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THE SITUATION ROOM
President Orders Gulf Oil Spill Investigation; Racial Biases in Children
Aired May 17, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But this just coming in: The aftershock from the massive Gulf oil leak has now reached the halls of Congress, and the Obama administration is now confirming that the White House will, in fact, establish a presidential commission to investigate the Gulf oil spill and that the president will use an executive order to establish the commission, all this coming as the official who overseas offshore drilling activities is taking what an administration source is calling -- quote -- "accelerated retirement.
The stepped-up departure comes after President Obama's pledge to end what he calls that cozy relationship between the government's Minerals Management Service and the oil industry.
Meantime, the oil giant BP is trying everything it can to try to stem that leak, which is rapidly fouling the Gulf of Mexico, and threatening to spread damage far beyond.
Brian Todd is joining us now.
Brian, after several failures, there is a little bit of success.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At least a little bit of success, Wolf.
BP officials tell us that insertion tube that they have been using now for more than a day-and-a-half is working, making what they call a big difference. They say this tube, just a few inches wide, with a wider gasket, that plugs the opening is now siphoning off about one-fifth of the outflow. That's about 1,000 barrels a day out of the main leak at the riser and into tankers waiting up at the surface.
Now, they have had setbacks. The line coming from that tube to these ships was actually caught up with one of those remotely operated subs right after they put the tube in. And that caused the tube to become dislodged early on, but they fixed that quickly.
A BP official told me they hope to increase the amount of oil moving through that tube and up into the tankers within the next 24 to 48 hours.
Now, we also have new pictures to show you. That tube is also bringing to the surface a lot of natural gas. That is being burned at the surface in a process called flaring. These are new pictures put out by the joint command there to show us how that process is working. You see it kind of being burned off right there at the surface.
Then -- and that's kind of a look at the operation there, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, when are they going to try to permanently seal that well, what they're calling that -- quote -- "top kill option"?
TODD: Well, that's -- what I was told today was that option will be tried within a week. Now, that's that heavy drilling mud that will be injected through the blowout preventer, this thing right here, down into the well, and followed by cement that will be injected down into the well.
Now, either at the same time or possibly after that, they will try what they call that junk shot, the injecting of parts of tires and golf balls again into the blowout preventer into that same part of the well to try to cap it, Wolf.
BLITZER: What about the so-called relief wells?
TODD: Well, they had already started drilling one of those relief wells. They just within the past day started drilling a second one. This is the most reliable option for shutting off the flow of oil. But it's -- the problem is, it just takes too long. Each one of those takes at least two months to get in place.
So, you're looking at probably into July before we have one of those in place.
BLITZER: Brian, what can you tell us about this underwater plume that has been discovered, because it has a lot of folks, environmentalists, especially, very worried.
TODD: That's right, and now some serious pushback from NOAA and BP, but here's what we know.
A group of researchers have been measuring this and they have just returned with results. They say they have found something below the surface which could be a massive plume of oil or possibly more than one plume. Now, one of the researchers told me that it's located just southwest of the actual leak site.
It measures between 15 and 20 miles long and four to five miles wide. You can see this animation we just created. The researcher says the top of it is about 2,000 feet below the surface and it extends down about 4,000 feet, which is near the bottom and near where the leak is occurring.
Now the pushback. A BP official told me BP is skeptical that this is oil. If it was oil, he says, it would have floated to the surface, and not just be hanging there under water. Now, a NOAA official says these are so-called hydrocarbons in the water column, but he says we cannot call this oil yet. NOAA says the data has not been analyzed. But, again, there is some kind of a massive plume there underwater. It could be some hydrocarbons, could be possibly a combination of dispersants and some of those crystals that formed when they tried to put that other -- you know, that dome into the water, Wolf. They just have to analyze this a little bit more.
BLITZER: Let's hope they find out soon. Brian, thank you.
The head of the agency that oversees the oil industry is expected to testify now at a House committee hearing later this week. The Minerals Management Service has long been criticized for being way too cozy with oil companies.
At a Homeland Security Committee hearing today, some senators said they were disappointed that no one from MMS was on hand to answer questions.
Even as the oil spill wreaks havoc in the Gulf of Mexico, there are growing concerns that a major ocean current could carry the polluting crude through the Florida Keys and up the East Coast of the United States.
