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Sarah Palin Addresses Critics; Jackson Memorial Draws Huge Audience

Aired July 8, 2009 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

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

A devastating backdrop for President Obama's first summit with leaders of the world's most powerful economies. They're meeting in an Italian mountain town that was rocked by a huge earthquake in April. It's driving home their concerns about economic disasters back at home.

Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is traveling with the president.


ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the financial crisis and climate change, two hot-button issues on the minds of a lot of Americans, and they're dominating the agenda here, too.

HENRY (voice-over): President Obama may be in Italy for his first G8 Summit, but he's trying to stay focused on a pressing concern back home -- the still ailing U.S. economy. Mr. Obama quickly joined the other leading industrialized nations in reaffirming their commitment to restoring growth in global markets, and he's vowing to help tighten financial regulations.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We discussed the importance of Europe and the United States raising standards on financial institutions to insure that a crisis like the one that's taken place will never happen again.

HENRY: The president is also trying to move aggressively to deal with another potential crisis -- climate change. He helped lead the group to support a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions among developed countries, an 80 percent cut by 2050.

MIKE FROMAN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: This is a significant step forward in that the G8 -- it is the first time the G8 has published this sort of data on where countries are with regard to their prior commitments.

HENRY: But the declaration has no enforcement mechanisms, though White House officials hope it provides momentum for real change.

The president also wants to use the G8 to gain momentum for his effort to stop Iran and North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons.

OBAMA: ... that it's very important for the world community to speak to countries like Iran and North Korea and encourage them to take a path that does not result in a nuclear arms race in places like the Middle East.

HENRY: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi moved the summit to the city of L'Aquila to highlight devastation from an April earthquake. People still living without homes here are playing off Mr. Obama's campaign slogan, "Yes, we can," by telling the world, yes, we camp.

(on camera): The president toured earthquake damage. And the U.S. is trying to help victims in several ways. A big one is by giving students who were attending the University of L'Aquila, badly damaged by the quake, scholarships to attend American universities for one years -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Ed Henry traveling with the president.

The president is logging a lot of miles on this overseas trip, traveling from Moscow, the Russian capital, to Italy. Friday, he heads to Ghana. It's likely to be a very personal and historic stop for the president, who will tour the former headquarters of the British slave trade. The White House choose democratically-run Ghana for this landmark visit over the troubled African nation of Kenya, the homeland of the president's father.

CNN's Anderson Cooper, by the way, will interview President Obama in Ghana. You're going to want to see that interview. It's coming up Monday, Monday night, on "ANDERSON COOPER 360."

The Obama administration today announced new agreement with the hospital industry to help fund health care reform. The House Republican leader is dismissing it as a backroom deal cut by Democrats. But Vice President Joe Biden calls it a critical step forward toward fixing a broken system.

Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's up on Capitol Hill -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the White House is cheering this agreement, but on the deal-making that really matters, the closed-door discussions happening right here on Capitol Hill, there's nothing to cheer about yet.


KEILAR (voice-over): With President Obama overseas, Vice President Joe Biden stepped in to push the administration's top priority -- health care reform.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, reform is coming. It is on track. It is coming. We have tried for decades -- for decades -- to fix a broken system. And we have never in my entire tenure in public life been this close.

KEILAR: Biden touted a deal with the hospital industry. Hospitals will give up $155 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments over the next 10 years, money that would help pay for health care reform. But it's not enough, not nearly enough, and congressional Democrats are struggling to find a way to pay for the rest of the trillion-dollar price tag.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It's always difficult to raise revenue -- always, always, always. But we've got to pay for the bill.

KEILAR: A key proposal to tax employer-provided health benefits, once seen as a likely way to raise hundreds of billions of dollars, may be dead. Democrats, aware that recent polls show most Americans oppose the idea, are souring on taxing benefits. And so is Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, a moderate Republican working on a bipartisan deal.

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: You know, I believe that we should just move from there and take it off the table, and move forward and find other alternatives.


