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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Cheney on the Attack; U.S. Soldier Kills Five Comrades; Mysterious Deaths in Paradise; Elizabeth Edwards on Husband's Affair; President Obama's Health Care Fix; Presidential Punch Lines

Aired May 11, 2009 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Obama's vice president problem -- a vice president who just can't stop talking. Even longtime Party members are quietly hoping he'll step back from the mike before he drives all the voters away.

Somewhere Joe Biden is smiling because the vice president in question, the one making the headlines with his mouth, is Dick Cheney. What he's doing, slamming the next administration, simply hasn't been done. What he's saying that this administration is making America less safe is explosive.

The "Raw Politics" from Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is forceful, unflinching and available.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I don't speak out, then where do we find ourselves, Bob? Then the critics have free run, and there isn't anybody there on the other side to tell the truth.

CROWLEY: While Republicans try to figure out the best way to take on a popular President, Dick Cheney has a strategy: head on.

CHENEY: They have moved to take down a lot of those policies we put in place that kept the nation safe for nearly eight years from a follow-on terrorist attack like 9/11.

CROWLEY: A frequent visitor to Sunday morning talk shows, most recently CBS's "Face the Nation," the former vice president accuses the new president of making the country less safe, of hamstringing the intelligence community.

CHENEY: When you get rid of enhanced interrogation techniques, for example, or the terrorist surveillance program, you reduce the intelligence flow to the intelligence community upon which we based those policies that were so successful.

CROWLEY: He has spent his life in a cause of conservatism. He was beloved at the core of the party; he still is. RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST: What motivation does Dick Cheney have to go out and say these things? Is it possible that Dick Cheney is motivated by national interest? Is it possible that Dick Cheney is motivated by love of and for his country?

CROWLEY: Senator Joe Lieberman harshly critical of candidate Obama's national security views springs to his defense now. He told MSNBC, "We remain as safe as we can possibly be in a world in which there is Islamist extremists who want to attack us."

Though Republicans are fighting over who will speak for the party, Cheney is so low in his willingness to speak for the Bush era; its approach to terrorists and its approval of questionable interrogation methods.

CHENEY: I'm convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives.

CROWLEY: In his spare time, Cheney is diving into interparty politics, most recently the Rush Limbaugh versus Colin Powell question.

CHENEY: Well, if I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh, I think. My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican.

CROWLEY: Right between the shoulder blades, with a smile, no less. At the White House, Dick Cheney has become must-see TV.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They're essentially going forward by looking backward. And if the vice president believes that's a way of growing and expanding the Republican Party, then we're happy to leave him to those devices.

CROWLEY (on camera): From a policy standpoint, the White House disagrees with Cheney. Politically, they think he's so unpopular he hurts Republicans no matter what he says.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, let's talk "Strategy" now with CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, who has advised presidents both Democratic and Republican; also Ed Rollins, GOP strategist, political contributor and Mike Huckabee's former campaign chairman.

David, Dan Quayle played golf in Arizona. Al Gore, I think, for a while taught journalism in New York. Is it surprising that Dick Cheney is breaking with tradition that former vice presidents a kind of quietly leave the public eye, maybe write a memoir and blasting so soon after he left office?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's almost unique, Anderson, but Dick Cheney was also a unique vice president. He had an enormous amount of power. And I think he feels strongly that the national security policies of the Bush administration protected the country.

They're under assault from the Obama administration and from Democrats. There are not very many Republicans standing up. I think he feels it's his duty to go out there. I think in many ways he's justified in trying to defend the national security policies.

What surprised me yesterday was the way he went after Colin Powell. That seemed to me he just sort of took leave of his senses. Colin Powell, during the Bush administration, was a single most respected member of that administration. He's important to the Republican Party. Why would you want to drive him away?

COOPER: But Powell was against Rumsfeld, or there was a lot of clashes between he and Rumsfeld; and Dick Cheney was a big supporter of Rumsfeld, no?

GERGEN: Well, that's right, but you would think that when ask the question do you choose Powell over Limbaugh or the other way around, you would have said I'm proud to have both of them in the Republican Party.

It just seemed to me gratuitous to go after Colin Powell. And by the way I think -- I think separated him out from a whole lot of Americans who respect Colin Powell.

COOPER: Ed Rollins, is Dick Cheney hurting the Republican Party?

ED ROLLINS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think anything could hurt the Republican Party at this point in time. We're in the wilderness for a period of time. I think Dick Cheney is defending himself, defending what he thinks this administration does, right?

COOPER: Do you think he's helping the Republican Party?

ROLLINS: No, he's clearly not. I believe we have to look forward, not past. I don't think anybody at this point in time wants to go back.

I think though realistically his charge is that the world is not a safer place or that the administration is not doing all they can aren't true charges. I think this administration has done everything that they can.

They want to close Gitmo which is no big deal at this point in time. They don't want to torture people. But you've still got the same Secretary of Defense, you've still got the same FBI Director, you've still got the same due diligence. They're going after the Taliban.

