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Senator Clinton Releases her Tax Returns; Senator Obama's Poll Numbers Dip; Remembering Martin Luther King; New Information on Congressional Earmarks; Polygamist Ranch in Texas Raided

Aired April 4, 2008 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: For months, critics of Senator Hillary Clinton have called on her to release her tax returns. Well, today, she did. And, tonight, we follow the money.
Releasing six years of tax records, the Clintons have made more than $100 million in that time. But some of the ways they have made that money and some of the folks Bill Clinton has been in business with just may surprise you. We will tell you about that tonight.

Those aren't the only numbers we're crunching. Senator Obama's poll numbers have taken a dip. We will tell you where he's lost support and try to figure out if that signals real trouble ahead. The best political team on television weighs in on that.

Also tonight, a raid on a polygamist compound. This is a developing story out of Texas that is still happening now. Eighteen young girls, we're told, have been taken into state custody.

They're members of that sect led by the self-described (ph) polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs. Authorities believe all the girls had been abused or were in imminent danger. That's what they say -- all the details ahead tonight.

We begin, though, with "Raw Politics." Today, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton making good on her promise and releasing six years of tax returns. She of course had been criticized for delaying the release, especially after her opponent, Barack Obama, made his tax records public a week-and-a-half ago.

To be fair, presidential candidates are not required to release their tax returns, but in a race this fierce, this close, perception counts for a lot. And Obama had raised the transparency bar.

So, what do the tax returns actually tell us?

CNN's Randi Kaye is following the money.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For weeks, Hillary Clinton has been bombarded with demands to release her tax returns.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will do it, as others have done it, upon becoming the nominee or even earlier, Tim, because I have been as open as I can be.

KAYE: Later, she promised they would be made public by April 15. Then, after her opponent, Senator Barack Obama, released his 10 days ago, she said she would do the same within the week.

Today, the Clintons delivered. They may make voters wonder why she's promising to roll back President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.

CLINTON: When I'm president, we're going to take those back from people making more than $250,000 a year in America.


KAYE: For the Clintons, that's like shooting yourself in the foot. Together, the former First Couple raked in $109 million between 2000 and 2007. That includes Hillary Clinton's Senate earnings of $1 million and income from her books totaling about $10 million. But it's former President Bill Clinton who is the real bread and butter.

CLINTON: Ever since my husband got out of full-time public service, he's actually made money.

KAYE: Income from the former president's speeches alone, about $52 million worth, make up about half the Clintons' earnings. His book brought in another $30 million or so.

How will this play politically?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The immediate response is, wow, look at all that money they're making. The question is, are all the details there? Are these tax returns complete? Are there going to be questions raised about some of these sources of income?

KAYE: Obama's campaign pressed Clinton to release her returns, after she loaned her campaign $5 million.

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: All she has to do is send someone down to Kinko's to photocopy tax returns.

KAYE: That was shortly after revelations surfaced Bill Clinton had received a payout of at least $15 million from a supermarket holding company that invests in tax shelters, a company whose main investor is the government of Dubai, a government Hillary Clinton has criticized because its investments lack transparency.

The Clintons had more to give, and they gave it. They paid about $33 million in taxes, but still donated more than $10 million to charity.

(on camera): The returns are the second batch of documents the Clintons have released. Under pressure, last month, Hillary Clinton released her scheduling records from her years as first lady. Not public yet, major donors to Mr. Clinton's presidential library.

SCHNEIDER: The donors to the presidential library are important, because these are people who can be expected to have influence in a Clinton -- a second Clinton administration.

KAYE (voice-over): The wait goes on.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: We're digging deeper with the best political team on television, CNN's Candy Crowley, CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen, and CNN contributor and author Carl Bernstein. His latest book is "A Woman in Charge," a biography of Hillary Clinton.

Candy, besides speeches and books, Bill Clinton's biggest single business income is from this partnership with something called Yucaipa Global Opportunities Fund. Now, one of his partners in the fund is the Dubai Investment Group, which I guess is closely tied to the ruler of Dubai, the sheik.

So, "Newsweek" had this to say about all of this. They said: "This month, Hillary criticized the oil-rich foreign governments that use 'huge pools of money' -- her words -- "to buy up stakes in major U.S. financial institutions. That's a good applause line, but a tough one to deliver with a straight face while her husband has a business partnership with a similar foreign fund."

Is this going to become an issue?


And we have heard from Bill Clinton that he would divest from some of these things if in fact Hillary Clinton is elected president. So -- but, you know, we're just now getting these tax returns.

There are more questions than answers. We know kind of bottom lines. We see that his business relationship with Ron Burkle and that partnership. The Dubai thing is still out there. And, obviously, this is a problem for her.

She is -- it was a problem for her when she was in the Senate and it was brought up. So, they're going to -- we're going to still have to go over a lot of these things, but, yes, it's going to be a problem going forward.