KEILAR: Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, where Democrats are putting together their own health care plan, they are considering a whole range of controversial tax proposals, everything from taxing households that make more than $250,000 to putting a tax on sugary drinks like sodas -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar watching the story. It's going to heat up in the next few days and weeks.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty right now for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The actor Alec Baldwin is reportedly eying a run for Congress just as former comedian Al Franken becomes the newest showbiz type to join lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

You might remember Baldwin vowed to leave the country if George Bush was elected. Well, he's still here and now reportedly he wants to become part of the Washington establishment.

We have gotten used to celebrities over the years on Capitol Hill showing up to draw attention to this cause or that, but it's also nothing new for these celebrities to sometimes step into the role of lawmaker.

A former pro wrestler, Jesse Ventura, was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998. What were they thinking? He declined to run for a second term. Actor Fred Thompson, notably of "Law & Order" fame, served as a senator from Tennessee before mounting an absolutely awful campaign for the White House, last about hour-and-a-half.

Speaking of presidents, Ronald Reagan, of course, actor before jumping into politics, as was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. They're having a bang-up time out in that state under his leadership.

And we can't forget of course the late actor/singer Sonny Bono.

The list includes stars from shows like "The Love Boat" and "The Dukes of Hazzard," who all have spent time in Washington on behalf of constituents who elected them to represent them in office.

Baldwin's credentials are questionable. Al Franken is no slouch, Harvard educated. One of his first duties will be as a committee member for the confirmation hearing of Sonia Sotomayor, which gets under way next week.

Why it occurs to actors, who spend most of their time pretending to be someone else, that they are the answer to our nation's problems is a bit of a mystery to me. On second thought, how much worse can they be than the ones who are groomed to live their lives inside the Beltway?

Here's the question: Is politics a good second career choice for actors and comedians?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

It's obviously high on the list for choices for clowns. Look around that city.


CAFFERTY: OK, Jack. Thank you.

Well, one is an international pop star. Two others, you rarely see. But all three are standing together mourning their brother's death. We have the new video just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM of grief-stricken Rebbie, LaToya and Janet Jackson. Wait until you hear what they have to say about their late brother.

And Michael Jackson's longtime dermatologist is breaking his silence. And he's not ruling out a potential bombshell regarding Jackson's two oldest children.

And what does Sarah Palin mean when she says ethics complaints have made her the target in a game of political blood sport?


BLITZER: We have some new video just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from Michael Jackson's memorial. It was obtained by the Web site TMZ, the only women among Jackson's siblings speaking to the crowd gathered at the next-door Nokia Theater across the street from the Staples Center.

Listen to what LaToya, Rebbie, and Janet Jackson said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... and, as anyone would know, when a loved one dies. But we are extremely happy for all the support. We love you all.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not alone!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just wanted to let you all know that you have been very, very supportive. And, as you well know, Michael loves his fans for than anybody in the world.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has always said that his family is first and his fans are second. And I know that he's so happy that you are here supporting him. He's watching every last one of you.

I just want to thank you all for being here for him. He loves you very, very much.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... thank you for all of your love and all of your support. And Michael will forever live in all of our hearts.

Thank you so much.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One more thing. I want to thank the city and all the support we received from everyone. Thank you so much.



BLITZER: The sisters and the rest of the Jackson family are mum on one issue, where Michael Jackson will be buried. No word on that yet.

There are also persistent questions about Jackson, his two oldest children, and Jackson's longtime dermatologist, who is now breaking his silence.

Let's go out to Los Angeles. CNN's Kara Finnstrom is standing by with more on this part of the story -- Kara.

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein now appears to be making the media rounds. Later tonight, he will be on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE."

Earlier today, he was on "Good Morning America" and he's been tweeting about that appearance since then, urging people to check it out. During it, he made one carefully couched denial.


FINNSTROM (voice-over): Dr. Arnold Klein is speaking out almost one week after the magazine "US Weekly" reported he fathered Michael Jackson's two oldest children.

DR. ARNOLD KLEIN, JACKSON DERMATOLOGIST: All I can tell you is, to the best of my knowledge, I'm not the father of these children. But I'm telling you, if push comes to shove, I can't say anything about it.

