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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Preaching Hate; Bill Clinton to the Rescue; Guilty Verdict in Elizabeth Smart Kidnapping; Turmoil in Haiti
Aired December 10, 2010 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Thanks for watching, everyone.
Elizabeth Edwards will be laid to rest tomorrow. Tonight, the man who plans to preach his hate outside her funeral, he and his Church routinely protest the funerals of service members. The Supreme Court is weighing in if what he does is protected by the Constitution.
Tonight you're going to meet some of the people in North Carolina who are rallying tomorrow to show support for the Edwards family and meet the hate this group spouts with love.
Also tonight, the remarkable moment today when the President and former president walked into the White House briefing room to sell the President's tax deal. What happened next no one could have predicted. President Obama walked out and left Bill Clinton holding fort from the podium. Was that a smart move from a confident Obama or a sign of just how much trouble he's in?
And later, Elizabeth Smart breaking her silence; talking about justice and moving forward moments after a guilty verdict was read in the trial against her kidnapper and rapist. Tonight you're going to hear from Elizabeth. And we talk to Ed Smart about the verdict and what his daughter and the family plan to do now. "Crime and Punishment" tonight.
We begin as always "Keeping Them Honest." Tonight, the church that preaches hate, plain and simple, hate in public places, hate in moments of great pain and great loss. We're talking about the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. I'm sure you've heard of them. It's a tiny congregation, a family-run operation whose members aren't content to spew their hate in the confines of their Church.
Well, the man who runs the Westboro Baptist Church loves publicity and he's made a name for himself by picketing funerals of fallen troops. Their tortured logic is that America's war dead are somehow God's punishment for the country tolerating gays and lesbians. Their actions and whether or not it should be protected by the First Amendment is now being decided by the Supreme Court. We talk about it tonight, however, because tomorrow the group will protest outside the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Now, in a moment you're going to hear from some good people who are planning to drown out this group's hate with love. We've always avoided even mentioning this church on this program because we haven't frankly wanted to give them any publicity.
But because the Supreme Court is now considering the issues this Church raises we thought it worthwhile just to look at what they do and more importantly what a lot of other Americans do to stand up to their bullying.
This is how far the church describes what they plan to do at Elizabeth Edwards' funeral tomorrow. And I want to warn you, the language they use is ugly.
"WBC," they write, "will picket a respectful distance from the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards who split hell wide open on December 7th, 2010." They talk about a respectful distance, their words are anything but respectful. "This witch," they go on to say and I want to emphasize these are their words from their Web site, "spent her life in defiance and disobedience to God and blasphemed him with her dying breath."
Now, I'm not going to read you any more of what they say on their Web site, the statement on -- on their Web site, frankly, just rambles on and on like this, talking about cancer is God's punishment, et cetera. I'm not going to turn this into a Sunday school class. I'm not going to presume to tell you what the Bible says.
But to use Elizabeth Edwards' funeral, to use the funeral of -- of a service member, anybody's funeral to promote yourself, to hurt others as this church routinely does, well look, it may be Constitutional and the Supreme Court is going to decide that, but it is certainly unconscionable.
A few weeks back after reporting on a story about an Arkansas school board member who posted a rant on Facebook saying he liked to see gay people die, I suddenly found myself the target of this sorry little group. The head of the church, a gun named Fred Phelps posted this video online addressed to me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED PHELPS, WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH: Who do you think you are? A muck-raking little news prostitute to be passing out spiritual advice on weighty matters such as sin and righteousness and judgment to come.
You are in the bailiwick of Westboro Baptist Church now you anti- Christ smart aleck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, I really don't mean to be smart aleck here but I did have to look up what bailiwick meant and it basically means I'm on their radar. As for muck-raking little prostitute, news prostitute I didn't have to look that one up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHELPS: We at Westboro Baptist Church are offering up special prayers for you. They're called imprecatory prayers. Psalm 109 is an example of imprecatory prayers. They are prayers for God's curses to be poured out upon a class of very grievous sinners. Even in certain cases, that God will kill them and remove such evil people from the earth. We are praying this kind of imprecatory prayers for Anderson Cooper. Amen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, to be honest, having this man praying for my death is kind of a badge of honor and personally I'm not too worried because I don't think God listens to this man. I actually hope he spends a lot of time praying for my demise because maybe, just maybe, that means he'll spend a little less time getting in his beat up old van, driving to the funeral of a soldier or marine and bringing even more pain to a grieving family.
I'm joined now by two people who never knew Elizabeth Edwards in life but plan to be there tomorrow outside her funeral facing the Westboro protesters, facing them not with hate but with hearts full of love. Susan Burcham and Ben Requena join me now.
