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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sago Mine Survivor Reveals Details About Disaster; Bush's Bad Days
Aired April 27, 2006 - 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, everyone.
Breaking news in the Duke rape case that could blow it out of the water, say some -- that story.
And the final moments inside the Sago Mine. The sole survivor reveals the terrible truth about what really happened.
ANNOUNCER: Disaster at Sago -- the lone survivor paints a grim new picture of human endurance and broken hardware that might have saved lives.
"Keeping Them Honest" -- and keep a grip on your wallet, how Congress is trying to spend your money, billions of dollars, in the name of Katrina and Iraq, on just about everything else.
Politics at the pump -- as gas prices rise, lawmakers fall all over themselves trying to give you a break and get your vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quick attack. She lie on the floor. Most stabbing is inflicted afterward.
ANNOUNCER: And was it priest in the chapel with a letter opener or did somebody else murder the nun and frame the priest 26 years old? The ultimate cold case is heating up.
ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.
Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: And thanks for joining us.
We begin with some breaking news tonight about the Duke rape allegations. It involves the woman who accused three lacrosse players of sexual assault. CNN has learned that the stripper, also a college student and a mother of two, said she was the victim of another gang rape 10 years ago. She apparently filed a report with the police back then. She said the assault happened when she was just 14 years old. This could be a major development in the case.
We are joined by Court TV's Lisa Bloom and Jami Floyd.
Thank, both, for being with us.
COOPER: Jami, let me start off with you. You think this is a big deal?
JAMI FLOYD, COURT TV ANCHOR: I do.
COOPER: How? Why?
FLOYD: Well, first of all, I view it from the point of the defense.
This is a woman who, if she made these allegations before, becomes a far less viable complainant in the case. It means the...
COOPER: Why so? Couldn't she have just suffered abuse...
FLOYD: She certainly could have.
COOPER: ... at the age of 14?
FLOYD: She certainly could have. She could have been abused then. She could have been abused now. But it is all about credibility. And it means the prosecution has to take another look at how she's going to hold up on the witness stand, if this case goes forward. And that's a possible way to impeach her, in terms of her credibility.
She has to then answer not only for the current allegations, but to talk about what might have happened all of those years ago. So, yes, it is a big deal, again, from the point of the defense.
COOPER: It is certainly getting a lot of coverage from the Associated Press. What do you make of it?
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: I mean, look, Anderson, I don't think it's relevant. I don't think it necessarily would even come in at trial.
The question's not whether she was a victim of a rape before. The question is, did she lie before? Is there something that bears on her credibility? And there's nothing about this prior allegation that shows that she's a liar or that she has no credibility.
COOPER: Although it doesn't seem to have been pursued.
BLOOM: This is an incident when she was 18. And she went and reported it at age 18 and she said, she was raped at age 14.
So, it took her about four years to report it that time. By contrast, this time, she reported it immediately, the same night. And that's why a rape kit was taken. That other time, back when she was 18 years old, she dropped the charges. Why? She said she was afraid.
So, there was no court finding as to whether it was true or not. And, most importantly, there was no court finding that she lied.
FLOYD: We have to be practical, though. It's not purely political. Women who make these allegations, when you're talking about rape, it's all about the complainant's credibility. It's about whether or not she can get on the witness stand and be believed. That's what the prosecution is thinking about.
BLOOM: Well, that's unfortunate, because I think it should be about whether she was raped or not. And I don't see how this bears on her credibility.
FLOYD: That is the question.
BLOOM: She could have been raped when she was a child or a teenager. She could have been raped again.
In fact, many women, unfortunately, put themselves in dangerous situations over and over again, and so are victims of rape or sexual assault over and over again. It makes perfect sense.
COOPER: Jason Carroll is working this story. But according -- this is based on Associated Press reporting. And they say that authorities in -- in Creedmoor, where these allegations took place, said Thursday that none of the men in this report, which is 10 years old, was ever charged, and they don't have any details. Why? I mean, why? If it was true, why wouldn't they been charged?
BLOOM: Because our reports are that her family members have said that she dropped the charges at the time, because she was scared, and she didn't want to go forward, and very similar to now, Anderson, where she's scared. Her members are saying conflicting things about whether she's going to go forward or not.
BLOOM: It's a very scary thing to go forward if you have been gang raped.
FLOYD: Let's just remember, though that the burden of proof is on the complainant. It's on the prosecution. It's not on these young men to prove their innocence. We know who they are. We know their names. They will now be thought of as sexual offenders, whether proved guilty or not, whether the case goes forward or not, for the rest of their lives. We don't even know this young woman's identity. She has been highly protected by the prosecution.
BLOOM: Well, her identity is all over the Internet.
FLOYD: Highly protected by the prosecution.
