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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Billy Baldwin on Life, Love, Politics; Record Heat on Fourth of July and Massive Weather Stories Around Country Are Sign of Global Climate Change
Aired July 3, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, the hottest Fourth of July in history. Fires, droughts, flooding, and something called the derecho. What does it all mean? I'll ask weather man extraordinaire Sam Champion.
Plus, she may be one of the most hated women in America, Casey Anthony, found not guilty of murder one year ago for the death of her daughter Caylee. I talked to her recently and she told me she's innocent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I was struck by that was what she wanted to get over. Straight away. Loud and clear. I didn't kill my girl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: After that interview we heard from thousands of you still don't believe Casey Anthony. Now her attorney is back with her side of the story on the first anniversary.
Also, the fabulous Baldwin boys. Here's what Chynna Phillips says about them all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHYNNA PHILLIPS, WILLIAM BALDWIN'S WIFE: Try going to dinner with Alec and Billy and Stephen and Daniel, and you will be doubled over in pain for laughing so hard.
MORGAN: I can believe that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tonight, Chynna's husband, Billy Baldwin, on his brother Alec's wedding and his written from the headlines new movie.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening. We'll get to Sam Champion on this extraordinary heat wave in just a few moments but first a man who's all fired up about politics, about celebrity, about a hot new book he's got, and a little something to say about his brother Alec's weekend wedding.
My guest tonight is Billy Baldwin, who I remember most vividly from 1991's "Backdraft" movie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BALDWIN, ACTOR: Taking another fire barehanded?
KURT RUSSELL, ACTOR: I have (INAUDIBLE). He just didn't listen to me.
BALDWIN: He's a candidate. It's your responsibility. You shouldn't have had him up there in the first place. You burned him, Steven.
RUSSELL: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
BALDWIN: Don't you look away from me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: A lot has happened since then in his life and the life of his famous family. And Billy Baldwin joins me now.
BALDWIN: Thank you so much for having me.
MORGAN: I'm sort of working my way through the Baldwins, I mean, suffered maybe the wrong end of my stick with my "Celebrity Apprentice" time with Steven.
BALDWIN: Yes, you only had to do it for a couple of weeks.
MORGAN: You have my deepest sympathy.
BALDWIN: I've been enduring that for 45, 46 years now.
MORGAN: We're going to come to Alec's nuptials in a moment. But first, let's talk politics. Because you are an interesting character in the sense that I suspect most viewers wouldn't know that you worked for a congressional aide on Capitol Hill. Tell me about that time in your life.
BALDWIN: It was terrific. I was a political science major at Binghamton University at a very interesting time, in the late '70s, where my latter years of high school and the first Reagan term was when I entered college, and I was a political science major with an emphasis on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and then when I finished there I went -- I interned on the Hill for a bit for a congressman from the second district of New York, Tom Downey, who served nine terms in the House, and then I went on to do a lot of political work, campaign work for Tom and for others, Dukakis and for Al Gore and for President Clinton --
MORGAN: Were you tempted to continue down that path and maybe not come into entertainment?
BALDWIN: Well, initially I was -- when I was 15 I thought I was going to go to law school and I thought that I was going to have a career at politics, most likely, I assume, behind the scenes as a staffer but then my brother, for some reason, decided that he wanted in with show business. I never knew anybody that had a show business career and my brother went up on a soap opera and you know a couple of years later he was on Broadway, and then five minutes later he was in "Hunt for Red October."
And I thought, if that knucklehead could do it --
BALDWIN: Anybody can. Anyway, it's ironic because then (INAUDIBLE) in his career and you realized that he's not some -- he's been nominated and won the Golden Globes, nominated in one, the Emmy Awards, he's been nominated for the Tony and for the Oscars. Very few people have achieved his level of recognition and statute in the business so he is really quite special.
MORGAN: We're going to come to Alec a bit more a little later. I mean the one question I'd ask now about him is this constant flirtation with possibly being mayor of the city that I'm sure you all love, New York. How real is that, do you think?
BALDWIN: It's hard to answer. I think on one level it's very real. I think he's very committed and extremely bright and knowledgeable and I think he could do it and he could run it. On the other hand, I'm not quite sure if he's cut from the proper cloth because it requires a lot of tolerance and a lot of patience and --
MORGAN: These aren't his best qualities.
BALDWIN: Well, I mean --
MORGAN: As a great fan of his and somebody who assiduously follows him on Twitter as he does every now and again, he quirks. He's temperamental, he's a bit hot headed. He --
BALDWIN: Yes, but -- let me remind you that John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are quite the same.
MORGAN: Yes. Good point.
BALDWIN: And they are very successful and highly effective politicians.
