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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Navy Captain Under Fire Over Crude Videos; Thousands of Birds and Fish Drop Dead Suddenly; Brett Favre Sued for Sexual Harassment

Aired January 3, 2011 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey. Welcome to 360. Thanks for watching.

Tonight, "Keeping Them Honest": the top Navy captain who produced raunchy videos filled with simulated sex scenes and anti-gay slurs -- news tonight the tapes may sink his career. But how come the Navy initially downplayed the story? And why do some sailors say the Navy also ignored their complaints years ago?

Also tonight, breaking news: another sex scandal swirling around -- around Brett Favre. We will show you how -- new allegations against the NFL superstar and a lawsuit to go with them.

And, first, it was thousands of birds falling from the sky in Arkansas. Now tens of thousands of fish suddenly die. We have got the latest scientific explanations. We will also look at some of the religious ones that are popping up online, some folks insisting it's a sign of the end of days. Don't bet on it, says our guest actor Kirk Cameron, who is star of the "Left Behind" series. He joins us to talk about it.

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

Tonight: the highly decorated, highly-respected commander of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the videos he starred in for his Korea. We're learning that a decision regarding his command status could come as early as tomorrow, the Navy saying there's a full investigation under way.

When the story first broke, however, on Friday, the Navy downplayed it. When crew members initially raised their concerns about what was on the tapes you're about to see, they say they got the brush-off.

Three and four years ago, Captain Owen Honors, who is currently commander of the USS Enterprise, was the carrier's X.O., or executive officer, second in command. As X.O. in 2006 and 2007, he made a series of videos, including this one, which was his last.

But, before we show you portions of it, we should warn you first, when they say cursing like a sailor, this is kind of what they mean.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. OWEN HONORS, U.S. NAVY: Evening, Enterprise. This is the X.O.

This is my last normal X.O. movie night video. I'm here tonight with my SWO and aviator, alternate personalities. As usual, the admiral and captain have no idea about the contents of the video or movie this evening, and they should not be held accountable in any judicial setting.

Over the years, I have gotten several complaints about inappropriate material during these videos, never me personally, but gutlessly through other channels.

NAVY: This evening, all of you bleeding hearts and you, fag SWO boy, why don't you just go ahead and hug yourselves for the next 20 minutes or so, because there's a really good chance you're going to be offended.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That X.O. Honors, now Captain Honors, actually playing all three roles, in case you didn't realize that, through editing.

The videos and story were uncovered Friday by "The Virginian- Pilot," the local paper where the Enterprise is based and due to sale from in a couple weeks.

The question is, is the Navy really taking it seriously? And, even if they are, how come they didn't before? Here's what the Navy had to say about the story on Friday -- quote -- "The videos created on board USS Enterprise in 2006 and 2007 were not created with the intent to offend anyone." The statement went on to say, "The videos were intended to be humorous skits focusing the crew's attention on specific issues, such as port visits, traffic safety, water conservation, ship cleanliness, et cetera."

But that's certainly not what this video shows. Here's one topic did cover.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HONORS: That would be the F-bomb.

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps one of the most interesting words in the English language today is the word (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

HONORS: You have got to get it on the first take, Otherwise -- Otherwise, you're (EXPLETIVE DELETED). That will push it right (EXPLETIVE DELETED) over the top. I mean, that is two hands (INAUDIBLE) the back of her head (EXPLETIVE DELETED). What are they talking about? I just (EXPLETIVE DELETED) can't get that.

Keep the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) toilet paper in there!

See, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) it up too, didn't you?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, along with that, there are also simulated shower scenes on the videos, one of them featuring a woman and a man, another with two men. Jokes about gays is also a recurring them and another shower scene with two women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HONORS: Three minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But there's two of us. Doesn't that mean we get six minutes?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Twice, the X.O. has negative things to say about gays, including using the F-word to describe them.

There were no doubt gay sailors on board at the time. And Honors is now in command of a major vessel and a Navy in the process of dropping don't ask, don't tell. Now, the tapes were made in 2006 and 2007. And according to "The Virginian-Pilot," there were complaints from crew members back then. Yet, somehow, they apparently never moved the Navy to do anything until the story and the tapes finally came out.

So, then, Sunday -- Saturday, I should say, after essentially dismissing the videos on Friday and with the uproar building, the Navy altered course, releasing a new statement saying, in part, that the videos -- quote -- "were not acceptable then and are still not acceptable in today's Navy. And the Navy does not endorse or condone these kind of actions."

Captain Honors' command is now in doubt. We should once again point out he was both a highly regarded F-14 pilot and was reportedly a well-liked X.O. A lot of former shipmates have been praising him on Facebook and on camera as a great guy.

Some of those same people, though, also add, even great guys can show bad judgment.

Joining me now is Kirk Lippold, former commander of the USS Cole, and Katie Miller of OutServe. She is a former West Point cadet who was discharged under don't ask, don't tell.

Katie, when you saw this videotape, what did you think?

KATIE MILLER, SPOKESPERSON, OUTSERVE.ORG: You know, I was immediately appalled.

