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Is Now the Time for Climate Change Action?; Paycuts for Congress?; Obama Tees-Off with Tiger; Hugh Jackman A Favorite for Best Actor; Danica Patrick Takes Pole at Daytona

Aired February 18, 2013 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Stories we're watching in the newsroom as well, country music star Mindy McCready has died. The 37-year-old was found at her Arkansas home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. McCready rose to fame in the mid-90s. More recently she struggled with addiction and mental illness. McCready had been in a custody battle over her 6-year-old boy. Just last month, the father of her infant son was found dead of an apparent suicide.

Maker's Mark is saying uncle. The Kentucky bourbon maker will no longer water down its whiskey to stretch supplies. The reversal comes about a week after company announced it was diluting its famous spirit to deal with a spike in demand. Though officials say the extra water did not affect the taste, customers waged an online revolt. Starting today, every red wax bottle is back to 90 proof.

You're looking at new pictures of a frozen lake that was gouged by pieces of the meteor that exploded Friday over Russia. Scientists say they just confirmed 53 small stony black objects found around the lakes are indeed meteorites. The fragments are less than a half inch long, but experts think a larger meteorite made a 26-foot wide crater in the ice. We're back in a minute.


COSTELLO: "Political Buzz" is your rapid fire look at the best political topics of the day. Three topics, 30 seconds on the clock. Playing with us today, L.Z. Granderson, a CNN contributor and senior writer for ESPN, and Will Cain, also a CNN contributor and analyst for "The Blaze." Welcome to you both, gentlemen.


WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, Carol.

COSTELLO" Good morning.

Hey, Obama, we don't want no climate drama. That was the big chant in Washington this weekend, as thousands and thousands urge the president to take action on climate change. For his part, Obama did urging of his own, telling Congress to move on the issue during the State of the Union.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can choose to believe that super storm Sandy and the most severe drought in decades and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence, or we can choose believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it's too late.


COSTELLO: But with sequestration looming and high unemployment, our question, is now the time for climate change legislation? L.Z.?

GRANDERSON: Yes and no. I think we're going to have a difficult time using that exact language, but I think we can pass things like an emissions tax to talk about using that money to help repair roads. So we're addressing the climate issue without using that language that seems to make people bristle for some reason.


CAIN: No. Look, here's the deal. Climate change regulation is designed to increase the price of carbon, which means pricing out essentially poor families, poor children from lighting their homes, from heating their homes, from getting access to electricity. It's not going to price out you and me. That's the purpose of it, right? Set against the background of, what, we just saw a draft memo a couple of weeks ago the International Panel on Climate Change and prediction in temperature increases were wildly overstated. As they have been the last 20 years. Now is not the time for climate change. Get your research in order, make your case.

COSTELLO: Speaking of sequestration, 10 days and counting until the massive spending cuts go into effect. One thing on the chopping block, cuts to federal pay. That includes Congress and their paychecks. Well, that doesn't sit well with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER: It's a hard question to ask me because most of my colleagues are the bread winners in their families. A pay cut to me doesn't mean as much. I don't think we should do it. I think we should respect the work we do.


COSTELLO: Pelosi said pay cuts would hurt the dignity of the politicians' jobs. Question, should Congress' paychecks be exempt from budget cuts? Will?

CAIN: Was that a dramatic pause you inserted there?

COSTELLO: I almost couldn't say it.

CAIN: I don't mind burning some of my 30 seconds on that. Here's the deal. You can't hurt Congress' dignity any lower than it already is. I think the public polling is equivalent to cockroaches. I want to be contrarian so bad on this so bad and defend her somehow. But, so here's the deal. Let's not reduce their pay. Let's reduce their work hours. How about that to keep dignity? They can go like the state of Texas and become a part-time legislator. I would fully endorse that. They can do less damage the less they're in Congress.

COSTELLO: They're not passing many bills anyway, right? L.Z.?

GRANDERSON: I don't feel the need to defend her or be a contrarian or anything. She's wrong. If you look at the constitution, this job she's been holding and her colleagues, as she said, have been holding was not designed for you to be a career politician, was not designed for you to live an upper middle class life for the rest of your life. It was designed for you to go to D.C., do the work in your community, and return to your community. So this notion that a pay cut is beneath us, no, what you've already done to the Congress is beneath what the original intent was.

CAIN: Yeah. Part-time job.

COSTELLO: Final question. Washington going on a bit of a break this week. Yes, Congress is on recess. While President Obama plays golf in Florida with Tiger Woods. But you'll just have to take the White House's word for it because there are not any pictures. President says, his White House is the most transparent administration in history, but in this case, maybe not because he allowed no photos. So the question, should we have the right to see President Obama play golf with Tiger Woods, L.Z.?