MORGAN: Let's come to you on politics. What do you think of the current political malaise as many people see it with Washington and almost constant deadlock battle which doesn't achieve anything for the country?
BALDWIN: Well, I think we have to start to enter a phase of compromise and reconciliation because with single-digit approval ratings with the House and the Senate and all this stuff that's been going on Wall Street for the last -- you know -- you know beyond -- far beyond 10 years but now they get caught up with their hand in the cookie jar, I think things have to change. Otherwise we're going to have a -- you know, I think people might -- I think we're a lot closer to people taking it to the streets than one realizes it. I think that --
MORGAN: Are you an Obama supporter?
BALDWIN: Most definitely I am. I would definitely would like to see him being reelected. You know, I'm not somebody that will work for or support Mitt Romney. But I will say that I am disappointed in a number of ways and on a number of levels with the performance of the president.
MORGAN: Tell me where and why.
BALDWIN: Well, I think environmentally I'm disappointed with public education. I'm disappointed with -- certainly with how quickly the economy's recovered. I think maybe they could have handled things differently. I'm not a fan of Summers and Geithner. And you know, you look at what's going on Wall Street right now, you thought Madoff was the end of it, you thought the meltdown was the end of it.
And all of a sudden we're $9 billion in the hole, with JPMorgan alone and credit default swaps and derivatives, and they're back at it again. And everybody's -- you know, and if we go through this again, and it's the inaction of the administration or of Congress and they're behaving as unethically as, you know, what happened with Jon Corzine.
You know, people are going to -- we're going to have, you know, people taking it to the streets the way they did after the Rodney King conviction.
MORGAN: What do you make of the health care debate that's been raised? I had Michele Bachmann on last night. And you know, I put it to her that in terms of ideology of the argument here, what is the difference really for most Americans between being made to have car insurance and being made to have health insurance?
BALDWIN: You know, my opinion on that is, I don't think that they should be forced to have health insurance but if they don't and they are penalized for that, I have no problem with it. I don't care if you want to call it a tax or if they upheld it in the Supreme Court calling it a tax. All I know is that if you buy a pack of cigarettes in New York, it costs $15 a pack a, and when you get sick 30 years from now, Piers and Billy shouldn't have to pay for that.
You should have to pay for the fact that you didn't eat healthfully and you smoke cigarettes, you drank alcohol, so if you opt out and you don't want insurance and then you were go crawling into the hospital or your doctor's office or the emergency room with your 7 or 8-year-old child and all of a sudden you want -- all of a sudden you're like, oops, I made a mistake, that has to be paid for by somebody and it's not going to be you and I. I think they should be held accountable for that really, you know, responsible for that.
MORGAN: If Mitt Romney was to win the election, given his position on many social issues and so on, what would your reaction be?
BALDWIN: Are you asking me if I'll leave the country?
MORGAN: Would you?
BALDWIN: No. No. No. You know, I wish him -- I wish well. I don't think he's the right guy for the job. I don't think he's the best man for the job. I have great admiration for some of the things that he's been able to achieve. I think his handling of the 2002 Winter Olympics, he did a wonderful job.
I just think he's a little bit from -- he's just not at the pulse of what's happening in America. He's not from my side of the tracks and he's from my side of tracks of mainstream middle class, hardworking Americans. He's just not in touch, I don't think.
MORGAN: The battle come November it's clearly going to be about the economy. It's the one issue that is obsessing most Americans and, quite rightly. Many of them are out of work, losing their homes and so on. What has gone wrong? You've been a successful entertainer for a long time. You're from a successful family of entertainers.
Entertainment industry has done pretty well in this period. Compared to a lot of industries. What has gone wrong with the American business model?
BALDWIN: I don't know if I'm -- you know, I'm certainly not an authority and I don't know if I can answer that question responsibly but I -- the economy has shifted. We've gone away from a manufacturing economy into an information-based economy. Probably at the core of it is the decline the -- one of the crowning achievements of our democracy which is the public education system which is booming, post-war into the '50s and '60s and went into a decline in the '80s and has never recovered.
And you know, we're 25th or 30th in science and math and, you know, these are some of the contributing figures, I believe.
MORGAN: There's this ongoing debate now triggered by Aaron Sorkin, the show "Newsroom," about whether America has the right to call itself the greatest country in the world statistically just based on some of the figures you've just said. What do you think?
BALDWIN: I think we have to be careful because there was a time where, you know, Paris and France were at the forefront of everything culturally and politically and then it was replaced by London and England and that was replaced by New York in America and we better watch out or it's going to be Beijing and China and we may look back 50 years from now and say in 2012 it already was Beijing and China. We just weren't aware of it until 20 years after the fact. And by that time it was going to be too late. So I think when it comes to R and D, you know, and technology, education and infrastructure, reinvestment, I think we have to be very, very careful. We're about to be replaced.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break. Come back and talk about this fascinating book, "A Time to Betray," the astonishing double life of a CIA agent inside the revolutionary guard in Iran. The reason being, you have bought the option to this. I want to put it on the screen. I want to find out why you feel so passionately about this.