BLOOM: And she's been receiving death threats, KKK flyers on her lawn.
FLOYD: And the burden is on her to prove...
BLOOM: She's not been protected. She's going from one undisclosed location to the next.
FLOYD: The burden is on her to prove the case.
BLOOM: It's a very scary situation for her.
COOPER: But your saying the burden is on her to prove the case.
FLOYD: On her and the prosecution team.
BLOOM: That's not true. The burden is on the prosecution to prove the case. She's one witness in the case.
FLOYD: With her help and with her testimony. She's the only witness who was present to make the allegations against the young men charged.
BLOOM: Well, there were three other guys in the room, according to her.
COOPER: This is a -- just a developing story that we are continuing to follow. We appreciate both of you joining us, Jami Floyd, Lisa Bloom.
FLOYD: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: We are going to check in with our own Jason Carroll a little bit later on, on the ground there in Durham. Thanks very much.
Now to a letter that will break your heart, a letter which reveals, for the first time, what it was like inside the Sago Mine after an early-morning explosion trapped 13 miners. Randy McCloy wrote the letter to the families of the miners who died at Sago, 11 of whom slowly perished right in front of him.
"As my trapped co-workers lost consciousness one by one," he writes, "the room grew still, and I continued to sit and wait, unable to do much else."
Also, he alleges that crucial safety equipment, emergency respirators, failed to work. We are going to update you on Randy McCloy's condition, and we will hear from his doctor about the terrible memories he seems to be recovering.
First, the story from beginning to end, as Randy McCloy tells it and as CNN's Randi Kaye reports it.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The letter is two pages, typed, addressed to "The families of the loved ones of my co- workers."
McCloy describes in haunting detail the miners' desperate attempts to signal the surface for help using a sledgehammer and how some of their breathing equipment failed. McCloy has no memory of the blast itself, but remembers what happened next.
The mine filled quickly with fumes and thick smoke, and breathing conditions were nearly unbearable. He writes, "The first thing we did was activate our rescuers." Those are the air packs used to buy miners in trouble an hour of oxygen.
But, according to McCloy, at least four of the rescuers did not function. There were not enough rescuers to go around. So, the miners shared oxygen.
WANDA GROVES, MOTHER OF SAGO MINE VICTIM: Jerry's didn't work. His oxygen didn't work, and Randal shared his with Jerry.
KAYE: Two hundred feet below ground, short on air, the men took turns pounding away on the mine bolts to make noise. "This effort caused us to breathe hard. We never heard a responsive blast or shot from the surface."
So, they huddled in an area of about 35 feet, with only a safety curtain between them and the carbon monoxide.
McCloy writes: "The air behind the curtain grew worse, so I tried to lie as low as possible and take shallow breaths."
Miners Martin Toler and Tom Anderson tried to find a way out. But smoke and fumes caused them to quickly return. "Worried with afraid, we began to accept our fate. Junior Toler led us all in the Sinners Prayer. We prayed a little longer, and then someone suggested that we each write letters to our loved ones."
Randy Toler, the nephew of Martin Toler, say he was surprised to receive McCloy's letter.
RANDY TOLER, NEPHEW OF SAGO MINE VICTIM: You just want to know what your loved one experienced in the final moments. You just want to know that -- you just want to know everything that you can find out about. But it's just -- it's just still, nevertheless, very painful.
KAYE: As carbon monoxide slowly asphyxiated his friends, Randy McCloy remembers feeling like this: "I became very dizzy and lightheaded. Some drifted off into what appeared to be a deep sleep, and one person sitting near me collapsed and fell off his bucket, not moving. It was clear there was nothing I could do to help him. As my trapped co-workers lost consciousness one by one, the room grew still and I continued to sit and wait, unable to do much else."
McCloy closes by writing: "I cannot begin to express my sorrow for my lost friends. I cannot explain why I was spared, while the others perished."
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well, you heard a bit go from Randy Toler. He's on the phone with us now from West Virginia.
Randy, thanks for -- for calling in.
When -- when your family received this letter from Randy McCloy, what was it like?
TOLER: It was very painful. It just reopened the thing which has never really been closed in the first place. The pain doesn't stop.
COOPER: You know, people talk about closure, which I think is such a stupid word, because there is no such thing as closure, as you just said. Does it -- does it help to know the details?
TOLER: It confirms that we suspected that my uncle would have prayed with the men, and it confirms that, and just makes us very proud of -- of who he was and what -- who we knew him to be.
I mean, read -- when I was reading this letter, I mean, hearing about your uncle leading the men in -- in prayer, it -- it really gave me a sense a little bit of -- of who your uncle was. It really gave a glimpse of what he was like.
We weren't surprised. But, again, it just confirmed. And it gave us some peace, to have that confirmation.
