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Actor Larry Hagman Dies; Former Boxer Hector Camacho Dies; Ceasefire Between Israel and Hamas Continues; Protests Continue in Egypt; Political Pundits Discuss Hamas; Small Business Devastated by Hurricane Sandy; Senator Marco Rubio Makes Controversial Statements about Science Education; Interview with Scientist Bill Nye

Aired November 24, 2012 - 10:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

Egypt on edge. Thousands of furious protesters pack Tahrir Square after their new president makes a bold move for unprecedented power.

So far, so good, that ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is holding for now. But there are real fears even the slightest flare-up could kick off chaos.


LARRY HAGMAN, ACTOR: How was I to know he would do a dumb thing like that?


KAYE: And TV's original bad boy. Hollywood reacting this morning to the death of "Dallas" star Larry Hagman.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye. It is 10:00 on the east coast, 7:00 a.m. on the west, and here's where we start this morning. Larry Hagman's family says he was surrounded by family at the end. The 81- year-old actor died of complications from cancer. He's best known for his iconic portrayal of J.R. Ewing in the show "Dallas." It's a role that he always called his favorite. Peter Fonda said goodbye to his friend on twitter, saying Hagman brought so much fun to everyone's life.

CNN entertainment correspondent Kareen Wynter joins me now from Los Angeles. I understand that you are at Larry Hagman's star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Are people showing up to pay their respects?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, but you can bet that will change as the morning continues out here. We are right next to Larry Hagman's star. Still quite early here, so I'm sure there are many people who are waking up just finding out about the sad news. Perhaps they're still unaware. That's a very popular strip in Hollywood, so you can bet things will pick up as the morning continues.

But you mentioned some of Hollywood coming in. Some people absolutely stunned. For example, Barbara Eden, best known from "I Dream of Jeannie," the 1960s hit, Larry Hagman's co-star, she took to Facebook to really detail her feelings, how she's feeling right now. She wrote "I, like many others, believed he had beat cancer, and yet we're reminded that life is never, ever guaranteed."

Of course, Hagman came forward last year publicly revealing that he had cancer, but said it was a very common form, very treatable and he was so active despite his storied career from the 1960s, 1970s hit on "Dallas." he was acting from the very end, everything from "Desperate Housewives" to the reboot on TNT of "Dallas." In fact, he had filmed scenes for the second season airing in January.

So he did not slow down despite his personal health struggles, and so a sad day in Hollywood and a lot of people, Simon Cowell showing his respect on twitter, Linda Gray, who was Larry Hagman's best friend for 35 years. She called him such a kind, loving soul.

And what was also important to note with that is when he was approached to be a part of this reprisal of "Dallas," one of the first things that came out of his mouth, he told Piers Morgan, he asked are my friends going to be a part of it? He was such a great guy. Had such a great connection with Hollywood. Such wonderful relationships with people he started his career with. And that's what he'll be remembered for.

KAYE: Yes. And speaking of Linda Gray, I had a chance to speak with her when the new season of "Dallas" was starting, and we talked about Larry Hagman, and she said they really are family, they really were true friends. So it was a sweet relationship, a working relationship over the years.

Kareen, we'll continue to check back with you, Kareen Wynter there with us on Hollywood boulevard.

People will tell you that Larry Hagman was more than just J.R. Ewing, but that defining role was still his favorite.

Colleen McEdwards has more now on his iconic career.


COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry Hagman wore many hats in his career. But he's best known for the Stetson that he wore on "Dallas." Despite roles on film and on stage Hagman will always be remembered as the villainous J.R. Ewing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you drove Cliff to attempt suicide?

LARRY HAGMAN, ACTOR: How was I to know he was going to do a dumb thing like that?

MCEDWARDS: When J.R. was shot by an unknown assailant, it became one of the most famous cliffhangers in TV history watched by 300 million people from all around the world. Hagman never expected the show to endure.

HAGMAN: Honey, I just started the show doing six shows. I never thought I would do 300.

MCEDWARDS: In fact, the "Dallas" franchise was so successful, the series was recently reprised. The U.S. network TNT brought it back with a new generation of Ewings, and Hagman came back, too, returning as J.R. once again. Critics say he was the best thing about "Dallas," but explaining the character's appeal Hagman once said the time is right for a real bad guy, and I'm it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have a good day, master.

HAGMAN: Oh, I'm going to have a wonderful day, Jeannie.

