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THE SITUATION ROOM
Family Net Worth Plummets Nearly 40 Percent; Obama Hammed In Battleground Interviews; Interview with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh; "Bush 41", The Movie; Hoax at Sea; Puppy Love
Aired June 12, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM, happening now, a stunning new account of how much the housing crisis has cost all of America. The average American's family net worth plummeted almost 40 percent in only a few years.
Plus, a top U.N. official says the conflict in Syria has now exploded into a full-scale civil war. I'll ask the foreign minister from neighboring Jordan about a horrifying new report of children being tortured and used as human shields.
And rescuers thought they were racing to find victims of a yacht explosion. Now the U.S. Coast Guard believes it was dangerous and very expensive hoax.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
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BLITZER: It's one eye-popping figure that drives down just how much Americans lost as the housing market collapsed and the economy struggled. A Federal Reserve study found that between 2007 and 2010, families lost on average, get this, almost 40 percent of their net worth. That's an enormous chunk of their assets simply wiped out.
Our Lisa Sylvester has been looking at these numbers and the people behind the numbers. And it's staggering.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And it certainly is, Wolf. You know, since the recession, a lot of families have been feeling poor, but it turns out that their family wealth has truly declined. Many middle class families are finding they have no financial safety net.
DEBORAH HARRIS, RETIRED DC PARAMEDIC: I'm paying mortgage now for the house that I ever paid. What you see here is what it is, what I have.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): For 23 years, Deborah Harris worked as a Washington, D.C. paramedic. Now retired, she has little to show financially. No nest egg, little income, and lots of bills.
HARRIS: I'm thinking if I get my education and get a good job, I have some kind of security, they don't have that now.
SYLVESTER: Do you have it now, the security?
HARRIS: No. I don't have the security.
SYLVESTER: Harris was injured on the job. She had some health insurance, but medical bills wiped out her savings. Now, she's on the verge of losing her home. She's finding that promised American dream is not her reality. And in the last five years, she has slipped deeper into poverty.
HARRIS: Yes. I was better off than I am now. Better off than I am now. So, that's it.
SYLVESTER: Her story could be told in just about any city or town in America. The average family's net worth dropped by a staggering 40 percent between 2007 and 2010. To answer why, look to the housing market.
LAWRENCE MISHEL, ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE: When net worth fell between 2007 and 2010 because of the bursting of the housing bubble, it fell really heavily on middle class families because most of their wealth is housing.
SYLVESTER: People felt richer when housing prices were on the way up. But much of that paper wealth has been erased. The median net worth of the American family dropping from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. Income levels have also slipped.
And if people vote with their pocketbook in mind, these numbers are troubling for President Obama. GOP candidate, Mitt Romney, underscoring the point.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are having hard times in this country, and the president needs to go out and talk to people, not just do fundraisers. Go out and talk to people in the country and find out what's happening.
SYLVESTER: The economy had slipped off course even before President Obama took office. Still, folks like Deborah Harris are looking for relief, but not optimistic from getting it from either Democrats or Republicans.
HARRIS: They don't feel us. We are just a number as far as I'm concerned to them.
SYLVESTER (on-camera): And median family income also down. Couple that with the unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, and you can see why a lot of families out there are having a really tough time, Wolf.
BLITZER: In fairness to President Obama, the housing market started to collapse in 2007 and certainly collapsed in 2008 when the Republicans, President Bush, was in the White House. SYLVESTER: Yes. He's certainly inherited this. I mean, that's something that you hear often, but it is, in fact, true that if you look at the timeline, the housing market bubble, it actually happened before President Obama even entered the White House, but, you know, it is on his watch, and people are looking to him for answers, looking for that change.
BLITZER: Yes. They're going to have to do a much better job explaining what's going on. That's What James Carville, Stan Greenberg, the Democratic strategists have been stressing, as well. Thanks very much.
Let's dig a little bit deeper. After taking such a huge hit, will American families ever be able to recover their losses, rebuild their investments? We're joined now by Diane Swonk, the chief economist from Mesirow Financial. Diane, thanks very much for joining us. How long will it take for these middle class families to recover from this 40 percent drop?
DIANE SWONK, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MESIROW FINANCIAL: Well, you know, the key issue is that much of the 40 percent increase or the increase that was on the way up, the other side of that 40 percent was illusionary at best and was already covering a reality that we knew going on in the United States, that had been going on for decades, and that was a slowdown in median income that accelerated during the recession.