FINNSTROM: Klein failing to completely rule out the possibility of being the biological father. Debbie Rowe, who gave birth to the children and was married to Jackson, worked in Klein's office for 23 years.

Klein did offer a clear denial on another front, telling "Good Morning America" he is not on the list of doctors being questioned by Los Angeles police. Sources tell CNN detectives have interviewed numerous physicians linked to Jackson, as they investigate whether prescription drugs prompted his death.

KLEIN: I'm not one of the five doctors. I have not been examined by anyone. OK?

I have not been contacted by the police in Los Angeles. So I don't know what to tell you, but I'm not one of the doctors.

FINNSTROM: Klein says he gave Jackson certain medications when he performed painful skin procedures related to a Lupus diagnosis. But he says he never gave Jackson dangerous drugs. He did worry about Jackson getting medication elsewhere.

KLEIN: I always was worried about other doctors. But here's the problem with Michael. No matter what he wanted, someone would give in to him.


FINNSTROM: Klein also told "Good Morning America" that he saw Jackson just three days before his death in his office and that Jackson was singing and dancing for patients. He said there was nothing apparently wrong that he could see -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kara, thanks very much.

And this programming reminder: Dr. Klein will be among Larry King's guests later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

Revealing new glimpses of Michael Jackson's children. We're learning more about them after their rare appearance at their father's memorial. Many fans still heartbroken -- heartbroken after hearing the anguish of his daughter, Paris.

Plus, startling new information about cyber-attacks against U.S. government Web sites.

And a man with a guitar takes his complaint against an airline straight to YouTube.



BLITZER: Frustrated with customer service? You can try taking it to YouTube. That's what one musician did after he says United Airlines damaged his guitar. The song became an instant hit and a P.R. nightmare for United.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

All right, Abbi, what happened?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, anyone that has ever been frustrated with an airline needs to see this video.

This is Canadian musician Dave Carroll, who says he watched in horror last year at Chicago's O'Hare Airport as baggage handlers smashed his beloved Taylor guitar. And then he says he spent a year trying and failing to get compensation from United Airlines.

So, he took his case to YouTube.


DAVE CARROLL, MUSICIAN (singing): United, you broke my Taylor guitar. United, United, some big help you are. You broke it, you should fix it. You are libel. Just admit it. I should have flown with someone else, or gone by car, because United breaks guitars.


TATTON: Well, Dave Carroll is now some sort of poster child for frustrated passengers everything. His video has got about 150,000 views since he posted it just on Monday.

BLITZER: Wow. And United must be responding.

TATTON: Well, after about 50,000 views, yes, they responded to Dave Carroll.

They called him, he says. And a spokeswoman from United Airlines saying they are now in conversations to make what happened right. They said the video is a learning experience for them and they are going to be using that internally to improve customer service.

BLITZER: They should have just bought him a new Taylor guitar, and that would have been it.


TATTON: Right.

BLITZER: But it's a good song.

TATTON: Yes, very catchy.

BLITZER: Thank you. I like that song. Thank you.

We have a new snapshot of President Obama's popularity. The honeymoon may be over for him in at least one of the most important political battlegrounds. The best political team on television is standing by.

Plus, the massive audience for Michael Jackson's memorial, the TV ratings are in. They are eye-popping.

And Sarah Palin says she's the target of frivolous lawsuits and ethics charges even as she prepares to step down. But watchdogs in Alaska say they are sure there's a smoking gun.



Happening now: Stepping up the fight against global warming, President Obama and other G8 leaders are pledging to do just that. But will words from their summit lead to action? Our political analysts are standing by.

Michael Jackson's memorial service gets huge TV ratings. We're going to tell you just how many people tuned in here in the United States and compare those numbers with viewers' interest in other famous funerals.

And, for many, the memorial service provided a rare look at Michael Jackson's children. They have been shrouded from the media for many years, so what are they really like? We are going to be speaking with the last journalist to interview the singer before his death -- all of this, plus the best political team on television.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. You might think the massive memorial for Michael Jackson put an end to the hoopla around his death, yet many people are still asking lots of questions, among them, what will happen to the three children, and what kind of children are they?