COOPER: McCloy also said that four of the rescuers, the machines meant to help men breathe, did not function. When you -- I mean, what was that like to hear?
TOLER: Well, one of my -- if that's true, my uncle's was one of the ones that failed.
And I don't have much feelings about that equipment malfunctions. There is nothing foolproof. The only anger that I feel is towards the federal government for taking such a long time to get to those men. I mean, if Randal McCloy lived the length of time that he did, if they had gotten men there sooner, some of the other men might have been saved.
It just was inexcusable to wait the length of time that they waited and to start at the beginning of the mines, where they could have started as close as 3,000 feet from the men, because previous rescue efforts had gotten as close as 3,000 feet. And they started back to the beginning, at 13,000 feet. And it's just -- it's a bitter pill to swallow, to think that some of them died needlessly.
COOPER: Do you -- you know, after those terrible days and -- and that week and -- and the weeks after the Sago disaster, I mean, there was a lot of talk about, well, you know, we -- we have got to make sure this never happens again. We have got to, you know, increase mine safety. We have got to sort of reexamine things.
Do you believe mines are safer now? Do you believe change has come?
TOLER: I don't know that there's any -- that they are any safer. Some of the bureaucracy just needs to be cut out.
It's just for them to take that long to start rescue efforts is -- there's always going to be to be danger in mines. And what happened with that explosion, from all we know, was unavoidable. And I don't know that you can make them foolproof or safety proof, like, to prevent something like this from happening.
COOPER: And, Randy, and I know it's got to be just incredibly difficult to talk about this. As you said, it's like opening it up all again.
We do appreciate talking with you tonight and -- and talking about Junior a little bit, as we found out more about those -- those last terrible hours in the mine.
Thank you very much, Randy.
TOLER: Yes, sir. Thanks for having me.
COOPER: You take care.
We have been talking about rescuers, what miners call their emergency breathing equipment. In his letter, Randy McCloy says that four of those rescuers failed. Here's how they're supposed to work from a demonstration shortly after the disaster back in January. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would have this on his belt. Remove it from the belt. Put it on the mine floor. Take the covers off.
Expose the unit. There's a set of goggles in here. Put the unit over their head. Remove the mouthpiece plug. Insert the mouthpiece. Put the nose clips on. Activate the oxygen. You're breathing oxygen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that's how it's supposed to work. It's probably quite a bit simpler above ground with the lights on, in a demonstration like that.
Joining us now, Bob Ferriter, director of the mine safety program at the Colorado School of Mines.
Bob, thanks for being with us.
Randy McCloy, in this letter that was released today, said -- quote -- "The first thing we did was activate rescuers, as we had been trained. At least four of the rescuers did not function."
According to the mine company, federal investigators found that all of the rescuers were in working order. What do you make of this discrepancy?
BOB FERRITER, COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES: Well, Anderson, I'm very surprised to hear that they did not -- the respirators would not activate.
Those particular units have been around about, oh, 25 years or so. And I know they have been used in other emergencies. And why these particular four did not activate, I -- I just -- I'm astounded to hear that, because they have been -- they have had a very reliable track record.
And, of course, in the business like this, saving lives, we can't afford to have anything less than 100 percent.
COOPER: Is it -- is it possible -- I mean, I guess there are many possibilities, one, that the respirators themselves did not work. And I suppose that's easily -- I mean, federal investigators, who are still investigating this mine, should be able to -- to check that, since they still have those.
The other possibility, I guess, is -- is some sort of human error, in the heat of the moment, people just panicking.
FERRITER: Well, I think that's true, too.
You never really know how a crew's going to react in an emergency situation, unless they are in that situation. And there's a possibility that, even though they have been through training, in the -- in the heat of the moment, when things are happening, and you're worried, you're -- you're excited, you're breathing, maybe you forgot a step. Maybe you didn't pull that -- that little cable at the bottom there to activate the -- the potassium in there to get the oxygen generating.
There are things that -- that don't get done, and you don't even know that you didn't do them.
COOPER: Can there be respirators that are made to last longer, that are more efficient? I mean, it seems like a very small unit. You would think, when time is of the essence, you should be able to make it a little bit larger for a little bit more money.
FERRITER: Well, I think that's possible, that you could get more than the one hour rated average on that. Of course, you have to realize that the miner himself wears these respirators.
And the bigger you make it, the more he has to pack around, the more opportunity there is for him, as he climbs in and out of equipment or going between long wall shields or something, those things get banged around. They're bumped. They're hit, pushed up against rocks and so on and so forth. So, the bigger it is, the more clumsy it is for him to get around and the more opportunity you have to damage that respirator.
So, there -- there is a trade-off here.
COOPER: Two of the miners who escaped the blast, Arnett Roger Perry and Harley Joe Ryan, both said that they had trouble activating their respirators.