So, first of all, it's a long-term trend that was only temporarily masked by the housing market bubble. You add on top of that that you've got now a lot of money on the sidelines. People unwilling to even make a little bit of investment for fear that they'll lose all their principle.
They're actually willing to take a loss in terms of after adjusting for inflation by parking their money in a bank account or in the treasury market where they're not getting any return at all rather than fear making a more risky and productive investment in our future in things like equity, stock markets, or you know, other kinds of things out, even real estate out there.
That means that we're actually undermining our future as well. And this is something we saw the unwillingness to make those kind of risky bets and an unwillingness to use credit. Now, that might be by force rather than choice because there's just not the credit available, but that is something reminiscent, not exactly the same but reminiscent in the wake of what we saw in the 1930s.
BLITZER: It certainly does undermine this notion that so many generations of Americans had the best investment they could make was to purchase a home because the value of that house was going to go up and up and up, and some day, when they retired, the mortgage would have been paid off, and they'd be free and clear, if you will. But the collapse of the value of these homes has been startling.
SWONK: Exactly. And that's one of the biggest issues is the largest asset for the overwhelming majority of home -- of people in the United States, and the overwhelming majority of people in the middle class, in particular, is their home. And so, as they lost equity in their homes, that's where the bulk of this came from.
They might have a little bit in 401(k), but it was their home. They often were thinking, you know, they'd sell-off their home as they hit retirement and trade down into a condo, and that would allow them some extra money.
Well, that option isn't there anymore. And these are very important things because as we move forward, it can undermine and become self- feeding depending on how much it gets embedded in our behaviors as well and to the extent that we're not making investments that we're also holding back and it's making us even more conservative, and we're not making what little investments we could be making in our future, that undermines our future as well.
BLITZER: So, I know you've studied this. So many people have studied and written books about it. But in a nutshell, who's to blame for this disaster?
SWONK: You know, frankly, we have to look in the mirror. We're all to blame for it. This really started back in the 1970s when we stopped investing in education at the very moment that the information boom burst open. We started to see the real break between the bottom 50 percent of income earners and the top 90th percentile of income earners.
Those with graduate degrees did very well. It took an undergraduate to stay in the middle class more and more as we moved from the 1980s into the 1990s into 2000s. And we also have seen the return to education aren't just a college degree. Twenty-nine percent of those earning a licensing degree, a short-term degree, an occupational certificate are earning more than the average bachelor degree today.
So, we're not training people in the right areas or where the skills get this. The good news is, when you've got an 18-month training program, that's something that can be corrected fairly quickly. So, I haven't lost hope. But this is something that was really decades in the making. And it was all of us collectively deciding that debt was an easier way to cover up and stay in the middle class than income.
BLITZER: Diane Swonk, thanks for coming in.
SWONK: Thank you.
BLITZER: The U.S. fears Russia is helping Syria in a major league way right now carrying out a deadly new tactic, a firing on civilians and rebels from the air.
Plus, President Obama's pressed to explain why voters should trust him. Wait until you hear the hammering he got during some local TV interviews.
And a massive coast guard rescue operation turned out to be for nothing. Now, a reward is being offered to find out who was behind an apparent hoax.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is tough enough, Wolf, to hold a job these days without having to constantly worry about losing it. CNBC.com reports on five telltale signs that your job could be on the chopping block. First, mergers. They can spell trouble because a lot of jobs are duplicated. Two, getting passed over for promotion is always a bad sign, especially if you're more qualified than whoever gets picked for the job.
Three, there may be a pink slip in your future if you're asked to share your files or update another team member on all of your projects. This includes being asked to share passwords, client list, and contact information. Four, if you're assign a short-term project that has little to do with your regular job, it could mean that your regular job won't be waiting for you when you're finished.
And the fifth sign that you might want to update your resume is if a computer can do your job. Human resource experts suggest there are some things you can do to help keep your job like asking for feedback, tracking your goals, and building a portfolio of all your accomplishments. But even if you do all the right things, you can still wind up on the street.
The U.S. is in the midst of a long-term unemployment crisis. There are nearly 5.5 million people who've been out of work for six months or more. That's about 43 percent of all the unemployed. Economists call that a national emergency.
And if you're not already worried about losing your job, all you have to hear is that statistic that the net worth of the average American family has declined 40 percent from 2007 to 2010. You hear that, you'll be volunteering to work nights and weekends.
Here is the question, how worried are you about losing your job? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. You're not worried, are you, Wolf?
