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Early Defeat; Worthy Opponents; Severe Weather; Suing Rumsfeld; O.J. Simpson: If I Did It; A Healthy Laugh; Hope & Laughter

Aired November 16, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: She led her party to victory over the Republicans. Now Nancy Pelosi's own party lays a political smack- down on her.
ANNOUNCER: Spinning her first defeat.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER-ELECT: ... came out a big winner today. It Was a stunning victory for him.


ANNOUNCER: And a stinging loss for the man she had backed as majority leader.


PELOSI: Let the healing begin.


ANNOUNCER: But how much credibility has the new House speaker lost?

He went to Iraq to make a movie, was mistaken for a terrorist and ended up in Abu Ghraib.


CYRUS KAR, FILMMAKER: I remember I kept telling myself, stay awake. You won't die today. Stay awake.


ANNOUNCER: Now, he's suing the U.S. government. Were his rights really abused or is this American really guilty of bad judgment?

Also, tonight getting laughs and giving hope.


ROBIN WILLIAMS, COMEDIAN: There have been so many hurricanes, not they're into the Hebrew alphabet, Hurricane Gimble (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: A comic relief reunion to help rebuild New Orleans.

And you won't believe what O.J. Simpson's publisher is saying about his new book and why she published it. More outrage and more questions.

Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Now, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Thanks for joining us. We begin the hour with that old line about Democrats and circular firing squads. Whether it's John Kerry just a few weeks ago or well, John Kerry in 2004, the party has earned a reputation for self-inflicted injuries.

Tonight, perhaps a little deja vu and perhaps a golden opportunity for Republicans. House Democrats chose a majority today. What they didn't do is vote for the candidate their boss very publicly wanted them to. So, exactly what happened and what happens next?

With that, here's CNN's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A moment in history, Democrats unanimously elected the first woman speaker of the House.

But with her victory, also a stinging defeat. Nancy Pelosi put her prestige on the line in backing Iraq war critic and longtime friend John Murtha to be majority leader, her number two. But Murtha lost to Steny Hoyer in a blowout.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER-ELECT: Steny came out a big winner today. It was a stunning victory for him. We've had our debates, we've had our disagreements in that room. Let the healing begin.

BASH: A plea for healing just 10 days after triumphantly seizing control of Congress was proved to many Democrats their new leader made a major strategic blunder even before being handed the speaker's gavel.

REP. ALLEN BOYD (D), FLORIDA: Well, I think the caucus, Dana, is fractured now, not because of the race but because of Speaker-Elect Pelosi's heavy involvement in the race.

BASH: Heavy involvement that some Democrats complain crossed into strong-arm tactics. Like suggesting committee assignments were at stake in the vote.

REP. RON KIND (D), WISCONSIN: We're all grown-ups around here and sometimes elbows are thrown from time -- it shouldn't surprise too many people.

BASH: There is concern in the Democratic ranks this could be an early warning. Pelosi may misread her diverse caucus again and have big problems when it matters, corralling Democrats to pass an ambitious agenda.

BOYD: She has a challenge to put the genie back in the bottle here and get everybody back together.

BASH: That won't be easy. Pelosi will have to work hand in glove with the man she tried to get rid of. Steny Hoyer has been Pelosi's deputy for four years, but have been rivals. She beat him in a head-to-head leadership race back in 2001.

In the end, Hoyer's feverish campaigning and fundraising for colleagues won him a victory by a wide margin. He took pains to promise no hard feelings.

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MAJORITY LEADER-ELECT: Nancy and I, I think, have been a good team. In my opinion, it was not that somebody was rejected today, it was that a team that had been successful was asked to continue to do that job on behalf of the American people.

BASH: Pelosi said she has no regrets and attributed her support for Murtha to his prominence in making Iraq the central issue.

PELOSI: To change the debate in this country in a way that I think gave us this majority in this November.

BASH: As for Murtha, he took defeat in stride.

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I know you'd like to know why I didn't win. I didn't have enough votes.

BASH: And promised to keep his party focused on ending the mission in Iraq.


COOPER: Dana joins us now. Of course, we all know it's a secret ballot, so you don't know exactly who voted and how, but is this in part some of these new Democrats, these more moderate or conservative Democrats who have been elected sending a message to Nancy Pelosi?

BASH: Well, it certainly does seem to be that way. You know, it's kind of remarkable, especially when you think about the freshmen and how sort of stoic they were and defiant probably they were in the face of this kind of pressure from the person who will be their leader.

But it does go to -- what happened here today, does go to, first of all, the diversity, again, of the Democratic caucus, as you were just talking about. But also speaks to the diversity of the issues that Democrats really do care about and want to get through.

John Murtha is somebody who is known, of course, as sort of the hero to the left and when it comes to Iraq, getting the troops out of Iraq.

