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CNN NEWSROOM

Jason Russell Naked On The Sidewalk Making Bizarre Motions And Talking To Himself; Rick Santorum is Accusing President Obama is Prioritizing Pornography Issues over Child Abuse Case; Trayvon Martin Was Shot Dead by the Watch Captain; Robert Bales' Attorney Arrived; Price of Gas has Increased Again

Aired March 18, 2012 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Warning signs. Were there any for a U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan. What set him off?

ROBERT DURHAM, BALES' FAMILY FRIEND: The Bobby I knew is not the Bobby that could have done that.

LEMON: Santorum on smut. He says the president is putting pornographers ahead of children and family.

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Say, I'm not going to put a priority on prosecuting these cased and in doing so, they are exposing children to a tremendous amount of harm.

LEMON: Justice for Trayvon. An unarmed teen, gunned down in Florida weeks ago. The shooter is still a free man. The family said it was murder.

That and more right here, right now on CNN.

Good evening everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.

We are going to begin with a developing story that is a turning point for the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan and could start bringing the men and women their home much sooner than we thought. In a matter of weeks, even days.

The tragic story of army staff sergeant Robert Bales played out in an Afghan village last weekend, but tonight he is on U.S. soil. His attorney has arrived in Kansas this evening to prepare for his first face-to-face meetings with his client. Bales is suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians including nine children last weekend.

He is now in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas and he could be charged in connection with those deaths as soon as this week.

CNN's Dan Simon standing by for us. Now Dan, let's start with Bales' attorney. What's the latest on his arrival?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don. First of all, this story has really been advancing over the weekend. Remember, for several days we had no idea of the name of the suspect while the military kept his name secret. Well, now we know who he is. Robert Bales and a portrait has emerged of him over the weekend.

We also know he has an attorney. John Henry Brown, a prominent lawyer here in the Seattle community. He is someone who has taken on high profile cases in the past, He represented serial killer Ted Bundy as well as the barefoot bandit here in the Seattle area. He got to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He was going to meet his client this evening and he addressed reporters briefly. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HENRY BROWN, ROBERT BALES' ATTORNEY: It was a shock. Believe me. More of a shock perhaps to them and the neighbors and even reading the news accounts. Everybody thinks he is a nice and mild-mannered person and a great person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Well, the portrait that emerged thus far is this is somebody who is facing significant financial strain and perhaps showing strain of an emotional strain and physical strain as well. We spoke to neighbor who told us this is a person who had gotten injured during the time of war while fighting in Iraq. And he had a brain injury at one point. A couple of years ago while serving in Iraq, yet he wanted to continue fighting for his country.

So, we don't have a sense as to what set him off. It's just a mystery. People have characterized him as a good soldier, a good human being. And so, how this happened, we just don't know. Back to you.

LEMON: All right. CNN's Dan Simon. Thank you so much for that, Dan.

A man who has known Bales his entire life is stunned by the story. He says that Robert Bales he knew could not have been kinder.

CNN's national correspondent Susan Candiotti has an exclusive interview with him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert Durham remembers his last conversation with sergeant Robert Bales who called him from Afghanistan.

ROBERT DURHAM, ROBERT BALES' FRIEND: Said, I love you, Bobby, you know? Take care of yourself.

CANDIOTTI: That was in December, shortly after he was redeployed to the region for a fourth time.

DURHAM: Real caring, real understanding individual. Even from a real young age. CANDIOTTI: Durham has known Bales all his life. They lived next door to each other in Norwood, Ohio. He still calls him Bobby.

DURHAM: Bobby and my son were best friends.

CANDIOTTI: An uncommonly kind friend, because Durham's son Wade, two years older than Bales, is severely disabled.

DURHAM: Bobby was just a very understanding, very accepting kid. He didn't at one time point out a kid's disability. It was what they could do.

CANDIOTTI: Bobby took Wade swimming to school parties, to the zoo. Bobby made sure wade was never left out, no matter what anyone thought.

DURHAM: And with Bobby around there was never a question. All of Bobby's friends accepted Wade because Bobby accepted him.

CANDIOTTI: At Norwood high school, outside Cincinnati, Bales was a football captain, yearbook photos show him typing and a playful side. After attending two colleges and working in finance, a fateful day, 9/11.