MCEDWARDS: It was as a good guy who Larry Hagman blasted into people's living rooms playing astronaut Tony Nelson on "I Dream of Jeannie." The show was a hit in the 1960s and is still popular in syndication. Even as a kid, Hagman orbited in show biz as the son of "Peter Pan" star Mary Martin, his movie roles included "Up in the Cellar" and "Harry and Tonto."

HAGMAN: Now I don't need an office anymore. I'm moving up (ph) now.

MCEDWARDS: It was only after milking a huge contract from the producers of "Dallas" that Hagman became immensely wealthy. He has houses, he had cars, he had vices. Two of them included drinking and smoking. He smoked for 24 years, gave it up and became an anti-smoking activist and spokesman for the American Cancer Society.

HAGMAN: I met at least 30 or 40 people that said they quit because of my personal involvement, which makes me feel really good.

MCEDWARDS: He stopped drinking in 1995 when he was diagnosed with liver cancer and underwent a life-saving transplant.

HAGMAN: If we won in Vietnam, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

How many spots, Jack?

MCEDWARDS: In recent years, Hagman appeared on the big screen in films like "Nixon" and "Primary Colors." But it is his role as the charming and conniving oil man that audiences will never forget.

Colleen McEdwards, CNN, Atlanta.


KAYE: Sad news in the sports world today as well. Former world champion Boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho has died. I want to bring in CNN's Nick Valencia to talk more about this. Good morning. So from what I understand, he was taken off life support in Puerto Rico, right?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was. I just got off the phone with a spokesperson with the hospital there in Puerto Rico. She said Hector Camacho suffered a second heart attack this morning at about 1:45. Shortly afterwards, his heart stopped working. He was taken off life support and officially pronounced dead. If you remember, he was clinically pronounced brain dead on Thursday, but today he was taken off life support.

Known for just as much for his flamboyance during his days as a boxer as much for his quick hands and his quick feet, he fought all sorts of boxing legends, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, even Roberto Duran from Panama. But later in his life, he really gained notoriety for his battles with drug addiction and with the law. And now he is pronounced dead today at the age of 50.

KAYE: For those of us who haven't been following us, just get us up to speed on exactly how this happened, why he was on life support to begin with and where the suspects are.

VALENCIA: Early this week he was with a friend outside of a bar in the early morning hours, at which point there was a passing gunman that opened fire on the car that he was in. It killed his childhood friend. He was shot in the jaw, right in the face, and he was severely injured. Initially, doctors said he was expected to survive, Randi, but he took a turn for the worst, suffered a heart attack and then suffered a secondary heart attack earlier this morning at about 1:45 and was taken off life support.

KAYE: And the gunmen -- and there's another suspect that are still on the run?

VALENCIA: Our local affiliate in Puerto Rico reported there was a shootout at a residential complex nearby, and those gunmen, believe it or not, managed to escape after that shootout. I spoke to the Puerto Rico police department earlier this morning. They didn't have an update for me on the status of where the suspects are, but we're working that part of the investigation.

KAYE: All right, Nick. You'll keep us up to date on that. Thank you for that.

One of the FBI's ten most wanted fugitives is expected back in the U.S. this weekend. Federal agents snagged Jose Luis Signs Thursday night in Mexico. He's accused of killing his girlfriend and two rival gang members in L.A. in 1998. He's also wanted in a fourth murder in 2008. The FBI offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

One deputy is dead, another critically wounded after a shooting near Mobile, Alabama. The sheriff in Baldwin County offered this tribute to Scott Ward, the slain officer.


SHERIFF HOSS MACK, BALDWIN COUNTY, ALABAMA: I had personally worked with this deputy a majority of my career. I knew him very well. I'm very proud of him. It's a big loss. But he was doing his job, and we'll pull together in a time like this and we'll honor his memory by carrying on.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KAYE: The gunman, Michael Jansen, shown here, was also shot during the incident and pronounced dead at the scene.

VALENCIA: Some new video coming into us from an explosion that leveled a strip club in Springfield, Massachusetts. The blast also damaged more than 20 other buildings and injured 18 people. Here's the actual video of the blast that could be felt four miles away. Officials and witnesses say it's a miracle no one was killed. The blast is blamed on a natural gas explosion.

The ceasefire is holding between Israel and Gaza. We'll take a look at the political winners and losers and the U.S. role going forward. Maria Cardona and Amy Holmes will be joining me in just moments.