MORGAN: Back with my guest Billy Baldwin.
Bill, you've optioned this book, "A Time to Betray." Tell me about it. Very simply, what is this about?
BALDWIN: Well, it's about a gentleman who was growing up in Tehran in the '70s, came to America to be educated, went home, and throughout his education and saw openness, modernization, westernization, democracy, art, culture, freedom, popping up everywhere, glass, shiny, brand new glass buildings, universities all over the place.
And by the time he graduates, the cat is out of the bag with the Shah and this corruption and it creates a sweeping tide of revolution, at least to the fall of the Shah and rise of the ayatollah. He becomes, when people are sort of hoodwinks into believing that anything but the Shah is the answer. He serves in the elite Republican Guard in their intelligence division for about a year, a year and a half when he realizes this is not the answer, this is not the future.
They start dismantling everything that was set in place, all of the freedoms and they systematically start torturing and killing any of their political opponents and he's been able to come back to the United States under the guise of putting one of his relatives into a nursing home and it's a front for him to meet when he went into the federal building on (INAUDIBLE) veteran and make contact with the FBI and they put him in touch with the CIA.
And he went on to have a 10-year career -- a much longer career than 10 years. But he was 10 years in Tehran with the Republican Guard providing some of the most sensitive and valuable information to the Reagan administration.
MORGAN: Astonishing story. The name here is a Reza Kahlili which is pseudonym for his real name. He has to be very careful. He can't be pictured or anything. But an amazing act of selfless courage.
BALDWIN: Yes. It was just -- it was just remarkable the way he was able -- talk about a great actor, the way he was able to, you know, uphold the front with his family members, his mother, his father, his aunt, his uncle, his own wife who is sleeping in bed with her, and they think he's an officer in the intelligence of the Republican Guard. And they're against the ayatollah and they're against the Republican Guard.
And it created some credible tension. He would walk into his own living room and some of his relatives would get up and just quietly walk out of the room. They didn't even want to be in his presence and he could never let the secret out. And it was interesting when he told me and it's in the book that he thought that it made strange bedfellows with the United States but he realized after they freed Europe after the Second World War, even though it made strange bedfellows, the only way he was going to be able to get this done, the only nation that possessed the leadership and the qualities that would be able to topple the ayatollah was the United States.
MORGAN: What has been the reaction from Iran to this book?
BALDWIN: There's two phases to it. On the surface, obviously, it's a threat to Reza. It's very, very unpopular. But on the streets, at the polls, with the culture, it's very popular. I think Kristof just did a piece where he traveled across Iran, and this is a very important point to make, especially in the wake of the Arab Spring, and everything that's been going on in the region, Syria, Egypt, even Libya, you know, he made a point that when he traveled from one side of Iran to the other, he could not believe the interest and the curiosity and the fascination and the passion with American people and the American culture.
They're opposed to the administration and the policies, but they feel like -- and I think it's important to drive home with any audience over there or here, is that these people -- we have so much more in common with the common man in Tehran or throughout Iran that we do. In fact, there's other countries where there's much more hostility and they're considered our ally.
You know, Pakistan, where we pump all this money, even Saudi Arabia, there's -- on the street level, at the -- a lot of hostility because of occupation. But you've got to remember, there's a lot of people -- when you go into the park here, Roxbury Park, on a Saturday morning or a Sunday morning, the whole park is occupied by expats from Tehran, with Persians. Three generations, the little kids running around the playground, the parents that are in their 30s and 40s, and the grandparents in their 70s and 80s speaking foreign.
I would sit with them and talk to them about their -- their new lives -- not new lives anymore but --
MORGAN: So when you hear the war jungle drums beating on the Republican side, Mitt Romney has been very hawkish about his attitude to Iran. Does that concern you?
BALDWIN: It concerns me in one sense. I mean to me it's definitely a threat and to me something -- eventually I think something's going to have to be done with it but I hope that we form a coalition and it's not us going at it alone. I hope if anything the international committee led by the Israelis and the United States behind the Israelis, because they have clearly have a vested interest in it as we do. But I don't want the United States to do this.
When George Bush Senior went into Iraq because of the invasion, he had a true coalition then. And when his son went in, he didn't really have a true coalition. So if we're going to play this game again, hopefully not -- hopefully not ever, but if we have to, if we're forced to, not anytime soon, we're going to be shoulder to shoulder with, you know, 40 or 50 other countries led by, you know, NATO or the U.N. or led by hopefully with the Israelis.