Susan, why did you feel the need to -- to be there tomorrow, to come out and -- and basically try to sort of silence Fred Phelps and those others?
SUSAN BURCHAM, ORGANIZING WESTBORO COUNTER-PROTEST: We live in a town that respects funerals. We -- we pull to the side of the road when a funeral car comes by. And when I heard that these people were coming, that they were going to try to do something with this, it was just -- I felt like it -- there was something I needed to do.
And I need to say something and -- and -- and say something to the bully in our front yard, basically, is what I felt like doing. And Facebook kind of gave me the opportunity to do that.
COOPER: Ben, I heard you say --
BEN REQUENA, ORGANIZING WESTBORO COUNTER-PROTEST: Yes.
COOPER: -- that -- that success for you would be if Sunday morning the headlines read, Elizabeth Edwards quietly laid to rest.
REQUENA: Absolutely. Absolutely. This -- this -- this isn't about me. I think Susan would agree. This isn't about us, it's not about the -- the thousands of -- of people from the local community and -- and abroad that are going to come over and -- and help protest and spread the love. And -- and -- it's certainly not about the Westboro group. This is about human decency and common courtesy.
COOPER: And -- and Susan, how do you plan to do this tomorrow? Because I mean, obviously you don't want this to turn into some sort of yelling protest or anything. BURCHAM: No. We were talking about this -- our -- the original post that I did was to create a human barrier between the protesters and the funeral itself. But luckily the Raleigh police have decided to make that -- to do that on their own. And they're cordoning off the area for the Church.
So what we're going to be doing is maybe, maybe even singing hymns and Christmas carols just to -- to if we get 200 to 500 people out there singing and -- and just bringing out the love, then their hate can't be heard.
So that's kind of what we've been talking about.
COOPER: Ben, did you worry -- I mean, we worried about frankly even talking about this tonight because we don't want to -- you know give them frankly more publicity. Did you worry about kind of turning this into something bigger? I mean, you probably have the same concerns.
REQUENA: Yes, absolutely. I -- I think if we weren't there, Westboro would be the story. It would be hard for any local media to -- to not cover their presence. So what I think we're hoping to do is be the better story. Not the louder story, or the flashier story, but the better story.
COOPER: And obviously, Susan, you know the Supreme Court is -- is considering this now. What do you say to people who say, look, this is a matter of free speech and -- and you know, like it or not, they have a right to -- to protest.
BURCHAM: I can't disagree with that, but I think this is the free speech equivalent of kicking a puppy. And you can do it, but why? And it's just ridiculous to try to do it.
REQUENA: Yes, I actually think freedom of speech takes care of freedom of speech in this case.
COOPER: How do you mean?
REQUENA: Our freedom to go there and counter protest takes care of their freedom to protest in the first place. Like I said, if -- if they're there and we aren't they're the story, so we want to be the bigger story, the better story.
COOPER: Susan and Ben, I appreciate you coming on and being with us tonight. Thank you very much.
REQUENA: Thank you.
COOPER: I want to bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin to talk about Snyder v. Phelps, who is the first man in the case now before the Supreme Court. How do you think the court is going to rule? Because I mean, it -- it clearly, this is a form of free speech I would assume.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: If I had to bet today based on hearing the oral argument, I would say the Phelps win nine to nothing. I think, unfortunately, you know one of the famous definitions of the First Amendment is freedom for the thought that we hate. And it's hard to think of anything more hateful than -- than the way that Phelps used the First Amendment.
But the facts of the case, you know, the -- the Marine, Snyder, who died, the -- the police there told them you have to be 1,000 feet away, you have to stay behind this barrier, and that's exactly what the Phelps did.
They stayed 1,000 feet away from the funeral. They -- they -- they followed the police instructions, they held the signs, they -- and -- and yet a jury still awarded the Snyder family $5 million in damages.
COOPER: So -- does that mean -- so the Supreme Court rules, and therefore they would -- that -- that -- that ruling would be overturned and they would not get those damages?
TOOBIN: That's -- that -- that -- if -- if the Phelps win, the damage award would be wiped out.
COOPER: There was an argument made about privacy, that the privacy of this family is violated, that Phelps, folks from this Church had put some information about them online about their family online. That -- doesn't really --
TOOBIN: That -- that is a somewhat better argument, but, you know, when you are talking about a group that is engaged in a political protest, even if it's a lunatic protest, that's at the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect, political protest.
And the fact that these facts were arguably private, although it was the fact that one of the people in the family had been divorced, which is not really a private fact, it's hard for me to see how the court would let that be an end round, end-run around the First Amendment.
COOPER: Justice Scalia brought up something, what, the fighting words doctrine. What is that?
