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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Broken Government; Border Insecurity; Supreme Decision; Hidden Spending; America Votes 2008
Aired June 28, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Casey Stengel, back in 1962, talking about the New York Mets -- I'm trusting my writer here.
We, on the other hand, are talking about immigration reform. The Senate killed it yet again today, the president staked his credibility on getting it passed. He failed. Americans on all sides found something to hate in the bill and reason to suspect that the people who brought you bridges to nowhere and FEMA trailers simply can't be trusted to fix the problem. Tonight, we're keeping them honest.
Also ahead in the hour, a blockbuster ruling from the Supreme Court that changes the way our schools can look at race. It may affect your child, their school and you should know about it.
Then it's back to Congress, this time it see how your Senators are hiding the facts about how they spend your money. We're holding them accountable.
We begin with immigration. Just about everyone want the border secured, the bad immigrants caught, the good immigrants kept and employers happy. Yet every time Washington has tried to tackle the problem, the effort goes down in flames, and it happened again today. The question is why? Is it something about the issue or something about our government?
CNN's Joe Johnson tonight is keeping them honest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three-fifths of the Senators, duly chosen and sworn, not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We wondered, how much time and effort did it take to get here? How much time did the House and Senate spend failing to pass the immigration bill? In little over one year, they have held 26 hearings -- 16 in the House, 10 in the Senate -- called at least 127 witnesses from all over the country, generated thousands of pages of transcripts, statements, debated for hours on the Senate floor.
Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma opposed the bill.
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: The prime example that the government is broken. And how do we fix that? You fix that by integrity and being confident that you will do what you say will do. And the American people said, you have been telling us this.
JOHNS: What Congress wanted the bill to do is to somehow control 12 million people who are illegally in the U.S., convince them to go home, and then to come back legally. But who really had the confidence this was doable? Remember the bureaucratic mess after Katrina?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Mary Landrieu's office.
JOHNS: The phones in Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu's office were ringing off the hook today. In fact, there were so many calls to the U.S. Capitol complex, that the entire system shut down. Landrieu voted against going forward with the bill, too.
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: It also gave so much more work to Homeland Security. And, of course, we know they're having a very difficult time doing the work that they're supposed to be doing now, in terms of recovery, rebuilding, and getting prepared for other hurricanes.
JOHNS: Not to mention, the U.S. has such a bad record with border basics. Look how porous the border is. On top of that, much of the public is divided over letting illegals come back to the U.S., saying it amounts to amnesty.
Even the backers of it admitted that concerns about broken government had a lot to do with how the vote turned out.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: People look out, and they see the failures of government, whether it's Katrina or whether it's the inability to get enough passports out for people. And they say, how are they going to accomplish all of this?
JOHNS: So, the bottom-line question in all of this is, why? Why, after all this effort, can't the government get it together on immigration? "Keeping them Honest," it's partly a question of trust.
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: A lot of Americans have lost faith in their government. They don't think we can control our borders, that we can win a war, that we can issue passports. And, so, they ask the question, why should we grant a special status to people who came here illegally, until we know that you're going to get serious about enforcing this new law?
JOHNS: And the moral to this story, prove you can take care of the basics before you try to get too fancy.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, Mike Allen joins me now. He's the chief political correspondent for "Politico.com."
Mike, thanks for being with us.
What went wrong with this bill? Is Senator Coburn right that this an example that our government is simply broken?
MIKE ALLEN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "POLITICO.COM": Right.
Well, good evening, Anderson.
And so much for the grand bargain, right?
Anderson, I think, in the long run, the president will get credit for taking on a difficult and unpopular issue that someone eventually is going to have to solve. But, in the short run, the cause of death is pretty clear.
Strike one for this bill was simple math. A Republican said to me, Democrats don't want to give this president a victory, and Republicans are against this. Where did they think the votes were going to come from?
Strike two was P.R. As you saw in Joe Johns' piece, the noise was all coming from the opponents. These offices were telling me they would get thousands of calls against for dozens for. Even business groups, which were supposed to be the engine for this, were not really stepping up.
And strike three, Anderson, was politics. The president was asking these Senators to take a tough vote at a time when he really couldn't do anything for them and they weren't even sure it was going to get out of the House. As one of them said to me, we're being asked to walk the plank, maybe for nothing.
COOPER: But, you know, to say that it's politics is such a sad thing. I mean, everyone seems to agree this is a top issue, a national security issue, an economic issue. And, yet, with this vote today, it may not even come to the table again until 2009. How is that even possible? Explain it.