CROWLEY: ... and certainly a problem in the White House.

COOPER: David, you can imagine the commercials. While Hillary Clinton is criticizing the Bush administration for permitting a Dubai company to manage an American port, which she did, she and her husband are profiting from a partnership with the sheik of Dubai.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's very different to have a private set of investment relationships. We live in a very complex world with big money now.

And, you know, there are some obvious questions to be pursued about his relationship with Mr. Burkle and the Dubai and everything like that.

But I have to say, first of all, she deserves credit for having put this out here. The numbers are eye-popping, $109 million. But $90 million of that came from books and speeches.

It does raise the question when she said she dismisses Barack Obama from making good speeches -- hey, her husband has proven that there's a lot of value from making good speeches, over $50 million.

But I'm also -- I must tell you I think it's -- I'm impressed by the fact that they paid a hefty share in taxes, and they gave over $10 million in charity. Altogether, of that $109, some $40 million of it they put into taxes and to charity. That's far more than most people in that income bracket normally give in those two areas.

COOPER: That's certainly true.

Not a coincidence, Carl, that these tax returns were released at like 4:00 this afternoon on a Friday. It's like a lot of reporters already left the office when they probably came out. Why the delay in releasing these? I mean, why...

CARL BERNSTEIN, AUTHOR, "A WOMAN IN CHARGE: THE LIFE OF HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON": You have -- You have asked the right question. Why couldn't these have been released months ago? Because what we know about 2007 here is almost nil, because we don't have the actual returns. They have asked for an extension.

What this is, is not transparency. And that's the difficulty with the Clintons all the time. There's always less than transparency when these things occur under duress. And, at the same time, this is not about, you know, Nixon, "I am not a crook."

The Clintons are not crooks. What this is about are, what are the conflicts of interest when you have your wife as a presidential candidate and you are being paid by foreign entities?

And we do not know from the information thus far released about 2007, especially what are the sources of foreign money, including his speeches, incidentally, which a lot of them were abroad, that Bill Clinton got? It would be very easy for someone to ask Bill Clinton, lay out the sources of income. Let us see them all. That's all you got to do.

They haven't done it. That's less than transparency.

COOPER: So, you have no doubt this story, next week, even though this was dropped in sort of a dead zone on Friday afternoon, this story is going to be around for a while?

BERNSTEIN: It's dropped in the midst of a Pennsylvania campaign that is absolutely crucial to her winning, and they need to get this behind them, because if they can't -- right now, the numbers -- Obama's numbers are going up in Pennsylvania and hers have been coming down. They have got to get past this.

And you got to look at it as part of a bigger strategy.

COOPER: We're going to have more from Carl and David and Candy in just a moment.

Since we're looking at the Clintons' income, it's only fair that we do the same with the other candidates and their spouses.

Erica Hill joins us with the "Raw Data" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, we have got the numbers for both the Obamas and the McCains.

We will start out with the Obamas for you. Taking a look at the numbers from 2006, they earned, Michelle and Barack Obama, just a little over $991,000. Now, more than half of that was for royalties which they earned off of Barack Obama's two books. For taxes, they paid $277,000.

Now, when we go to take a look at the McCains, it's actually a little bit more difficult, because they have never released their tax returns. But here's what we do know, that in 2006 they had about $3.9 million in income. Now, of that, $3.7 million was earned off of investments of Mrs. McCain's.

She is the chairwoman of her family's very lucrative beer distribution business. And we don't know exactly what her fortune is, but the estimates range as high, Anderson, as $100 million for her worth. Interesting, though, a prenuptial agreement actually separates the couple's finances completely.

COOPER: All right, Erica, thanks.

I'm blogging during the broadcast. So is Erica. To join in on the conversation, go to

Just ahead: the new national poll numbers out tonight showing Barack Obama losing ground and Hillary Clinton gaining -- talking nationally. Have the Reverend Wright's comments done more damage than the Obama campaign would like to admit?

Also, a dramatic raid still unfolding at a polygamist compound in Texas. More than a dozen girls as young as 6 months old have been removed, amid allegations of abuse. We will have the latest details -- ahead on 360.



CLINTON: Don't get me wrong. I have absolutely nothing against rich people. As a matter of fact, my husband, much to my surprise and his, has made a lot of money since he left the White House doing what he loves doing most, talking to people.


COOPER: That was Senator Hillary Clinton in Grand Forks, North Dakota, just moments ago talking about her tax returns.

Her opponent, Senator Barack Obama, is campaigning today on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Some new numbers are giving his campaign something to worry about, perhaps.

In the latest "New York Times"/CBS News poll, support for Obama has slipped. Forty-six percent of Democratic voters said they want Obama to be the nominee, vs. 54 percent in late February. Forty-three percent now want Hillary Clinton to be the nominee. That's up from 38 percent. That, of course, is one poll.