Our meteorologist Chad Myers shows us how that could happen.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Wolf, I know we have all heard of the Gulf Stream, that warm water that runs up the Florida east coast and then on up to the East Coast of the U.S., but where does that Gulf Stream come from?
You say, well, the Florida Keys. Yes, is it does. But, before that, where does it come from? It, in fact, starts in the Caribbean, south of Cuba, on up past Cancun, and then into the Gulf of Mexico. And why do we care? Because right here, is the oil spill. And if the oil spill, as it's kind of been just kind of floating around, gets down into this loop current, which we expect, it will eventually take oil all the way through and into the Florida Keys, especially oceanside, and then on up the East Coast in that Gulf current, all the way up into the Gulf Stream.
So, months from now -- and we're -- we're talking a long time, but, months from now, oil from this spill could end up on East Coast beaches -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Chad, thank you. I hope it doesn't.
There's an urgent effort under way right now to save wildlife harmed by this oil spill. At the Fort Jackson Rehabilitation Center in Louisiana, rescue specialists first try to stabilize oiled-covered birds with fluids and nutrients. Then the cleanup starts. It can take several people 45 minutes or more to clean one bird.
And that may require 300 gallons of water. Pelicans, gulls and other birds have been brought to the facility. The odds aren't good as of Friday. Out of 21 birds, only a handful have survived.
Other news: Defendants are usually brought before a judge here in the United States within 48 hours of arrest. But two weeks after his arrest for the botched Times Square bombing, Faisal Shahzad still hasn't been to court.
Joining us now is our national security contributor Fran Townsend. She was the homeland security adviser to President Bush. She also worked in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.
Fran, based on your experience, what's going on right now?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Wolf, clearly, the fact that they haven't brought him before a magistrate indicates to me he's still talking and they're still getting actionable information from him.
He's probably being held in a safe house somewhere in the New York-New Jersey area, where he is being debriefed. That information is then being fed into this -- sort of the intelligence and law enforcement system, where they will try to corroborate the information and then action it.
We saw the -- the searches last week. You can imagine -- you can bet that's partly -- the basis of those warrants was on information that Faisal Shahzad is providing. And so it's a real -- it's a good indication, Wolf, that there is still information and intelligence that they can mine to put all the pieces together, so we can learn more about the network that trained and supported Faisal Shahzad in his Times Square attempt.
BLITZER: Because they would certainly like to confirm, to corroborate what he is telling them, to make sure that he is telling the truth, not sort of simply making up stories for whatever reason.
In the meantime, do we know if he has had access at all to an attorney?
TOWNSEND: There's no way to tell from the outside, but I will tell you, Wolf, oftentimes, they -- you will privately give him access to a lawyer, if he wishes to consult with him, even if he hasn't been brought before a magistrate.
We can't really tell from the outside looking in. But we can't rule out that he may have in fact had access to a defense lawyer.
BLITZER: On another subject, Fran, let me pick your brain, a third nominee for the Transportation Security Administration just put forward by the president. You know this individual, a deputy director at the FBI.
TOWNSEND: John Pistole and I first met each other more than 20 years ago when I was a young prosecutor in the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney's Office and he was an agent in the FBI New York field office. I have worked with John over the course of now more than 20 years. I have to tell you, Wolf, this is such a brilliant pick, you have to wonder why they didn't go to him first. John knows all the senior people across the federal government in law enforcement intelligence. He will be able to call on people like in the FBI in the Justice Department and CIA to get the information he needs to put the right screening measures in place and the right targeting.
I mean, frankly, Wolf, after two failed attempts at a nominee, this one, I think, is bulletproof.
BLITZER: All right, let's watch very, very closely. They need a director over there at TSA. They need one very, very soon.
BLITZER: Needed one for a long time.
All right, Fran, thank you.
Jack Cafferty is coming up next.
Then, a study as disturbing as it is extraordinary. We measure kids' attitudes toward race.
Also, three American mothers on an emotional journey to see their children who are being held in Iran, they will join us live.
And what's different about the new Miss USA?
BLITZER: Let's get right to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, this country is not only headed for bankruptcy when it comes to our finances. It looks as though we could soon be morally bankrupt as well.
