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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Hillary Clinton's Benghazi Battle; Women in Combat; The Big Chill

Aired January 23, 2013 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, the big chill. Extreme weather a country locked in a deep freeze. What's really going on here?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN (voice-over): Hillary Clinton's frosty reception on the Hill.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Was it because of a protest or was it because guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?

MORGAN: And the NRA fires back at President Obama on guns.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: There's only two reasons for a federal list on gun owners. To either tax them or take them.

MORGAN: Plus a country king with surprising views on guns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know how Newtown happened. I'm still really, really wrecked over why.

MORGAN: And talk about upset. Serena Williams temper tantrum on the court.

Tonight a big conversation with movers and shakers from Washington to the heartland.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Good evening. And first of apologies for my ridiculous voice. My critics, of course, will be thrilled that I have nearly been silenced but I'm still going on. On a positive note, I've always wanted to sound like Barry White, so I will try and get through this as best I can.

Inauguration Day seems such a long time ago and the blue sky is a celebration of America coming together. It couldn't last and it didn't last. Tonight the country is at odds over everything, from gun to the weather to Hillary Clinton, (INAUDIBLE) state, less than a diplomatic reception on Capitol Hill today. When it comes to the battle over Benghazi, she gave as good as she got. It was an extraordinary moment. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: The fact is, we had four dead Americans.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: I understand.

CLINTON: Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: An emotional Hillary Clinton today. My next guest has been calling Secretary Clinton's testimony for months. I want to know if she's satisfied by what she heard.

Senator Kelly Ayotte is a Republican member of the Armed Services Committee, and she joins me now.

So, Senator, you listened to Hillary Clinton.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: What was your verdict?

AYOTTE: What I thought is still so many questions that went unanswered and frankly some unsatisfactory answers. You know, I think that I appreciate Secretary Clinton's service to our country and I think that many senators thanked her. But I think tonight the issue really is this. What she said was that she was clear eyed about the dangers and threats in eastern Libya but then she said that, well, I didn't see any of the security requests which were multiple coming from the consulate.

I think those two statements are inconsistent. And moreover, if you're clear eyed about the dangers and threats coming from eastern Libya, then why weren't you asking the questions about, do we need more security?

She also said she was aware about the prior attacks on the consulate as well as the attack on the British ambassador. Of course the British left so why -- if you knew about that, why weren't you asking, should we leave or should we further secure our consulate?

So there were a number of issues that I was concerned about. In addition she said that she was in continuous contact with the Libyan government. That they had a willingness to protect our people but not a capacity.

If you knew there was no capacity, Piers, I saw that video from that night. And I have to tell you, the Libyans that we had charged, we outsourced our security to, they ran as soon as they saw those attackers come to the consulate gate. And so we knew they didn't have that capacity.

I think as the person who is in charge, the Accountability Review Board found that there were systemic failures of leadership, that this is a very important issue.

MORGAN: OK. But look -- but look. I've been listening to the Republicans getting on their high horse about this for a long time. Now I've thought a lot of today's criticism was political grandstanding in many ways. Because if you go back to catastrophic intelligence failures before 9/11 or in the build-up to the Iraq war, in my view, far more serious than this. And that's not to diminish the deaths of four Americans but those led to the deaths of many, many, many more Americans.

You know, you got to say get this in some perspective. Hillary Clinton to me seemed today to be sincere. I don't think anyone can reason we expect the secretary of state to read every cable that comes in. But unless what you're telling me is that you believe she definitively lied and deliberately misled the American people.

AYOTTE: Piers --

MORGAN: Well, where do we go with this?

AYOTTE: Piers, first of all, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is this. I don't expect her to have read every single document that comes before her. But when she said that she was clear eyed about the dangers and threats in Benghazi and eastern Libya, I guess, the real question is, when we address what happened here and going forward, we also better address, you know, how are things communicated up the chain of command and why, when you know you're clear eyed about the danger, do you not ask more pointedly have there been additional requests.

So I understand --

MORGAN: Right. Right. But I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

AYOTTE: -- you're not going to read every document.

MORGAN: Right. Right.

AYOTTE: So in fairness, that's the point I'm making.

MORGAN: Right. I understand that. And I understand clearly big mistakes were made here. There's no question of that. But I also thought that Hillary Clinton made a good point which is, look, the more important thing now is there are 20 more embassies under direct threat apparently at the moment. The more important thing is guaranteeing that lessons are learned and that these embassies are protected and there's no more loss of life.

AYOTTE: Right.

MORGAN: And I'm sure you would agree with that, right?

AYOTTE: I fully agree that the whole goal of this is to make sure we get to the bottom of it so that it doesn't happen again and also so that we make sure -- I mean, one of the things, of course, we learned as well is we had someone in custody in Tunisia, that person has been released and we want to hold those accountable for -- who committed these horrible murders on our people.