BLITZER: No. Those are good, excellent points. Nobody's asked me to share my files yet. So, I guess, I shouldn't be too worried.
CAFFERTY: You can tell me your password. I won't tell anybody.
BLITZER: Nobody's going to know. Thanks, Jack. Thanks very much.
Presidents often give interviews to local reporters during an election year hoping to avoid tough questions from Washington journalists, but if President Obama were expecting to get some softballs from TV anchors in key battleground states, he was wrong. Our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is joining us now. She's got more. Brianna, what happened?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There were some tough questions for sure, Wolf, after a very rough week for President Obama, the latest destruction involving, of course, his commerce secretary who got into a series of car crashes over the weekend and went on medical leave last night.
President Obama tried to get back on track and back on message with eight local television interviews.
KEILAR: President Obama went on a tour of America right from the White House, interviewing with local anchors from Roanoke.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The economy in Virginia has improved.
OBAMA: We've got to continue to expand more opportunities like the ones we're talking about in rural Nevada.
KEILAR: Jacksonville, Florida.
OBAMA: Not only is it good for the Jacksonville region, it's good for the entire country.
KEILAR: He also talked to stations from Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, California, and Greensboro, South Carolina, where the local news covers Asheville, North Carolina, a liberal enclave that helped Obama squeak out a win in the Tar Heel state in 2008. All battlegrounds with the sole exception of California, President Obama tried to spread a positive economic message.
OBAMA: The good news is is that we're starting to see progress.
Well, the good news is that in rural America we're starting to see terrific progress on a number of fronts.
KEILAR: It's part of the administration's so-called live from the White House series. As they did in November, local anchors broadcast from the south lawn after interviewing the president and attending the White House briefing.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let me go again, Kristen Remington (ph) from Reno. Are you here?
KEILAR: The local journalists like Green Bay's Matt Smith (ph) brought some tough questions with them to Washington.
MATT SMITH, GREEN BAY: Given the recent jobs reports, why should Wisconsinites believe that any proposal right now coming from the administration?
OBAMA: The truth of the matter is that we've seen significant progress in manufacturing, for example. There are a whole bunch of auto plants in Wisconsin that wouldn't be open had we not intervened and made sure that workers and management got together to revitalize the auto industry.
KEILAR: Don Ward of Colorado Springs asked the president about poll numbers in his state.
DON WARD, COLORADO SPRINGS: Latest polling shows you and Mr. Romney at about 45 percent right now. Some of the support you had then you don't have now. So, what happened?
OBAMA: What happened was we had the worst economic crisis since the great depression, and we're digging our way out. But, when we've gone through what we've gone through now, nobody's going to be completely satisfied, least of all me.
KEILAR (on-camera): Now, Wolf, there were some softballs. President Obama was asked what he thought about the NBA finals. Would he pick a winner? The Thunder or the Heat? He diplomatically said he wouldn't. And he was asked about singing. He said he didn't want to embarrass his wife and his daughters, and he would keep his singing under wraps in the shower for the time being, Wolf.
BLITZER: He's got a good voice. There's no doubt about that. He's spending a lot of time today fundraising, going to raise a lot of cash. Six fundraisers on this one day, is that right?
KEILAR: That's right. Six fundraisers in Baltimore and Philadelphia expecting to raise about $3.5 million. And he took on Mitt Romney at one of these fundraisers saying that he's drawn some of the wrong lessons from his time at a large financial firm.
And also, he pointed the finger at Republicans saying that this is the economy that he inherited. Obviously, things we will be hearing a lot on the campaign trail, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brianna, thanks very much.
After someone leaked racy e-mails between a reporter and a top U.S. official in Iraq, there's a new development in the scandal. It's proven very costly for one of them already.
And she helped the love of her life elude police for 16 years. Today, Whitey Bulger's girlfriend learned her fate from a judge. Her sentence and a lot more news coming up.
BLITZER: Reporter at the center of a racy e-mail scandal is out of a job. Lisa Sylvester's back. She's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what happened?
SYLVESTER: Well, Wolf, we recently told you about Wall Street reporter, Gina Chan (ph). Back in 2008, she exchanged a series of racy e-mails with then top negotiator on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq. Today, she agreed to resign, admitting she shared articles with him (ph) before they were published. The two are now married, and he has been nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. A judge has sentenced the girlfriend of mob boss, James "Whitey" Bulger, to eight years in federal prison. She pleaded guilty in March to identity fraud and harboring a fugitive. The couple was captured at their California apartment a year ago after 16 years on the run. Bulger is accused of committing 19 murders in South Boston during the 1970s and the 1980s.