There's a new Gallup poll that paints a depressing picture of the state of our moral values in the United States -- 45 percent of those surveyed describe morality in this country as poor. Only 15 percent -- fewer than one in five -- say excellent or good. And these numbers rank among the worst in this poll over the 10 years.
The survey shows 76 percent of Americans say that moral values in the United States are getting worse. Only 14 percent say they're getting better. So, what's wrong with us?
Poll respondents give a lot of examples when it comes to how moral values are getting declining, from the disrespect of others to parents not teaching their children good values, from dishonesty among government and business leaders to rising crime, loss of religion, breakdown of the family structure, and people not being accountable for their own behavior. Nobody is responsible for anything anymore. Everybody's a victim. And believe it or not, this is one thing all political parties agree on. Not Republicans, Democrats nor independents give positive ratings to the question of moral values.
It's a crying shame, really, that in this great, free country of ours, where anything is possible, we as a society have such a negative view of how we behave and how we treat each other. It's hard to imagine how we come together to solve our problems, and have you noticed, we have got a few, if we have such a poor opinion of the guy next to us.
Here's the question: What's behind a precipitous decline in America's morality?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog, a little light, breezy question to finish with.
BLITZER: Yes. It's a worrisome one, though.
CAFFERTY: Yes, it is.
BLITZER: All right, Jack. We will get some answers. Thank you.
BLITZER: You're about to see something truly extraordinary and disturbing. Get this. Children as young as 4 years old are showing a bias toward lighter skin, and it's not just white students.
In a study commissioned by CNN and carried out by a leading child development researcher, both black and white kids in varies age groups and locations identified lighter skin with positive attributes and darker skin with negative attributes.
CNN's Anderson Cooper is here with more on this very disturbing study.
Anderson, I know you have been studying it very closely. What's going on here?
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Well, basically, we commissioned a team of psychologists to do an extensive pilot study, and it's sort of based on a very famous study done in the '40s, a series of studies done by the Clarks which played a big role in Brown vs. Board of Education, the desegregation of schools.
Basically, kids, we interviewed more than -- the psychologists interviewed more than 130 kids in eight different schools, half in the North, half in the South -- the kids were 5 years old and also 10 years old, two different groups -- and basically showed them a range of pictures of identical dolls, but just with varying skin colors, and would ask them questions.
And what we found is that white kids overwhelmingly had what researchers called a bias. They preferred their own skin color and would give negative attributes to darker-skin-colored dolls. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the dumb child.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Dumb child?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Why is she the dumb child?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because she has black skin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
Show me the bad child. Why is he the bad child?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because he's really dark.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the dumb child. Why is she the dumb child?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because she looks black-black.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the good child. Why is she the good child?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because she looks whiter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the child you would like to have as a classmate. Why would you like to have him as a classmate?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because he's white.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the child who has the skin color most adults like. And show me the child who has the skin color most adults don't like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Anderson, what were the results? That's very worrisome, but what were the results when you -- when we asked black kids the exact same questions?
COOPER: Yes, it was interesting.
And there are many reasons why kids would give these different kinds of answers. And we will have a lot more about that on "360" tonight, but with African-American kids, we found also that they also had a white bias, often picking darker shades with negative attributes, less so than the white students.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the ugly child. And why is she the ugly child? UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because she's black.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me the good-looking child. And why is she the good-looking child?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because she's light-skinned.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And show me the skin color you believe most teachers think looks bad on a girl.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I don't think they think it matters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't think they -- they don't think it matters?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Like, it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside. It just matters what you look like on the inside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you show me the child that has your skin color?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: That one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Show me the child that has the skin color you want.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: That one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
Show me the child who has the skin color you don't want.
Show me the child you would like as a classmate.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: All of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You like all of them as classmates?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Mm-hmm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you say all of them?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because I don't really care what color they have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Anderson, I know you have been speaking with a lot of experts on this.
BLITZER: What can be done to sort of offset this...
Well, we also talked to a lot of these kids' parents, and who were also kind of stunned by it, because everyone wants to think their child is colorblind and that we're all colorblind.
What the experts we talked to said and the people who conducted the study were saying is that, overwhelmingly, it seems, if parents repeatedly and often talk to their kids about race, that makes a big difference.
