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DOW Plunges Again; Campaigns Getting More Negative; Brazil's Disappearing Rainforest; End of the Road for O.J. Simpson

Aired October 6, 2008 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: "Breaking News" tonight on Wall Street and beyond. The bailout that was supposed to stop the bleeding of the markets hasn't so far, not yet anyway.
Asian markets plunged a short time ago and the DOW took a breathtaking nose-dive today, plunging 800 points at one point, its biggest drop ever during a trading day. It regained some ground and but still closed below 10,000 for the first time in nearly four years; down almost 30 percent from its all time high just a year ago.

As the markets were convulsing, the campaign trail was getting ugly, new attacks were launched today. We'll get to all of that.

Here's what both candidates said about the economy.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I've got news for the McCain campaign. The American people are losing right now. They're losing their jobs; they're losing their health care, they're losing their homes, they're losing their savings. I cannot imagine anything more important to talk about than the economic crisis.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our economy is still hurting. Working families are worried about the price of groceries, the price of gas, keeping their jobs and paying their mortgage. Further action is needed and must be done. We need to restore confidence in our economy and in our government.


COOPER: A new CNN Opinion Research Poll shows the majority of Americans expect things to actually get worse; nearly 6 in 10 people surveyed said they believe another economic depression is likely. That's Depression with a capital "D." One financial analyst said today quote, "It is hard to exaggerate how bad things are."

No exaggeration tonight, just the facts.

Let's start off with CNN senior business correspondent, Ali Velshi. Ali, President Bush signed this bailout on Friday, it passed, the markets did what they did today, why?

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Not supposed to have happened. And this was not supposed to be the reaction we saw, this is unbelievable. Take a look at how this market started; it started the day, going down, went further down.

And look what happened after 2:00, it was down 800 points. And the bottom line, is you've made your first investment in the stock market around there, you actually saw it go up 400 points to end the day 369 points lower.

Why did this happen, Anderson, you're asking? Well, the credit bailout was supposed to fix the credit freeze, which in fact operates very differently than the stock market does. The stock market makes money when the companies in the stock market make money. And those companies make money when regular people spend money.

Now, how do regular people spend money? They have to feel they've got enough of it. That means they've got a good job. That means their wages are going up or their home prices are going up. And right now, these things aren't happening.

We saw on Friday, Anderson, you and I talked about this three- quarter of a million jobs lost this year so far in America, we should have 1.5 million added by this time this year.

Because jobs are being lost, wages are going down, and we all know that home prices are going down. And when you put all of this together you end up with this mess. And the stock market unrelated to the credit freeze, stock market is going down because companies aren't making money -- Anderson.

COOPER: When asked about the economic conditions in the new CNN Poll 84 percent of people said the economic conditions are bad. How is that impacting the stock market and the credit markets?

VELSHI: We're in October, we're almost entering the final quarter of the year, the place where Americans spend all their money, it's called Black Friday at Thanksgiving because that's the day that most companies in America went into the black.

When you're feeling this economic pinch, you're just not going to spend that kind of money. Companies are counting on the fact Americans are holding on very tight to their money right now and until they loosen it up, you're not going to see profitability in America.

COOPER: I want to show folks something that Jim Cramer from CNBC said today on the "Today" show. It freaked a lot of people out frankly. Let's play this.


JIM CRAMER, HOST, CNBC'S "MAD MONEY": Whatever money you may need for the next five years, please, take it out of the stock market, right now, this week. I do not believe that you should risk those assets in the stock market.


COOPER: Scary stuff. Is he right? I mean, it is the kind of the advice we heard from Suze Orman but maybe not so stark. VELSHI: Well, with Cramer, people watch him because they trade stocks. And what Cramer is saying, that if you need that money within five years, either for retirement or for your kids' college, that money that you need in the short term shouldn't be in the market.

That's actually a pretty standards sage advice. You just don't really hear it from Cramer because he's not in the market for people who want general investment advice. Cramer caters to stock buyers. And basically, he's sending a message to his stock buyers who watch him, if you're going to need this money, don't play it in the stock market, it's a very sound advice.

COOPER: All right, Ali Velshi thanks.

For weeks now, we've been hearing that huge sub-prime mortgage losses have caused a massive logjam in the credit market. That's a big part of what's threatening the economy. The $700 billion bailout package that Congress passed on Friday, was supposed to get credit flowing again, but so far the jam has barely budged and the DOW is down as we said almost 30 percent from its all time high a year ago.