MORGAN: Senator, thank you very much for joining me.

AYOTTE: Thank you. I appreciate it.

MORGAN: And now I want to bring in two people who is surely at odds on all this. PJ Crowley, former assistant secretary of state for Secretary Clinton, and Dana Loesch, conservative host of the radio talk show, "The Dana Show."

Let me start with you, PJ Crowley: I'm getting a little bit weary, I'll be honest with you, with the relentless attacks first on Susan Rice and now on Hillary Clinton. There's a -- a whisper of misogyny to it, I think, and it's getting pretty, I think, incestuous and very Washington orientated rather than in the national interest of America. What do you think?

PJ CROWLEY, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think there are legitimate questions that still need to be answered. And as Hillary Clinton said today, the FBI is still working on the investigation. Director Mueller was in both Libya and Tunisia recently.

I get disappointed when people give half of the story. The senator just said, you know, well, this guy has been released. But as Hillary Clinton said today, yes, but he's under constant surveillance within Tunisia. They're following the rule of law and as more evidence becomes available, they are fully prepared to act on him again.

So I think we -- you know, as Hillary Clinton said dramatically, our focus here now is to bring these guys to justice but also to understand Benghazi in the context of what's happened in Mali recently. What's happened in Algeria over the past few days to understand the evolving threat from al Qaeda in the Maghreb and to deal appropriately, you know, with that.

MORGAN: Dana Loesch, there were calls today from some people, Rand Paul and others, that Hillary Clinton would have been fired if he'd had his way over what happened. Do you agree with that?

DANA LOESCH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, "THE DANA SHOW": I do agree with that. I think Senator Paul was correct in his -- in his claims today and then how he addressed Secretary of State Clinton. I mean, there were a lot of -- there were a lot of missteps here. And we do know -- you had said that there was a whisper of misogyny in questioning -- or Susan Rice and then Secretary of State Clinton.

I don't think that asking questions as to who gave the orders to stand down or asking why talking points were changed, I mean, we absolutely know for sure that the U.S. intelligence report came out and said that the extremists who led the attack on this consulate at Benghazi, they had al Qaeda ties.

Why was that removed? Who removed it? Who was in charge of manipulating these talking points? I mean these are questions that --

MORGAN: But look --

LOESCH: -- I wish would have been asked today.

(CROSSTALK)

LOESCH: But that's not misogynistic.

MORGAN: OK. That's fine. If you're going to take the argument that anyone who is guilty of, you know, misreading intelligence, mis- imparting intelligence so on should actually be fired, where would that leave someone like Condoleezza Rice who was a fine public servant in many ways but clearly made big mistakes in the buildup to the Iraq war, for example, as in many other members of the Bush administration?

When you take that line of political argument, should everybody just be fired every time any intelligence turns out to be not quite right?

LOESCH: So we're going -- I don't think it's quite analogous to compare what happened during the Bush administration with what's happening right now. I don't think that we can use --

MORGAN: Well, why not?

LOESCH: -- a blanket standard of measures.

MORGAN: Why not? Why not?

LOESCH: Because this is the Dick -- Dick Durbin argument from earlier today, this is what we heard from Dick Durbin earlier when he was questioning Secretary of State Clinton.

MORGAN: Then what's the -- what's the difference?

(CROSSTALK)

LOESCH: Weapons of mass destruction and all of that.

MORGAN: What's the difference?

LOESCH: But the bottom line is --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Well, hang on, hang on, hang on.

LOESCH: -- where are the mistakes made?

MORGAN: Dana. Dana.

LOESCH: There are questions that need to be asked.

MORGAN: Dana, hang on. Hang on.

LOESCH: They weren't asked.

MORGAN: Dana.

LOESCH: Yes.

MORGAN: You're not surely suggesting this as serious as, for example, going to war over a completely false pretext to weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist? I mean --

LOESCH: Oh, goodness, Piers, are we going to re-litigate this right now?

MORGAN: I'm talking about a proportional response?

LOESCH: Really?

MORGAN: Well, is it?

LOESCH: Really? I mean, how do you -- how do you explain how millions of -- how millions of citizens over in Iraq, how millions of Kurds, in fact, were gassed if that was not a weapon of mass destruction? We can -- we can re--litigate this six ways to Sunday but the bottom line is that there were questions that were not --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: We (INAUDIBLE). And it turned -- I mean, it turned out that American --

LOESCH: There were questions that were not asked --

MORGAN: American and British --

LOESCH: We don't know who manipulated these talking points.

MORGAN: American and British forces went to war on false pretext from both their governments. We all remember that?

LOESCH: Are we going to talk about the Bush years or are we going to talk about what happened in Benghazi?

MORGAN: I'm talking about what I --

LOESCH: Do you not think, Piers -- do you not think that it's legitimate to ask who manipulated these talking points?

MORGAN: Yes, I do. I think there are many --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I think there are many legitimate questions.