DURHAM: 9/11 really affected Bobby.

CANDIOTTI: Within two months, he joined the army.

DURHAM: He was like a lot of young men and women who decided that not on our watch. You don't do this to our country.

CANDIOTTI: When they talked about the war, Durham says Bales empathized with civilians.

DURHAM: People are people to him. People are people. I never heard him say he hated anyone.

CANDIOTTI: Like most, Durham was horrified to hear about an American soldier who allegedly gunned down 16 Afghan villagers door to door.

How did you react when you heard the news?

DURHAM: They're saying Bobby did that. And I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. I can't believe it. The Bobby that I knew is not the Bobby that could have done that.

CANDIOTTI: Durham suspects his friend may have snapped and he's worried.

DURHAM: I don't think he can live with it. He'll never be the same and that -- he's such a great person. That just -- that crushes me. I don't -- I don't know.

CANDIOTTI: What questions do you have?

DURHAM: I think everyone has the same question, because everyone knew the same Bobby. What happened? What happened?

CANDIOTTI: Questions with few answers.

DURHAM: I don't know what happened to my friend Bob Bales. I hope somebody figures it out.

CANDIOTTI: And gets him help. Susan Candiotti, CNN, Norwood, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: We will dig deeper now on this fallout in the shooting in Afghanistan and what could lead to a fundamental shift in strategy here. Publicly, the White House said it wants to stay the course at Afghanistan after the alleged massacre of 16 civilians. But there is no doubt that commander from Washington to Kabul they are preparing for anything.

General James Marks is with us now. General, I want to begin by asking you why we could start seeing troops, could start seeing troops coming home as soon as two weeks as a result of this tragedy.

GEN. JAMES MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well Don, first of all, you know that President Karzai has directed that all forces leave the villages and return to forward operating bases. The larger bases. That doesn't take place immediately. It doesn't take place overnight. So, there has to be a relief in place with Afghan forces security forces. So, that takes about a week. They have been into it. The forces in Afghanistan have been into that about a week.

But if those forces are not those U.S. forces are not going to come back into the villages and resume those missions, the United States mission is fundamentally changed. And our commanders on the ground will determine that probably within about another week.

So, within a couple of weeks it would not be unusual if there has not been a change in our posture inside those bases that you can see forces coming back. It's not inconceivable that that could happen.

LEMON: Gen. James Marks, thank you so much. General "Spider", make sure you stay with us because I want to ask you if this sergeant is a face of a mission gone wrong. And we are going to talk more about the future of the mission in Afghanistan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: More tonight on the top story. The massacre of 16 civilians that angered many, but it's impact could be even bigger here. A poll last week showed most Americans want the White House to speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

General James "Spider" Marks, I want to ask you, is this young man accused of this massacre, staff sergeant Robert Bales, is he the face of a mission gone wrong.

MARKS: Don, no. He's not, not at all. The mission has not gone wrong. What happened in this particular case, if you look at this soldier's record, he's an exemplary soldier. He has done exceptionally well. He has been a leader. He has risen through the ranks. He is now an E6 after about ten years in service. That's a tremendous track record and his buddies and his leaders and subordinates recognized that.

What happened about a week ago, we will figure out. I mean it's a tragedy on multiple levels. But it is inappropriate for us to draw a conclusion from this event to what the other soldiers, marines and our service members are currently doing and have done in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last decade. It's phenomenal what they have been able to accomplish.

LEMON: We need to talk about the deployments, obviously, and there has been much conservational over that. But I want to know about the troops who have been deployed over there recently in the wake of this tragedy.

What are they doing if they can't go into the villages, that they can't do their jobs? Are they sitting there on their hands? What's going on there? And how long is General Allen going to let us go on, if that's indeed the case?

MARKS: Don, several things are taking place right now. Certainly, President Karzai has said move the soldiers and marines out of the villages and back on to the main base. Again, that doesn't take place overnight. There still activities that will take military activities that will take place outside these foreign operating bases.

People have to be taken care of and there is medical evacuations and aviation support is going on. There are still activities, training of security, Afghan security forces, afghan military forces, those can take place outside the secured areas. So, the prohibition is into the villages conducting operations. So, that has to back off.

And the soldiers and sailors, airmen marines that are over there right now. Those service members never sit on their hands. They are preparing for the next mission and leaning forward and getting ready.