MORGAN: And is your plan was to make it a movie or a mini series? What is your thoughts?
BALDWIN: You know, it's so dense. It's going to be difficult to make it in, you know, 100 minutes. I think what we'd like to do is get -- we have some studio partners interested. We want to set it up at a network and we might want to do it, you know, as a miniseries, you know, four hours, three or four hours in a miniseries.
MORGAN: That's riveting story.
MORGAN: I can't wait to see that.
Let's take another break, Billy. When we come back, I want to get stuck into your family. Brother Alec who just got married over the weekend and also what your wife told me when she came on this show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Just wanted everyone to know that I'll be method acting, staying in characters at all times, it's a technique that was invented by Constantine Stanislavski when he was 4 years old and wanted to act like a pirate.
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: This is Lance Drake Mandrell. He'll be playing me in the movie.
BALDWIN: I'll be becoming you.
A. BALDWIN: Easy, Chief. Lance, this is Diana Jessup, Avery's mother.
BALDWIN: Diana. Are you a time traveler? Because I don't know how my mother-in-law could be younger than my wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Showing his big brother how it's done. Billy Baldwin guest-starring on "30 Rock" With a spot-on impression of Jack Donaghy.
Even Tina Fey thought you were a better version of Jack.
BALDWIN: Yes. I have to tell you it's an interesting story. First of all, that's the first time I've ever worked with one of my brothers. I've never been on screen in a scene in -- my brother Alec has been in the business like 30 years, it's never happened.
MORGAN: And what was it like?
BALDWIN: Well, I was at the Super Bowl with my brother and after the game was over, he was at dinner, and he was looking at an e-mail and he started laughing and he showed it to me, and it's from Tina saying, is it OK for me to make an offer to your brother, actually he's my first choice. Can your brother do it? And she wanted to make sure there wasn't a problem with -- like we were in a fight or something so.
The next day I'm going to airport to fly back into the West Coast and my brother calls me, you have to turn around and get in the car -- this shoots tomorrow.
BALDWIN: I thought they were breaking story for, like, three months from now. I found out the night of the Super Bowl and I was shooting it the next day. And I was -- I was in the middle of, like, the third or fourth scene when Tina or my brother or the director would come over and share something with me, and I was like -- if I only knew that like three days ago, it would have have -- maybe it was better that I didn't know because apparently people were pleased with what I did so.
MORGAN: No, they would. It was very funny.
Now, Alec just got married. Your thoughts? What was it like? A good day?
BALDWIN: It was a -- it was a terrific weekend. It was great to spend some time with the family. She's -- Hilaria is a lovely, wonderful girl. She's from Majorca and from Boston. Half of her family, she's visited back and forth throughout her life. And we had a great, great weekend. And, you know, I am excited to see, you know, what half the stakes come down together, you know?
MORGAN: Well, I interviewed him. And I love your brother. I think he's a fascinating character. He's very funny, he's very smart. He's fiery. Takes no prisoners. When he spoke about that, before (INAUDIBLE) a few months ago, it seems to me he was a changed man, that he -- you know, he trimmed down, he's physically changed, but also emotionally. It was like he'd finally found somebody akin to a soulmate. Is that what you think?
BALDWIN: Well, we'll see. I mean I -- that's what I'm hoping for. I'm hoping that, you know, it's nice when you're in a relationship. I've been, what, with my wife for 21 years. And it's nice to be in a relationship . I thought I was going to get her and turn her around and her get her into politics and all these things that I was into and sure enough, 21 years later she's sort of made me more like her than I've ever made her more like me.
And part of that was a very calming effect. I've got a little bit of, you know, Piers and Alec in me, too.
BALDWIN: No wonder he resonates with you because you -- when you said very bright, successful, funny and fiery, he reminds me of you, actually.
MORGAN: This relationship Alec has with the paparazzi, which seems to be deteriorating by the -- by the day, what is really that all about, do you think?
BALDWIN: You know, I'm not sure. I mean I've had a couple of incidents, I remember one time in the -- in the late '80s I went to Madonna's apartment for a meeting on a project. And when I walked in, there was nobody there. When I came out about an hour later, there was like 40 photographers and the doorman must have tipped somebody off. And when I came out, and this happens periodically. Not that much anymore. But I guess if I was on a hit series or something, it would happen more.