A lot of reports have shown that as many as 75 percent of white parents don't really have this conversation with their kids, 25 percent of African-American parents. So, among African-American parents, where the conversation happens more often, we're seeing improvements in terms of biases and the way people project on to different skin tones.
BLITZER: You're going to have a lot more on this at 10:00 tonight, right?
COOPER: Yes. I mean, this was an extensive study we did. All week, we're going to be focusing on this, but a lot on the program tonight at 10:00.
BLITZER: We will be watching. Anderson, some -- it was pretty shocking to me.
COOPER: Yes, it's interesting.
BLITZER: Yes, fascinating. All right, thanks very much.
Remember, you can see a lot more of Anderson Cooper's report on kids and race tonight on "A.C. 360." It starts at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
Three American women caught up in an extraordinary circumstance. Their kids are being held in Iran in prison. Now the mothers are about to see them for the first time in almost a year. We will speak with them live this hour.
And a first for the Miss USA Pageant -- details of what sets this beauty queen apart from and why some find it controversial.
BLITZER: Their children are jailed in Iran. Now they're heading to Iran themselves. I will speak with the mothers of three young hikers who have been held in Iran for 10 months in a prison. They're accused of spying.
And born in Lebanon, she is now Miss USA. Many Arab-Americans are calling that a breakthrough, but could there be a backlash from parts of the Muslim world?
And the fast-food customer ordered burritos and instead got a bag full of cash. Jeanne Moos finds it "Moost Unusual."
BLITZER: Their children have been jailed in Iran for 10 months, picked up along the Iraqi border, accused of spying. Now, after a very long flight, the mothers of those -- those three American hikers are headed to Iran themselves.
Joining us now, Nora Shourd, Cindy Hickey, and Laura Fattal. They leave tomorrow for Iran.
Thanks so much, all of you, for coming in, and good luck.
What do you expect to happen, Nora, as you make this journey to Iran?
NORA SHOURD, MOTHER OF DETAINED AMERICAN: Well, the main thing -- the main reason we're going, the main reason we're going, why we got the visas, is, we're going to visit our children, OK?
BLITZER: And do you -- do you have a guarantee that they will let you in this prison to visit your kids?
SHOURD: We're pretty certain that that's going to happen. And we think it's going to happen fairly soon after we get there. That's why we got the visas. The visas are going to go and visit the kids, on top of that, to bring them home. And that's what we're hoping for.
BLITZER: Do you have any guarantees, Cindy, you are going to be able to bring them home with you on this trip? Did they give you any reason to hope?
CINDY HICKEY, MOTHER OF DETAINED AMERICAN: No, we didn't. We're hopeful because we're very grateful for the visas, and the next step would be to bring our children home.
BLITZER: What will you say when you get there? And you finally Laura, have a chance to see your kids. You're the mother of Josh Fattal.
LAURA FATTAL, MOTHER OF DETAINED AMERICAN: Right.
Well, there's body language and there's word language. And we're going to do both. I'm going to grab him, I'm going to hug him, I'm going to kiss him, and I'm going to tell him the whole world is supporting him, Shane and Sarah. And it's -- there's tremendous support internationally to free the hikers. But we are also -- I'm going to listen very hard, because he has been in such isolation, as Shane...
BLITZER: Josh has been in isolation.
FATTAL: Josh and Shane share a cell, but they have been away from their whole world. They have been away from all news, and most of world events. So, it -- we just need to share with them and listen to them what's been going on. BLITZER: Your daughter, Nora, Sarah Shourd, have you gotten reports from the Red Cross, the International Red Cross, from others, how she is doing?
SHOURD: The last time the Swiss went in, which was April 22, Sarah in particular said that she had some health issues and also was suffering from depression.
And the three children also mentioned that they were considering a hunger strike. Now, when we heard this, we got more worried, if that's possible, than we were before. So, we just need to go there. We need to see these kids.
BLITZER: You don't want them to go on a hunger strike.
SHOURD: No, we do not want them to. But we haven't -- we're not able to talk to them. We can't express what...
BLITZER: Have you been able to get letters to them, or anything, any communications to them?
SHOURD: We think some of our letters get through, but certainly not all, the hundreds we've sent and all the thousands of people who support them have sent. So, we're not sure what kind of information they have. But like Laura said, not very much from the outside world at all.