I don't think there would be a dramatic big difference if McCain or Bush were still President on national security issues.

COOPER: Well, how much then -- if you think he's wrong about what he's saying, do you think he's saying it because he's just trying to protect, you know, because he actually believes it, or is it trying to protect his legacy? ROLLINS: Well, I think to a certain extent he feels he's being personally attacked and he thinks his president was being attacked. I think to a certain extent George W. Bush is not going to defend himself so he feels it's kind of his role to go do that.

COOPER: David Gergen, how important do you think Dick Cheney takes his own legacy?

GERGEN: Very importantly. You know, he's worked for some 40 years on behalf of the Republican Party and the conservative causes. And I think he thinks his place in history is important to him.

But I also think that more than that, Anderson, you can disagree with Dick Cheney, as I do on many issues, but you have to say the man is serious about national security. He has a view with it I don't totally agree with, but I respect the fact that it is a view that is rooted in some real problems that we do face in the world.

I think Ed Rollins is right about Obama's foreign policy. Brent Scowcroft we increasingly know is very comfortable with Barack Obama's foreign policy.

But Dick Cheney and those neocons who got us into Iraq have a very, very different view of reality, and they're serious about it. I don't agree with it, but I respect the fact that they're coming from a serious place. They're not just playing games here.

COOPER: Ed, why do you think he did weigh in on the Limbaugh- Colin Powell...

ROLLINS: I think he was asked the question. I think there's a little bad blood between he and Colin. I think there are a lot of Republicans who were very offended by Colin supporting Obama and the way he did it.

He didn't tell John McCain who had been a lifelong friend. He didn't tell Cheney. He went on "Meet the Press" and announced it. And I think people thought he was being very political and sort of disloyal to an administration that had pretty much made him.

Dick Cheney, basically, as much as anybody made Colin Powell who he was; and I think to a certain extent he felt some disloyalty there.

COOPER: Interesting. No doubt we're going to be talking about this...

GERGEN: I don't agree with that...

COOPER: Go ahead.

GERGEN: I don't agree to that. I just don't agree with the -- I don't agree with Dick Cheney made Colin Powell who he was. I respect Ed's views a lot, as you know, but I think Colin Powell had a lot to do with making Colin Powell who he was.

ROLLINS: There's no question he's an outstanding guy. But I mean, he went up in our administration, he was a colonel, one-star general under Capt. Weinberger, he went up to our administration, David.

He could have retired. You know, there's a lot of generals out there and lots of people could have ended up being at the top of the heap. No disrespect to Colin Powell. It's all about politics.

COOPER: All right, well, we'll leave it there. David Gergen, Ed Rollins, thanks very much.

ROLLINS: Thank you.

COOPER: As always, we try to bring as many different points of view as possible. There's more at ac360.com right now, including a post, with a provocative title, "Is Dick Cheney Emboldening the Enemy?" You can check that out, ac360.com.

There's also a live chat happening now. Talk with other viewers and myself and Randi Kaye tonight, in for Erica. And Randi Kaye has a live webcast during the break as well.

All right, up next, an American soldier goes on a rampage that leaves five American -- fellow American service members dead ironically at a clinic in Iraq aimed at preventing this kind of violence. We have new information on the shooter and a discussion on the kinds of strains that come with tour after tour of duty in a combat zone.

Also trouble in paradise, deadly trouble, this loving -- this couple, a loving woman, sudden illness and a mysterious death. What caused her to die? And was it connected to another death at the same guest house just hours later?

And later, the beef over what was said at President Obama's roast by Wanda Sykes, the comedienne, and by the President himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dick Cheney was supposed to be here, but he is very busy working on his memoirs, tentatively titled "How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Also coming up, Miss California now blaming Satan for the question she was asked about same-sex marriage as she waits for Donald Trump to decide whether or not she gets to keep her crown.

All that and more ahead tonight, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It's the worst attack on American troops in Iraq in a month. It's also, tragically, the single worst case of soldier-on- soldier violence in the entire war. Five soldiers killed by a fellow soldier now in custody at a clinic designed to defuse the very kind of rage that boiled over today apparently. A senior Pentagon official telling CNN's Chris Lawrence that the gunman was, in fact, a patient.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): The attack happened around 2:00 p.m. local time. The suspect, a U.S. soldier, opened fire inside the sprawling Camp Liberty in Baghdad, one of the largest military bases in Iraq.

But Pentagon officials say the soldier killed five comrades before he was captured. It is the deadliest act of fratricide for the U.S. since the beginning of the war. Defense Secretary Gates, who's ordered a full investigation, was horrified to hear the news.

ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If the preliminary reports are confirmed, such a tragic loss of life at the hands of our own forces is a cause for great and urgent concern. And I can assure you that it will get this department's highest priority attention.

COOPER: At the White House, President Obama was said to be deeply saddened by the shooting.

GIBBS: The president's heart goes out to the families and friends of all the service members involved in this horrible tragedy. He was shocked by the news of this incident and will press to ensure that we fully understand what happened at the clinic.