However, if you stay on those four operating bases for any more than about a week or a week and a half maybe two weeks, Don, that changes the mission. It changes the readiness of those service members, it changes the posturing and that forces that should be out conducting operations in the villages and elsewhere, they need to go home. The guys doing training or logistics, they can drive on. There really is. This is an inflection point and it needs to be monitored very closely and clearly all of our leaders are doing that right now.

LEMON: As you said, in the beginning of this newscast, this is a turning point and it could change the mission, it could bring the men and women home much, much sooner than we thought. James "Spider" Marks, thank you so much. We appreciate you joining us tonight on CNN.

MARKS: Thanks, Don. LEMON: You know, if you are president of the United States, you get blamed for quite a lot. High on that list is the price of gas. But, can the president really affect what you pay at the pump? We are going to tackle that later this hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Mitt Romney has new momentum heading in to Tuesday's Illinois presidential primary. CNN projects he won an easy victory today in Puerto Rico. There, you can see the results as on your screen. Mitt Romney won 83 percent.

CNN also projects that Romney will get all 20 of Puerto Rico's delegates. Romney was endorsed by Puerto Rico's governor and he also campaigned there on Friday and Saturday. By CNN's estimates, Romney now has 518, more than double Rick Santorum's 239 delegates. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are trailing. All eyes now turn to Illinois which holds its primary on Tuesday.

Full coverage right here on CNN starting at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday night.

Rick Santorum made multiple campaign stops in Illinois over the weekend and he even told one audience a victory could propel him to the Republican nomination.

Earlier today, Candy Crowley interviewed Santorum on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" and she asked him about his strong criticism of the president's policy towards Iran as well as an entry on his campaign Web site pledging a crack down on corn.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, STATE ON THE UNION: Something that's been on your Web site that's gotten a lost buzz. And it's your position on pornography. One of the things you say in promising a tougher crackdown on pornography is that quote "the Obama department of justice seems to favor pornographers over children and families."

I just need to ask you to back that up. Do you honestly believe there people at the department of justice who favor pornographers over children and families? Do you believe that?

SANTORUM: You have to look at the proof is in the prosecution. Under the Bush administration, pornographers were prosecuted much more rigorously than they are under existing law than they are under the Obama administration. So, you draw your conclusion.

CROWLEY: But, what's your conclusion?

SANTORUM: Whether the administration has not put a priority -- my conclusion is they have not put a priority on prosecuting the cases. And in doing so, they are exposing children to tremendous amount of harm. And that to me said they are putting the un- enforcement of this law and putting children at risk as a result of that. CROWLEY: I want to play for the listeners something that you said at a rally last night. This was in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, talking about the president.

SANTORUM: We're need a president who will go out and person to nominees can go out and draw clear contrasts between President Obama and his failed policies at home and of course his failed policies where he has been the weak horse, the appeaser in chief around the world. With evil.

CROWLEY: Appeaser in chief around the world with evil. Where is a for instance for that for our listeners? Where do you think he is an appeaser with evil?

SANTORUM: Iran is the principal place. That is the principal problem we are facing on the national security front. A nuclear Iran. And he has repeatedly sided with the government of Iran in the green revolution in 2009 when people were pleading on the streets holding signs of asking President Obama to help overthrow this theocracy that's develop in a nuclear weapon that is killing our men and women in uniform with improvised explosive devices made in Iran that is attacking American troops through their surrogates and terrorist organizations. And yet, we had an opportunity over thrown --

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: There's new sanctions coming up. He gathered world opinion. Isn't that better than, you know, going in with troops or whatever -- what is it you are suggesting he should have been doing?

SANTORUM: Well, first off, he should have been aligning himself with the Persian people and the pro democracy movement in Iran to topple this regime, this radical theocracy that is developing a nuclear weapon and spreading terror around the world. And he did not do that. And here he said, you know, I'm going to impose tough sanctions after he denied that and tried to stop the sanctions from going into place. Only his own party got him in the Senate and the house. Got him kicking and screaming to impose - impose the sanctions. And what has he done since then?

There's U.N. resolutions to say there will be no negotiation with the Iranians until they stop processing the nuclear material and what did the president do? He overstep those things. He ignored that precondition and he is now been negotiating directly with Iran as Iran continue to develop nuclear weapons.

