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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Pedophilia Advocate Arrested; President Obama Keeping Promises; Should Michael Vick Be Allowed to Own Dog?

Aired December 20, 2010 - 22:00   ET

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


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta filling in for Anderson Cooper tonight.

Tonight, he literally wrote the book on how to have sex with children, a how-to book for pedophiles.

Now, 360 led the way, trying to hold Amazon accountable for selling it. Now the book is gone, and the author is in jail.

But, "Keeping Them Honest," as disgusting as this book may be, is it protected by the First Amendment? And if the author lives in Colorado, how can the state of Florida have him arrested? We will ask the sheriff who had him busted and also senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Also tonight: promises, promises. Has keeping them and passing legislation he said he would turned around President Obama's chances for 2012, even if not everyone likes what he's accomplished? You are going to hear from both sides. You decide for yourself.

And Michael Vick, he wants a dog. Now, he did time for breeding, torturing and fighting them. Now he says he wants to show people he genuinely cares. Is this like giving matches to an arsonist or a legitimate way to rehabilitate someone? You might be surprised at what some advocates for animals have to say about this.

We begin, though, as we always do, "Keeping Them Honest."

Tonight: The author who advocates pedophilia is in jail, Philip Greaves II arrested at his home today in Pueblo, Colorado. Now, deputies from Polk Florida crossing the country to bust him. The charge is obscenity. After they say he sold them a copy, purportedly his last copy, an autographed one, of this book. It's called "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child Lover's Code of Conduct."

Got to tell you, the title alone is chilling, the author telling ABC News he was trying to stir up controversy and sales. But I have got to tell you, there's not much doubt he also truly believes what he's selling. Listen to his defense of pedophiles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILIP GREAVES, AUTHOR, "THE PEDOPHILE'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND PLEASURE: A CHILD LOVER'S CODE OF CONDUCT": Every time you see them on television, they're either murderers, rapists or kidnappers. And, you know, that's just not an accurate presentation of the -- that particular sexuality.

Well, to tell you the truth, I don't think that it's always bad for the child, OK? But I do think it's always confining for the adult, because there are just so many more things that adults can enjoy between each other than they can enjoy with a child, without hurting the child.

Kissing, fondling, that sort of thing, I don't think is that serious of a problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Not that serious of a problem, not always bad for the child -- Phillips Greaves talking about his book there.

And here are some passages from it as well. I want to warn you, though, they are disturbing.

Here's one -- quote -- "Pedophile feel great affection for their young partners and do everything possible to avoid causing them any pain."

Or this: "They are concerned for the well-being and pleasure of their little friends, always putting the juvenile's pleasure and happiness first."

And: "If both partners are disease-free, then it is unnecessary for either to take any preventative measures during sex or to be concerned regarding any bodily fluids or their exchange."

Those are passages from a "Pedophile's Guide," which Mr. Greaves self-published and was selling on Amazon, even though Amazon has a policy against selling pornography or what it calls extremely disturbing materials.

Now, as you might remember, we have been on front on this story trying to get some answers from Amazon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NOVEMBER 10, 2010)

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": We begin, though, tonight, as always, "Keeping Them Honest," with a story that may stun you. Amazon. com, the biggest online retailer in the world, is selling a guide for pedophiles. Right now on their Web site, they are selling an e-book on -- for Kindle, in essence profiting from pedophilia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NOVEMBER 11, 2010)

COOPER: Tonight: profiting from pedophilia. Amazon.com, after our report last night, they pulled a guide for pedophiles that they have been peddling. But as we will show you, today, they were still selling other pro-pedophile books, and they're ducking our calls for answers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NOVEMBER 12, 2010)

COOPER: Tonight: peddling pedophilia. The nation's largest online retailer, Amazon.com, is slowly taking down more disgusting material for sale on its site, not just books, but videos as well. But why is it taking them so long, and how did this stuff get on their site in the first place? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: And we tried, especially to get someone from Amazon to talk to us. Dozens of unreturned calls and messages later, we sent our Seattle reporter, Patrick Oppmann, to Amazon headquarters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NOVEMBER 11, 2010)

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN ALL PLATFORM JOURNALIST: I'm looking for Amazon. com?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You what?

OPPMANN: Looking for Amazon. com.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, this is it.

OPPMANN: I'm in the right place? Here's my name. I'm with CNN. I was trying to reach somebody in your guys' media relations department?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we're not allowed to have media in here.

OPPMANN: I'm in the lobby of the Amazon. com head quarters in Seattle. It's been about an hour. I got here. They wouldn't let me past security. They did send up my business card to the media relations department.

I haven't heard any word back. I'm going to check again before I leave. But really, I have just been waiting here for someone to come out and talk to us.

Yes, it's been about an hour. Is there a way to check with them again to see if, you know, they'll talk to me or not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I left the message with my boss and that's the only thing that I can do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: That was last month, what you're looking at there. Tonight, the book is no longer available. The author is in jail.

But, "Keeping Them Honest," it is not the end of the story, by any stretch. And there are at least two reasons why.

First of all, as revolting as Philip Greaves' title and subject matter may be to most people, it may not even violate federal law, which defines child pornography as a visual depiction -- visual -- of a minor engaging in pedophile behavior.