In the latest national Democratic poll of polls, Obama's lead over Clinton has narrowed slightly. Forty-seven percent support Obama. Forty-four percent back Clinton. Nine percent of voters were unsure, down from 12 percent.

So, what does it all mean? We're digging deeper with our panel, CNN's Candy Crowley, CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen, and CNN contributor Carl Bernstein, whose latest book is "A Woman in Charge," a biography of Hillary Clinton.

Candy, so, the poll of polls shows little movement. "The New York Times" poll indicates Obama's lead is shrinking. What do you make of all this? What's going on?

CROWLEY: Well, I think Reverend Wright did have some effect nationally. I think it had probably some effect in Pennsylvania.

However, he is narrowing that gap in Pennsylvania. So, I think one of the things that -- that has happened here is that Wright has hurt him. But I'm surprised it hasn't hurt him more. And I thought that when we started getting polls post the Wright debate.

So, I think the fact that he's held his own is pretty amazing, given the pounding that he's had for a couple weeks.

COOPER: Carl, it's interesting. The Clinton folks had made a big deal out of someone from the Obama campaign meeting with a member of the Canadian government, the Canadian Embassy.

We have now learned that Mark Penn, the chief strategist for the Clinton campaign, had a meeting with Colombian officials, which he has now said was an error in judgment. Is this going to be a big issue now?

BERNSTEIN: It's a sideshow.

COOPER: Sideshow. BERNSTEIN: He's got a conflict of interests, too. Surprise. You know, a lot of these political consultants have -- have conflicts of interest.

What's really going on -- now, those polls are snapshots. Since Hillary's Bosnian adventure, in fact, her numbers have gone down, and his have gone back up some. She needs bigger numbers than this if she has any hope of being the nominee, both in Pennsylvania and nationally.

And the people I have talked to in the campaign today especially said, if they don't see some real movement in the numbers, both nationally and in Pennsylvania, they need to go into a really negative mode that is a big risk. They have information, they say, that they had hoped would be out there, that reporters would look at, and they haven't, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But this is a negative campaign.

COOPER: David, I mean, there is a risk in any kind of negativity, especially from Hillary Clinton. It doesn't seem -- I mean, in the past, has it worked for her?

GERGEN: I think it worked early on. And, as I have said here now a couple times, I think it's been backfiring recently.

If they have some new information which has not been disclosed, that could conceivably work. If they simply go back into attack mode and go after his character and one thing and another, I think that's going to backfire on them.

And I think Carl is right. This new national poll that shows some softening for Obama among independents does reflect the fact that there has been -- he perhaps has suffered some -- and, as Candy said, some from the Reverend Wright affair for the general election.

But what is critical is what's going on in Pennsylvania and where he is on the Democratic nomination. And, in Pennsylvania, the polls have been closing. They have been helping him. He's down to about an average of six in the various polls. Anything under 10 percent for Barack Obama, I think, coming out of Pennsylvania would be considered a moral victory for him and help him a lot.

COOPER: So, even a loss in the single digits would be considered a victory?

GERGEN: Well, when you think that, only a couple of weeks ago, she was ahead by 15, 20 -- and it's been static in Pennsylvania for a long, long time, with her with a big, big lead -- and he's now cut it down by half-a-dozen points or so, if he can hold it down to that level, I think the media will -- will, by and large, say he's done pretty well out of it, and it's not a -- she needs a thumping victory out of Pennsylvania. She needs 10 or better, in my judgment.

BERNSTEIN: It's her demographic. It's the same demographic, to a large extent, as Ohio.

One of the things we haven't thought about in this campaign is, if some of these states early on were to vote today, you know, Hillary and Obama both make the argument, "I'm more electable."

One of the things the superdelegates are looking at is, all right, you won that state three months ago. How would that state vote today? And there's a big difference in many of those states, I think, in the perceptions of how they would vote today.

GERGEN: Which way?

BERNSTEIN: Both ways. It's different in different states.

If you were to look at Texas, for instance, I have a feeling that Texas right now might go the other way. If you were to go back to some places Obama had won overwhelmingly, it might be by less.

COOPER: Candy -- Candy, the one thing we do know now, Michigan's state Democratic Party said that there will not be another primary election. Is that for real, or is that -- is that -- do we actually now know that? Or...

CROWLEY: Well, this is about the fourth time...

COOPER: Right. Exactly.

CROWLEY: ... we have heard they're not going to do it. So, I'm not -- I believe them now. I believed them the first, second and third time. They have run out of time. I mean, that's the problem here, is that, you know, if the Obama folks play out the clock, this is to their advantage.

Clearly, in Michigan, the state party has decided they don't have the money and they don't have the time to do this. Now, of course, the Obama people have come forward and said, OK, well, let's seat them. I will take half the delegates and she can have half the delegates. But, at this point, they just don't have the time to have a do-over.

COOPER: Like Michigan and Florida, we also don't have the time to continue the discussion.