But the photographer started provoking me and pushing me and making contact with me and I got into a little bit of an altercation. Because it's just -- you know, it's just the way I was raised. I think if you were Billy Baldwin or Sean Penn and it's the late '80s it makes sense. If you're Alec Baldwin and it's 2012 and you're 50 -- you know, 53 or 54 years old, you know, hopefully this will be the last time and we'll learn from this and the next time you -- you know, the next time you're confronted with those circumstances you just pull the baseball cap down and you just --
MORGAN: Because it seems like -- it seems like -- it's almost like bad baiting. They are all waiting for him now every morning deliberately to wind him up and he is reacting and they're getting what they want which is mad pictures and --
BALDWIN: Well, I think your audience knows by now that these people are pretty unscrupulous. You know, they really are looking for the reaction. They say horrible things, they do horrible things. They definitely provoke you. It's like a -- it's like a hockey game. The referee never sees the guy that throws the first cheap shot. He -- the guy who throws the first shot, all of a sudden you retaliate, right, as the crowd was going, and the referee turns around and sees the second punch.
So my brother was just -- you know, he holds the line and he's got certain morals and ethics and he won't allow people to, you know, to cross the line and take advantage of his wife or of his little brother or himself.
MORGAN: What is the biggest misconception about Alec, do you think? When you read about him. What do you think people don't get?
BALDWIN: It's hard for me to answer because I think it's all out there. I think they know he's very talented and very bright and very funny and very successful. I also think that he's a very fiery, passionate guy, and there's some people out there that don't agree with him that just don't want to hear it anymore or they don't want to hear it right now, or whatever. But, you know, this is America so.
MORGAN: Did he make a speech in his wedding?
BALDWIN: I -- he did not. Bobby Kennedy made a very lovely toast. And --
MORGAN: Any of the brothers (INAUDIBLE)?
BALDWIN: I did. I, you know, gave Hilaria's family fair warning.
BALDWIN: Told them that we put the fun in dysfunctional.
BALDWIN: And good luck and, you know, we welcome you with open arms.
MORGAN: Because you're all like the celebrity version of the Kennedys, really, aren't you?
BALDWIN: You know, it's funny. Bobby said that in his toast.
MORGAN: He did?
BALDWIN: The Kennedys acknowledged that like you're the entertainment version of the --
BALDWIN: We're the political -- that's -- I've heard the Baldwins are the show business version of the Kennedys. I've never heard the Kennedys say we're the political version of the Baldwins.
BALDWIN: Which is kind of what he was saying.
MORGAN: I interviewed your wife, Chynna Phillips. You've been married for 17 years and she said this about being married to a Baldwin. Let's watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Chynna, you're obviously part of the Baldwin dynasty now. What is it like being with all those Baldwins? When they will get together --
PHILLIPS: They're hot. They're funny.
MORGAN: Some of them are hot.
PHILLIPS: They're smart.
PHILLIPS: They are great dads, and, you know, they are great people. I love them.
MORGAN: Are they funny to be around?
MORGAN: Because Steven is very annoying.
PHILLIPS: Oh my gosh.
MORGAN: But he's quite funny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Your thoughts?
BALDWIN: I accept.
BALDWIN: I agree. No, she's been caught in the middle of some -- when I first met -- you know, Chynna's family, John Phillips and Michelle.
BALDWIN: And McKenzie Phillips, and we were sort of the cleavers and they were the ones, and then all of a sudden over the 20 years like, we jumped the shark and they got older and became sort of more grounded and more normal, and we became the crazy -- the crazy neighbors that nobody wanted to live next door to.
MORGAN: You've got three kids. If they -- if they all wanted to get into the business -- it's not unlikely, because a lot of kids do. Would you be happy about that? Or given the way modern celebrity is, with all of the weird new pressures that come with it, would you prefer them to go off and be, you know, a doctor or something like that?
BALDWIN: You know, I -- I would probably avoid -- I would probably prefer that they not go into the business, but I certainly would not be disappointed if they were. You know, I definitely want them to get very, very good educations first. And if they want to study acting or something, it's not going to be at Juliard or -- they're going to go to Stanford and if Stanford has a great drama department, they are going to double -- they're not going to go premed and take acting classes, because I want -- I want to make sure that they have a fall back plan.
MORGAN: What advice would you give anybody about fame, about dealing with fame?
BALDWIN: You know, it's -- you know, people come up to me and say, how do you deal with that, how do you do with that, how do you with that, with people coming up to me all the time and saying, hey, are you Alec? Or I saw you in "Red October." I love you in the "Usual Suspects."
MORGAN: Which offends you more? Be honest? What's the worst thing that anyone can say to you?
BALDWIN: Calling me Adam Baldwin. I know Adam and I like him. I've worked with him, but he's not my brother. So -- you know, I guess I would have to say, it's a bigger problem when people start -- stop recognizing you and they stop asking for autographs. Then you have a much bigger problem. So it's a lot easier to tolerate knowing that.