An ING bank broke the law moving billions through the U.S. banking system on behalf of Cuban and Iranian clients. And now, it's going to pay for it. The bank agreed to a $619 million settlement for the cover-up operations that started in the 1990s. The Dutch bank admits it intentionally altered records to make it seem like the money came from somewhere other than the sanctioned countries.
And more than 30 years ago, a mother became known for five words, "the dingoes got my baby." Now, an Australian coroner has ruled she was right, that a wild dog caused the death of her two-month-old daughter. To finding end (INAUDIBLE) legal battle fought through four investigations and a murder trial. The saga was a subject of a popular 1988 movie, "Cry in the Dark."
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The dingo took my baby!
No. Please. God, no. The dingo took my baby!
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SYLVESTER: Yes. We all remember that. I remember watching that movie years ago.
BLITZER: Meryl Streep.
SYLVESTER: Yes. Thirty years later, and now, we finally have resolution in that case.
BLITZER: Now, that $619 million that INGO (ph), they give that to the U.S. government? The money goes into the U.S. treasury? Is that right?
SYLVESTER: I believe that it does. I'll have to confirm that, but I believe it goes to the U.S. treasury. It's a fine, essentially. And that's what it is. So, they were caught doing something they shouldn't have been. So, I'm pretty sure it goes --
BLITZER: We could use that.
BLITZER: The American taxpayers. Thanks very much.
Somewhere in Syria right now, government forces may be torturing, get this, torturing the child of a dissident. We'll talk about disturbing new claims of brutality by the Bashar al-Assad regime and the escalating violence. And does former President George H.W. Bush think he'd fit into today's Republican Party? He's responding to his son's slap at some hyperpartisan politics.
BLITZER: A top United Nations official says the blood bath in Syria is nothing less than a full-scale civil war right now. The U.N. peace keeping chief says the level of violence has increased in the past four days as the Bashar al-Assad regime fights to retake large chunks of territory it lost to the opposition.
Activists say government forces have been firing from helicopters at civilians and rebels. And the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, now says the United States fears Russia is about to send attack helicopters to the Syrian regime.
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HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.
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BLITZER: We're also learning more about the brutality against young Syrians. A new United Nations report says pro-government forces have tortured the children of suspected dissidents and have used them as human shields. Witnesses describe children being beaten, whipped with heavy cables, and scarred by cigarette burns.
One child allegedly was subjected to electrical shock to the genitals. The Syrian crisis is being felt across the Middle East and certainly in neighboring Jordan.
Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM right now is the visiting foreign minister of Jordan, Nasser Judeh.
Mr. Minister, thanks very much for coming in.
I wish we were meeting under different -- different circumstances.
But you hear these reports, that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is torturing little kids right now because their parents may be dissidents, what do you say to that?
NASSER JUDEH, FOREIGN MINISTER OF JORDAN: Well, we're hearing the -- the same things that you are hearing. We've been following the situation. We're monitoring it. We're right next door to -- to Syria. We're been seeing -- we've been seeing the violence over the last 13, 14 months. We've been seeing the spillover, the humanitarian fallout coming into -- into Jordan.
We've been saying from day one -- and I was on your show when it all began and we -- we were saying this has got to stop, the violence has got to end, the killing has got to -- to finish and we need a political solution, because every single day that goes by, there's more killing.
I mean we were all condemning the massacre in Houla a few weeks ago, but every day there's a...
JUDEH: -- a massacre on a national scale in Syria.
BLITZER: Because I was at this luncheon with the secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, today that was sponsored by the Brookings Institution here in Washington. She says, as other U.S. officials, including the president, have said, Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, must go. There can be no solution with him remaining in power.
Is that the same position that the -- the Jordanian government has?
JUDEH: Well, we -- we are in touch with -- with our American friends. I've been here. I -- I met with the secretary of -- of State and I met with different officials. And we met a few days ago in Istanbul, the core group of ministers. And the secretary of State was -- was there, as well, many other foreign ministers.
And were saying that at the end of the day, there has got to be a managed political solution.
BLITZER: Can there be a solution with Bashar al-Assad remaining as president of Syria?
JUDEH: Well, it depends if you want to have an all inclusive process that leads to that or not. If you want to have an all inclusive process that includes the Russians and the Chinese, perhaps one intelligent way of -- of doing it is to say that there has to be a political process that has an inevitable outcome (INAUDIBLE)...
