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Violence in Syria Continues; Gingrich Tears Up on Campaign Trail

Aired December 30, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It is 10:00 here on the East Coast.

We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with thousands of people whose names we'll never know and one fallen man whose name we do.

They are the tens of thousands of ordinary Syrians who stood up today, as they have for months now, against the regime that has arrested, tortured and killed many of them, the regime that has tortured children, terrorized survivors and is now lying to the world about it all.

The fallen man whose name we do know is Basil al-Sayed. Before the demonstrations, before the bloodshed he was a carpenter. But for months now he's had a second job, bearing witness, camcorder in hand, he's documented the demonstrations and the deaths. He was just 24 years old when he died, shot we're told apparently by a sniper.

As it was so many other times, his camera was taping at the moment of his death, his own death this time. We're going to show it to you now. It's not particularly dramatic. You see no blood, no fight for life. This is how people die.

If you've not been warned of what you know from death from movies, you might think it's more dramatic than it often is. In Syria people die every day. Shot in their homes. Shot on the street. Kill in detention. People die and the world does not stop. Some may mourn but the world keeps spinning.

Basil al-Sayed died as he lived with the camera in his hand. And like so many of his other videos, this too was posted on you tube. That's him in the body bag, family and friends mourning him.

In a country where the truth is as ugly as these pictures and silence is enforced under penalty of death, the only answer, dangerous as it can obviously be is showing the pictures and breaking the silence and trying to tell the truth. Basil al-Sayed lived and died trying to do that.

He was murdered in a city that the Assad regime promised to pull troops out of but instead has put snipers on rooftops and kept tanks in the streets. Here's what it looked like today as seen by one of thousand fellows that is in journalism and posted on you tube. Opposition members say at least 35 people lost their lives today in demonstrations across Syria. The rallies are being called a crawl to freedom square because of all the sniper fire. That was Homs. This is what happened to protesters in a town farther to the east.

This is all taking place with 75 Arab league observers on the ground. Sometimes as it did today in the city of -- it lived. Shooting breaks out moments after they leave.

Sometimes the shooting takes place right in front of the observers. One of them, by the way, has come to focus on the protest today. He is the former head of Sudan's military service and is accused of atrocities back home. The observers still recall were sent in to monitor promises by the Assad regime to pull forces out of populated areas, release political prisoners.

Instead as we all saw the delegation arrived and the military stepped up its assault on places like Baba Amr. And now opposition members tell "The New York Times" that the regime has started dressing troops as policemen to give the appearance of keeping its word while continuing to target ordinary Syrians for extraordinary brutality.

This is new video of security forces roughing up a woman in the town of Daraa, Syria apparently taking a page from Egypt where even women are targeted. Children are targeted as well. We've known that, we've seen that for months, taken and tortured. That's how this all started in that city of Daraa 10 months ago.

People from all walks of life can be rounded up for any reason at any moment and simply made to vanish whether it's in the trunk of a car or the back of the van. It doesn't matter to the regime. They do it and then they lie about it.

But thanks to people like the late Basil al-Sayed, their lives don't always go unanswered. As always, the you tube videos come with the disclaimer we can't independently verify the stories they tell, mainly because the regime won't let us in for ourselves.

That said we obtained exclusive video from a foreign journalist and filmmaker who did manage to get into Homs. He snuck in and spent days there. For his protection, we're keeping his identity a secret. What he's capturing is how brutality actually works day to day as the regime tries to make life impossible in homes right down to getting a carton of cigarettes or a loaf of bread.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And almost like a sport challenge to get the cigarette bags out from the sniper range. And they have been happy when they could. And they started to throw it from one side to the other. They started to throw the bags because they were not able to cross. So everything they needed on the other side, they throw it over the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We need to cross the street to buy bread and other food, but the snipers have surrounded this area. It's a huge danger.


COOPER: That's a portion that did spot on Wednesday. Yesterday, he looked at the armed resistance at Homs including defectors from the army.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They smuggle fighters in and out of the neighborhood they control, evading government checkpoints. At night they search everyone entering and leaving the area to stop government death squads, from getting in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Street you see over there is controlled by the Shabiha. They are known to kidnap our women and children. We try to prevent this. When strangers come here, we stop and search them.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The people of this part of Homs are not afraid to take to the streets. They are regular knight type brothers. But after months of casualties, they have long lost their faith in nonviolent protests. In Baba Amr, many believe that real change in Syria will only come from the barrel of a gun.


COOPER: The battle for the future of Homs remains overwhelmingly one-sided. And as you'll see in this latest report treatment for the wounded often comes down to two choices, none or slim.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amid the destruction in this neighborhood, there is a little medical care for the victims of snipers or indiscriminate shelling. People who could be saved with the right treatment are dying of their injuries. This is a makeshift hospital in a secret location. When I arrived, the doctor, who did not want to be recognized, was treating two casualties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We can only treat the wounded in our homes and we can just do basic first aid here. The government hospitals are infiltrated by Assad militias who would harm and even kill the patients.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: While this makeshift clinic is fairly well-stocked, the setup is rudimentary, no X-ray machine, no life support machines. And the blood banks, it's in the refrigerator next to the groceries.