COOPER: David Gergen, Candy Crowley, Carl Bernstein, good to have you on. Thank you.

Still to come: race and politics. Senator John McCain gets booed and kind of heckled at an event marking the death of Martin Luther King Jr. See what he said that got some in the crowd fired up.

But, first, danger on the job -- a gutsy gas station clerk wrestles with a gunman -- dramatic video -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: Coming up: a difficult day for John McCain at an event marking the assassination of Martin Luther King. The crowd wasn't happy with some of his comments. We will show you that.

First, Erica Hill joins us again with a 360 bulletin -- Erica. ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the State Department says it is renewing Blackwater, USA's contract to protect diplomats in Iraq for another year. The security firm came under fire back in September when Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 Iraqis. The FBI is still investigating those shootings.

In Qatar, a B-1 bomber, like this one here, caught on fire after landing at an air base which is also the headquarters for the U.S. military's air operations in the Middle East. The crew got out safely. No one was hurt.

And a clerk at a gas station in a fight for his life -- the worker wrestled a shotgun out of the hands of a would-be robber. The suspect runs out of the store, begging the clerk not to shoot him.

Talk about a rough day on the job.

COOPER: Wow. Unbelievable.

Up next: race and politics. We will show you how all three presidential candidates remembered the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. today. John McCain actually kind of got heckled as he tried to explain why he voted against making King's birthday a national holiday. He said it was a mistake. We will show you what happened.

And here's tonight's "Beat 360": somebody displaying acupuncture needles in his forehead during a self-acupuncture performance, whatever that is. He apparently inserted 1,200 needles into his head during a show.

HILL: Hmm.

COOPER: Here's the caption from our staff winner for the second time in a row, senior executive producer David Doss: "Seriously, I get DirecTV for free on this thing."

Yes, it's worth a chuckle.

Go to

COOPER: Send us your submissions. See if you can do better. We will announce the winner at the end of the program.


COOPER: Senator Hillary Clinton in Memphis today on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. The civil rights leader was a huge presence on the campaign trail today -- all three candidates talking at length about his unfinished work.

We're taking a closer look with this "Uncovering America" report. Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Across 40 years, the life and death of Martin Luther King touched the politics of 2008, as the presidential candidates mourned his murder and reached for his legacy.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He only seems a bigger man from far away. The quality of his character is more apparent.

CROWLEY: The day King was assassinated 31-year-old John McCain was a POW in Hanoi. Fifteen years later, a congressman from Arizona, he voted against making King's birthday a national holiday. And it made for a difficult day in Memphis.

MCCAIN: We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I myself made long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King.

I was wrong.

CROWLEY: In 1968, Hillary Clinton was a college student. King's death is a part of history that is personal.

CLINTON: I wore a black armband. I worked to convince my college to recruit more students and faculty of color. But it felt like it wasn't enough.

CROWLEY: Barack Obama was 6 when it happened, too young for the assassination to be part of his history, but it is a part of his today.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We all share the same hopes for the future, and they're at the heart of the struggle for freedom and dignity and humanity that Dr. King began and that is our task to complete.

CROWLEY: Obama did not go to Memphis to mark King's death. En route to Fort Wayne, he told reporters it's a decision he's comfortable with.

OBAMA: I spoke at Dr. King's church on his birthday. I was with the King family then. I think it's important to spread the message that Dr. King's work is unfinished in places like Indiana and North Dakota.

CROWLEY: Indiana has a primary next month. North Dakota re- caucuses this weekend.

Clinton spent the day more traditionally, in Memphis, speaking at the church where King delivered his last sermon. But the campaign trail is never further away than the podium, as Clinton announced plans to appoint a poverty czar if elected president.

CLINTON: A person whom I would see being asked by the president every single day, what have you done to end poverty in America? No more excuses, no more whining.

CROWLEY: All agreed King's work for social justice and equality is unfinished. But, in an election year where a woman and a black man have a realistic chance of becoming president, the country is closer to the mountaintop than 40 years ago. Candy Crowley, CNN, Fort Wayne, Indiana.


COOPER: We're digging deeper on race and politics.

Joining me again, David Gergen. Also with us tonight, radio talk show host Joe Madison, who spoke with Senator Obama today on his radio program.

David, John McCain apologized today for voting against a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., a national holiday. He later on voted for a state holiday. What did you think of his apology? Clearly, a difficult day for him.

GERGEN: A difficult day, but he deserves credit for facing up to a mistake, owning up to it, and in Memphis, a very symbolic place to do that, knowing he was probably going to get booed.

I thought he had a -- I thought he did what he needed to do, as I did -- I thought that the sentiments Barack Obama expressed were what he needed to do. The surprise to me was Hillary Clinton.

This was a day, it seemed to me, when she could rise to the occasion and talk about how wonderful it is, 40 years later, that both an African-American and a woman are now competing in the way they are. And she could have helped to put this Wright episode behind us.