He is buying time and doing exactly what the Iranians want to do. This is the weak horse that is in this region and the Israeli people, Benjamin Netanyahu came to this country and said Mr. President, time is up. We need your help. And he, the very next day, he started negotiating with Iran without preconditions and allowing them the opportunity to continue to develop nuclear weapons. That is weakness.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Rick Santorum on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley. And be sure you join us on Tuesday night with the complete coverage of the Illinois primary that kicks off at 7:00 Eastern with Erin Burnett, then complete live coverage of the primary results begin at 8:00 with Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and the entire CNN political team.

What can you expect from the White House and wall street in the coming week. We will give you a rundown of what's on tap, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. Let's look to the big stories in the week ahead. We have you covered from west to east. From Hollywood to wall street.

Our correspondents will tell you what you need to know. We are going to begin tonight at the White House.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dan Lothian at the White House, with high gas prices at the pumps, President Obama will be focused on energy this week when he hits the road on a four- state tour, making stops in Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and the battle ground state of Ohio.

The president will be putting the spotlight on developing domestic oil and gas as well as pushing for more fuel-efficient vehicles. Before hitting the road though, the president will welcome the Irish prime minister to the White House on Tuesday.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Coming up this week, housing will be the big focus on wall street. We are expecting reports home prices and construction as well as existing home sales for the month of February. Housing, as you well know, continues to be a major drag on the overall economy despite improvement in other sectors.

Also coming up, we will get earnings from Tiffany, General Mills, FedEx and Nike. We will see how the marker responds to all of it and we will track it for you on CNN money.

A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: I'm SHOWBIZ TONIGHT's A.J. Hammer. Here's what we are watching this week. We got one on one with the cast of, of "Celebrity Apprentice." And also, we are getting the inside scoop on the brand-new season of "Dancing with the Stars" from super pro, Mark Ballas. Catch "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" exclusively weeknights at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on HLN.

LEMON: The man whose viral video made a Ugandan war load a household name has himself become an Internet sensation. Jason Russell unfortunately had a very public naked break down in San Diego late last week. Russell's film "Kony 2012" showed the brutally of African war lord, Joseph Kony, but his public meltdown has now prompted this explanation from invisible children, the organization trying to stop the violence in Africa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN KEESEY, CEO, INVISIBLE CHILDREN: Dear friends of invisible children. This is Ben Keesey.

These last two weeks have been tough, really tough. Because when we set out to make the "Kony 2012" film, our goal was for 500,000 people to see it. But in just over a week and a half, it was almost 100 million people which was incredible, but it also came with the attention and the pressure of the global media spotlight. And that was hard for all of us. But it was especially hard for Jason because the story was so personal for him and his family. And that pressure took a serious toll on him and unfortunately the whole world saw that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It's very hard to look at that. Your heart can't help but go out to him and his family regardless of the situation and what cause it. This is what the world saw. Jason Russell naked on the sidewalk making bizarre motions and talking to himself. Invisible children said Russell was exhaust and dehydrate and that led to his strange behavior.

Russell has been in the spotlight since millions viewed this documentary you are looking at about the atrocities of Kony, Joseph Kony in Uganda. The project consumed him they said. Russell's family released a statement as well saying Jason has never had a substance abuse or drinking problem and this was not caused by either of those things. But yes, he did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion and dehydration. Russell is now in a hospital. Police did not charge him.

The shooting death of a Florida team creating outrage online. The admitted shooter, the head of a neighborhood watch claims he did it in self defense. The family said it's murder. There is growing outrage in the country and online. And we are going go in depth, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: As I say, headlines. A lot of them this week. And the attorney for Army staff sergeant Robert bales has arrived in Kansas to prepare for his first face-to-face meetings with his new client. Bales is that soldier who is accused of killing 16 Afghanistan civilians last weekend. He is now at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He could be changed in connection with those deaths as soon as this week.

The U.S. embassy is working to confirm reports of an American has been killed in Yemen. Two defense minister officials say it happened in Taiz province. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the reported killing. The terror group says the American was a missionary who was trying to spread Christianity.