But certainly it is a big issue for Democrats. They say -- many of them do admit that it perhaps did lead them into victory here. But there are many other issues that they want to talk about. They want to talk about balancing the budget. They want to talk about reforming Congress and addressing the culture of corruption.

And there was some concern that John Murtha, for example, was a one-hit wonder. So this does speak to the big challenge that Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are going to have, not just in who is in their caucus, but what exactly they're going to get done and how many different issues they're all going to want to get done.

COOPER: A lot to think about. Dana, thanks.

Unlike the Democrats, Republicans really don't have a reputation for infighting, fair or not. What they do have is a wide open field for the next presidential campaign.

George Bush, of course, can't run. Dick Cheney isn't running. But a whole roster of heavyweights could be, including Rudy Giuliani and, of course, Senator John McCain.

CNN's Candy Crowley takes a look.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John McCain has formed a presidential exploratory committee, but he is way past exploring.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Common sense conservatives believe that the government that governs least governs best.

CROWLEY: He is testing out themes, and it's not just what he's saying, but who he's saying it to. Conservative groups, a/k/a the people who vote in Republican primaries, the people upset with George Bush for, among other things, decidedly non-conservative spending, and the people suspicious that McCain's maverick impulses make him an unreliable ally. In two speeches back to back, McCain buffed up his creds and smoothed the qualm.

MCCAIN: We were elected to reduce the size of government and enlarge the sphere of free and private enterprise. We increased the size of government and the false hope that we could bribe the public into keeping us in office.

And the people punished us.

CROWLEY: In conservative world, there is but one godfather to the movement.

MCCAIN: Let's invite a genuine contest of ideas within our party and with the other party for conservationism, as Ronald Reagan told us, is not a narrow ideology.

CROWLEY: What does it say when a speech mentions Ronald Reagan 10 times and George Bush not at all? Except by inference. The war on terror. MCCAIN: The day after 9/11 we should have begun to increase significantly the size of the Army and Marine corps. But we did not.

CROWLEY: The war in Iraq.

MCCAIN: We have made a great many mistakes in this war. And history will hold us to account for them, just as the voters did last week.

CROWLEY: And Katrina.

MCCAIN: When Americans confront a catastrophe, either natural or manmade, their government across jurisdictions should be organized and ready to deliver bottled drinking water to dehydrated babies and rescue the aged and infirmed trapped in a hospital with no electricity.

CROWLEY: First arrival, then begrudging supporter, and finally needed ally to the president. But McCain now seems to be backing away.

(On camera): What you can say about speeches like these is that the Bush era is fading. And John McCain looks back to the Reagan years to launch himself into the future.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, as for that future, the latest polling shows Senator McCain trailing Mayor Giuliani by a nose. Though at this stage, polls really don't mean much.

So we thought we'd try a different approach. Instead of asking voters which candidate they might prefer, CNN's Bill Schneider asked the campaign professionals which opponent they most fear.

Here's what he discovered.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who are Republicans and Democrats most afraid of? We know Republicans don't like Hillary Clinton. They hold a four to one negative opinion of the New York Senator, even though she's made a serious effort to reach out to Republicans.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: But you know, we can come together and try to solve a real problem for America.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans reassure themselves Senator Clinton can't be elected president. Can she? Polls show her highly competitive, especially if the voters are as eager for change in 2008 as they were this year. We hear some Republicans say, we hope she does run. She'd be easy to beat. The candidates Republicans fear is Barack Obama. He's attractive, articulate, multicultural and inspirational.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOS: That is the true genius of America. A faith -- a faith in simple dreams. An insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know that they're fed and clothed and safe from harm.

SCHNEIDER: Obama doesn't have Senator Clinton's political baggage. Republicans have a neutral view of the Illinois Senator. A candidate people don't know too much about? Uh-oh. The Republican Democrats fear is Rudy Giuliani. They like him. They really like him, by nearly two to one. Democrats reassure themselves the Republicans would never nominate Giuliani. Would they?

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, POSSIBLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm in favor of gun control. I'm pro-choice.

SCHNEIDER: That was seven years ago. Maybe he'll change his mind. Oops, flip-flop. Or maybe Republican primary voters will be so thrilled by Giuliani's heroic 9/11 image, they won't care.

Here's another Republican Democrats liked. Since 2000, John McCain has shown an ability to appeal to voters across party lines. But many Democrats say, wait 'til voters hear what McCain has been saying about the war in Iraq.

MCCAIN: But I would say roughly you need another 20,000 troops in Iraq.

SCHNEIDER: Which candidate should each party fear? Maybe Democrats should fear Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He's telegenic and he has a big issue, health care.

GOVERNMENT. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, all to come together and say, you know what, getting everyone health insurance is so important.

