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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

GOP Crisis over Akin Comments; Ricki Lake Speaks Out

Aired August 20, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Good evening. You're looking live at the empty chair that Todd Akin was supposed to be sitting in for a live primetime exclusive interview. He's of course the only man that anyone in America is talking about tonight. The man who's running for the U.S. Senate from Missouri. And who said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI: It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. You know, I think there should be punishment but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: It's been a funny day. We had his opponent, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, booked earlier, then she canceled. And then we booked Congressman Akin to tell his story himself. We kept our word. I'm here. But Rex Elsass who's the political consultant to Congressman Todd Akin did not keep his. He pulled the interview, having agreed it on his behalf, at the last possible moment, leaving us and you looking at an empty chair. It's a very nice empty chair but it remains an empty chair.

Why would he say yes, then no? We can only speculate. But we can tell you this, Todd Akin has until tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern to say whether he's staying in the race or bowing out and have another GOP replace him on the ballot.

And Congressman, you have an open invitation to join me in that chair whenever you feel up to it. Because if you don't keep your promise to appear on the show, then you are what we would call in Britain a gutless little twerp.

Anyway, we're not going to go on and move ahead with our big story. Here now is Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. She's the national co-chair of the president's re-election campaign.

What do you make of all this? So we had Mr. Akin. He was going to come in here and explain himself and point out why we had all failed to understand that he was quite straightforward jumbling of words. And then unfortunately he bailed on us.

What do you think is going on here?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Well, the Republicans are just in a dither over what Todd Akin said. And of course it would be interesting to hear from him exactly what the science was about what women have our ways of determining whether we keep a pregnancy that's from rape or not which is really very amazing. And he's on the science committee. So maybe there's some mysterious fact that we're unaware of.

And of course the 32,000 women who get pregnant from rape I'm sure would be very interested to know whether or not that rape was really a legitimate rape. A real rape. It's just incredible.

But the thing that's interesting to me, Piers, is that I haven't really heard Republicans criticize essentially their position, along with Akin's position, when it comes to women's reproductive rights and health.

Paul Ryan and Todd Akin, like two peas in a pod, have endorsed the same legislation. That would limit women's rights to access to contraception. That would make even rape and incest not reasons for having an abortion. That would say that forcible -- it has to be forcible rape. I guess a woman has to have black eyes and black and blue marks in order to actually claim that she was forcibly raped.

So the -- I think what's really going on is that the positions, the real positions of the Republican Party, have now been unveiled. And everybody's really uncomfortable on the Republican side of the aisle with that.

MORGAN: Yes, I think you've hit the nail on the head. I think the big problem here for Mitt Romney is that he brought in Paul Ryan I think as an economic battering ram against the president. And it was all going quite well. And the debate was moving to the economy and how they would fix it together. And the polls was showing a certain spirited spike as a result of it. Now it's become Romney's worse nightmare. It's gone right back to the social conservative issues he was so desperate to move off on.

And the reason he's so desperate to move off is that on abortion, for example, he has carried out one of the great flip-flops in political history. I mean this was a guy who was completely pro choice and is now completely pro-life. Paul Ryan was against any form of abortion for anybody, including anyone who had been raped, and now he himself has had to move to this sort of new position alongside Mitt Romney's new position.

And if you're looking at this from the outside, you're saying, well, what do these guys really believe?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, and we'll find out some more tomorrow because the Republican Platform Committee is going to have a vote on whether or not the human life amendment, which would ban most -- almost all abortions, I believe only maybe the life of the mother would be an exception. Mitt Romney said he supports it. Paul Ryan supports it. Let's see if that becomes part of the Republican platform. And so that that brings in to very clear focus what the Republican Party really is about. But I just want to say one thing about the economy. For women, the issue of access to contraception and abortion is very much an economic issue. Being able to space families, to decide when or if to have children is very, very much an economic issue for women and determines our economic future. And so for women, they're really not all that separate issue -- an issue.

MORGAN: No, I totally understand that. I mean it'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Not least because neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan, at the moment has demanded that Akin stand down. Now they've got until 6:00 p.m. tomorrow -- this a clock that's ticking. And, you know, if they don't denounce him and don't call for him to go, and he stays, you could, A, see him lose any way because of the tidal wave of fury that's building around what he said.

And you know whatever he says about I was misunderstood or whatever, forget it. We all know you were trying to repeat some piece of junk science which whatever it was was complete lunacy. And the idea that you are a congressman, who's in, what, sixth term or -- you know, whatever it is, absolutely unbelievable. But regardless of that, if they do not demand that he go, where does that leave them on this? This will run the long run until the election.