ALLEN: Yes, well, Anderson, I think that that's probably right.
I checked around. And there's some dream that you could do this maybe in two pieces, a security piece, and a guest-worker program, and then just punt on the issue of what you're going to do with the 12 million people who are here. I don't hear even any even hope from leadership that that will be done. There will be some more appropriations for security.
Anderson, part of it is this word trust, which, in your setup, and Joe Johns referred to the people's trust for the government. There's also, obviously, no trust in Washington, no incentive for these two closely-divided sides to come together. Usually, there's a little breathing room between a midterm and a presidential election.
But, as your viewers know, that breathing room is gone. The campaign is on. And no one is willing to be the first to let go. In the past, politicians have tried to establish commissions or do something else. But this White House's relations with the Hill are so sour, that nobody wants to hold hands and jump with them. COOPER: So, I mean, I don't want to sound too naive or too cynical, but is it really the case that there were Democratic Senators -- or, you know, Congress people who may have supported this bill, but didn't want to give the president a victory? Is that really true?
ALLEN: I wouldn't say it that way. There was no incentive for Democrats to help the president or work with them on a tough vote.
And he wasn't able to line up his own people. The -- this White House's muscles with Capitol Hill were not worked. He doesn't have the practice in the past of sitting down with these members one by one, and getting them to walk with him. And that's what was required in this case. And...
COOPER: Remarkable that, after so many years in office, this White House doesn't have the ability or the knowledge to figure out a compromise, to walk hand in hand with Congress people.
Well, and Anderson, also, this was an issue where it was very difficult to reward people. The reason that they decided to do it in this big, huge package was, both sides wanted some dessert and some vegetables. There was going to be no incentive for Republicans, who wanted all security, to do a guest-worker program if they weren't together.
Similarly, Democrats wanted a guest-worker program, and they were willing to go along with the security.
So, that was the theory behind it. But we could see this was doomed from the time that it came out. You remember, on your air, I saw them announcing this compromise. And they didn't have any of these allies with them.
ALLEN: Senators who should have been with them weren't. And they said they couldn't have waited another day or it would have fallen apart. And that was a clue to what was coming.
COOPER: Michael Allen, chief political correspondent for "Politico.com." Mike, thanks.
While they are practicing politics in Washington, illegal immigrants keep -- keep crossing the border. In parts of Texas, the federal government has a collection of high-tech sensors tracking them. You have probably heard about this. The trouble is, the electronics may be doing a better job of tracking who gets away than actually helping catch anyone.
We sent Randi Kaye to investigate.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The reason there's so much hopeful talk about cameras and high-tech ways to catch people illegally crossing into the U.S. is places like Laredo, Texas. Here, there's just way too much border and not enough agents.
(on camera): This is just one of the many spots along the Rio Grande River where illegals could enter Texas. Even the 1,100 or so Border Patrol agents in the Laredo sector may not be enough to keep them out. It is a massive effort -- 171 miles of border that they need to protect.
(voice-over): An agent told us that means they have one agent to cover every three to five miles. But what they need to get the job done is one agent every half-mile. And that's why the patrol and politicians put so much stock in ground sensors and more than 50 infrared cameras that are strategically placed along the Rio Grande to spot illegals swimming across, or even just thinking about it.
Each camera can detect someone as far as three miles away. They operate 24/7. Some even detect body heat. When controllers notice something suspicious, they alert agents in the field.
EUGENIO RODRIGUEZ, U.S. BORDER PATROL: We're looking at an individual -- there was two earlier, but right now it looks like an individual -- actually, it's two that are on the Mexican side. Now, they have been there for a while. Either they're attempting to cross, or they could be fishing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Go ahead.
KAYE: It's just after midnight. We're on patrol with agent Genio Rodriguez. This overnight shift is the busiest and many say the most dangerous for catching illegal immigrants.
(on camera): How dangerous are some of these guys who are coming across?
RODRIGUEZ: You could be faced with just the simple undocumented migrant that's coming here to just -- to look for work. But, on any other given situation, you're faced with a criminal alien, a gang member, or a narcotics smuggler.
KAYE (voice-over): Four a.m., a sensor is triggered again and again and again. Twenty, maybe 30 people just illegally crossed and walked right over a buried sensor.
But the truth is, sensors only detect. They don't catch. Now border agents have to go get them.
MARCO LARA, U.S. BORDER PATROL: You will have illegals come by and just stop by a gate. And, all of a sudden, 20, 30 aliens are jumping into a suburban.