LOESCH: Then why aren't we talking about that?

MORGAN: There are many legitimate questions. I simply think there has to be --

LOESCH: Then let's talk about those.

MORGAN: I think it has to be proportionate and I think the Republicans have to remember they themselves made some pretty catastrophic errors when it came to intelligence, and I don't remember people queuing up, demanding they get fired or anyone losing their jobs over it.

PJ Crowley --

LOESCH: So --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Let me get --

LOESCH: Then you're setting --

(CROSSTALK)

LOESCH: This is deliberate misleading.

MORGAN: No, I'm -- no, I'm not. I'm asking PJ Crowley this.

Do you believe that at any stage either Susan Rice or Hillary Clinton has deliberately lied or deliberately misled the American people?

CROWLEY: I think it's a serious charge and I think it's a false charge. Yes, I mean, look, four Americans died in Benghazi. We do need to understand what happened there. But I think it's important to put this in context. You know, in -- after 9/11 we declared war on al Qaeda and that conflict is still going on.

I think you have to put what happened in Benghazi, what's happening in Mali, what's happening in Algeria in the context of the broader struggle that we have that, you know, started in Afghanistan and spread to Iraq, and is in Yemen, Pakistan and other places.

We tend to understand that when soldiers go to war, soldiers die in the service of our country and we're ever so grateful that they do that. But once the -- once the conflict ends, we're left with fragile states with challenging situations and poor, weak governments and that's the construct that Chris Stevens willingly walked into because he understood that as we see a Libya or an Egypt or a Tunisia or a Yemen move forward, the United States has to be there.

And while there were mistakes made, there were underestimations of the -- of the threat that posed to that temporary diplomatic facility, at the same time, we can never reduce the risk to zero. MORGAN: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: And I think we should respect the fact that --

MORGAN: Right.

CROWLEY: -- Chris Stevens understood the situation in Benghazi better than anyone else and he was the one who ultimately decided to be there and we should be grateful for his service and his sacrifice.

MORGAN: OK. I mean, the biggest mistake, it seems to me, was putting Susan Rice up on that Sunday morning on television with what turned out to be wrong intelligence when they didn't really need to go that fast. And actually, that's probably as much the media's fault for demanding that they do that kind of thing. So I think everyone is a little bit culpable here.

Let's take a break. Let's come back, PJ and Dana. Stay there. We'll talk about two more hot button topics, guns in America and women on the front line.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our journey is not complete until all our children from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama raised the issue of guns in America in his inauguration speech. Dana Loesch and PJ Crowley are back with me to tell me what they think of that.

Dana, when we spoke last about guns it got quiet fiery as it has done throughout this debate. The thing I was disappointed in you about was not the specifics actually of many of the individual proposals but the fact that you just blanket said you wouldn't endorse anything he said about any type of gun control proposal.

And now you have time to think about that, was there nothing that the president came out with in any of the 23 executive orders or any of the other proposals that you could at least consider?

LOESCH: Well, one of the interesting things about this, Piers, is that you asked me if I liked any of these. And let me tell you something, several of these -- of these 23 executive actions that the president had actually proposed are actions that Democrats have actively ridiculed for four years when --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Why would you -- why would you not like background checks?

LOESCH: Including the NRA as well.

MORGAN: Why would you not like background checks?

LOESCH: Well, why would you commit a straw man? Who said I didn't like background checks. And do you realized that the NICS --

MORGAN: Well, hang on. Hang on. Hang on.

(CROSSTALK)

LOESCH: -- system is incredibly overburdened as well.

MORGAN: Dana, Dana, Dana.

LOESCH: Yes.

MORGAN: I asked you last time is there anything in this that you liked.

LOESCH: Yes.

MORGAN: You just said that. And then you said there was nothing. Now you said you may like background checks. So did you mislead me last time?

LOESCH: Wait a minute. No, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Let me tell you what I think instead of you putting words into my mouth.

MORGAN: You're saying it. Not me.

LOESCH: No, the executive actions -- these executive actions that the president -- that the president listed, these 23 actions, aren't actually going to do anything to curb violence. And the thing that struck me as being most ironic is that two of these in here--

MORGAN: Well, that's probable nonsense.

(CROSSTALK)

LOESCH: Two of these -- it's actually not, Piers, and I would love for you to prove to me how that is probable nonsense.

MORGAN: You don't think having background checks of gun sales --

LOESCH: Two of these --

MORGAN: -- in America where currently 40 percent --

LOESCH: I didn't say anything about background checks.

MORGAN: -- have no background checks.

LOESCH: I didn't say anything about background checks. You're the one who keeps bringing up background checks. And do you realize background checks wouldn't have done anything for Sandy Hook? Do you realized background checks wouldn't have done anything for Virginia Tech? They didn't do anything for Jared Lee Loughner. And it's not because the law failed. It's because people who are supposed to follow the law failed.