COOPER: Primitive conditions. The wounded either up able because of snipers are terrified of going to city hospitals which are infiltrated by members of the secret police. This goes against every principle obviously of medicine, but it's not doctors who are in charge except for one doctor in this country. The man who is starting to become an eye doctor. Bashar Al-Assad, the dictator whose medically trained hands are strangling cities like Homs.

I spoke early today with an opposition member Abo Fares who's there.


COOPER: Abo Fares, despite the violence, many, many people still came out in Syria today. Why are people so determined to have their voices heard today?

ABO FARES, POLITICAL REPRESENTATIVE, REVOLUTIONARY COUNCIL OF HOMS: Well, we don't have other choice. We have already passed the un-return point. We gave a lot of blood. We sacrificed and we can't -- these our brothers and friends who were killed from the beginning of the revolution.

COOPER: At this point do you feel that there is no going back?

FARES: We don't have other choice. The first phase of the revolution, we were able to accept a kind of settlement with this regime with real reforms. But by continuing on killing people, innocent civilians, grabbing women, killing kids and the brutal torturing of the activists, so the regime drop the way for us for going bad. We have to continue, we sacrificed a lot. We are not sure that all of us will see freedom, but we are sure that our kids have the right to live in a free country.

COOPER: Do you have any confidence in these Arab league monitors?

FARES: Well, we don't have other choice. We can't -- we can't be so optimistic. We can't expect that much from them because we know that by the end, the Arab league cannot impose anything on the ground, and to allow international media to enter the Syrian territory. But nothing, nothing has happened. Why CNN is not now inside Syria. We want CNN to come and enter Homs city to see the catastrophe here.

COOPER: And I hope you know we want to be there too. As you know the Syrian regime continues to refuse to allow us to be there. What do you want the world to know right now?

FARES: I want the world to know that we are just innocent people fighting for their basic human rights. We want freedom and we want peace for us and for all the people around us. We want to live in dignity.

Now, we don't have food, electricity is cut off from most of our areas. We just want the ability to take our wounded civilians to the hospitals. We can't take them to the public hospitals because security forces are there. They kidnap them and torture them.

COOPER: Abo Fares, you're taking great risk in talking to us, thank you very much. We will continue to talk with you in the days ahead. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: As I mentioned, Abo Fares would like nothing more than a chance to see what's happening in Syria. Sadly though, our repeated requests have been denied.

Joining us now, another window's the world one of the best in fact, Professor Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

We've seen some of the biggest turnout today of protests. Obviously it's Friday, a day of prayer where people traditionally gather and protest afterward. What does it say that -- I mean, are they trying to make the most of the fact that this delegation is on the ground and get their voices heard?

FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY HOOVER INSTITUTION: Just as I said, for the Syrian people there is really no return. They have broken with the past and I think the interview with Abo Fares tells it for what it is.

Look at it this way, Anderson. Bashar as his name, his father's name was Hafez. Bashar al-Assad himself has a son named Hafez. So, there is a dynastic ambition there. There's a tyranny that's 40 years old and the people have broken with it but tragically for them, they can't yet overthrow it. But here, you have 250,000 people turn out in the city, 70,000 people turn out on the outskirts of a Damascus in the town of Duma. They don't have much faith in the monitors but are still giving it a try.

COOPER: In terms of what -- there was a report that the U.S. is at least starting to look at options for dealing with the Syrian opposition. What are the options out there? It doesn't seem like there's any good options.

AJAMI: I don't think there are any good options and I think the Syrian people know this. Because again, the Syrian people keep thinking of Libya, they have Libya in mind. Just as the Libyan people were rescued, they hope they too may be rescued but the geography is different. The issues are different and the resources of the Assad tyranny of this Damascus regime are much, much better.

But still, we can't accept the spectacle, the slaughter. There are things that can be done. The French are talking about humanitarian corridors, supplying the cities that Taliban cannot, giving them a lifeline, if you will. There's a possibility of setting up maybe even a no-fly zone. The no fly zone would make a tremendous amount of difference. It would encourage army defections. It would tell the defectors that they are not alone.

There are all kinds of things. We may even begin to think about recognizing the Syrian National Council, this umbrella opposition.

COOPER: There's also, obviously, you know, given what people are now seeing in Egypt of all the troubles going on in Egypt, the rise of the Muslim brotherhood and other as Salafist groups and the Muslim brotherhood, there's a lot of skepticism about what lies ahead for Syria even if the regime is overthrown.

AJAMI: Absolutely, because in fact Bashar has succeed in doing one thing. He has made the argument either this tyranny or possibly Syria's stand that in fact what he ends up saying is the opposition to this is all Muslim brotherhood. But the opposition to him is much wider than that. But there is this argument out there that it's either the Assad dictatorship or the deluge after Assad. And it is the argument that has to be defeated. It's the argument that has to be challenged.

And there is something we have to admit. There are -- the minorities in Syria are still on the side of this regime. The Christians are on the side of this regime. The other community is on the side of this regime. So you're right the prospects for deliverance for the Syrian people from the outside don't look good.