KAYE: We wait as agents track footprints and try to close in.
At 6:00 a.m., agents move in. They briefly spot their targets, but in the tall weeds, they lose them. Whoever they were, all 20 or 30, outmaneuvered the U.S. Border Patrol and slipped into the darkness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if they came out here, there's a good chance they just popped out right here.
KAYE: Rodriguez says, before they got the technology about seven years ago, it was like trying to catch criminals in the Stone Age. In the last eight months or so, agents here say they seized $142 million worth of narcotics and arrested 40,000 illegal immigrants.
But, tonight, these agents caught no one. And all the high-tech electronic surveillance provided proof another 20 or 30 people crossed illegally into the U.S.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Laredo, Texas.
COOPER: A long night spent searching. As you can see, for border agents, it's a dangerous and often, too often, a thankless job.
One late detail we just found out about -- federal officials telling us they're going to announce tomorrow the discovery of one of the largest border crossing tunnels ever. It runs between Nogales in Mexico and Nogales, Arizona. We will have details tomorrow morning.
You may remember, a couple months ago, we were down in San Diego at the discovery of a 2,400-foot tunnel between Tijuana and the United States, from a warehouse in Tijuana all the way to a warehouse in the United States. We'll see how big this tunnel is tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Washington says it is making progress on the border. Here's the "Raw Data." You can be the judge.
On a typical day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports 63 arrests at ports of entry, nearly 3,000 apprehensions between ports for illegal entry, and more than 5,500 pounds of illegal drugs are seized.
Up next, as close as judges in robes have ever come to duking it out, with CNN's Jeffrey Toobin at ringside. It happened inside the Supreme Court. The issue, race and our kids.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Making history from the bench, affecting your children, their education, and the single issue that has literally torn this country apart -- race.
REP. CAROLYN KILPATRICK (D), MICHIGAN: Shame on the court. We say it's a sad day. We will regret this day.
COOPER: What happens now that the Supreme Court says you can't use race as the way to make sure kids of all races get the education they deserve?
Also tonight, is John McCain's straight talk express heading for the campaign off-ramp? Next stop, Gonesville?
And is another Senator going batty? Answers ahead in "Raw Politics." Same bat channel -- next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (on camera): Something you should know. We're not above petty jealousy here at 360. Tonight, we're all envious of CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who had one of the best ringside seats on the planet today.
He was inside the Supreme Court when the justices handed down what is likely to be a landmark decision on education, ruling that race cannot be a factor in assigning children to public schools. The court was bitterly divided five to four.
In one measure of the tension in the room, one of the justices came as close as justices come to actually dissing some of his colleagues. That's right. I said dissing.
I spoke to Jeffrey earlier.
COOPER: Jeff, you say today's decision on race ranks with the major decision that the court has ever made in its history. What was it like actually inside the court?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Anderson, it was as dramatic as I have ever seen the court. You know, at the end of the term, the justices are tired. They're kind of sick of each other. I thought five of them needed haircuts.
And what you saw was Stephen Breyer just breathing fire. And that, in itself, was extraordinary because Breyer is kind of the Mr. Congeniality of the court.
But John Roberts, the chief justice, is a guy who is very genial. But you can tell he's very competitive. And he really cared a lot about this decision. And, you know, he saw it as discrimination. Any sort -- he wants to see a colorblind society, where race is simply not a factor.
And, you know, he said, the way the way to -- the way to eliminate racial discrimination is to stop discriminating on the basis of race. So, the white kids who were trying to get into school in Louisville were the same to him as the black kids who were thrown out of segregated schools in Topeka, Kansas, in 1954.
COOPER: And Stephen Breyer really exploded at that notion. He said it was a cruel distortion of Brown v. the Board of Education.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. I mean, it was really -- that was the sense of history in the courtroom, because the debate was really, what did Brown mean? And Brown -- and Breyer said, you know, that the conservatives were living in a dream world, that the idea that preserving diversity in 2007 is the same thing as Jim Crow in 1954 is a cruel hoax.
But, you know, this is all about who has the votes. And George W. Bush won the election. He got two appointments. And this decision was one of the key results, as this whole term was, of what it means to have conservative appointments on the court.
And, you know, fair's fair. They won the election. And they got the justices on the court. And now they have the votes.
COOPER: And one of the justices said that this is a -- that it's amazing what -- I -- I mean, I don't want to misquote, but, basically, that it's remarkable what two people have been able to do in such a short period of time.
TOOBIN: Right. No -- no, that -- Breyer used a phrase where he said, rarely in the history of law have so few undone so much so quickly.