BLITZER: And joining us now from Los Angeles, Bryan Monroe, our CNN contributor, the last journalist to interview Michael Jackson.

Let's talk a little bit, Bryan, about these three kids. Did you ever have a chance to -- to meet any of these kids?

BRYAN MONROE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, actually, I had the opportunity when we did the interview with Michael back in September of 2007 at the hotel.

We were actually -- when I knocked on the door, opened the door, and was -- were greeted by Blanket, the youngest son, Prince Michael Jackson II. And he was very friendly, had a candy dish with some Lifesavers in it, offered me one. I said, I'm OK.

And then he reached out to shake my hand. And he reached out with his left hand. And Michael stopped him and said, "Oh, no, no, Blanket, not the left hand. Use the right hand."

And it was just that little moment that showed that father-and- son connection. I have got a son about the same age. And it was genuine. And -- and that was the -- the really special thing about seeing the services yesterday and watching the family come together on stage.

We saw Paris, who just brought tears to our eyes with that sincere, you know, daddy, father, you know, I have known you since I have been alive, and -- and that really sincere daughter-father connection.

But, also, I caught the glimpse of -- of Blanket. It was hard to see. As the family embraced, Blanket snuck in off to the side and was right in the middle of Rebbie, and Janet, and LaToya, in the middle of the family.

And I think, ultimately, that's where those kids belong, is in the middle of that family.

BLITZER: And we -- we're going to talk about where they're going and what might be in store for them. Blanket is now 7 years old. Paris is 11 years old.

The oldest child is Prince Michael, who's 12 years old right now. We saw him yesterday, but we really didn't hear from him. Is -- is he just basically shy, this kid?

MONROE: Well, all three of them are very close.

I think Paris and Prince, being the older ones, are a little bit more, I guess, mature, and Blanket is a little bit more precocious. But they all are so tight. And that's other piece, is they -- they're in this family of cousins.

All the brothers, you know, Marlon, Tito, Jackie, Jermaine, Randy, and the sisters, Janet, Rebbie, and LaToya, they all are part of that big family. And -- and many of them have their own kids. And, sometimes, their kids have kids. And they're growing up inside that circle of cousins, and with -- with Katherine as the matriarch of the family.

And then you have got Grace, the -- the nanny and Michael's close aide for years, there taking care of them. They call Grace mum. You know, that is that tight family. Plus, then you -- you bring in Diana Ross and her family and her extended family.

Diana, of course, you know, was asked to step in if anything happened to Katherine. And we heard Diana's letter being read yesterday at the funeral. That family and extended family structure is exactly what's needed to raise those kids.

BLITZER: So, you think -- I mean, right now, these three kids -- and they're all obviously very adorable and precocious -- they don't have a father, and they don't have a mother, really, either. They have a grandmother, who's got at least temporary custody of these three kids.

You know Katherine, the mother of Michael Jackson. She's, what, 79 years old.

Is she really qualified to raise these three kids right now?

MONROE: Well, she -- I think, again, she's there with a strong support network -- the support network in -- of her family and the extended family.

You know, you have Rebbie, who is Michael's oldest sister. Michael was one of nine children -- in fact, the third -- the third youngest of nine children. And, you know, Rebbie will also help raise the kids. You know, you've got the whole family there, whether they're in town or traveling or -- or out on the road. You know, Janet, of course, is a successful artist in her own right.

But you saw that moment with Paris leaning on Janet's shoulder. And Janet -- she reached out to touch her arm and then afterwards gave her that big embrace. That's real. That's the -- that's the image of Michael Jackson that I think we will be left with, is Michael as a father.

BLITZER: Tell us about these two parents of Michael Jackson -- Katherine, the mother, and Joe, the father. They -- they've been estranged from each other for a while.

They live in separate areas, is that right?

Because I guess the question is, what role will the grandfather have, Joe Jackson, in raising these three kids, if any? MONROE: Yes. Well, Joseph lives in Las Vegas and has been there probably for the last decade or so. Katherine, of course, with the rest of the family, is at the home in Encino.

And they've come -- they come together every once in a while. And I know they have a big -- I think it was their 60th anniversary party in -- in Las Vegas a few months ago.

