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AC 360 LATER

Christie Scandal; Inhumane Execution?; Oscar Nominations; One- Woman Play Recounts Dr. Ruth's Life

Aired January 16, 2014 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Welcome to "AC360 Later."

Tonight, breaking news in the bridge scandal, also Hillary Clinton's heel, debating the death penalty. Dr. Ruth talks sex, and I'm probably going to blush. And we all talk about the Oscars.

You can join the conversation. Tweet using #AC360Later or weigh in at Facebook.com/AC360. We will show your comments at the bottom of the screen.

With us tonight, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, political commentator and GOP consultant Margaret Hoover, legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin and senior political analyst David Gergen.

We begin with the breaking news, New Jersey lawmakers sending out 20 new subpoenas to all the key players in the New Jersey traffic scandal and one very big name in state, the chairman of the board of the agency overseeing the George Washington Bridge. He's a close adviser to Governor Christie is also the state's former attorney general. Political power on both sides of the aisle.

Dana Bash is covering the story and she joins us now.

So what do you make of these subpoenas, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really goes to the heart of Chris Christie's inner circle. And that isn't good news for Chris Christie.

Let's take a look at who we're talking about, first, names that people who have been following this are going to be familiar with, Bridget Anne Kelly, who was the governor's deputy chief of staff until she was fired over this last weekend, Bill Stepien, who is a longtime top political aide. He ran the governor's campaigns, both of them. And there are other people who fit that description.

Kevin O'Dowd, he was the governor's chief of staff. He was just appointed to or named to be the next attorney general. Then there's Charlie McKenna, who is the governor's counsel. And then, as you mentioned, David Samson, who is the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, but maybe more importantly in this case, in addition to that, is a very, very close confidant of Chris Christie and has been for a very long time. TOOBIN: Jeff, these subpoenas, this is legislative. How much of this is politics? And these folks can just plead the Fifth. They don't have to testify.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's right.

But they can collect a lot of documents, so that's significant. Obviously this story only exists because of some e-mails that were disclosed. So there are likely more e-mails that are relevant to this controversy.

But the point about the legislative committee is that they don't have the power to give immunity. So, David Wildstein, who took the Fifth, Ms. Kelly, who will almost certainly take the Fifth, the committee can't do anything about that. The only person who can give them immunity is Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney, who also is investigating, but it's not clear whether he plans to give them immunity.

COOPER: What is also investigating.

TOOBIN: So we may never hear from these people who get the Fifth.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, but, Anderson, when you have 20 subpoenas out there and five or six people take the Fifth, what is the public going to conclude from that? What do you guys have to hide? Listen, if there was no big that happened here, why are you hiding behind the Fifth Amendment? You must fear criminal prosecution.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And who are you protecting?

GERGEN: And who are you protecting?

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So you're saying even if there's no evidence that Christie -- and right now there is absolutely no evidence that Chris Christie knew about this or tried to cover it up.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: This is such a classic legal/political distinction, because from my background, and I know how defense lawyers think, there is no way in the world they are going to let their clients testify in this kind of environment.

But you, coming out of the political world, thinks it's a disaster to take the Fifth.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: ... practice law.

TOOBIN: It's a good point.

MARGARET HOOVER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Any way around it.

If Chris Christie was involved in it, the e-mails will come out. The e-mail didn't come out the first time legislatively or because of a subpoena. Somebody leaked the document to the press. If it's out there, if it happened, we will find out. We can just count on that. I don't think either way -- I think this is politics.

COOPER: Do you think it was a mistake for Chris Christie to say bad things about Bridget Kelly? He called her stupid.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: I think he would have been well-advised to have talked to her before he threw her over the side.

But, listen, I think -- I remember so well how Reagan handled Iran- Contra, which one of the classic sort of problems. And he ordered everybody to testify. Do not take the Fifth. I want you to put up all the documents. Everybody, testify. That will clear the air.

And I think when you have a bunch of people taking the Fifth, it may be the right thing to do legally, I agree with you. It's the right legal strategy. But from a political strategy and a public relations strategy, it's...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It looks bad.

Dana.

BASH: Certainly, you can see the legal and political divide.

It was very well put, Jeff, between what you and David are saying. But what is really fascinating is that Chris Christie spent today trying to move on. He went to the Jersey Shore. He tried to comfort victims. That is the thing of course that helped make his popularity soar before his reelection.

But he also, I'm told, in a meeting earlier this week with the senior staff warned them, look, this is going to continue to be rough and tumble for you. Ironically, now, we have seen that many of them have gotten subpoenas. But I want to keep our eye on the ball.

It's going to be very difficult for them to do that when they're all probably lawyering up right now to try to figure out if they're personally in any problem -- trouble.

TOOBIN: And his administration today hired Randy Mastro as sort of their defense lawyer.

That tells you something right there...

COOPER: What does it tell you?

TOOBIN: ... because Randy Mastro is a very highly respected, but also very confrontational lawyer in New York. He used to work for Rudy Giuliani.

And this is not the lawyer you hire if you are just going to cooperate and everything is going to be nice. This is a lawyer who is going to tell these committees, you are getting this much, but not this much. Christie is a former U.S. attorney. He knows the score. He knows which lawyers behave which way. He tired a tough, tough lawyer.