Canadians expect more arrests following rioting overnight in London, Ontario. Police say a St. Patrick's day celebration turned into a drunken mob of about 1,000 people. People set fire pelted police with rocks and bottles and caused about $100,000 in damage. Most of it took place in a college neighborhood with a history of disturbances. Gas prices are up again for the ninth day in a row. Triple A said the national average for a gallon of regular is now $3.83. In seven states prices now have topped $4 a gallon. Wyoming has the cheapest gas that is if you call $3.40 cheap.

There is growing anger over the killing of a Florida teenager by a neighborhood watch captain. 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was just walking home at night in a gated community when George Zimmerman spotted him. Zimmerman told 911 he thought Trayvon acted suspiciously. The dispatcher told him not to get involved, he confronted the teen and within minutes shot him. I want to you listen to the attorney for his parents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATALIE JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S PARENTS: Zimmerman wants to say he has a concealed weapon for personal protection. That day, he was acting as armed security. The official manual of the neighborhood watch program which we will give you a copy of issued by the U.S. department of the justice states that members do not possess police power and they shall not carry weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I spoke with Goldie Taylor of the Goldie Taylor project earlier tonight. Zimmerman claims self defense. But witnesses tell our affiliate, WKMG, a very different story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

I firmly believe this was not self defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Meeting Trayvon Martin's family for the first time, Mary Cutcher and Selma Lamilla dropped a bomb during in a press conference, saying they witnessed the 17-year-old getting shot and they were ignored by police.

MARY CUTCHER, WITNESS: What we heard, what we saw that we believe in our hearts 100 percent, it was not self defense. I heard the crying. It was a little boy. As soon as the gun went off the crying stopped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Stanford police never arrested Zimmerman because they said they had no evidence the shooting was not self defense. But, the witness say they try to call police four times to give a statement and their calls were not returned.

JACKSON We believe as a gun was pointed at a 17-year-old child, he pled for his life and George Zimmerman pulled the trigger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The case devastated the family and outraged the community and put the police department under fire. But a grieving mother says for these witnesses, she is grateful.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: And just know that regardless of what happens, there is still good people in this world. GOLDIE TAYLOR, THE GOLDIE TAYLOR PROJECT: I have to tell you, I have a 21 and 28-year-old son. I have never heard them cry as grown men. If I heard them shriek and beg for their lives like this, it would have been devastating to me. So, I can't imagine what Mrs. Martin is going through.

LEMON: Let's listen to the 911 since you mentioned that crying and screaming. Play it, will you?

911 DISPATCHER: Is he yelling help?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: Yes.

911 DISPATCHER: What is your --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: There is gunshots.

911 DISPATCHER: You heard gunshots?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: Yes.

911 DISPATCHER: How many?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: Just one.

TAYLOR: You know, George Zimmerman told police that it was his voice on the 911 tape screaming. But I'm a mother. I know the sound of my own sons' cries. Mrs. Martin said it was Trayvon's screaming and begging for his life.

LEMON: The question is why hasn't George Zimmerman been arrested? Why are police and whoever it was in the hands of the state attorney now. Why he hasn't been arrested? The investigation, as we know, has to play out. But it appears there is no movement on this and on social media, people are going crazy about this story. Justice for Trayvon.

TAYLOR: I would say if not for what happened in social media specifically among twitter and some of the leading journalists and key influencers there, that this would have ended.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: A disturbing question about what happened to Trayvon Martin means this story is far from over. And you can better believe we are going to continue to follow until there is movement on this story.

One U.S. president famously said the buck stops here, the White House gets the credit and the blame for just about everything that happens in this country. But, can a president control the price of gas? We will tackle that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Because of the weather, two very different commutes depending on where you live in the country. And it may not be a commute at all. Some people may be stuck, Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. We have interstates shut down today and a lot of travel problems all across the country. I want to first make a one quick mention of a breaking news story that's going on in Nebraska right now around north plat. A tornado has touched down there and some damage occurred in the bailey yards area. That's a big railroad area. So, no reports of injuries. Details really sketchy on how severe this is. The tornado is now north of the city and we will continue to track the situation.

All right. Let's talk about the snow on the interstate that we shutdown. That was I-40. Take a look at the video around Flagstaff, Arizona. There's a 180 mile stretch that was closed through most of the day as more than a foot of snow fell in the area and came down extremely heavy with very strong winds. That snow continues overnight.