But part of that family, they -- they have learned a lot from Joseph as both a father, and as their, you know, de facto manager for those first few years coming out of Gary. He was very strict. He was a taskmaster. Some say he was -- he was overly tough.

BLITZER: Because Michael...

MONROE: Michael has even talked about it.

BLITZER: Michael, in his interviews, said he was abusive. And -- and I guess a lot of folks are worried, will he have a role in raising these three kids -- if, in fact, he was abusive to his own son?

MONROE: Well, I think, more importantly, that that network of family members, the brothers -- you saw Marlon there talking about the brother he lost, Brandon.

And I think the brothers and the sisters will have a much stronger role with those kids. The grandparents are, of course, very important. But, you know, you've got a family of nine brothers and sisters. They're going to make sure those kids are all right.

BLITZER: Bryan Monroe, thanks very much for joining us.

MONROE: Thanks, Wolf.


BLITZER: The ratings, by the way, are now in for Michael Jackson's memorial service. We now know more than 31 million people watched it live here in the United States on 18 U.S. broadcasts and cable networks that carried it. That places it slightly behind the viewership for President Reagan's burial in California and Princess Diana's funeral, but well ahead of the audience for President Reagan's funeral in Washington and the funerals of President Ford and Pope John Paul II.

Millions more, of course, watched it live streaming on the Web.

There's new evidence that Michael Jackson's music now is more popular than it's been in decades. Eight hundred thousand Jackson albums were sold last week alone, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's almost double the sales from the previous week. Checking Billboard's Hot Digital Songs chart, Jackson holds five of the top 10 slots, with "Man in the Mirror" leading as his top selling download song of the week.

And on iTunes, four -- four Jackson albums are in the top 10 best-sellers for the week.

Sarah Palin -- she says she's a victim of ethics allegations that she calls political blood sport. We're looking at what she's really accused of.

And President Obama over at the G8 summit in Italy -- what can the meeting really accomplish?

Why some say there's little room for optimism.


BLITZER: Sarah Palin says she's the target of a game of political blood sport. That's what she told CNN as she explained why she decided to resign as Alaska's governor, citing multiple ethic complaints against her.

But what exactly are these ethics complaints all about?

Who's filing them?

CNN's Sean Callebs has been digging for us.

We sent him to Anchorage.

He's joining us live.

And what are you discovering -- Sean?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, they come from a broad cross section of the state. And depending on who you speak with, they're either trivial and a waste of the governor's time or they're very serious and provide keen insight into the way Palin has governed the state.

after spending months caught in a net of seemingly endless accusations of ethic violations, Sarah Palin says it was too much, draining on her, her tight-knit family and especially draining on the state. It cost an estimated $2 million for the governor to answer the allegations against her and her staff.


CALLEBS (voice-over): After spending months caught in a net of seemingly endless accusations of ethics violations, Sarah Palin says it was too much -- draining on her, draining on her tight-knit family and especially draining on the state. It cost an estimated $2 million for Alaska to answer the 19 complaints leveled against her and her staff.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: It doesn't cost the critics anything to file frivolous lawsuits or -- or ethics violation charges. It costs our state such a great deal -- thousands of state staff hours, millions of dollars in public resources that aren't going to things it should be going to, like soldiers' benefits and safer roads and teachers and troopers. CALLEBS: Andrea McLeod has been an especially sharp thorn in Palin's side.


CALLEBS: She's filed four complaints against the governor and her staff and two lawsuits. McLeod, a registered Republican, says they are hardly frivolous.

MCLEOD: I'm exercising my right to get those public records in order to discover what Sarah Palin is up to.

CALLEBS: Here are some of the litany of complaints leveled against Palin -- a conflict of interest because she wore a jacket that had a logo on it while at a snowmobile race. Another alleged she had the state pay for her children's travel. She has since reimbursed the state.

One of Andree McLeod's allegations said Palin used cronyism to improperly hire a friend for a state job. That complaint was dismissed.

James Muller is a political science professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

JAMES MULLER, UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA-ANCHORAGE: Well, I think most of the ethical complaints are fairly trivial. Almost all of them have been dismissed by the various levels of review that have taken them up. Some of them are clearly kind of fanciful or farcical.