And he was clearly talking about John Roberts, whose jaw muscles were sort of vibrating as Breyer said that. And even Samuel Alito, who is a very kind of low-key guy on the bench, kind of looked -- leaned over and looked at Breyer.
It was as direct an attack as you ever see in the Supreme Court. But Breyer really thinks that this court is trying to undo a lot of constitutional history, and today, in this term, it's just the start.
COOPER: So, what does this mean in terms of affirmative-action programs as practiced by schools across the country? Because if you're trying to improve racial diversity in schools, you're now not allowed to use race as a factor.
Now, you can have a magnet school now which you hope draws a diverse crowd. But what you can't do is, you can't bus black kids differently than white kids. You can't say, I want a minimum percentage, as Louisville did, of 15 percent in blacks -- of blacks. And you can't say, as Louisville did, that you want a maximum of 50 percent black enrollment in a school. You can't manage by race anymore. And a lot of schools do that. A lot...
COOPER: But you can manage by neighborhoods, where people live?
TOOBIN: That's right. You can. And, in fact, you know, we live in a very segregated way in this country. Neighborhood schools mean segregated schools. That's why this plan was in existence. That's why these -- these -- these plans are adopted in a lot of school districts. But that's permissible.
And trying to draw people with the honey of good programs is admissible. But racial categories are out.
COOPER: Jeffrey Toobin, thanks.
TOOBIN: OK, Anderson.
COOPER: A remarkable decision today. Quite a day. It promises to be quite a morning tomorrow.
Just ask John Roberts -- the other John Roberts, the one from "AMERICAN MORNING."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Anderson, toothpaste, toys, pet food, tires, all made in China, all found to be toxic or unsafe.
We're taking a closer look at the latest scares in this country and just where the real problem lies. Why isn't more being done to protect Americans from dangerous imports? We will get some answers on "AMERICAN MORNING," beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern.
Anderson, back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: John, thanks.
Up next, billions of your tax dollars -- billions, and the Senators trying to dish it out without telling you about it. They're still trying to do that. We're "Keeping them Honest."
Also ahead, what federal agents found in pro wrestler Chris Benoit's doctor's office that could help determine why he murdered his family.
COOPER: All right. It's not just a tip of the hot to Larry King's Beatles interview this week.
Help is what Ann Marie (ph) in Boston thinks should be theme for 360's political coverage. And, judging by recent government approval numbers, America may agree.
We want some more song ideas before narrowing the field down to the final three. You can log on to CNN.com/360. Give us your idea for our theme song.
As for tonight, already, the pundits are gauging the broader political fallout from today's thumbs-down on the immigration bill.
With that, CNN's Tom Foreman has the "Raw Politics."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the immigration vote in Congress, for all the public chatter involved, a lot of backroom talk here in Washington about the immigrant vote in next year's election. And now one party seems to be coming out a winner.
(voice-over): Latino Americans are leaning three to one in favor of the Democrats, according to a new "USA Today"/Gallup poll. This is a real change.
Last election, George Bush drew 40 percent of their votes. Now, the poll suggests, many will give their votes to Hillary Clinton, but only if she makes Ted Kennedy stop singing.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: (SINGING IN SPANISH)
FOREMAN: So, what's up next? Same old song. "Raw Politics" wisdom says watch for the war to come steaming back into the headlines. Why? Members of Congress see a lot of constituents back home in the summer. And they expect you to ask them about Iraq.
The president is trying to give Republicans a little hope to work with.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The last of the reinforcements arrived in Iraq earlier this month. We are beyond a surge of forces, and we're now into a surge of operations.
FOREMAN: Late-breaking "Raw Politics" from John McCain. His fundraising is weak, a lot of noise in Washington that he might be dropping out. Instead, he's lashing out. Quote, "That's just pure ridiculous."
And the bald eagle is off the endangered list, but the Capitol may have a bat in its belfry. Rumors are flapping that Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy will appear in the next Batman movie -- no kidding. The man from Vermont is a Bat-aholic, crazy about the comic book character. He's done Bat cameos before.
(on camera): His office refuses to confirm if a deal has been done, saying, cryptically, what's said in the barbershop should stay in the barbershop.
Hmm. Sounds like the Riddler -- Anderson.
COOPER: I'm not sure what that means.
Starting next month, presidential candidates are going to have to answer your questions at the CNN/YouTube debates. This is going to be really cool. We are getting a lot of submissions already. Some of them are really very good. The Democrats are going to face off on July 23. Republicans debate on September 17.