SCHNEIDER: Maybe Republicans should fear John Edwards. His economic populism proved very popular with voters this year.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER VICE-PRESIDENT NOMINEE: We need to get this economy back in line with our values, the things you and I grew up believing in -- hard work, responsibility, integrity, fairness. These are things that George Bush just does not understand.

SCHNEIDER: Since 1960, three Democrats have been elected president. All southerners. L.B.J., Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Carter and Clinton were obscure southern governors, nothing to fear, Republicans said. In 2008, if you face an opponent who's unknown and inexperienced, be afraid, be very afraid.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: Well, joining us now to see if there is any fear out there, Republican Strategist Anna Perez who worked with Condoleezza Rice when she was the White House national security adviser. Also joining us is Jennifer Palmieri, the vice president at the Center for American Progress. She is the former DNC press secretary and worked at the Clinton White House.

Appreciate both of you being with us.

Anna, let's start with you.


COOPER: According to Bill Schneider, Republicans seem certain that Hillary Clinton couldn't be elected. Do you agree with that?

ANNA PEREZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't. I think that it's entirely possible that Mrs. -- that Senator Clinton can be elected.

Two years is two lifetimes in politics, so we've got a long way to go before then. But she has a chance to get large parts of the population, the voting population, really excited about her candidacy. Do I think she can win? No. But I think she can give us a really good run for our money.

COOPER: Jennifer, what about -- Republicans are worried about Barack Obama, according to Bill. Should they be?

PALMIERI: Right. I think that they -- yes, I think they should. I think they should be worried about Senator Clinton and Senator Obama and Senator Edwards.

COOPER: Do you think Obama is going to run?

PALMIERI: You know, I think -- weirdly, I don't know. But I think that people tend to over think whether or not -- when is the right time for a particular person to run. And I think it's actually in the end a very personal decision.

If you feel ready to run, you should do it and you shouldn't wait just because people tell you it's too early, or you shouldn't go ahead and do it because people say, this is it. You know, Barack, this is your moment. You can't pass this opportunity up.

I think that if you don't have the fire in the belly, you shouldn't do it. So I -- he strikes me as someone a little more cautious than the type of person who would only after two years want to do this.

COOPER: Interesting. Anna...

PEREZ: I don't know. I don't...


COOPER: You think he might do it?

PEREZ: I'd have a hard time -- as a black Republican, I'd have a hard time not sending him a check. I don't know whether I'd vote for him or not, but I'd have a hard time not sending him a check. He's a very, very exciting candidate. Probably the most exciting politician on the national stage today.

And as to his relative inexperience, well, I think if you take a big picture and you look at all of the men, and hopefully now women, but all of the men who have run for the office before, there have been, shall we say, varying degrees of experience?

You know, I think if Senator Obama feels in his heart -- and I think you're right. If he feels it in his heart, then he should not wait. He should go for it.

COOPER: Interesting. What about Rudy Giuliani? I mean, he's got some Democrats concerned, especially since, you know, he's fairly liberal on social issues, pro-choice, pro-gun control. You know, he lived with a gay couple for time in New York. All of that stuff, no doubt would be brought up in a campaign. Should -- well, people say, you know, whatever. Should Democrats be worried? Or is it unlikely that he'll even get the nomination?

Anna, what do you think?

PEREZ: I think it's highly unlikely that he gets the nomination.


COOPER: Because he's too liberal?

PEREZ: It's not that I'm not a big Rudy Giuliani fan. He is too -- he's a one note. What has he done for us lately? He has a very good consulting firm. But since 9/11, what has he done for us lately? What has he done for the American people?

This is no sleight on him now. Everybody who has been in politics and is not born rich needs to go out and make some money. But the point is, is he Johnny one note? And if he is, that note sounded in '08, it will be seven years ago.

COOPER: Jennifer, what about John McCain?

PALMIERI: Yes, he is the candidate that the Democrats fear. I actually don't think people fear Giuliani. Partly because we don't think he can make it through a Republican primary. But John -- I think -- I think in this decade, people are voting a lot on character and principle. And I think that they see John McCain as a person of great character and principle. And he's very conservative. But I don't know that that actually will matter because I think people have -- people -- Americans have made up their mind about how they feel about him and they like him.

Now, it is a very long time between now and November of 2008. And if he shows -- his problem is his alleged bad temper, and if he shows a poor temperament, I think that would be a real problem for him. I think John McCain can beat John McCain. But I don't think that anybody else in the Republican primary can. COOPER: It's an understatement to say it's a long time. Two years in politics. I mean, it's a long time to the end of the week in this politics cycle we're in right now.


PEREZ: Exactly. Who knows what's going to be going on in Iraq? Who knows what's going to be going on with the economy? Who knows what's going to be going on with anything. But if -- I have to tell you, though, that if having a bad temper exempts you from running for president, then Bill Clinton would still be governor of Arkansas.

COOPER: We'll leave it there.