HOSTIN: And I think that's what is so interesting about it, because not only was he a federal prosecutor. He was the chief federal prosecutor in New Jersey. So he knows how these investigations go.

I think the dynamic really changes once the U.S. attorney's office gets involved, because, as a former prosecutor, and you know this too, Jeff, what you want to do is you want to flip somebody, you want to turn somebody. You want to offer someone immunity so that they will talk about what happened.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Although what remains a mystery in this case, at least to me, is, what crime was committed here?

(CROSSTALK)

HOSTIN: There's going to be a crime in the cover-up, if there was a cover-up.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: But there is a danger here for the Democrats. And that this is this legislature could easily overplay its hand. And 20 subpoenas is one heck of a lot of subpoenas. Why don't they just subpoena everybody who was up there on the bridge?

COOPER: It just makes -- it cane and make -- it can have the opposite impact.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: It looks like a circus.

COOPER: Right. It looks like a circus and just bolsters Chris Christie's position among Republicans even nationally if it looks like people are ganging up on him and certainly a lot of folks on TV as well.

GERGEN: Exactly.

COOPER: Dana Bash, appreciate the update on that.

I want to talk about the report on the Benghazi killings over on the Democratic side, also the hypothetical clash of the 2016 hypothetical presidential front-runners. We present Hillary Clinton's heel or at least the graphic depiction of it on the cover of the latest edition of "TIME" magazine. "Can Anyone Stop Hillary?" That's the headline of time. And in the subhead, "How to scare off your rivals without actually running Yet." There's a tiny guy either clinging to her heel or about to be crushed by it. I'm not exactly sure. The cover generating a lot of buzz, especially in light of the potentially damaging new report on Benghazi and of course the whole Chris Christie affair.

Joining the conversation, "TIME" magazine deputy Washington bureau chief Michael Crowley.

Michael, good to have you here.

For those who have not read the article, can anyone stop Hillary Clinton? You basically are saying she's not officially running yet, but she kind of doesn't need to be running yet.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, DEPUTY BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": She doesn't need to.

Look, she can be stopped. In politics, nothing is ever certain. But it's hard to think of a candidate who got into a presidential race with as many advantages as she has now. A big caveat is that people said similar things about her in 2008. So it's a very unpredictable thing.

But what's special here is the way, without her having to declare herself as a candidate, this massive infrastructure exists around her and is rising up around her.

So fund-raising PACs, rapid response operations that are countering her critics in the media, e-mails that are already going out in support of a woman who claims that she hasn't made up her mind and is living a life as a private citizen, and so she kind of has the best of both worlds.

The apparatus is springing into action because people have so much faith in her and she has so many supporters. At the same time, she's able to you can say pretend or maybe it's genuine kind of go about her life as a private citizen and not face the music, not respond on a daily basis. Well, what did you know about this at what time of night when the Benghazi thing was happening? She can say, I don't have to do that right now, in a way where Chris Christie, who is on a public payroll, has to be accountable.

I want to bring in the Benghazi report in just a second. But it's interesting. In this "TIME" piece, it basically looks at other Democrats out there, and there's really not anyone. This article claims Biden is unlikely to really get involved if Hillary Clinton is in the race.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: If she gets in a race, you wonder if anybody else is going to run.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: I have to congratulate Michael and the "TIME" magazine crowd. They have succeeded the legendary Tina Brown. They have taken a straightforward story and made it very provocative and created a lot of buzz with a cover. The cover is more interesting than the story.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But also is interesting because of this now the Benghazi factor. And I want to talk about that a little bit.

You have this new report out of fallout some the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the Benghazi killings. Some of the findings, the attack could have been pretended and the State Department, Hillary Clinton's State Department failed to act on warnings about the worsening security situation in the city.

Also, the head of the Joint Chiefs coming under attack for not really having a plan to help aid those under fire in Benghazi. A lot of people coming under criticism.

But in terms of Hillary Clinton, how much does this hurt her in a race?

TOOBIN: You know, this story has now been around for many months. It was obviously a tragedy.

But it's unclear to me what Hillary Clinton's responsibility for this tragedy was. What's the one sentence...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, wait, wait, wait. But we have just spent a bunch of minutes talking about Chris Christie and did he know about the bridge scandal.

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

COOPER: Now there's a report saying -- and it matches what other reports have said -- that basically there were multiple warnings about this, the State Department dropped the ball on this.

TOOBIN: To her?

COOPER: Well, no, there's no evidence it went to her desk. But if it didn't go to her state, right, what does that say about her leadership at the State Department?

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: That's the thing. This squarely puts the State Department to blame and she was the head of the State Department. She says, I am responsible, I was the head of the State Department.

In some ways, she's owned responsibility for it. But this is the woman who ran against Barack Obama and said, I'm more qualified because I can take the 3:00 a.m. call in the middle of the night and Barack Obama couldn't. And then on Barack Obama's watch, as the secretary of state, this happened under her -- without them knowing at all.

So it's certainly a vulnerability that regardless of which story you are -- I know the story has been around for a long time, not to politicize it -- this is going to be a legitimate issue in 2016.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: It's certainly a legitimate issue. Don't get me wrong. But the idea that this is something that somehow going to end her campaign just seems preposterous to me.