CALLEBS: In fact, there are a couple of charges pending, but Palin has been cleared in all the others.

Palin's lawyer says the accusations have personally cost the governor more than $500,000 in legal fees. And worse, so time- consuming, it's hamstrung efforts to do state business.

(on camera): Is there any frustration on your part that she's portraying you and the other people who filed the complaints as kind of like these conspiracy theorists, wacko jobs?

MCLEOD: Every one of these complaints have to do with Sarah Palin's personal choices. She always puts her personal interests before the state's interests.


CALLEBS: Sarah Palin leaves office in 18 days. But the complaints in the pipeline will not simply go away. State officials tell us they will continue to move on until, Wolf, they have all been legally resolved.

BLITZER: Sean, thanks very much for that.

Sean is up in Anchorage, Alaska. The meeting, by the way, that the president of the United States has been holding in that Italian town -- the G8 summit -- that town was badly damaged by an earthquake in April. As many of you probably remember, the summit's location right in the middle of an earthquake zone isn't lost on organizers.

Abbi Tatton is here.

She's taking a closer look.

How much of a concern is this for the G8 summit?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, we're used to protesters presenting logical nightmares for organizers of these things. Well, this time, add aftershocks.

That April quake registered 6.3 magnitude. But I want to show you the seismic activity in this region since. Every single one of those dots represents a tremor of some kind. The vast majority are just tiny tremors, but some of them and a couple of them, just in the last two weeks, have been more significant -- 4.1 and 4.6 magnitude aftershocks.

And that has the Italian media buzzing about potential evacuation prospects should something like that occur.

Well, the G8 organizers initially say that the building is secure, is quake-proof, where this G8 summit is being held. A police barracks -- it's not exactly fancy, but it did emerge unscathed after April's quake, when so many buildings crumbled.

They do note, though, Wolf, the organizers, that this police barracks, it does have a helipad -- a helicopter pad with op -- which is operational 24/7 just in case.

BLITZER: It's a headache, certainly, for the organizers, but a nice gesture from the G8 leaders to the people of Italy.

Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.

Let's talk about this summit with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley; the Politico's White House correspondent, Nia-Malika Henderson; and our senior political analyst, David Gergen -- David, "The New York Times" had a tough editorial today, among other things, saying this: "Inexcusably lacks planning by the host government, Italy, and the political weakness of many of the leaders attending leaves little room for optimism. If this session is going to justify the time and effort, President Obama will have to lead the way."

So far, is he leading the way?

Is he stepping up and demanding action on some of these critical issues?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, Wolf, he went into this summit especially on questions of climate change in a much stronger position than America has been before, because the House passed that bill that he's been favoring to address global warming -- a big energy/climate change bill. It hasn't passed the Senate. But that strengthened his hands.

Having said that, it's also clear now that he's coming out with a very mixed set of results out of this -- out of these meetings. The key industrialized nations in Europe and the United States are agreeing out of these meetings to cut their climate emissions but they can't get India and China to agree to major, significant cuts.

And so the president's effort to build momentum for a big major breakthrough treaty late this year in Copenhagen, in December, when leaders gather there, have been slowed by this. There was -- there was hope there would be a breakthrough with India and China. The failure to do is -- is competing with, in terms of the news headlines and new significance, with the agreements that they did reach among the industrialized nations in Europe and the United States and Russia.

BLITZER: And if the Chinese are interested in any of this, it's going to be undermined, to a certain degree, Candy, because the Chinese president has decided he isn't even going to go anymore, because he's got troubles back in China right now -- serious demonstrations unfolding.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's, you know, and that's the problem sometimes with some of these summits, with the G20 and G8 and -- is that other outside things tend to kind of overshadow what's going on. And we also sort of need to keep in mind that when you go to a summit where people talk about conceptual commitments for 2050, that not all of the work is going to be done in the next three days. I mean this is -- you know, the Earth will not move one way or the other as of -- although, you know, we just saw that earthquake report. But I mean in, you know, at least theoretically speaking, in terms of policy, not a lot is going to happen in this meeting.