But first, a very good morning to Catalina Island, California. Thanks for starting your morning with us.


KAYE: It's 13 minutes past the hour now.

In Egypt, anti-government protests are much smaller you can see there than they have been the last couple of days. These are live pictures out of Tahrir Square in Cairo. Demonstrators are upset over President Mohamed Morsi's expansion of his own powers. The country's supreme judicial council is calling Morsi's move an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judicial branch.

We've been focusing this morning on the ceasefire in the Middle East and the prospects of long-term peace between Israel and Hamas. Joining me, as they do here every week, CNN contributor Maria Cardona and Amy Holmes, anchor for "Real News" on Good morning to both of you. On the world's political stage, Maria, who was the big winner here?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think because there was a ceasefire, the winners for now are the Israelis and the Palestinians who actually were suffering through this. Politically, I think that president Obama is a winner here. Netanyahu is a winner here. Hillary Clinton is a winner here.

And I think Hamas is the winner here, because they now have shown that they are legitimate, that they have to be taken seriously politically in order to get any real permanent solution done, which, at the end of the day, I think is what everybody is really looking for.

KAYE: Amy, what do you think?

AMY HOLMES, HOST, "REAL NEWS": Well, up until 24 hours ago, I would have said president Mohamed Morsi. Clearly he felt that his position was greatly strengthened by brokering this peace deal between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. But I think he's overplayed his hand. You just showed that video of the protests there in Cairo. We'll have to see where this goes.

The great fear is that the Muslim Brotherhood, like other fascist organizations, will be one man, one vote, one time. And we've seen the Muslim Brotherhood move very swiftly to consolidate their power.

KAYE: Maria, the U.S. stood squarely behind Israel throughout this conflict. Does that quiet any critics who thought president Obama was soft on Israeli security?

CARDONA: I think it absolutely should, Randi. What we saw even before the election here in the United States is that Netanyahu has said time and again even in the face of critics that there has been no stronger ally to Israel than the United States. The criticism kept coming, though.

I think after this incident, I really do think the critics will be quieted. There's a lot of talk about how successful the Iron Dome program was. It deflected over 80 percent of the rockets that were fired into Israel. President Obama has committed more funding to Iron Dome. And I think that it really does cement the fact that this president and this administration has been a tremendous friend and ally to Israel and that is not going to change.

KAYE: And looking to the future, Amy, with Egypt's Mohamed Morsi stepping in to broker the peace, does it show that the region no longer needs the U.S. to take the lead role? Certainly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was there, but maybe not a lead role anymore in this type of negotiation?

HOLMES: No, and in fact, the United States was very crucial to President Morsi negotiating that peace deal because he gets a lot of money in aid, $3 billion a year from the United States, and he has a very fragile economy.

But I'd like to go back to president Obama. And he is getting praise from critics even on the right who saw that his first administration, he himself said that in order to be able to influence Israel that the United States needed to create daylight with Israel. Well, now it appears that he has reversed that position and his position now is that the United States needs to back Israel, and, as he said over and over and over, Israel has a right to defend itself.

KAYE: So Israel has elections coming up in January. Maria, how do you think this is all going to play out in that election?

CARDONA: I think that this incident, again, like I said in my first answer to you, Netanyahu comes out looking very, very strong. And in fact, his opponent, who was as I understand going to announce a run against Netanyahu before all of this started, has now backed down, and now it might be too late for him to announce anything, for anyone to announce running against Netanyahu.

And he certainly has been strengthened. He showed that he was -- he had the ability to go up against Hamas, to defend Israel against anything without, frankly, starting a ground war or any sort of ground invasion. So I think that in order to -- or in his ability to really walk that balance, walk that tight rope, he has been strengthened.

Now, the ceasefire right now is very fragile. So we'll see. As we know in politics, anything can happen. And so we'll see. But for right now, if things stand the way they are, I think Netanyahu is very strong for his reelection.

KAYE: Maria Cardona, Amy Holmes. You'll be back with me later this hour. We're going to talk about the fiscal cliff and how one leading Republican may be ready actually to break ranks with his party to get a deal done. So we'll see them just a little bit later.

Small businesses struggling to recover after super-storm Sandy. We'll introduce you to one business owner who is trying her best to stay afloat.