Ryan went as far as telling investigator -- and I quote -- "They're not worth a damn. There's going to have to be some design changes for them."
What do you think of that?
FERRITER: Well, I think, you know, if they actually did not activate, they need -- the investigates certainly need to find out why, and they should be able to determine that by taking the -- the SCSRs apart. And, then, if they did not activate, what is the system that activates it? And maybe there needs to be a backup system installed on those respirators.
It's kind of like a parachute, you know, when you jump out of an airplane, you only have one parachute. Maybe you want to have a backup system there to take -- give you a second chance.
COOPER: That certainly seems logical.
Bob Ferriter, appreciate your expertise. Thanks.
FERRITER: You bet.
COOPER: As you may know, miners are not the only people threatened by carbon monoxide poisoning. Everyone's really at risk.
Here's the raw data. Unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings kill more than 500 Americans each year and more than 15,000 people get sick from it.
Another silent killer is radon. That causes up to 22,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Make sure you have your homes checked for both gases.
Coming up, how Congress is trying to raid the treasury in the name of Katrina relief, and using the money, your money, on a whole lot of pork-barrel projects instead. Tonight, we're "Keeping Them Honest."
Plus, the trial of a priest accused of murdering a nun and defiling her body 26 years ago -- another dramatic turn in the case and doubts about whether police have the right man.
You're watching 360.
COOPER: Well, last night, we looked at part of one of those emergency supplemental spending bills, the kind, you know, that gets padded with pork. Well, the Senate is currently debating it.
And, tonight, CNN's Joe Johns looks at who's feeding at the trough. Tonight, he's "Keeping Them Honest."
JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Keep an eye on your wallet. The Senate's got some special projects it wants billions for, and it wants your money.
It started as a $92 billion emergency request from the president to pay for the war and for Hurricane Katrina. But then it hit the U.S. Senate and senators packed on hundreds of millions more, an extra $14 billion, to be exact.
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Nobody would run their household this way. No business runs this way. This is a gimmick, under which we can disguise how much we put this country in debt.
JOHNS: So, what is an emergency, and what isn't? Politicians have stretched, twisted, even mangled the definition of emergency, just to show folks back home they can still deliver the goods in an election year. But Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is having none of it. In fact, he tried to shame his colleagues by spelling out the official definition of emergency.
COBURN: Unforeseen, unpredictable and unanticipated.
JOHNS: And what counts as an emergency in this bill?
STEVE ELLIS, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: There's money in there to help New England shell fishermen with their red toxic red tide outbreak last year.
JOHNS (on camera): What does that have to do with Katrina?
ELLIS: Absolutely nothing.
JOHNS (voice-over): "Keeping Them Honest," we decided to tack a closer look at a few of the items on the bill that stretched the definition of emergency spending. Take the whopping proposed payout for the fishing industry in the Gulf states. The president asked Congress for about $21 million, but the Senate decided that wasn't quite enough. So, it tacked on about $1 billion more.
Alabama Republican Richard Shelby stuffed a lot of the fishing money in, and he's not apologizing.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: Well, we make decisions up here, you know, irrespective of who's at the White House. And I think this has a lot of merit.
JOHNS: The fact is, when you roll up costly pet projects in the protective wrap of emergency spending, it doesn't usually get sharp scrutiny. And that's a huge temptation to members of Congress -- example, $3.9 billion for farmers and ranchers, including $12.5 million for drought assistance, even money for owners of flooded crops and grazing lands in North Dakota, not exactly in the hurricane's path.
(on camera): How did they get in there?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: That's why we need reform. Nobody knows. At least, I don't know. That's why we need earmark reform.
JOHNS (voice-over): So, after all this, you may well be wondering if the emergency spending bill for Iraq and Katrina is turning into an emergency for taxpayers everywhere.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: The question is, will the president veto it? That's just one of the troubles he's facing. We will have that story coming up.
But, first, Erica Hill from Headline News with some of the other stories we are following -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.
We begin in Baghdad tonight, where another family member of a top Iraqi official has been murdered. Today, gunmen killed the sister of Iraq's new vice president. Just two weeks ago, his brother was shot to death. Now, the vice president, who is Sunni, has publicly condemned insurgent attacks, vowing he won't be intimidated In New York, a second indictment for the bouncer accused of murdering a graduate student. Today, Darryl Littlejohn was charged with kidnapping a 19-year-old woman last year. Now, prosecutors say, he posed as a cop, handcuffed the woman, and threw her into a van, before she escaped. Littlejohn has pleaded not guilty to that crime and also to the murder of Imette St. Guillen.
In London, major trouble for a major hip-hop star -- Snoop Dogg and members of his posse arrested at Heathrow Airport for a little clash with the bobbies. After being told they could not board a flight, Snoop and his entourage allegedly got physical and abusive with police officers. Snoop, who you may know by his real name, Calvin Broadus, was released on bail.