TOOBIN: Fighting words doctrine is a really old doctrine in the Supreme Court which is that if you say something that is such a provocation that it -- it sort of triggers violence, you -- that can be censored.
But you know, the Supreme Court has not upheld the fighting doctrine -- the fighting words doctrine in decades. A lot of people believe it doesn't even exist anymore, and this -- there was no fight here. I mean, there was no -- no violence prompted by it.
TOOBIN: You know, it's funny, Ben, your -- you're previous guest he really got to the heart of it. Because he said, you know, the cure -- the -- the way the lawyers put it is the cure for bad speech is more speech. And that's what Ben and Susan are doing, and that's sort of how the First Amendment's supposed to work.
COOPER: Interesting, Jeff Toobin, I appreciate your analysis, thanks.
Let us know what you think; the live chat up and running right now at AC360.com.
Up next, this one took us all by surprise today, reportedly the White House as well. Why President Obama handed the podium in the White House briefing room to former President Clinton and then left the room.
And later tonight, the defendant sang as the verdict was read -- sang as the verdict was read, the man who took 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart from her bed at knifepoint. We'll tell you what the jury decided and what Elizabeth Smart herself had to say herself afterward. You'll hear from her and we'll speak to her dad. "Crime and Punishment" tonight.
COOPER: Well, what you're about to see isn't just "Raw Politics" -- the best we can tell it is unprecedented. Nothing quite like it has ever happened at the White House as far as we know. President Obama as you probably know is having a tough time selling Democrats on his tax deal with Republicans.
So today after an afternoon meeting with former President Bill Clinton, the two walked into the White House briefing room. After saying he'd have to leave shortly to meet the First Lady, the President told the former president in so many words, sell it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In my opinion, this is a good bill, and I hope that my fellow Democrats will support it. I thanked the Republican leaders for agreeing to -- to include things that were important to the President. There's never a perfect bipartisan bill in the eyes of a partisan. And we all see this differently.
But I really believe this will be a significant net-plus for the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that was former President Clinton making his case for the tax deal looking like he didn't exactly need any help. Then a few moments later, this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's what I'll say is I've been keeping the First Lady waiting for about half an hour, so I'm going to take off. But --
CLINTON: I don't want to make her mad. Please go.
OBAMA: You're in good hands. And Gibbs will call last question.
CLINTON: Yes help me. Thank you. Yes. Go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So then it got really fascinating. The former president talk -- talking solo for about another 17 minutes or so, longer than the two had actually spent together at the podium. Now it was either a remarkable show of self-confidence for President Obama or a reminder of how much political trouble he's in, or both.
In any case, for a lot of Democrats certainly it brought back strong memories of just how comfortable Bill Clinton was in the briefing room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the G-7, here about to head off, by the way, that's a very nice tie. I wish the American public could see that tie.
CLINTON: This was designed by a 12-year-old. It's a Save the Children tie. If it weren't a gift, I would give it to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the House --
CLINTON: You know what I'm really upset about? You got a honeymoon and I didn't.
Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quick question on health care?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. One more. It's Christmas, guys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, Bill Clinton back then.
Joining me now: former Hillary Clinton campaign adviser, Maria Cardona; Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief for RedState.com; and senior political analyst, David Gergen.
David, you worked in the White House for four administrations, you worked there for the Clinton administration. Can you ever remember a time when a sitting president and a former president show up in the briefing room and then one leaves and other kind of -- takes over?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, Anderson. I was there some 17 years ago when President Clinton wanted to get NAFTA passed and he had a rebellion in the Democratic Party and he called in all of the former presidents, four of them, and asked each one of them to speak briefly. But I can assure you he never let them have the podium alone.
COOPER: Was this a wise move in your opinion for -- for President Obama?
GERGEN: I think it -- you know, there's going to be a lot of hoop-tee-do about it, but I -- don't think he didn't do any harm. I -- I do think to go back to your earlier question I think, President Obama has a -- has a self-confidence and inner security that this wouldn't faze him at all. And I think he thinks, what's the big deal?
But I -- you can tell Bill Clinton relished this. I mean, he -- I can only think of two presidents, Bill Clinton and Teddy Roosevelt, who would have enjoyed this as much as he did. And I -- I think he actually made what I think is a problem for Obama is that Bill Clinton makes a better argument for the compromise than President Obama did the other day.
COOPER: Maria, what about that? I mean, it was interesting and apparently at the back story, Press Secretary Gibbs heard them out in the hallway and was like, what are you guys up to? And -- and -- and basically that they kind of wanted to go into the briefing room and he -- and he said please give us five minutes, and got the -- the media around. Was it a wise thing?