COOPER: Military sources tell CNN the rampage took place at a stress clinic inside Camp Liberty, a facility where U.S. troops are treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional and psychological issues.

Retired Navy Lieutenant Commander Heidi Kraft is a clinical psychologist who's worked at stress clinics in Iraq.

LT. CMDR. HEIDI KRAFT, U.S. NAVY (RET.): We were there to handle a variety of mental health concerns. A third of people came to see us because of acute combat-related grief. Another third we're dealing with transition of things that were going on at home that were difficult to deal with there.

And then maybe another third had previous psychological issues, maybe a history of depression or anxiety, something that required some management of our team.

COOPER: Sources tell CNN that the suspect was a patient at the same clinic that he opened fire on. Some of his victims worked there. Others were receiving treatment for stress.

Also a question of ammunition; except for high-ranking officers and military police, all service members are required to remove their ammunition clips from their weapons before entering certain areas of the base like the clinic. But with no official pat-downs or searches, it's a policy that relies on the honor code. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: According to a study, "The New England Journal of Medicine," about one in six soldiers returning from the war in Iraq show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, other emotional difficulties. The reports are the gunman was on his third tour of duty.

Let's "Dig Deeper" now with Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. You served in Iraq. What was your reaction when you heard the story?

PAUL RIECKHOFF, FOUNDER, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Well, it's tragic. I mean, it's deeply disturbing, but I don't think folks who have been in theater are surprised. I mean, our friends are over there daily. They're facing a tremendously tough work environment, threats from the enemy and repeated tours.

We were talking in the break; a member of our staff was just deployed for his fourth call-up. He's a Marine Corps reservist.

COOPER: I mean, yes a reservist being called up four times. It's never -- I mean that's interesting -- it's unprecedented.

RIECKHOFF: The phase is absolutely unprecedented.

COOPER: They haven't even been really able to study the full effects of this kind of stuff.

RIECKHOFF: That's right, I mean, there was a good study by RAND Corporation that put the figures at about you know, one in four folks coming back with some kind of stress-related mental health injury.

But these folks are going back over and over again. Each time you're redeployed, you're more likely to have a mental health injury. I mean we got a critical shortage of mental health care workers, there's not enough psychologists, psychiatrists in theater and when they come home.

So these things pile up, and you've got over 600,000 folks who've been to theater more than once.

COOPER: And it's not just the stress on the soldier or the Marine or the service member, it's the families that they leave behind. I mean, three tours, it takes a huge toll on the families, and then that adds more stress to the service members.

RIECKHOFF: It does. That's exactly right. And you don't just deploy a soldier, you deploy the entire family.

COOPER: Right.

RIECKHOFF: So, you've got mothers, brothers, wives, husbands back home who are extremely concerned. And they're dealing with a tough economy.

So, everything the average American is dealing with back home, these folks are dealing with while they've got a loved one deployed.

Mortgage foreclosure rates around military bases for example are about four times the national average. All that goes into the stress of the deployed soldier who's already got enough to worry about in a combat zone.

COOPER: The fact that there is a stress clinic, for lack of a better word in theater, is actually a good sign. I mean, that's a new -- that's a relatively new development.

RIECKHOFF: It is. It's huge progress. We didn't have that when I was in theater.

COOPER: It was always -- then they came back, they maybe go through a little brief kind of course on coming back.

RIECKHOFF: That's correct.

COOPER: But now they've kind of moved doctors out into the theater.

RIECKHOFF: That's right. And that's what they need to do. They need to get them out of the front line. So, if you have a casualty in a unit, if you have someone killed, they can go and get immediate counseling and get immediate therapy. They've got relaxation techniques; they've got mental health experts on staff.

But we need do to a better job of screening them. Right now there is no mandatory face-to-face mental health screening with a qualified mental health professional. Our organization IAVA has been calling for that for years. We need that and we need to really ramp up the number of people who are working in this area across the board.

COOPER: But there's still such stigma about seeking help. I mean, in society, in general, but in the military, in particular.

RIECKHOFF: Tremendous stigma. I mean, that's why we launched a massive public service announcement campaign to address that stigma, to talk about what veterans face when they come home. And we set up a Web site too, communityofveterans.org, veterans can go there and get support from other veterans. They can get mental health resources and look for the warning signs. We're not just...

COOPER: So, do you think the military is taking it seriously enough?

RIECKHOFF: I think they are. I mean, Gates is saying the right thing, Admiral Mullen decide, the President's involved. I think they're making the right steps and they're saying the right things but they're covering a lot of ground. They've got a lot of catching up to do to get us up to speed to meet this demand.

COOPER: Yes, well, it's a tragedy that we have you on to talk about this incident, it's just horrible. Paul, I appreciate you being on.

RIECKHOFF: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Paul Rieckhoff, thanks.

One other note, America's top commander in Afghanistan is being replaced. Defense Secretary Gates, himself recently back from a tour of Afghanistan, making the call with chairman of the Joint Chiefs beside him, essentially firing the guy.