And it's not real. You're not as good as they say you are. You are not as bad as they say you are. And this whole cult of celebrity that we live in now -- we have for quite a while now. It's been really bad for 20 some odd years, ever since I entered the business. It keeps getting worse but it's -- you know, when I was a child, doctors and lawyers and teachers and politicians were all revered and held in high regard and respected, and artists were, too.
But now, you know, doctors are still fairly safe, teachers are not, lawyers certainly are not. Politicians are at the bottom of the barrel. And entertainment figures and celebrities and people that are not just famous -- or infamous -- they are famous for the wrong reasons -- have this like real -- I guess it's kind of a real, tangible -- it's a commodity.
And I hope that -- I hope we get away from that. I hope that ends. I don't know how it will. I can't predict. But I hope it does.
MORGAN: It's been a pleasure to meet you, Billy.
BALDWIN: Thank you so much.
MORGAN: It really has. Thank you so much for coming in. Good luck with "A Time to Betray." It's going to be a cracking whatever you do with it, movie, mini series, whatever it is.
Coming up, the one thing that people across the country are talking about is the weather, this crazy heat wave. Sam Champion will explain it all after the break.
MORGAN: It's summer and it's hot. No surprise there. This is a heat wave that is shattering records from the Planes to the Atlantic coast. It comes on the heals of storms that left millions of people in 11 states with no power and no air conditioning. Not to mention wildfires in the west that have burned up nearly two million acres. Only one man could possibly make sense of what's going on here, ABC weather editor Sam Champion. Sam, what is going on here? Because there is a general belief, apparently, that tomorrow could be the hottest Fourth of July in history.
SAM CHAMPION, ABC NEWS WEATHER EDITOR: And it will be, Piers, in some places. Good evening, by the way. It will be. Those places that are looking for record highs, of course when you look at it, that record for the day, it will never have been hotter for the Fourth of July. And that's many place in America's heartland, in the middle of the country, from Minneapolis through Chicago and even points south.
There you see the graphic there. Oklahoma City, Little Rock. These are -- Nashville -- these are all going to be at record paces for their temperatures or very close to. So the warmest Fourth of July on record.
But it has been brutally hot leading up to that. That's part of the problem. It's not just a quick bump of heat. This has been long, ongoing thing since before summer started.
MORGAN: People are saying, OK, this is clear evidence global warming. Is it?
CHAMPION: I've got to tell you, I'm not a climatologist. But any time anyone asks me that question, there is no doubt in my mind that we're seeing climate change. Piers, I've been doing this for 30 years. And every season you'll have some record temperatures. Every hurricane season you might have a devastating hurricane. Tornado season, you're going to have a storm pop out of nowhere and do something's that damaging to a community.
But I have never gone on the air -- and in the last two years this has been fairly regular for me -- gone on the air with all time records, saying this is at all-time most powerful, first time this has ever happened in history, since we've been keeping weather records, longest streak in history, breaking all-time temperature records.
We were on pace in America last week with the temperatures in every desert in the globe. Saudi Arabia -- Mecca, Saudi Arabia, we had them side by side with many places in Kansas and also in South Dakota. And we were right there with the warmest temperatures on the planet.
MORGAN: So if it's not global warming, let's play Devil's Advocate here for a moment -- what else could be heating America up like this? What is another explanation?
CHAMPION: Well, there are folks who are going to be on the side of that we run in cycles on this planet, and because we've only been studying weather for a couple hundred years at best, and then, you know, the -- coming up with the satellite in the '60s would probably be reliable weather records. So we haven't really been able to look at the planet in its entire history.
So some folks -- and it's a good argument, honestly -- will say that that's like diagnosing you with an illness by looking at your fingernail. So they will say, you can't really be sure of what's going on with the planet, and you can't say that it's man-made.
So I try these days to take that out of the argument. So let's just say it's not man-made. but it is climate change, because in our lifetimes we haven't seen anything like this. So no matter who you're going to blame the warming on, or the change on, whether it's cyclical or whether it's man-made, I think what we need to concentrate on now are realizing that our oceans are rising at a rapid and somehow alarming rate, if you look at the projection of 50 to 100 years, faster than even the scientists have thought they would.
Our planet seems to be warmer in a lot of locations, seems to be colder in a lot of locations. And we need to be paying attention to what that change means to folks who live under it, and not so much attributing blame or cause to it.
MORGAN: There's also been emergencies declared in Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington because of damage from something I've never heard of, a Super Daracho Storm. What is that?
CHAMPION: Well, there's another good point there, that now we're adding super to just about everything that we have known in weather terminology. A Darachio is basically a long running, straight line, complex of thunderstorms. Let's say it's about 240 miles long in a lot of cases, to make that, and then can run for hundreds of miles.