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I actually think it was a brilliant move. I mean, look. You have somebody who is absolutely comfortable behind the podium and you have a president, President Obama who as David said, I think has -- has an inner security that at the end of the day he's the President no matter what.
And you're -- you're going to have somebody in Bill Clinton who is going to explain this in very simple language. Not only that, but you also have in him an incredibly important validator; somebody who presided over the greatest economic expansion in our generation and he did it by raising taxes on the rich. He's now telling America this is the tax deal that we need. I think it was a moment and an important one for President Obama and for President Clinton.
COOPER: Erick you actually think it was a bad idea, right?
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I do. And first let me say that David's looking very sharp tonight.
COOPER: I was -- believe me -- that was going to be my last question, about what's David going to be doing tonight.
ERICKSON: But and -- and you know, I don't mean to thread jag, but first can I say my hat's off to those people who are going to protest Fred Phelps. As a Christian that just disgusts me that he would do that.
COOPER: Well, I thought Susan and Ben, I though their attitude about it was really nice --
ERICKSON: God bless them, yes.
COOPER: -- making a big hoopla, of just about of kind of you know facing off against them.
ERICKSON: Amen to that.
You know, well, on this situation, and I'm a big "24" fan and I remember season four when the acting President Logan had to hand over the -- the reins of power to -- to former president --
COOPER: So you saw shades of Kiefer Sutherland?
ERICKSON: Yes, yes, absolutely. Yes, he -- he was -- because he was inept when it came to handling terrorism. In this case, you know President Clinton does make a much more persuasive case on the economy. And all this is going to do is give fodder to late night hosts and to conservatives and even to progressives over Barack Obama and supposedly being the most articulate president having to hand this over --
COOPER: But you know -- but Erick, you don't think it -- it -- it helps for those, you know, liberal Democrats who are upset at President Obama, you don't think it kind of heals some of those wounds?
ERICKSON: No, I don't think so. It -- it makes them if nothing else, I would think feel like there's blood in the water. That he's having to abdicate to Bill Clinton because he can't do it himself, that would just embolden me if George Bush were to do something like this.
COOPER: David, do you think this can be interpreted as an abdication?
GERGEN: No, I don't. I -- I -- I think every president I've ever known looks for validation from outside, you know, elders in the country. You ask a Warren Buffett to come in and bless your economic plan and you ask a Bill Clinton if you're a Democrat to come in and -- and endorse your -- your -- your -- your tax cut plan.
I -- I think he helps overall, but I do think -- I think it makes it people nostalgic for Clinton, though.
COOPER: So what happens to the deal now, David?
GERGEN: Well, I -- there's going to have to be a negotiation between the House and Senate Democrats to get this straightened out because they've got a bit of a mess on their hands in the House. I don't see how the House members, the Democrats can just sort of roll over because the Senate passes it. They -- they are standing on a principle. And I imagine the issue that's going to really get changed and challenged Anderson, is the estate tax.
And -- and frankly, I think that the -- they did -- they were too generous on the estate tax. I do think instead of $5 million, it will be $3.5 million. That's what the consensus was going in. And I think it was -- it was a much better approach.
So my hope is that they'll get that -- they get that done. I'd like to see them do something on the deficits but that's probably a bridge too far.
COOPER: What kind of a timetable Maria, do you think we're looking at?
CARDONA: I think that we're going to see Democrats coming together on this tax deal pretty quickly. They understand that there is a very short timeline. And at the end of the day what Democrats don't want and President Obama said this, President Clinton really underscored this today, is for taxes to go up on the middle class and working class families.
COOPER: So you don't think the rift is that deep right now among Democrats?
CARDONA: No, I -- I really don't. I think there is a lot of show in terms of the liberals, and I think that's OK. And I actually think at the end of the day this is going to remind people, in the long run, what the two parties actually stand for.
That Republicans were willing to hold hostage the middle class tax cuts and the working class tax cuts for workers and that Democrats were fighting for the middle class and for the working class. And if it were not for Republicans, we would have gotten that.
But also we have to remember, look at all these other tax credits that we got; extension of unemployment benefits. That is not something Anderson, that we would have seen reality if we had waited until January to get.
COOPER: Erick, I've been reading some blogs in which people are critical of Republicans for -- you know, on the one hand during the campaign saying, you know, the President is a Maoist or you know, a socialist but now it looks like there's deal making going on.
ERICKSON: Yes and very much so. And there are a lot of Republicans who -- who are upset and ironically had the Democrats not blown up in the House yesterday, a lot of the Republican tension over this deal would have never surfaced. And today you're seeing the Heritage Foundation Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh, myself and others out there and saying kill the deal, we can get something better in January.