You can learn about the debates and how to submit your questions. All the questions in the debates are going to come from you at home. You just need to make your own videos, about 30 seconds long. You can submit your questions. Find out all the details at CNN.com/YouTubeDebates, or you can go to YouTube.com.
Let's check in now with Erica Hill for a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN "HEADLINE NEWS" CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we begin with new details in the double murder-suicide at the home of wrestler Chris Benoit.
Federal drug agents have searched the office of a Georgia doctor who treated Benoit. And police say Benoit killed his wife and 7-year- old son before hanging himself last weekend. Investigators now want to know about prescription medicines, including steroids, which were found at Benoit's home.
A possible break in the case of little Madeleine McCann, who vanished in Portugal almost two months ago. Spanish police have arrested two people they say might have tried to extort money from the parents of the missing 4-year-old. The two were picked up on a warrant in an unrelated case involving the alleged torture of another child.
And new warnings tonight about products labeled "Made in China." It's now believed thousands of tubes of contaminated toothpaste were actually shipped to state prisons and mental hospitals in Georgia. Officials say it's a sign U.S. distribution of the tainted products was wider than initially thought. The FDA is warning consumers now to throw away any Chinese-made toothpaste, saying it could be tainted with a chemical used in antifreeze -- Anderson.
HILL: Just what you want to hear about your toothpaste.
COOPER: Yes, unbelievable.
COOPER: It just keeps getting worse.
HILL: It does.
And talk about unbelievable, this next story, "What Were They Thinking?"
A St. Louis man missing tonight -- that's because he was actually kicked off an Amtrak train on Sunday night. The crew said they thought he was drunk and unruly. Sixty-five-year-old Roosevelt Sims, it turns out, is a diabetic. And his family, who spoke with him that night before he was left at an Arizona railroad crossing, said he wasn't drunk. The man was likely going into diabetic shock. The railroad crossing where he was left at night is in the middle of a national forest. It's two miles from the nearest road. When police arrived there, Sims took off into the woods, leaving his luggage and his medication behind. And his family, though, does have reason to believe Mr. Sims actually found his way out of the woods, because records indicate his cell phone was last used in an Arizona town -- that town, though, 180 miles from the railroad crossing where he was dumped off.
COOPER: Wow. That's bizarre.
HILL: Just wild, yes.
COOPER: So, he's still missing, though?
HILL: As far as I know. Last I had checked, he was missing.
At the top of the program, I mentioned that I'm clueless about sports.
I'm also clueless about fishing. But I know that, when you tell a fish story, a guppy can sometimes become a shark, which brings us to the item we reported a few moments ago. Law enforcement called -- called it a large tunnel that they checked. We checked. We discovered it's actually a tiny tunnel. We will try to get more details, bring them to you tomorrow.
Also these stories ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): First, they called every Congressman, asking about their secret spending. Now, those "Keeping Them Honest" interns are at it again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm trying to see if we can get a copy of the Congressman's earmark requests for this year.
COOPER: Yes. Now it's the Senators' turn to come clean about spending your money on their pet projects. Find out how many senators did. And see which one tried to say that being accountable was -- get this -- against the law.
Plus, Democrats squaring off. See who scored the points. And which ones are getting new traction with the voters. Are any? It's up for debate, ahead on 360.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, there's a battle being fought over your money and what Congress wants to do with it without telling you. It is turning out to be harder than we thought, "Keeping them Honest" on earmarks.
Last week, we asked all 435 members of the House to show us their requests for pet projects funded by taxpayer dollars, otherwise known as pork.
In a bit, we'll give you an update about how many Congressmen have now published their earmarks. But right now, we turn the heat on the Senate. And they don't seem too happy about it.
Here's CNN's Drew Griffin, "Keeping them Honest".
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Our new hunt begins with our intrepid summer interns, once again, looking for secret treasures.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm calling from CNN to request a copy of the Senator's earmark requests for the 2008 budget. I spoke with Chip yesterday.
GRIFFIN: They called every U.S. Senator to ask how they are spending your tax dollars, billions of dollars on their very favorite projects. It's the murky world called earmark spending.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Chip. This is Shannon Black from CNN again. I just wanted to remind you that our deadline is this Thursday at 5 p.m.
GRIFFIN: We figured taxpayers have a right to know who is spending how much of your money and on what. And once again, our interns got the cold shoulder from the new Congress, which vowed to be more transparent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I called on Monday regarding getting a copy of the Senator's 2008 earmark requests.