Now, this system - we are going to continue to watch in the upcoming days ahead. We are talking about at least through the middle of the week. Because it's a very slow-moving system. So, we are going to stay unsettled. We are going stay cold and we are going to stay damp across much of the west.

Now, ahead of the system, it's extremely windy and extremely warm.

Yes, you know, you saw a bunch of record highs today across the plane state and throughout parts of the east. This is the severe weather in the area we are watching for tonight inclusive the breath get down through Kansas as well as parts of Texas.

And just behind that where the drier air is in to the height plane, is where we have that risk of some fire danger because thing are so crisp and also so very windy.

Now, as the system heads slowly through the plains, it is going to kind a sit here and search s going pick up moisture in Gulf of Mexico and bring that up towards the north and with days of rain ahead means we could have a flood threat.

All right. Let's get to the nitty-gritty. Tomorrow's commute, tonight if you are going to be traveling, at least pack with the sweaters across the west and pack with the short sleeves across the east.

City number five, we are going to have some issues across the northeast, New York City, morning fog and low clouds. You could also have a few problems in places like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. This will primarily be in the morning.

City number four, Phoenix, Arizona. You are 50 and rain today. Tomorrow, not looking a whole heck a lot better unfortunately.

City number three, Kansas city, Missouri looking for showers and thunderstorms. And that can cause delays for you tomorrow at the airports and make for a rough commute. In Houston looking for showers and thunderstorms. Most of this will be late in the day. So, hopefully things will be all right for the drive in for Houston. But on the drive out, maybe a different story.

And city number one, Don, Dallas, Texas. They are also under the threat of severe thunderstorms tomorrow. I didn't give you a tower cam tonight because I knew that you would recognize that big ball at the skyline.

LEMON: No quiz tonight. It has been a long weekend. I would probably would have that. Thank you, Jacquie. Appreciate it.

Good luck tomorrow with the commute as well.

We are going to talk politics right now. When it comes to political debate, few issues hit home faster than the rising costs of gasoline. Oil companies, congress and especially the president all get blamed, but is the criticism fair? Is it fair?

Earlier I talked about it with CNN contributor Will Cain and Elsie Granderson on cnn.com contributor and senior writer for espn.com. And I started by asking Will, if it's really fair to blame the president, any president, from either party for the high cost of gasoline.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No.

LEMON: Simple answer. That's it. All right?

CAIN: Simple and it really, really is, Don. I'm not going to expound the point but I can tell you that gas prices are the subject of supply and demand. I can tell you the current spike we are seeing has a lot to do with unsteadiness instability in the Middle East, specifically what might happen in Iran. But the truth is in the short-term, in the short term, presidents have very little to do with the gas price is.

LEMON: But boys, it sure does get your base riled up. It sure does -- and makes for a great narrative. One guy against the other. Am I right?

CAIN: Absolutely. It's gold in the political world.

LEMON: So LZ, you want to weigh in on this? Go for it. Because I think you - I don't know, maybe you don't agree.

LZ GRANDERSON, CNN.COM CONTRIBUTOR: No, no. I agree with Will. It hasn't been fair for any candidate to be challenging the White House in regards to gas prices no more than a loaf of bread or cost of cotton or any other product that we use in America.

The thing that I find really frustrating right now though, is because, you know, at one end, they are challenging the president on the current prices of gas, but on the other end they are drumming the war being about Iran. They did not understanding as if you talk about going to war with Iran, you are affecting gas prices through speculation. And so, they kind of having their cake and eating it too. And I wish the American people would catch up to this game they are playing.

LEMON: The last thing you just said. Then why, Will, and I will ask you again, LZ. Let's start with LZ. I mean, why then are the American people - why are so many people buying into it? Well, the president should open the oil reserve. This president is responsible for high gas prices. Why are people buying into it, LZ?

GRANDERSON: Because we wanted things to be easy. We want things to exist in a vacuum. We don't want cause and effect. We just want things to be easier for ourselves. And that unfortunately is the truth about us as a culture.

LEMON: OK.

GRANDERSON: I mean, you can't keep saying we want lower taxes, but we want the government not to touch the spending, I mean, but we don't want to borrow. I mean, we want it all. We can't have it all. That's what gas prices are too.

LEMON: Will?

