Gergen, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said today that the current state of the economy is -- quote -- "a global crisis which requires a global response."
Is that -- I mean, is the translation of that that the U.S. is going to have to cough up -- cough up even more money for this?
GERGEN: I think it may well be, Anderson.
First of all, it's good to see Tim Geithner starting to make the rounds of television interviews. That's a healthy sign. But -- but, more importantly, the -- he's right that this is not just a U.S. problem, but a global problem. And there has to be more global demand.
And the president is going to be going to London in just two or three weeks to talk to leaders of other nations. But, in asking them to step up, to spend more, he's going to be, OK, if we're going to do it, you're going to need to do it, too. Nancy Pelosi just said in the last couple days she's open to it, to a second stimulus.
Republicans are saying, hey, look, tell us what you have done with the first stimulus first. So, it's going to be a fight if they do it, but I think we're heading toward a second stimulus, son of stimulus, as we talked about the other night.
COOPER: Yes, David Walker, the sequels of movies are never as good as the first one. Son of stimulus, what are your thoughts on that?
WALKER: I think it's likely we're probably going to see another stimulus bill, probably this summer.
Hopefully, this one will -- won't have to be as expensive, but, hopefully, it will be 100 percent stimulus. The fact of the matter is, of the $787 billion stimulus bill that was signed into law, you know, recently, only about a third of it met the definition of stimulus, meaning that it would end up hitting the economy within a year.
COOPER: So, Joe Johns, that's not -- I mean, it's going to be a tough sell in Congress, no? JOHNS: Probably.
I mean, David Obey, I hear, over at the Appropriations Committee is trying to get some thoughts down on paper, so they're not caught flat-footed if there is a need for another one. A lot of people, of course, are saying, wait and see what this first stimulus actually does.
It is also clear, though, that Republicans are lining up and getting ready to start whacking the administration every single day on spending, including stimulus spending. So, yes, probably going to be a fight, but, at the end of the day, they look at it and say, OK, what else are we going to do? You know, what else can you do?
COOPER: David Gergen, it's also a fight that President Obama is in a good position to win, given that -- that he still has overwhelming support among the American people, much more so than, it seems, Republicans in Congress have.
GERGEN: He does have over -- overwhelming support, Anderson. But there is a question whether people are going to get fatigued and they're going to wonder, what about -- what about the first one? Is that not working?
That's why it's been so important to have somebody in there of -- of a major national stature, like Jack Welch, overseeing the first one, so people have confidence that -- you know, that this is actually going to good use, that it's going to good places, and it's starting to turn over.
You know, David Walker has a good point. There's a lot of -- there are a lot of people like -- who wonder, is this really going to do much good, the first one?
COOPER: David, we have learned -- David Walker -- we have learned today banks, some banks that received bailout money don't like the conditions. They want to return the funds.
Is that a good thing?
WALKER: Yes, I think it is. I think we have to recognize reality.
There are a number of banks, frankly, that were strongly encouraged to take the TARP funds, because they didn't want there to be a taint associated with it. And when they were given the funds, there weren't any strings attached to it.
Now they are finding out that there's a lot of transparency. There's going to be some strings attached to it, so they're going to give it back. You know, I think we have to learn from what went wrong the first time. We didn't have objectives. We didn't have criteria. We didn't have conditions. We need to not repeat the same mistakes.
COOPER: Joe Johns, do we know when Tim Geithner is going to come forward and flesh out the details of, you know, basically, the -- the bank bailout?
JOHNS: That's not clear at all. You know, I mean, the -- one of the big problems with the bank bailout, among other things...
JOHNS: ... is just the appearances of it.
People don't get it. You know, you're spending all these -- this money on these banks, and, every time you turn around, there's another story out there about the way they're using the money that doesn't seem to make sense or is questionable.
So, there's a real issue just of optics. And, until they really deal with that, and also that fact of forcing this money down the throats of banks, because they say they don't want to create some type of a stigma or whatever, that doesn't sound right either.
A lot of things that they have to work out in -- in the public relations of it. And I think David hit a very good point. With Geithner out there, maybe that makes some difference.