GRIFFIN: Here are the results. Just these six Senators said yes and gave us their earmark requests. Just six. These five Senators actually didn't ask for any earmarks. Nineteen U.S. Senators flat-out told us no. Here they are, the 19 Senators who told us their earmark requests were none of our business.
But just like in the House, the majority in the Senate didn't even bother to answer our question by our deadline. Seventy Senate offices did not provide us any answer, after four days of calling.
(on camera) : One Senator's office actually had a most creative response to our request. Republican Senator Mike Crapo's press secretary told us that to release the Senator's earmark requests to us would violate federal privacy laws.
According to Senator Crapo, telling the American people how he wants to spend your money is against the law. Of course, we did immediately ask for an interview. And his press secretary declined, saying they saw no benefit in explaining that.
TIM PHILLIPS, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: For a Senator, a sitting U.S. Senator to say, well, I'm not going to tell you how I'm going to spend taxpayer dollars, because somehow it might violate the Privacy Act, it's ludicrous. I mean, it's -- it would be laughable, were it not so serious.
GRIFFIN: Earmark reform is serious to Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity. His group wants Congress to spend less of your money. But like most every other issue, it is the public, he says, that must do the real work to change the spending as usual in Washington.
PHILLIPS: I think the only way it's going to make a difference is if average Americans from all walks of life demand that their members of Congress clean up this situation.
GRIFFIN: According to our blogs, AC 360 viewers are now doing their own "Keeping them Honest" phone calls, just like our interns.
Charlotte in Stockton, California, says she's calling her member of Congress, who turned us down. "I find it very interesting that other viewers were as surprised as I was that my guy was not a yes," she wrote.
"I was dismayed to find my Congress person on the list of 'no response'," wrote Barbara of Culver City, California. "I just e-mailed her and asked her to kindly cooperate with CNN's request." And she adds, "I'll probably be getting a request for a donation as a response to me."
Finally, Jess writes from Kentucky, "Drew, my Congressman responded to my e-mail about earmark spending. He said he believes in being open. Yet, on your list, he had no response. I'm disturbed by this. Please keep up with this story."
We're disturbed by it, too, Jess. And we will keep trying to keep them honest.
COOPER: So, out of all of the Senators you guys called, how many of them have actually just put forward their earmark requests? It was six -- the number?
GRIFFIN: Six. That is it, Anderson. Just six of them. Can you believe that?
COOPER: And a lot of these Senators are running for president. How many of them, of the people running, have either submit -- opened up their earmark requests or have never submitted for any earmark requests?
GRIFFIN: Too were easy. McCain, no earmark requests at all. Barack Obama, he released his last week when we were hammering the House to release theirs. He went ahead and released his.
But the other ones, Biden, Dodd, Senator Clinton and Brownback, they have not gotten back to us. And I'm telling you, we've repeatedly called those especially. Our senior producer calling just today to remind them of our deadline. We have not heard back, Anderson.
Over in the House, Anderson, we're up to 47 now who have released their earmarks. So...
GRIFFIN: ... it's a growing trend. It's a growing trend.
COOPER: It's a small -- it's a small growth, though. What was it -- when we first started last week, out of 435 Congress people...
GRIFFIN: Yes. We were -- we were just about 30. I think even less than 30 when we went to air. But that picked up a little bit of steam.
COOPER: We'll keep track of it. What, on CNN.com for people to keep track?
GRIFFIN: Absolutely. And on our blog, AC 360.
COOPER: All right. All right. Appreciate it, Drew. Thanks very much for the reporting. And thanks to the CNN interns, as well.
Up next, the Democratic presidential candidates facing off at a prominent black university to debate the Supreme Court decision that will change education in this country. The debate's over. Hear how they weighed in, next on 360.
COOPER: Just moments ago, the eight Democratic presidential candidates wrapped up their third primary debate, this time at Howard University in Washington. Just hours before, the Supreme Court handed down its sweeping decision on race and education, striking down school diversity programs based on skin color.
CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley was at the debate tonight, joins me now.
Candy, what were the highlights?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I think you hit on the highlight. This was an attempt here at this debate, on historically a black campus of Howard University, to get these candidates to talk about race in America. And you are right. The first thing that came up was that Supreme Court decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can look at this decision today, which turned the clock back on the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, that was resting on the fact that children are better off if they are part of a diverse, integrated society.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They have turned the court upside down. And the next president of the United States will be able to determine whether or not we go forward or continue this slide. It's the single most imperative generational decision the next president will make. And you better pick the right person to make it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Now, with the exception of Mike Gravel, who disagreed with almost everybody about almost everything, this was a very harmonious debate, Anderson.