CAIN: Well, it's not just gas prices, Don. It's the economy and business cycle in general. We think the president has a direct lever over the business cycle. From macro to micro in gas.

LEMON: You said it's not fair. I'm asking why are the American people, some American people - many I should say buying into this narrative then?

CAIN: I'm telling you, they buy into that the president has control over everything. Not just gas, even macroeconomic business cycles. They think that Clinton was a great president of the economy because the economy was great during that time. And they think that we see a current economic uptick right now and the Obama gets full credit for it. He might. He does deserve some credit for it. But there are so many factors that are in play, what is going on with the economy and with gas prices, it's just silly to think that we can blame or credit a president for all of this.

LEMON: Any president, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, whatever, any president.

CAIN: Yes. Yes. But it is a nuance argument. There are nuance aspects to a president's effects on the economy, but when you boil it down to a simple bumper sticker tag at your local gas station, it gets just get stupid fast.

LEMON: I want you to listen to Mitt Romney and I want to get your reaction.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When he ran for office, he said he wanted to see gasoline prices go up. He said that energy prices would skyrocket under his views and he selected three people to help him implement that program. The secretary of energy, the secretary of the interior and the EPA administrator. And this gas hike trio has been doing the job over 3 1/2 years and gas prices are up. The right course is they ought to be fired.

CAIN: I just want to say this is more interesting in this delving into the more nuanced aspects of the energy market. President Obama did run on alternative energy sources in weaning Americans off of carbon-based fuels. Anyone to understand economic to know that means gas prices are going to have to go higher to get consumers off of it.

Now, is he responsible for them? No. But did he want higher gas prices? Eventually he did.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Will Cain, LZ Granderson.

As many as 20 percent of the people in the African nation in Mauritania are living in slavery.

CNN sent a crew there and got two men together. A former slave and the man that used to own him. That's ahead, but first, health care in America is the costliest in the world, but is it the best? Fareed Zakaria devotes his first GPS special of the year to laying out a road map to save health care.

CNN's Ali Velshi breaks down this important issue with Fareed in this week's "mastering your money."

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Fareed, you have searched the world for a solution to this health care issue to try to map that on to the United States. What have you found?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: Well, you know in Taiwan which is a free market country with a very vigorous free enterprise system, they had a totally free market health care system in the 1990s. They asked themselves to go from scratch and build a new one. And they studied all the models in the world. And we asked the guy who designed the Taiwan health care system, what did you learn from America?

VELSHI: Right.

ZAKARIA: He said it was very easy. From America you learn how not to do it.

VELSHI: Wow.

ZAKARIA: He said that there was really nothing that could get borrowed from the American cage. Our system is just a total mess. In Taiwan, what they decided to do was, they decided to go for a single insurer but private provider. So, hospitals are private. The doctors are private. But you have a single essentially government sponsored insurer. In other words, Medicare.

VELSHI: Right. And paid for by tax dollars?

ZAKARIA: Paid for by tax dollars. Not surprisingly, they have the lowest health care costs in the world. They are up there. They are among the best in terms of the outcomes, but they only spent seven percent of their economy on health care. We spend 17 percent.

VELSHI: Fareed, thank you.

I'm Ali Velshi with this week's "mastering your money."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Tonight in our "what matters" segment, as many as 20 percent of the people in the African nation of Mauritania are living in slavery. While slavery is against the law here, its abusers largely go unpunished.

CNN sent a crew there. The result was our special "inside slavery's last stronghold." Here's a quick look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOUBACAR MESSAOUD, CO-FOUNDER, SOS SLAVES (through translator): That's the problem here. That's why slavery persists because people don't need to exercise physical force. But there's symbolic violence. And what is symbolic violence? It's misery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text): God decided to weaken this kind of people. We haven't received yet any help from the government. We heard that it will help people like us, but nothing has been done so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Perhaps the most surprising thing about slavery in Mauritania is this. Some people who are born into slavery don't realize they are being exploited.

Back in the capital, we spoke secretly with a former slave named Yebawa. He was liberated years ago, but told us he never understood the freedom he was granted.

YEBAWA OULD KEIHEL, FREED SLAVE: It did matter to me, didn't gain anything. The master father never told us anything about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: We reunited Yebawa with his former owner, Abdel, who has been living abroad and who he hadn't seen in years.