So let's bring in Andy Serwer, the managing editor of "Fortune" magazine. Andy, a lot of people out there right now scared about their life savings, their retirement funds are getting decimated.

First of all, I mean in your sense, has this bottomed out? Is this the bottom or have we not even come close yet?

ANDY SERWER, MANAGING EDITOR, FORTUNE: Well sadly, I mean, there's no indication that it's bottoming out. And in fact, that's one reason why the stock market went down today, Anderson, because there's fear that the crisis is spreading indeed.

The more troubling signs from Europe and the situation seems to be spreading there. The real concern of course is job losses. And we probably haven't seen the worst of that.

When someone like Jim Cramer is talking about selling stocks, he believes, as many do, that the stock market is only going to get worse from here. So it's not a pretty picture at all.

COOPER: Should people hold off on spending now wait and see where things go in the near future? That obviously adds to -- I mean if people aren't spending money, and there's no consumer confidence that obviously adds to the problem big picture.

SERWER: Well, that's right. And it all feeds on itself Anderson. You're absolutely right.

I mean, you know if you have a good job, if you feel secure, if you feel good about things, if your kids need stuff, I mean of course, you have to go out and buy it.

It's never a good time to add $50,000 of credit card debt onto your high cost credit cards. I mean, it's never a good idea to do that. The party's over for those kinds of things. But if you need stuff, you've going to have to go out and buy it. People are insecure, particularly about their jobs.

COOPER: Where are we in this entire process? And I guess the scary thing is we don't probably really know where we are. But if the bailout was step one, how many more steps are there?

SERWER: There are a lot more steps. I mean, we have -- we've got the bailout passed, that is step one, you're right. And it's a good thing. We need to keep moving forward here.

Treasury Secretary Paulson has appointed a guy -- a point personnel; there are actually steps being taken in terms of buying up these assets and putting money back into the system.

But we haven't bottomed out yet at all and we need to restore confidence. We need to make sure that things aren't getting worse. And I think we have to do -- the economy is like a patient, right? I mean, the patient is sick. And we've got to stop fighting about things like which doctor we have, are we in the right hospital? Should we have a private room or not?

I think we need to trust Secretary Paulson right now and his people to move forward and do things and stop bickering.

COOPER: Today on Capitol Hill, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers which is now bankrupt; got grilled by lawmakers over executive pay.

But let's play some of that.


REP. HENRY WAXMAN, (D) OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM: Your company is now bankrupt, our economy is in a state of crisis, but you get to keep $480 million. I have a very basic question for you. Is this fair?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: Do you regret spending $10 billion in Lehman's cash reserves on bonuses, stock dividends and stock buy-backs, as your firm faced liquidity crisis?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH, (D) OHIO: Did you mislead your investors? And I remind you, sir, you're under oath.

RICHARD FULD, FORMER CEO OF LEHMAN BROTHERS: No, sir, we did not mislead our investors.


COOPER: Now and there's no doubt this is political grandstanding. A lot of these same folks are the ones who were supposedly watching over this stuff for the last couple of years and on Capitol Hill and just allowed these people to run rampant and allowed legislation that just didn't happen.

That being said, is this issue of CEO compensation, is that a legitimate issue, in terms of the big picture?

SERWER: It is a legitimate issue.

And I agree with you about these televised Congressional hearings, Anderson. I mean, you know first of all, I'm not sure why we do them. I think it's perfectly proper to investigate Lehman Brothers and all these other companies to see if there's criminal behavior or fraud. I don't know what we get out of these show trials, but OK, they're made for good television, it's pretty interesting.

It's sort of tertiary to focus on that now. We really need to focus on fixing the economy. I think it's perfectly proper to limit CEO pay, especially on these companies that are going to get bailed out, absolutely. But to assert or point fingers, let's move on and let's solve things here.

COOPER: Andy Serwer, I appreciate it. Andy thanks.

In the days ahead, that we are going to be looking exactly who is to blame for this financial fiasco, looking at politicians and looking at people on Wall Street and looking in the people all around the country, because a lot of people had their hands in the cookie jar on this thing and we're going to "Keep them Honest" on that in the days ahead.

But let's us know what do you think, who do you think is to blame? I'm blogging throughout the hour. I'm about to logon, join the conversation at And also you can check out Erica Hill's live web cast, during the break at

Just ahead on this program, as Obama widens his lead, the McCain campaign shifting its strategy, Governor Sarah Palin has gone on the attack, at one point, saying Obama is palling around with a terrorist. With just four weeks to ago, how dirty is this going to get and could that actually backfire? We'll talk about that.