On the way out, General David McKiernan. Incoming, Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, a specialist in counterinsurgencies.

Just ahead tonight, President Obama strikes a deal with health care leaders.

And a mystery surrounding an American woman's death at a Thai resort, and she's not the only woman to die there, same place, same time. The question is, why?

Also tonight, the backlash against Elizabeth Edwards. Her husband cheated on her, and she wrote it about it, and now she's talking to a lot of folks about it. Is she out for revenge, or is even asking such a question blaming the victim?

We'll have a debate on that. The facts so you can decide yourself.

And the priest in love speaks out about his romance and leaving the priesthood. Details when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, she began the night with some pizza and a party. She also watched the sunset. It would be one of the last nights of her life. By morning this young woman, Jill St. Onge from Seattle, would be dead after falling violently ill at a paradise resort in Thailand.

As you'll see, she wasn't the only tourist to die under mysterious circumstances. The question is, what happened to these two women?

Drew Griffin is here with an "Up Close" look investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was supposed to be a dream vacation for Jill St. Onge; a three- month journey through Asia capped by a visit to Thailand's Phi Phi islands.

There was even a marriage proposal from fiance Ryan Kells, but then something went horribly wrong. Kells says he found St. Onge gravely ill in their room at Lalina guest house. He put her in a shopping cart and searched desperately for help.

RYAN KELLS, ST. ONGE'S FIANCE: She couldn't breathe. She was vomiting, and I tried to run her to a hospital. And she ended up passing within maybe 12 hours of the first symptoms of being sick.

GRIFFIN: Her family in California was crushed.

ROBERT ST. ONGE, JILL ST. ONGE'S BROTHER: It's really bad. It's about the worst thing any of us had ever gone through.

GRIFFIN: The Phi Phi Islands are a popular tourist destination off the west coast of Thailand.

And up until she died, St. Onge seemed to be having the time of her life. "Food, drink, good books, sun and warm waters, what else do you need," she wrote on her blog. St. Onge was only 27 and described by her friends and family as healthy and vibrant.

BROOKE FRIED, ST. ONGE'S BEST FRIEND: She was just so much a part of our lives. It's impossible to think about what it's going to be like without her.

GRIFFIN: Adding to the mystery, the Associated Press reports that within hours of St. Onge becoming ill, another tourist also was sickened and died. She, too, had been staying at the Lalina guest house, a budget hotel where rooms go for as little as $17 a night. That woman was Julie Michelle Bergheim, a 22-year-old from Norway.

A Norwegian newspaper citing a local police chief reported traces of cyanide had been found in her stomach. Autopsy reports for the two women have yet to be released, but authorities are looking at the possibility that Bergheim and St. Onge may have died from food poisoning.

That is cold comfort for St. Onge's friends who've erected a memorial at the bar where she worked.

WHITNEY FILSINGER, BARTENDER: It's a little hard to be here because we can feel her here, and we miss her. And the hardest part, I think, is that we just don't really know what happened to her.

GRIFFIN: The owner of the guest house in Thailand where both women were staying says the resort has nothing to do with their death. He thinks they died from drinking too much. Until the mystery is solved, a cloud of uncertainty could cast a shadow over this tropical paradise.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Sources are telling us that Thai police investigators have ruled out poisoning from the nearby water treatment plant. And about that report of cyanide poisoning we mentioned, there's been some speculation it could have come from eating a root of cassava, but medical experts we talked to say, Anderson, that doesn't seem plausible.

So, they're waiting for the toxicology results which could take six, eight weeks.

COOPER: There was a report one of them was cremated? GRIFFIN: That's right, St. Onge's body was cremated. Now we're learning that that was to expedite her return to the U.S. Thai authorities have retained some tissue samples for the family so the family could do its own independent testing if they wish.

COOPER: Wow, but there is a body for the other woman? Do we know?

GRIFFIN: Yes, I believe that is the case there. Her body has not gone back yet. And Thai officials are holding the autopsy in the next couple of days.

COOPER: All right, we'll keep following it. Drew, thanks. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, Elizabeth Edwards's new book on her husband's affair; she seems to be drawing as much criticism as compassion. Was she right to pen the tell-all? We'll talk about that ahead.

President Obama says his new health care plan could save your family thousands of dollars. We'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the president's proposal and what happened today.

We've also got the highlights from the president's speech from the White House Correspondents' Dinner and the moments that some say went just too far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WANDA SYKES, COMEDIAN: Rush Limbaugh, I hope the country fails, I hope his kidneys fail. How about that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And Miss California's crown is on the line. She's now saying that Satan was involved in the question she answered about same-sex marriage. Details on that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight the backlash against Elizabeth Edwards. The former politician's wife continues to speak out on the affair that torpedoed her husband John's political ambitions and threatened to end her more than 30-year marriage.

Appearing on NBC's "Today" show to promote her new book, Edwards defended her decision to go public with the story. While some sympathized, some critics are charging the tell-all is destructive and motivated by revenge.