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: I agree with that.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Anderson, where is the evidence that average Americans, that the middle of the country, the people who are going to decide this election are still really worked up about this issue?

I think conservatives feel passionately about it. I really don't think the numbers don't bear out the idea that this is going to decide her fate. I really think there's a big difference between a woman presiding over a very large bureaucracy, where clearly it didn't function properly and tragic mistakes were made, and you might say, and a governor whose top aides seemed to be executing a vendetta that was a very active, targeted plan.

I just think that you're talking about an apple and an orange there. I'm not trying to make excuses for her. I just think analytically, I don't think it's a huge threat to her.

COOPER: Although the flip side is, four people lost their lives, whereas nobody lost their lives directly through this Chris Christie bridge thing.

And you can already -- you can write the commercials now by Republicans against Hillary Clinton on regards to this, that on her watch, despite repeated warnings to the State Department, they dropped the ball.

GERGEN: In the report itself, actually, the man that died, Ambassador Stevens, actually gets more criticism than he does.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: He turned down the military twice.

GERGEN: But, yes, there's absolutely no question that, as secretary of state, Benghazi stops here, that's the sign on her desk.

And she has to take responsibility for it. But I think what's been helpful to her in the last few weeks is, Republicans have got their Benghazi, but Democrats have now got their bridge. And I think if you look at the relative publicity, what struck me today about the Benghazi report, if you looked at "The Wall Street Journal," which could have taken a very harsh line toward Hillary, her name is not -- they run the story off the front page.

You can't fine her name on the front page. You have to go to the jump to find the page. They didn't treat this as a Hillary-type story.

COOPER: And I believe the headline in "The Wall Street Journal" was sort of cast a wide net of blame.

GERGEN: Exactly. Exactly.

COOPER: Interesting.

Michael, I appreciate you being on. Again, "TIME" magazine, it's the cover story. It's an interesting read. Michael Crowley.

We have to take a quick break.

Next, how an execution in Ohio today is making people revisit the entire question of capital punishment. That and much more, including Dr. Ruth Westheimer, later on "AC360 Later."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back.

We're back talking about the death penalty and a kind of medical experiment that is connected to it. This morning, the state of Ohio put a man named Dennis McGuire to death for the 1994 rape and murder of a pregnant woman. The medical experiment comes from the fact that Ohio like many states has been forced to use new drug combinations after European-based manufacturers banned U.S. prisons from using their drugs in executions.

So instead of the usual deadly three-drug combination, Ohio used two drugs, a tranquilizer and a painkiller. It apparently was not pretty. McGuire took a long time to die, at least 10 minutes, appeared to be choking during some of that time.

This case and others and new calls to bring back firing squads in one state, all of it amping up the debate over the entire system of capital punishment. We're back with the panel, also Josh Sweigart, a reporter for "The Dayton Daily News," who witnessed the execution.

What did you see? What happened, Josh?

JOSH SWEIGART, "THE DAYTON DAILY NEWS": Well, frankly it was very difficult to watch.

It started about 12 hours ago, actually. They led Mr. McGuire into the chamber. They laid him down. Before they administered the drugs, they asked if he had any last words. He said -- he apologized to the family. He told his son and daughter and his son's wife -- yes, his son's wife -- that he loved them all. And he said: "I'm going to heaven. I will see you there when you come."

They administered the drugs and, within minutes, he said, "I love you" very loudly several times. And within three minutes, his eyes rolled back and he was apparently asleep. About five minutes went by and he didn't move. There was no sound, no one said anything, except for his family, which cried quietly.

And then suddenly, about five minutes later, he began to convulse intermittently, clearly gasping, sort of like a loud snort or a snore, and clearly struggling to breathe. He was unconscious at this time. It's unclear how aware he was of the situation.

But that went on for about 10 minutes. His family cried loudly. At one point, one of them said, "How can this possibly take so long?" Meanwhile, the victim's family, the family of the pregnant woman that he murdered 25 years ago, they said nothing. They watched silently.

The whole thing took about 20 minutes before the warden finally directed the prison physician to come in. Took about three minutes spent trying to gather vital signs, at which point the time of death was declared at 10:53 a.m. this morning.

COOPER: Wow.

Jeff, what do you make of this?

TOOBIN: The Supreme Court has said that executions have to be two things. They have to be effective. They have to kill. And they have to be humane.

It turns out it's really hard to do both. We have moved in this country from hanging to electrocution to the gas chamber to lethal injection. But none of them wind up being exactly as they want to be or as the executioners want them to be. And maybe it's just impossible to have those two things.

COOPER: This is going to be maybe a dumb question or obnoxious one, but why not have a firing squad? If you're going to end up killing people, why not do it in a way -- or a guillotine, which seems pretty...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Utah, which is the last state to have a firing squad, Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad.

And perhaps that may come back. There is an issue of whether that is cruel and unusual, whether that would be in violation of the Eighth Amendment. I don't know. I think it varies by state.

COOPER: What's the difference, though, between killing somebody by putting them in a guillotine and chopping their head off or a firing squad and injecting them with chemicals?

HOSTIN: I just can't even believe we're talking about this. Right? We're talking about a firing squad.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But why gloss it, why gloss it?