And Piers, I put this question to you again. What good are laws if people don't follow them?

MORGAN: Right. So you still maintain that we just have to put more and more guns out there and America will be safer?

LOESCH: I don't maintain anything. You can put words into my mouth all you want to. What I maintain is that --

MORGAN: Do you believe that? Do you believe that?

LOESCH: And Piers, let me tell you something. Let me tell you something.

MORGAN: Do you believe more guns --

LOESCH: I am never --

MORGAN: -- would lead to less gun crime?

LOESCH: Let me -- let me answer you. I am never, ever going to do anything that is going to somehow limit someone's ability to protect themselves. And speaking as someone who's actually had to deal with this, let me tell you something, Piers. I've been in the -- in the situation where I've had to protect myself.

MORGAN: Now you told me last time, yes.

LOESCH: I have two children. I've had my life threatened. I've had my children's lives threatened.

MORGAN: Yes.

LOESCH: And I went to the police.

MORGAN: I know. You told the story last time.

LOESCH: And I went to security.

MORGAN: I have no --

LOESCH: And you know what -- no, no, I didn't. You know what they told me? They said the best thing that you can do is to get a firearm and to get a conceal carry license. That's what law enforcement told me.

MORGAN: Yes. You did say --

LOESCH: I don't want to remove that right from anyone else.

MORGAN: No. That's not what we're debating.

PJ, here's the interesting thing about this debate. It always gets reframed very quickly by the gun rights lobby as an attack on Second Amendment, on the Constitution. No one will tolerate any kind of talk that removes any guns whatsoever, and last time I spoke to Dana we were talking about the AR-15, military-style assault rifle, as I call it.

Here's a clip of what this weapon actually does. We found one that CNN authorized. Semiautomatic AR-15, firing 15 bullets in six seconds. Watch this.

Now you can modify them to fire up to 100 in one minute and my point that I keep putting to everyone that doesn't want any sort of control on guns is what would a civilian need a weapon like that for?

Now, PJ, have you heard any convincing argument as to why that kind of weapon should remain in civilian hands?

CROWLEY: Well, I mean, no. However, I would suggest we have to turn the issue around. You know, we're -- if guns is an impossible frame with which to make, you know, political progress, and let's change that frame slightly. Obviously if you go back to Newtown you had, you know, very significant weapons, military-style weapons in the hands of an angry young man who had obviously, you know, some kind of mental disorder.

We have to make a commitment that the answer can't be, we can't do anything but then we have to come together and have a sensible conversation, not unlike the country had in the aftermath of 9/11 through an inspired bipartisan commission of some kind, OK, what can we do that makes sense?

And if we can get to a point where we can make sure that -- that some guns are prevented from getting in the hands of angry, young men with mental disorders, that in fact will be progress and that could, you know, potentially prevent something like what happened in Newtown or in Columbine, you know, or the movie theater in Aurora.

So the real issue was what can we do and we need to have sensible people come together and be able to have a conversation, you know, rather than just saying, no, no, no, nothing will change.

MORGAN: Just turning to the women in combat debate today. Obviously Leon Panetta ending the exclusion order against women operating in combat in the American military. What did you make of that, PJ?

CROWLEY: Well, I mean, as you look at war, you know, there's no difference anymore in the current way that wars are fought between the front lines and the rear guard. You know, women have been in combat. They were in combat in Iraq because the combat -- you know, the battlefield had changed so dramatically. So I think this is a ratification of the way that the -- modern military goes to war.

We should never, you know, put anyone, you know, in harm's way who is not able to cope with those difficult and challenging circumstances. By the same token we've had circumstances where women have been in combat but then in aftermath they're not given the same recognition, you know or --

MORGAN: Right.

CROWLEY: Or you have the same potential for advancement because what they did was not called combat. You know, so I think this removes a false barrier and just make -- you know, says that --

MORGAN: Yes.

CROWLEY: -- for the modern military whoever can do these kind of jobs and wants to step forward, thank you for your service and go ahead.

MORGAN: Well, I agree. But, Dana, you've been pretty vocal on Twitter today about this. And here's my surprise. You want to be armed to the teeth as a civilian marching around with your AR-15s and yet you don't want to see female soldiers in the line of combat. There's a contradiction there, isn't it? Why? Why would they not be able to be as effective as many men in combat?

LOESCH: Well, I would say the contradiction also exists with you, though. You are fine with women defending their families on the front line but apparently not at home either.

MORGAN: No, but hang on. You can't --

(CROSSTALK)

LOESCH: Look, this is how I look at it.

MORGAN: Dana, Dana, Dana. Dana, you can't keep repeating a lie. I have never, ever --

LOESCH: It's not a lie. I just pointed out a fact. I just pointed out a fact.