ABDEL NASSER OULD ETHMANE, CO-FOUNDER, SOS SLAVE (though text): This is Yebawa.

KEIHEL (through text): Thanks to God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Their relationship isn't what you'd expect. We were surprised by their interactions.

ABDEL (though text): He may not have this white hair. But there are other signs at aging, yes. How are you all doing? And you, what exactly do you do?

KEIHEL (through text): I just farm.

ETHMANE (though text): And do they pay you or not?

KEIHEL (through text): They do pay me.

ETHMANE (though text): Are you sure?

KEIHEL (through text): They always pay my service.

ETHMANE (though text): Choosing Yebawa, it was - it was as if I were picking out a toy. It was nothing new. Traditionally when a boy is circumcised, he generally picks out a slave.

For me, it was just a thing that amused me, and who came to mind because there were all those funny stories that he talked in his sleep, that he was a bit chubby, a bit clumsy. That he was always losing the animals he was supposed to be watching and was always getting punished for this.

You remember taking care of animals coming in late in the night? Locusts, people yelling and screaming? And where did this go, where did that go?

KEIHEL (through text): My life is of course better. When I was young I only took care of my family's animals. But I sometimes lost some and they would yell at me. And when I left there was no one to yell at me. And if I lose some, I have to blame myself and look for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: But there's a twist Abdel master story. The slave master would go on to become one of Mauritania's most prominent abolitionists.

ETHMANE (though text): When I was 16, I was starting to spend time at the French Cultural Center here in Nouakchott. I started reading and I found the story of the French Revolution in an illustrated book. I came across the article that states that all men are born free and equal in rights. That was the article that made me think the most. And I began to ask myself. Were the lies coming out of this book? Or are these lies coming out of my very own culture?

I came to realize that slavery was not very common in the rest of the world. I went on vacation at the end of the year to the countryside to see my grandfather. And there I decided that in my relationship with the slaves, everything would change. And I would no longer allow them to serve me.

But no one listened to me. They just laughed because they'd never heard anyone say such things. Even Yebawa didn't understand. And if Yebawa were here now and you asked him who he was, he would say he is my slave.

KEIHEL (through text): My family is really them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: You can go to CNN.com/slavery to view the entire inside slavery stronghold series. There, you will find information on the fight to end slavery in Mauritania. You can also find out how you can be part of the solution by donating to a training center that is run by SOS slaves.

They have been searching for decades and now researchers may have found a lost work by Leonardo da Vinci. Want to take a look, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Sunday night mystery. Now, let's end the show with a little mystery. Something fun. Sunday night mystery.

Jacqui Jeras is here with some greats not about how we happened to match today with the orange tie or sweater, but a real life da Vinci code. Some research make what can be seen as an historic discovery. What is this?

JERAS: Yes. This has been going on really, this mystery for centuries. Seriously if you read the book, it was out of the pages of the novel. I'm not kidding you.

LEMON: I saw the movie.

JERAS: Well, or the movie if you like to go that route, but researchers think they found the Leonardo da Vinci painting that is been hidden behind the wall in Italy for literally hundreds of years. The masterpiece is called the battle of (INAUDIBLE) and it was unfinished in 1506 when Leonardo Da Vinci left Florence. It was painted on the walls in the (INAUDIBLE) and it was believed that it was destroyed after this building was remodeled. And so, a new artist was commissioned. Hs name is Georjo (ph) and he painted several frescos all throughout the building. And it's behind one of those paintings that they found. So, they use sonar and they knew that there was a space between the walls. And so, they took a little probe and a little drill and dug on through there and they got paint samples and those piece samples matched the same pigments in the Mona Lisa.

LEMON: How do you come up with this stuff?

JERAS: Isn't that amazing? How do they figure this stuff out?

LEMON: I was going to say, that's amazing.

JERAS: It's not proven yet, but there was a clue. On that painting, it said cirque on trove and that translates to "he who seeks finds." So, they think it was a clue on that second piece of what was behind it.

LEMON: Jacqui Jeras. With a mystery. Always a mystery.

JERAS: We will have more next weekend.

LEMON: Thank you, Jacqui Jeras. Have a great weekend. I'm Don lemon from CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Make sure you have yourself a great week. I will see you back here next weekend. Thank you so much for watching. Good night.