Apparently, he has to be back there in mid-May.
And, in Thousand Oaks, California, a new arrival at a high school. This 400-pound black bear lumbering through the school grounds today, leading to an immediate lockdown of all classes. As of the last report, the bear still roaming the grounds...
HILL: ... apparently with a duck, too, if we can believe what we just heard.
I don't know. Maybe it seems they need a new mascot or something, you know? He's up for the job.
COOPER: Maybe so. Maybe so.
COOPER: I -- you know, I see your bear on the loose, and I raise you a bear on a trampoline.
HILL: Yes. Yes.
COOPER: Boom. There you go.
HILL: It's been much too long.
COOPER: And, ouch.
COOPER: But, again, I let everyone know at home, the bear is fine.
HILL: The bear's OK. No bears were harmed in the making of the bear-on-the-trampoline video.
COOPER: Exactly. Erica, thanks. We will see you again in about 30 minutes.
So, you just heard Congress ignoring President Bush on some of the spending amounts. What can he do about it? Well, just listen to some advice from a top Republican strategist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED ROGERS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: There's no question. We need better karma. We need to -- to quit having bad luck. And how do you do that? You burn some incense and, you know, throw some salt over your shoulder, or keep your fingers crossed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I think he's kidding. Maybe salt will do, but there is some tougher advice coming up as well for the president.
Plus, a priest on trial accused of killing a nun -- new testimony today that puts the whole case in doubt -- that story coming up on 360.
COOPER: President Bush was back in New Orleans today on his 11th trip to the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina struck last August. The president toured the area, visited a heavily damaged home, and talked with volunteers who are still working to rebuild the city. He even made a plea for more Americans to help out.
The trip may have seemed like the perfect opportunity for the president to escape some of the bad press that has dogged his administration recently, but it seems as if Mr. Bush cannot get a break these days.
Here's CNN's senior national correspondent John Roberts.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was supposed to be an "I care" photo-op, with the president pitching in with reconviction in New Orleans. But all anyone in Washington could talk about was how woefully unprepared the government is for the next hurricane season.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: FEMA is discredited, demoralized, and dysfunctional.
ROBERTS: Yesterday, all eyes were on the new blood coming into the White House, that is, until some old blood marched over for a fifth appearance before the grand jury.
And remember last weekend's good news on forming a government in Iraq? Probably not -- drowned out by a flood of bad news over gas prices. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's ridiculous, what they're doing with these gas prices. And Bush isn't doing a damn thing about it.
ROBERTS: You might get the sense President Bush can't catch a break.
Republican adviser Charlie Black sure feels that way.
CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it's -- it's hard to deny that the president's had a streak of bad luck from things beyond his control.
ROBERTS: It has been a year of missteps and miscues, the ports deal, the vice president's adventures in hunting, the Libby indictment, the Rove investigation, the Miers nomination, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 5, 2005)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And, Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: A streak Republicans can't wait to break.
ED ROGERS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There's no question, we need better karma. We need to quit having bad luck. And how do you do that? You burn some incense and, you know, throw some salt over your shoulder or keep your fingers crossed.
ROBERTS: For some party faithful it's about better karma for the party dogma. For others it's something more elemental.
Re-energizing and getting our mojo back.
ROBERTS: Mojo the president used to have it in spades, an approval rating soared along with it. But the steady drumbeat of bad news from Iraq republicans say, is the prism through which all else is seen. Magnifying small stumbles into massive falls.
CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: People's expectations about the war in Iraq are not properly conditioned. American people are not very patient. When they watch the news every night, they see casualties and they don't understand what the end game is, they become frustrated by it.
ROBERTS: So how does the president get his mojo back, change his karma? The White House staff shuffle may help but ultimately say advisors, President Bush may need to look inside himself.
ROGERS: Ultimately the White House reflects the president's personality and the president's disposition. So for things to get better, the president has got to lead us out of the funk that we're in. The president has got to change the environment. ROBERTS: And he doesn't have long to do it. The calendar is the president's enemy, not his friend, supporters say. And there are relatively few months left for him to gain his footing. John Roberts, CNN, Washington.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well straight ahead, what congress is doing about gasoline prices and what they're doing to get your vote, in addition to pointing fingers, that is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Folks on the other side of the aisle have simply said no to more energy independence, no to more energy production.
When the republican congress had a chance to do something about this problem they said no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The blame game begins as both sides try to get out front on the issue.
Plus the latest on the priest on trial, he's charged with a ritual murder of a nun. The case 26 years old, perhaps a case about to turn, coming up on "360".