KAYE: Good morning, New York City. It's already a busy day there, Columbus Circle, folks out and about doing some holiday shopping, maybe just taking in the city. Either way, enjoy your day, and glad you're starting it with us here at CNN.

It's been nearly a month since super-storm Sandy devastated portions of the northeast, and the cleanup is still underway. But for some family businesses, it's not clear if they'll make it out of the mess. CNN's Poppy Harlow spoke with one small business owner who is struggling to survive.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right before super-storm Sandy, the streets were quiet outside Liberty Industrial Gas and Welding.


HARLOW: This is night fall as the waters begin to rise.

MURRAY: So at this point, I think it's gone.

HARLOW: And industrial park in Brooklyn sandwiched between two bodies of water.

MURRAY: So this is the canal coming into the harbor which is going to meet up with the river. And Liberty is right here. We really had quite a surge because of the canal and the river meeting in this area and flooding these streets.

HARLOW: Ashley Murray's family business devastated.

This is very heart for you personally. And I can see it in your eyes.

MURRAY: Yes. It's just we're devastated. It's just been a devastating process. There needs to be a little bit more hope.

HARLOW: Do you feel forgotten?

MURRAY: A little bit, yes. This was once a really nice showroom.

HARLOW: And 80 percent of her inventory gone. MURRAY: Essentially we have moved everything into our stock room so that we can work from the sidewalk. So now this is where we are functioning our store from. We have one functioning computer, one printer, and we have people coming in from the roll-down door.

HARLOW: Before Sandy, you didn't have any debt. Now?

MURRAY: Now we're probably looking at $700,000 to $800,000 in debt.

HARLOW: What kind of help have you gotten from the government?

MURRAY: Nothing from the government.

HARLOW: Ashley found government loans with six percent interest. Her bank did better with a line of credit at just over three percent.

MURRAY: We had chop saws and boxed items --

HARLOW: There go the lights again.

The challenge of doing business again, even the generators fail. Things are so bad here in Red Hook that this business right next door to Ashley's is literally drying invoices like this with a hair drier.

What does this business mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: L Everything. It's my life.

HARLOW: Ashley's employees watched her grow up working alongside her father.

If this business went under?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I would go under, too, you know?

HARLOW: Now it's up to her to save their jobs.

MURRAY: There's so much history here, the community, our customers. We really do have a great business here and I think we can make it great again.

HARLOW: Poppy Harlow, CNN, New York.


KAYE: Accepting the other one's existence -- it's been a stumbling block to Middle East peace. But will the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas change the dynamic? We'll get the Palestinian view.


KAYE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye. Here are five stories that we are watching this morning.

Sad news from the world of entertainment. Actor Larry Hagman has died. His family says it was complications from cancer. Hagman is best known for his iconic performance as J.R. Ewing on the TV show "Dallas." He was the ultimate villain. But today, people are remembering him as much more. Peter Fonda said goodbye to his friend on twitter, saying Hagman brought so much fun to everyone's life.

Number two, hundreds came out to protest at Walmart stores across the U.S. on black Friday. The group "Our Walmart" says it's fighting for better wages and better health care. The protestors didn't deter shoppers, though. The company said this black Friday was its, quote, "best ever."

Former world boxing champion Hector "Macho" Camacho has died. He was taken off life support at a hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, today after suffering a heart attack. The 50-year-old was declared clinically brain dead earlier in the week after being shot in the face on Tuesday. Police are looking for the gunman and another suspect.

The sounds of protests in Egypt's capital, Cairo. Demonstrators are furious at what they say is the president's new power grab. Mohamed Morsi has issued a decree disabling the courts and giving himself unchecked powers. Egypt's Muslim brotherhood is coming to Morsi's support. It's called for nationwide demonstrations tomorrow and a million man march starting Tuesday in Cairo.

The body of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be exhumed on Tuesday. Forensic experts from France, Switzerland, and Russia will take samples to test for possible poisoning. Mr. Arafat's body will then be reburied in a military ceremony in Ramallah in the West Bank. Palestinian officials hope the test will clear up questions over whether Arafat's death in 2004 was the result of poisoning by a radioactive substance.

Let's get back to the Middle East now. There is a ceasefire in place. That is good for now. But the violence could easily spark up again without a long-term solution. Joining me now from Ramallah is Diana Buttu, a former Palestinian negotiator and adviser for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Now she is at the Institute for Middle East Understanding.