COOPER: All right. We will see.
Joe Johns, David Gergen...
GERGEN: Yes, let me just add, Anderson, one...
COOPER: Go ahead. David Gergen, go ahead.
GERGEN: I just want to add, this only emphasizes that -- Joe Johns is right -- there is a lot of confusion now about the administration strategy.
And I think that Andy Grove from INTEL was absolutely right in "The Washington Post." This is one more big argument why he has to focus intensely on the economy, help everybody understand how this is going to work, help to encourage confidence to come back. And by doing 15 different things in a week, you -- you get -- you get confused by what's going on.
David Gergen, David Walker, Joe Johns, thanks. Appreciate it. Good discussion.
Next on the program: the road to recovery. Building a highway and betting on the future, it is among the first in the stimulus projects, but will it bring jobs? We're following the money.
Also, Chris Brown and Rihanna, more fallout tonight -- Rihanna's alleged abuser made news today. We will tell you what it is ahead.
Also, later, leading ladies, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, the power duo together today, what were they doing? Why were they teaming up?
We will talk about that ahead.
COOPER: We've spent a lot of time on this program, talking about the bits and pieces of the Bill that are Washington, that make people mad or show the president and others doing one thing and saying the opposite. We highlight these broken promises, because frankly, people with -- people in power who spend your money ought to be held accountable for what they say.
But at the same token, we also try to highlight promises that are kept and money that is well spent. Tonight Tom Foreman follows the money down a road in Maryland.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Signs along this bumpy stretch of Maryland highway say "men working," and Washington hopes that means the stimulus is working, too. This highway project just miles from the capital is the first launched on money from the stimulus package.
This came just in time for the private company hired for the work. American Infrastructure had about 2,000 employees. They've lost plenty.
SHAWN CASEY, AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE: Approaching 350 people.
FOREMAN (on camera): Three hundred and fifty.
CASEY: That's correct.
FOREMAN: And largely that was because construction was down so much?
CASEY: That's correct.
FOREMAN: And how many do you think you can bring back now?
CASEY: We're hoping to get everyone back.
FOREMAN (voice-over): They've already started. Tim is back. He was laid off in January and worried about how he would provide for his wife and children. He knows many voters have doubts about the stimulus spending.
TIM RADEL, AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE: Our jobs are already amping up already from it. You know, they just started talking about it not that long ago. I think it's going to work out pretty good for a lot of people.
FOREMAN: Like the people who run nearby businesses. If the road workers get confident enough to start spending again. That could mean money and jobs for gas stations, restaurants, clothing stores, all the places Bryan White was avoiding while he was laid off.
BRYAN WHITE, AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE: We did a lot of cutbacks. There was times like on Fridays, every Friday we used to go out and eat Chinese food. But you know, you cut that out and we had to watch what we spent, you know.
FOREMAN (on camera): You think that might come back now?
WHITE: Yes. Yes, indeed.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The administration readily admits this is one project, one road, a fistful of jobs compared to the 3.5 million lost. But it's a start. And that's how we're going to get the country back on its feet.
(on camera) This project will take about seven months.
FOREMAN: At the end of that you're hoping other projects are going to fill in behind this.
CASEY: Absolutely. Yes, more than hoping. We're counting on it. We're counting on it.
FOREMAN (voice-over): And they are not the only ones.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Silver Spring, Maryland.
COOPER: Bill Clinton is never shy about his opinions. Tonight the former president talked about just about everything, frankly. Sanjay Gupta asked the questions, guest hosting for Larry King, and he'll join us next.
Also coming up, just out tonight, the new and updated list of the super rich, billionaires like Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates. There's a politician among them, too. Guess what? He got richer even during these bleak times.
And the latest bombshell from Bristol Palin, the teenage daughter of former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. It's not all about love and marriage anymore.
COOPER: President Obama needs all the help he can get these days. He just launched his health-care reform initiative. Just about an hour ago on "LARRY KING LIVE," the 44th president got some help from No. 42. Dr. Sanjay Gupta talked to former President Clinton on "LARRY KING" tonight. Sanjay joins me now.