MORGAN: Dana, I have never, ever, ever said -- Dana, Dana --

LOESCH: When you stop using military-style assault weapons to subscribe semiautomatic varmint shooters, then I'll change my tone on that.

MORGAN: They were the words of -- they were the words of General Stanley McChrystal and General Colin Powell. I'll take their word over yours with the greatest of respect.

LOESCH: Now, no, that's fine.

MORGAN: But my point -- let me jump --

LOESCH: That's fine. I --

MORGAN: Let me just correct one thing before you answer. I have never, ever said that an American cannot have a firearm at home to defend themselves and their family. And I don't believe they shouldn't be able to. I believe --

LOESCH: Well, you seemed to be against semiautomatic so that's why I point that out.

MORGAN: I'm very much against the military-style rifle for reasons I've always outlined. But tell me --

LOESCH: I don't know what military-style rifle is. A military- style to me, again, select to fire and fully automatic. But back to the question that you -- that you asked me.

This is how I kind of look at it. On a little bit, you know, to full confession here. I'm a little ambivalent about all of this and this is why. So long as this decision is being made with the -- with the goal of strengthening the military and not based on any sort of politically correct motivations, and that's what I'm -- that's what I'm kind of wondering with this.

And I know that the order that Panetta gave to was a little unclear. "The Wall Street Journal" actually just came out with a story earlier this evening saying that women may not actually be able to be part of infantry but yet, you know, we know women already serve in combat operations as Mr. Crowley said. We've had women killed in action in Iraq.

So, you know, as I said, I think that there are some women who definitely are capable of doing this. And believe me, I have those amazing women in my family. And I've known some -- I mean, I've known as some women who are brawlers and they can hold their own. They had the emotional fortitude, the physical fortitude, and I know some men who can't.

But it seems to me a little bit to be more the exception rather than the rule. So long as we're doing this with the goal of strengthening the military --

MORGAN: OK.

LOESCH: -- and I'm always want to deflect to the military leaders who deal with this every day to make these decisions.

MORGAN: OK. Yes, got to leave it there. I think, as always, the generals and the commanders on the ground make the final decision. But I think it's another step forward for equality. And that is what the president said on his Inauguration Day. He wants general equality in all areas of this country and I applaud that.

So thank you both for joining me. I'm sure we will discuss this again soon.

When we come back, another topic that's dividing America today. Extreme weather. What on earth is going on as the whole country is engulfed in snow, ice and traffic hell. And what the haters made about that, after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: That's not a magic trick. It's this nasty winter season. Hot water tossed into the air turning instantly into snow. Quite extraordinary. A frozen banana doubled up as a hammer here. And this is what happens when a wet T-shirt hits the frigid air.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Makes a little sound like a drum. That's how cold --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Remarkable picture. It's all part of the deep freeze blanketing much of America right now. In some parts, temperatures plunged 50 below. But is this extreme weather manmade?

Joining me now is WABC-TV chief meteorologist Lee Goldberg.

You're in, I think, Times Square in New York. Very, very chilly tonight. But tell me this. In all your time as a meteorologist, have you a sense now that we are going through a genuine climatic change in the weather?

LEE GOLDBERG, WABC-TV CHIEF METEOROLOGIST: Well, you can't attribute one particular event like this to climate change. There's no way to deny that things have been supercharged. Obviously floods, Hurricane Sandy, droughts, extreme chill. Whether it's a cyclical thing where we're going to turn this around in 10 or 20 years, or whether we're on a one-way path yet to be seen.

MORGAN: We've seen very extreme heat this summer, pretty extreme cold going on now. We've seen hurricanes sweeping through New York, which I experienced. And it was pretty dramatic when it happened. It caused a lot of damage.

The critics against this say, well, look, you know, this has gone on for centuries and millenniums. There's always been freakish periods of weather. And it's no different now. What do you say to that?

GOLDBERG: I don't think there's any -- I think you're better off --

MORGAN: I think Lee Goldberg may have frozen there, it was so cold. I think he's literally iced up. So you can't hear him. You can barely hear me.

This is all going swimmingly tonight.

We got Lee back. Lee, you're back. We thought you had frozen to death. No. You are frozen to death. So unfortunately we have lost Lee Goldberg. Sorry about that.

But anyway, President Obama is making the fight against extreme weather part of his second term agenda. He believes that science proves it has a human cause. With me now is Mark Morano, editor in chief of ClimateDepot.com, and Michael Brune. He's the executive director of the Sierra Club.

Welcome to you both. Michael -- Mark, I'll start with you. When I last spoke to you about this, we had a pretty fiery debate about it. And you were impeccably opposed to any suggestion that there's any real science to confirm global warming or genuine climate change. So rather than me get involved with this, I'm going to rest my weary voice box and let Michael tell you why there is science.

Michael, over to you.