COOPER: And it's not like Libya. I mean, because with all the countries that surround this country, if there is a civil war, there's all these outside countries and groups which would be more than happy to spend money and arms to support their proxy groups inside Syria.

AJAMI: Absolutely. In fact if you take a look at the geography, we did it yesterday, it's a tinder box. As one gulf diplomat said to me, he said, listen, you can't even throw a firecracker into that tinderbox. Look at the geography of Syria. I think these things work to the advantage of the regime.

COOPER: Do you see it then just devolving into civil war?

AJAMI: Well, I don't know about, you know, I don't what we name it. Sometimes the names really, you know the famous question of Shakespeare, what's in a name. There is already a civil war in Syria.

COOPER: Right.

AJAMI: There is a fight between the regime and the people. And there is also -- we can't really dodge this. There is the sectarian fault line between a principally Sunni opposition and a minoritarian Alawi regime. And I think for the Syrian people we can say one thing here as Americans. There is no taste in this country. There is no ground swell for intervention in Syria.

President Obama, the biggest applause line he's going to get in Charlotte, North Carolina, when he's re-nominated, is that he ended the Iraq war. He is not going to go into another campaign. So in fact when you look at the Libyans, it was a solar lunar eclipse. They were lucky. That's really what work for them. Sarkozy worked for them and they were delivered.

COOPER: All right, Fouad, Thanks for being on.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+. Add us to your circles. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I have been tweeting already tonight.

Up next: why Newt Gingrich got misty-eyed on the campaign trail today. And we have new numbers on polling from Iowa. We'll talk to people on the ground there and our political panel with the caucuses now just days away.

Later, this may a case of the -- well, it keeps me focus whenever I think about it. But we'll preview tomorrow night's show in Times Square, ringing in the New Year with Kathy Griffin. Kathy will be here.


COOPER: How worried should I be for tomorrow night?

KATHY GRIFFIN, ACTRESS: You should be very worried.



COOPER: In "Raw Politics": With just four days now until the Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul remain basically tied for the lead, according to the new NBC News/Marist poll, which echoes what our CNN/"TIME"/ORC poll showed two days ago.

Romney and Paul are just two points apart at 21 and 23 percent, well with an oppose margin of error. Rick Santorum third at 15 percent, Rick Perry is fourth at 14 percent, Newt Gingrich now at 13, Michele Bachmann at six. Former house speaker Gingrich kind of teared up at a campaign event today, not over his poll numbers. He was talking about his mom who had bipolar disorder and depression. She died in 2003. Here's what he said.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And my whole emphasis on brain science comes in directly from dealing -- see, I'm going to be emotional of dealing with, you know, the real problems of real people in my family.

And so it's not a theory. It's, in fact, you know, my mother.



COOPER: Newt Gingrich today. When asked yesterday if he would stay in the race if he finished fourth on Tuesday, he said he would.

Let's bring in our political panel, chief political correspondent Candy Crowley, political contributor and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, and Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus.

Candy, you're on the ground there.

What did people -- were people surprised to see Newt Gingrich kind of getting emotional like that? CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think reporters were. But we do tend to see this sort of thing. It's a combination. Its holiday season, a tough campaign and really long hours. They tend to get tired. I don't know if you remember when Hillary Clinton sort of had to take a beat when she started to choke up in New Hampshire.

It's just been tough. I mean, we have seen Newt Gingrich's fortunes rise. Now they're falling. Lots of long hours. And he's talking about his deceased mother to a roomful of moms. And it was just -- you know it all sort of, you know, came into that perfect storm where you see a candidate kind of show that human moment.

COOPER: Cheri, you spent time with Newt Gingrich over the years. Were you surprised to see this?

CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, I was. You don't see Newt Gingrich showing that kind of emotion very often. He can be very fiery and passionate and sometimes you'll see a flash of anger and he can be very jovial as well.

But this was a very personal moment. While, yes, he is tired and they're at that point in the campaign, I think what's important about this is that he wasn't tearing up because he's losing or thinks he's losing, which was the case with Hilary. This had to do with his family, something everybody can empathize with and it was a genuine moment. But I think only even the most cynical among us can read this than anything other than genuine, this was until 11th hour had trigger anything like that. And it was good to see this in him even if he's a little embarrassed by it.

COOPER: Hilary, those new NBC Marist numbers out today which I mentioned earlier, they are very similar to our poll earlier this week. It looks like a battle for first, another battle for third place. Both of those are basically neck-in-neck. Were you surprised to hear that Ron Paul was actually leaving this weekend and going back to Texas?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know I think that Ron Paul probably has had the longest stay in Iowa with the most organized ground operation and almost never left since 2008. You know, he's got his diehards and whether they show or not is probably not going to matter much whether he's there or not.

But, also, I think you have to take those polls and almost this can take Ron Paul out of it and say, wow, there really is a race for maybe it's first, maybe it's second, maybe it's third. Who are going to be the candidates who are still standing after Iowa.

COOPER: Why do you say take Ron Paul out of it?