"The Pedophile's Guide" is only words, no pictures. So, that's one thing.

The other is the Florida statue Philip Greaves has been charged with violating, which is all-encompassing and covers this -- quote -- "Any person who knowingly sells, lends, gives away, distributes, transmits, shows, or transmutes or offers to sell, lend, give away, distribute, transmit, show, or transmute lewd and obscene material." The law also covers anyone who prepares such materials for or "who knowingly writes, prints, publishes or utters or causes to be written, printed, published, or uttered any advertisement or notice of any kind giving information, directly or indirectly stating or purporting to state where, how or whom, or by what means any or what purports to be any such material, matter, article or thing of any such character can be purchased, obtained or had."

I don't know how the lawyers do it. It's a mouthful, very specific, very comprehensive. But here's the question, why we read it to you. Could it ultimately be trampling on free, albeit offensive speech?

Well, joining us tonight, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Grady Judd, sheriff from Polk County, Florida.

Thank you so much.

Sheriff, let me -- let me start with you.

GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA, SHERIFF: It's my honor to be here.

GUPTA: Thank you, sir.

You were -- you were in charge of what was essentially an undercover operation that led to Greaves' arrest. You're in Florida. How -- how did your office get involved in this in the first place?

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: He lives in Colorado, has no real connection to the state of the Florida.

JUDD: Well, we watched Anderson Cooper on CNN and other national broadcasts, and people sitting around, wringing their hands, saying, there's nothing we can do, free speech, free speech.

This has absolutely nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with obscenity. We had a law in Florida that applied. We only needed jurisdiction. We consulted our state attorney's office, Brad Copley, and our state attorney, Jerry Hill. They said, if you can get jurisdiction, bring us a case.

My detectives did a fantastic job. And that's what we did. We took them an autographed book that Philip sent to us. That gave us jurisdiction. A circuit judge gave us a warrant, and the rest is history. He's in jail.

GUPTA: Now, police in Colorado, just to be clear, Sheriff, did investigate Greaves last month after the story came out, but found that he wasn't violating Colorado law. So, how does that work? Is it because of the Internet and -- and its impact on the -- on the entire world?

JUDD: Well, the Internet has made everything a local event.

And what our law says is, you can't set in Colorado and violate Florida law, anymore than you can sit in Florida and violate Florida law. When he transmitted, when he sold, when he delivered that book to us in Polk County, Florida, he violated Florida law. And that's why we were able to put him in jail. And the Pueblo police were fantastic in assisting us in this investigation.

COOPER: Jeff -- let me bring in Jeffrey Toobin.

And I alluded to this, Jeffrey, but what about the First Amendment here? I mean, this is distasteful, Jeff. You have kids. I have three daughters. I mean, it's just terribly distaste -- distasteful stuff. But could Greaves still claim protection under freedom of speech?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you're certainly right that it's repulsive and awful, but I don't see how this prosecution go forward, because I think this book is clearly protected by the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court dealt with a case very similar to this in 2002, where there was a federal law that said any sort of depictions of child pornography, including cartoons, are unlawful. And the Supreme Court said that was unconstitutional, because the only kind of kiddie porn that can be prohibited is actual depictions of actual sex involving children.

This book, as awful as it is, is only words, as you said. It is mostly two fictional stories about pedophilia. And that, I think, is a statement of opinion. It is a statement of a kind of art. And it is un -- it -- it -- it is not constitutional to arrest him for engaging in that kind of speech.

COOPER: Let me -- let me ask about one more thing that's come up, Jeff. So, you heard the story from the sheriff there. Undercover detectives were involved. They solicited the materials from Greaves and then they brought him back to Florida. Could any -- any of this in any way be considered entrapment?

TOOBIN: I don't think so. I mean, I think this is clearly a legitimate law enforcement investigation. And if, for example, Greaves had mailed to the detectives actual photographs of children having sex, I think this prosecution would be more than justified. But -- so, I don't think there's any problem with what the detectives did.

I think this law is too broad, under the First Amendment. And I think it would bring -- it brings in material, distasteful though it is, that is protected under our Constitution.

GUPTA: Sheriff Judd, I mean, there's a lot of distasteful material out there. I mean, I was just going to the Amazon Web site today. There's books like "Diary of a Pedophile," "Fun With Pedophiles." There's lots of books out there that, you know, people could be concerned about, based on what you're saying.

I mean, what do you do about books like that? How does this all stay consistent, in your own mind?

JUDD: Well, it's consistent with us, because he mailed this book to us. It was a how-to book of how to sexually abuse children. And it was a depiction in writing.

Therefore, it's clearly a violation of Florida law. And, quite frankly, the problem is, as our attorney just said, there's too much hand-wringing across this nation. When we can't stand together as a nation and say you can't write a book and depict real-time stories, real stories of children being sexually abused, then it's time to change the law, because you cannot sexually abuse children and write about it in a book. That's illegal. And that's why he's in jail.

GUPTA: Jeff, it wasn't a fiction book. I mean, he -- I mean, he -- there was at least a couple of real-life accounts, Jeff.

TOOBIN: But that -- that's -- still, it's words. It's stories, as the sheriff said. And stories are -- are not illegal in this country.