And ahead, the latest electoral map changes, and what it means for tomorrow's presidential debate. This time it's a town hall meeting, the candidates will be practically elbow to elbow with voters. We'll preview what may happen.

And guilty as charged, O.J. Simpson convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping, 13 years after his acquittal of a double murder. Did the so-called trial of the century shape how the jury saw him?

All that ahead when "360" continues.



GOV. SARAH PALIN, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He didn't know a few months ago that he had launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist? So what's next? Claiming their ticket doesn't define higher taxes as patriotic?

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Governor Sarah Palin at a rally today in Florida. It is clear the McCain campaign is launching a new offensive against Senator Obama. And the line of attack is well, is anything but new. You've just heard a key part of the strategy trying to link Obama to a former '60s radical, Bill Ayers.

Palin went so far as to say that Obama palled around with the terrorist. But she's now kind of pulling away from that after facing some criticisms for those remarks. We'll look at the facts though, about that particular story in a moment.

First though, on the trail, with a look at how McCain is turning up the heat on Obama.

Here's CNN's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John McCain says you don't really know Barack Obama and that should worry you.

MCCAIN: What does he plan for America? Who is the real Barack Obama? But, my friends, you ask such questions, and all you get in response is another angry barrage of insults.

BASH: One month to go, polls dropping; McCain aides say his central goal now is to sow doubts about Obama.

MCCAIN: For a guy who's already authored two memoirs, he's not exactly an open book. And where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he's above all that.

BASH: Instead of playing up his own prescriptions for the ailing economy, McCain accused Obama of lying about his own record, especially Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

MCCAIN: To hear him talk now you'd think he'd always opposed the dangerous practices at these institutions but there is absolutely nothing in his record to suggest he did. Nothing, zero, zippo, nada.

BASH: Obama's spokesman responded with words chosen to paint their caricature of McCain, calling him, "The one truly angry candidate in this case." And accusing him of, "unleashing another frustrated tirade against Barack Obama."

In McCain's quest to label Obama as too risky, he mostly stuck to policy while his running mate's task is more personal. For three days, it's been about William Ayers, a 1960s radical, whose group bombed U.S. buildings.

In 1995, then a college professor, Ayers hosted a campaign meeting for Obama.

PALIN: This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.

BASH: Sarah Palin toned down her initial accusation that Obama palled around with Ayers and the Obama campaign's explanation changed, too.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST: See, when he went, he certainly -- and he didn't know the history.

BASH: A senior Obama adviser who had said the two were friendly now tells CNN when Ayers helped Obama, he didn't know about his radical past.

Meanwhile, Palin also suggested Obama's controversial pastor, Jeremiah Wright is fair game, even though McCain has called him off- limits. She told conservative columnist, Bill Kristol, "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more because those were appalling things that the pastor had said about our great country."

Palin was careful to say it's John McCain's call as to whether the campaign brings up Jeremiah Wright as an issue.


COOPER: It's funny, she said to Kristol, you know it's up to John McCain whether or not to bring it up as an issue. But she just brought it up as an issue.

BASH: Absolutely. And she absolutely could have said, you know what, John McCain said it's off limit, I'm going to leave it there. But instead, she was very meticulous in what she said, she said the talking points that we heard during the Democratic primary, which is this is a guy, who sat -- Barack Obama sat in this guy's church, in those pews for 20 years.

But she knew what she was doing. And interesting, Anderson, talking to McCain's advisers recently, privately of course, what they say is, many of them say they're actually a little bit frustrated that their own candidate kind of put that political handcuffs on them. Because they think that if you're talking about associations as both candidates are doing right now, and that they think who's more fair, frankly more fair than William Ayers than somebody like Jeremiah Wright, who actually has a real relationship or at least had a real relationship, a very long relationship with Barack Obama.

COOPER: All right, fascinating stuff. Dana Bash thanks.

Coming up, more of John McCain and Sarah Palin's line of attack on Obama, Palin trying to tie her -- to tie Obama to this '60s radical group and questioning his love of country.

Take a look.


PALIN: I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America, as the greatest source for good in this world.


COOPER: All right, ahead we're going to check the facts. Who's really telling the truth about Obama and this guy, Bill Ayers? We're "Keeping them Honest."

We'll also look at new polls and where the Electoral College map now stands? The numbers are on Obama's favor. So how will that impact strategy in tomorrow night's presidential debate.

The "Strategy Session" ahead with the best political team on television.