Randi Kaye has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She has terminal cancer spreading through her body, and she has no idea how long she'll live. A horrible reality that's left many wondering why would Elizabeth Edwards spend such precious time dishing about one of the most painful experiences of her life -- her husband's affair?

One reason, she has a book to promote. First stop on her media blitz, "Oprah."

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, JOHN EDWARDS'S WIFE: Probably the worst moment was when he told me that he had this single indiscretion.

KAYE: Then this morning, NBC.

EDWARDS: I need him. And I think -- and I really believe he needs me.

KAYE: But the response may not be all Mrs. Edwards expected. There has been some positive feedback.

ROGER SIMON, CHIEF POLITICAL COLUMNIST, "POLITICO": Let's, you know, be fair. Here is a woman who has terminal cancer. You know, every day is a trial for her. Do I have sympathy for that? Yes, sure I do. Why wouldn't I?

KAYE: But recent reviews from some women, hardly glowing. "New York Times" columnist Maureen Dowd last week wrote, "Saint Elizabeth has dragged him back into the public square for a flogging on 'Oprah.'" And Tina Brown didn't hold back today either on her blog, "The Daily Beast."

TINA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, "THE DAILY BEAST": I think Elizabeth just must have misjudged all of this. She just, I think, struck a raw nerve with women who really have all felt simultaneously, what about your kids?

KAYE: Mrs. Edwards says she wrote the book for her children so they don't grow up believing their parents are flawless and for other victims of infidelity.

(on camera): Do you think she's doing this because she thinks it's therapeutic?

BROWN: I'm not sure whether Elizabeth Edwards really knows why she's doing this. It could be that she feels it is therapeutic. I think in some ways she's trying to justify, explain perhaps to herself why she stayed with this man and why she feels that she made the right choices. All I know is that to watch it is like a sort of car crash.

KAYE (voice-over): Edwards says the book isn't about revenge against the other woman, but Brown believes she's in denial.

BROWN: She doesn't want to even give the other woman a name, but yet she can't stop talking about her.

KAYE: When Oprah asked Edwards whether Rielle Hunter's toddler could be John Edwards's child, she only referred to the child as "it."

EDWARDS: I have no idea. It doesn't look like my children, but I don't have any idea.

SIMON: There is obviously still a real deep, open wound there that she can't refer to the child of Rielle Hunter.

KAYE (on camera): The Edwards family may not need the money, but if her book is a success, Mrs. Edwards may benefit in other ways. No longer standing silently at her husband's side, she has found strength in her own voice.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, whichever way you look at it, Elizabeth Edwards's story has obviously touched a nerve.

Joining me now: "IN SESSION" anchor Lisa Bloom and Faye Wattleton, co-founder and president for the Center for the Advancement of Women.

Faye, why do you think she wrote this?

FAYE WATTLETON, FOUNDER/PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN: I think that she wrote about her adversities. It's very interesting that only one aspect of the book is being focused on.

COOPER: Right. Almost the entire book, this is one...

WATTLETON: There's an entire book, and this is one. And it has been sort of the flash point for all of the attention. And the title is about life's adversities. If she had left it out, wouldn't we have found that strange? I think she's in sort of a no-win situation. So she had to discuss it.

COOPER: Lisa, what do you think?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Well, you know, the book may be better than these interviews that she's giving. And my heart does go out to her because she has suffered a loss of a child and cancer.

But I think she's painting a rather unflattering view of herself in these interviews, depersonalizing Rielle Hunter and the baby, not even naming them, calling them an "it"; really letting John off relatively easily.

Yes, she's not completely standing by her man like we've seen others do, Dina McGreevey, Silda Spitzer. She is getting him a little bit. But really, she puts 95 percent of the blame on Rielle Hunter.

COOPER: She says that she seduced her husband.

BLOOM: Yes, by saying, "You're so hot." I mean, didn't thousands of women say things like that to him on the campaign trail, and he just folds like a house of cards? And now she goes on the attack against Rielle Hunter? It really doesn't make any sense. And what about this blameless baby? Doesn't the baby have a right to know who her -- not "it," but her -- father is? I mean, is there ever going to be a paternity test?

WATTLETON: But that's not Elizabeth Edwards's responsibility.

BLOOM: But aren't they a team in this?

WATTLETON: They are -- clearly, she is attempting to maintain her marriage and her family as a team. This is a woman who is terminally ill. We don't know the many layers and the complexity of their relationship. We don't know how she was raised. Her culture is a very important element here. And the violence to the family is something that she is clearly trying to cope with. And so she brings...

BLOOM: Why did she say she's writing this book for her children? Do they really need to see that their parents aren't perfect?

WATTLETON: Just a second. The "National Enquirer" has covered this story explicitly. Is there anything really here in this book we didn't already know? Mr. Edwards is under federal investigation. It's going to be going on and on and on.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You could make the argument, though -- you could make the argument that this is a letter to her kids, and it's something that they will be able to read.