BLITZER: Your son, Shane Bauer, is there. Do you -- have you received any communications from him at all?
CINDY HICKEY, SON JAILED IN IRAN: We actually -- each of us got one call from our children, mine lasted a minute, where Shane expressed love and concern for his family, gratitude for everything we're doing, and very much said, I have no idea what's going on. It was very apparent they didn't know.
BLITZER: What did -- what did Josh say to you in that -- you got a phone call, I assume, as well.
LAURA FATTAL, SON JAILED IN IRAN: Yes, actually, my husband spoke with him. We had no warning the phone call was coming. But I've been married 34 years, and so my husband -- I totally understand that what he said with Josh was transferred, and I understood what he said.
And Josh was eager to talk with his father. Eager and happy and when Jacob picked up the phone, Josh said, "Hi, dad." like it was nothing. So, it was -- but the -- Josh was just very gleeful to hear his father's voice, and talk about common experiences, and just speak a little bit about his daily life.
BLITZER: If you could speak to the Iranian leader right now, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and look in the camera and make an appeal -- what would you say to him?
SHOURD: You know, I think if we had the ear of the president, we would talk about our children in detail -- the way we know them, the people we know them to be. But also to thank him for the gift of allowing us to go and see them and to give us the bigger gift of their release. And to say, you know, what possible opportunity could be better than this one to the whole world, right now, you have a moment, and take that moment, please, and show the world your compassion.
BLITZER: Cindy, what would you say to him?
HICKEY: Also, very grateful for allowing us to come into Iran to visit our children, but the world is watching. This would be a great opportunity, and just to show the world that they're compassionate.
FATTAL: Yes, and Dr. Mottaki, the foreign minister, has said this is a humanitarian gesture to let the mothers come in to see their kids. And we would like for him to extend that humanitarianism to have the kids released.
BLITZER: He said, Ahmadinejad, in a recent interview with ABC, he said this: "There are seven Iranians in prisons in the United States. These seven Iranians did not cross American borders illegally. There is no clear crime stated. They don't have a lawyer. Their families haven't been able to visit them. Do you think this is fine?"
You've heard these reports that he's interested in some sort of prisoner -- quote, "prisoner exchange." Is that something that you would -- certainly, you want to do anything to get your kids back.
SHOURD: We feel sympathetic for people who are prison that he is talking about. But the kind of swap we would like to see, honestly, is the swap of goodwill between one country and another. That's as far as we can go with that. This is compassionate, humanitarian appeal. Swap the good stuff.
BLITZER: Do you know for sure that what he's saying is accurate, that there are seven Iranians being held in the United States right now?
HICKEY: We don't.
BLITZER: Because we haven't been able to confirm that.
HICKEY: No, we don't have those details at all. We have no knowledge of that.
BLITZER: In all of the conversations you've had with Iranians, with Iranian officials, have -- has anyone ever said, well, we'll release your kids if the U.S. release these seven Iranians?
HICKEY: We haven't had conversations with Iranian officials.
BLITZER: But you got visas.
HICKEY: We got visas. BLITZER: How did you get that?
HICKEY: Through the intersection?
BLITZER: Through the Swiss?
HICKEY: Through the intersection -- the Iranian intersection in D.C.
BLITZER: The Iranian intersection. Those are Iranian officials, aren't they?
HICKEY: Yes. We haven't had a conversation about that with them.
BLITZER: Because nobody has raised that other issue.
HICKEY: Not with us, no.
BLITZER: So basically, you're heading -- Laura, you're heading to Tehran. You'll be there in the next few days. This must be so exciting because you're on the verge -- you hope -- of bringing your kids out of there.
FATTAL: Absolutely. And we are excited. And you can see in all of our faces, we're anticipating, we're excited, we have never, ever doubted that our kids would be released. We just want it now.
BLITZER: How do you cope with this kind of a situation? Ten months, your kids have been held in a prison, this Evin prison, which is pretty notorious in Iran, as you know.
SHOURD: Yes. Well, we've had our bad moments, obviously. But we have each other.
BLITZER: The three of you.