You know, the reason we have kiddie porn laws is because the very act of taking a photograph of children engaged in sex is a crime, because a crime is taking place. You need a crime to take a picture of it for -- children's -- children's pornography. This is just words. We have no way of knowing whether anything in this book is true.

We don't have police investigate whether stories that people write in books are true. As awful as this is, the core of the First Amendment is about protection of speech that, even though many of us, certainly including me, find it repulsive.

GUPTA: Sheriff, you want to react to that. I mean, again, I think no one is disagreeing just how repugnant the material is.

The question, though, you're saying law should be changed? Obviously, Jeffrey talking about the fact that it does seem to be protected, to some extent, under freedom of speech.

JUDD: Well, it's absolutely not protected under Florida law. You don't have to have a photograph.

And, you know, our lawyer friend is still calling it kiddie porn. That is offensive to all the children that are victims of child sex in this country. It is real children being really abused, and he's telling a story about it. And it's harmful to minors. And it's clearly a violation of Florida law.

And, quite frankly, that's what we have the appellate courts for. But I can tell you this. If you mail materials to Polk County that are injurious to our children or encouraging them to -- others to commit crimes against our children, sexual crimes, we're going to investigate you and arrest you.

And I believe that I can take this -- this case to any jury in any state in this nation, and clearly convict Philip, because his conduct is outrageous, and it is illegal according to Florida law. So, stay tuned.

GUPTA: All right.

Sheriff...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Well, Sanjay, if I could jump in just real quick, certainly, I mean, the sheriff and I disagree about the constitutional issue, but I certainly agree with him that the issue of child pornography, what I called kiddie porn, is a very serious one. And I'm certainly glad that law enforcement is taking an active stand against it.

GUPTA: All right, Sheriff Grady Judd, Jeffrey Toobin.

In case you're curious -- I was -- 300 copies of the book were sold, certainly not a bestseller.

But let us know what you think about this.

Join the live chat now under way at AC360.com.

Up next: They're comparing him to Jimmy Carter. They were comparing him to Jimmy Carter. Now they're comparing him to Austin Powers. So, does President Obama have his mojo back? We have got new numbers and a look at how Beltway talkers are doing a 180 on this subject from two people who disagree on his accomplishments, perhaps his outlook as well.

Later: news about the water you drink and the dangerous chemicals that could be in it. Big question: Does dangerous mean deadly? We have got some answers just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: I'll tell you, as a doctor, I know what vital signs look like and what it looks like when they're slipping.

Well, tonight, the political pathologists who had all but done the autopsy on Barack Obama's presidency, they're doing a 180.

First of all, some news numbers: the president now enjoying a 48 percent approval rating. It's been creeping up for some months now, still lower, though, than President Clinton and both President Bushes at this time in their presidencies, but higher than Ronald Reagan, who was also president over a weak economy at the time.

But, even as Mr. Obama's job approval numbers were bottoming out, then slowly climbing, a prognosis in Washington seemed grim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 18, 2010)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Barack Obama is a one-term president.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MEET THE PRESS," FEBRUARY 21, 2010)

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Vice President Cheney said that he considers President Obama a one-term president.

Do you agree with that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW," JULY 18, 2010)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, "THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW" It's purgatory for the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY," APRIL 11, 2010)

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": You keep saying that -- that Barack Obama is a one-term president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW," JULY 18, 2010)

MATTHEWS: Our big question this week: With Barack Obama's poll numbers still bouncing around below 50, is he vulnerable to a challenge in 2012 from within the Democratic Party?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER," OCTOBER 4, 2010)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jimmy Carter was a one-term president. How worried are you right now, if you are worried, that Barack Obama will be a one-term president? (END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: That's Wolf Blitzer there reporting in October.

A month later, an anchor on another network wondered if the president lost his mojo, along with the midterm elections?

A pair of Democratic pollsters writing -- quote -- "To be a great, Obama should not seek reelection in 2012."

Well, then came the tax deal. Then came don't ask, don't tell, in addition to earlier legislative victories as well. The pundits, it seems, started noticing, and then the patient came back to life, headlines like "The Comeback Kid," "President Obama's Incredible Comeback," "Has Barack Obama Found His Mojo?"

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")

WALLACE: The hot story in Washington right now that everyone's writing is that Barack Obama, after the shellacking he took, has gotten his mojo back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR")

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, "THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR": So many people have said this was a great victory for President Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FACE THE NATION")

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Charles Krauthammer called President Obama this week the new comeback kid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICA'S NEWSROOM")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This big question: Is President Obama on the comeback trail?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE EARLY SHOW")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're calling President Obama the comeback did. How big of a victory was this for him yesterday?

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS: It's pretty fast. You know, the election was supposed to be a repudiation of the president. Now, just five weeks later, he's coming back already.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: So, one day, I guess you're dog food. The next day, you're top dog?

Well, if you're wondering how Washington can be so fickle, well, so are we. We can -- we also couldn't help but wonder if Mr. Obama is finally getting some credit, in some corners, at least, for all the heavy lifting he's been doing since day one.

You can agree or disagree with the policies. The fact is, though, from getting Detroit in and out of bankruptcy to passing don't ask, don't tell he's now put together a pretty long record of keeping campaign promises.

Joining us now to talk about that, Democratic strategist Paul Begala and Erick Erickson, editor in chief of RedState.com.