BLITZER: So you haven't gone as far as the U.S. and -- and other countries have gone?
JUDEH: No, we -- I think we're very clear. We've said what we have said many, many times, at the end of the day, it is a -- a question of what the Syrians want. But this cannot continue. We have to pull our efforts together.
And we've said before the inevitable outcome of this could well be the departure of the current regime.
But it's not just about changing faces. It's about changing -- change the better, change for the better, change where the Syrians can enjoy peace and security and stability and where this killing stops.
BLITZER: You heard the Secretary also say that Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syria, helicopters that could slaughter civilians, some of these -- some of these attack helicopters.
You've -- you've seen these reports? JUDEH: I've -- I've just seen the secretary of State saying that -- that she's hearing reports on them.
BLITZER: So what do you say to the government?
I mean she says this is unacceptable, potentially a game-changer, and she's demanding that the Russians stop this.
JUDEH: Yes. Well, I mean, I think that at -- the Russians insist that they're not. And the secretary of State just said as -- as I heard it with you, that she's hearing reports of this. So I think we have to wait for a confirmation on that.
But at the end of the day, we are all in agreement. And there are different dynamics in different directions, but all pouring into the same pot, which is that we have to have an all inclusive (INAUDIBLE). We have to keep engaging the Russians, because at the end of the day, the regime in -- in Syria seems to think that -- that Russia is supporting them, whereas Russia is assuring us all that they just don't want Syria to slip into a civil war or instability or chaos or anarchy.
BLITZER: The U.N. peacekeeper, the chief of the U.N. peacekeepers says it's a full-scale, all blown out civil war in Syria right now.
Is that what you're seeing, as well?
JUDEH: Well, what we are seeing, actually, is the chilling effect of the words of Kofi Annan a few days ago saying that if his plan does not work, then Syria could well slide toward civil war.
I think you can call what's happening in Syria different names and describe it in different ways. The killing is continuing. The violence is continuing. And Syria is sliding, whether it is actually a full-fledged civil war at this stage or getting close to that, the end result is the same. It's a -- it's people being -- being killed. It's bloodshed continuing.
But I think the Kofi Annan plan is the only game in -- in town. We've got to support that. It's Kofi Annan who will decide, at the end of the day -- and his mission, by the way, expires on the 19th of July -- if his plan is being implemented or not. And then, you know, the -- the ball is in a different court.
BLITZER: Yes. She said that there was one suggestion, that Iran should be part of that group working with Kofi Annan, but Hillary Clinton said, at this luncheon today, that under no circumstances would the U.S. go along with Iran playing any role, since she accused the Iranian regime of actually funding, supporting, training, fully aligned, fully in bed with what the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is doing in Syria right now.
Are you on board with that?
JUDEH: Well, we've had discussions over this. And I think there's general agreement that bringing Iran into this is going to create unnecessary controversy, which is going to die -- which is going to dilute the issue at hand, which is how to resolve this. So if we are going to start arguing about whether Iran should be there or shouldn't be there, and there's general agreement that it shouldn't be there, I think we are going to dilute the main, core issue.
BLITZER: On Iran and its potential for developing a nuclear bomb, listen to what the secretary of State said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The continuing effort by the Iranians to extend their influence and to use terror as a -- a tool to do so extends to our hemisphere and all the way to East Asia. So the threat is real. We're dealing with a regime that has hegemonic ambitions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: When she says hegemonic ambitions, I think she's suggesting that Iran is really using its influence to build up support in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, which potentially could be a huge geostrategic for Jordan.
JUDEH: Well, and not -- not to mention, also, the -- the threats to the security of the Gulf states. And I think that the Secretary is pointing to -- to something that we are all warning against. I mean there are three different issues here.
There's the Iranian nuclear file (ph), which if -- if it continues as is, without a diplomatic solution, is going to spark an arms race, not to mention further (INAUDIBLE)...
BLITZER: Jordan totally opposes any nuclear Iran?
JUDEH: Well, Jordan actually calls for a nuclear-free Middle East and a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction in -- in its entirety. We are pursuing our own nuclear program for peaceful energy and we're doing it under international scrutiny and according to international standards, IAEA, NPT, etc.
So, yes, we believe that a materialized nuclear program in -- in Iran is going to spark an arms race and is going to create instability. The threats by Iran to the security of the Gulf states is going to create further instability and the interference in the -- in the affairs of -- of Arab countries in the Middle East is greater (INAUDIBLE).