HOSTIN: It's all barbaric. It's all barbaric.

And I think, in our society, in a civilized society, there really is no place for it. And I know the Supreme Court has tried to make it more palatable, because it is still part of our law, and we're saying cruel and unusual.

But every murder is cruel and unusual, in my view. So I don't think you can find a way that's humane to do something like this.

TOOBIN: Support for the death penalty is down dramatically from where it used to be.

In the peak of the crime spate of the late '80s, early '90s, it was up around 75 percent. It's now down to about 60, 60 percent. That's still a substantial majority. Death sentences are down. Executions are down. It appears to be sort of some states have abandoned it. But the answer of how to do it remains...

COOPER: I do think though there's probably a fair number of people watching thing who find it hard to get worked up over a man who killed and raped and murdered a pregnant woman having a bad last few minutes of his life.

HOOVER: Yes, maybe that's true. Still, when you listen to this man's description of his -- when this -- as he passed, it's hard for anybody who is compassionate to feel like this is a good thing. We do in a civilized society -- I agree with you, Sunny -- want it to...

COOPER: Josh, what's been the reaction in Dayton?

SWEIGART: Well, it depends on who you ask, obviously.

The family hired an attorney who told us today that they plan to file an injunction against the state to cease this kind of practice in the future, claiming the Eighth Amendment, cruel and unusual punishment. There are people who say it's something gone horribly wrong.

On the other side, people in the town where she lived, I spoke to them days ago, and even when this concern was raised before the execution, they said he shouldn't have done it, that whatever he experiences is going to be nothing compared to the pain and suffering that the victim experienced. That's a common tone for a lot of people.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: That's the point that you made, Anderson.

And I think obviously a lot of people do feel that way. The whole reason these people are being executed is because they did something terrible. Another factor to consider, and I think even the issue with the guillotine and firing squad, is that the people in the prison system don't want to be overly traumatized by this either.

And I think guillotine in particular is something that is just never going to be in the cards, because it is so horrifying to the people who are involved with it, as well to say nothing of the person who is executed.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: Josh, have you witnessed an execution before, or was this your first execution that you had ever witnessed?

SWEIGART: This is the only one I have been to.

HOOVER: OK.

HOSTIN: And I think, if you broaden this out and you just look at the death penalty in particular -- and I'm tough on crime. Everyone knows that.

And I get that this guy committed this horrible crime. I understand that, but what about the innocent people that are put on death row? The way we apply the death penalty is so arbitrary, it's so capricious. Mistakes are made all the time. Let's talk about Michael Morton, who was on death row for 25 years for something that he never did.

(CROSSTALK)

HOSTIN: And so I think the opportunity -- or, rather, the chance of one innocent person being put to death for me just makes it...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I haven't seen official executions. I have seen plenty of people be killed in riots and war and on the front lines. I have seen people's heads chopped off.

I have seen people die in a number of grisly ways. And I don't see much of a difference between injecting somebody with chemicals and cutting their head off or shooting them.

HOSTIN: It's all grotesque and barbaric.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But either you're -- you're either for the death penalty or you're against it. Given that it is legal, I don't understand the difference between all these different ways of killing people.

TOOBIN: The legal system has definitely drawn distinctions among those ways.

The system says, you know what? You can't kill anybody just any old way, even though they wind up dead through any of the methods. And I have to say I'm sympathetic to the legal system drawing that distinction. The death penalty is not just one thing. It is -- there are multiple ways you can kill people, and some are more humane than others, although those distinctions are very hard to draw.

COOPER: Yes. Well, we will see.

Josh Sweigart, listen, I appreciate you -- I can imagine it was a traumatic thing to watch. I appreciate your talking about it. Thank you.

From questions of cruel and unusual punishment now to a guy who told the truth and is paying the price. When Ron Martin was standing on the median of a Texas highway holding a sign reading "Police ahead," he was absolutely right. There were police ahead. They arrested him and charged him with a misdemeanor violation of holding a sign.

In his first court appearance, Martin said he was only trying to help law enforcement by encouraging others to drive slower. The question is, does he have a case? He was basically saying...

(CROSSTALK)

HOSTIN: He's a hero.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: What's the business of like arrested for holding a sign? Is that a crime?

(CROSSTALK)

HOSTIN: It's not illegal in many states to warn of a speed trap.

I don't know. I consider him a hero. Those speed traps and the people that give you the parking tickets, which I always seem to get, I just can't stand it. Just -- I see this and I think I wish I had the courage to do something like that.

HOOVER: He's taking his civic responsibility to the next level.

HOSTIN: That's right.

HOOVER: When I see a cop, I always flash my lights to warn people who are coming that there's a cop behind me.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Do you really?

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Why do you do that? What are you talking about?

HOOVER: Because it's the same way -- it's the exact -- it's the equivalent thing.

I grew up in the West. This is a thing we do in the West maybe. But you flash your lights to oncoming traffic, so they know there's a cop behind you. (CROSSTALK)

HOSTIN: People have done that for me and I have slowed down.

HOOVER: It's not because they think you're cute. They're letting you know there's a cop coming.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So, you want to warn people who are breaking the law about the potential of getting arrested? Is it driving you do this for or also robbery or something?