I think David is right that it's been overshadowed by other nations not going along with some of these conceptual commitments for 2050.

But I don't think you can look at it and think, boy, what a -- this is just a horrible conference here. To me, it looks fairly typical, albeit with some new elements.

BLITZER: Nia-Malika, I want to put some numbers up on the screen to show our viewers -- the president's job approval numbers. Right now, according to this Gallup poll -- the daily tracking monthly averages -- Obama is at 61 percent. That's basically a little bit down from 65 percent and in May. He was down at 62 percent in March. He's still above 60 percent, which is not too bad, obviously.

But much more worrisome is this Quinnipiac University poll in the key battleground state of Ohio, an industrial state. And now his job approval numbers in Ohio have gone from 62 percent in May down to 49 percent right now. How worried should the White House be about this?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's that old saying, as goes Ohio, so goes the nation. So in terms of that, there could be a concern and a sense that some of the -- some of the stimulus money might not be trickling down and there's not a kind of real sense among people on the ground that jobs are being created. Tomorrow, Joe Biden is actually being dispatched to -- to Ohio to address this. And we know he's kind of in a battle with Representative Boehner there in terms of talking about is the stimulus plan working. So they're going to give some attention to Ohio.

But I think one of the larger concerns is that there does seem to be some softening of support for the O -- for the Obama agenda, for his plans, for him personally, among Independents. And there seems to be kind of a swing among Independents to at least, you know, look at Republicans, who have, of course, been highly critical of this stimulus plan and some of the big spending programs that we've seen.

BLITZER: Because, David, early on, the folks out there could blame the Bush administration. But at some point, they're going to start blaming President Obama for losing, what, three million jobs so far this year.

This is a huge potential nightmare unless he can really turn things around.

GERGEN: It is, Wolf. And Ohio in this -- the late -- the May report had an unemployment rate of 10.8 percent. So it's one of the highest in the nation. And that clearly is starting to be a drag in Ohio on the president.

And what -- there are those in the White House, Wolf, as you know, who are worried now that the stubbornly high unemployment prospects that we face could begin to drag the president's poll numbers down nationwide over the next few months. And it could come just as he's trying to secure his health care reform in the fall and just as there may be a big debate about a new stimulus package and more deficits.

So the president is heading into some -- some headwinds here that he's -- he's -- we know he's a very, very strong and clever political leader. But the conditions on the ground there are rough for him.

BLITZER: They certainly are.

All right, guys. We've got to leave it right there. But we'll continue this tomorrow.

Let's check in with Lou to see what's coming up at the top of the hour -- Lou?

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Wolf, thank you very much.

Tonight, President Obama's trillion dollar health care plan is threatened. Capitol Hill Democrats divided over the high costs, as the federal deficit is exploding and any tax increase could stymie economic recovery.

Also, massive cyber attacks against the U.S. government -- several agencies, including the White House, attacked over the July 4th weekend. North Korea is the leading suspect. We'll be examining why the federal government can't protect its highly vulnerable computer systems.

And what better image of rampant Washington elitism than the spectacle of lobbyists hiring homeless people to hold their places in line outside Congressional hearings?

Tonight's face-off debate -- Sarah Palin's resignation -- is it political suicide or is she a political savant?

We'll have that in the broadcast tonight.

Join us for all of that and more, all the day's news at the top of the hour -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Lou.

Thank you.

Presidential bug swatting -- first President Obama, now the Iranian president. Jeanne Moos is getting ready to take a Moost Unusual look.


BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty once again for the Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, based on a couple of things -- Alec Baldwin saying he wants to run for Congress -- or he's thinking about it.

Is politics a good second career choice for actors and comedians?

Glen in Florida writes: "Maybe for some, Jack. But at the rate we're seeing Republicans run afoul in a variety of ways, there might actually be more opportunities for politicians to find a second career in entertainment. I mean, hey, couldn't you just see the South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford, in a lifetime made for TV movie? Or how about Sarah Palin pursuing a career in stand-up comedy? You betcha."