ROSEN: Because I just don't think that outside of Iowa he's really a serious candidate anywhere else in the country. Nationally, his poll numbers are way below that number. You know, 2, 3, 4 percent he maxes out at. Iowa he does well because he's got such an organization there. But his views are so far out of even the Republican mainstream that I just don't think he's serious.

So you look at people like Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, that's really the battle here. We know Mitt Romney is going to be in this for the next several states. We think -- I personally think he's going all the way, but who are going to be the people who challenge Romney for this nomination after Iowa. That's what everyone is really paying attention to.

COOPER: Cheri, do you discount Ron Paul in that way too?

JACOBUS: Yes. Actually, Hilary took the words right out of my mouth. And we agree on this. I would have to take him out of the mix. You have to look at this way. Aside from the one person who from Bachmann's campaign who went with Ron Paul, you don't see voters. You don't see supporters of other candidates with the second choice as Ron Paul. You don't see Ron Paul supporters with anybody else as their second choice. And literally, anybody else in any caucus in any primary, they're going to have a second choice. So he's like an appendage that the party doesn't know what to do with.

Now, I would be surprised if Newt Gingrich didn't have a bit of a surge over the weekend. I think that he -- there's a good chance that he can move ahead of Perry. And again, you would have the Romney, Santorum, Gingrich as our three. And I think those could be our top three heading out of Iowa.

COOPER: Candy, I think a Gingrich spokesman the other day said that they'd be fine with a fifth place showing in Iowa that they're really looking more to South Carolina and Florida. Is that true do you think? I think someone in this show --

CROWLEY: I don't think that would be fine. I don't think they'd really be fine with it but what are you going to do? I mean, he's running, you know, running in a fourth or fifth now. You know, it's not that you can't carry on if you want to. The problem is that donors look and now donors want to sign up with a winner. They don't want to just fuel a campaign that's going know where so Iowa begins to dry up money for people.

And you know, Newt Gingrich had a great three or four weeks, but if he can't show, you know, some power here, that money is going to dry up. And sure, you can fly yourself somewhere but I think he would tell you right now that part of the reason he fell so quickly within a three-week span, 19 points, is that others had the money to put ads up against him.

So it's very difficult to run, even if you say I'm going to go on and be happy with a fourth or a fifth. I don't think they will be.

COOPER: And, Hilary, I guess, it's get better about half the ads were against Gingrich in this past month. He's clear low been targeted by a lot of other candidates. What about Romney, you know he didn't enter into Iowa in huge numbers with staff the way he could have earlier, but he always had a ground force there, didn't he?

ROSEN: Well, you know, from the Democratic perspective, you look at Romney's campaign, it's the best organized, it's the best managed. They have the ability and the strategy to move resources in and out of different states. They move the candidate around much better and more efficiently than other campaigns have.

So, he's clearly in this for the long haul. You know, I think we're likely to see a Santorum surge here. But this is consistently in this Republican primary since last summer been about who is going to be the alternative for Mitt Romney. The Republicans are still not satisfied with Mitt Romney as their nominee, and so you still see these other candidates getting a look-see, a kick the tires moment constantly. And I think we'll see that for the next couple of primaries.

COOPER: Hilary, is there a candidate you think will do better than polls suggest in Iowa?

ROSEN: My instinct that Rick Santorum could do better, that the evangelicals will, you know, fall away from Bachmann, will fall away from Rick Perry and line up behind Rick Santorum in the second or third balloting there.

COOPER: We've got to leave it there.

Candy Crowley, thank you. Hilary Rosen, Cheri Jacobus, as well, thank you so much.

JACOBUS: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up: the Christmas Day house fire that left a woman's three kids and both of their parents dead -- firefighters shaken by the scope of the loss -- tonight, recordings from the firefighters' radio transmissions as they tried to save the familiar.

Also ahead tonight: preparations under way here in New York City for the big New Year's Eve celebration at Times Square tomorrow. There is going to be heavy security, police officers on horses, bomb- sniffing dogs. Still nothing that can protect me from Kathy Griffin. I'm going to be co-hosting with her.

We did a little interview right before airtime tonight. We'll play that in a few moments.

Here's a quick look at some of what Kathy and I talked about. She's an avid HLN viewer.


COOPER: If you had to be stuck on a desert island choosing between Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell, who would you pick?

GRIFFIN: Wow. Easy, "Sophie's Choice."


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: All right. Checking now into some of the other stories we're following tonight, Susan Hendricks is here with a "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, newly-released dramatic radio transmissions from the Stamford, Connecticut, Fire Department paint a heart-breaking picture of that fire that killed three little girls, ages 10 and 7-year-old twins, and their grandparents on Christmas day. The firefighters struggled to reach the family inside that house, but had to back away because of the intense flames and heat. Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got victims trapped on the second floor. We're going to rescue mode with the ladder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a report from one of the victims. There's people in that window.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's heavy fire right above your head. Back out, back out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All units on the interior, all units on the interior, back out. Back out.


HENDRICKS: You can hear the panic and how hard they tried to reach that family. They did not.