Largely these tensions would have been suppressed, had the Democrats not blown up yesterday --
COOPER: So you think the deal should be killed because, because from a Republican standpoint, what you -- you can get a better deal no -- no --
ERICKSON: I think -- I think the Republicans can get a better deal in January, but more so I think that -- with all this talk last week about taking the -- the bold (ph) Simpson deficit plan seriously for the Democrats and Republicans together to come in today in the Senate and now load it up with tax extensions that are in effect earmarks, bribes to various industries to keep them going as opposed to actually dealing with the issues in and of themselves, I think it's offensive.
COOPER: David, I saw you just nodding your head?
GERGEN: Yes, I was -- I -- I -- I think Erick's right on that last point. This thing is going to get Christmas treed, it -- it -- there has been -- the bill should have been accompanied by a commitment on -- a hard commitment on spending cuts down the road.
And then -- and that's been a loss. But now to load it up I think is a -- a real mistake. And -- but I have to say, Erick, I think it's really important for a lot of small businesses to get some certainty on taxes not wait until sometime in the middle of next year to get the bill pass.
ERICKSON: Yes, the uncertainty -- I completely agree with that on the uncertainty issue.
COOPER: Very quickly, David, why -- why are you so dapper tonight?
GERGEN: It's sort of a reverse John King, right?
CARDONA: Anderson, can I add one thing here?
GERGEN: I'm here -- I'm here for a benefit for a hospital in Rochester.
COOPER: All right, cool. Yes, Maria. I'm sorry, quickly go ahead.
CARDONA: I think the other thing we have to keep in mind is that all of these tax issues, that the initiatives that Democrats got in this deal that exist in this deal that would not have existed in January are direct and immediate injections of capital into the economy which is exactly what we need right now.
And that was underscored by President Clinton. It has been underscored by President Obama, and by all of the Democrats who are looking to get this done for workers and for middle class families.
COOPER: Well, let me -- let me bring in Erick on that. I mean, is this -- if this is a -- a stimulus in a -- in a sense to the economy, why not do it right now? I mean, doesn't that outweigh the -- the political value in your opinion of doing it later?
ERICKSON: Well, it's -- it's amazing that what the Democrats are trying to take credit for in the plan and particularly the pay roll tax holiday was first put forth by the Conservative American Enterprise Institute. The -- the business exemptions were first put forward by the Heritage Foundation. Then you have the income tax reform --
CARDONA: Then you should support it.
ERICKSON: -- but to say though -- to say that the unemployment benefits though, will somehow create jobs, no they won't. They're there because we're not creating jobs. And I think that's a fatuous argument from the Democrats to say that somehow unemployment benefits extensions will create jobs, when in fact ironically most people with unemployment benefits find their jobs within the last three weeks before their benefits run out.
COOPER: We're going to leave it there. Erick Erickson, Maria Cardona and David Gergen, I appreciate it very much.
Up next, we're going to tell you about a real live -- (CROSSTALK)
CARDONA: Thanks Anderson.
COOPER: -- dissident who should have been there in person to collect this year's Nobel Peace Prize and why he couldn't be.
Later, what Elizabeth Smart had to live through at the hands of her fanatic captor, justice today for her and her father. She's spoke out and we'll speak to her dad at length.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And today again you said it's real. I mean, does it -- does it feel real?
ED SMART, FATHER OF ELIZABETH SMART: It is real. It does. It feels very real.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Coming up, turmoil in Haiti: post election riots, the cholera outbreak, I'll be talking to Sean Penn, who's in Haiti on the ground about all the latest developments.
But first Susan Hendricks joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a judge in Alaska's superior court has rejected senate candidate Joe Miller's challenge of write-in ballots finding no proof of election fraud. Five weeks after Election Day, Joe Miller trails Senator Lisa Murkowski by more than 10,000 votes.
Nick Brooks, the boyfriend of swimsuit designer Sylvie Cachay has been arrested in New York and charged with attempted murder and strangulation. Officials would not say why the charge is attempted murder. Cachay was found dead in a hotel bathroom with bruises and bite marks on her body. Nick Brooks is the son of Joseph Brooks, the composer who produced the song "You Light Up My Life" and who was indicted on multiple counts of sexual assault earlier this year.
A top drug lord, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, has been killed in Mexico during a two-day gun battle with armed forces. A national security spokesman said five federal police officers and three civilians died during that operation.
An imprisoned Chinese dissident was awarded the Nobel Peace prize today; an empty chair marking his absence from the ceremony in Norway. Liu Xiaobo is a professor, critic and writer who is serving an 11-year sentence co-writing an appeal for democratic reform, what the Chinese government calls inciting subversion of state power.