COOPER: Oil giant Exxon Mobil reported its highest first quarter profits ever today. It netted more than $8 billion and believe it or not, Wall Street was actually disappointed. That's because Exxon actually fell short of analyst expectations. Fair to say that just about everyone else $8 billion sounds, well, frankly huge, especially with gas prices topping $3 a gallon in a lot of cities. People are angry, no doubt about it and the lawmakers are wasting no time taking action. Or at least talking about taking action. A lot of talking actually. Here's CNN's Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From this committee room with the federal reserve chairman --
REP. JIM SAXTON, (R) JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE: How does the oil price increase affect your outlook on the economy?
BASH: To this one on the other side of the capitol --
REP. BOB GOODLATTE, (R) VIRGINIA: Have either of you found any evidence of manipulation in the trading of gasoline or oil contracts?
BASH: To the senate floor --
SEN. RON WYDEN, (D) OREGON: Gasoline and gasoline prices is the issue that the American people want to address.
BASH: Members of congress in a dizzying frenzy to show voters this election year they feel their pain at the pump. After democrats coordinated photo ops in front of price signs, today house republicans showed up for their own gas station press conference in a hydrogen minivan. House Speaker Dennis Hastert parked his SUV in back.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We are 65 percent dependent on foreign oil. Places like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and Venezuela, whenever they decide to turn the spigot or raise the prices, our consumers suffer.
BASH: Then aides arranged for him to leave in a hydrogen fueled car. Senate republicans walked to a park where their microphones were set up, the leader's SUV needed for security rode next to him.
SEN. BILL FRIST, (R) MAJORITY LEADER: We'll give consumers relief at pump.
BASH: Democrats want to suspend the gas tax, saying it would save consumers $100 million a day. Now, senate republicans are proposing ideas like repealing oil company tax breaks, giving new ones for hybrid cars, and this --
SEN. PETE DOMENICI, (R) ARIZONA: We are going to ease their burden, the burden of those families who are hit so hard by giving them $100 rebate.
BASH: But they linked that to drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, which most democrats oppose.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER: The republicans offer an agenda that favors big oil and the wealthy few. It's time for a new direction.
BASH: But even republicans are going after big oil. Demanding access to 15 oil companies' tax returns to trace huge profits.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY, (R) FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: My suspicion is that, an old principle of any business that you mark up a certain percentage is being abused.
BASH: It may look and sound like lawmakers could actually pass some of these proposals but remember, it's an election year.
SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Folks, on the other side of the aisle have simply said no to more energy independence, no to more energy production.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: When the republican congress had a chance to do something about this problem they said no. They said no in terms of proposals to stop gouging by the big oil companies. They've said no went it comes to real energy conservation.
BASH: Bipartisan outrage over rising prices but a partisan divide over who's to blame. Will any of these ideas actually lower gas prices for consumers now? Even Senator Grassley flatly admitted, no. Despite all of the sound and furry, there's not a lot of faith in this partisan atmosphere any of these proposals will actually pass. Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.
COOPER: I'm joined now by former presidential adviser and professor at Harvard University, David Gergen. David thanks for joining us from Boston tonight. When you see these republicans and these democrats running around desperately trying to jam themselves in front of a gas station sign and make these pronouncements, they look like kind of chicks like running around with their heads cut off. It's sort of embarrassing almost. Where has -- where have they been for the last 8, 16 years on this?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: That's a good question. You know Anderson, we used to have pictures of cars lining up at gas stations now we have pictures of politicians lining up at gas stations. It's sort of weird, isn't it? This is one of these things -- it shows the worst side of politicians and that is that they suddenly start pandering, they see the polls turning sour on them and they just rush out there without any real serious intention of getting anything done other than trying to make a few points.
COOPER: Does any party come out of this better than the other? The democrats, you know blame republicans, republicans blaming democrats. Do they all get painted with the same brush?
GERGEN: Well, one of the reasons that congress' approval ratings have gone down so much, even lower than the president's we've been talking about for so long is because of this very kind of posturing at the gas pump, which is what we're seeing. And I -- I think that in the long run, yeah, the incumbents always get hurt more. In this case it's the republicans, so sure the republicans are concerned. But you know, Anderson it's another one of these examples that it does take presidential leadership in this situation.
One of the reasons that power has moved to the White House, away from the congress over the course of the last two centuries is it's so difficult for the congress to compose its differences on issues and it's much easier for the White House to bring people together to bash heads, put people in a room. And so far we haven't seen a lot of it from the White House on the big questions about energy. We've seen a lot of, you know, nickel and dime kind of stuff out of the White House, but not big, big measures.
COOPER: And what -- what are the big measures? What can the White House do on them?