Two doctors are in jail and face murder charges, accused of performing abortions on late-term viable fetuses. Police say they found several fetuses in a freezer at the Maryland clinic where the doctors work and sent them to a medical examiner's office.

In North Carolina also, we're following this. A turkey farm owned by Butterball is under investigation for alleged animal abuse. The animal rights organization called Mercy for Animals infiltrated the farm and released this video, seemingly showing employees kicking and throwing turkeys.

Giant pandas are mostly vegetarians, but video from a nature reserve in China caught a wild panda on tape maybe eating meat. Some reports say the panda is eating a dead antelope. Others say it's a gnu or wildebeest. What is for sure is the snack is not bamboo, which according to experts, make up 99 percent of the panda diet. The secret is out: they may eat meat.

COOPER: What if they're secretly eating meat without us knowing about it. They don't want us to know.

HENDRICKS: Without us knowing about it.

COOPER: It's a big secret among the pandas.

HENDRICKS: Eating hamburger.

COOPER: Time for tonight's "Shot." This video is just incredible with gorillas in the mist, basically. This video was on YouTube. It was shot by John, a wildlife photography near Burundi National Park in southwest Uganda. The mountain gorillas there have been socialized, so they're used to humans, just as they are in Rwanda and parts of the Congo. They don't normally do this, though. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way, John. No way. He's preening me. He's preening me.


COOPER: That's basically -- the big gorilla to the right apparently is a Silverback which is -- runs -- the head of the pack. And the fact that all these gorillas were setting so close. At one point the gorilla kisses this guy or kind of pecks him on the cheek. It's unbelievable.

I've done this in Rwanda and in the Congo about ten times over the years.


COOPER: But it's -- it's just extraordinary pictures.

HENDRICKS: Didn't you have a similar experience? I think you did, right?

COOPER: Yes. Yes, we did. There's video of it actually a little bit.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a gorilla behind you.

COOPER: I can feel the gorilla behind me. Any advice on...?


COOPER: Ignore the gorilla?


COOPER: This is a gorilla named Idaberi (ph). She's three and a half. She was rescued from poachers about a year ago. They stole her from her family and hoped to sell her on the black market.

She's now smelling my armpit. I have a very smelly armpit.


COOPER: Actually, I also saw in Rwanda. We were doing a piece for "60 Minutes," and I had the gorillas charge, as well. But they don't actually attack.

HENDRICKS: I love that you said, "Any advice?"

"Oh, just ignore her."

COOPER: Yes. But again, it's the most amazing animal experience you can have.

HENDRICKS: Looks like it.

COOPER: Susan, thanks very much.

HENDRICKS: Coming up, once again getting ready to brave the cold in Times Square and take the heat from Kathy Griffin for our New Year's Eve show tomorrow night. We're going to talk to Kathy about what we can look forward to or maybe fear, next.

Also ahead, our top ten "RidicuList" countdown. It's the finale tonight, the No. 1 "RidicuList" of the year. You voted for it. We'll show it to you tonight.





COOPER: Preparations are under way here in New York City for tomorrow night's big party in Times Square. It's all getting ready to happen. They drop the Waterford crystal ball, the confetti, the crowds.

And for the fifth time I'm getting ready to host CNN's New Year's Eve special live with Kathy Griffin. It is a prospect that fills me with kind of excitement, but also a kind of dread. It's a potent combination, really.

Just a little while ago, Kathy and I -- Kathy was here. And we talked about the TV magic we're going to make tomorrow night and whether she's going to get me fired. Take a look.



KATHY GRIFFIN: What do you have, Andy?

COOPER: We've been doing this for five years.

GRIFFIN: We're a drinking game.

COOPER: What do you mean we're a drinking game?

GRIFFIN: My tweeters have been saying that every time I call you Andy, they drink.

COOPER: Which is how this first started, when you were first on the show.

GRIFFIN: People apparently enjoy drinking on New Year's.

COOPER: So I've heard. You're not a drinker. You don't drink at all.

GRIFFIN: No, I don't want to loosen up, and I don't think you want me to either, any more.

COOPER: Yes. I don't want you any looser than you already are.

GRIFFIN: Yes. By the way, I was looking at your BlackBerry. And do you want to tell your viewers that you have old lady giant font? You and my 91-year-old mother have the same size font.

COOPER: My eyes have completely gone. It's really sad.

GRIFFIN: What is...

COOPER: I know.

GRIFFIN: I mean, it was like...

COOPER: It's not really old lady font.

GRIFFIN: It was like -- it was like flash cards for a first grader.

COOPER: I do keep it from time to time thinking why don't they make these screens bigger?

GRIFFIN: These kids today with their tiny print. The world's ending.

COOPER: I do -- I am constantly -- I have, you know, notes from producers and stuff for research...

GRIFFIN: Too tiny.

COOPER: It's tiny.

GRIFFIN: Of course it is, baby. You need big, giant letters for your pretty eyes.

Now, do you want to tell the world about our dinner last night? Are you willing to admit it or not?

COOPER: Yes, sure. Yes. We had dinner. We had a New Year's Eve hosts dinner...

GRIFFIN: Right, with...