Anna Perez, Jennifer Palmieri, thanks very much. It was fascinating.

PALMIERI: Thank you.

COOPER: The elections were last week, but of course, the vote tally for some congressional races continues. Here's the raw data. Today a Wyoming Republican was certified the winner. That gives Democrats a total of 232 House seats, a gain of 29 seats. Republicans have 197 seats. Six are still undecided.

Ahead, the latest on the people trying to put their lives together after a killer hurricane takes at least eight lives. We'll take you to the scene.

Plus, O.J. Simpson back in the news. Not because he's making friends. The publisher of his new book now is speaking out, explaining her behavior, explaining her decision to publish this book and interview this guy. And the lawyers are gathering to keep the profits from Simpson. We'll look at it all ahead.

And the funny side of a serious subject. Comic relief is back, raising money for hurricane Katrina relief. Relief? We'll talk to Robin Williams and Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, later on 360.


COOPER: Well, that is the destruction today in eastern North Carolina, the result of a vicious tornado. Twisters usually, of course, strike in the heat of summer, but can crop up any time weather conditions are right. Unfortunately, conditions were exactly right this morning in the town of Riegelwood.

CNN's Rick Sanchez is on the ground there with this report.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The sheriff's department got the first warning at 6:29 in the morning; 15 minutes later, the tornado was on the ground.

Mark Brown was home when it arrived. MARK BROWN, SURVIVED TORNADO: And it sounded like a train was coming. I said let me get up and look out the door and see what's going on. When I looked out that door, the tornado was coming.

SANCHEZ: Brown's house was destroyed. He was lucky to have survived. Others in the town of Riegelwood, North Carolina, never had a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was real terrible. I never seen anything like it before. And I hope I never see anything like it again.

SANCHEZ: The tornado was a killer. Among the dead, two children. The victims lived in this mobile home park sheriffs say was disintegrated by the storm.

SHERIFF CHRISTOPHER BATTEN, COLUMBUS COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: It is a major catastrophe. There's an area that's probably almost a half a mile wide. It reaches probably three-quarters to a mile in length stretching northward that is totally demolished. Homes turned upside down. Vehicles completely destroyed.

SANCHEZ (on camera): Authorities say this tornado was so ferocious, its wind so strong, that some of the deceased were found in the woods a full 200 yards -- two football fields away from where they were when the tornado first touched.

BATTEN: We assumed that the tornado created that kind of damage.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Literally took them from their home to the place where they were found?

BATTEN: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: Authorities say 20 people were injured. Four, including three small children, are in critical condition. Meanwhile, thousands are still without power. To look at the devastation, it's amazing the death toll isn't higher.

And then there's this to think about. The town doesn't have a siren to alert residents of an impending tornado.

BATTEN: We do not have that type of system.

SANCHEZ: So there is no siren?



COOPER: What's being done for the people in the area tonight, Rick?

SANCHEZ: Well, they've set up a shelter. They're trying to keep as many as they can there. And for a very good reason. Police officers that we have talked to tonight say it's important that they let the residents know that they don't want them anywhere near the vicinity of the homes where they used to live because in many cases there's just too many power lines down, too many people -- too much of people's lives left and strewn all over the streets. And frankly, it's just too dangerous. Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: A lot of sadness tonight. Rick, thanks.

More storm activity farther up the eastern seaboard. Streets flooded in Annapolis, Baltimore and other coastal cities in Maryland. High waters washed out roads, stranded drivers. Home and business owners put out sandbags where they could or tried to head for higher ground. As you can see, the water pretty high there, floating fast.

Coming up, Donald Rumsfeld is facing another lawsuit tonight. This one for unlawful detainment in Iraq. An American filmmaker has filed it. He went to Iraq to make a movie. He ended up in Abu Ghraib, mistaken for a terrorist. Coming up, why did it take so long to get him out?

Plus, sales of O.J. Simpson's controversial new book are growing. So is the outrage over what he's written. Tonight, a new twist in the story. Wait until you hear what his publisher now has to say about why she published the book, when 360 continues.


COOPER: And this video just coming into CNN. President Bush arriving tonight in Hanoi, Vietnam, the second stop of his three- nation tour of Asia. He's in Vietnam to attend an economic summit. It's the first visit by this president to the country. And many people will be watching, of course, to see how it goes. It comes at an awkward time for Mr. Bush, who is trying to chart a new course in Iraq. Vietnam, of course, evoking some painful memories of another polarizing war. This video first we're seeing of the president arriving.

The other night we told you about a lawsuit filed in Germany against Donald Rumsfeld and other White House officials for alleged war crimes. Legal experts say that case has little chance of going to trial.

But it's not the only lawsuit targeting Mr. Rumsfeld. A California man who was mistaken for a terrorist in Iraq now wants Mr. Rumsfeld and other officials held accountable. He says he almost died in Abu Ghraib prison. But he also chose to go to a war zone on his own to make a movie.

Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cyrus Kar is an Iranian American who went to Iraq last year to film a historical documentary. It had nothing to do with the war. But just days after arriving, his trip took a stunning turn. Karr landed at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison where he says U.S. troops called him the American terrorist. CYRUS KAR, FILMMAKER: I could hear them in what must have been their standard mantra, which was, you F-ing terrorist, you're here to kill Americans. You f-ing terrorist.

KAYE: So how did this Los Angeles filmmaker, who's lived in the U.S. since kindergarten, this Navy veteran, end up a suspected terrorist?

Kar says his taxi, driven by an Iraqi, was stopped at a checkpoint. The car's trunk was searched, and Kar, his cameraman and the driver were arrested for plotting to build roadside bombs.

KAR: They found three dozen washing machine timers.

KAYE (on camera): Did you know those were in there?

KAR: No.

KAYE: Did you know what they were being used for?

KAR: No.

KAYE (voice-over): Washing machine timers are widely used by insurgents to trigger IEDs on roadsides. In time, Kar says his taxi driver would admit the timers were his.

But when Kar was handed over to U.S. forces, he says his hands and feet were bound and he was left to bake for hours in a cage in 120-degree heat. He remembers a hood over his head nearly suffocated him.

(On camera): Did you think you were going to die there at that point?

KAR: I remember I kept telling myself, stay awake, you won't die today. Stay awake.

KAYE (voice-over): Kar says he showed U.S. troops his passport and his veterans card, but they still took him to Abu Ghraib.

After Abu Ghraib, Kar says he was thrown into solitary confinement for two months at the same prison as Saddam Hussein. If Kar's story is true, why would the U.S. treat one of its own citizens this way?

MARK ROSENBAUM, CYRUS KAR'S ATTORNEY: Saddam Hussein received more due process than Cyrus Kar did.

KAYE: The ACLU's Mark Rosenbaum represents Kar in a lawsuit against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking military officials. They say Rumsfeld's replacement will also be added to the suit.

The lawsuit claims the U.S. government deprived Cyrus Kar of his constitutional rights and violated the Geneva Convention. ROSENBAUM: But holding people incommunicado, in the hell hole places like Abu Ghraib, that's not acceptable. And that's Constitution 101.

KAYE: A spokesman for coalition forces says, "Kar was treated fairly and humanely, consistent with the standards set by the Geneva Conventions." But Rosenbaum says Kar passed a lie detector test. And after all, the taxi driver did admit the washing machine timers were his. Still, he says, Kar was refused a lawyer.

(On camera): While Cyrus Kar was being interrogated in Iraq, he had no idea he was also being investigated back here at home.

In a midnight raid, FBI agents turned his Los Angeles apartment upside down. They confiscated two computers, credit card statement, phone records and airline tickets. None of it provided any evidence to warrant keeping him in Iraq.

Also, Kar says he was held for 55 days, 53 in solitary confinement. In fact, 49 days passed before he even had a hearing. Why did it take so long to free an innocent American?

Does a lawsuit like this, though, really have any legs? I mean, you think about suing Don Rumsfeld, General Casey, do you really think you're going to get somewhere?

ROSENBAUM: The government is saying that what they did was perfectly lawful. And so I think this lawsuit is the only chance the citizens like Cyrus have in restoring what the basic principles are.

KAYE (voice-over): Secretary Rumsfeld and the other defendants have filed motions to dismiss the case. The Department of Justice argues, "the length of the plaintiff's detention was well in keeping with the exigencies of ongoing hostilities in Iraq and the need to ascertain fully and accurately his true status." It adds, "once the tribunal had assessed the plaintiff's case, military personnel took only six days to review the decision and make arrangements to release the plaintiff."

A hearing to determine if Kar's lawsuit will go forward is set for January.

(On camera): At some point while you were there, did you say to yourself, maybe I shouldn't have come to Iraq in the height of war to shoot this documentary about some Persian leader that's been gone 2,500 years?

KAR: You know, I think a lot of people might find me crazy for this, but no, I never regretted my decision.

KAYE (voice-over): Cyrus Kar's documentary would have been about a great Persian conqueror, a ruler considered by many to be the father of human rights. The irony was not lost on Cyrus Kar.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: Well, coming up, more outrage ahead over O.J. Simpson's new book and his television special. The book that he says is fiction, but others are calling a confession in disguise. Well, at least his publisher is calling it that. Coming up, what his publisher is also now saying about why she backed the book. Why she's publishing it and is doing a TV interview with the guy.

Plus, they are using their genius for comedy to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Comic relief is back. My interview with Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, when 360 continues.