This one ran for 700 miles. And you need really strong difference in heat buildup there. And we had that incredible heat in the country. So when these thunderstorms developed, they ran and fed on themselves. If you look at the radar that you've got going there, you look for the telltale bow echo. And the worst storms there, that's right there.
And the worst storms are in that bowing part, where the strongest winds will be. They can be minimal hurricane-force winds and also on a low-level tornado for a long period of time, the same strengths in the winds. This one was super because it ran for such a long time and was so long and caused so much damage, Piers.
MORGAN: Funny, Sam, I mean, there are millions of Americans who would normally be welcoming a nice hot Independence Day, but actually it's going to be too hot. They are going to be suffering. They have power. They don't have air conditioning.
What is the most practical, sensible advice for those people who are genuinely concerned now about the heat?
CHAMPION: Let me first say that yes, a lot of folks would be looking forward to a great summer if it were really in summer, and it wouldn't be that unusual. You and I might not even be having this discussion if all of this was happening in August, when we get that warmer air and the moist air coming up from the Gulf and heating the country.
But this happened in June. It happened, you know, at the end of spring, beginning of summer. So the best advice to folks is really just everything that we always tell you. It's hydrate. If you don't have power, you need to figure out a way to stay cool. Go to the cooling centers if you really have those issues.
And if you do have power, check on the folks who don't have power. It's really only by us working together, Piers, that we can get through something like that this, that will continue on into August, by the way.
MORGAN: Quite extra ordinary weather. Sam Champion, ABC weather editor, I really appreciate you joining me. Thank you.
CHAMPION: My pleasure.
MORGAN: Coming up, Casey Anthony, one year ago she was found not guilty of murdering her daughter. Last time I talked to her, thousands of you said you didn't believe her. Now her attorney talks about her life in hiding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As to the charge of first-degree murder, verdict as to count one, we the jury find the defendant not guilty.
As to the charge of aggravated child abuse, verdict as to count two, we the jury find the defendant not guilty.
As to the charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child, verdict as to count three, we the jury find the defendant not guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: One year ago on Thursday, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee. It was a verdict that made headlines around the country and the world. Since then, Casey Anthony has been in hiding. I spoke to her on the phone a few weeks ago, along with her attorney, J. Cheney Mason. He joins me again now.
Welcome back, Mr. Mason.
J. CHENEY MASON, ATTORNEY FOR CASEY ANTHONY: Thank you. Good to virtually see you too.
MORGAN: I suppose my obvious first question is, what's been Casey's reaction to the reaction to the interview that I conducted. It wasn't a conventional interview. It was a brief phone conversation, but it got a lot of attention. How did she react to that? What were her feelings?
MASON: Well, she was pleased with the interview and pleased that you appeared to be objective. And you respected her respectfulness and her personality. And that pleased her because she is a all together different person than that which has been personified by the media.
MORGAN: One of the things that she said to me was that she believes that her public image is terrible. And certainly I can confirm that the reaction that I got, certainly on Twitter and Facebook and so on, was very hostile for many people, believing we shouldn't give her a platform to talk at all. They still believe that she's guilty and so on.
This won't be a surprise to you, I know. How do you think she will now develop her case to win over public opinion?
MASON: Well, I hope that time will do its magic in healing this wound like it does many others. There's not a whole lot she can do. You had a chance to talk to her. You heard her and you heard her voice and her -- the way that she answered your questions and talked to you. That's Casey.
The image created by those people that are unwilling to learn, too ignorant to care, there's nothing we can do about that. They just have to die off, I guess. I do think that the crowd has dwindled. The torches have gone out and the pitchforks are not so visible. Actually I think while you may have caught some grief for being objective and honest, I think a lot of people that I've heard from responded well to it.
MORGAN: "People" magazine has got this extraordinary report that Casey's mother Cindy recently sent Casey a gift of a necklace containing Caylee's ashes. Can you confirm or deny whether that's that?
MASON: I can neither confirm nor deny. I can only tell you that what has been reported to me from that magazine is very interesting. I would like to know the source of that report, its information, for various reasons direct and indirect. They seem to always have something to say and are virtually never close to being correct.
But it doesn't seem to matter. If it was interesting, they sell a magazine, they will say it.
MORGAN: I mean, why would you not feel comfortable in confirming or denying it?
MASON: Because I don't the answer. I don't know if it's true or not. So I won't confirm something I don't have a basis to answer.
MORGAN: Jose Baez has a new book out. It's called "Presumed Guilty, Casey Anthony, the Inside Story." It tells the story of obviously your work with him on the case. It's very complementary about you, I have to say. But there's some interesting revelations in there.