HOOVER: I don't know if they're speeding or not. I'm just letting them know they should beware of their speed. That's what it means. And there are some states where you're not allowed to flash your lights.

HOSTIN: I love that about you.

COOPER: You really see yourself as basically a large speed limit sign? You're not trying to help people avoid getting...

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: I'm the same as this guy here.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: It's like, why are fuzz busters legal?

COOPER: Are they?

TOOBIN: They are, as far as I know. It's a device entirely designed...

COOPER: Not in every state, I'm told.

TOOBIN: They're not legal in every state?

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: You know what this proves? This proves that the only reason you have speeding tickets is to generate revenue for local law enforcement.

HOSTIN: That's right. That's right.

TOOBIN: So, you should be able to go 100 miles an hour?

HOOVER: No, you should slow down.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I'm fascinated that you are -- like, you try to get other people so that -- help other people avoid law enforcement. HOOVER: I hope somebody would do it for me so I don't get a ticket for speeding.

(CROSSTALK)

HOSTIN: They have done that blinking light and I slow down.

But I don't know. As a former prosecutor, I feel icky about doing it. But I still feel that you're a hero too. You're a heroine for doing it.

COOPER: A hero for doing that? Really?

HOSTIN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

COOPER: I'm curious to know what people on Twitter think. Let us know. Tweet us using #AC360Later. I will be interested to see.

All right, just ahead, one of our favorite people is back for another visit, Dr. Ruth Westheimer celebrated sex therapist and author.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC: "Let's talk about sex, baby. Let's talk about you and me.")

COOPER: Really, that's the most obvious song for us to have played. Anyway, time to welcome back Dr. Ruth Westheimer, celebrated sex therapist and author. Her life was recently the subject of a one- woman show off-Broadway called "Becoming Dr. Ruth."

DR. RUTH WESTHEIMER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

COOPER: Near Broadway.

WESTHEIMER: Not off-Broadway.

COOPER: Not off-Broadway, near Broadway. Dr. Ruth, welcome. It's great to have you back on the program.

WESTHEIMER: Thank you. Guess what? We don't know that, and neither you do. The play is going to be April 16. It's going to be in Florida in Ft. Lauderdale.

COOPER: Fantastic.

WESTHEIMER: "Becoming Dr. Ruth."

COOPER: That's great.

WESTHEIMER: And the woman who plays me, Debra Jo Rupp, is fabulous.

COOPER: We're showing some pictures of her.

WESTHEIMER: When I came to this country, they told me to take speech lessons. I made $1 an hour. No way could I take speech lessons. Debra Jo Rupp had to go to a speech coach to learn my accent.

COOPER: That's great.

WESTHEIMER: I could pinch myself to say Ruth (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you onstage.

COOPER: That's great. Now you don't know this. Sunny Hostin, who was a former prosecutor, is a life-long fan of yours.

HOSTIN: I'm a huge fan. The reason that I'm a fan, Dr. Ruth, is I grew up parents that were such prudes that they refused to give me the sex talk. In fact, when my mother thought it was time for me to get the sex talk, she gave me a book called "The Life Cycle Series."

WESTHEIMER: She probably blushed.

HOSTIN: And she blushed and then that was it. So I used to sneak and listen to you on the radio.

WESTHEIMER: Under the blanket?

HOSTIN: Yes.

WESTHEIMER: From 1982 to '92...

HOSTIN: Yes.

WESTHEIMER: ... every Sunday night for two hours I gave answers to all those questions.

HOSTIN: I know you did.

WESTHEIMER: But I also provided people like you and Anderson and others, I provided them with foreplay. Because when they listened to that talk for two hours coming in from the Hamptons, by the time they got home...

COOPER: They were all revved up.

WESTHEIMER: All revved up.

COOPER: That's funny. Sunny was saying her parents were prudes. I had the opposite issue. My mother is very vocal about -- and my mother has had a much more interesting sex life -- romantic life than I have.

WESTHEIMER: I could tell you about her.

COOPER: Oh, my God. She's told the world.

WESTHEIMER: I'm old-fashioned, and it's great.

COOPER: I know.

WESTHEIMER: I think that parents should do what your parents did -- not do; they shouldn't be embarrassed. Because it gives the message as if there's something dirty, something not to be talked about. But they should also talk about it with a proper respect.

HOSTIN: Exactly.

COOPER: I would tell you, I would -- My mom had been around, and dated -- you know, and I use the term loosely, a number of very well- known people. Marlon Brando was one of them. It was a one-night date.

WESTHEIMER: I would like to date him.

COOPER: And I remember watching a Marlon Brando movie with my mom and be like, "Mom, did you ever know Marlon Brando?"

And she's like, "Oh, yes." That happened many -- too often.

WESTHEIMER: Because she put some humor in there.

COOPER: She did.

WESTHEIMER: She didn't tell you any details.

COOPER: No. No details.

WESTHEIMER: OK.

TOOBIN: She saved those for the book.

HOSTIN: It's so important that parents be open, I think, with their children. I will confess that, when my son -- he's 11 now -- last year he was in the back of my car. And he had taken a course at school. And he said, "You know, mom, they said that boys have sperm and girls have eggs, but they never explain how they meet and how does the baby come?"