GRANDERSON: Okay, let me get this straight. Two weeks ago, we don't se any photos of President Obama skeet shooting. They release a photo, all of a sudden, why did he release this photo? It's terrible. Now he doesn't release any photos playing with Tiger, why didn't he release photos? It's terrible. We sound very schizophrenic. No, we don't need to se him playing golf with Tiger Woods.


CAIN: No, I agree. This is a trivial issue. We don't need to see him playing golf with tiger woods. But it does become symbolic, right? The idea that this is the most transparent administration is gone. It's over. It's absurd. And it's not because of pictures with Tiger, it's because of issues like the drone program and the legal memoranda setting up when Americans can shoot drones at Americans. That is what busts the bubble on transparency, not Tiger Woods.

COSTELLO: Thank you for playing today. CNN contributors Will Cain and L.Z. Granderson.

Hugh Jackman goes from being an academy award host to a nominee, and he's offering advice for this year's host, Seth McFarlane.


HUGH JACKMAN, ACTOR: Just be really funny and gracious and extraordinary and an entertainer for three hours in front of a live audience to 1 billion people. That's it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: You'll hear what else he has to say about the big night.


COSTELLO: Hugh Jackman is considered a triple threat in Hollywood, he can sing, dance, and act. And he's also looking for a best actor win during the Oscars for his lead role in "Les Mis."


JACKMAN (singing): Who am I? Can I condemn this man to slavery? Pretend I do not feel his agony? This innocent who bears my face, who goes to judgment in my place. Who am I?


COSTELLO: Who am I, Nischelle Turner?



COSTELLO: Thank you. That's such a relief.

TURNER: It's like rescue you from that dramatic moment in the movie. You know, Carol, most actors dream of ending up on stage at the Oscars. Hugh Jackman is no different. It's just the manner in which he first wanted to grace the stage. That's just completely out of left field. Take a look.


TURNER: So, obviously, you're a great actor or you wouldn't be here. I have to say, I buy into this whole thing because it feels like to me like you're having the time of your life.

JACKMAN: The thing for me is -- let me give you a little context for me. I'm from Sydney. I'm from the northern suburb of Sydney, 45- minute drive north of the city. My father worked for Price Waterhouse, the accountancy firm, his entire life. When the accountants used to come on the Oscars, remember with their briefcases, that really awkward ten seconds of TV, we would go crazy. And I remember one year my dad saying, I had a meeting with that guy once, and I just thought my dad was it. For me, this is something beyond the realms of imagination. A bit the same as when I hosted it. I'm like, I'm a kid from Sydney. I'm not going to finish this by complaining or saying I'm tired or busy or nervous. I'm just going to enjoy it.

TURNER: Your daughter is a bit of a ham. Your son kind of shines. Are you ready for the next generation to do this business? Does it seem like she's headed down the path? JACKMAN: I totally can see her getting in. The only thing Deb and I, we're wary of getting in to early. I'm sort of lucky that I had a pretty normal childhood and got into it. I, you know, none of this until I was probably 30, which I think is a good thing.

TURNER: Quickly, I know you've got to go, but do you have any advice for Seth McFarlane hosting?

JACKMAN: Yes just you know be really funny and gracious and extraordinary and an entertainer for three hours in front of a live audience to a billion people. I mean that's it. No look, Steve Martin said to me, the first 45 minutes, best audience you'll have in your life because the whole room is nervous, way more nervous than you, right. So they have to just laugh at everything,

And from 45 minutes on to the next four hour mark, that room is way more filled with losers that winners, so just hurry up. Just get that train moving to the end. That was it.


TURNER: He really is having a good time. I thought he was a great Oscar host as well. Now Carol, he joked that he wanted to give that Oscar statue that he was standing next to for the class photo bunny ears during the picture.

Also during a time when I was talking to Jackie Weaver, who's nominated for best supporting actress for "Silver Linings Playbook," and who actually grew up down the street from Hugh in Australia, he video bombed us. He just jumped in the middle of the interview so I would say that guy is definitely having a good time right now.

COSTELLO: Man I would be too. Nischelle Turner, thanks so much.

A college coach shows how it's done. He hits a half-court shot. Wow, we'll tell you why this -- we'll tell you why this basket made a huge difference though for one student.


COSTELLO: Forty-nine minute past the hour. Time to check our "Top Stories".