BLOOM: That's a ridiculous letter to your kids. I would never write my children a letter like, my -- "Your dad cheated on me."

COOPER: However many hundred pages it is, this is probably a very small part to it. I haven't read the book.

BLOOM: And by the way, what we do learn in the book is that John lied to her by saying it only happened once. She believed that for a long time. Why on earth, then, does she believe his story about the seduction and how this whole thing happened? Why doesn't she even consider the possibility that he was the instigator? That he was an active part of it?

COOPER: Do you think she should not have written any book at all?

BLOOM: Well, I don't like how she's coming across in the interviews in terms of this affair and how she puts all of the blame on the other woman. I think that's very old school, and she really lets John off easy. I do have sympathy for her. I'm glad she's writing everything...

WATTLETON: I agree with that. I agree with that. I think that he really is to blame for having brought this into the relationship.

But to suggest that somehow she should not speak of it, she shouldn't speak of an experience and how she felt when she found out about it. Thousands, hundreds of thousands of women have had exactly the same experience. How did they feel?

COOPER: Is that why you think it touches a nerve?

WATTLETON: I think it does touch a nerve, because we know what it feels like to be betrayed in a relationship. This is a 30-year marriage. She's at the end of her life. What is the woman to do? And that's really important.

BLOOM: I support her right to speak, Anderson. And I feel like the door is now opening for political wives not to stand steadfastly by their men with that Stepford wife gaze that we all despise. So she's taking a step out of that, and I applaud her for that. But I think there's more steps to go, beyond what we've seen from her.

WATTLETON: Well, I think that this is a step forward. Mrs. Clinton did not acknowledge the Gennifer Flowers. We have been through this. Mr. Clinton had an affair. We talked about that during his campaign. We talked about his infidelities during his White House tenure. And we were -- Hillary was vilified for not speaking out against it and speaking up.

And I think that here this woman has tried to write, in human terms, how she felt. That's really how we -- the only aspect of this we are understanding.

COOPER: During the live chat, one of our viewers said, you know, that they're glad she's out there speaking out, that, you know, it lets other people know. It empowers other women who have been cheated on, who know that they're not alone.

BLOOM: How is it empowering, exactly?

WATTLETON: That they're not alone.

BLOOM: That you can survive it. That you're not alone, ok, that's true. And we know that a lot of women are cheated on.

I guess the hard question to me is what is the right reaction when your husband cheats on you and you live the public life? What are you supposed to do exactly? I don't think anyone can tell Elizabeth Edwards, "You should leave him. You should stay with him." That's a personal choice.

But once you write a book, you take this out into the public square. You open yourself up for this kind of scrutiny.

WATTLETON: Well, let's again keep in mind that this is a book about many adversities in her life. We focus on the sexuality, the salacious part, and what does that say about us, that we take that out of this?

COOPER: Very good point.

WATTLETON: And we really don't want to deal with the whole context and texture.

COOPER: Often, that's often how these -- that's how -- that's often how these books are promoted, frankly. I mean, they kind of know in advance, all right, they're going to focus on this...

WATTLETON: Right.

COOPER: ... and let the talk shows decide to focus on it. And I think it does say more about us, perhaps, than it does about her.

BLOOM: But she chose to write this book. And she chose to include this -- at the time when, frankly, most of us thought this chapter was closed, we were done with John Edwards, weren't we?

WATTLETON: No, we're not. He's under federal investigation as to whether or not his campaign funds were used to support this mistress and the alleged child.

COOPER: The debate's going to continue.

Elizabeth Edwards, I think, is on "LARRY KING" tomorrow night. No doubt, she'll be talking about this. Yes.

BLOOM: We'll be watching.

COOPER: All right.

Thanks. Thanks, Faye Wattleton, as well. Great to have you on, as well.

Is Elizabeth Edwards courageous or out for revenge? Let us know what you think. Go to ac360.com. Both or neither? Ac360.com, there's a live chat right there. And you can also read excerpts from her book and decide for yourself. As we mentioned, Larry King will have Elizabeth Edwards tomorrow night on his program.

So, you can also check out Randi Kaye's live Web cast at ac360.com.

Still ahead, the nation's health care providers promising to slash $2 trillion in industry costs. They met with President Obama today. But is that really just a matter of a little nip and tuck, or is healthcare as we know it in for a major overhaul? Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to us about that.

Also, controversy about a comedian's attack on Rush Limbaugh at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Wanda Sykes. We'll have that and President Obama's routine, including a shout-out to Sasha and Malia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Sasha and Malia aren't here tonight because they're grounded. You can't just take Air Force One on a joyride to Manhattan. I don't care whose kids you are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Also, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, talks Satan and temptation when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Saying the time to act is now, President Obama summoned representatives from the health care industry to the White House today to, he said, reform the system, cut the costs and ease the burden on so many people. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When it comes to health care spending, we are on an unsustainable course that threatens the financial stability of families, businesses and government itself. This is not news to the American people who, over the last decade, have seen their out-of- pocket expenses soar, healthcare costs rise, and premiums double at a rate four times faster than their wages.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the meeting ended with a promise. Healthcare industry leaders pledged to save the country $2 trillion over the next ten years and to make sure American families are spending less for getting medical care.