Paul, I will start with you.

I mean, you know something about this term comeback kid?

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: But I...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: President Clinton, graciously, in his memoir gave me credit for writing it. So I guess I should get a royalty or something.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: Which was still while he was campaigning, for sure.

But you would probably be surprised. Charles Krauthammer, the conservative columnist, is calling President Obama -- using that same term, the comeback kid, for what he's accomplished, especially during this lame-duck session of Congress.

Well, I mean, you worked closely with Bill Clinton. What do you think about this comparison?

BEGALA: I think that the vital signs, Dr. Gupta, are not political polls.

They are -- I'm not sure what a minor medical number might be, but that's what this is. OK? The vital signs here are jobs. Can he create more jobs? We don't have enough jobs being created in this presidency. I think he's doing all he can. I agree with his economic theory, but the reality is, we need more jobs in this country.

And then the other one, of course, is income, which usually goes along with jobs. If he can move the needle -- Bill Clinton created 22 million jobs, or he set the economic policy that did, almost 23 million jobs. And incomes rose under his presidency up and down. The rich got better and the poor got better.

Those are the two things he needs to do. He needs to move the needle on jobs and raise incomes. And then all of this punditry is just contributing to global warming, as far as I'm concerned.

(LAUGHTER)

GUPTA: Erick, you -- look, you just heard the comments made by lots of people, the shellacking that President Obama took, all that.

But there's no argument getting don't ask, don't tell repealed was a huge victory for the president. Roughly 70 percent of the country supported him on that. What do you -- I mean, what do you think about these last couple of months? Are you surprised about what's happened since the midterm elections?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, not at all. This may be one of those nights Paul and I virtually agree on everything.

This news story is -- is -- it's exactly what's wrong with Washington and the way politics is covered. Events change things. I could have told you the day after the election that, within a month or two, we would start hearing positive stories about the president's agenda.

Here's another news flash is, some time in 2012, we're going to hear ominous stories about infighting within the Obama administration and the campaign...

(LAUGHTER)

ERICKSON: ... which may or may not turn around by November 2012.

This just -- this is a political cycle, and it's ridiculous that reporters and pundits in Washington get wrapped up in the day-to-day intrigue, as opposed to looking at the big picture and the long term. The man has still got two more years.

GUPTA: It's amazing how the pendulum just keeps swinging, Erick.

ERICKSON: Pretty much.

GUPTA: Big surprise all.

But -- but, Paul, how much -- the -- the don't ask, don't tell, I mean, how much goodwill does this really get President Obama with his liberal base? I mean, because this comes right on the heels of the tax deal, which, seemingly, they were not very happy about.

BEGALA: Well, that's right. And it's an enormous accomplishment, I know, from sources in the White House.

The president personally lobbied on this in the most effective way. He didn't go out and make a big public statement about it. He called wavering senators, Republicans, and asked for their help. And then, at the same time -- that was sort of the nice side -- he sent political operatives into Maine, where there are two Republican senators who wound up supporting it, and tried to gin up public support for that.

So, great kudos to him on that. I have to say, not only do I not like the tax deal. Passing it was not a very impressive accomplishment. I don't mean to diminish this president or this bill, but come on.

GUPTA: Cutting taxes, spending money.

BEGALA: Cutting taxes and raising spending in Washington, I mean, George W. Bush even could pass that.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: And I'm not exactly confusing him with a great president. So, I don't think that.

But, now, the next thing he needs to do, just if I could give him free advice, because I know he watches every night, is take on the people who are trying to kill the 9/11 first-responders health care act. It has bipartisan support in the Congress, but there's enough Republicans in the Senate who are trying to kill it. That's where he needs a public campaign. That's where he needs to stand up and -- and speak with -- with the -- the moral indignation that the country feels when they see first-responders being denied the health care they deserve.

GUPTA: Right. Right.

ERICKSON: Well, you know, there's a bigger issue as well, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Go ahead, Erick.

ERICKSON: And that is, you know, there's a lot of talk among these pundits about the president getting a -- an attack from the Democratic base in 2012. That's not going to happen.

GUPTA: Right.

ERICKSON: But I will say, if Guantanamo Bay is still open in 2012, if we still have a lot of troops in Afghanistan in 2012, we are going to have this conversation again with a lot of Democratic activists, who -- who aren't going to care about the tax deal. That's going to be forgotten by then.

It's going to go back to the same issues back to 2008. It's not going to kill him, but it certainly is going to be a distraction again in 2012, like it was in 2009 and early 2010.

GUPTA: You actually think -- you mentioned this, but you actually think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid deserves most of the credit for what's been accomplished so far, especially during this -- this particular... ERICKSON: In the past week, Harry Reid's maneuvering on the Senate floor to get things -- things done that Republicans were absolutely convinced couldn't get done really shows that he really is a master of the Senate rules and gets things done.

Yet, the president always gets the credit, because he's the president and there are 100 senators. But you cannot dispute how effective Harry Reid has been this past year, much to the chagrin, frankly, of a lot of people on the right and the left.

GUPTA: All right.

BEGALA: I agree with Erick on that. In fact, just -- yes, that is absolutely true. The guy has been...

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: Too much agreement going on today.

ERICKSON: It's Christmas.