PALIN: Turns out one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers. According to the "New York Times," he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that quote "launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol."


COOPER: Well, that, of course, is Sarah Palin today on the stump, sphere heading this new effort by the McCain campaign to raise doubts about Barack Obama. Now, critics say they're simply trying to change the focus from the economy to this issue back on Obama.

But in this case, they're linking him to a '60s radical, Bill Ayers. Supporters of the McCain campaign says, look, this is all fair game. In a debate earlier this year, Barack Obama described Ayers as quote, "A guy who lives in my neighborhood and with whom he served on a board."

Now, the Obama campaign is clearly trying to play down any allegations of a relationship between these two men. And just as clearly, the McCain campaign is trying to play up allegations of relationship.

So what is the truth? CNN's Special Investigations Unit correspondent Drew Griffin is "Keeping them Honest."


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, in the 1960s and '70s, were radical, members of the Weather Underground, an anti-Vietnam war group that bombed federal buildings including the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon.

On the run for years, the case against them was thrown out due to illegal wiretaps and prosecutor misconduct. Ayers has never repented and has said as late as 2001, he wished he had done more to stop the war. Barack Obama confirmed during a primary debate that he knew Ayers and when pressed, said they served on a charitable foundation board together. And Obama condemned Ayers support of violence. But the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama said.

ANITA DUNN, OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: What they are arguing is that somehow the fact that these two people who served both educational reformers in Chicago, both of whom did have their paths cross professionally as well as neighbors occasionally. But somehow this association is a problem for Barack Obama because of Bill Ayers past and things that happened in the 1960s when Barack Obama was 7 years old.

And that's just wrong and, frankly, it's quite unfair.

GRIFFIN: One place their paths repeatedly crossed, according to a CNN review of board minutes and other records, was Chicago's Annenberg Challenge project where a $50 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation matched locally raised funds to improve schools.

According to participants and project records, Bill Ayers fought to bring the Annenberg grant to Chicago, Barack Obama was recruited as its chair. For seven years, Bill Ayers and Obama among many others, worked on funding for education projects, including some experiments supported by Ayers.

Stanley Kurtz, a conservative researcher for the Ethics and Public Policy Center has also been reviewing the recently released records of Chicago's Annenberg's challenge.

STANLEY KURTZ, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Instead of giving money directly to schools, they gave money to what they called external partners, and these external partners were often pretty radical community organizer groups.

GRIFFIN: And the board gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bill Ayers' small schools project promoting alternative education like "The Peace School," where the curriculum centered around a United Nations theme, and another school where the focus was, African- American studies.

And this was directly funded by Annenberg?

KURTZ: Oh, yes

GRIFFIN: Under Obama's chairmanship?

KURTZ: Oh yes and the specific job of the board of directors was to give out the money.

GRIFFIN: While continuing work on the Annenberg Challenge, Barack Obama and Bill Ayers also served together on a second charitable foundation, the Woods Fund. Among its recipients, Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church where Obama attended and a Children and Family Justice Center, where Ayers' wife worked. Ayers has strong defenders in Chicago, among them Richard Daly, the mayor, who called Ayers a valued member of the Chicago community. The city gave Ayers its Citizen of the Year award in 1997 for his work on the Annenberg project.

For Obama, the chairmanship of the $100 million Annenberg board, helped vault him from Southside Chicago lawyer to political player. And that, too, has another connection to Bill Ayers.

In 1995, months after the little known Barack Obama became Annenberg project chair, State Senator Alice Palmer introduced the young Obama as her political heir apparent.

Where was that introduction made? At the home of the '60s radicals, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorn. The Obama campaign again says it is just a coincidence.

DUNN: A Democratic state senator organizes a meeting of her supporters at the house of another one of her supporters. What is the problem here, Drew? It is the worst kind of inference and the worst kind of politics to say that somehow that says something about Barack Obama.


GRIFFIN: Anderson, this meeting at Bill Ayers home has been classified in many different ways. What I can tell you from the two people who were actually there, is number one, former Senator Alice Palmer says she, in no way organized this meeting and she was invited and attended it briefly. And Doctor Quentin Young, a retired doctor, told us this indeed was Barack Obama's political coming out party and it was hosted by Bill Ayers.

COOPER: So Drew, I mean bottom line, if Obama and Ayers worked together with others to -- I guess improve schools, what exactly is the McCain-Palin camp saying is wrong with this relationship or this working relationship? Or however you want to characterize it?