They talked about Katrina. They talked about disparity in education. And they talked about disparity in the criminal justice system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The criminal justice system is not colorblind. It does not work for all people equally. And that is why it's critical to have a president who sends a signal that we are going to have a system of justice that is not just us, but is everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: All of the candidates agreed that there was much more to do before this nation becomes fully integrated, before there is any end to discrimination here. But all of them said they thought there had been quite a lot of progress -- Anderson.
COOPER: Candy Crowley, appreciate the reporting. Our political round table is also standing by. They've been watching the debate.
Joining me, a former Presidential Adviser David Gergen; Conservative Political Analyst Holmes; and CNN Political Contributor and Gore 2000 Campaign Manager Donna Brazile will be joining us in a moment.
David, the issue of HIV prevalence in the African-American community was brought up. And Senator Clinton's response received one of the biggest ovations. Let's listen.
We don't have the byte. We're going to get to that in a second.
Bill Clinton was obviously very popular among African-Americans.
David, how does Senator Clinton fare?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: She did well tonight. She was not -- she didn't stand out the way she did in the Manchester debate with CNN. But she did very well. I think this was a better forum with John Edwards tonight. He seemed to be connecting very well with the audience. And it was -- obviously, Barack Obama had a lot of sentimental support in that audience.
But, you know what? What Mrs. Clinton said, it was --- I think it was probably the best line of the night on HIV/AIDS. She said, you know, if women -- white women between the ages of 25 and 34, if their number one cause of death was HIV/AIDS, there would be an outrage in this country.
And there were many, many people in that audience, many of them African-American who stood to cheer. One of the few standing ovations that I saw tonight.
COOPER: And I want to play that. We have that sound. I just want to play that for people right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Let me just put this in perspective. If HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outrage, outcry in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Amy, you know, when you look at the numbers, Senator Clinton and Obama are basically splitting the African-American vote, at least in recent Gallup polls. I think it was like some 41 percent for Clinton, 42 percent for Obama -- 42 percent, 43 percent.
Obama's caught up after Clinton had a big lead earlier this year. How important is the African-American vote for Barack Obama?
AMY HOLMES, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL STRATEGIST: The African- American vote is crucial. And we see in South Carolina that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are neck and neck, where the black vote is so important in that Democratic primary.
I think, Anderson, what we saw tonight, unfortunately, when it was being introduced by Deval Patrick, was that it was a Democratic debate for a Democratic audience and a Democratic constituency.
So, tonight, you saw a lot of candidates really playing it safe, trying to not put a foot wrong. Because the black vote is really only in play for the Democratic primary.
COOPER: And Donna Brazile, who just joins us now. Clearly, these candidates really playing to the audience. There was a lot of response from this audience, a lot of applause all throughout, unlike our previous debates.
For -- for John Edwards, he sort of seems to be treading water in third place. Did he do what he needed to do? Or anything to kind of narrow the gap?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I thought John Edwards did a fantastic job, especially when he answered the question on poverty. It's been one of the central issues in his campaign.
And as you recall, this is an issue that African-Americans care deeply about. One of out three African-American children are born into poverty.
So while they were talking to the audience, he understood that the congregation back at home is very important in winning the Democratic primary.
COOPER: David, a question of HIV prevention created, oddly enough, one of the lighter moments of the debate, between Senators Biden and Obama. Let's just play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I got tested for AIDS. I know Barack got tested for AIDS. There's no shame in being tested for AIDS. It's an important thing.
OBAMA: I just got to make clear, I got tested with Michelle when we were in Kenya, in Africa. I don't want any -- I don't want any confusion here...
BIDEN: All right.
OBAMA: ... about what's going on.
BIDEN: And I got tested to save my life because I had 13 pints of blood transfusion.
OBAMA: I was tested with my wife.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm sure Michelle appreciates you clarifying that.
OBAMA: In public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Did it surprise you, David, just how civil this debate was? I mean, really no sharp elbows thrown during the debate. And certainly not about the war.
GERGEN: There certainly were not. This was not a slugfest. This was a love fest. But you know, it did surprise me a little bit, Anderson.
But what I found most interesting about the debate was, in the '60s and '70s, the Democrats were a party that focused on poverty, on urban areas, on minorities, especially on African-Americans.
And then, and in years since, it's been a party that has appealed more and more to white voters, suburban voters, more middle-class. It's become a much more middle-class party.