COOPER: ... with Ryan Seacrest. GRIFFIN: The devil, yes. We love. Mr. Cypher. Lou Cypher, a.k.a. Ryan Seacrest.

COOPER: Why do you think Ryan Seacrest is the devil?

GRIFFIN: I know he's the devil.

COOPER: It was Ryan Seacrest, Carson Daly, you and I.

GRIFFIN: Carson Daly I have no problem with.


GRIFFIN: Because Carson Daly isn't systematically trying to kill me and ruin you. So wake up, honey.

COOPER: Ryan Seacrest has been nothing but nice to me.

GRIFFIN: Oh, that's how the devil is. Don't you get it? Of course he's going to be nice.

Now, did I overhear this correctly? Did Ryan Seacrest say he's a member of al Qaeda?

COOPER: No, Ryan Seacrest did not say that.

GRIFFIN: Are you sure? I thought he did.

COOPER: Why -- why would you sit next to him at dinner and go to this dinner if you feel...

GRIFFIN: You've got to keep the enemy close. That's why. Not like you, blabbing to anybody who will say hi.

Also, we went to a fancy restaurant. I won't say the name. But I showed up in a beautiful Gucci dress.


GRIFFIN: And also worn by...

COOPER: Madonna.

GRIFFIN: Thank you. You showed up in a...

COOPER: T-shirt, a white T-shirt.

GRIFFIN: OK. You looked like a hobo. Do people still say hobo? Or is that a politically incorrect term?

COOPER: No, I think it's OK.

GRIFFIN: You should have had, just, like an old coonhound and, like, food on a stick with a bandanna. What were you doing, showing up at a fancy restaurant?

COOPER: I didn't know. Honestly, I didn't know it was a fancy restaurant.

GRIFFIN: Seacrest had a suit on.

COOPER: I wear every day. I wear the same thing, which is jeans and a T-shirt, a white T-shirt. And...

GRIFFIN: Let me tell you something. Ryan Seacrest takes a shower in that suit. All right? He is ready to work at all times. He's watching you.

COOPER: I could have gone live. I was ready to go live.

GRIFFIN: Really?


GRIFFIN: By the way, you do know that Ryan Seacrest rehearses for New Year's?

COOPER: Yes, I know.

GRIFFIN: Today he was tweeting about how he was rehearsing.

COOPER: I was surprised to hear that, because the way we do, clearly do not rehearse.



GRIFFIN: Because we don't have to. We have a gift.

COOPER: How worried should I be for tomorrow night?

GRIFFIN: You should be very worried.


GRIFFIN: Are you going to wear...

COOPER: For those of you who have not been watching -- and yes, I'm addressing the public.

GRIFFIN: Are you addressing the world?

COOPER: Yes, I am. I've moved on from you. I'm addressing the world. If you've not watched previously -- and I can understand why you might not...

GRIFFIN: Did you say if you've not?


GRIFFIN: If you...

COOPER: If you've not. GRIFFIN: What happened to "if you haven't." Why don't you talk like the people sometimes.

COOPER: If you've not. If you have not. If you haven't. Anyway...

GRIFFIN: Is that what you taught you at Choate?

COOPER: I'm talking to the people. Do you mind?


COOPER: If you haven't watched, I would understand why, but I would suggest giving it a try. But every year Kathy sort of ups the ante and does things which, in any other organization, might get her fired. But somehow we don't have a collective memory...

GRIFFIN: Wait, I also could get fired every year. So just because I'm on the set, there are people that, when I walked into the CNN building went "How did you get back in?" So I mean, we're not trying to hide that.

COOPER: I think we're all a little amazed. We were all surprised.

GRIFFIN: I know, it's a showbiz shocker, as A.J. Hammer would say. If I could do the show tomorrow night with A.J. Hammer, I'd even know. I'd be so excited, I couldn't even stand it. What's Paul Begala doing?

COOPER: I don't know what he does on New Year's Eve. Would you like him to maybe try to call in?


COOPER: Are you a big -- you're a big -- you watch a lot of CNN and you watch the HLN. Do you...

GRIFFIN: I truly watch your show every night, and also, I never miss Jane Velez-Mitchell's going deep with the story. "If Nancy Grace can't cover it, I will." I love JVM, and I love Nancy Grace.

COOPER: Is that your Jane Velez-Mitchell?

GRIFFIN: Jane Velez-Mitchell. She kind of talks like a morning DJ, but she's got a lot to say, and she's filled with outrage. She's often outraged about miscarriages of justice.

Love it.

COOPER: A little Nancy Grace in there.

GRIFFIN: Hold on, hold on, hold on. I'll unleash the lawyers.

COOPER: Have you met Nancy Grace?

GRIFFIN: I finally met Nancy Grace in person, which was extremely exciting for her -- for me. Because I...

COOPER: You do a whole thing on Nancy Grace in your last routine that I saw.

GRIFFIN: Yes. And also if I can address my camera.

COOPER: Yes, please.

GRIFFIN: Anderson and I will be recreating Nancy Grace's infamous nip slip...

COOPER: Really?