COOPER: O.J. Simpson, his exploits never fail to stoke a heated public debate. Today, the publisher of his new book, "If I Did It," explained why she backed Simpson's words. She says she's doing it for people like herself who have suffered from domestic violence, and for the Simpson children. We'll talk about that, coming up, with our legal experts.

First, the growing outrage. CNN's Ted Rowlands reports.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even O.J. Simpson's own lawyer in Florida is coming out against the book. Yale Galanter insists he had nothing to do with the deal and he told us this about his client's book and television appearance. Quote, "If I was asked whether to do it, I would have said no. It's in bad taste."

In fact, many people believe that O.J. Simpson and anyone else who stands to profit from his book and show are cashing in on murder.

"If I Did It" reads like a detailed account of the brutal slayings of Simpson's ex-wife Nicole and Ronald Goldman, told by O.J. Simpson as though he were the killer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How it Happened.

ROWLANDS: The FOX network decided to air two hour-long O.J. specials and has started promoting it.

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC, "THE VIEW": I was offered the interview and turned it down.

ROWLANDS: Other networks, including ABC, turned O.J. down. In a statement, NBC says it was approached but, quote, "We did not feel it was appropriate for our network."

Nobody from FOX would talk to us to about why they decided to run the show.

Regan Books, the publisher, which is owned by FOX's parent company, also declined an interview. The victims' families are urging people not to watch the special or buy the book, but many experts think both will end up making a lot of money.

MARVET BRITTO, PUBLICIST, THE BRITTO AGENCY: I think people are going to be just as interested in reading the book and watching the interview as they were following the trial. I think there's a fascination with O.J.

ROWLANDS: The book is already on sale on Borders and other major retailers say they plan to sell it.

Wal-Mart released this statement, saying, quote, "We plan to carry the book in our stores and on as initial indications suggest it is likely to be a highly sought after title."

At Murder Ink, a small Manhattan book store specializing in crime, the owner there told us he doesn't plan to stock it, and customers we talked to were vowing not to buy it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of us already believe we know that he's probably participated in this horrible act, and I certainly wouldn't want to participate by paying any of my money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he did murder his wife, he's proceeding to cash in on the whole thing again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave the writing of books for the writers not for the football, actors, criminals. And also the message crime pays, it's upsetting.

ROWLANDS: Simpson owes more than $30 million to the Goldman family. They plan to go after anything he makes on this deal.

FRED GOLDMAN, FATHER OF RON GOLDMAN: I would imagine that knowing him and knowing his various disgusting team that he works with, that he's probably been paid that money already.

ROWLANDS: And the families say they'll be looking closely to see who, if anyone, is helping O.J. shield any of the money.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Joining us now from New York to talk more about O.J.'s new book, "Court TV" News Anchor Lisa Bloom. Her firm represented Nicole Brown's estate during O.J. Simpson's murder trial.

Also CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, author of "The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson."

You know, Jeffrey, does any of this surprise you? I mean, is this all just sort of -- I mean given all that's happened up to now, I guess this is just like one more chapter in this bizarre saga. JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Anderson, maybe I should be more cynical. But, yes, it does surprise me. This is a major corporation that's involved with this. This is Rupert Murdoch's FOX company, the parent company of FOX News, Harper-Collins, Judith Regan coming out with a statement that reads like the rantings of a crazy person. I mean...


COOPER: You're talking about Judith Regan's statement from...

TOOBIN: Judith Regan's statement that came out today where she says that she was a victim of domestic violence and that that's why she wants to publish this book and that's why she's paying to do it. It strikes me as insane.

COOPER: Did it strike you as cynical?

TOOBIN: And so yes, it is surprising to me.

COOPER: Did it strike you as cynical, her statement? I mean, basically painting herself as a victim.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, I know Judith Regan a little bit and I don't think she's -- I mean, I think she's cynical about making money. But this statement -- I mean, I think it's sincere. It's just nonsensical. So, I mean, I don't know where the cynicism plays in there. We're dealing at a level that's a little beyond -- you need the CNN psychiatric analyst, not the legal analyst.

LISA BLOOM, "COURT TV" NEWS ANCHOR: Yes, because, Anderson, what's left out of the statement is the fact that she stands to make an enormous amount of money out of a commercial exploitation of this book in which O.J. describes murdering two people, including the mother of his own children.

You know, she makes it sound as though she's this great advocate for battered women and she's on Nicole's side and she can't stand that O.J. was acquitted. And all of that is terrific until you realize she's going to make millions of dollars potentially off of this book.

COOPER: And she is the one conducting this -- I mean what they're calling this no holds barred interview. I mean, that's, you know, she's basically profiting probably from the television program, as well.

TOOBIN: Well, and it's not like getting an interview with O.J. is such a big deal. I mean O.J. has been interviewed over and over again over these past 10 years.

I believe Catherine Crier interviewed her...