And I panicked. And I said -- I was driving and it caught me, and I said, "Guess what? This is a very biological, scientific kind of discussion, and who in our family is a scientist?" And my husband is a doctor.

So he said, "Poppa?"

I said, "Yes!" I feel awful about it. And I feel terribly that I missed that opportunity.

COOPER: Do you find that the questions you get now are very different from the questions...

WESTHEIMER: I'll tell you what's different. The questions about loneliness, the questions about good sex, the questions about intercourse, the questions from children, how do they get together, like your son, are not different. But what's different is the vocabulary.

Nobody says these days -- Margaret, in the olden days, they would say, "She's with child." Nobody talks like that. They say, "She's pregnant." But the basic questions about relationship, about boredom in the bedroom, all of those things are still there.

COOPER: What about boredom in the bedroom? How do -- for couples, how do you recommend to avoid that?

WESTHEIMER: OK. First of all, you have to admit it to yourself, not on television, but you admit to yourself that it's not so interesting anymore. It's once a week, the same night of the day. Once you admit that to yourself, then you have to do something about it. You have to put some variety.

Now to 1,100 people in San Diego, women mostly, I said, "Tonight I want you to try a new position, one you never tried before, and tomorrow call me so I learn from the positions" the problem (UNINTELLIGIBLE). So what you really have to do is to work at it.

TOOBIN: Can we ask you about the president of France?

WESTHEIMER: How did I know that that was on your mind?

TOOBIN: Because we're in the news business here.

WESTHEIMER: I usually don't talk about politics. Somebody who talks about sex and orgasms and erections so much like me shouldn't talk about politics.

TOOBIN: Where were you during the Clinton presidency?

WESTHEIMER: I never -- I never talked about that. However, I lived in France for five years, and I'm smiling a little bit, because it's true that in previous years, the French would not have made such a to- do, that's for sure.

COOPER: For those at home that don't know, it's not clear who Francois Hollande, the French president, will bring with him to the state dinner in Washington next month. His long-time girlfriend is still in the hospital. She was rushed there last week after learning about an alleged affair she's having with an actress. He hasn't denied the affair, but his alleged mistress -- that's the woman right now -- is now suing the magazine that broke the story for invasion of privacy. In France, all of this barely raising an eyebrow. This is for the French, after all.

WESTHEIMER: But you are going to get some kind of pleasure out of that. And I want to teach you something from the Jewish tradition.

In the Jewish tradition, in sex, that when that part of the anatomy of men is aroused, the brain flies out of your head. And that holds true for all of the people that you mentioned. And for the people in France.

Now, some of the things are very sad. I don't believe that she could not know. I don't -- women, ask those two women, around the table. Women are smarter than that. She had some kind of inclination. I don't believe that this comes out of the blue.

HOSTIN: Yes. WESTHEIMER: And I think that people these days are so eager to have scandals like this, front page, and it's very sad.

TOOBIN: But a lot of people say France has a different attitude towards this than the United States does. But this story suggests they're sort of becoming more puritanical like we are.

WESTHEIMER: It's not so much puritanical, I think. I think it's more that the media is feasting on stories like this. And that what helps people to become more like suing a newspaper. In France, I could not have believed somebody would sue a newspaper about a story.

HOSTIN: I'm just surprised, because they're not married. It's sort of, you know...

WESTHEIMER: It's common-law marriage.

TOOBIN: They lived together.

HOOVER: She was the first lady. She has the official title of first lady.

COOPER: I think with same-sex marriage, do you get a lot more questions now from gay couples about...

WESTHEIMER: Yes.

COOPER: And do you see any difference in -- is your advice any different to same-sex couples as it is to...?

WESTHEIMER: Absolutely not. Anybody -- we don't know the etiology of homosexuality. We also don't know the etiology, the reason for heterosexuality. Anybody who walks into my office, homosexual, heterosexual, I treat them with the same respect that I will treat anybody else. Respect is not debatable.

But now I get the same questions about boredom, the same questions about cheating, the same question about not paying attention. Going to a party, two guys or two lesbians, going to a party and they don't pay attention to each other. The same fights that we have seen with heterosexuals we now see with homosexuals. The funny thing is that now, with marriage of homosexuals, now what is happening, they also have to have a written agreement.

COOPER: A prenup.

WESTHEIMER: A prenup.

COOPER: Right.

WESTHEIMER: I'm now 85. Even 20 years ago, if somebody would have told me a prenup, I would have said, "Why is that necessary if they really do love each other..."

COOPER: Right.

WESTHEIMER: "... if they trust each other?" The world has changed.

COOPER: Now you actually recommend a prenup?

WESTHEIMER: Yes. And I do see that even gay people do divorce. I am not -- I am Jewish. In the Jewish tradition, divorce is permissible. I just am very sad when children are involved.

HOSTIN: Of course.

WESTHEIMER: But I don't want people to live together if they're not happy. The same is true for gay couples.

HOSTIN: I have a question for you. I have several questions. But Anderson and I were talking about this. What is your thought of, let's say, a couple, one of the partners being friends with exes? What is your thought on that?

TOOBIN: We had this discussion the other day off camera.

HOSTIN: What is your thought on that?