GRIFFIN: ... tomorrow night, so Anderson will be showing his nipple. And I will be showing one full breast, because it's nature and it's beautiful. And that's our little hook, so don't tell, you know, the competition.

COOPER: Uh-oh.

GRIFFIN: Are you having one of your fits?

COOPER: I'm starting to cough, yes. You're making me cough.

GRIFFIN: Really? You can't just call in sick. So if you think you're laying the groundwork for, like, "Oh, I don't feel well today," it's not, you know...

COOPER: Well, there's no way you would do -- that they would allow you to do it solo.

GRIFFIN: You stuttered.

COOPER: I stutter -- I have a stutter.

GRIFFIN: But it's when you get nervous.

COOPER: No. It's -- I think -- I tend to think of...

GRIFFIN: It's charming.

COOPER: Actually, as I put it on today...

GRIFFIN: Does he just come to your house and dump off boxes of clothes?

COOPER: No, I go and buy the clothes.

GRIFFIN: You -- OK. I've seen on CNN those, like, jury professionals, you know. You looked down, which meant you were lying, when you said the word "buy." You have not purchased clothes since you were 6 months old.

COOPER: What are you talking about? I buy all...

GRIFFIN: You just did it again. You just did it again. You went like this. "I buy my own clothes." No. Designers line up outside your house, crying, saying, "Please wear my clothes, you handsome model."

COOPER: You're not allowed to do that. You're not allowed to do that. In news you're not allowed to do that. I'm not one of those...

GRIFFIN: You looked down when you said news.

COOPER: I'm looking right at you.

GRIFFIN: You know you're not doing news.

COOPER: I'm looking right at you. I'm looking right at you. Right at you.

GRIFFIN: This is for the daytime show, right?

COOPER: No, this is the evening show.

GRIFFIN: Why? That's the real show. It's exciting entertainment.

COOPER: Yes, I...

GRIFFIN: One thing is I want people to tweet a name for us.

COOPER: Just for the record, I buy all my own clothes because you're not allowed to receive gifts as a reporter.

GRIFFIN: Boy, keeping them honest.

COOPER: I'm just explaining that.

GRIFFIN: Easy, "Keeping Them Honest."

OK, so I -- I love this part. This is the part where you try to look smart. I -- can you actually show me your degree, because I feel like it's a lot of this and not so much this. So if you have a copy, I'd love to see a formal...

COOPER: I think they missed you on the camera, by the way.

GRIFFIN: Sorry. It's a lot of this and not so much this. Are you going to be giving the blue steel tomorrow night? Because when in doubt, just pose. Who's doing your hair and makeup?

COOPER: Oh, see, look, my phone is ringing.

GRIFFIN: Is it one of a big giant tweet with big giant letters?

COOPER: That's how I knew.

GRIFFIN: I knew.

COOPER: So if you had to be stuck on a desert island, choosing between Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell, who would you pick? GRIFFIN: Wow. Easy "Sophie's Choice." I mean, honestly, that's actually more difficult than "Sophie's Choice." I would probably -- it's tough, but I would pick Nancy.

COOPER: Because?

GRIFFIN: Because I could spend the rest of my life hearing, "Hi, friend." You know, I love JVM, don't get me wrong.

COOPER: Then she wins.

GRIFFIN: If you had to choice between -- OK, who's the dude with the wacky eyebrows that comes on? He's a middle -- Fouad?

COOPER: Fouad Ajami.


COOPER: He's on tonight. He's been on the program tonight.

GRIFFIN: OK. When are you going to trim his eyebrows, though, seriously?

COOPER: Come on.

GRIFFIN: I know he...

COOPER: Fouad Ajami is a very smart, very -- is a great speaker. I like hearing his -- his opinion on things. I like hearing his take on the changes going on in the Arab world.

GRIFFIN: But what if you did one of those, like, Dr. Phil makeover shows with some of your political pundits?

COOPER: Who else do you want a makeover on?

GRIFFIN: I want -- I want David Gergen to get a more, like, a youthful look. James Carville, maybe a nice toupee. Like and maybe he should get one like that -- who's that Republican strategist, Frank Lutz [SIC] or whatever? He's got, like, Justin Bieber bangs?

COOPER: That's on another network, yes.

GRIFFIN: Oh, I'm sorry, no other network exists.

COOPER: No, no. I'm just pointing that out.

GRIFFIN: Really? So you actually think you can call in sick to your own show?

COOPER: I don't know if I can make it. Have a little...

GRIFFIN: OK. Well, I will call Poppy Harlow in two seconds. Because where I go, Poppy follows.

COOPER: I knew you were going to pull Poppy Harlow out of the hat.

GRIFFIN: I watch. I love Poppy.

COOPER: Tomorrow night, I'm looking forward to it.

GRIFFIN: Yes, the whole gang will be there.

COOPER: Yes, they will be. Thanks, Kathy.

GRIFFIN: Can't wait.


COOPER: Be sure to join us tomorrow night. Ring in 2012 with the one and only Kathy Griffin live from Times Square. The party starts at 11 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. We'll be live all the way through 12:30.