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I think either way, that they're in big trouble because it really has, as you said, focused the campaign on an issue that they don't really want to go to. They don't want to be talking about women's health. The president was absolutely right. It really underscores that politicians, who are mainly men, should really not be making decisions on behalf of women's health and that's what's going on.

There's a huge gender gap already. For women under 50 the gender gap, that is, the women who chose Obama over Romney, is 31 percent. I mean, it is just huge. Women are getting the message. And unfortunately for them, getting rid of Todd Akin I don't think is going to get rid of their problem.

MORGAN: Well, I mean I think they're damned if they do, damned if they don't now because either they get rid of him and he pulls out and it's a huge embarrassment and they probably then lose that seat, or they keep him and he becomes this huge talisman of fury about, you know, right-wing conservative social values, and I just think it's a huge problem for them.

Anyway, for now, thank you very much for joining me.

SCHAKOWSKY: I appreciate it so much, thanks.

MORGAN: The reaction to Congressman Todd Akin reached the highest levels of the Republican Party. Listen to what Mitt Romney had to say earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His comments about rape were deeply offensive. And I can't defend what he said. I can't defend him. The thing he should consider is what's in the best interest of the things he believes most deeply. What will help the country at this -- at this critical time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Will it be enough to defuse a crisis? Joining me now is CNN political contributor and Republican consultant, Margaret Hoover.

Margaret, this is a real mess, isn't it?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, we could have asked for a better story. I think Mitt Romney certainly preferred to have been talking about other issues today other than social issues. It's not good. Akin clearly is resisting at the moment strong pressure to step off of the ballot, step off of the ticket. He has, as we know, until 6:00 p.m. tomorrow to do it.

And you can bet that there is a very strong chorus of Republicans, from social conservatives, to even social moderates in the party who (INAUDIBLE) of the party. The Senate hangs in the balance. And if he decides to stay on, Claire McCaskill, which was considered a Republican pickup, could well likely win her seat back.

And so, you know, for the Republican cause, if he is a loyal party man, he should step down. And that's what Republicans across the board are asking him to do.

MORGAN: Right. But isn't it rather gutless of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan not to just come out and say that? I mean if they believe that, why don't they just say it?

HOOVER: Well, you know, perhaps they will. Certainly John Cornyn did. John Cornyn, who is the senator who is in charge of winning back the Senate. The head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said it very strongly in no uncertain terms today.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Yes, he's not Mitt Romney, isn't he?

HOOVER: I mean --

MORGAN: We could hardly -- we could hardly -- we could hardly not hear from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan the last week about almost everything. And the reason I think that they're being slightly not prepared to go the whole way with Akin is their own vulnerability on this issue of abortion.

I mean Mitt Romney has gone from here to here. He's gone from the furthest possible pro-choice position to the furthest possible pro life. He has no credibility about it really.

HOOVER: Well, he was very quick, Piers.

MORGAN: So how can he -- how can he use this issue to drive people out of office?

HOOVER: Well, Piers --

MORGAN: I guess is the problem.

HOOVER: Now he was very -- I disagree with that assessment because he was very quick, as you noticed today, to assert that he is in favor of abortion in the case of rape. And that was not something that, frankly, any Republican candidate who's out there on front saying. And it was very interesting, it is true, the platform committee of the Republican Party right now is in Tampa and will vote tomorrow on whether a constitutional ban on abortion, even in cases of rape, will be part of the Republican platform. Now it has been part of the Republican platform --

MORGAN: Right. But Paul Ryan -- but Paul Ryan has always -- Paul Ryan has always been implacably opposed to abortion even in the cases of rape. He's now moving his position --

HOOVER: Well, what's interesting --

MORGAN: -- because he's now become the running mate.

HOOVER: Well --

MORGAN: So, again where is his credibility on this?

HOOVER: Well, what is interesting is that the platform committee votes for it. The platform committee will be in direct opposition of -- from their presidential candidate because Mitt Romney and Ryan have said that the Romney-Ryan ticket is in favor of allowing women to have the choice of whether to have an abortion in cases of rape.

MORGAN: But isn't this the problem here, Margaret? That for the Republican Party, generally, they went through all this in the nominee race. Is that this whole social conservative issue thing doesn't play very well now with a more modern America. You've got an America where seven or eight states now of legalized gay marriage, for example. And you can just see all these things beginning to move the wrong way for the die-hard traditional conservatives.

This is the very last thing that Mitt Romney wanted to blow up, isn't it?