BEGALA: He's been a magician. They need to build a statue to him.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: I mean, really, what he's been able to get done after just a very tough reelection, you know, the guy should be taking a vacation, instead of doing all this work. But God bless him.

GUPTA: Guys, thanks so much. Happy holidays.

ERICKSON: Merry Christmas.

GUPTA: Thanks for joining us, Erick Erickson, Paul Begala.

BEGALA: Thanks. You, too. You have a good holiday.

GUPTA: Just ahead tonight: the dangers that could be in your tap on tap for you in the water you drink in your own home. We will tell you about new findings and what you can do to stay safe.

And later: a fight over regulations to make the food you eat as well safer. Who could be against that? We will show you. The politicians who are fighting the law, we will tell you why they oppose it. "Top Chef"'s Tom Colicchio is going to be with us as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Still ahead on 360: the "Raw Politics" of keeping the nation's food supply safe. A bill that would tighten oversight cleared a big hurdle this weekend, but is this food fight really over? That's coming up.

First, though, Randi Kaye joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sanjay, late news out of Washington.

The Transportation Department says that Toyota has agreed to pay an additional $32.4 million in civil penalties -- penalties having to do with two separate investigations into how it handled auto recalls involving accelerator pedals and loss of steering control.

Counterterror police in Britain arrested a dozen men today in a large-scale operation involving raids in four cities. The suspects' ages reportedly range from 17 to 28. Officials haven't identified a possible target, but said the arrests were made to ensure public safety.

Severe winter weather, including heavy snow, has stranded hundreds of thousands of travelers across Europe. Thousands of flights have been canceled across the continent. London's Heathrow Airport reopened today, but officials said passengers should expect delays and cancellations beyond Christmas.

A new study by a watchdog group has found the cancer-causing chemical chromium VI in tap water samples across the country. Samples from 31 U.S. cities tested positive. Chromium VI is the same chemical that Erin Brockovich fought to expose in the town of Hinkley, California, more than a decade ago.

And, Sanjay, I know that you have actually been following this story quite a bit. So, what happens when we do ingest this chromium VI?

GUPTA: Yes. You know, it's interesting.

And let me just give you a little bit of background quickly. There's about 80,000 chemicals, Randi, that we're surrounded with at any given time. Only 200 of them have been tested, and only five have been banned.

This is one of those five that have been banned, chromium VI. Yet, it's still showing up in many places, as you just mentioned.

The concern, one of the concerns, is it's listed as a potential carcinogen. And the concern specifically is about stomach cancer, which, You know, came up in that movie about Erin Brockovich as well, so it's a potential cancer-causing agent that was banned yet, still, as you just said, it shows up in people's drinking water.

KAYE: Well, hearing that I'm no expert, but it seems pretty obvious to me that this should not be in our drinking water. So what is the EPA doing about this, if anything?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I mean, the EPA has a standard for total chromium in the water, and the issue is that this environmental working group, their standard is more conservative. They say it's based on newer science.

So we looked into this today. The EPA says they're reviewing that new science as part of a risk assessment that it's conducting. That will complete that assessment 2011. So the standard may change at some point.

But keep in mind, some of these things are naturally-occurring substances and then break down into some of these potentially cancer- causing agents, so it can be tricky to measure and also to regulate, as well, Randi.

KAYE: All right.

GUPTA: Randi, stick around. We've got tonight's "Shot." It's a blast from TVs primetime past, but it has a Christmas tie-in. So we thought it was appropriate. Remember that program "Beverly Hills 90210?" It used to be one of the hottest TV shows back in the day. Its soap opera story lines and cast of good-looking young actors.

Were you in it at one point?

KAYE: No, I wasn't in it. No.

GUPTA: A lot of good looking people on that show, for sure.

KAYE: I watched it.

GUPTA: Now, Cinefamily has posted a video called "200 Christmases in Two Minutes." Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christmas, Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: It goes on and on, 200 in two minutes.

KAYE: You're not making me watch all of them, are you?

GUPTA: No. I don't think so. But it's in the spirit a little bit. You and I are both working this holiday week.

KAYE: Sure, it's very festive. I remember all the characters.

GUPTA: Do you?

KAYE: I watched the show all the time. I admit it. Yes. Big fan. Luke Perry.

GUPTA: It was a good show, I guess. I didn't get to watch it very much, but I heard it was a good show.

KAYE: It was.

GUPTA: Randi, thanks...

KAYE: I'm sure you can find reruns, Sanjay.

GUPTA: I can. On the Internet you can find just about anything.

Randi, thanks so much.

Up next, we have more fallout over Philadelphia Eagle Michael Vick's desire to own another dog some day. Vick, of course, you'll remember, was convicted of running a dog-fighting ring in Virginia back in 2007. But today he's finding some support in some pretty surprising circles. Support some call outrageous. We've got a "360 Follow." It's just ahead.

And food safety reform. Is it a big government power grab? Or an urgent fix for a broken food system that kills thousands of Americans every year? We've got the "Raw Politics" and Top Chef Tom Colicchio when become back.

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GUPTA: We've got a "360 Follow" now on a story we told you about last week. Michael Vick would some day like to own a dog again, and he's getting support from one group that may surprise a few people.