Still ahead tonight, Verizon's record fast flip-flop on a fee that enraged customers. Also, we'll tell you what investigators think is responsible for part of Hollywood erupting in fire tonight. And the No. 1 "RidicuList," coming up.


HENDRICKS: Anderson is back with the best "RidicuList" in 2011 in just a moment, but first a "360 News and Business Bulletin."

Authorities in Maine now suspect foul play in the disappearance of this little girl, 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds. Her father said she disappeared December 16 after she put her to bed.

Los Angeles investigators say an arsonist started 19 fires in vehicles that firefighters battled overnight in a Hollywood area. You see them doing it there. Six of the fires spread to nearby buildings, including a home where Doors front man Jim Morrison once lived.

On the last trading day of 2011, here is how a very rocky year for stocks shook out. The Dow was up 5.5 percent over last year. The NASDAQ is down 1.8 percent, and the S&P 500 fell less than a point from last year's close.

And a 24-hour 180, you could call it. Today, Verizon said it is getting rid of the controversial $2 fee. It just announced it yesterday. Irate customers vented online. It seems to have worked. The fee would have applied to one-time bill payments using debit or credit cards, either online or by phone.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Counting down the top ten "RidicuLists" of the year, tonight is No. 1, based on your votes. I will tease this the way I teased it back in August. Gerard Depardieu takes a leak on a plane, and I don't mean the root vegetable. The top "RidicuList" of 2011 is coming up next.


COOPER: All right. Tonight is the night of the last installment in our countdown of the top ten "RidicuLists" of the year based on your votes. It's a story that, well, it trickled into our consciousness back in August amid the sweltering summer heat. There emerged a cool little story about an airplane, Gerard Depardieu, and his urgent need to pee. Appropriately, it is -- it's No. 1 on the list tonight. Take a look.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight we're adding Gerard Depardieu, noted French actor, Academy Award nominee, public urinator. That's right, I said urinator.

Last night on a flight from Paris to Dublin, Depardieu reportedly peed on the floor. Apparently, the plane was on the tarmac and the flight attendant told him he'd have to wait to use the bathroom until takeoff. So Depardieu created his own little Jet Stream, or as the French would say, "oui-oui."

When I first heard the story this morning, I thought there was no way it was real. But the airlines, CityJet, confirmed it beyond any shadow of skepticism. And by that, I mean, they vaguely tweeted about it. Quote, "As you may have seen on the news, we are busy mopping the floor of one of our planes this morning. We'd also like to remind all passengers that our planes are fully equipped with toilet facilities." Hmm, CityJet. I would have guessed he flies Incontinental. Incontinental.

Anyway, while the airline was putting the "P" back in P.R., some of the passengers just couldn't hold it any more and started spilling their versions of the incident to the press. Can you blame them? They saw an actual thespian, actually thes-peeing. (LAUGHTER)

Oh, it's full of puns.

This probably won't come as a shock, but several passengers say Depardieu was -- you guessed it -- visibly drunk. But I think that there's another explanation. See, as a celebrity, he's not accustomed to being told he can't do things he wants to do when he wants to do them. Things like going to the bathroom. No, he's probably used to being, you know, pampered. I'd go as far to say he Depends on it. We'll put a graphic in case you didn't get the reference. Depends on it.

But it's kind of sad when you think about it. This guy has been in hundreds of movies. Will he be remembered for "Cyrano de Bergerac"? Probably not. Will he be remembered for "Green Card"? Nope. This -- this incident is likely to go down as his No. 1 role. Although there is a bright side.

Stop laughing, it's distracting.

Now that we know he doesn't have any stage fright when it comes to public urination, maybe he can get together with his fellow cast mates from "Ma Vie En Rose" and they can all have a pissing contest, you know, like a pee-off. Pee-off because the movie was about Piaf. Pee-off.

So after Gerard took his little solo flight to urination, the plane had to turn around and go back to the gate, and some unlucky crew had to deal with the Golden Globe-winning tinkle.

Now, all I can say is they should thank their lucky stars it wasn't Depard-two. Sorry. That made be giggle every time I read it. He hasn't commented on this incident. (LAUGHTER) Depart-two. I know you got it. But -- all right. Sorry. (LAUGHTER) All right. (LAUGHING) Sorry, this has actually never happened to me.

I always see this kind of thing on YouTube, and you don't actually think it will happen to you. All right. Sorry. All right.

He hasn't commented on the incident, but if I know the European celebrity's spin machine, and I think I do, there will probably be some excuse like he was doing research for a movie role. As we speak, I bet somewhere in Paris a screen writer is furiously typing out a period piece about the potty-training misadventures of an overgrown drunk French 2-year-old.

His entourage reportedly says that he wasn't drunk, and he just tried to discretely pee in a bottle. But I'm not sure that version holds water. In any case, Gerard, chin up. Yes, this incident was in all the papers, but it's nothing but yellow journalism, and soon it will be flushed from our memories. So just go with the flow on "The RidicuList."


COOPER: That was it, the No. 1 "RidicuList" of the year. Thank you for those, all of you, who voted for it. You can watch all top ten "RidicuList" on our blog and in the featured section of the CNN app for iPad.

That does it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.