And then, holy gallery opening, Batman; Adam West, the original Batman is now the paint crusader. The first exhibit of his paintings and drawings open tonight in Beverly Hills. His art work shows his version of batman and his crime fighting world. By the way, Anderson, he's 82 and says he's starting a new phase of his life.
COOPER: Wow. Well, we certainly wish him well.
COOPER: All right. Time now for the "Shot"; we found this video on YouTube showing a Christmas pageant rehearsal at a church in West Palm Beach, Florida. The production uses live animals, which is pretty exciting though difficult, as you're about to see, including a camel named Lulubelle.
There she is walking down the aisle, a shepherd leading her. There's a wise man on her back, he's out of frame. Everyone in the audience obviously very excited. It's always exciting to see live animals, and then Lulubelle gets startled and loses her balance. Yikes.
Thankfully we're told -- yikes. We're told no one was hurt, Lulubelle was not hurt and the wise man she was carrying reportedly fine. So are the people in the pews. Lulubelle apparently has been pulled from production, which seems kind of sad to us. Hopefully she'll get at least tickets to the program.
Next in "Crime and Punishment," nearly nine years since Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping, a verdict against the homeless street preacher accused of taking her from her bed at knifepoint and holding her for nine months. You're going to hear Elizabeth in her own words talking about finding justice and the strength to move on and I'll talk with Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart.
And later, the turmoil in Haiti, cholera outbreak rising after a bitterly disputed election. We'll give you an update from Sean Penn, who is in Haiti right now.
COOPER: Tonight in "Crime and Punishment," almost nine years after the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart -- can you believe it's been almost nine years -- a federal jury today found that Brian David Mitchell was guilty of the crime. The jury found Mitchell, who's a homeless street preacher, guilty of kidnapping Smart and taking her across state lines for sexual purposes.
He now faces a mandatory -- or a maximum of life in prison when he's sentenced in May. As the verdict was read, Elizabeth Smart and her family smiled. Watching from the front row we're going to hear from Elizabeth's father, Ed, in just a moment about what went through his mind when he heard the verdict. When Brian David Mitchell heard the verdict, well he sang, "He died. The great redeemer died."
This was just the latest in a series of bizarre turns in a case that started way back in 2002 with the disappearance of Elizabeth who was then just 14 years old, taken from her bed at knifepoint. It was remarkable, almost unbelievable when the word came in that she was found nine months later alive.
Elizabeth is now 23 years old. She was the prosecutor's star witness, telling a sad tale of what happened to her during those months in captivity. Smart says she was raped almost daily, forced to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, wear robes and a veil in public and wasn't allowed to speak to other people for fear that Mitchell would kill her family.
On the stand, Smart said and I quote, "I felt that because of what he had done to me I was marked. I wasn't the same. My personal value had dropped. I was nothing. Another person could never love me. I felt like I had a burden the size of a mountain to carry around with me the rest of my life."
Also during testimony, Elizabeth said that Mitchell told her their marriage was pre-ordained and that she would be by his side as they battled the anti-Christ. The defense mounted basically an insanity defense which jurors rejected; something Mitchell's stepdaughter said doesn't make sense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBECCA WOODRIDGE, STEPDAUGHTER OF BRIAN DAVID MITCHELL: I think he should have been found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent somewhere to be further evaluated and looked at, try and figure out why he's doing the things he's doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, of course, the question on everyone's mind now is how is Elizabeth doing? And again, in a moment, we're going to hear from her dad. But first, here's what Elizabeth said today on the courthouse steps after the verdict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH SMART, ABDUCTED AT 9 YEARS OLD: It's a wonderful day and I'm so thrilled to be here. I'm so thrilled with the verdict. But not only that, I'm so thrilled to stand before the people of America today and give hope to other victims who have not spoken out about their crime, about what's happened to them.
I hope that not only is this an example that justice can be served in America, but that it is possible to move on after something terrible has happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Elizabeth's father Ed Smart joins me now.
Ed, you know, you've heard your daughter out on the courthouse steps saying not only is this a sign that justice, you know, can be done but that people can actually move forward. People can survive these things and move forward with their lives. When you saw her out on those steps, you know, talking from her heart, you must have been just so proud. SMART: I am very proud of her. You know, I think for any victim to come forward and have to tell what happened to them is so incredibly hard. As Elizabeth's father I think that was the hardest thing that this whole -- about this whole trial.
You know, when I heard Elizabeth say to me, Dad, I -- I -- I never thought I was ever going to have to say what I'm going to have to say. And I was really sick about it.
COOPER: You and your family, we've talked about this over the years. You guys, once she came back, were very careful to let her tell her story to you in her own time and in her own way and how ever she wanted to. But you've said that on the stand she talked about things which you hadn't even heard before.