HOOVER: Well, certainly Republicans don't like talking about social issues. Yes, we have a problem with social issues when it comes to women. Women are overwhelmingly in favor of having the ability to choose. And even Republican women. I mean this is something that maybe didn't get picked up in the last part of your conversation. But 78 percent of Republican women believe that women, along with her family, her doctor and her god, should have the choice to make -- has had an abortion. Not the government. So Republicans --

MORGAN: Right, but that was -- of course -- right, right, right, but the problem for those Republican women is that their leader, Mitt Romney, until the early 2000s, was a firm believer in pro choice for women.

HOOVER: I think the problem is bigger than just Romney.

MORGAN: But now -- now he's apparently a firm believer in the complete opposite. And this is where the flip-flopping charge becomes a real problem for him.

HOOVER: The problem -- I mean, Piers, as you know, in the '90s, we had a very strong tradition of pro choice Republican women and pro choice Republicans. Particularly in the northeastern region in the United States. That tradition has frankly been rolled back a bit. And was diminished over the past decade.

What I hope, and I think what many people hope, especially as we try to renew the Republican Party so it can appeal to a broader base so we can return to being a party of big (INAUDIBLE) on social issues, is that it will begin to take back that language. The language of Bill Wells, the governor of Massachusetts, of George Pataki of New York, of Christine Whitman of New Jersey.

We had a strong tradition of pro-choice Republicans in the '90s that has simply receded. And I think there is an opening here for us to make a difference in this election. And, frankly, we know we have a women problem. And it is simply not unrelated to this issue.

MORGAN: I completely agree. Margaret, thank you very much indeed.

HOOVER: Thanks, Piers.

MORGAN: When we come back, Nate Silver and Ben Smith with more on what tonight's political firestorm means for Romney-Ryan ticket.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we're talking about doesn't make sense to the American people. And certainly doesn't make sense to me. So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's President Obama earlier today. And right now you're looking again at the empty chair where Congressman Todd Akin was supposed to be doing an primetime exclusive interview with me tonight. He promised he would and then he cancelled. The controversy over his comments rages on.

So what does it all mean for the Romney-Ryan ticket? Joining me now is Nate Silver, he's the founder of the FiveThirtyEight blog, and Ben Smith, editor and chief of BuzzFeed. Welcome to you both, gentlemen.

So I had this fascinating show so far involving an empty chair which kind of sums up I think what most people think was between Mr. Akin's ears.

I mean, Ben Smith, a quite extraordinary statement by him in this interview about rape and women, which whichever way you try and explain it, it gets more grubby and more incomprehensible. How is he still in any kind of position to run for the Senate? Why isn't he gone yet?

BEN SMITH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BUZZFEED.COM: Well, nobody can make him go. And they are trying. I mean they are pushing so hard to get him out. That he was nominated by these Republican voters of Missouri. Despite the fact that every -- you know, the Republican leaders in the state were saying exactly something like this was going to happen. And Claire McCaskill, the Democrat, was pushing as hard as she could to get this guy on the ticket in hopes that something like this would happen.

And it happened and then you saw President Obama just pounce. I mean he was delighted at that press conference. He couldn't really hide it.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, Nate Silver, this whole idea of legitimate rape is obviously nonsense. But what about forcible rape, which is a line that other Republicans have used. I mean what is non-forcible rape? Have you any idea?

NATE SILVER, FOUNDER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM: Well, I don't know about the semantics of it. But, you know, I do know this is not the type of issue that Republicans want to be talking about when you have unemployment rate above 8 percent. So they're smart, I think, to have pounced on this very quickly.

You didn't see a lot of back and forth. Even on -- even on Twitter. People who ordinarily would be kind of party loyalists and defend a candidate said he's got to go right away. The spontaneity and the (INAUDIBLE) that reaction was different, kind of for a parse and error. And the fact that he's staying in is shocking. But it's shocking he said what he did yesterday in the first place. So conditional upon that, you know, the kind of person would have that judgment in the first place would be the kind of person who would -- who would stay in the race whether their chances to win are pretty low and when they're going to harm -- when they're going to harm their party frankly.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, Ben Smith, I -- I mean I talked earlier about the problem for Mitt Romney here is that his whole position on abortion has changed so dramatically. This is the very issue he would least want to have as a public debate. He probably last week thought great, we've moved off all social issues now. We can get into the economy. That's my strong point in many ways. As it is Paul Ryan's. Now he's having to face this barrage of questioning about the one thing that he's probably most vulnerable over. SMITH: Well, I actually -- you know, Romney is certainly vulnerable, having been all over the map on this stuff but I don't think a lot of voters look at him and think he's going to be somebody who's going to crusade against abortion. There's just nothing in his record or his kind of personal that suggest that.