MICHAEL BRUNE, THE SIERRA CLUB: Sure, well, actually I don't want to waste any time on this. The science is settled. We noticed that last year we had record numbers of wildfires throughout the Mountain West, as you cited; 61 percent of the country suffered a crippling drought. We had Superstorm Sandy with 1,000-mile diameter storm hitting the east coast, flooded my parents house, caused billions of dollars worth of damage.

The reality is that extreme weather is here. Our climate has begun to be destabilized. The good news is that we can do something about it. We have solutions to the cause of climate change. And those solutions will both help keep our families safe and help our economy grow at the same time.

MORGAN: OK. Mark, there you have it. What do you say to that?

MARK MORANO, CLIMATEDEPOT.COM: I say you look at the peer reviewed literature. We now know a study in journal "Nature" show that there's 60 years, no trend in droughts. In fact, there was a decline in droughts in the U.S., except the most recent one in 2012, which wasn't even as big as the one in the 1950s or the 1930s.

In terms of flood, 80 to 117 years, there's no trend in floods. Big tornadoes are down dramatically since the 1950s, F3 or larger. And hurricanes, eight years now -- the longest period without a major land falling category 3 or larger hurricane. In that eight years I think since 1900 we've gone that long. So if you start looking at these measures --

MORGAN: Answer me this point. You wouldn't dispute there's been increased acceleration in CO2, right?

MORANO: No, CO2 is rising. Global temperature has now stalled for 15 or 16 years. And that is -- now James Hanson of NASA has admitted at least decade of no warming, or as he said flat lining temperatures. This is an embarrassment right now.

So whole movement has shifted to extreme storms. That's what they're trying to focus on now. Evidence is everywhere when you look for extremes. But the bottom line is we have always had extreme weather. In the 1970s, the CIA report and "Newsweek" and all the people worried about a coming Ice Age blamed extreme weather, droughts and bad weather and crop failure on global cooling. Now they have reversed and they are blaming the same phenomenon on global warming.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Michael, over to you?

BRUNE: Yes, Piers, I haven't met Mark. I'm sure he's a nice guy. He's not a climate scientist. He runs a website that's financed by Chevron and Exxon.

(CROSS TALK)

MORANO: We don't have anything near the money the big green environmentalists have.

BRUNE: Why don't I make my point. The peer reviewed science is in. Climate scientists around the world agree in overwhelming numbers that climate change is real. It's here. It's happening. And extreme weather is the new normal.

What is also true is that the United States has begun to fight this. Our CO2 levels have now reached 20 year lows. We're back now to where 1992 was. As we get off dirty fuels, as we reject dirty pipelines from the tar sands, for example, or as we replace dirty coal plants with clean energy, we create more jobs; we support the local tax base; we grow the economy; we clean up our air, clean up our water, and we stabilize our climate.

The only folks who are against that are the oil companies, gas companies and coal companies that routinely fund the climate skeptics and climate deniers that you have on your show here tonight.

MORGAN: I have got to leave it there, sadly. I'm sure the debate will run. But my view remains why take the risk. I want my kids and their kids to live in a healthy planet.

MORANO: And CO2 is nothing to be --

MORGAN: If you have the stuff to do it now, you may as well do it. >

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Breaking news, Lee Goldberg is alive. He has not perished in the freezing cold. Actually, you're downstairs. Lee, what's the forecast for the next few days?

GOLDBERG: Just like I just thawed out, so will the Midwest and the northeast. We've got another rough few days coming. The last 36 hours, wind chills haven't gone above five or six degrees in New York City. International Falls tomorrow, their record is 40 below. They may actually crack that.

But we'll climb out of this after the weekend. Another four rough days ago and then we'll be above freezing here early next week. MORGAN: I hear you are wearing a battery packed heated jacket?

GOLDBERG: I got two battery packs in here. We've got it on the warmest setting. And I'm radiating. People should be surrounding me.

MORGAN: I noticed that since we last spoke to you, your fingers have been covered up. Did ABC find a few more dollars to finish off the gloves?

GOLDBERG: I knitted them myself while we were away. They are really good.

MORGAN: OK. Lee, pleasure talking to you. I'm glad you're alive. Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming next, country star Dwight Yoakam to talk about guns in America. I'm surprised what he said. That's coming up.

And then the passion of Serena Williams. I may have gotten the best of her, but you know what? I liked it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(SINGING)

MORGAN: Selling 25 million records, Dwight Yoakam is much more than a country superstar. He's a talented actor with lots to say about the issues that matter to America. Dwight's latest album is "Three Pairs."

Welcome to you, Dwight. Now you're a singer. You must have had sore throats over the years. As you can tell, things are deteriorating. Is there any advice you can give me.

DWIGHT YOAKAM, COUNTRY SINGER: Don't ever take a flu shot again. I watched that night with Dr. Oz. In defense to Dr. Oz, I think he's probably -- he seems like a completely competent doctor. But -- and I don't understand any of the kind of biological aspects of the meds.