Sanjay, you asked President Clinton about possible road blocks for President Obama when it comes to health-care reform. I just want to play for our viewers some of what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have suffered through a path to the future. You don't have to have an employer mandate. You don't have to have a tax increase now. And the risk of a filibuster is less. So I think the obstacles are less than they were. Plus, the doctors want it now. The small business community needs it now. And the insurance community even is not unified against it now. So I think we got a real shot here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Do you think he's right that the country is ready for reform to reform the system in a way that they weren't in the past?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In some ways, Anderson, deja vu all over again. Remember back in '93 a lot of people wanted health- care reform back then, as well. Ninety percent of the country. Even 85 percent of Republicans said they wanted health-care reform. It still didn't get done.
The president was somewhat wistful today, I think, as he was describing the changes. There seems to be more political will now. And I think as he was alluding to. There's also the making of strange bedfellows.
You have the insurance industry, who tried to scuttle the previous health-care plan with the Harry and Louise ads. They are coming out in favor of universal health care. You have physicians uniting for universal health care. So there's a much larger and I think more forceful momentum than in years past.
COOPER: Mr. Clinton also spoke a lot about stem-cell research, certainly, when he was in the White House. Here's what he had to say about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. CLINTON: I appreciated the fact that the president wants to send a strong signal that scientific research on everything from climate change to the genome to the embryonic stem cells was too politicized in the previous eight years, and he wants to put it back to science. I agree with that.
But there are values involved that we all feel free to discuss in all scientific research and that is the one thing I think these committees need to make clear is that they're not going to fool with any embryos where there is any possibility, even if it's somewhat remote, that they could be fertilized and become human beings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, is it realistic to have a scientific community self-regulate when it comes to stem-cell research?
GUPTA: This is an important point, Anderson. I think it's something we're going to have to keep an eye on. President Clinton, I think what he was trying to say was he had a little bit stricter regulations back when he signed this, saying federal funding could only be used for embryos that were going to be discarded.
We haven't heard the exact language from President Obama yet, although it seems to be left more in the hands of the scientific committees, which I think has -- you know, has some people a little bit concerned.
So how strict will the regulations be on where those federal dollars go? Will it just be for the discarded embryos, as well? We're going to have to wait and see a little bit on that.
COOPER: All right. Sanjay, thanks. Good interview. Appreciate it.
Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton teamed up today and talked about, well, talked about each other. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I know a little bit about the role that Michelle Obama is just filling now. And I have to say that, in a very short time, she has, through her grace and her wisdom, become an inspiration to women and girls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We'll tell you what happened when two of the world's most powerful women took the stage together for the first time. Their mission and message next.
Also, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump all among the world's richest. But even they have not escaped the recession. We'll tell you who tops the billionaires list now and who fell off.
Then Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston, parents to Sarah Palin's two- month-old grandson, apparently calling it quits. We'll have all the details, coming up.
COOPER: Raised by a single mom, President Obama today reflected on his own childhood as he pledged to provide others with opportunities his mom never dreamed of. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's why so many of us are here today, because of the women who came before us who were determined to see us sit in the high seats. Women who reached for the balance and raised families and traveled long, lonely roads to be the first in the boardroom or in the courtroom or on the battlefield or on the factory floor. Women who cracked and shattered those glass ceilings so that my daughters and all of our sons and daughters could dream of a bigger and reachable height.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: With that the president signed an executive order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls, the mission to help women of all ages face challenges at home, work, and to improve their economic security and status.
Now, two of the most visible champions, perhaps, of women's rights in the country are, of course, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Today they were talking together about their roles and their reach.
"Up Close" tonight here's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are a powerful duo, a duo women want on their side.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I am so proud to be a woman today and every single day.
KAYE: First lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
B. CLINTON: The status of women and girls is a key indicator of whether or not progress is possible.
KAYE: Both grew up working class. Both carved out successful law careers and raised children. But it wasn't always easy. They know the challenges women face, which made this event so fitting. Together, they honored women from around the globe for their courage and their strength.
FAYE WATTLETON, CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN: Simply the coming together of these two women creates a very powerful image that's going to be positive for women all over the globe.