And in nominating Paul Ryan, he was trying to make a statement about the economy. That's what Ryan is known for. It's what he likes to talk about. Ryan also is very, very conservative on abortion. He's one of the -- I think he's 100 percent rating from the National Right to Live Committee. He was -- he did help push a bill which in its earliest incarnation tried to make a distinction between forcible rape and I think they were trying to say statutory rape and things like that which some Republicans consider a loophole in laws preventing federal funding for abortion in cases of rape and were trying to slice that very fine.

Immediately saw how politically toxic it was and backed off. But he has been on some of the most conservative legislation on this issue.

MORGAN: Nate Silver, there have been some other issues boiling over today. I mean President Obama didn't hold back. He came and spoke to the press after all the criticism that he hasn't been doing that for a while. And the old issue of Mitt Romney's taxes came up again. You know Mitt Romney came out and said look, for the last 10 years I've paid at least 13 percent in taxes.

I mean, you know, this seems to me -- it seems to be quite extraordinary. Listen to what he said, and then I'll come to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: For us to say that it makes sense to release your tax returns, as I did, as John McCain did, as Bill Clinton did, as the two President Bushes did, I don't think is in any way out of bounds. So I think that is what the American people would rightly expect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's President Obama being quite firm there, and pointing out, you know, it's not a bad point to make, is it? Mitt Romney's own father was a guy who revealed 12 years.

SILVER: Sure.

MORGAN: Is it good enough for Mitt Romney to say, look, I can tell you, trust me, I've paid at least 13 percent? And by the way, is 13 percent enough for him to have paid to allay the concerns of the American public, many of whom are out work or lost their homes, however it may be, suffering real financial hardship? Then this multimillionaire admitting but not allowing any proof to be brought forward that he paid a really low rate anyway?

What do you have to say? SILVER: I think the problem is that people's imagination might almost be worse with all the different possibilities of what it could be. But clearly, as you know, as George Will has said, a lot of people have said, he's making a calculation. He's a rationale guy. That whatever's in there is worse than the price he's going to pay by not releasing his taxes right now.

But I think it makes him hard to get over a kind of feeling maybe of support and his favorability ratings where people feel like they can't trust him as much, can't connect with him quite as much. And if you look at Obama's approval ratings right now they're about break even. You can feel like it's in a toss-up. But the favorability numbers where Obama's are better than Romney's in most polls swings that election by a couple of points toward the Democrats and that's all you needed.

So you need to win elections -- to win 207 electoral votes and win the popular vote -- the popular vote. So I think it's a marginal issue where if you really wanted a game changer, maybe he would have released his taxes last week and not picked -- and not picked Paul Ryan potentially. I do think it's an issue for him. More so than the Bain stuff. I think you have a lot more national defense over it. Than just not releasing your taxes at all when two-thirds of the public says you should.

MORGAN: Yes, well, Bain is more transparent. There's no doubt about that. You can study really what happened at Bain. You can't study tax returns you haven't seen.

Ben, very quickly on the tax, do you think he should release more?

SMITH: I mean I think yes. Any reporter who covers these guys would like to see them release every single document they can for sure. And I do think, you know, the story of how his father released them is an amazing story. The reporter asked for one year. Was not the tradition back then in the mid '60s. They do it. George Romney said no and then came back to him a couple weeks later and said, you know, I thought this through and here's 12 years. And it's obviously very different then.

MORGAN: And finally, Ben, this bizarre story of House members in the Sea of Galilee including Kevin Yoder who apparently jumped in naked and the whole thing was investigated by the FBI. What do you think of this? Is this just one of those --

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: It's like Cousin Eddie, my colleague John Stanton wrote. You know, it's like they're like the drunken-in-laws that Paul Ryan has brought along to this thing. And they're just on this --you know, and that will probably -- I think the ticket is kind of watching with horror as the House Republicans just kind of reels through the campaign season. Naked. Sea of Galilee.

MORGAN: Yes. (LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Yes. I think you've hit the nail on the head. Gentlemen, thank you both very much.

SMITH: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up, my exclusive with Ricki Lake on Rosie O'Donnell's heart attack and her new talk show. I'm sure she's got a few views about what's in the news today as well.

Ricki, welcome.

RICKI LAKE, HOST, THE RICKI LAKE SHOW: Great to see you.

MORGAN: Lovely to see you.

LAKE: Thank you for having me.

MORGAN: My pleasure. We'll get you a chair. Don't worry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAKE: All the things that matter to me I think apply to all of my audience. And that's probably one of the reasons I've had success in the past. People relate to me. They feel like I am -- could be their neighbor. I'm sort of the every woman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: What are all the young women think in America and you wonder where to start, you may start with Ricki Lake. She's tackled tough subjects with her first talk show. And this fall, she'll be back with the "New Ricki Lake Show." She's a documentary film maker, author, "Dancing with the Stars" runner-up. She has time to join me.