MORGAN: We're both doing the math. We both saw him put that thing in my arm. Within 10 days, I've been struck down.

YOAKAM: I don't want to tell anybody out there. I'm not a medical adviser. Get your vaccines. I don't believe in them. I'm suspicious by nature. I saw you get it. Here we are.

MORGAN: We'll try to plow on with the interview, notwithstanding that I can't speak. You want to talk to me about guns. You have been following some of this debate, following the shows we've done. You're a man from Kentucky. And you're a big country star. A lot of your fans, a lot of people that you grew up around would have had guns as an automatic thing in their lives.

What's your view about the debate?

YOAKAM: Guns are very serious instruments of survival and defense. But they are weapons. They are dangerous weapons. And you got to be very cautious with them, around them, about them.

I own guns. I'm not a member of the NRA. Look, the Newtown tragedy was an anomalous horror. I know how Newtown happened. I'm still really, really wrecked over why.

MORGAN: When you say it's an anomaly, I mean, it wasn't really in a sense that the last four or five mass shootings in America in the last 18 months or so all involved a similar pattern of unstable, young white men --

YOAKAM: I mean in the scope of history. In the century of the 50 years, 40 years.

MORGAN: The point I'm making is that there's been an escalation in this particular type of deranged, young, white men in their early 20s, getting access to assault rifles, in the main, and committing mass murder. That's become not the norm, but certainly the last five mass shootings you have seen that particular type of weapon used.

I keep asking people, maybe you can give me a more sensible answer --

YOAKAM: Virginia Tech, I don't remember. I thought he had handguns.

MORGAN: I'm talking in the last year.

YOAKAM: Oh in the last year.

MORGAN: There were seven mass shootings in America in the last year. Aurora, the guy used an AR-15. Sandy Hook, an AR-15. The Oregon mall, an AR-15. The New York firemen lured to their deaths was an AR-15.

YOAKAM: Congressman Giffords was handguns.

MORGAN: That's equally important. But to me, I just don't understand why anybody needs an AR-15 style -- military style weapon. Can you give me an answer?

YOAKAM: I don't know if I'll give you an answer that will satisfy your sense of -- you know, sane logic. I think it's born out of the DNA that is the foundation of, you know, those colonies that broke free and that were having troops marshaled in their homes. We're having, you know, the cap and balls stopped from being imported, because it wasn't about hunting. It was about being able to defend yourself against tyranny.

I don't know that I want the government -- I don't trust the government. I'm a cynical. I'm a kid of the '60s.

MORGAN: I have tried to immerse myself into all of the arguments without taking a sort of lofty, patronizing view of it. Many Americans share that view. I fully don't understand why there's a fear of tyranny, given no overseas tyranny could possibly compete with the American military. YOAKAM: No, I think we're worried about tyranny --

MORGAN: I was going to come to that. So you are left with domestic tyranny. Again, if your own government becomes tyrannical, they have 5,000 nuclear warheads. How do you possibly defend yourselves?

YOAKAM: Well, you know, yes.

MORGAN: Nor can I ever see, by the way, as many U.S. Marines have Tweeted me saying, nor can I ever see a situation where the American armed forces would go against their own people.

MORGAN: That's sort of Egypt, I guess, when you watched the Egyptian military only turn that revolution by saying we're not going to gun down Egyptians in the street. You hope that's the case. I'm just saying, in an esoteric kind of way, that that's a different interpretation of Second Amendment.

MORGAN: How much do you think that lyrics perhaps in music that allude to guns -- you have written a song called "Buenos Noches," includes a line "I Placed a gun to her head because she wore red dresses" --

YOAKAM: Right. Not because of the dress. Look, he had good reason.

MORGAN: To murder his wife with a gun.

YOAKAM: To commit murder. I'm not going to morph into Robert Blake on you.

MORGAN: Right. But when you take those lyrics or you take this clip of you from the movie "The Panic Room" --

YOAKAM: Well, now that's not fair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSS TALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOAKAM: That's an unfortunate clip, because Raoul, that character was really not all that bad. At that point, he was pushed.

MORGAN: Right. Here's my question. Do you think that any lyrics -- obviously some rap star's lyrics are far more violent than --

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: But do you believe that any musician or movie star or movie maker or music producer, do they have any responsibility in terms of rhetoric about guns or the portrayal of them in movies? YOAKAM: In case of point of (inaudible), that literally an extension of the tradition of -- there was an old blue grass song called "Knoxville Girl," where for no reason -- it actually goes back to Irish guys who wrote folk songs. There was a great tradition of murder and mayhem and some of those.

It was handed down into Appalachian culture here and bluegrass music, because they were mountain music. That's poetic license. There was no real person. That wasn't a chronicling.

MORGAN: I'm not going to hold you responsible for all the gun violence in America.