SHOURD: And this is the strength, to have three mothers doing this, and powerful families behind us, helping us, and friends and supporters. That's how we cope. We process all of the time with each other. When we have bad days, the other mothers will know.
BLITZER: There's always a debate: should you go public or should you try to lay low, hoping that one strategy will work? You obviously think going public will have a greater impact on the Iranians than just being meek.
HICKEY: Well, we take our moments day by day. We weigh and balance everything on a daily basis. So, you know, everything is weighed out with us.
At this point, we think it's -- you know, being public is a good thing.
BLITZER: We will stay in close touch with all of you, and our hearts go out to all three of you -- your families, your entire families, all your friends. And we hope you bring your kids out of there, and bring them -- bring them here into THE SITUATION ROOM afterwards, and we'll be happy to talk to them, as well.
SHOURD: Thank you.
HICKEY: Thank you.
FATTAL: Thank you.
BLITZER: Good luck. We wish them our best.
All right. Three mothers on their way to Tehran. We'll be watching that story.
Another story we're watching right now: an American beauty queen who brings something extra to her title. Details of the first Arab- American to be crowned Miss USA.
And we're only hours away from the primary elections with potentially significant ramifications. We'll talk about it with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.
BLITZER: Many voters are angry, and only hours from now, they'll start voting. Some of them will be taking it out on the incumbents. Other candidates who are viewed as part of the establishment in what's shaping up as a "Super Tuesday" of sorts -- key primaries will be held in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky.
Joining us now: our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Gloria, why should people who don't live in those three states really care what happens on Tuesday?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they should care, because it's going to tell us what voters around the country are thinking. It's going to tell us how much impact this tea party movement could have on other elections.
If you're a politician, it's going to tell us just how this anti- incumbent surge is going to take effect, whether the establishment is really out of luck this time.
And more important, what's going to be really interesting for us to look at and to watch, Wolf, is the impact of President Obama here on these races. And he's backing, as you know, Senator Specter in Pennsylvania, and Senator Lincoln in Arkansas. And if both of those folks lose, people who rode Barack Obama's coattails to victory in 2008 are even going to be a little more worried.
So, it's really going to give us a sense of the dissatisfaction in the country, the anger that's out there. And so, we'll be looking towards the midterm elections with these races in mind.
BLITZER: If the president and vice president, Joe Biden, Gloria, are backing Arlen Specter --
BLITZER: -- in these final days in a very close election, why don't they go to Pennsylvania and campaign with Arlen Specter?
BORGER: Well, that's really interesting, because I would have to think that Arlen Specter said to them, "You know what, maybe you're not going to be as helpful to me as I once thought you were going to be" -- because Arlen Specter is a guy who is running a campaign, and he says, "Look, I've got a lot of experience, I know how to bring home the bacon to the state of Pennsylvania."
But this is an outsider year. This is an anti-establishment year. Well, when you bring in the big guns, very late in the race, it's because you think they're really going to help you. In fact, what they might do is remind people that Arlen Specter has been in Congress an awfully long time, and then Arlen Specter is endorsed by the establishment, and the establishment wants him to win. And that could have the opposite effect of bringing out the voters who are angry, and who don't want him to win as a Democrat.
BLITZER: But, Gloria, these are Democrats who will be voting in Pennsylvania tomorrow.
BLITZER: And the president and the vice president, they're very popular with these Democrats.
BORGER: Right. But, you know, there are lots of Democrats who are dissatisfied, particularly those on the left, who believe that Arlen Specter is not liberal enough for them, that he has just been converted to being more of a liberal senator since he became a Democrat. And so, the last thing in the world you want to do is bring out those liberals. And then the other thing you don't want to do is bring out those moderate and conservative Democrats who might think Barack Obama is too liberal for them.
So, at this point, Arlen Specter standing on his own record, and saying that "I know how to do things that are good for the state of Pennsylvania, and that's what I'll continue to do in the United States Senate." So at this point, he wants to stand on his own.
BLITZER: All right. So if we watch tomorrow night the results from these three Senate primaries, what should they tell us about November's nationwide midterm elections?
BORGER: Well, you know, that's interesting, Wolf, because, of course, we can over-interpret these things. And what -- the primaries may well be sort of different from the general election, because the general election is going to be a referendum on Barack Obama, make no mistake about it. It's going to be a nationalized election.