360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta has studied the plan. He joins us now.

Two trillion dollars over ten years; I mean, it sounds like a huge amount. Is it really, and is it actually going to work?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, no one knows the answer to that.

When you talk about healthcare reform, there are sort of two broad issues, Anderson. Access is one of them. Cost is the other, one which is what everyone's talking about today.

There's no details yet, but we've sort of parsed out these sort of broader brush stokes that we're talking about here. And sort of at the heart of this, I think more than any other issue, is this idea of changing the way -- changing the incentives in terms of the way that doctors and hospitals are paid. That's one of the things that the president's talked about, that the secretary of health talked about, as well.

Also just controlling costs at all levels so that, when you talk about costs at the -- at the hospital level, you talk about it at the patient level, you talk about all sorts of different levels, very important.

Also, this idea of creating a culture of prevention. Anderson, you and I have talked about this, this idea that you want to try and prevent these diseases from occurring in the first place. Right now the incentives are to every time a patient gets admitted, it's paid for again. But if you keep the patient from getting admitted to the hospital, keep them from -- prevent them from getting a disease, that's better.

And then health I.T. is something he talks about, as well, this idea that if you create a health infrastructure through technology, hospitals can communicate. Anderson, if you're in New York, you travel to L.A., you get sick, you don't have to go through the same tests again. You don't have to have your hospital records transferred over. It's all there for you.

COOPER: What is the fundamental problem here? I mean, who is responsible for these costs spiraling out of control?

GUPTA: Well, you know, the biggest issue is that the costs go up. Costs go up everywhere, but with health, it's gone up out of proportion to everything else. So it's like this big balloon, and it's at risk of popping in comparison to other things.

The biggest thing, really, is that the cost of treating so many of these disease processes has just gotten very, very expensive. And the idea that when you have an uninsured segment of the population, as well, getting back to this access problem, they don't -- they don't utilize the healthcare system until they're very sick. And it costs more money to take care of people who are sicker. So, you know, therein lies part of the problem.

You also have a lot of technology that some say is being over- utilized. Getting MRI scans when a CAT scan or an X-ray would do.

So a lot of these things, again, changing the incentives to lowering costs and keeping people out of the hospital may -- may control some of these costs.

COOPER: I mean, the medical industry today kind of spinning this as, well, look, we're going to cut these $2 trillion over the next ten years or so, and we're doing this for the good of the country. I mean, clearly they're afraid of greater regulation being done by Congress. They're trying to kind of, basically, spin the American public and kind of put out a good face.

What incentive do they actually have to follow through on their commitments because this is all voluntary?

GUPTA: You're absolutely right. So it is sort of a self-imposed sort of commitment to this in terms of an incentive, as well. Look, if the entire system starts to fail -- and the president talked about this today -- if Medicare or Medicaid, as we know it, starts to become more insolvent or becomes insolvent, then the insurance companies don't get paid, frankly, and as a result the hospitals don't get paid, and everyone doesn't get paid.

So there's a lot of incentives to keep the system in part the way it is, but to offer better access and to lower costs. So it is sort of self-imposed to some degree. Also, what's interesting here is that, ultimately, a healthcare reform plan will probably be drafted by Congress, as opposed to by the White House, which is very different, for example, back in '93,'94.

COOPER: All right, Sanjay, appreciate it. Thanks a lot. Sanjay Gupta tonight.

Coming up, President Obama left them laughing this weekend at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, but some say comedienne Wanda Sykes went a little too far. We'll hear what the White House had to say about that, and we'll play what the president said and what Ms. Sykes said.

First, Randi Kaye has a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Randi.

KAYE: Hi, there, Anderson.

Investigators say a power tool caused the devastating wildfire in Santa Barbara, California. It was being used to clear brush, the very thing authorities have asked residents to do as a fire safety measure. The wildfires scorched 13 square miles in dozens of homes.

The Iranian-American journalist convicted of spying by Iran has been freed. An appeals court released Roxana Saberi today after cutting her sentence from eight years to two years suspended. Now free to leave the country, Saberi was arrested in January but insisted she was innocent.

Stocks fell today as investors backed off a nearly nine-week rally. The Dow dropped 156 points. The NASDAQ lost 8 points, and the S&P 500 fell 20.

The Catholic priest photographed cuddling with a woman on a Florida beach has admitted to a two-year affair. Father Alberto Cutie told the CBS "Early Show" that he's in love with the woman and is considering leaving the church to marry her. The priest was removed from duties at his Miami Beach church last week.

And Miss USA pageant owner Donald Trump will decide tomorrow whether California titleholder Carrie Prejean can keep her crown. The 21-year-old is under fire for recently-revealed topless photos and making unauthorized public appearances for groups opposed to same-sex marriage.