But, instead, she sent for this poverty czar, saying she was going to put a poverty czar in the Cabinet, whatever that means, in what many, many will interpret as a clear pander to John Edwards.

COOPER: You don't buy that she's really going to have a poverty czar asking her every single day, what have you done to alleviate poverty...

GERGEN: Well, I remember the days when Bill Bennett was a drug czar. And poor Bill didn't -- he was terrific, but he didn't have the team, he didn't have the capacity -- he didn't have a Cabinet department to run. These can be relatively empty posts.

No, I don't think it's a very meaningful appointment at all.

COOPER: Joe, McCain also promised to compete for African-American voters, a group that's voted overwhelmingly Democratic in the last couple elections. Do you think the Republican Party can be at all competitive in this race?

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, they can if they want to be.

The proof -- I mean, it's a cliche -- is in the pudding. It's actually in the votes. This is a question of public policy. I agree with just about everything that David has said.

Obama has already given, I think, a tremendous speech, in Philadelphia, challenging us on the truth and reconciliation of race in this country.

But the Republicans' voting records on issues like affirmative action, on issues like taxes, smaller government, a government that helps the down and the out, it's really going to be determined on public policy.

All politics is not only local, but all politics is very personal. And, with African-Americans, like with white Americans, as someone once said, there are no permanent friends. There are no permanent enemies; there's only permanent interests. And Republicans must speak to the interests of the majority of black America.

COOPER: David, do you agree with that?


And I must say that the one thing is, one of the things that's been missing from this campaign, no single candidate yet has really put forward, Anderson, an urban agenda, something for the inner cities. There are bits and pieces here and there, but there's nothing that -- of a comprehensive nature.

And, you know, the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs has really drifted away from its constituency. I was with an audience today that -- the HUD secretary resigned last week -- and told them that morning -- they were all public housing officials from around the country -- and I said, this morning, the -- the Cabinet officer is going to resign. They booed him. When they applauded that, because they were glad he was going, basically. They were just booing him, basically.

MADISON: And I could add that, you know, in Philadelphia we're looking at Pennsylvania. I interviewed the former police commissioner of Philadelphia last summer when all the murders were taking place. And he said, "Look, the sociological aspect of this is that 50 percent of black men are unemployed in Philadelphia." I thought that was an astonishing figure and that he might have been inaccurate. But he said, "Therein lies part of our problem."

And when you look at New York and other major cities, the bottom line is I'm looking for a candidate -- and I said this to Senator Obama today -- I'm looking for a candidate that's going to give that New Frontier speech, the kind that I remember Kennedy giving that said we'll have a man on the moon within my presidency or my generation.

I want to hear candidates say that to the American people, that at the end of my presidency, we'll reduce dropout in high school by 90 percent. Or we'll cure AIDS or we'll cure cancer.

But we haven't heard that from any of the candidates so far. And the one who comes up with it, I think, will be the one that will capture the imagination of the American people.

COOPER: It's interesting you mentioned that, Joe. I've had similar moments when people mention, like, the dropout rate of African- Americans from high school. And it's just -- the numbers are shocking. And it's something which should be making headlines, because it -- I mean, it is a national issue. And yet it seems -- it doesn't. And I guess that's as much our fault as anyone's fault.

MADISON: Public -- public education is the great equalizer in America. And I think it needs far more attention from a public policy standpoint and from the community. We should be talking about education on the street corners, the pulpits, our homes.

COOPER: Joe Madison, always good to have you on. David Gergen, as well. Thank you.

Up next, your money, their projects. New information on congressional pork. Millions of taxpayer dollars, your money being spent on golf for one thing. That's only the beginning. Joe Johns is "Keeping Them Honest."

Also ahead, dozens of women and children being removed from one of the compounds of so-called polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs. He's in jail, but the cult -- the sect, the cult, whatever you want to call it, is still out there. We've got the latest on this developing story when 360 continues.


COOPER: Tonight, Washington has found a new way to experience lobsters and a new way to spend your money, with taxpayer dollars funding a lobster institute. I kid you not.

That's just the beginning of the latest round of earmarks, some of which are legitimate but some of which are just outrageous expenditures of your money, pork-barrel projects that lawmakers shove into bills.

This year, there's a whole new slate of spending you probably won't believe. "Keeping Them Honest," here's CNN's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anybody who watches Tiger Woods swing a club can pick up pointers on how to play golf. But can you pick up pointers on life? The federal government thinks so.

This year Congress earmarks $3 million to a program in sunny South Carolina to teach character development and values through golf. That's according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, an organization that keeps track of earmarks.

The government is also running up a large tab in Las Vegas, Sin City; but not for casinos and slot machines. There's a post office in Vegas that locals want to turn into a museum of local history. Congress set aside $200,000 to pay for it. The question: why not let all the rich people here pay for the museum?