Barack Obama has put a lot of national issues, front and center -- health care, immigration, energy. And people are going to vote on the economy, what they think about the deficit. And so, you know, it may be a rougher time for the Democrats than you're going to see in all of these primaries. Because if I had to bet, it's the Democrats who have a lot more to worry about in the midterm elections than the Republicans right know, because they're not running Washington.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Gloria.
BLITZER: That would probably be a winning bet, at least right now.
BLITZER: The first polls will be closing by the way, tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Join me, along with the best political team on television. We'll have up-to-the-minute results on those key races tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Our coverage will begin on "JOHN KING, USA."
And a lot more coming up later today, at the top of the hour, just in a little, while on "JOHN KING, USA." Stand by for that.
Jack Cafferty is asking: What's behind the precipitous decline in America's morality? Your e-mails are coming up.
And the new Miss USA -- she was born in Lebanon. She's making many Arab-Americans very, very proud. But in parts of the Muslim world, could there be a backlash?
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The new Miss USA is unlike any other. She is the first Muslim woman ever to win that pageant. And while many Arab-Americans are certainly celebrating, her win comes with some controversy.
CNN's Lisa Sylvester is looking into this for us.
Lisa, what are you picking up?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the 24-year- old was born in Lebanon, raised in New York and Michigan, and she is a true blend of American and Muslim worlds. She went to a Catholic school, but her family follows Muslim traditions. But where she might easily blend cultures and communities, others might have a harder time.
ANNOUNCER: The first runner-up is -- Oklahoma! Which means Miss USA 2010 is Michigan!
(CHEERING) SYLVESTER (voice-over): A beaming Rima Fakih is thought to be the first Arab-American to wear the crown of Miss USA. The American- Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee says her coronation is a breakthrough for the Arab community in the United States, tearing down stereotypes and ethnic and religious barriers.
ABAD AYOUB, AMERICAN-ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CMTE.: Americans, Muslim-Americans, Arab-Americans, all Americans first in the State. We are integrated of this culture. We're part of its social fabric. And that's what Rima's victory showed last night, that as Muslims, as Arab-Americans, we can pursue our dreams and we can pursue our goals in this country.
SYLVESTER: Her victory stands in stark contrast to images of women in the Muslim world -- pictures of scantily clad Rima Fakih in a bathing suit and official contestant provocative photos of wearing only lingerie. Compare that to last year's pageant in ultraconservative Saudi Arabia, where it wasn't their beauty up for judging, but their moral character. No swimsuit competition here, only female judges, and where men and women were not integrated.
But that's in Saudi Arabia. Fakih's homeland of Lebanon is much more progressive. Most women dress just like they do in the West. And in 1971, Miss Universe was from Lebanon.
Professor Michael Hudson, who teaches Arab studies at Georgetown University, expects some backlash in the Muslim world over Rima Fakih.
MICHAEL HUDSON, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: There will be others who will be, frankly, shocked. And I would expect that you will hear from -- you know, from many of the conservative elements, from some of the conservative Muslim preachers, condemnation of this. Many people will be offended.
SYLVESTER: But Rima Fakih was raised in New York and Michigan, and her family holds ties to the Muslim tradition. Today, she represents the entire country as Miss USA, and here she is.
SYLVESTER: Fakih's family is from Lebanon, which is one of the most open and liberal countries in the Middle East. Now, she not only had the support of her family, but also the Arab community in Dearborn, Michigan and they helped her raise funds, Wolf, so that she could compete -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, good luck to her. Good luck to all of the women who were in that contest.
Thanks very much for that, Lisa. A new Miss USA.
Jack Cafferty is coming up with your e-mail.
Also, a fast food stop yields some fast money for one customer. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.
BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, THE CAFFERTY FILE: Question this hour based on a Gallup Poll -- a little getting feedback in that thing. So, I'd do away with it.
Gallup Poll showing a precipitous decline in America's morality. We asked what you think is behind that.
A writes: "The rampant narcissism, sense of entitlement, and the lack of consideration for your fellow human being. People feel like they ought to be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want and screw you if you don't like it. Part of it is parenting, but the other part is society and celebrities condoning that attitude. My family thinks I'm awesome. Why don't you?"