GRIFFIN: Well Anderson, I haven't contacted the campaign on this issue. What they're saying on the stump is the same thing that Hillary Clinton brought up during the primary campaign is the issue of trust.

By raising this issue of Bill Ayers, and whether or not Barack Obama was hanging around him, palling around with him, or just working with him, Bill Ayers in the '60s had a very, very different view of the United States that many Americans did. A lot of Americans were against the Vietnam War but not a lot of Americans formed a group and started bombing things because of it.

Now, they're trying to say that that raises judgment issues on Barack Obama. Which has been the tag other campaigns and now McCain's have been trying to peg on him ever since he started running for president.

COOPER: But Barack Obama has publicly stated he does not agree with this guy?

GRIFFIN: Correct. Well, he has said that he does -- I forget his exact words but he's certainly deplores the violence in the past.

COOPER: Right.

GRIFFIN: I haven't been able to ask him directly about the relationship he has or had with Bill Ayers.

COOPER: All right, Drew Griffin. Thanks very much.

Coming up, we'll talk about that with the panel, the best political team on television. And also Sarah Palin's strategy; is it working? David Gergen, Gloria Borger and John King weigh in next.

And debating the economy, a preview of tomorrow's presidential debate.

And later, O.J. Simpson in the slammer, and possibly for life. The final chapter of the Simpson saga ahead.



JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My opponent has invited serious questioning by announcing a few weeks ago, he would quote, "take off the gloves." Since then, whenever I've questioned his policies or his record, he's called me a liar.


COOPER: John McCain on the trail today in New Mexico. Just 29 days until the election, the McCain camp finds itself down in the polls and has gone on the offensive; trying to raise doubts about Obama, personal doubts while attacking Obama's links to '60s radical Bill Ayers. That's one way they're doing it.

Let's "Dig Deeper." Joining us: CNN's senior political analyst and former presidential adviser to both Republicans and Democrats, David Gergen; CNN senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; and CNN chief correspondent, John King.

David, Senator McCain used a very strong language against Obama today, even asking who's the real Barack Obama. Obama's commercials have called McCain a liar in the past. So there's strong language on both sides.

Is what the campaign doing comes -- it comes with some risks given people's concerns about the economy right now, doesn't it?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Huge risks, Anderson. It's almost as if we're living at two different universes. Most Americans are deeply, deeply concern about the economy and their pocketbooks and their savings accounts; worrying about the proverbial 401(k) turning into a 201 (k). We have got this other universe, about the candidates wandering down historical roads that seem irrelevant to most Americans. Who cares very much about where Barack Obama was associated 15, 20 years or Barack Obama raising today in a web cast about John McCain's associations with Charlie Keating in the S&L scandal 20 years ago.

Most Americans care deeply about what these candidates are going to do in the next 20 months and they're not hearing that. They're going to penalize the candidate who harps on these personal things of the past and does not respond to and present a plan for our economic future.

COOPER: It's interesting, Gloria, because Palin, during the debate with Joe Biden, kept saying to Biden, "Oh, Joe, you're still talking about the past," when she was talking about the war and how we got into the war. But now talking about the past of Bill Ayers seems fair game and the Keating Five, as David mentioned for Barack Obama.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What the McCain campaign is trying to do is raise doubts about Barack Obama in any way they can because that's probably the last card they've got.

COOPER: Is this like the kitchen sink strategy? That Clinton once did?

BORGER: This is essentially say -- raise questions in people's minds: can you trust him to manage this economy?

But I agree with David, because I do think this is a big issue election. People are already angry. Only 12 percent of the country thinks we're headed in the right direction. So you risk getting them angrier, because they're not talking about what you care about, which is your pocketbook and your family's future. So I think it's dangerous on both sides.

COOPER: John, though, I guess the McCain campaign would say, "Well, look, we are talking about the economy. It's just the media happens to focus on, you know, what we say about -- about Barack Obama."

KING: Well, John McCain's own advisers will tell you privately, and certainly other Republicans will tell you publicly, Anderson, that the campaign has been all about tactics and not about a broad strategy in recent days. They've gone back and forth themselves.

What they're trying to do is something that Hillary Clinton tried to do against Barack Obama, something the Republicans have tried to do against every left-of-center Democrat in our lifetime, to try to say that on policy, on cultural issues, and just on who they are, they're not like you.

That's what they're trying to sell to small-town America.

And as Gloria noted, right now the polls are breaking against him. I'm standing tonight in Ohio. Our own polling shows Barack Obama ahead here. There's a new "Washington Post" poll out tonight that shows Barack Obama again here. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning the state of Ohio.