So I think we are hoping that this third round of discussions between the P5-plus-1 in Iran and Moscow is going to produce some -- some result. We've had two rounds so far, one in Baghdad, one in Istanbul.
So let's wait and see.
BLITZER: Foreign Minister, the U.S.-Jordan relationship right now is, I take it, solid? JUDEH: Not only a friendship, but a true partnership. I mean we have a meeting of minds on so many issues. We have so many challenges that we meet together. We are grateful for the support that we get here in the U.S., across the board, administration, on the Hill. And I think things are -- are very, very well.
BLITZER: Please pass along my best to His Majesty, King Abdullah.
JUDEH: And we are doing the right thing in Jordan, always.
BLITZER: Thank you so much.
JUDEH: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: A day after Jeb Bush said his father and Ronald Reagan would have trouble fitting into today's Republican Party, George H.W. Bush responds. Does he agree that Republicans right now are simply way too partisan?
And a lobster boat captain and a crew haul in a rare catch. You're going to check out this guy, the story behind the catch from the deep blue sea.
BLITZER: They're rolling out the red carpet today for George Herbert Walker Bush near the 41st president's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. It's an honor of a new documentary about the former president's life. Today also happens to be his 88th birthday, Happy Birthday Mr. President. Marry Snow is in Kennebunkport. She is joining us now. Mary, what's going on over there?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And a windy Kennebunkport, Wolf. You know one member of the family said this place is really like a rock for the Bush family. And President Bush, as you know, has often said that his mother instilled in him at a very young age never to talk about himself and that's why this movie is such a big deal because he doesn't have -- he never wrote a memoir. Full disclosure, this is an HBO movie. They're corporate cousin of CNN since we're both owned by the same corporate parent Time Warner. And this movie the director says is not so much about politics, but about the personal side of former President Bush where he opens up including talking about how he felt when his son was elected president. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was it like to see your son elected president?
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Very emotional for me, very proud father. The first time it's happened I guess in the history of our country except for the Adams'. But it was, you know it was mind boggling, it was enormous and a source of great pride for the family, for the father. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: Now, former President George W. Bush is here today, but he came to the movie theater through a private entrance and didn't face the press. Jeb Bush, the former governor, is not here and he made headlines just yesterday by suggesting that perhaps his father and former President Reagan would have a tough time in the Republican Party today because there isn't room for disagreement. I got a chance to ask a quick question to former President Bush about that. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H.W. BUSH: I saw that, yes --
SNOW: What did you think of that?
H.W. BUSH: Well I know what he's getting at, but I don't think it would be difficult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: The former president saying that he wouldn't think that he'd have a difficult time in this climate. But today, Wolf, really not so much about politics but about personal side. And the president's son, Neil, got choked up when I asked him how his father was doing. He said, yes, he has slowed down physically. And as you saw, he was in a wheelchair. But he said that his father still has a great attitude. And former President Bush has said that he wants to go sky diving for his 90th birthday. You know that he did that on his 85th -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He's an amazing man and we wish him a very happy birthday and hopefully he has many, many, many happy years ahead of him. Mary thanks very much. And this programming note for our viewers out there, the HBO film airs June 14th, June 14th on our sister network HBO 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
A day after rumors swirled that Egypt's ousted leader was near death, we're learning new details about his condition. Lisa Sylvester's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM. What's the latest?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Well Hosni Mubarak is said to be clinging to life slipping in and out of consciousness at a Cairo hospital, but an Interior Ministry spokesman says his condition has stabilized. The 84-year-old was sentenced to life in prison a week and a half ago. More than 800 pro-democracy demonstrators were killed during the protests that forced him out of office.
And a father beat a man to death after reportedly catching him molesting his 4-year-old daughter. Investigators say the 47-year-old man had been hired to help the dad on his rural Texas ranch. The girl and her brother were sent to feed chickens, but the brother came back saying she had been taken. Authorities say a grand jury will decide if any charges will be filed against the father. And a violent Mexican drug cartel sent millions of dollars and cash into the United States and used it to buy racehorses. That's according to federal authorities who arrested seven individuals associated with the Losafis (ph) cartel scheme today. Officials also indicted the cartel's leaders in Mexico saying they coordinated the shipment of large amounts of cocaine and marijuana to the United States.