GERGEN: Well, this is the kind of situation where we've long had collisions between those who want to have more production and those who want more conservation. The question is, can you then strike a bargain between them? So that the conservationists get some of the main things they want like higher fuel efficiency standards out of Detroit, hard for General Motors right now. But that's the kind of thing you could move toward, more -- some people are talking about higher gas taxes, I don't think that's on the table with these prices being what they were.
And let's say you put a gas tax in and when gas prices start going down the tax starts kicking in so that in effect, you keep pressure on consumers to buy (INAUDIBLE). You do a lot of things on the conservation. In return for that, you have the conservationists to say, okay, we will work with you on producing more. We will not only look at ANWR again but very importantly we will look at nuclear power as a bridge from here to hydrogen power.
It's not going to solve the transportation problem but it solves an awful lot of problems with other types of energy, to look at nuclear as one of the options. We've had this real neuralgia, we have this fear of nuclear power ever since three mile island. Much of the industrialized world is much more reliant on it, has not had an accident. So that's the kind of thing that experts talk about.
You know there have been blue-ribbon panels that have looked at this question of energy in the last year or so. It was a great big one that reported late last year and they said, look, let's strike a big bargain, let's strike up meta bargain between us and we can get some things done.
COOPER: I think we've talked about this a little bit briefly but I mean, you talked about writing papers 30 years ago or 20 years ago in the White House about energy conservation and energy policy.
COOPER: Back then I don't think it was seen as a national security issue and I do think it's evolved into that more and more especially now. How does that change the consensus? How does that change the forward momentum?
GERGEN: That's a really, really good point because back then it was seen very much as these foreign OPEC nations are imposing its cartel on us and it's really unfair but it doesn't threaten our security. Now our security is tied in because you know, Anderson, we're even more dependent on foreign oil today than we were back 30 years ago when we were writing all those speeches calling for energy independence. We've moved in the wrong direction over the last 30 years, not the right direction. We haven't built a refining capacity in this country, we haven't given the incentives to oil companies. And now we've got the question of Iran and Iraq mixed into this. One of the issues that I think comes up is how hard -- you know Condi Rice pushed the button again today on Iran and said the talks are failing the U.N.'s got to take action. Is the administration really going to push on Iran right now with prices this high because if it does, there's a very good chance that prices are going higher.
So I would think the administration is going to have to be very careful now about its rhetoric on Iran and whether it doesn't want to keep this at a low simmer, not a high boil in terms of the politics of it because this is a difficult transition. What's interesting, I have one last thing about this, you know what the polls are showing now is concern over high energy prices is almost -- almost twice as large as the concern over illegal immigration, almost twice as large as civil unrest in Iraq. Isn't that interesting?
COOPER: That is fascinating. We're out of time. Next time you're on though I want to talk a little bit about history and whether all governments have been so short of short sided, I mean whether there have been past administrations or even long ago that kind of really did look forward and tried to do things not just in four year or eight-year cycles but really farther down the road. That's for another discussion, another time. David Gergen.
GERGEN: That's one of the best questions, one of the most important questions we can talk about.
COOPER: I'm glad I asked it and we'll definitely get to it next time. David thanks.
GERGEN: Sure, okay, thank you.
COOPER: In a moment a dramatic day in the trial of a priest accused of murdering a nun. Taking the stand today, a familiar face from the O.J. Simpson trial, Henry Lee. What he said the evidence now shows.
And a new development tonight in the Duke rape case that some are saying blows it right out of the water, coming up on "360".
COOPER: Well coming up in the next hour a story that sounds like the Oscar winning movie "Crash" only it is real. CNN's Dan Simon reports.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You were targeting African- Americans?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The enemy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The perceived enemy, whoever that enemy was.
SIMON: Matthew Bodger would have made that list as a 14-year-old gay runaway he would not have wanted to cross paths with Tim.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hard core part of it is that I would be going through trash cans just as any other homeless person or a kid living on the streets, trying to survive and not end up a statistic, not end up dead on the streets.
SIMON : That they are now sitting together is one thing. That they're now good friends is something more.
COOPER: Well how their worlds collided unexpectedly, that's in the next hour of "360".
The crime scene looked like a satanic ritual, the victim a nun had been stabbed 31 times. A bloody altar cloth was nearby and her body was surrounded by candles. Prosecutors say the killer was a priest, he's now on trial in Ohio for the murder. And today a familiar face in high-profile court cases took the witness stand. CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the O.J. Simpson trial he was a big gun for the defense. In this trial, now he's a big gun for the prosecution.
Could you state your name for the record?
HENRY LEE: Henry C. Lee. L-E-E.
TUCHMAN: Dr. Henry Lee testified on Thursday that a bloody stain on an altar cloth might link a priest to the murder of a nun more than a quarter century ago.
LEE: So the size is similar, the shape is similar, the diameter is similar. All I can conclude, it's similar to.