YOAKAM: I won't yell what Robert yelled that night. Are you out of your --

MORGAN: Let's turn to more peaceful matters. It's a very peaceful cover, "Three Pairs," your new album, very clean, very simple. These aren't unexploded grenades, right?

YOAKAM: No, they're not. They're not. As far as I know, it's a completely nonviolent piece of product there. Although I will let you know that the title was a misprint. And they are correcting it.

MORGAN: To three Piers.

YOAKAM: Three Piers, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: It's been great to meet you, Dwight. Good luck with the album.

YOAKAM: You played right into my hands. Thank you a lot.

MORGAN: Great to see you. Dwight Yoakam. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911 Emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're at Dale Green (ph) school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, shots were fired by room 42 on campus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where the person with the gun is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's the victim? Is there a victim?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm on the phone with dispatch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: The chilling 911 call from the 2008 death of 15-year-old Lawrence King, killed in his middle school by a classmate. The victim had asked to be his Valentine. The tragedy and the trial that followed is another subject of a new documentary film, "Valentine Road."

Joining me tonight, producer Eddie Schmidt and director Marta Cunningham. Welcome to you both.

MARTA CUNNINGHAM, DIRECTOR, "VALENTINE ROAD": Thank you.

MORGAN: It's a very powerful movie. It's obviously even more powerful, knowing that it's a true story. It raises many issues. A young school boy murders another one in a classroom with a gun. The issues of gun safety is school is one obvious one. But secondly, the motivation for the murder, prompted by what the gunman took to be a sexual advance, an offer on a Valentine's Day by another young student that had shamed him in some way.

What was most striking to me from the movie is that you get this extraordinary series of interviews with jurors where they almost support the shooter, because they understand that he was, to quote one of them, "getting rid of a problem." Tell me about that.

CUNNINGHAM: Well, thank you. It was an extraordinary circumstance to have jurors speak out on behalf of Brandon. I don't remember ever seeing anything like that in a documentary before. I think the jurors were really taken with Brandon. They felt very empathetic towards Brandon. And they wanted to give him voice.

MORGAN: I'm seen many documentaries. But to actually see jurors go as far as to be blatantly supportive of a pretty cold-blooded, ruthless murderer, in the end, notwithstanding his young age, I found very shocking. Eddie, when you got that footage, what did you feel about it?

EDDIE SCHMIDT, PRODUCER, "VALENTINE ROAD": I felt getting that footage was very revealing. I think in a documentary, you're really trying to show all sides and show people's viewpoints as they would choose to express them. I think we felt that was an important part of the story and of the case, clearly, because you saw the outcome, that it was a mistrial. They could not arrive at a decision.

MORGAN: The --

CUNNINGHAM: That was the defense. I mean, the defense put that forth. And they believed the defense.

MORGAN: Yeah, quite extraordinary. Eddie, a bizarre twist I guess in this tale was you lived in Newtown. Your sister attended Sandy Hook Elementary School. How do you feel, having made this documentary, to then see what happened in Sandy Hook? What were your emotions then?

SCHMIDT: Well, I mean, clearly, I was incredibly shocked and saddened. My heart broke for the people of Newtown. And it was very strange to have been working on this film for over three years. I was working on it for over three years, Marta over four. And suddenly see on the news that -- a school shooting happening in my hometown.

And I guess what it made me feel is that if I'm making a film about a school shooting in California, and I'm personally connected to a school shooting that's happening across the country in Connecticut, then school shootings are far too pervasive. This should not be happening, if it's so ubiquitous that I have two connections to those kinds of stories.

MORGAN: And Marta, what do you feel, having made the documentary, about the issue of guns in schools generally? Many of the gun rights lobbyists think the answer to Sandy Hook is to arm teachers, perhaps to arm janitors, have armed police or security guards everywhere.

What do you think about that equation? More guns would lead to more safety at schools?

CUNNINGHAM: Well, I have to say, first off, that I'm a filmmaker. I'm not a lawmaker. So we made this film to give voice to the people who are involved with this shooting. And that was really all we wanted to do.

MORGAN: Well, it's a very powerful film. I hope you'll go and see it. It raises a lot of issues.

CUNNINGHAM: Thank you.

MORGAN: I congratulate you for raising those issues in such a dramatic way. Thank you both for joining me. The HBO documentary "Valentine Road" currently airing at the Sundance Film Festival.

And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: My friend Serena Williams is making news tonight. She lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian open in a match that brought out all her intensity.

Well, I recognized all that, because of course last year we clashed ourselves in a match of equal drama and tension in New York. And she didn't take that defeat well at all, either. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS STAR: Oh, come on!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Not a happy bunny then. But anyway, Serena, take it from me, we don't want you any other way. Keep showing that hunger, that desire, that passion to be the best. It's what makes you a great champion. Remember, if you want to come and have a rematch, think you can cope with the emotions it will bring out in you, I'm ready anytime.

That's all for us tonight. Anderson Cooper starts now.