And a Canadian lobster man and his crew had a very interesting catch recently. Take a look here. This is a rare blue lobster. They are one in a two million phenomenon according to the University of Maine's Lobster Institute. A generic -- genetic -- rather -- variation causes it to produce an excessive amount of a protein that turns it blue. So this guy is now living in a holding tank at the lobster man's business. That is amazing to look at that, a blue lobster --
BLITZER: Are they going to cook that? Are they going to steam it? What are they going to do --
SYLVESTER: I was going to say no chance they're going to eat that guy. That guy has -- he's going to be a living lobster for a while, one of the lucky ones, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lisa.
It was dangerous. It was expensive. And apparently it was also a hoax. We're taking a closer look at how the U.S. Coast Guard rescue that amounted to actually nothing and the search for the person or people behind it. Stand by.
And a snap between Oprah Winfrey and a rap star, it all -- it all goes now to the dogs.
BLITZER: Around this time yesterday it seemed as though a disaster was unfolding off the coast of New Jersey. It began with a distress call claiming there was an explosion onboard a yacht. It ended with Coast Guard officials saying they believe the whole thing was a hoax. Now they're offering a $3,000 reward to find out who was behind it. Let's bring in our aviation and regulation correspondent Lizzie O'Leary. This is serious stuff.
LIZZIE O'LEARY, CNN AVIATION & REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: This is serious stuff. It turned out to be a hoax, but the Coast Guard's investigative arm is now trying to figure out who perpetrated what was potentially a dangerous and certainly very expensive hoax.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. Coast Guard. Motor got (INAUDIBLE) --
O'LEARY (voice-over): The distress call came at 4:20 p.m. The caller sounded knowledgeable, convincing and in big trouble.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, DISTRESS CALL: We have 21 souls on board, 20 in the water right now. I have three deceased on board. Nine injured because of the explosion we've had. I'm in three feet of water on the bridge. I'm going to stay by the radio as long as I can before I have to go overboard.
O'LEARY: The response was massive. Some 200 first responders, ambulances and stretchers lined up on shore, a half-dozen helicopters at Sandy Hook Point (ph), but no one could find any trace of the yacht.
DEP. COMMANDER GREGORY HITCHEN, U.S. COAST GUARD: After a couple of hours searching, we were -- we became concerned that we saw no indication of life rafts and saw no indication of a sunken vessel or a fire.
O'LEARY: The search lasted about four hours and cost at least $88,000.
HITCHEN: More importantly, we diverted several first responders in the area from standby for actual search and rescue cases out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to look for a vessel that had not sunk.
O'LEARY: A fake distress call is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of five to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The Coast Guard says this one came from a radio on land in New Jersey or southern New York. They've had almost 60 hoaxes in the New York region just in the past year. They've also happened in Michigan, Texas, North Carolina and Florida. Here's a hoax from Miami.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, HOAX DISTRESS CALL: May day. May day. May day.
O'LEARY: Even as they search for who did this, the Coast Guard says they may already know why.
HITCHEN: Some people just want attention. That's usually the biggest reason. They like to see all the responders go out and actively search for something that they caused.
O'LEARY: Now, the Coast Guard says even though they get so many hoax calls, they still assume that just about every call is real much better to be on the safe side and these do get prosecuted, Wolf. Last week a man got a year's jail time, paid almost a $10,000 fine for two fake may day calls up the coast of California near San Diego.
BLITZER: You know you would think in this day and age they could trace these calls where they're coming from, whether they're from a radio or a phone, a cell phone or whatever.
O'LEARY: This was a radio ban (ph), so they could see the ban (ph) that it was on and they had to essentially go back and look at whether that was coming from water in that ban (ph) or land and now they believe it was coming from somewhere on shore.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lizzie. This is obviously a very serious, serious matter. Appreciate it. Let's go to Jack right now for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour Wolf is how worried are you about losing your job?
Jim in Denver writes "I work in the software industry. I'm always worried, but I don't let it get to me. I try to be smart about it and have money in the bank for those times when I'm not employed full time."
Paul in Texas writes "I've been out of work since September of 2011. And I'm still looking. I'm older. Not at the magic 66 years to retire and even if I was I couldn't afford to. At this point I'm ready to take anything I can find. And I pray that I don't lose another job."
K.R. writes "I live in the Detroit area. If I could leave I would."
Tom in Florida says "I am not worried at all. I do industrial maintenance in a manufacturing plant. Nobody in America wants my job."
Bob in Texas says "I am not worried, Jack. I haven't had a job in 10 years. I have no one to blame but myself. I eek out a living as best I can, mostly on the Internet. The chances of my ever being employed again are so minuscule that I just stopped worrying about it and take life a day at a time. I may be poor but I have never been happier."