Diana, good morning to you. What do you see is the most important issue for Palestinians?

DIANA BUTTU, INSTITUTE FOR MIDDLE EAST UNDERSTANDING: Good morning. Well, I think if we're going to be honest and move forward, then we're going to have to begin to address Israel's 45-year military occupation, and in particular, it's ongoing siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip. That's with respect to Gaza.

But in terms of the bigger picture, it's not just a question of Gaza, but also a question of Israel finally ending its military rule over Palestinians living in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem as well. This is the only way that we're going to begin to move forward in this region. Without addressing this underlying problem, which is Israel's denial of freedom to millions of Palestinians, then we're just going to continue to see violence in the Middle East.

KAYE: Many folks in Gaza, of course, want this blockade lifted so they can go in and out at their free will. But if Israel were to abandon the blockade, especially on the Egyptian border, what is to stop the flow of weapons from Iran into Gaza?

BUTTU: Well, it's important to look back in history and to see how the border was actually operated in the past. And in the past, from 2005 onward, there were European monitors at that border making sure precisely what was coming in and what was going out. It ended up being that in 2006 these monitors ended up being ousted by Israel, not being allowed in, and this is why we now have these tunnels that are in place.

If we want to move forward, it's a question not only of ending the blockade of Gaza in terms of the Egyptian-Gaza border, but also allowing Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip to see their families in the West Bank as well. And there are arrangements that can be made, particularly with European monitors and other monitors in place.

What is not acceptable is to continue a blockade, a six-year-long blockade over the Gaza Strip with only Israel controlling every aspect of Palestinian life, including down to the very caloric intake that they've determined will prevent malnutrition.

KAYE: Certainly many of the businesses there have suffered as a result. But you have said that Israel needs to recognize Hamas if there's going to be any chance at lasting peace. But can't the same really be said then for Hamas, that they need to recognize Israel's right to exist?

BUTTU: Well, in the past, this is precisely what Hamas has done. The spiritual leader of Hamas came out and said that if Israel ended its occupation over the West Bank in the Gaza Strip that it would enter into a long-term ceasefire, or truce with Israel. He was then assassinated. His successor made similar remarks, was also assassinated. His successor also made similar remarks, was also assassinated. And even the current leader of Hamas has also made similar remarks regarding Israel.

So I think if we're going to move forward, it's not just a question of recognizing Hamas, which needs to be done, but also beginning to put into place this idea that we simply can't get rid of Hamas. Hamas is not going to go away and that Israel has -- and the United States has to now deal with them.

KAYE: Can there really, though, be peace as long as the Palestinians are split into these two factions? You have the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in charge in Gaza.

BUTTU: Well, the fact that there is a split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has certainly hurt Palestinian interests, but it shouldn't be used as an excuse to continue to allow Israel to deny millions of Palestinians their freedom. This is what is precisely been done.

Israel comes forward and says we refuse to talk to Hamas. We don't want to talk to Mahmoud Abbas. So the settlements continue. The land confiscation continues, the blockade continues. So rather than the world looking for excuses as to why not to pressure Israel, they should be looking for reasons so as to pressure Israel to finally end its military rule over the Palestinians and let them live in freedom.

KAYE: Diana Buttu, thank you so much for your time this morning from Ramallah.

Looking for a solution on the fiscal cliff, one senator now bucking the party line. But will that help get a deal done? We'll look into it.


KAYE: A very good morning to Washington, D.C. Congress is going get back to work this week, very busy, of course. At the top of the agenda, the fiscal cliff, 38 days and counting. In fact, that's how long we have until the country hits the so called fiscal cliff when automatic spending cuts go into effect and tax breaks expire. It is main focus in Washington.

Maria Cardona and Amy Holmes are back with me now to talk about this. Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss lashed out at Grover Norquist. Norquist and his group, Americans for Tax Reform, are the ones that pushed that "no new taxes" pledge signed bay majority of Republicans in congress. Here's what Chambliss says. "I care more about my country than I do a 20-year-old pledge." He also said that he's willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves.

Raising taxes has been at the center, we all know, of the fiscal cliff dispute. Democrats, of course, demanding it, Republicans saying no way. So Amy, is this a sizable crack in the Republican armor?

HOLMES: Well, we are seeing that the two sides are going to need to negotiate if we don't go over the fiscal cliff. I would point out that Patty Murray, a Democratic senator from Washington state, says we should go over it, certainly in contrast to the rest of her party. So I think that we're seeing negotiations on both sides.