WESTHEIMER: There was a book on the market called "Open Marriage," and they said if both agree you can put your key in the middle of the table and you go home with whomever is at the party, Guess what? It doesn't work.

HOSTIN: Do you see, Anderson?

COOPER: No, no, we weren't talking about -- we were talking about...

WESTHEIMER: By the end of the book, they were divorced.

COOPER: Right. But we -- what we were talking about is just people being friends with exes.

HOSTIN: And going out to lunch.

COOPER: I think it's nice to be friends with people you've had significant relationships with.

WESTHEIMER: Anderson -- Anderson, that's of the age of fantasy.

HOSTIN: See? I told you!

COOPER: It's not.

WESTHEIMER: Anybody -- anybody, if you've had a relationship...

HOSTIN: If you've crossed the sexual line with someone.

WESTHEIMER: And you said, "OK, it's not for us, goodbye," I'm all for that. There's nothing wrong with that. But don't try to hold on.

HOSTIN: Leave it in the past, Anderson.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: I'm just talking about being friends with somebody. It's nice to have history with someone.

HOSTIN: no way.

WESTHEIMER: The person that you are now involved with is going to be jealous. There is something...

COOPER: But that's -- isn't that a weakness of the person you're involved with?

HOSTIN: No!

WESTHEIMER: No. The weakness is that the other person has to hold on to something that is past already.

HOSTIN: Yes.

COOPER: See, I don't buy that.

HOSTIN: It's the near temptation of sin. Once you've crossed that line with someone...

COOPER: the near temptation of sin?

HOSTIN: Once you've crossed that line with someone...

COOPER: You've broken up. You broke up with that person. Clearly you're not interested in that person anymore. No?

HOSTIN: You've seen them naked, it's over.

WESTHEIMER: You remember...

COOPER: Naked, that's the line?

HOSTIN: It's over.

WESTHEIMER: No, no, no. You still see them, you remember some of the wonderful sexual experiences.

HOSTIN: You always do.

WESTHEIMER: And you don't remember the boredom. You don't remember the bad things. But you remember some of the fantastic -- I can say it, it's late at night, some of the fantastic orgasms.

HOSTIN: Of course.

WESTHEIMER: Some of the wonderful nights of romantic talking.

HOSTIN: I love Dr. Ruth.

WESTHEIMER: So you really have to say try to work at the relationship. Now, what I'm very unhappy about is that I don't talk about politicians. But what I'm very unhappy about is that woman checked into the hospital. That was smart of her. We women are very smart. That was clever.

TOOBIN: Why is that smart to go in the hospital?

WESTHEIMER: Because why should she have all of you journalists hanging out?

COOPER: It allows her to avoid the whole commotion.

HOSTIN: And she should get some closure, also.

WESTHEIMER: And let her be there and hopefully talk to somebody like a psychologist or a social worker or a nurse to hold her hand. And say, "This is really terrible, but it's not the end of the world. Don't do anything drastic to yourself." And look at the look on her.

COOPER: I like that you're holding my hand. I wish more guests would hold my hand during the show. It's very comforting.

WESTHEIMER: I have a gift for him. I have a gift for you. Very fast, very fast. "Sex for Dummies."

COOPER: Thank you. "Sex for Dummies." We have to take a quick break. We're going to have more with Dr. Ruth when we come back. Also, the Academy Award dominations, some big surprises. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. We're here with Dr. Ruth.

Time to talk Oscars. The Academy Award nominations announced this morning. Three very different films got the most nods. "American Hustle," a story about a 1970s FBI sting tied for the lead, with 10 nominations, with the Best Picture and Best Director. Space thriller "Gravity" also got 10 nominations, including one for Sandra Bullock in the Best Actress category. "12 Years a Slave," based on the memoir of Solomon Northrup, a free man sold into slavery, got nine nominations. Of course, some big snubs. Let's talk about that with the panel.

Also joining us, as well, is Krista Smith, CNN entertainment commentator and senior West Coast editor for "Vanity Fair." She's at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

It's great to see you, Krista. What -- in terms of the snubs, what surprised you the most? Obviously, Oprah got a lot of headlines for not getting it; Tom Hanks, as well.

KRISTA SMITH, CNN ENTERTAINMENT COMMENTATOR: Well, I'd have -- Anderson, I'd be remiss standing here in Park City at the launch of the Sundance Film Festival if I didn't talk about Robert Redford. That was someone that was a frontrunner going in. Since "All is Lost" premiered at Cannes, the Cannes Film Festival, to a 10-minute standing ovation, everybody had Redford as a lock. I was really shocked that he didn't get the nom, and everybody up here has been talking about it all day.

COOPER: Dr. Ruth, you -- you know Meryl Streep. Did you see the Meryl Streep movie?

WESTHEIMER: I did.

COOPER: She got nominated.

WESTHEIMER: She did get nominated, and I'm very happy about that. Because people my age -- I'm 85 -- and look what's happening to your Hollywood. They are now willing to have a few women of an older age, and not only play beautifully, that you can really see while you're sitting there, but also be nominated. I want her to win.

COOPER: Yes. Of course, it brings up...

HOSTIN: It's her 18th nomination. It's her 18th nomination.