STEVE ELLIS, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: It's the city that just literally oozes money. There's plenty of money in Las Vegas to be directing it and using private dollars to go to that. JOHNS: It's about setting priorities in the sometimes murky world of congressional earmarks, those pesky pet projects that members of Congress just love to pack into federal spending bills. It's always been known as pork, tender and delicious, the perfect recipe for spending your money.

This year Congress served up more than 11,000 of these earmark entrees, a dinner tab worth $18.3 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. Chock-full of things like $335,000 for a minor league baseball stadium in Billings, Montana. And $212,000 going into research conducted in France into habits of the olive fruit fly.

ELLIS: It's sort of bizarre where you see an earmark that's actually going to another country.

JOHNS: But if you think it sounds, well, nutty, it's not nearly as bad as 2005, when Congress set a record for this kind of thing, earmarking more than $21 billion. The real question is who's ordering up all these projects?

This year's king of earmarks is Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, the top Republican on the appropriations committee, whose earmarks totaled $837 million. He defends it.

SEN. THAD COCHRAN (R), MISSISSIPPI: I don't think the test is how many earmarks are going to be requested by whom. The question is whether we're going to leave to the executive branch the sole responsibility for allocating the resources of the federal government. The Constitution gives that power to the Congress.

JOHNS: Hard to argue with that, but it's not the power of Congress to spend your money that makes people mad. It's the priorities.


COOPER: Joe, John McCain has been one of the leaders in Congress against earmarks. He didn't have any. Senators Obama and Clinton did. What do we know about their requests? Are they completely transparent?

JOHNS: I wouldn't say completely transparent. There's a list of ten, the top ten. Hillary Clinton is No. 10 on that list among senators, getting something like $340 million for earmarks, most of which she collaborated with other senators on.

Senator Obama is much farther down that list, something like $99 million that he received in earmarks. So they sort of run the gamut.

When you look at John McCain, he's the guy who's out there crusading against them. These other two senators, on the Democratic side, have a much softer position, Anderson.

COOPER: Obama has been critical, though, of Clinton for not publishing her list of requested earmarks, whereas he has published his. Is that correct? JOHNS: Yes. Well, there's that issue, of course, of who has actually requested earmarks from you. That's a big issue on Capitol Hill right now, too. In other words, someone comes to Senator This or Senator That and says, "Would you please give us this earmark for what purpose?" That's part of that debate.

A lot of people on both the Senate and House side are talking about that, as well, as you know, a moratorium on earmarks going forward, which so far hasn't gotten very far in the Congress.

COOPER: Yes. Well, we all remember Drew Griffin trying to call around. He had all the interns calling around to every office, trying to get them to admit what earmarks they requested. And I think it was just a pitiful number that actually came forward and told us what earmarks they actually wanted. We should do that again.

Joe, thanks.

Ahead on 360, a developing story: a raid at a polygamist compound in Texas, where kids who are followers of Warren Jeffs are being removed by police. We're going to have the latest.

We'll also talk to Carolyn Jessop, who escaped, along with her eight children, from a polygamist husband. Carolyn Jessop joins us live after the break.


COOPER: Developing story in Texas tonight, where a raid is underway at the secret polygamist compound run by the FLDS Church, whose leader Warren Jeffs is now in prison.

Backed up with an armored personnel carrier and a SWAT team, for a big show of force, authorities moved in last night. Dozens of girls have been removed from the compound, we're told. A local TV station is reporting that many of the girls are pregnant.

More now from CNN's Susan Roesgen, who's in Texas.


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Escorted by sheriff's department trucks and Jeeps, two white buses from a local Baptist church drive down a dusty Texas road. It's hard to tell through the tinted windows, but inside the buses are dozens of girls, some just a few months old.

The girls were being removed from a sprawling, secretive Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints compound near El Dorado called the YFZ Ranch. Throughout the evening, dozens of girls were taken away.

MARLEIGH MEISNER, TEXAS CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES: We have 52 young women from the ages of 17 to 6 months of age that we have taken from the compound. Not legal custody but taken from the compound. And of those, we have 18 that we have taken legal custody of. I can tell you that we're about halfway through our investigation.

ROESGEN: The Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints has an estimated 10,000 members, most of them in a tiny town in Utah, and they are notoriously hostile to outsiders.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Can I ask you a quick question?


ROESGEN: Nearly all of them are followers of Warren Jeffs, a man they call their prophet. Jeffs is currently in jail after being convicted on two counts of being an accomplice to rape. Critics of the sect say it forces girls as young as 13 into marriage.

The investigation at the ranch began Thursday after Child Protective Services received a tip that a teenage girl at the compound had been sexually and physically abused.

Armed with a search and arrest warrant, authorities drove out to the compound where some 400 members of this polygamist church live. The followers initially resisted, but officials were able to get inside and investigate the claims of abuse.