New details on the murder involving the double amputee track star known as "Blade Runner". A South African official Police tells CNN Oscar Pistorius's girlfriend was shot four times through a bathroom door at the Olympian's home. Pistorius then carried Reeva Steenkamp downstairs. She was still alive. Prosecutors have accused Pistorius of premeditated murder. He's now in jail. He has a bail hearing tomorrow.

Hugo Chavez is back home after more than two months in Cuba. The Venezuelan President announced his return early this morning via Twitter. Chavez went to Havana for cancer treatment and suffered a lung infection. He still has a tube down his throat and struggles to speak. The man convicted of killing John Lennon wrote four letters to the officer who arrested him and they can be yours for $75,000. In the letters Mark David Chapman presses Steven Spiro to read "The Catcher and the Rye" to better understand his motive for killing Lennon. Chapman also says he wanted to be friends with Spiro.

Should we have the right to see the President play golf with Tiger Woods? Your responses to our "Talk Back" question next.


COSTELLO: Danica Patrick will race in the top spot this Sunday at the Daytona 500 after winning the poll. She is the first woman to do that. But will it actually improve her chances of winning the race? Joe Carter is here with this morning's Bleacher Report.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hi good morning, Carol. You know winning the pole for Danica means that she's going to start in the front row on Sunday and that of course gives her a great advantage, but doesn't necessarily guarantee her a win. And I'm not trying to be Debby Downer but the statistics say that the last time a driver won both the pole and the Daytona 500 it was 13 years ago.

But this is still a very historic moment for both Danica and NASCAR, and hey, all sports really. Jeff Gordon saw firsthand what kind of buzz she created yesterday. That's Gordon's daughter posing with a picture Danica last night on CNN. Danica addressed really what making NASCAR history might mean to a lot of her young fans out there.


DANICA PATRICK, WON POLE POSITION FOR DAYTONA 500: Well one of the coolest things is to be able to think that parents and their kids are having that conversation at home about it. and to -- you know I've heard stories about a kid, or a boy or a girl saying but mommy, daddy that's a girl that's out there racing. And then they can have that conversation that say you can do anything you want to do and gender doesn't matter. Your passion is what matters and that's cool.


CARTER: It is cool.

The NBA's biggest event brings out the biggest stars. You've got Diddy there, the King and Queen, Spike Lee on hand for the NBA all- star game. The game is a showcase of dunks, (inaudible) lots of offense and very little defense. That's D-Wade and Lebron James teammates the off the back board alley hoop. Look how Lebron's head just misses that bottom of that rim.

More of the same, this time Carmelo Anthony to Lebron. The Clippers' Chris Paul actually named the game's MVP, he scored 20 points dished out 15 assists. The West would beat the East in a very close game, 143-138 as I said no defense.

But it could be the end of an era in Chicago. Reports out of the Windy City are saying that the Cubs and long time TV partner WGN could be parting ways in 2014. WGN television rights are actually over after the 2014 baseball season. And the team at this point is being very tight lipped in their future plans. The Cubbies have been with WGN since 1948.

Well the tuition shootout is a Friday night Staple at Brandon University basketball games. The concept, make the half court shot and you win free semester of school. Last week participants were given the option of taking anyone in the building to take the shot for them. So one fan instead of picking a player he picked the men's head basketball coach, and as you see, nothing but net. Love it.

For all of your entertainment sports news of course go to I've got to ask Carol I mean, who pays the taxes on that. Is it the coach now or is it the student?

COSTELLO: It doesn't even matter. He was so happy. It was so cool.

Joe Carter, thank you.

We're back in a minute.


Talk back question this morning. Should we have the right to see the President play golf with Tiger Woods?

This from Jeremy. "Mr. Obama is an employee of the United States. He was on his own personal time. He surely has a right to his privacy when he's not working."

This is from Dorothy. "The President deserves some privacy when not on the job. However, do I think he's on the job 24/7 no matter what he is or what he's doing."

This from Gabriel. "Why should we care? The President is entitled to his privacy, believe it or not. Some people in the media have a severe problem comprehending.

And this from Gail. "At a time when the war on women rages, it's very disrespectful for women to see Obama seen with a man who is a philanderer -- that would be Tiger Woods. You judge a person by the company they keep."

Keep the conversation going, or tweet me @CarolCNN.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM. New information about the shooting death of Blade Runner's girlfriend. Officials say Reeva Steenkamp was shot four times and then carried downstairs. Oscar Pistorius' family now coming to his defense.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you can imagine, our entire family is devastated. We are in a state of total shock.

President Obama golfs and Congress takes a vacation, even though millions of government jobs hang in the balance. Some of the spending cuts that will impact you if sequestration happens.