Vick, you'll remember, is a star quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, but in 2007, he was temporarily suspended from the NFL after pleading guilty to running a dog-fighting operation in Virginia. He served more than a year and a half in federal prison and was released in May of 2009.

As part of his conviction, Vick is not allowed to own an animal until his probation ends in 2012. Some, including the animal rights group, PETA, think Vick should never be allowed to own another pet. But this is what he said last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL VICK, CONVICTED OF DOG-FIGHTING: I would love to have another dog in the future. You know, I think it would be a big step for me in the rehabilitation process. I think just to have a pet in my household and to show people that I genuinely care.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GUPTA: Now, when he got out of prison, Vick began working with the Humane Society of the United States, and he now speaks to children about the cruelty of dog fighting.

The president of the Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, says while now is not the time for Vick to own a dog, he says it shouldn't be ruled out in the future. When we first covered this story last week, a lot of viewers wrote in to say they, too, believe Vick should be allowed to have a dog at some point.

Wayne Pacelle joins us now. Thanks so much, sir.

WAYNE PACELLE, HUMAN SOCIETY: Thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You've been very involved with this from the beginning. You urged state and local -- state and federal authorities to prosecute Michael Vick. You talked specifically about this at the time that he was found to be dog fighting. You urged the Atlanta Falcons to drop him and the NFL to suspend him. Now, why do you support him now?

PACELLE: Well, like you said, Sanjay, I mean, what he did was terrible. He needed to face the consequences of this awful crime. Bad News Kennels, he and a number of other individuals were involved in this illegal and vicious and barbaric dog-fighting ring.

But Michael Vick served his time, and at the end of the time, nearly two years with his time at Leavenworth and then home confinement, he said he wanted to help us with the larger dog-fighting problem.

I was skeptical, but I thought about it and I said, what's the biggest problem we face? It's street fighting. Young kids, like Michael Vick -- when he started he was 7 or 8 years old dog fighting in Newport News -- who are getting pit bulls for the wrong reasons and squaring them up in alleys and abandoned buildings and fighting them.

So we said to Vick, "We'll work with you if you put boots on the ground and speak to thousands of kids in communities across the country to warn them away from this horrible problem of dog fighting."

He's met every -- every asked and every request that we've made. He's been doing two events a month, and he's been doing a very, very good job.

GUPTA: You run the organization. Has this been sort of a unanimous feeling within your organization? I imagine this has been somewhat controversial?

PACELLE: Absolutely. And I understand all of the people who are upset about Michael Vick and who really can't get the images out of their mind. I understand that.

But endlessly flogging Michael Vick is not going to save one more dog. Even during the conviction proceedings, I felt it was important to pivot away from the Vick case to a degree. We wanted to make sure he was successfully prosecuted, but we also wanted to look at the larger issue.

Michael Vick was just one of thousands of people involved in dog fighting, and there are tens of thousands today. The key is for us to reach these kids before they get into the activity and to, of course, strengthen the laws and have good law enforcement. But, you know, you've got to have a mix of prevention and prosecution. And that's what we're doing.

And Vick's role in speaking to kids in Newark and Philadelphia and Washington and Baltimore, we just spoke to 2,000 kids in New Haven, you know, these kids are listening. He is a celebrity. He has a cautionary tale. And it's an important message that they must hear, and that's the message that I've really been promoting with Michael Vick.

GUPTA: I got to ask you about this ad in "The New York Times" today. I know -- I know this is probably something you're not thrilled by at all. And to be fair, it's -- it was organized by this organization called Humane Watch, a group tied to Rick Berman, the controversial figure, and Mr. Pacelle, I've been following it for some time. He's fought unions. He's fought Mother's Against Drunk Driving. He's fought PETA. He says maybe trans fats aren't that bad and tanning beds aren't that bad. He's a controversial figure, as well.

But the ad said the Humane Society accepted $50,000 in donations from the Philadelphia Eagles, and it implies, at least in this ad, the donation is the reason you now support Michael Vick. How do you -- how do you respond to that?

PACELLE: Well, Sanjay, you've got Rick Berman just right. I mean, he takes up any cause that is unpopular. And he goes after Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Humane Society. Even after the Centers for Disease Control.

Let's just look at the timeline here. The Humane Society and me, we started working with Vick very soon after his home-confinement period ended. The Eagles then acquired him after I started working with him, after we did an entire "60 Minutes" program on our outreach to young kids.

So the fact the Philadelphia Eagles had provided some modest support for an anti-dog-fighting program in Philadelphia does nothing to compromise a position that was already established before Vick was acquired by the Eagles.

GUPTA: It will be interesting to see and how long this takes. I know you're not a psychologist, but the idea of when he gets a dog is something we may want to talk to you about again.

Mr. Pacelle, thanks a lot. Happy holidays to you.

PACELLE: Same to you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Up next, this Democratic senator from West Virginia is the latest addition to our RidicuList. It's not because of something he said but why he missed two important votes this week. We're going to tell you why next.