In small-town America, they're trying to push Obama to the left by guilt by association, trying to also hit him on policy. It's all part of a puzzle. They need to raise more doubts about him, because right now voters have more doubts about McCain on the No. 1 issue, and that is the economy, of course.

COOPER: It's interesting, David, because I mean, you were giving advice last week, that the McCain campaign needed to come up with something new on the economy, kind of something positive that they could be talking about, and they seem to have gone in a complete opposite direction.

GERGEN: What's new about that? The -- a couple things. One, they clearly need to present an economic plan tomorrow night. And some of the major economists raised tonight, in another conversation I had, an interesting idea, and that is that both candidates in this particular case are senators. So that right after the election, in fact, as a Senator, you could lead an effort to really bring some economic reforms. The winner can.

And so it would be really good to hear from them, not only what they would do as president but what they might do in the next three months. You just opened this show by saying the next three weeks are really critical in the credits, you know, with the things feeding each other.

But let me make one other point, Anderson, if I might. It is not the media that is smothering their effort to get out an economic message on either side. The McCain campaign said very clearly in a conference call with the reporters late last week, we want to turn the page away from the financial crisis and back to these personality issues.

And then right away, Sarah Palin goes out and accuses Obama of palling around with a former terrorist. Now, there is no -- there is no disguise here about what's going on. They clearly want to change the subject.

And today, Obama hit back. Now Obama may be -- you know, he's in danger of getting down in the mud with him if he's not careful. This could boomerang on both of them. The man who gets blamed for diverting this is going to get -- is in a real risk.

BORGER: And don't you guys think it's late for this to happen? Usually, this kind of mud-slinging happens some time over the summer, not a few weeks before an election. Not -- you know, not 29 days before an election. It seems to me that it's so risky.

COOPER: Twenty-nine days with all this other stuff going on. I think that's, in particular, what makes it feel so -- or at least is giving it so much attention.

We're going to have more with our panel coming up.

Up next, the world's largest rainforest vanishing; parts of it being burned to the ground on purpose for profit. We're going to take you inside the Amazon to show you our "Planet in Peril," when "360" continues.


COOPER: For last year's "Planet in Peril" document we traveled deep into Brazil's Amazon and went on patrol with officials trying to stop the forest from being wiped out. Conditions were tough and we saw how just hard it is to patrol and protect a forest the size of Western Europe.

It hasn't gotten easier this year. A new report shows the illegal harvest of the Amazon has reached record levels.

Harris Whitbeck reports.


HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fires like these crackle all around the Brazilian Amazon; flames destroying decades, centuries-old growth in just minutes. This is the deforestation of the world's largest rainforest in the world; illegally burned to turn into farmland.

And this year, it's happening three times as fast as last year. Government officials blame the spike in the burn rate on local politics.

CARLOS MINC, BRAZILIAN MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT (through translator): Historically, deforestation increases during municipal election years because governors and mayors don't want to be unpopular with potential voters by implementing fines on the eve of elections.

WHITBECK: But some environmentalists say rising global food prices are also to blame. Brazil is already one of the world's largest producers of soybeans. Ranchers looking to increase profits turn to clearing more land to plant more soy.

Imagery taken from space confirms the increased destruction; 300 square miles of Amazon were destroyed in September versus only 90 square miles in August of last year. The government says it will increase patrols of vulnerable parts of the Amazon to prevent more illegal clearing.

MINC: This will be essential in the fight against environmental crimes. And In order to put an end to the impunity that reigns in Brazil.

WHITBECK: But with 3.4 million miles of forest within its borders, Brazil has a lot of territory to protect and a lot of economic interests bent on destroying it.

Harris Whitbeck, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: You can go to for our latest dispatches from the field and more information on this year's worldwide investigation we're calling "Planet in Peril - Battle Lines" and that airs on December 11th.

It is supposed to be home turf for John McCain, a town-hall style debate. He's slipping in the polls and dialing up the heat on the campaign trail. Will things get ugly tomorrow night, national? We'll have a preview.

And O.J. Simpson facing possible life in prison. But was the jury tainted? "Crime & Punishment" ahead on 360.



MCCAIN: In short, who is the -- who is the real Barack Obama?


COOPER: Well, it may be hard to hear when McCain asked the crowd who's the real Barack Obama guy, and a guy in the crowd screamed out "terrorist."

There's no doubt this race is getting nastier. If you want to know why just look at the calendar and the Electoral College map.

Joining us for a strategy session, John King joins us again along with Candy Crowley.