LAKE: I know, I know.

MORGAN: It's crazy.

LAKE: When you do it like that, and I see these pictures of me, what's going on to my life, I mean, it's a busy life but it's a good one.

MORGAN: Now if your show was on air, you start in two weeks, right? I reckon you'll be piling into this ridiculous Republican who's been coming out saying, you know, rape has to be legitimate. And even if it is, you know, women's bodies have a way of repelling pregnancy from rapist. What is your reaction to this?

LAKE: Well, my reaction is to not talk publicly about it. I'm not doing -- that's not my forte, politics. Relationship is really my forte.

MORGAN: You've written books about babies and births, all that kind of thing. I mean just --

LAKE: I believe it's a woman's right --

MORGAN: Yes. On the issue -- forget the politician. I don't really care if he's left or right, what he is, I just found the comment so offensively ignorant towards women is my point. That's where my anger comes from.

LAKE: Well, I speak out about women's rights all the time. I made this movie, "The Business of Being Born." And certainly I feel strongly that a woman has a right to make choices about her body and her babies.

MORGAN: I think so. Don't you? Do you find it odd that we're still even debating this in 2012?

LAKE: It's disappointing. It is. But again, it's like I'm -- what I'm doing with my new show is really focusing on issues that aren't necessarily political, but are about women's issues in general.

MORGAN: Give me an example. When your new firecracker show starts -- and I can't wait to watch it. What kind of thing are you going to be really getting into from a personal point of view?

LAKE: For example, last week, we did a show on hormones. We did a whole hour. For me, I'm 43 years old. I did my old show from the age of 24 to 35. I'm now at that age where I want to know what I can do preventively. I want to know about the HCG diet and how effective is it, how healthy is it for people. You know, bio-identical hormones are something I'm very interested in.

So focusing on topics that matter to me and matter to women 25 to 54 is what we're talking about. So I'm amped. I feel like what's missing for me as a viewer -- I miss Oprah. I miss that sort of relevant substance in day time television. And that's what hopefully we're going to offer.

MORGAN: Are you excited? Are you nervous? Are you both? How you feeling?

LAKE: I'm not nervous from the standpoint I have done it before. I did 11 years and 2,100 episodes. But I've evolved. I feel like this show is more of a reflection of where I am in my life. So it's a little bit smarter, a little bit just more relevant.

So obviously I don't know what's going to happen with the ratings. There's a lot of competition out there. But I think we're focusing on doing the best show we can do for women.

MORGAN: Katie Couric's lurking.

LAKE: She is. I'm a fan. I certainly am looking forward to watching her show. The kind of show that she's going to produce and do is not going to be the show I would do anyway. I'm sort of the every woman. I'm not an expert. I'm not a doctor. But I really care about the world at large. I have a natural curiosity about relationships, about what makes people tick.

And I'm going to have an amazing platform and a great, great sort of energy for the audience to feel like they're a part of the conversation.

MORGAN: Entertainment world lost one of the greats today, Phyllis Diller. She was in her 90s, an amazing career and life. Did you ever meet her?

LAKE: You know, I have a feeling I did. I can't remember specifically. But certainly she was just a legend. I think everyone from Joan Rivers to all these other comedians have been able to sort of get as far as they have because of her setting the trend.

MORGAN: The thing about Hollywood and entertainment generally, longevity is a very difficult thing for people to enjoy. You've had an extraordinary career --

LAKE: I've been around for almost 25 --

MORGAN: A few highs, a few lows, so on. What is the secret to getting over the low parts?

LAKE: I think for me, it's being true to myself. John Waters told me when I was 18 years old and my life was about to change with a movie called "Hairspray," he said always be true to yourself. Always stay humble. Always remember.

And if you're going to read and believe the good press, you are going to have to read and believe the bad. I think it's keeping your feet on the ground. And I've been able to do that.

Anyone who's known me for as long as I've been in this business, they know that I'm pretty much the same.

MORGAN: Last time we spoke, you had just got married. Your new husband was sitting over there.

LAKE: Yes, you embarrassed him.

MORGAN: You embarrassed him, it wasn't me. The conversation became very quickly quite X-rated. You were very proud of your quite glittering sex life. How have things moved on since then?

LAKE: It's pretty much stayed the same. He's not here today. He's actually recovering from some back stuff. Nothing to do with me. But no, we're great. I have to say, I have such a great balance right now. My life is a little nuts with this job and launching this show, but to go home to him and see my kids and to have a sense of normalcy, I'm really, really pumped about this opportunity that I've been given to come back to day time with something that I feel like matters to women.