BLOOM: Catherine Crier, "Court TV." TUCHMAN: I think Greta Van Susteren did a big interview with her -- with him when she was still here at CNN. I mean, the idea of doing a journalistic interview with O.J. Simpson is not a bad idea. He did an interview with "The New Yorker."

I didn't write the piece, but I mean, you know, we deal at an arm's length basis with all sorts of unappealing people as journalists. But the issue here is the business relationship. That's what is so corrupting and what's so outrageous about this.

COOPER: Also, that these major corporations chose to involve themselves in it.

TOOBIN: Right.

COOPER: I mean, I guess that's not surprising. There's money to be made and that's the nature of ht business.

BLOOM: Well, the question is, Anderson, what are they paying for? Are they paying for the book or are they paying for the interview? I mean, let's get real here for a minute. The interview is probably going to be huge. It's going to run two nights on the FOX network. All right?

And then there's the book. Is he really worthy of a $3.5 million advance for the book? Or is that payment being made for the book and for the interview and yet FOX is insulated from saying we paid for the interview? I mean, a lot of questions swirling around that.

TOOBIN: And Anderson, the question you asked I think is a good one. You know, would any corporation do this? And you know, I think the answer is, no, actually.

COOPER: Well, clearly ABC and NBC said they passed on it.


TOOBIN: And ABC, which is part of Disney; and NBC, which is part of General Electric, said no. And you know what? I think they said no not just because they didn't think it would get a good rating, it's because they thought it was morally wrong.

And I think, you know, it's easy to be cynical about all companies, including our own, you know, Time Warner, our parent company. But you know what? I think there are some values that are reflected in how companies work. And I think FOX and Rupert Murdoch's company is making a statement about its values here, and it's different from other companies.

COOPER: So Lisa, what do people do about it? I mean, there are a lot of people watching at home. I've been getting e-mails for the last 24 hours from people -- (a), annoyed that we're even talking about it because they feel that gives this more publicity. But then, of course, you know, still people can decide whether or not to actually watch the program, whether or not to actually buy the book. I guess my argument would be it's better to be informed now about it and help you make a decision, whether you want to actually contribute money to this effort or not.

BLOOM: Right.

COOPER: What do people do out there?

BLOOM: Well, I don't think we need to apologize for covering a legitimate news story. If in fact O.J. Simpson is confessing to the killings, that's a big news story. If he's doing it by way of a book and he's getting millions of dollars from a major corporation, that too is a big news story.

If people don't like it, they should not put any money out that's going to flow to O.J. and to these corporations who are standing behind him, which means don't buy the book. Don't watch the program.

Having said that, it looks like a lot of people are already very, very interested.

COOPER: Well, I got to tell you, I mean, Jeffrey, you brought this up in the last hour. I think it's some sort of a scam. I don't think -- it's being marketed and sold and spun as if he's sort of confessing. That's what Judith Regan has been interpreting it as. I think it remains to be seen whether or not he's actually even coming close to that. I think there's a lot more there.


TOOBIN: I think that's right, so.

COOPER: We got to go.

Lisa, appreciate it.

Jeff Toobin, as well.

BLOOM: Thank you, Anderson.

TOOBIN: Nice to see you.

COOPER: On to a lighter subject, a more worthy subject. Coming up, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta tells us why a good laugh might actually just cure what actually ails you.




COOPER: Well, I don't know about that guy but three -- also, tonight, three legends reunited for "Comic Relief 2006." Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal talk about their mission to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina rebuild, when 360 continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)




COOPER: Well, that's what you might call healthy laughter. As we've been reporting, some of America's funniest comedians are here in Las Vegas using humor to raise money for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Comedy can also raise spirits, with actual physical results.

360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta show us what happens when health and laughter meet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, big breath in.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Every morning on Laguna Beach, California, you'll find a group gathered on the sand laughing. There are no jokes. No punch lines. They're laughing for no reason at all.

Before you write this off as just another off-the-wall California fad, you should know laughter yoga was the brainchild of Indian Doctor Madan Kataria. He was doing research for an article called, "Laughter, the Best Medicine," when he got the idea.

MADAN KATARIA, LAUGHTER CLUB CREATOR: I was a very serious physician practicing medicine in India. I never laughed too much because I don't have a great sense of humor. It just came from up and suddenly 4 o'clock in the morning I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I want to start a laughter club.

GUPTA: What began with five people in a Mumbai park in 1995 has spread to more than 5,000 laughter clubs in 50 countries.

KATARIA: You don't need any sense of humor to laugh. You don't need to be happy in order to laugh. In fact, when you laugh, you develop your sense of humor. You develop the joy within yourself.

GUPTA: More than that, Kataria says the breathing and laughing of laughter yoga will improve your health, even if you have to fake the laughter.