E. SMART: Absolutely. I had never heard how absolutely horrible it was. You know, what she felt when she was up there in that camp, what happened to her. It was just so outrageous. You know, I had no idea how bad it was. And to think that a mother and a father would do this to somebody else's child was just an outrage.
COOPER: I want to take you back, Ed, for just a moment, back to 2003 when Elizabeth was found and something you said to the public. I just want to play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
E. SMART: Elizabeth is happy. She's well. And we're so happy to have her back in our arms. I hate even leaving her. I'm just always sitting there hugging her the whole time, is this real? She's home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Today, again, you said it's real. I mean, does it feel real?
E. SMART: It is real. It does. It feels very real. This time it's for real because --
COOPER: Does it feel like it's over?
E. SMART: You know, this day and this moment has come, and we're grateful that it's there. It's over. I think that one of the most important things that we feel in seeing this come to an end is reiterating how many are out there in Elizabeth's same kind of situation.
COOPER: You were talking about what happened in the courtroom. Brian David Mitchell's lawyer was pushing this insanity defense, something that you and your family never believed. And one juror noted that in court Mitchell had bizarre behavior like singing hymns, but according to the jury, he could seem to flip it on and off like a switch and that they didn't really buy the insanity defense based on that.
E. SMART: Absolutely.
COOPER: You have no doubt this guy is not insane.
E. SMART: Absolutely. There's no question. I believe that he does have a problem, but he is not insane.
When a person -- I mean, he told Elizabeth, you know, if they catch me, I'm going to go here. Last night, he even said to his defense, you know, I think that they're going to come in guilty. He knew what was right and what was wrong from the point of our laws in the United States. Whether he felt he was above the laws is another issue. But he realized what he was doing.
COOPER: What happens now? Will you celebrate?
E. SMART: Absolutely. We are going to have a real -- a great time together as a family.
COOPER: Our best to Elizabeth and your family, Ed. Thank you so much.
E. SMART: Thank you.
COOPER: Still ahead tonight, Sean Penn describing the scene tonight in Haiti, where an election plagued by fraud threatens to send the country spinning into greater chaos. So what needs to happen to prevent it? We'll talk to Sean Penn on the ground in Port-au-Prince.
Also ahead, the video of the bong hit seen around the world. Well, we're not putting Miley Cyrus on our "RidicuList," we're putting this video on the "RidicuList." We'll explain ahead.
COOPER: Well, it's been a tough week in Haiti, no doubt about it. Anger over last month's disputed presidential election erupted into demonstrations and some violence. French media reporting at least five people have been killed. The situation has been very fluid and the U.S. government has reissued a travel warning advising Americans to reconsider nonessential travel to Haiti.
Violence began three days ago after Haitians learned a popular candidate named Michel Martelly had been edged out of January's runoff race between two other candidates. Many of Martelly's supporters are alleging fraud and have taken to the streets. Supporters of other candidates have also been demonstrating in the streets.
In the meantime there have been reports that the violence was disrupting aid to cholera victims and delivery of supplies to camps where more than a million Haitians still live. There's now a check of the vote tally but it's unclear if that will happen and how it would be conducted fairly.
Sean Penn is in Haiti tonight. We talked earlier by phone.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Sean, I want to talk to you about what's behind the violence we've seen in a second, but first of all, just what's the situation like today? What's it like now for folks in the camps, for people throughout Port-au-Prince? How bad are things right now?
SEAN PENN, J/P HRO: The election period that's come and the announcements come out; it created a lot of unrest. I don't want to say a lot of violence because while there were pockets of extreme violence, primarily what we're talking about were a lot of barricaded streets, a lot of rocks thrown. But primarily it was an expression of a country that's pretty fed up I think.
COOPER: What's the most important thing you want people to know about what is happening right now in Haiti? Is it the scattered pockets of violence on the streets? The demonstrations? The Presidential elections? Or is it the cholera and the condition of folks in the camps and the need to get people out of those camps and back into community?
PEEN: Yes, well, we've got a population of somewhere north of a million people who are still living in tarp structures. So it's highly vulnerable. It's not the kind of place where you're going to unreluctantly protest violence in revolution of any kind. It's something that -- this is a very unique situation.
No one can win with the violent situation. And what will be left behind for any presidential winner is a falling Haiti. And to fall from such a place, from such a low place is perhaps a death of Haiti.
What really, really has to happen is that the candidates have to exert their strength and passionately and forcefully communicate that they're supporters while very, very quickly moving towards transparency.
And so again we've got -- you need shelter, you need systems, clean water systems. Cholera is -- you know, when we talk about 2,000 dead, you have to imagine those bodies in one big pile. When you look at that pile, you say to yourself, this is one of the easiest things there is to treat.