I think women will want to tune in. They'll have a great time. They'll have takeaway. And then I get to go home to my sweetheart at night, and he's supportive of me and everything I do. So I feel like it's a perfect balance.

MORGAN: Let's take a short break. I want to come back and talk about your fabulous appearance these days. We touched on this again last time, but you've got even better.

LAKE: You're so sweet.

MORGAN: Like a fine wine.

(CROSS TALK)

LAKE: Getting better with age, that's right.

MORGAN: Every time I see you, it just looks --

LAKE: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Ricki Lake's first talk show in the '90s. Ricki is back with me now exclusively. So tell me about your dazing appearance.

LAKE: There's no secret. I'm not dancing anymore, so you can probably see there's a few extra LBs. But I'm happy. I'm really, really happy. I think that is the secret, you know. And like I said before, it's about a balance.

I get to work hard and I get to play hard. And it's a good life.

MORGAN: I remember the classic Oprah shows when she had her own seesaw experience with weight and food and so on. They're always completely gripping because it was so real. This is what your kind of viewers are going through on a daily basis, isn't it?

LAKE: Absolutely. We're going to certainly cover that on the show. I think as much as I'm uncomfortable being a role model to other women, I can't help but I understand when I have success in that area, they want to know how did you do it. I still pick up the magazines and see, OK, this one looks amazing; what is she doing?

It's part of our problem with our culture. I hate that I'm sort of implicated by -- by being someone that talks about it. But it's also real life. It's what we all struggle with.

MORGAN: And inspiring I think. A lot of women will look at someone like you and realize you've been through real problems that they've had too, but not the sort of size zero, stick insects they see on their magazine.

LAKE: I never will be.

MORGAN: -- so dangerous. I just think it's such a dangerous imagery. Most women aren't like that.

LAKE: Well, we're doing a lot of stuff on the show about body image, about body dysmorphia, which is something I struggle with, because having been a size four and been a size 24, it's very hard for me to look in the mirror and kind of appreciate and accept who I am and where I am right now.

So I don't know what looks good on me clotheswise, what size I really am.

MORGAN: Can I help you?

LAKE: Yes.

MORGAN: This.

LAKE: Yes.

MORGAN: Love the dress. Love the hat.

LAKE: Thank you, thank you. But I think it's something I struggle with. I think that a lot of women can relate to that. It's something that I can't hide. Something about my show, I think if people are going to watch, and watched my old show, they know that what you see is what you get. I'm as real as they come.

And it's still one of my battles. It's still something I'll probably take to my grave, but I'm working on it.

MORGAN: Rosie O'Donnell came out today and said she had a heart attack.

LAKE: I heard that. I reached out to her.

MORGAN: You have already?

LAKE: I have. Yes, she's a dear friend of mine. Yes, it was shocking. I think the fact that she is going to recover from this is awesome. I think what she will do talking about what women need to know about health issues and heart attacks -- I think she'll do a lot of good.

MORGAN: Does she know really what brought this on?

LAKE: I don't. I don't. I just direct messaged her through Twitter and just said I'm thinking about her. She and her wife -- or her fiance have had a really tough year. I send them my love.

MORGAN: How many Twitter followers do you have now?

LAKE: Only 165,000. How about you, Piers?

MORGAN: I'm glad you asked. Nearly 2.6 million.

LAKE: Oh, my gosh. I think when I was here last year, you were right around a million.

MORGAN: I'm more addicted than you are.

LAKE: You are. You're on it. I think it's about giving the time. I certainly give the time --

MORGAN: Do you like it? Do you feel slightly -- everyone gets it. But when people are really nasty or vicious, how do you deal with that?

LAKE: I don't really see -- people, thank goodness, have been really nice to me. It's overwhelming at times. You feel like you want to respond to everybody. I try to get to as many people as possible.

I think it's an incredible resource to be able to share information, share articles about things that are inspiring to me. But I'm trying to build up my following. Can you do anything about that?

MORGAN: Yes. What's your address?

LAKE: Ricki lake. @RickiLake.

MORGAN: OK, so @RickiLake. I'm now ordering my 2.6 million followers -- I'm bestowing this great honor on you.

LAKE: I'm really, really touched.

MORGAN: Follow Ricki.

LAKE: Thank you so much.

MORGAN: The show starts in two weeks.

LAKE: We have been in production for four weeks.

MORGAN: Now I've heard this interesting thing about it, that you're going to have webcams around your production meetings, all that kind of thing. Sounds very dangerous.