But I want to point out what the fiscal cliff really means. It means the tax rates go up for everyone across the board. If you earn a paycheck, your taxes are going up. That's not just your federal income tax. That's your Social Security tax as well. We've been on a Social Security tax holiday, people aren't aware of this, only as employees paying in 2.4 percent. After December, everyone will be paying two percent more. So this really is tax-amaggedon. We do need both sides to come to the table to come to a solution.

KAYE: Tax-amageddon, you heard it there, Maria. House Speaker John Boehner says that he wants Obamacare on the table in this fiscal cliff negotiation. The president has said he's willing to listen to any good ideas. I'm not sure if he's going to think this is a good idea. You think he might listen to this one?

CARDONA: I think he'll listen, but I think at the end of the day it's going to be what are in the details. I think what we need to remember, what came out of this election, the clear mandate of this election was two things -- number one, for our leaders to come together in a bipartisan manner to put everything on the table, to find real solutions, number two, that the majority of Americans agreed with President Obama's vision of one of the ways to fix the fiscal cliff had to be to put new revenues and to raise the tax rates of the wealthiest Americans.

President Obama won eight out of the ten wealthiest counties in this country in this election, Randi, which means even the wealthiest understand they have to put some skin in the game. And so I think that going into this, I applaud Senator Chambliss for putting the smack- down on Grover Norquist's tax pledge, because I that tax pledge I think should go the way of the dodo bird, because once you box yourself in, you are not leaving yourself open to some real solutions. Americans want real solutions.

KAYE: Well, I'm not trying to dump coal in your holiday stocking, but really when you look at this situation, should we really expect a lame duck Congress to fix a problem that we have been staring at for years, Amy?

HOLMES: The whole reason why we have this fiscal cliff looming is because they couldn't fix the problem the first time around with the debt ceiling, so they built in what was supposed to be these disciplinary measures that would force both sides to come to the table. Now, what Saxby Chambliss is talking about, the Grover Norquist tax pledge, he could very well be talking about the Social Security tax, which I think both sides actually will agree raise back to that 6.2 level because it was supposed to be a payroll tax holiday.

As for having skin in the game, the top five percent of earners in this country, they earn a little over 30 percent of all income in this country and they pay nearly 60 percent of federal personal incomes tax. So this whole idea of fair share to me has been a complete distortion of who pays taxes in this country.

Now, moving forward, what is the best tax plan that will get this country moving? Remember, it was President Obama himself who said raising taxes in a weak economy, everyone agrees, is a bad idea.

KAYE: So, do you think we'll get anything done, Maria?

CARDONA: Yes, I think we do. Because, again, the mandate that came out of this election was for everybody to come together. And what Republicans need to understand, and I think that they do, which is why you're seeing senators like Chambliss basically say that he's turning his back on this pledge, is that the GOP has a massive problem with their brand right now. They are seen by a majority of the American people as obstructionist. It's the reason they gave President Obama four more years to finish what he started in his first four.

So when you have people on the right from Ben Stein, an economist, to Bill Kirstol, a huge conservative thinker and leader basically saying that raising taxes on the rich should actually be on the table and they should give President Obama what they want, I think they understand the brand problem that the GOP has going into this.

Maria Cardona, Amy Holmes, great to have you on this morning, as always. Thank you both.

CARDONA: Thank you, Randi.

KAYE: Republican rising star Marco Rubio made headlines this week when he tried to walk the line between science and faith-based creationism. Famed TV scientist Bill Nye joins me next to tell us just how old the earth really is and how we know all that.


KAYE: Welcome back. If you're planning a vacation overseas and haven't decided where to go, well, think about Paris. CNN's Alina Cho tells us why in this week's travel insider.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I lived in Paris during college, so going back always brings back memories. One of my favorite things to do, then and now, sit outside and sip espresso or a glass of wine at a cafe. The French invented the concept. Cafe de Flore on the left bank is my pick. And for dinner, across the street is also great.

If you've never been to Paris, take an afternoon on a sunny day and ride this boat. They large sight-seeing boats are open air and allow you to see the entire city by sea. For the arts, this museum houses spectacular murals by Monet. For shopping head to Avenue Montaigne, the Madison Avenue of Paris. Then, grab your walking shoes and head to the Champs Elysee, walking all the way up to the Arch de Triumph and back down is a great way to work of a meal.