Missy writes: "My problem with most actors and comedians is that most of them are pretty isolated from everyday America. They live in a cocoon and unless I was convinced they were out there talking to people, living the life of an ordinary American, I probably wouldn't vote for an actor. But I know many others would. Just look at California, voting for an actor in the governor's office. It worked out pretty well for them, didn't it?"

Larry in Palm Beach, Florida: "Why not? Actors have been the most quotable and interesting politicians anywhere on the landscape. Anybody who writes a book titled "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot" can't be all bad."

That's Al Franken's book.

"Besides, could Jennifer Aniston and Whoopi Goldberg make any less sense than Sarah Palin?"

Marsha in Kansas writes: "I think it's a great career choice for the ones that are intelligent and informed. They're somewhat used to criticism. They usually communicate clearly. They're used to living within certain rules of behavior in order to keep their fans. It's the intelligent informed part that's the deciding factor.

Donovan in Virginia says: "If Baldwin gets elected, I'll leave the country. And I'm sure I won't be alone."

And Barry in Ohio writes: "It's all about the team, Jack. Don't forget that it's the writers that make the comedians funny. Put a good team in place, anybody can govern. By the way, who writes your stuff?"

If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to my blog at and look for yours there, among hundreds of others -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I like your writing, Jack, because, you know what, that's the way you are. You write the way you talk. If anybody knows you, what you -- what you write is just Jack.

CAFFERTY: Yes. And -- and to answer that guy's question, I write most of it myself, although I do have a producer who helps. No, that's all I know how to do.

BLITZER: But those two excellent books you wrote, anybody who read those books, that's Jack Cafferty talking.

CAFFERTY: Well, you're very kind, Mr. Blitzer.

Thank you.

On that kind note, I'll see you tomorrow.

BLITZER: I'll see you tomorrow, Jack. Thank you.

CAFFERTY: OK. Good-bye.

BLITZER: A hit and a miss for Iran's president. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tries to catch a moth, but guess what?

He can't.

So how do -- how did President Obama catch that faster flying fly?

We're going to pit president against president in a pest killing play-by-play.


BLITZER: Let's take a look at some of our Hot Shots right now.

In Pakistan, a displaced man from the Swat Valley carries away supplies from the United Nations.

In India, students get drenched riding home from school.

In India, the queen of Belgium greets orthodox nuns as she visits a church.

And in Scotland, check it out -- two four week old twin red pandas are together in a conservation park.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures worth a thousand words.

A quick eye and an even faster hand -- handy skills when trying to catch those pesky little summer bugs -- skills the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, apparently doesn't have and President Obama does. And that makes for a Moost Unusual presidential play-by- play.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was...




MOOS: ...definitely...


OBAMA: Get out of here.


MOOS: ...a tough act to follow.





MOOS: ...too tough for the president of Iran.

(VIDEO CLIP) MOOS: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in the process of congratulating his countrymen when what looked like a giant moth fluttered by. He missed. We may never know if it bugs President Ahmadinejad not to be able to say in Farsi...


OBAMA: But I got the sucker.


MOOS (on camera): Let's go to the replay for a slow motion comparison of the two leaders' bug swatting techniques.

(voice-over): President Ahmadinejad opted for the lunge and grab method, while President Obama executed the wait and bounce technique.


OBAMA: And you want to film that?

There it is.


MOOS: That's not the only kind of fly disturbing world leaders. Mr. President, your trouser zip is undone has gone viral. While preparing for an interview, President Ahmadinejad seems to be zipping up.

Critics aren't zipping their lips. They're making the most of the viral videos, putting the missed swat to music...


MOOS: ...and putting words in the mouth of the moth: "Death to Dictator!" A Twitter message quotes a Shiite imam as saying: "God created bugs to intimidate the arrogant." Someone even put Ahmadinejad's head on the fly that buzzed Obama.

When the president talked in his inaugural speech about extending a hand to those who unclench their fist...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the most persistent fly I've ever seen.




MOOS: ...this probably isn't what he meant.

Jeanne Moos, CNN...


OBAMA: Now, where were we?


MOOS: ...New York.


BLITZER: Jeanne Moos, thank you.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.