One of the key ones is that Jose Baez believes quite strongly that when Casey led the police on a wild goose chase, by her own admission -- and she confirmed this to me -- by telling them lies, he says the police should have stopped and realized -- quoting from the book, "waited a minute, we're not here dealing with somebody who is playing with a full deck," obviously questioning her mental stability at that stage.
What is your reaction? And I believe that Casey herself has read these extracts. What has been her reaction?
MASON: Well, first, I have not read any of it. So I don't know whether it's in context or out of context. I do know the facts absolutely of what happened, what she went through and when she was interviewed by these three 200-pound bullies while she was locked in an a little eight by ten room, with the door locked and them yelling and screaming at her for an hour and a half. I know that.
They -- what they knew or should have known or did know or didn't care, it's only in their minds. I don't know Jose's perception about that. Everybody has their own. I only know the facts.
Casey did those things. She did take them out there, still claiming in Casey world that she worked there, and then she gave it up. And they brow beat her and brow beat her and brow beat her, trying to get her to confess to something she did not do. Whether or not she was playing with a full deck, I guess she knows. I never thought that Casey was in that type of situation.
MORGAN: In relation to the specific claim that Casey herself has read these extracts, is that true and what has her reaction been to the Jose Baez book?
MASON: Well, I can only tell you that as of last night when I spoke with her, she had not seen or had any opportunity to read anything from any book. She may have seen some things that were on the Internet. I don't do that, so I don't know what's out there on the various social media, people who have read things and made things up.
MORGAN: One of the more dramatic parts of the book is where he talks about the very risky decision about whether to put Casey on the stand or not. He says that at one point you and he approached Casey about a plea deal and she said, and he quotes her directly, "no, I'm not guilty. I'm innocent. I don't care what anyone has to say. I feel this jury is on our side. I'll plead guilty to lying to the cops, but I won't plead guilty to something I didn't do. Cheney and I left the room, says Jose Baez."
He said, meaning you, "I don't know how to deal with this, I've never seen anything like this before. I'm going to the judge. I have issues about her competency."
Again, I ask you, is that a factual account of what happened? And if so, why would you have had issues about her competency?
MASON: It's an account. How factual it is remains to be seen. Let me tell you this, it is, in my opinion of -- after trying cases for 42 years and being keenly aware of both state and federal decisions around the country -- it is a lawyer's obligation to explore the possibility of any plea resolution in every single criminal case, whether it's offered or not offered.
There never were any plea negotiations. There never were any plea offers made. I know Mr. Ashton claimed that and it's nothing short of a bold face lie. I can't help him with that. The fact of the matter is there were none. I did discuss with Casey the preliminary situation, should we even talk about it.
And what we talked about then was in confidence. The bottom line is, Casey has never considered entering any kind of a plea to anything other than what she pled to, the bad checks and telling the stories to the police. She is a courageous, unmoving person, that she knows that she did not kill that child.
And there wouldn't be anything that I could have done then, now or 10 years from now that would have gotten her to change her mind and even consider a plea.
MORGAN: J. Cheney Mason, thank you again for joining me. I do appreciate it. I know that there are going to be some pivotal movements going forward involving Casey Anthony. And I hope that we can talk about those as and when they happen.
MASON: Thank you. We will.
MORGAN: Thank you for your time.
Coming next, Only in America, the one July Fourth tradition that may make you literally sick to your stomach.
MORGAN: For tonight's Only in America, a star spangled stomach ache. From small town parades to big city fireworks, this great nation will celebrate Independence Day tomorrow and the traditions are numerous. Here's one July the Fourth custom that could literally ruin your Constitution for life. Yes, it's the annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Incredibly, 40,000 people will be in New York's Coney Island to watch grown men and women devour as many hot dogs as they can in just 10 minutes.
The five time champ, Joey Chestnut -- that's his real name -- who wolfed down 68 hot dogs last year -- takes this pursuit terribly seriously.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOEY CHAMPION, AMERICAN HOT DOG EATING CHAMPION: I will do a practice contest. Then I'll fast for days, just drinking water. I'll get a little heart burn, but Peptobysmal. My body is made for this. The doctor I'm going to now is a awesome doctor. He's a doctor feel good. He's on my side. He is -- he likes that I monitor my diet. I monitor after every contest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: This event will be covered live on ESPN 3, with frenzied play by play commentary. But the great unanswered question remains, why on Earth would any sane person want do this? Now I studied closely the Declaration of Independence.
It speaks of life, of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is no mention of rampant hot dog gorging. But it's your country. It's your Independence Day. So whatever rocks your boat. As for me, I'll be spending the day quietly cursing the end of British rule.
God save the queen.
That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.