LAKE: No, we're doing an after show, which is going to be really awesome. I think we're give ago 360 experience through social media, through Facebook. We've been doing these live YouStream meetings, production meetings, so that the audience feels they're a part of the creation of the show.

And it's an amazing resource for us to get feedback on what they want to see, but also for them to feel like they're a part of the journey.

MORGAN: If my viewers saw our production meetings, I'd be off air. Totally.

LAKE: Well, what you see is what you get with me. So apparently they like what they see and the shows going really well.

MORGAN: Bookers shouting at publicists, publicists shouting at bookers. All hell -- you wouldn't believe what happens on this show. All hell breaks lose. Listen, best of luck with it. I think it's going to be a huge hit. I really missed your old show. LAKE: Thank you.

MORGAN: I think you have a natural warmth and empathy with an audience, which is really needed, especially in that day time. It's going to be a great battle, whether you think it's a battle or not, you and Katie and Anderson, of course.

LAKE: Yes, yes, yes. No, I'm very, very grateful to have the opportunity. So hopefully I'll do the audience proud.

MORGAN: Who is the greatest talk show host you've ever seen? Present company excepted.

LAKE: Well, I loved Phil Donahue. I mean, he was someone -- I really emulate his old show.

MORGAN: He was great. He came in. He was a firecracker even now.

MORGAN: He's so smart. I was able to do "Oprah." I was on "Oprah" with Phil Donahue. They did a whole talk show icons show, which I was so touched to be a part of. I love Oprah. Of course Oprah was the queen and always will be.

MORGAN: She was. Listen, best of luck with it. I really mean that. Come back again soon.

LAKE: Thank you so much for having me.

MORGAN: Ricki Lake, whose show starts in two weeks.

Coming up, the true crime story America's obsessed with, one wife dead, one missing and Drew Peterson on trial for murder. I'll talk to the man who is trying to keep him from a life behind bars.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Drew Peterson's sensational murder trial resumes tomorrow in Chicago. Prosecutors say the 2004 drowning death of his third wife was a murder, not an accident. His fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, is missing and presumed dead.

Drew Peterson has not been charged in that case. Joining me now is his defense attorney, Joel Brodsky. Mr. Brodsky, thank you for joining me.

Why are you so convinced of your client's innocence?

JOEL BRODSKY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, there's absolutely no evidence, and I mean no evidence that he was anywhere near Kathy Savio's house that date that she died. They can't even really pin that down very well. But nothing connecting him to a crime, if there even was a crime. There's no murder weapon, no DNA, no physical evidence whatsoever, no finger prints, no sign of forced entry, nothing.

So if you don't have a crime, then by de facto, you have an accident.

MORGAN: We had Dr. Larry Blum. He's the forensic pathologist who took the stand for the prosecution last week. He testified that her death could only have been a homicide. He said the following, that she had deep bruising on the front of her body, had a fresh gash on the back of her head, was found face down in a dry bathtub, wasn't susceptible to falling, wasn't under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.

It was a pretty strange set of facts if it doesn't involve homicide, wasn't it?

BRODSKY: Well, not really when you look at it. For example, the drowning in the dry bathtub thing is that everybody, even Larry Blum, said that Kathy Savio died. And nobody's believes that she died -- or nobody has ever that said she drowned anywhere outside the bathtub, because in the whole house there's no sign of any disturbance or anything else anywhere else.

But as far as the physical bruises on the body, for example, Larry Blum testified that the mark on her rear end was an abrasion, which gives you that whole what side of the body did she fall on. However, when we were cross examining him, we showed Kathy Savio's dermatology records that said that she had scarring on her rear from a skin condition, and that she actually went and saw a dermatologist about it only six months before she died.

He hadn't seen that record. So, you know, it's not as open and shut as one might think. Even Larry Blum agreed that three prominent pathologists that we've had review the matter all believe that it's an accident. So great minds can differ in a matter like that.

MORGAN: Did you see the Lifetime movie starring Rob Lowe as Drew Peterson? If so, what did you think of it?

BRODSKY: First, I thought that Rob Lowe looked more like the state's attorney, Jim Glasgow, than he did like Drew. But, I mean, it was clearly fictionalized. I mean, it's Hollywood. I said -- when they ask me about what I thought the influence would be on a jury, I said that anybody that thinks a Lifetime movie portrays facts probably shouldn't be on a jury in the first place.

So, I mean, they fictionalized it. There's a lot of things in there that didn't happen. We were able to keep anybody off the jury who had watched the movie. So I don't think it's going to have any influence on the outcome of this trial at all.

MORGAN: How hard is it to represent somebody or to defend somebody when you know that most Americans probably think he's guilty? How do you deal with that perception among the public? Does it matter in a criminal case?