David in Oregon: "What's behind the decline? Simple. Media. Television, Internet, video games, music, cell phones -- they all play a role in the demoralization of this country. Cry freedom of speech all you want, but when nothing is censored, everything eventually goes to the lowest common denominator."
Al writes: "So much of the problem with morals in our society can be traced to the breakdown of the family. Children aren't given the guidance that leads to self respect. And if you don't respect yourself, how can you have any respect for your fellow human beings? If children try to look up for direction, all they see is the lure of the almighty buck, exemplified by the corporations and the government."
Sarah says: "I don't think there's any decline in morality. Consider 150 years ago we kept human beings as slaves, 100 years ago American workers worked in terrible conditions for low wages with no safety net, and 50 years ago African-Americans were still being lynched. I think we've come a long way and I'd much rather live in today's society than the world of the past."
Pete writes: "This is what happens when people stop going to church. Until people hit rock bottom in their carefree lives, religion is not cool. But when they do finally melt down, I bet not many turn to Hugh Hefner for answers."
Dee writes: "Morality started declining when we all stopped wearing hats and gloves and suits and ties out to dinner and a movie."
If you want to read more on this, go to my blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile.
There's something to be said for that hats and gloves.
BLITZER: Hats and gloves --
CAFFERTY: In San Francisco, when I was a kid, we'd make the trip down from Reno, you never saw a woman out in the evening without gloves and a hat ever, ever, ever and men wore ties and jacket. Joe DiMaggio told me one time, a long time ago, when he played for the Yankees, you didn't leave the clubhouse unless you were in a jacket and tie. Things have changed.
BLITZER: Stuff has changed.
CAFFERTY: It's a pre-historic era.
BLITZER: We'll see you tomorrow.
BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.
President Obama is ordering a special commission to investigate the Gulf oil disaster -- all of the latest developments coming up at the top of the hour on "JOHN KING, USA."
Plus, a drive through mix-up gives one customer 10s and 20s instead of tacos -- lots of 10s and 20s. Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.
BLITZER: One Taco Bell customer that came in for burritos drove away with cash instead. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine you ordered burritos on a Taco Bell drive-thru --
(on camera): Thank you.
(voice-over): -- stuck your hand inside the bag and found not burritos but 2,000 bucks.
That's what happened to the young woman driving this SUV through the drive-through at a Dayton, Ohio, Taco Bell and she kept driving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be honest, I think I would still take it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd give it back.
MOOS: An employee working the window mistakenly gave her the bag of cash. Normally, the manager comes through the drive-thru to pick up the morning's deposit, which is put in a Taco Bell bag to take to the bank.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me, myself, I'd brink it back. I'd tell them how stupid they were.
MOOS: It's enough to make you check your order twice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five layers of burrito.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, man, five layers and no cash.
MOOS: Drive-through windows provide a lot of window to weirdness. Remember that craze a while back, idiots would order a drink.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have medium lemonade.
MOOS: And then throw it at the window employee yelling -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire in the hole!
MOOS: And post it on YouTube.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire in the hole!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire in the hole!
MOOS: But the last laugh went to the worker who fired back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire in the hole. Oh, my God.
MOOS: And there were a bunch of videos posted of synchronized snatchings put to music. Takeout orders swiped.
And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention all the takeout orders rapped.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (rapping): I need a double cheese burger on hold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (rapping): So give me (INAUDIBLE) with the chicken well done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (rapping): I need a caramel macchiato so make it grande.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): A burrito supreme with extra sour cream.
MOOS: Now, Taco Bell is feeling sour as Dayton police scour the area for the silver SUV that took off with 2,000 bucks.
(on camera): Hi, there. Could I have $2,000 in fresh 20s and a side of nachos, please?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you repeat that again?
MOOS: On second thought, make it a crunchy taco supreme.
(voice-over): Taco Bell told CNN its franchisee appreciates any information that leads to the money being returned.
ANNOUNCER: Noquero Taco Bell.
MOOS: Noquero that bank deposit.
Jeanne Moos --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want that nacho supreme in my tummy --
MOOS: -- CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and don't worry about order because you know I got the money.
MOOS: -- New York.
BLITZER: Thank you. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Up next, "JOHN KING, USA."