Tonight's conversation -- it wasn't really a debate -- was the first time I've heard in a long time -- I've heard a lot of Democrats talking seriously about poverty and about inner city issues.
In that sense, I think it committed a lot of these candidates, tonight, to an agenda that's going to be -- be seen by conservatives as much more leftist. But it will also be seen by many Democrats as more populist, and actually, a broader agenda than they've been using in recent years. I think it's going to put a lot of questions of inequality and social justice back on the agenda.
COOPER: Donna Brazile, to David's point, though, does that really last past this debate? I don't want to sound cynical, but at previous debates, I mean, they haven't really even talked much about education. And tonight, education was front and center.
BRAZILE: Education is an issue that all Americans care deeply about. Forty -- the first 40 minutes of the debate clearly focused on education and what the candidates would do to end the disparities between blacks and whites on a number of issues.
COOPER: Right. But does this conversation -- does this conversation continue past tonight? Were they just playing to this audience?
BRAZILE: Oh, no. This will have a buzz effect. Tomorrow morning, you'll hear it on Tom Joyner's show with over 10 million listeners. You'll see it in black newspapers across the country.
And you'll hear other African-Americans start talking about it in the barbershops and the beauty parlors all throughout the weekends. And they'll be talking about, did you hear what Hillary said? Did you hear how Barack responded? So this conversation will continue long after this debate ends.
COOPER: Donna Brazile, Amy Holmes, David Gergen, appreciate all your perspectives. Thanks.
Still to come tonight, how to make a hero. Just add water. With a simple act, one remarkable teenager has been saving lives since he was six years old. Our CNN hero is next.
COOPER: The person you're about to meet started savings lives when he was just 6 years old. He is one of the remarkable people CNN is focusing on all this year, people we call "CNN Heroes." Tonight's hero is Ryan Hreljac.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please stand by. Go ahead, please.
RYAN HRELJAC, CNN HERO: Every day 6,000 children die because they don't have access to clean water. That's like 20 full jumbo jets crashing every day of the year. I feel like we shouldn't live in a world like that.
(BEGIN GRAPHIC) One out of every six people on the earth does not have access to safe drinking water.
Lack of safe water and sanitation is the world's single largest cause of illness.
HRELJAC: I was 6 years old and I was in my grade one classroom. My teacher said there were people who have to walk 10 kilometers to get to a dirty mud hole, and I decided to do something about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan told me he has been saving money to put up a well in Africa and he said he wanted in a school.
The well which Ryan built was the first clean water they ever had.
HRELJAC: I went to Uganda when I was 10. I was pretty excited to go see what the impact was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You read it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan's well, funded by Ryan H.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up to that moment, maybe Ryan never knew how much this means. The little boy who had this big dream, now look where he is not only doing one well, but so many wells. The clean water has reached far and wide.
The Ryan's Well Foundation has built 266 wells in 12 countries...
... brining water to more than 435,000 people.
Source: Ryan's Well Foundation
HRELJAC: When a well is built in a community, the health, it skyrockets. And smiles light up on people's faces because they have clean water to drink. It's great it see the impact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan has changed many, many lives out here. So he is a hero. He is a warrior who made it happen.
COOPER: A remarkable guy. Check out CNN.com/heroes to learn more about Ryan Hreljac and his well foundation. You can also nominate your own hero for special recognition later this year. A lot of you have been telling us what you think about the big issues, and how we're covering them. We'll read some of your e-mails when 360 continues.
COOPER: Time to check what's happening on the radar. A lot of you have been e-mailing us about Drew Griffin's earmarks investigation, and many of you are taking action.
Kathy in Chicago, writes, "Well, at least my Senator complied. I will give my Congresswoman another week and try her again. This story is a real eye-opener about how Congress is spending money and trying to hide where it is going. Thanks to your interns and their hard work!"
Jolene in St. Joseph, Michigan, writes, "I did e-mail my representative last week. Never did hear back from him but he has since responded and disclosed his earmarks to CNN. What is interesting, though, is that he did not state how much money is being spent per earmark request, just a total amount. Hmmmmm...I guess I'll be e-mailing him again!"
And Arachnae in Sterling, Virginia, writes, "If you really want to give your interns something to chew on, you should turn them loose on the budget that the administration sends to Congress in the first place. I'd very interested in what they discovered there."
Sounds like a very good idea, Arachnae.
As always, share your thoughts at CNN.com/360blog.
For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is coming up next. Here in America, "LARRY KING" is coming up.
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