John, I want to take a look at how the electoral map is shaping up. Obama's pulled ahead of McCain 250 to 189 electoral votes with 99 tossup votes.

How real? I mean, there's been this huge change toward Obama over the last two or so weeks. How solid is that change? How deep is that support? And could tomorrow night really make much of a difference?

KING: Tomorrow night could make a difference, because John McCain is running out of opportunities to have a national change in the dynamic, Anderson. We've been telling people for months and months and months, pay no attention to the national polls.

Well, this is a time you actually can, because Barack Obama has opened up a lead of six, seven, sometimes eight points in the national polls. If that is the case, then he is poised for a big Electoral College win.

He have him leading in states with 250 electoral votes right now. That means if he can win right here where I am, the state of Ohio, 20 electoral votes, and keep those other states, he's the next president of the United States. Or he can win a combination of Colorado, New Mexico and New Hampshire or he could just win the state of Florida. John McCain has to not only win all of the Bush states still out there like Florida, like Missouri, like Ohio, like Colorado, he has to take something away from Barack Obama like a big state like Pennsylvania.

The economic news has tilted the map steadily and significantly in Obama's favor, and McCain is running out of time to change it. It's that simple.

COOPER: Candy, among Obama advisers and people, I don't know if they talk about this, is there concern about the so-called Bradley effect? The people saying they're going to vote for Barack Obama but then once they're in the poll booths not going ahead and voting, because they're afraid of how it's going to seem to some guy taking a census.

CROWLEY: Obviously, they know that there will be some people in the United States who vote that way. They don't think it will be a significant number of people.

The numbers they are looking at are the new registrations, the bulk of them from people 29 and under.

And Barack Obama has said throughout this campaign from the primary on, "Look, if I lose this election, it's because my ideas, I didn't do good enough job putting my ideas across, not because I'm black."

So it's something that they know is out there. There clearly are pockets in this country who may be saying that they'll vote for him but don't intend to.

But first of all, given the huge margins that we're seeing now, it would be very difficult to believe that that entire margin would disappear. And second of all, they just don't think that it's going to be a definitive factor.

COOPER: John, did these polls take into account all these new people being registered?

KING: The pollsters are doing the best they can, Anderson. You take into account party identification. You call people. You say how many of you are Democrats, how many Republicans, how many independents? That number, especially the Democratic/Republican number, has fluctuated quite a bit over the year.

You try to call young people. Most of them have cell phones. So the pollsters are trying and they admit in this year, we have so many new voters, so many young voters, it's a bit of a crap shoot, if you will, in building the computer model that projects this out. That's why the margins are so important.

Barack Obama is leading in a lot of these close battleground states just outside or within the margin of error. But that means by three or four points in the polls. That means there's still room for them to swing back. But time is running out for John McCain. And one of the things the Obama people are pushing, Anderson, and this is where their resource advantage matters: early voting.

John McCain might deliver a great attack on the debate tomorrow night. But what if 5,000 people here, 10,000 people there, 20,000 people somewhere else, have already voted for Barack Obama?

Now, the Republicans are encouraging that, too. But the Democrats have more money and more resources this year, which is a very new dynamic in presidential politics.

COOPER: Fascinating stuff. John King, Candy Crowley, as always thank you.

Still to come, tough day for a cop on the job. A driver makes a big mistake after getting a speeding ticket. We'll have the video on that. Yikes. We'll explain what happened there.

But first, O.J. Simpson facing possible life behind bars after his conviction in the Vegas armed robbery case. Our "Crime & Punishment" reporter will tell you what happened in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

That, a whole lot more on politics and Palin, and the economy. We'll be right back.


COOPER: In "Crime & Punishment," O.J. Simpson, right now he is in isolation in Clark County Detention Center in Nevada. Lawyers say Simpson is melancholy, which makes sense, given the armed robbery conviction.

It is very possibly the end of the road for O.J. Simpson. He could get life in prison, and while his murder trial 13 years ago was watched by the nation, his latest trial barely registered.


COOPER: Remember the chase?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have O.J. in the car.

COOPER: The gloves?

JOHNNY COCHRAN, ATTORNEY: If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.

COOPER: The thanks after the verdict? And 13 years to the day since that famous acquittal...


COOPER: ... O.J. Simpson was found guilty of armed robbery and kidnapping. His daughter cried in the courtroom; his sister fainted. While the cameras were there to follow him out, the nation no longer seemed so transfixed on O.J. Simpson, a man who's become a sad spectacle.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The '94 case combined everything that obsesses the American people. It had sex; it had race; it had violence. It had Hollywood. It had sports. And the only eye-witness was a dog.