Sarah writes from Oregon "not at all. I already lost my job. I think a lot of the jobs are never coming back. The businesses have figured out how to do more with less. And as long as they stay in the black, nothing will change."
And Jimmy in North Carolina says I am so terrified of losing my job I had begun laughing at the boss' stupid jokes."
If you want to read more about this you go to the blog CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You ever watch "Mad Men" on cable?
CAFFERTY: I saw one episode of it and I meant to watch more, but I just haven't gotten around to it. I get stuck with the basketball and the baseball at night.
BLITZER: Yes. Oh it's really -- "Mad Men" excellent, especially and I know you'd appreciate it. You lived through the '60s and it's really good. If you have a chance watch some of them. I'm curious to see what you think because there's always somebody losing his or her job on that show at an advertising agency on Madison Avenue.
CAFFERTY: And arguably, times were considerably better at least on the employment front and as far as the economy is concerned back in the '60s, certainly in the '50s than they are now.
BLITZER: Yes. CAFFERTY: But I guess times were tough then, too --
CAFFERTY: -- depending on where you were, but I'll check it out. My producer Sarah Leeta (ph) watches it religiously.
BLITZER: Of course she does. I do, too. A lot of people --
CAFFERTY: Well I am on the outside looking in --
BLITZER: You can go on your cable operator on demand. You can watch it on demand if you want.
CAFFERTY: I don't know how to do that.
BLITZER: We'll talk. Thank you -- Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File".
Celebrities are happy to have their names attached to all kinds of things, foundations, buildings, stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but pets, not so much. What -- when it does happen though -- when it happened to Oprah, she didn't take it lightly. That story is next.
BLITZER: A lot goes into the picking of the perfect name for a puppy, Bella, Abby, maybe Zoe. According to PetMD.com, those are the top names for female dogs right now. The name Oprah, not among the top picks. But one person thought it was the perfect choice. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At least rapper 50 Cent (ph) didn't call Oprah a dog, but he did call his dog Oprah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You named your dog Oprah. That was not a compliment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a -- I got a tattoo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Named --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gayle.
MOOS: That would be Gayle King (ph), Oprah's best friend. Oprah and 50 Cent (ph) had a feud going. She campaigned against the use of the "N" word in rap and said some rap was degrading to women. 50 (ph) took it personally, then fired back. He didn't just name his dog Oprah.
He started a Twitter account for "Oprah the Dog", sending out twit picks and foul mouthed tweets. And while "Oprah the Dog" was LMTO, laughing my tail off, Oprah the celebrity wasn't. Now years later on her own network, she asked 50 (ph) to his face. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard you had a bitch named Oprah.
MOOS: 50 (ph) spent much of the interview not looking at Oprah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a dog named Oprah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I consider that a compliment --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- whether you meant it to be one or not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you. You know when they say a dog is a man's best friend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MOOS (on camera): Actually lots of celebs name their dogs after other celebs and usually they mean it as an honor. Actress Jennifer Garner has a lab named after Martha Stewart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is one Martha Stewart and this is the other Martha Stewart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) better behave.
MOOS (voice-over): Jennifer is a fan of Martha's. The actress also used to have a dog named Charlie Rose. Back when Kathie Lee and Regis used to co-host, he was always asking her to name her babies after him, so she counter offered.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I adopt a puppy from the pound and name it Regis, will you get off my back thinking that he -- he goes would you do that for me?
MOOS: She would and she did. In 2009, the movie called "I Love You Man" featured this pug beagle mix.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is cute. What's his name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anwar Sadat (ph) after Anwar Sadat (ph) because they look exactly alike.
MOOS: The daughter of the late Egyptian president disagreed. She filed a lawsuit in Egypt and complained to the U.S. Embassy. As for 50 Cent, he finally gave Oprah a serious answer to why he named his dog after her.
50 CENT, RAPPER: I was developing negative feelings for someone who doesn't even know me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MOOS: By the end of the interview, the two sniffed and made up. (on camera): Here, Regis. Come on, Martha. Good girl, Oprah, good girl.
(voice-over): Hey don't call me a dog. I am a donkey.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
(on camera): Here Regis.
(voice-over): -- New York.
BLITZER: Thank you Jeanne. Years ago there was a dog was running at the Hollywood race track for dogs named Woof, w-o-o-f, Blitzer, Woof Blitzer. That dog I think did well.
Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.