BRODSKY: The only -- to some extent it does. To some extent it doesn't. Obviously, the people we care about, our -- the people -- the community that we care about are the 12 people in the jury box. It's what they think that matters. But I'm sure the jury, even those 12 people, even as insulated as they are, really can't divorce themselves from the rest of the community. So to some extent, it does have an influence.

But, you know, look it, whether they believe he's guilty or not, the question is, in reality, can the government prove it. Because if the government can take somebody's rights away and throw them in jail, whether or not you think he's a bad person, and do it without proof, then basically we're not free anymore.

So it's really beyond whether you like him or you don't like him. It's about whether the government can take somebody and throw him in a little room for the rest of their lives without any evidence. If they can, we might as well give up saying we're a free people.

MORGAN: You've been his attorney since 2007. Do you have any theories yourself about what happened to Stacey Peterson?

BRODSKY: I mean, Stacey Peterson is an ongoing investigation. So I don't want to talk too much about it. But I know that we had a hearing in 2010 that involved her disappearance. And there's a great deal of evidence. There's a reason she hasn't been -- Drew hasn't been charged with anything involving her disappearance.

And there's a great deal of evidence that she, like her mother, was thinking of -- was tired of the situation, a 23-year-old girl raising four children, two who were almost teenagers, that she was in a situation that she thought she shouldn't be in, it was a mistake for her to be in, and that she just wanted to get out of it.

So -- and there's a great many people she talked to about it that really haven't been made public. So it's a lot more in that case. As you're saying, it's an ongoing investigation. And they're still compiling it. And I think that my opinion, from looking at that evidence, is that she did what her mother did. She ran off without a trace, just like her mom did.

MORGAN: In the five, six years or so that you've known Drew Peterson, one of the problems that he has in terms of perception is just his personality grates with people. What kind of guy is he when there are no cameras around and he's not showing off a bit?

BRODSKY: He's actually a very down to Earth guy, a very personable guy. He has a lot of charisma. You know, like, for example, we have some interns helping us in this case. There's a lot of evidence and a lot of work, so we have a couple first year law student interns that are kind of helping us. During the breaks, they're sitting there chatting with him. You ask them what they're chatting about, and he's chatting about how they like their first year of school, what type of courses do they like, what's going on in their lives.

He's giving them, believe it or not, a little bit of advice, because he raised -- he's raised four kids, all of them -- I mean, six, but the little ones, but he's raised four. His children are valedictorian in school, doing great. One is going to be a doctor. The other one is going to start school -- college this year and he wants to be a lawyer.

So he's really just an average personable guy that's really nice to know and nice to deal with, the type of person that you've probably -- if there wasn't all this stuff around, you wouldn't mind having for a friend.

MORGAN: Joel Brodsky, thank you very much for joining me.

BRODSKY: It's my pleasure.

MORGAN: Before we go to Only in America, I just want to go back to the empty chair, which was supposed to be Todd Akin, who was going to be talking to me tonight about why he said what he said about rape and women. But since it's just the chair, I may as well toss a few questions at it before we go.

My obvious questions would have been to Mr. Akin, why were you such an offensive idiot to women? The second obvious questions, which again has to go to the chair unfortunately, would be why haven't you resigned yet?

Anyway, let's leave it there, shall we?

When we come back, Only in America. It's about time Augusta National finally does the right thing to women after 80 years.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: For tonight's Only in America, ladies take your tee. August National Golf Club, the last great dinosaur of sexism in world sport, has finally, after 80 years, been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century and admitted its first female members.

Well, two to be precise. The lucky duo are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore of South Carolina, the first woman to make the cover of "Fortune Magazine." It what must have been an agonizing moment for the chief diplodocus (ph) himself, the Augusta National Chairman Billy Paine, he said without any trace of irony, these accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf. It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall," the same proud moment, of course, that Mr. Paine and all previous Augusta chairmen had collectively worked so very hard to avoid for so very long.

Let's not be too churlish on this historic day. The ladies are in, and Augusta has at last grown up. There's just one little hurdle left. A few months ago, reining Master champ Bubba Watson and I talked about the club's ban on female members.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: How could it hurt to have a female member? What are they going to do?

BUBBA WATSON, PGA GOLFER: I know who's not going to be a member.

MORGAN: Who, me?

WATSON: You.

MORGAN: I'm banning myself. If you're watching Augusta, I ban myself. You can't ban me, I'll ban myself. I'll come back when you allow women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Well, now that Augusta has indeed admitted its first female members, I and going to keep my word and officially un-ban myself. And Billy Paine, if you're watching, I take a large in one of those green jackets.

That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.