And just last year thousands of people were infected with food- borne illnesses. Yesterday, the Senate passed the Food Safety Bill which aims to crack down on food producers. And critics are crying foul and asking how much control should the government have over our food supply? "Top Chef's" Tom Colicchio weighs in on the issue, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: As another example of government power grab but it passed and now it just needs a quick OK from the House before the holidays and it becomes law. With dire results, if you believe FOX's Glenn Beck.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Control and power. They control your food. They control you. This is about control. And in the end, starvation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Now, the bill was written in response to a series of deadly outbreaks of food-borne diseases. Last year alone, thousands of people, many of them small children, were infected with salmonella from eggs and peanut butter. This legislation is designed to prevent those illnesses by increasing food inspections each year and mandating food recalls if and when necessary.

Bow, believe it or not, the government currently doesn't have the authority to force a recall no matter how many people are getting sick, even if people are dying. Reasonable enough, at least that's what Congress seemed to think when both chambers passed the reform with wide support.

The bill passed in the House more than a year ago, in the Senate three weeks ago. But then it got hung up over this technicality that forced it back to both houses for re-approval, and that's when critics pounced.

Senator Tom Coburn, Oklahoma, attacked the legislation as both too expensive and completely unnecessary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Think about all the sources of food we get in this country. And the diverse places they come from and, yet only 34 people get a staph poisoning or E. coli non-toxigenic poisoning or a salmonella poisoning or a ursinia poisoning or a shigella poisoning in a year. So this is the incidence of illness.

Now the question is, how do we stop the ten or 20 deaths a year from food-borne illness?

(END VIDEO CLIP) GUPTA: Coburn also claims that in the history of food safety the government has never had to force a recall, ever. They've all been voluntary.

Well, OK. That's true, but they had to be. As we pointed out, under current rules, the government can't force a recall. It doesn't have the power.

As for the incidence of food-borne illnesses, Dr. Coburn, each year according to the CDC, one in six Americans, or about 48 million people, get food poisoning every year. About 120,000 are hospitalized as well. And shockingly, some 3,000 die. That's far from the ten or 20 deaths Senator Coburn claims. Those are the numbers. But there's a divide over what should be done about them. And how much control over the food supply the government should really have.

Joining us to talk about it, Tom Colicchio. He's head judge of the reality show "Top Chef." And once again, Eric Erickson, editor in chief of RedState.com.

Tom, let me start with you. You just heard some of the critics say this is another example of government overreach, and they point out that the U.S. is one of the safest when it comes to food regulation already. So why is the bill necessary? What would you say?

TOM COLICCHIO, JUDGE, BRAVO'S "TOP CHEF": One thing he didn't point out, Sanjay, was that this, also, sort of forces imported food to have the same stringent safety inspections we have here in the United States, so that's something a lot of people aren't talking about.

The numbers are quite large when you actually factor in 158 billion dollars worth of health-care costs that the 128,000 people that are hospitalized every year from food-borne illnesses. One in six Americans are affected by food-borne illnesses every year so the numbers are higher than senator Coburn pointed out.

But this is -- the government is deeply involved with food production in this country to the tune of about $15 billion in direct payments to farmers every year to subsidize corn and soy and wheat. And so it's somewhat disingenuous to say that the government shouldn't be involved in food production.

GUPTA: Tom, let me ask you. I mean, you know, I've been out to some of these farms, spinach farms, big farms all over the country. It's very tough to protect the crops. I mean, you just have -- you have no barriers, sometimes, between the food on the farms and potential contaminants. And then it gets all over the country.

Can this sort of system be fixed? Or are you always going to have outbreaks like this, despite how much inspection or regulation there is?

COLICCHIO: Well, I think that there probably always will be some sort of outbreak, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't try to limit them. Food producers, for instance, would have to create safety standards. For instance, if there were hand-washing facilities, the spinach outbreak, you know, things like salmonella that, but E. coli and things like that, may come from pickers who were in the field who don't have facilities to wash their hands.

And so by creating safety measures, by saying you have to have water to wash hands or chemical washes and things like that, this is a system of creating some sort of safety measures to protect, you know, the food supply. I don't think that's too much to ask for.

It's going to cost about $300 billion a year but, again, it's a small amount -- very small compared to the $158 billion in health-care costs that -- that the end -- the end user is actually paying for, not the producers of the food.

GUPTA: Eric, let me ask you. What seemed like -- I thought this was actually not going to be something we discussed again this year, but then there was a lot of fuss over the bill. Were you surprised when it passed in the Senate? Was it a unanimous decision?

ERICKSON: I was kind of surprised by the unanimous consent passage because of Senator Coburn's objections.

There are a lot of overwrought criticisms, both among the organic food producers in the country and among some conservatives. But there are some legitimate concerns about the legislation.

For example, there's an amendment submitted by Senator Tester regarding small farms and organic farms. And keep in mind, one of the major proponents of this legislation was, frankly, large grocery stores and large commercial manufacturers of food. And there was a big concern among small farms and inorganic producers that the cost to do business, based on this legislation would be extreme. So they put it in an amendment from Senator Tester to exempt small businesses and farms.

The problem with the amendment is that it leaves the definition of what is a small farm and a, quote, "very small farm," to the secretary of agriculture based on a study. And likewise, it allows the secretary of agriculture to waive the exemption at any time.

And then to the imported food requirements. Technically, yes. It will apply the same American standards to imported foods. And frankly, a lot of the food-borne illnesses we're getting now are from imported foods from China.

The problem, though, is that it won't allow us to inspect the facilities in China or other countries. We'll just depend on a certification from those countries and some sporadic and random testing that we do, like we do in this country, that we're missing stuff.