She spoke with Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson today about her comments on same-sex marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JAMES DOBSON, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: Why did you give the answer you did with regard to the affirmation of marriage?

CARRIE PREJEAN, MISS CALIFORNIA/MISS USA RUNNER-UP: Honestly, I felt as though Satan was -- and I don't want to say that this person represented Satan -- but I felt as though Satan was trying to tempt me in -- in asking me this question. And then God was in my head and in my heart saying, "Carrie, do not compromise this," you know. "You need to stand up for me."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was Carrie Prejean talking to James Dobson. Randi, thanks.

Coming up next, meet the commander in chief; President Obama's stand-up at the Correspondents' Dinner. He got the laughs, but a well-known comic who shared the stage with him is taking a little heat today after making a joke about Rush Limbaugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WANDA SYKES, COMEDIAN: He's not saying anything different than what Osama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, sir. I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We'll let you decide if a line was crossed, ahead.

Then, a strange encounter in upstate New York. Did you see this? The animal few people have heard of on the loose and keeping cops busy. We'll reveal exactly what that thing is. Not a kangaroo. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: President Obama trading policy speeches for punch lines over the weekend at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, along with some jokes and controversy courtesy of comedienne Wanda Sykes. She was the featured entertainer. Some say she went too far with a rant on Rush Limbaugh.

We'll let you be the judge. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SYKES: Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails. So, you're saying, "I hope America fails." You're like, "I don't care about people losing their homes or their jobs or our soldiers in Iraq." He just wants the country to fail. To me that's treason. He's not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying.

You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Mixed review from the crowd. Today the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, weighed in, saying that 9/11 is a topic better left for serious reflection, not comedy.

Overall, the night was a light-hearted affair, I'm told, with the president keeping people laughing. Here're some highlights from the dinner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Sasha and Malia aren't here tonight, because they're grounded. You can't just take Air Force One on a joyride to Manhattan. I don't care whose kids you are. We've been setting some ground rules here.

David Axelrod is here. Now David and I have been together for a long time. I can still remember -- I got to sort of -- I tear up a little bit when I think back to that day that I called Ax so many years ago and said, "You and I can do wonderful things together." And he said to me the same thing that partners all across Americas are saying to one another right now: "Let's go to Iowa and make it official."

Michael Steele is in the house tonight. Or as he would say, "In the heezy." What's up? Where is Michael? Michael, for the last time, the Republican Party does not qualify for a bailout. Rush Limbaugh does not count as a troubled asset. I'm sorry.

Dick Cheney was supposed to be here, but he is very busy working on his memoirs, tentatively titled "How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People."

Which brings me to another thing that's changed in this new warmer, fuzzier White House -- and that's my relationship with Hillary. You know, we had been rivals during the campaign, but these days we could not be closer. In fact, the second she got back from Mexico, she pulled me into a hug and gave me a big kiss, told me I'd better get down there myself.

SYKES: People love you. You know, and even the media. You know, you guys have been very favorable towards the president. You know, it's funny to me that they've never caught you smoking, but they somehow always catch you with your shirt off. I know you're into this transparency thing, but I don't need to see your nipples.

You and Joe Biden out getting hamburgers. The two of you can't hang out together. Whose idea was that, Nancy Pelosi's? You know, she was a Hillary supporter. What's wrong with you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Some of what happened then. Go to ac360.com to watch President Obama's entire speech from the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Our mysterious "Shot" is next, running loose in New York, what is it? We're told it's not a kangaroo. Some sort of mutant bunny, perhaps? An extra from the "X-Men: Wolverine"? We're going to reveal the identity of this secret animal ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Randi, tonight's "Shot," the mysterious critter on the loose in upstate New York. Check this out. Hopping in farm and then -- hopping in farm? Hopping on a farm and then disappearing from sight. Not that. That's not the mysterious critter.

That's the mysterious critter. What exactly is it? As a "Jeopardy!" champ -- champion, I didn't even know it. It's a wallaroo.

KAYE: A wallaroo.

COOPER: A marsupial mix between a kangaroo and a wallaby; never even heard of it. I should probably say all of this with an Australian accent. The wallaroo can reach heights of 55 inches, enjoys rock climbing and grass and shrubs. Wallaroos also have a life span of about 20 years, I'm told. Yes.

KAYE: He looks just like a kangaroo.

COOPER: Yes. Apparently, this wallaroo has the name Bandit, was some guy's pet until it escaped a couple weeks ago. Sightings of Bandit have been flooding local police departments. People say they've never seen anything like it, and apparently Bandit is still on the loose. If you see it, I don't know what you should do.

KAYE: Whoa. I think that was the end of Bandit.

COOPER: I think so, too.

All right. You can see the most recent "Shots" and tonight's "Beat 360," which sadly, we didn't have time to get time to get on the program, because I've been chattering on too long. All of that is visible on our Web site ac360.com.

Hey, that does it for 360. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts now.

I'll see you tomorrow night.