This case was a peculiar robbery, where there was no real appealing victim, and everyone was loathsome.

COOPER: The all-white jury of nine women and three men were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Simpson orchestrated a hold- up in a cheap Vegas hotel room last year. Prosecutors said Simpson and a band of cohorts used force and a weapon to get merchandise from two sports memorabilia dealers. The profanity-laced confrontation was recorded on tape.

O.J. SIMPSON, CONVICTED OF ARMED ROBBERY: Don't let nobody out of this room! (EXPLETIVE) Think you can steal my (EXPLETIVE) and sell it?


SIMPSON: Don't let nobody out of here. (EXPLETIVE), you think you can steal my (EXPLETIVE)?

COOPER: Throughout the trial, the 61-year-old Simpson sat and listened as four of the five men also charged in the case testified against him after accepting plea deals.

It was in 1995 that Simpson was cleared in the murders of his ex- wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. He was later found liable for the killings in a civil suit. His defense attorney believes that jury used their own bias to condemn him.

YALE GALANTER, SIMPSON'S ATTORNEY: From the beginning, my biggest concern and I told you this probably the day after Mr. Simpson was arrested was whether or not jurors would be able to separate their very strong feelings about Mr. Simpson and judge him fairly, equally and honestly.

COOPER: Simpson is now spending his days in a Nevada jailhouse. He'll next be in court for sentencing. And the man who lived in the public eye for decades may very well spend the rest of his life in prison.


COOPER: Well, coming up, our "Shot of the Day," Tina Fey challenges Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live."

But first, Erica Hills joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica. ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, as promised, Citigroup not backing down quietly from its plan to buy Wachovia; Citigroup today filing a $60 billion complaint against both Wachovia and Wells Fargo banks. At issue here - whether those two interfered in Citigroup's planned take over of Wachovia.

There is one upside to the economic downturn. Oil down 6 percent today to less than $88 a barrel. A drop in consumer demand and fears of a possible recession are believed to be responsible.

Talk about a bad day. Right after this guy gets a speeding ticket, look at that - backed up and over the police car. Not really a wise move. The 70-year-old driver in Illinois said he just didn't realize his car was in reverse when he hit the gas.

And with both the election and Halloween on the horizon, it is time for a reality check on the real poll of the American people. And we know what that's about. The Halloween mask.

he candidate whose mask sells the best has won at least the last three presidential match-ups. So where do we stand right now? Barack Obama apparently outselling McCain masks 67 to 33 percent. Of course, there's still time before Halloween.

COOPER: Both of those masks are scary.

HILL: They are.

COOPER: They both are quite unattractive-looking masks.

Now, time for "Beat 360" winner, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one any of our staff could think of.

Tonight's picture, Governor Palin and Senator Joe Biden -- excuse me, Senator Joe Lieberman on the trail together in Florida today.

Our staff winner is Gabe, who came up with this. "Feel that? Joe Six-Pack Abs is more like it."

COOPER: Our viewer winner is Kevin, who won with this: "Lorne Michaels and Tina Fey hug after another entertaining week on 'Saturday Night Live'."

Very good, Kevin.

HILL: They may be the real winners in this election, I think.

COOPER: Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way. You can check out all the entries on our blog at and play along tomorrow.

Speaking of Tina Fey, up next, her latest spoof on Governor Palin. We'll see it for a moment. It's our "Shot."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Time for tonight's "Shot," Erica, the striking resemblance, of course, between Sarah Palin and comedian Tina Fey has been a big boon for "Saturday Night Live" and those who like their political satire. Watch this.


TINA FEY, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": I liked being here tonight, answering these tough questions without the filter of the mainstream gotcha media, with their follow-up questions, fact checking or incessant need to figure out what your words mean and why you put them in that order.

I'm happy to be speaking directly to the American people, to let them know, if you want an outsider who doesn't like politics as usual or pronouncing the "G" at the end of the word she's saying, I think you know who to vote for.

Oh, and for those Joe Six-Packs out there playing a drinking game at home, maverick.


COOPER: Yes. They also had a Joe Biden, who you know -- I mean, it wasn't nearly as good.

HILL: It was still comical though.

COOPER: It was great, but it just doesn't -- Tina Fey looks strikingly like...

HILL: It's not quite the same. It's true. It's not quite the same, but it was enjoyable.

COOPER: It certainly is.

That does it for this edition of "360."

Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.