So I just think in a cost-benefit analysis there's some good in this legislation, but particularly, the impact to small farms, organic producers and local merchants. I think they could have done a much better job.

GUPTA: And, Tom, let me ask you about that. I mean, critics of the bill have said that this was created, in a sense, by big business to hurt entrepreneurial competition in the up and coming organic foods market. You're an big advocate of local and organic farms. Are you concerned about what Erick is outlining?

COLICCHIO: No, because small farms are exempt from this. If you do business within 250 miles of your farm, you're exempt from this. So farmers that are dealing directly with restaurants and farmers' markets are generally exempt.

So I don't -- I don't think it's going to be much of an issue for the small farmer. But I guess, how do you define a small farm?

ERICKSON: Tom, I guess I would disagree with you because of that particular issue, the legislation does not define what a small farm or a very small farm is, and they're two separate definitions within the legislation.

And when Congress was looking at the -- at what a small farm was and a very small farm, the definitions were extremely broad, so they're going to let it be with bureaucrats in the Department of Agriculture to study that, and there's still a lot of concern over that.

And likewise, there is a complete waiver provision that the secretary of agriculture can waive those provisions at any time without any oversight from Congress or any explanation why.

So you have a lot of concern in the organic community, not actually the conservative community, but in the organic community online that they'll just waive this once it's passed and go back to it. I don't think that will be true, but it gives way too much discretion, I would think, to some bureaucrats.

GUPTA: So there's still a lot of details and things that can be modified as it is implemented. But Tom Colicchio, Erick Erickson, an important issue. Thanks so much for joining us.

ERICKSON: Thanks so much.

COLICCHIO: Thank you.

GUPTA: Coming up next, a very special event in the sky tonight will be starting in just the next two hours. Why is it so unique? We'll tell you about it ahead.

And while a lot of people are getting into the holiday spirit, is a Christmas party really a good enough reason to miss work? Well, apparently, this senator thought so and that's why he's on tonight's RidicuList.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Still ahead, we add another name to our RidicuList. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia gets the honor tonight for skipping the historic vote on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." His reason? You have to hear this one to believe it.

First up, though, Randi Kaye, joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Randi.

KAYE: Sanjay, rare restraint from North Korea today. The totalitarian regime did not retaliate following a South Korean live fire drill it had warned could lead to war.

In another encouraging move, there are indications the North is also considering multinational talks with South Korea and the U.S.

An American murdered in Israel and now authorities are investigating whether the attack was, quote, "nationalistic." Christine Logan's body was found Sunday after her co-worker stumbled, bound and bleeding, into a picnic area. Kaye Wilson told authorities the two were hiking when two men tied them to a tree and stabbed them repeatedly. Both men, she believes, were Arab.

Good news from the Gulf of Mexico tonight. General Motors is recycling about 100 miles of plastic booms used to contain this summer's devastating oil spill. The automaker will use roughly 100,000 pounds of the plastic in its Chevy Volt.

And it will be a late night for star gazers. A lunar eclipse is set to begin at 1:33 this morning, changing the full moon from a dramatic orange to red, and then back again. And coincidentally, tonight, Sanjay, also marks the winter solstice. I mean, this is like the Super Bowl for star gazers. This is a big deal.

GUPTA: Stay up and watch it.

KAYE: I plan on it.

GUPTA: Doesn't happen very often.

KAYE: Just a couple of hours left or so.

GUPTA: Randi, stick around. We've got -- we've got a new name to add to our RidicuList. The honor tonight goes to senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat who was elected last month to fill the remaining two years of Senator Robert Byrd, who died earlier this year.

Even though Senator Manchin is new to Capitol Hill, we figured he'd still know to show up for work. The Senate was in session on Saturday, trying to finish up some important unfinished business before the current Congress wraps up at the end of the year and the new Congress begins in January.

Now, among the important votes taken was the repeal of the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which bars gay men and women from serving openly. The repeal passed by a wide margin.

Senators also voted down the DREAM Act, the immigration bill that didn't have enough support.

Now, Senator Manchin says he didn't support either measure, but his votes weren't counted because -- wait for it -- he wasn't in the Senate chamber to cast them. Turns out he was at a family Christmas party. Of course, his office called it a holiday gathering.

Manchin says he and his wife had planned the get-together with their children and grandchildren for more than a year, since they're not going to be together on Christmas day. It was a family obligation he could not break.

Now, Manchin's been taking heat for missing the votes, but he defended himself today, saying his views on both matters are well known and that he made a commitment to his family.

He also said emphatically that the gathering was not a Christmas party.

All right, Senator, we're not going to quibble over semantics. But really, Senator, aren't you just kind of missing the bigger point here?

One of Manchin's colleagues in the Senate who did show up to vote was Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. He's been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He's going to have surgery this week, but he was still able to make it to Saturday's session.

So for being a no-show, Senator Joe Manchin earns himself a spot on our RidicuList. His opponents will likely remind West Virginians of his missed vote if he runs for re-election in two years. That's some very serious stuff.

At the top of the house, the author of a how-to for pedophiles. He's been arrested. Are the charges going to stick? His words will turn your stomach. But are they enough to convict him of a crime?

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