And speaking of food, don't forget to buy a real baguette sandwich, or a crepe on the street. Soon you'll feel like a native.

Alina Cho, CNN, Paris.


KAYE: How old is the big blue planet that we're all living on right now, 10,000 years old, Or 4.5 billion years old? The one and only Bill Nye, the science guy, will tell us what he thinks.


KAYE: Welcome back. A controversial statement by a rising star in the Republican Party grabbed headlines this week. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is a practicing Catholic, tried to walk the line between science and faith-based creationism when asked how old the planet is.

Here's what he told "GQ" magazine. "I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created, and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the earth was created in seven days or seven actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries." Famed television scientist Bill Nye joins me now from Los Angeles. Bill, good morning. So you, like other scientists, say that we know how old the earth is and that the topic is not even up for debate. But every so often a politician makes headlines either denying science or casting some doubt here. So tell us, as far as you know, how old is the earth and how do you know it?

BILL NYE, SCIENTIST: The earth is four and a half, 4.5 billion years old. So there are certain elements that are created -- that were created in exploding stars, and especially the big bang, and we rely on those elements for our everyday life in order to have the quality of life that we have.

But the idea is certain elements change from one element to another. The verb is they transmute, and the classic is our good friend rubidium becomes stronthium. And you can look at this ratio. The half- life of that reaction is 48 billion years. Sometimes the laboratories will observe something for 15 years to get just it just exactly right. So then you work backwards to the age of the rocks.

The thing -- let me just say about Mr. Rubio's comment. You stopped about opposing theories. But he went on to claim that there's no connection between our scientific understanding of the age of the earth and the economy. And I very strongly disagree with that.

KAYE: Let me interrupt you there and read that quote, because this was another part of his answer to "GQ," saying "I think that the dispute among theologians, and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow." So what do you make of this? You obviously don't agree that science has nothing to do with the economy and growth.

NYE: So the reason we have smart phones, the reason we have television, we're able to talk on opposite sides of the continent -- the classic example for me is smoke detectors. The reason we have these things is because we understand the reactions, the nuclear reactions that take place in elements and protons and neutrons. Without that deep understanding we wouldn't have everything you can touch and see in our environment, the built environment.

So this claim is just as far as I'm concerned is just wrong. Now, I'm not going after anybody's religion. That's not it. Just the earth is not 6,000 or 10,000 years old. It's not. And furthermore, we rely on these discoveries for our everyday life, especially here in the developed world.

KAYE: And what's the danger --

NYE: So my claim --

KAYE: Let me ask you about the danger in terms of what this teaches children. Do you still believe that teaching children -- that the earth is anything but 4.5 billion years old is the same as teaching them that it's flat? NYE: Well, the word "same" -- it's a pretty good analogy in that you can show -- you very easily demonstrate that the earth is not flat. With a little more diligence and a little more understanding, you can show that the earth cannot possibly be 10,000 years old. That's just wrong.

So what you're asking a kid to do, you're asking that kid not to use his or her critical thinking skills, not to use the ingenuity that made the United States what it is today, you're asking them to deny our ancestors who made these remarkable discoveries through diligence and careful scientific understanding. And it is in every way connected to the economy. So you were talking earlier about the branding problem that this political party has. This is something they might want to consider. We all rely on this technology.

KAYE: Do you think the age of the earth and creationism should be a political issue, or no?

NYE: Well, here's my -- this is what I think started this whole thing, back in February. And I'm delighted that you're taking time with me. The -- what makes it political is when you want to use tax dollars intended for science education to teach this obviously wrong idea, this nonscientific idea.

And so, that's where everybody gets -- that's where it becomes political. And if you recall, the judge in Dover, Pennsylvania called it breathtaking inanity. Now the word "inane" is not one we use too often but it means roughly "silly".


KAYE: Right.

NYE: It was so silly, the idea is so preposterous that the guy -- inhaled strongly.


KAYE: Well it does -- it does have a lot of people --

NYE: Well it's a deep concern -- well it's a deep concern for a country that wants to be a world leader, wants to grow, wants to have jobs and middle class jobs.

KAYE: No question about it -- no question about it.

NYE: So thank you.

KAYE: Thank you very much for weighing in. I appreciate that, Bill Nye.

And we have much more ahead --


NYE: Good morning. KAYE: -- in the next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It starts right now.