KAYE: The first lady's focus has been on working mothers and military wives.
M. OBAMA: The president and I share the belief that communities are only as strong as the health of their women.
KAYE: Mrs. Clinton's focus is a bit more global, especially with her new role as secretary of state.
H. CLINTON: The rights of women, really of all people, are at the core of these challenges, and human rights will always be central to our foreign policy. It is time to break the silence.
KAYE: She has long worked to improve health care, education, and equality for women. She's fought against sex trafficking and for more comprehensive sex education.
(on camera) And it's not just Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Obama looking to better women's lives. This afternoon the president announced a newly-formed White House Council for Women and Girls. Mr. Obama promises that all federal agencies, when drafting policies, will take into account the needs of women and girls.
B. OBAMA: Women still earn just 78 cents for every dollar men make. Women are more than half of our population but just 17 percent of our Congress.
KAYE (voice-over): In making that announcement Obama recalled how his mother put herself through school while she struggled to raise him and his sister. He spoke of his grandmother, too.
B. OBAMA: One of the first women bank vice presidents in the state of Hawaii, but I also saw how she hit a glass ceiling.
WATTLETON: Recently it has been assumed that women in this country have it made, but today is a very symbolic message that the work in this country is not done.
KAYE: Today was a good day to be a woman.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Still ahead tonight, the newly-released billionaires list. One of them got richer, and he's a politician. First Erica Hill joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: On Wall Street all three major indices closing higher for the second straight session in a row. The Dow barely, but, hey, we'll take the four points. The S&P was up two. The NASDAQ closed 13 points higher.
Nineteen-year-old singer Chris Brown is withdrawing his nominations for two Nickelodeon Kids Choice awards. It's the latest fallout from his alleged assault on girlfriend Rihanna. Brown will be arraigned on two felony counts next month.
Sources tell "People" magazine the 18-year-old daughter of former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin has broken up with her fiance. Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston have a 2-month-old son. Last fall the teenage parents said they planned to marry as soon as they finished high school.
And an incredible rescue at Niagara Falls. An American man jumped into the icy waters on the Canadian side today, plunging over the falls and survived in near freezing water for more than 40 minutes until rescuers could fish him out. The dramatic photos taken by a tourist. This one right here shows the man in the water and a rescuer on the edge of the rocks.
Few have survived that plunge, especially unprotected. COOPER: Wow. Unbelievable.
All right. Time now for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one that we can do, we can write for a picture that we put on our blog every day.
Tonight's picture, President Barack Obama meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Oval Office today.
Our staffer tonight is Kirk. His caption: "Sorry, Mr. President. It must be all the pork you served up at lunch."
(SOUND EFFECT: GROANS)
COOPER: Not bad.
HILL: That's clever.
COOPER: The viewer winner is Colleen from New York City. Her caption: "One more thing I forgot to tell you, Mr. President. I also haven't paid the $1.2 million I owe in overdue library fines."
(SOUND EFFECT: LAUGHTER)
COOPER: That would be painful.
Colleen, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. Congratulations.
Next, even the richest people in the world have been rocked by the recession. We'll talk of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey and tell you how much they lost. We'll also tell you which of the top 20 richest people actually got richer last year. It won't take very long. There's only one person in that category.
Also, did President Obama backtrack on a campaign promise when he signed a budget bill today? That's coming up.
COOPER: Tonight new numbers on how the richest people in the world, including many familiar faces are taking big hits in the recession. You don't need to exactly feel sorry for them, but you may be surprised with how much money folks like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have actually lost. And how about Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump? Did they also lose a bundle in the economic collapse?
Erica Hill joins us with the facts and the figures -- Erica.
HILL: Anderson, the rich, it turns out, are getting poorer, which is relative, of course. The annual list from "Forbes" of the world's billionaires is smaller by 355 people. And of those still on the list 83 percent did lose money.
Of course the ones who are still there, even among the biggest losers, they're doing all right. So let's give you an idea of how the list panned out this year.