MEISNER: I can tell you that we are still there. We're hearing these rumors, as well. We really don't want to deal with rumors. We're really trying to deal with facts. And the way we're getting facts is by interviewing those people at the compound right now.

ROESGEN: The state has taken legal custody of 18 of the girls, saying they were exposed to an imminent risk of abuse. Many of them are being housed in a nearby community center. Stretched across 1,700 acres, the ranch is the largest polygamist community outside of Utah and Arizona. It has a towering white temple, a water tower, dormitories and is guarded by armed men.


COOPER: Susan, you say all this began with a tip. What do we know about the tip?

ROESGEN: Well, Anderson, we've got a copy of the arrest and search warrants via "The San Angelo Standard-Times," a newspaper in this area. They sent us the search warrant and the arrest warrant.

They were looking initially for a 50-year-old man whom they believed had married a 16-year-old girl, Anderson, and had a baby with her. In this state, you're not even allowed to get married if you're under 16 without the consent -- even with the consent of your parents. And this girl apparently married this 50-year-old man when she was just 15 years old.

So they went in looking for the man, the girl, the baby, and then as you saw there, they came out with all those girls, dozens of young girls.

COOPER: What will become of them? That's one thing we'll follow.

Susan, appreciate it. Susan Roesgen, reporting from Texas.

So what is life like inside that secret polygamist compound in Texas and others? One woman who knows more than -- almost anyone else in the outside world is Carolyn Jessop.

Her ex-husband, Merrill Jessop, has been running the compound since Warren Jeffs went to prison. Jessop fled with her eight children from the bizarre world of the FLDS and wrote the best-selling book, "Escape."

One reason she was determined to flee was her fear that she and her children might be forced to move behind those very compound walls. We always like to talk to Carolyn.

Carolyn, thanks for being with us. What can you tell us about this compound in El Dorado?

CAROLYN JESSOP, AUTHOR, "ESCAPE": Well, from everything I've heard, it's just a lock-down facility. It's like living in a prison camp, and it's the very thing I was afraid of being taken into.

Every element of your life is controlled, and everybody is monitoring what you do. And you know, it's reported if you don't do what you're supposed to. And just an enormous amount of control.

COOPER: And the community that you lived in, there was also similar kinds of controls?

JESSOP: Yes, there -- yes, there were. But when you separate people from family members and you put them in a more isolated or extreme environment, and less people, then you can intensify the control. I knew that's what was -- I knew that's what was happening -- what would be happening with the situation.

COOPER: Carolyn, we've got to take a short break. Stick around, though. We're going to talk to you more, right when this break is done. I want to talk -- ask you about the girls removed from the compound. They're being interviewed by investigators. The question is will they talk? We'll talk to Carolyn about that.

Also ahead tonight, severe weather slams the southeast. Tonight, new tornadoes reported in Mississippi. The latest when 360 continues.


COOPER: If you're just joining us, inside a secret polygamist compound in Texas tonight, authorities are still questioning teenage girls and children to see if it's safe enough for them to return. That is the compound there in El Dorado. Fifty-two girls were removed from it today, ranging in ages from 17 to 6 months old.

More now with our guest, Carolyn Jessop, who fled from the polygamist cult with her eight children four years ago. Her ex-husband, Merrill Jessop, has actually been running the compound since Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS, went to prison. And she knows she has stepdaughters who live inside.

You know, you see these young girls being taken away in these buses. I can't imagine what they are going through. I mean, you fled. Your children fled. What's that like, suddenly emerging from that world?

JESSOP: It is absolutely terrifying. It's like jumping off a cliff.

The one thing that my children had is I was there with them. I went over that cliff with them. And I mean, just watching that bus with these girls on, and I have reason to suspect that maybe upwards of four of my stepdaughters are on that bus. And my heart is just going in so many directions.

Because you know, they're -- they don't have, you know, their mother with them through this, and I'm sure this is just terrifying. They're so indoctrinated to be afraid of the outside world and mainstream society. I mean, they're probably terrified; they're confused. I mean, it's just -- to me it's heart-wrenching.

COOPER: Among the girls removed from the compound, there was a 6- month-old baby. We are told -- there have been reports that there were a lot of babies left unattended.

What do you know about babies with no mothers around to take care of them? Does that sound like something that happened at the FLDS compounds?

JESSOP: Well, I haven't been inside the compounds, you know. I lived a life inside this community. And there were occasions where babies were left unattended but not like that number. And, you know, I don't know what the length of time was, but it just seemed absurd.

I mean, when I was there, we had definitely better practices when it came to watching, you know, a baby.

COOPER: There are also now stories that half the girls, or as many as half the girls removed from the compound are pregnant. Is there any doubt in your mind the children are being abused in El Dorado?

JESSOP: There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the children are being abused.

COOPER: How can you say that?

JESSOP: Because of the abuse that occurred in Merrill's family. You know, when I lived that home, the abuse was outrageous. And...