It's a claim backed up by Lee Burke at Loma Linda University. Burke has found laughter decreases stress hormones, improves our immune system and boosts endorphins. Those are the brain chemicals associated with the runner's high.

Dr. Kataria, who began the laughter club movement, says people who laugh are, like the Dalai Lama, living in the moment. KATARIA: Joyfulness makes you feel good (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at least now. And that's what children do. And I want all -- everybody in this world to live like a child now, just now.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Well, if you want to know more, you can tune in Sunday 10 p.m., Eastern, for Dr. Sanjay Gupta's investigations, the link between health and happiness. He has some surprising findings. And you'll be able to see more of that scary footage of those people laughing.

Here at 360 we're big fans of the yucks, especially when it's for a good cause. Here in Vegas, comedians are gathering for another production of "Comic Relief." I spoke to the best in the business about why they're raising money for New Orleans more than a year after Hurricane Katrina.

Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, next on 360.


COOPER: Well, about a million people are still displaced from Hurricane Katrina. And large parts of the Gulf Coast are still in tatters.

Today, I sat down with Robin Williams, along with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, who have come to Las Vegas for "Comic Relief 2006" to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief.

Even through the laughter, some pretty frank answers rose to the surface.


COOPER: You've been in the Middle East three times.


COOPER: Entertaining U.S. troops over there. What's it like?

WILLIAMS: Yes. Afghanistan, three times; Iraq, twice. It's great. You...

COOPER: You've been to Iraq twice?

WILLIAMS: Yes, I've played -- you know, it's the best audience in the world. They're heavily armed so you have to be good. I remember once performing, I got up on stage. It's an entire audiences in full flak, full flak vests and heavily armed, and I'm going, I guess I didn't get that memo. And I look in the back and see three Australians sitting on a fuel tanker, smoking, going, go ahead, Robin. Don't be afraid. It's pretty wild. I mean, you know, you fly in on C-130s and you get off the plane and they go stay with me sir, it's totally safe. Just walk on the pass (UNINTELLIGIBLE) two by two, do not walk off the pass, sir. Why? It's mined. Someone standing right next to you. It's OK, we have to talk like this at all times. Permission to laugh, ha, thank you.

And it's -- you know, you play all sorts of different bases. In Afghanistan -- some of them, you know, the further -- like the smaller bases are where you get some pretty wild shows, like performing for the Special Forces guys who are -- they look -- they're totally in country. They're dressed in full jalaba (ph). The only thing that gives it away is a New York Yankees hat. A big fan of Mr. Jeterd (ph).

But it's a great place to perform for me. And it meant a lot to go there. And they always said, thanks for coming, you know. And I want to go back.

But, you know, it's always tough. One guy wore a -- pretty brave guy, National Guards guy -- had a t-shirt that said three weekends a month, my ass. Performing for the joint chiefs of staff like, you made your point.

But for me, the shows are always the best. You know, you perform for the people who will just say, thanks. Man, it's wild. And they didn't censor me, which was great. And you could make any joke, you know.

COOPER: Do you get nervous -- I just got back from...

WILLIAMS: You get nervous about...

COOPER: Do you get nervous traveling over there?

WILLIAMS: When I get shot at. No, I don't get nervous. No, the one time we're taking off from one base in Mosul. All of a sudden -- I'm sitting in the cockpit, and all of a sudden, it goes, missile launch. It's that voice recorder, that very quiet voice, missile launch. And the pilot goes, oh, it's just a flare. And it's always -- you get a little nervous flying in, but there's nothing to be -- I mean, on the ground it's a whole other story.


COOPER: "Comic Relief" is this weekend. We'll have more from the comic legends on their mission to help the survivors of Katrina and also about Iraq and other things tomorrow night in a special edition of 360, "It Helps to Laugh."

More of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.


COOPER: Let's check the headlines. Joe Johns joins us for the 360 news and business bulletin -- Joe. JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.

New video. President Bush, arriving tonight in Vietnam's capital Hanoi. The second stop on his three-nation tour of Asia. He's in Vietnam to attend an economic summit. It's his first visit to the country, and many people will be watching to see how it goes.

A developing story out of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. A group of security contractors, including four Americans, have been abducted after an ambush on their convoy at a checkpoint. Few details other than that.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, insurgents killed nine people at a bakery. Six other died in attacks across the capitol today. And 35 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad, all shot to death.

Just outside Seattle, in Belleview, Washington, not a pretty picture. A massive crane collapsed, hit an apartment building, then a restaurant. Amazingly, the crane operator, who was up in the cab, suffered only minor injuries. Police are now searching the apartment building to see if anyone else was hurt.

On Wall Street, another record day. The Dow is on a roll. Blue chips gained 54 points, the NASDAQ rose six, the S&P added three points. Helping fuel the Dow's climb today, falling oil prices. Oil has hit the lowest level of the year, falling 4 percent.


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