Coming in at No. 1, Bill Gates, who actually moved up this year to the No. 1 spot, even after losing $18 billion. Microsoft stock down 45 percent last year, and that is more than half of the billionaire's bounty, his investments, rather, outside of the software giant, which could help him a little bit.
He actually took top billing from his friend Warren Buffett, who is actually all the way down here. He was No. 1 last year. Now he's No. 2. He lost $25 billion last year. Shares of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, also down 45 percent. And while the oracle of Omaha even admits he did make some, quote, "dumb investment mistakes" in 2008, as you can see, he's still worth $37 billion. So he's all right.
Perhaps the most well-coiffed of the bunch, Donald Trump is still on the list, but he definitely took a nosedive in terms of his ranking, down to 450, because he lost 1.6 -- he lost $1.4 billion, rather. Last year he was worth $3 billion. So definitely taking a hit there.
So these are some of the people who lost and yet still won, if you will.
What about the people who made money this year? Nearly four dozen billionaires adding to their coffers, including, as you mentioned, the man who makes a dollar a year as mayor of New York but is doing pretty well with the rest of his investments, including the company he started. Michael Bloomberg comes in No. 17 on the list and is worth $16 billion. That's up $4.5 billion in just the last year.
You knew that Oprah had to be on the list. This year she's also in the winner's column. Certainly not a huge gain. She's up about $200 million bucks. But I don't think any of us would necessarily say no to that. She's ranked 234.
As we mentioned, there are plenty of people did lose their billionaire status. And some names you may recognize. Among them, Maurice Greenberg also known as Hank, behind AIG. We have talked about him on this program. He helped build AIG into the insurance and financial giant that it was.
He was kicked out of the company in 2005, remember? But many still blame him for the company's demise. He lost almost everything. From $1.9 billion he lost $1.8 billion. He's still the largest shareholder, by the way.
You see here, Sandy Weill of Citigroup. He put Citigroup together in 1998. Last year, shares of that company, as we know down, 95 percent. He lost $600 million, putting him below billionaire status.
And just real quickly, it may be really popular, the old Facebook, with kids of all ages, but poor Mark Zuckerberg. Not even 25 yet. Couldn't hold onto the billionaire status. Last year $1.5 billion. This year we're told he's down at least $600 million, Anderson. Though I think for 24 he's still doing all right.
COOPER: Yes. You know, world's smallest violin here being played right now for all these people. Erica, thanks.
Next in "The Shot," run for your lives. Here come the deer, on the charge and running amok at a liquor store, no less. The deer like their liquor. The video from several vantage points ahead.
Also at the top of the hour, was it a broken promise? President Obama signing a spending bill with billions in earmarks. All that ahead. Stay tuned.
Also, we'll have late details on the Alabama gunman. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Time for tonight's "Shot." Attention, shoppers. There's deer on aisle 5.
In New York, you know, Erica, we're of course, used to seeing rats in stores, but at a Pennsylvania liquor store, it was deer. They went on a stampede. Security cameras from a couple different angles covered the charge.
HILL: Whoa. Whoa.
COOPER: Yikes. Look at it.
HILL: Counter's in the way. Don't worry. I cleared it.
COOPER: They leaped over the counter, slammed into some groceries, bolted out, leaving behind at least one surprised customer. You can imagine someone, the deer popping into the store.
COOPER: Yes. When last seen, the deer were heading to a Pizza Hut to pick up some pies with their liquor.
HILL: Nice, nice. I think your line of the night may have been, you know how deer love their liquor, which I didn't know until tonight. But it's knowledge that I plan to put to good use at the next cocktail party.
COOPER: It's true. Deer love the mule train, from what I understand or the night train. Or the Night Train. What's that called?
HILL: You know, there's actually a thing called the mule deer. Lives in the Grand Canyon.
COOPER: There you go. I did not know that. I'm being told from a lot of sources on our staff. You can see all the most recent shots on our Web site at AC360.com. Coming up at the top of the hour, President Obama speaking out against pet projects and budget bills, and President Obama signing a budget bill loaded with pet projects. How much of a problem is that? We'll talk about that.
And late new details about the rampage in Alabama and the man who carried it out.