COOPER: What sort of abuse?

JESSOP: Physical, violence. I have a daughter in therapy right now because she was molested by her half brother. I mean, it's -- and emotional abuse, psychological abuse. There's the indoctrination. There's the educational neglect.

I mean, it just ranges in every area from one perspective -- one side of the spectrum to another. And I mean, my children, you know, I'm still stabilizing them 4 1/2 years later.

COOPER: It's stunning, I think, to a lot of people -- it certainly was stunning to me when we started covering this -- it seems, I don't know, I guess about two years ago -- that this can exist in this day and age in the United States of America, that these -- these secret societies exist, hiding in plain sight.

JESSOP: It's -- it's a complete tragedy. And the tragedy to me is that it's not only there, but it's expanding. It's moving into states like Texas, and South Dakota and Colorado, and it's growing rapidly. And at the rate that this -- this community believes in having children, it will continue to grow rapidly.

COOPER: It's just a remarkable thing. We'll continue to follow this story out of Texas tonight. Carolyn Jessop, we appreciate you being on. Thank you.

JESSOP: Thank you.

COOPER: Erica Hill joins us again with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, we begin with more dangerous weather. Powerful storms continue to sweep across the south, and the damage is extensive. Possible tornadoes have now hit several towns in Southern Mississippi. And you may recall the tornado last night we told you about. It ravaged a mobile home park in Little Rock.

Across America, a vanishing work force; The government reporting 80,000 jobs were lost in March. That is the steepest decline in five years. Since January, nearly 160,000 Americans have become unemployed.

And Google -- get this -- is being sued by a Pittsburgh couple for invasion of privacy. The couple says Google's street view actually lets prying eyes get too close to their address. So now they want the images of their home destroyed. And they're also asking for $25,000 for the pain and suffering, Anderson.

COOPER: This is kind of amazing when you look at -- and somebody can see your own house on Google. Very strange.

HILL: It is a little creepy, yes.

COOPER: Now our "Beat 360" winner. Here's how it works. We post a picture on our Web site. You try to come up with a caption that's better than the one our staff cooks up. We play the cheesy music.

Here's tonight's picture: a man displaying acupuncture needles in his forehead during a self-acupuncture performance. He apparently inserted 1,200 needles into his head during the show.

HILL: That's just -- the number alone is amazing.

COOPER: Yes. Pretty amazing. How much space do you have?

Tonight's staff winner, our executive -- senior executive producer, David Doss: "Seriously, I get Direct TV for free on this thing."

I like it.

HILL: Yes, he's also promised, us free pizza for winning tonight.

COOPER: Yes, exactly.

HILL: David, I'm calling you out on that one.

COOPER: Our viewer winner is Lissa: "Head on: apply directly to the pinhead. Head on: Apply directly to the pinhead."

That's a very good one. Yes.

HILL: That is good stuff.

COOPER: To check out the other captions we received, go to

"The Shot" is next, Erica. It involves the one musical instrument we all need to learn how to play: the pan flute. And you know who's playing it, the master of the pan flute.

HILL: The one and only.

COOPER: Yes. His name shall be spoken after this commercial break.

Later, the raw numbers are out. Hillary Clinton releases her tax returns. We have the figures from her and the former president when 360 continues.


COOPER: Erica, time for "The Shot." Remember the musical stylings made famous in these cheesy commercials?

HILL: The one and only? Could it be?


HILL: Zamfir the pan flute? You know what? Too bad for Zamfir, Anderson. He's not getting on tonight, you know why? We got someone a little bit better than Zamfir. There's a little tape.

As I recall, Anderson Cooper, this morning I turned on the television only to find this. No, not my usual workout program. It was Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa getting ready to do the thigh dance. But I noticed you weren't really into the thigh dance.

COOPER: I refused to do it.

HILL: I think part of the problem was you just didn't have the right attire. So today I went out and got a little something.

COOPER: Really?

HILL: I think purple is good for thighs, and I got you a matching headband.

COOPER: Oh, no.

HILL: And then I thought...


HILL: Perhaps the original thigh (inaudible) could do a better job than even Kelly Ripa.



HILL: Look at this.


HILL: Frank choreographed the whole routine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's have some fun!

HILL: You do this at home, people...


HILL: ... and you'll be ready for bikini season in no time flat.

COOPER: Wow, look at that.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Wow, yes.

HILL: I mean, maybe in a show of solidarity you can put the headband on.

COOPER: That's all right.

All right. All right. Thank you very much. Wow. That's -- that's something. That's...

HILL: Good time co-hosting with Kelly in the morning, isn't it?


HILL: You never know what it's going to do for you at night, though.

COOPER: Yes. Wow.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: If you see some amazing videos, tell us about it.

Yes, anyway, let's move on. Yes. For our international viewers, "CNN Today" is next. Here in America, Larry King is coming up.

Have a great weekend.