It is -- this is 2,000 people who are dead, who would have been alive today with just simple oral rehydration salts in 95 percent of these cases. And to create a political situation where instead you now -- we now have over 100,000 people infected with this disease, you know, it's the antithesis of what the political system's intention is in terms of creating a civil society, creating hopes and dreams, shelter and the access to the basic human rights.
COOPER: Sean Penn, as always, good to talk to you from Port-au- Prince, Sean. Thank you.
PENN: Thank you, Anderson.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Sean was also stressing to me that he's not taking sides in this presidential race. He's running one of the largest camps in Port-au-Prince, his non-profit group, the J/P Haitian Relief Organization. If you want to help them, you can check them out. You can go to their Web site, beattherain.org.
A lot more we're following tonight. Susan Hendricks joins us again with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Susan.
HENDRICKS: Anderson, on Capitol Hill today, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, talked for more than eight hours in a solo tirade against President Obama's tax cut deal. A vote to begin debate on the package is scheduled for Monday.
A stunning admission by the federal aviation administration: the FAA says registration records for as many as one-third of all private aircraft are out of date and inaccurate and has begun the process of re-registering aircraft in the U.S. Experts say inaccurate records can conceal criminal or terrorist activity.
And take a look at this: a truck, minivan and city bus all collide in Queens, New York. Amazingly, according to reports, no serious injuries here; six people were taken to local hospitals as a precaution.
Netflix is joining the S&P 500. Shares of the online streaming video and DVD rental company rose 2 percent on the news. Also joining the index: Cablevision; tech company 5F Networks; and energy company New Field Exploration. The four newcomers will replace "The New York Times," Office Depot, Eastman Kodak and King Pharmaceuticals.
A new federal study is pretty shocking. It found 30 million Americans admit they drive drunk. And another 10 million say they drove under the influence of illicit drugs.
And most fans remember the late Bea Arthur as the wise crack on "The Golden Girls." Well, take a look. It turns out during World War II she was a Marine. That's according to the smoking gun Web site which found official document showing she was one of the first members of the women's reserve -- Anderson.
COOPER: I actually grew up knowing Bea Arthur. She was a friend of my mom.
HENDRICKS: You did?
COOPER: She was such a great lady. So funny and just smart and she was a really remarkable talent.
HENDRICKS: She's seen that way.
COOPER: Yes. Really -- she is missed. Susan thanks. Have a great weekend.
Time now for tonight's "RidicuList," it's our nightly effort to kind of point out silly stuff and there's a lot of silly stuff out there these days. Tonight it's not a person we're adding to the list, but a video of a person. This video of Miley Cyrus which has left her flock of fans and their parents shocked yet again. Take a deep breath because here's she is taking a Montana sized hit from a bong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take all of that in.
Hold it. Hold it.
You held it.
MILEY CYRUS, SINGER: OK. I'm about to lose it now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just lay down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Party in the USA indeed. Could you make any of that out?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Come again?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It makes perfect sense to me now. TMZ says the video was shot at a party at Miley's house five days after her 18th birthday. A source connected with Miley, not sure what that means, tells TMZ that the bong is filled with salvia, an herb that supposedly has psychedelic properties and is legal in California.
I have no idea what was actually in that bong. It might have been salvia, I don't know. But did you notice what's happening in the background? The fact that someone else in the room is seriously chowing down in a Costco-sized box of Frosted Flakes late at night -- I'm just saying.
Now, Miley's dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, is saying he's kind of achy- breaky over this whole thing. He tweeted on his Twitter page, "Sorry, guys I had no idea. I'm so sad. There is much beyond my control right now."
Now, of course, this isn't the first time that Miley has made fans and their parents, well, not smiley. There was this, the nearly nude photo shoot with "Vanity Fair" which she blamed on the great photographer Annie Leibovitz. And then there was her grinding on that pole on an ice cream cart at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards.
Miley has said in the past that it's not her job to tell kids how to act because she's still figuring out for herself. Our advice? You're probably not going to figure it out with your sinuses packed with bong resin. I'm just saying.
But you know what? But you know what? I don't know. You know what? I like that line. I didn't write it. I wish I did.
She's been working since she was little and she's earned more money, created more employment opportunities for others and achieved more for herself than most people do in their lifetime. She's 18 years old, for goodness sakes, and is bound to do stupid stuff. Who hasn't?
What I find ridiculous and why this is on the list tonight and frankly sad is that some alleged friends of hers would actually risk taking that video and then that person or someone else would be so lame as to sell it to a Web site. Turning a teenager's very teenage misadventure into a big hit? That makes it on to our "RidicuList."
COOPER: Hey that's it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts now.
Have a great weekend. I'll see you Monday.