COOPER: I was surprised the movie "Lone Survivor" didn't get nominated. I'm a big fan of the movie "Lone Survivor." I also thought "Wolf of Wall Street" was great.

TOOBIN: It's like a good year for movies.

COOPER: Yes.

TOOBIN: Actual movies with plots, not just, like, machines and sequels and, you know, monsters. This was like a -- there were a lot of movies.

COOPER: Do the Golden Globes have an impact on the Oscars in terms of who actually ends up winning? Or have the votes already been cast?

SMITH: The votes have already been cast, but I think it really helps with momentum. And I think this weekend is the SAG Awards, and that is a real indicator on kind of where the actor nominations are going to go. But certainly, the visibility of the Globes is great. I mean, Leonardo becomes a front-runner. Then this race kind of is set up between Matthew McConaughey and Leonardo.

Amy Adams, by winning, that -- she gets a lot of -- big bump off of that. I mean, it is really -- I can't remember a time when it's been this close and this exciting for the Oscars.

COOPER: Dr. Ruth, you will not like "Wolf of Wall Street," because there's a lot of bad language in it.

WESTHEIMER: I don't like that.

COOPER: There's a lot of sex in it, but I don't think it's the kind of stuff you'd approve of.

WESTHEIMER: I think that people use four-letter words constantly. I don't mind when something falls and you use a four-letter word. But if they use it constantly, this is not to my liking, because it shows that they're not cultured.

HOSTIN: A certain ignorance.

TOOBIN: I think that's the point.

COOPER: The folks in this movie are definitely not cultured.

WESTHEIMER: The movie -- the movie the "Orange County" [SIC]? I'm teaching a course right now at Columbia University Teacher's College. My second year on the family in the media. So this is a wonderful film for that.

COOPER: Right.

WESTHEIMER: It's not very happy. It is very upsetting, but it is a wonderful film for discussion about the relationships in the family. Not just sex, but relationships and how damaging some relationships can be.

COOPER: Yes.

HOSTIN: I was really surprised that "The Butler" did not get one nomination. I'm sort of -- I don't know, upset about it. Because I thought it was such a terrific movie, and it told an important story.

WESTHEIMER: And for people like me, who came to this country and don't know maybe about Hoover as much as I should know, I think it was a wonderful lesson in history...

HOSTIN: Absolutely.

WESTHEIMER: ... in a very interesting way. I don't understand. Go and change those votes.

COOPER: Dr. Ruth wants you to change the votes. I'm not sure you have that power. But...

HOOVER: Interesting, too, six of the nine nominees -- is it true, Krista, six of the nine nominees were R-rated films and the other three were PG-13, so it wasn't a family-friendly year in terms of nominees, films that were nominated?

SMITH: Yes, that's -- I can't -- I don't know if that's for sure, but that sounds about right.

But also this year we had five, you know, animated films nominated. That doesn't always happen.

COOPER: Yes.

SMITH: I mean, it was a great year for movies.

But I agree, I was shocked when I didn't hear Oprah's name called. And I was shocked when I didn't hear Tom Hanks, nothing for "The Butler." I mean, it was all over the place. It has everyone kind of scratching their heads. But you can't deny the performances of the people that were nominated, which really means for all of us, it's an exciting time for Hollywood. It's like everyone was saying. There's actually some good films to watch.

COOPER: Yes. It's been a great year for movies. No doubt about it.

Krista Smith, great to have you here. Thanks.

Up next, I ask the panel, "What's Your Story?" We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to "AC 360 LATER." Time for "What's Your Story?" And we're here with Dr. Ruth Westheimer. So Dr. Ruth, what's your story?

WESTHEIMER: OK, we add something new. I told you I'm 85. I'm doing a brand-new book called "The Scrooge Defect." People who can't give money. I'm not talking about people who don't have money. I'm talking about people who have money, who can't give to charity, who just can't -- who are worried about their future, worried about Social Security and their health care, but who just can't give.

And I'm saying these people who have the scrooge defect cannot be good lovers, because a good lover has to be generous. See, look at her face.

HOSTIN: Yes!

WESTHEIMER: A good lover has to be generous. He has to -- he or she has to rejoice in the pleasure of the other person. So I am doing a book, and the other day I said whoever gives me money is going to have good sex for the rest of their lives.

HOSTIN: I'll sign up.

COOPER: I love what you say, a good lover rejoices in the pleasure of others.

WESTHEIMER: That's right.

COOPER: I think that's a nice way to look at it.

WESTHEIMER: That's a book coming out. And...

COOPER: I look forward to that.

WESTHEIMER: It comes out very soon. I'll come back to you.

COOPER: OK.

HOOVER: I like that.

WESTHEIMER: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, listen, we love having you on the show. It's so terrific. So thank you so much for being with us.

WESTHEIMER: Thank you.

COOPER: I wish you the best.

WESTHEIMER: Thank you.

COOPER: It's good to have you. You're the only person at this table who ever holds my hand.

WESTHEIMER: I don't believe that. They love you.

COOPER: Well, they may love me...

WESTHEIMER: Even he loves you.

COOPER: They don't hold my hand.

TOOBIN: I do, but we're just good friends.

COOPER: All right. That does it for "AC 360 LATER." Thanks for watching. See you tomorrow night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)