TUCHMAN: The pattern of the stain says Dr. Lee closely resembles a medallion on Father Gerald Robinson's letter opener. Which prosecutors say the priest used to kill Sister Margaret Ann Pall. The letter opener was found in the priest's desk drawer shortly after the nun's murder. The nun's body was found with her underwear pulled down though she was not sexually assaulted.
There were candles around her, the scene that many say suggested a ritualistic or satanic killing. There has been DNA testing in the case. But today a DNA expert did not help the prosecution. When she said genetic material found in the nun's fingernails did come from a man but not Robinson. A defense attorney wanted to emphasize that to the jury.
You had enough to exclude him?
Yes, there was enough to form a conclusion.
TUCHMAN: The defense wants the jury to believe the DNA came from the murderer. But prosecutors say DNA could have come from anyone who sneezed, breathed or touched the victim's body before or after the killing. Father Robinson presided over Sister Pall's funeral back in 1980. Prosecutors have not yet said why he would have wanted to kill her. Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well call them both a casualty of hurricane Katrina. Michael Brown and if a bunch of senators have their way, FEMA too. Coming up, we'll hear from the ex-FEMA director Michael Brown about a new proposal to get rid of FEMA. And that new White House spokesman channeling Jethro Tull? Who knew. It's the shot and it's only on "360".
COOPER: Some breaking news to report to you. We're looking at a live picture of wildfires in Central Florida. Authorities have shut down I-95 in Brevard County due to the smoke and the flames. About 860 acres have burned we're told. Dozens of firefighters right now are on the scene. The fire is said to -- actually they've shut down the northbound and the southbound lanes along Interstate 95. The brushfire jumped across the highway. As you can see in that tight shot it's burning pretty fast there. It's about 70 firefighters we're told that are battling the blaze right now. And -- but as you can see, it doesn't seem to be letting up. We'll continue to follow this story and bring you any more pictures as warranted.
The lone Sago mine survivor shared what he and his co-workers faced when tragedy struck. That story's coming up ahead. But first Erica Hill from "Headline News" has some of the business stories we're following. Erica?
HILL: Hey Anderson, stocks pushing ahead today on Wall Street. The Dow closed up 28 points, the NASDAQ rose 11. The S&P tacked on four. Analysts say investors liked the testimony on Capitol Hill today from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke who said a pause in interest rate hikes may be ahead. But before you get too excited, Bernanke also told congress that record high oil prices could actually speed inflation, while slowing down economic growth.
And in Chicago is a new twist in shopping in the works any way. Hoping to ease the pain of replacing all Marshall Field locations with Macy's, Federated Department Stores is looking to add a grocery store to the flagship location on State Street. Also, on Macy's agenda spending millions of dollars on improvements to the store and exclusive fashions for sale. Anderson.
COOPER: Wow. There you go. Hey Erica, stick around, it's time now for the shot. It's our favorite photo or piece of video of the day. Tonight's shot shows us the musical side of the new White House press secretary, take it away, Tony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And it's a bit of a groove there. If the White House gig doesn't work out there's always the jazz clubs for Tony Snow. He takes his flute seriously we're told, he even has his own band it's called Beat's Working. Get it Erica?
HILL: I get it.
COOPER: Beat's working.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: It's kind of St. Germane-esque if you're familiar with St. Germane. I played the flute, by the way.
COOPER: Yeah, it's the St. Germane people on line four for you, they'd like to kill you.
HILL: Thanks a lot.
COOPER: You know, one person who is a big fan of Tony Snow? Paula Abdul, let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA ABDUL: You moved me. You celebrate what this competition is all about. And you know I spent the day yesterday watching the tapes of when you -- when everyone first started and you've moved me from the beginning. But you are this handsome evolved performer
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: You know she could really give Helen Thomas a run for her money in the White House Press Corps, what do you think?
COOPER: It'll be a whole new briefing.
HILL: Whole new brief.
COOPER: Erica thanks.
Just ahead tonight, a striking proposal, ditch FEMA, replace it, change the way disaster management is handled. That's what some senators are suggesting. We'll get Michael Brown's take on it the man who was running FEMA when it failed so badly down in the gulf.
Also the Sago mine disaster from beginning to fateful end. In the words of miner Randy McCloy, the only survivor. And what does the most wanted man in Iraq really want? Abu Musab Al Zarqawi and what some are calling his growing power around the world and the latest on the Duke allegations. The latest developments next on "360".
COOPER: What may be a major new development concerning the woman making the rape allegations at Duke.
And a mystery revealed. What really happened deep in the Sago mine? Tonight for the first time the only survivor tells his story in a letter to the families of the miners who died.
Trapped below the sole survivor of the Sago mine tragedy reveals the struggle to survive the explosion and the emergency respirators that he says failed.
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