I mean, these are the same anti-gay attitudes that sparked me to leave the academy. I mean, under this kind of command climate, it's almost impossible to operate. So, I mean, it's just really... COOPER: How common is it to hear, you know, the F-word being used, you know, against a gay person or someone who is a person -- you know, as a joke?

MILLER: You know, I don't think it's a majority of people that use it, but it's a very vocal minority. You may hear it anywhere from once daily to, you know, a couple times a day.

COOPER: Commander Lippold, what do you make of this, from a -- from a command perspective?

KIRK LIPPOLD, FORMER COMMANDER, USS COLE: Well, from a command perspective, this type of action isn't tolerated. I mean, quite frankly -- frankly, Anderson, leadership starts at the top.

And there was a shortfall here with Captain Honors. But I don't know what the circumstances are. The Navy clearly adjusted course for a reason. If true that he was relieved of command this evening, it would be unfortunate. The investigation hasn't come to a -- hasn't come to a conclusion yet.

And I think we will need to wait and see what happened. I think this is part of the evolving attitude the Navy and all the services, quite frankly, are going to have to deal with. The Navy went through a troublesome time with Tailhook and came out much stronger and better because of it. Hopefully, this won't be the tip of the iceberg, but rather will be an isolated event in dealing with the issues we are going to face as don't ask, don't tell comes into the services.

COOPER: You're referencing some news reports that said he may have been temporarily relieved of his command today. We have not been able to confirm that, so we're not reporting that.

Katie, if the captain had used the N-word against a black person or some other term against a woman, I assume he would have been disciplined pretty quickly. But it seems like using the F-word to refer or as a slur against a gay person, that's not a big deal?

MILLER: Right. And I think the difference is, is that gays and lesbians, before this, before don't ask, don't tell was repealed, were not protected by the institution, period.

So, I think the military will be able to adapt as a body of professionals into the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, and eliminate these derogatory anti-gay slurs, just as they have been able to transition with racial integration and with female integration.

COOPER: Commander, do you -- do you think that's true? I mean, I have spent a lot of time with the military. You hear the word, the F-word, against gay people being thrown around all the time. It's commonplace.

It's sort of, in a lot of places, even schools in America, movies, it seems the last slur that's -- that's accepted by a lot of people. Do you think that will change with the repeal of don't ask, don't tell? LIPPOLD: I think it will, Anderson. It's going to take time, like everything else. You're dealing with a major social issue.

Obviously, all you have to do is look at a show like "South Park," and you can see where the American people still laugh at the word and still laugh at the use of the word. I think, eventually, it will work out of the lexicon of the American public, it will become just as reprehensible as other words in our language, and you will find that it won't be used.

But it's going to take time. It isn't going to happen instantly and it won't happen overnight. And the military may be setting the standard and the bar. Since we represent society and we represent a higher standard for society, it's going to be incumbent upon military members to set that bar at a level that we're going to lead society forward in this new era, whether they like it or not. It's the way we're going to have to go.

COOPER: Katie, how tough is it if -- I mean, for -- I was thinking about the two women in the shower scene in this -- in this video, who are, I guess, topless, or at least it looks like that, in -- in the video.

If you -- we have no idea how they felt about being in the video. But, I mean, if your X.O. asks you to do something to make what, you know, he believes is a humorous video, is that the kind of thing you can say no to?

MILLER: You know, it just really depends on the situation.

You know, I would hate to ever think that my commander or my X.O. would ever put me in that situation. It just should have never come about in the first place. But, I mean, definitely command influence has an impact on whether or not these women participated in the video.

COOPER: Let me just play devil's -- devil's advocate here, Katie, because there are some -- a lot of folks who are going to see these videos and say, look, this is the Navy. I mean, it's not a surprise that there's raunchy videotapes made or, you know, that -- that these kinds of things happen, that this is the military and, you know, it's -- it's -- this kind of thing -- we all know this kind of stuff has always gone on throughout history.

What's -- what's -- what's different about this?

MILLER: You know, we have the world's most professional, the finest military.

And -- and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to conduct ourselves in such a manner that reflects that. I mean, this is inexcusable. It's behind socially. It's -- it's not an event that should ever happen again. And -- and I don't think that the military, whose standards include respect and integrity, the military doesn't -- these aren't inherent things in the military. And it is possible, absolutely, to get rid of these sort of incidents. COOPER: Commander, do you think more is being made -- I mean, do you think kind of this is being blown out of proportion, and what do you think should happen to -- to Honors?

LIPPOLD: Oh, I think right now, Anderson, I -- I go back to what the comments that were just made.

Thirty years ago, or almost 30 years ago, when I joined the Navy, those types of mores, those types of attitudes, in -- in toto, were acceptable. That kind of raunchy language and everything else was there. And attitude, social changes evolved within the Navy. It's no longer acceptable, and it's no longer acceptable now.

I think, when you look at Captain Honors, what has to happen at this point is, the investigation should be allowed to run its course, not only with him, but also with the senior officers that were in command of the ship, the admiral and his staff above him, that clearly probably knew this was going on, and other admirals.

I mean, I just learned this evening there may be as many as six admirals under investigation by the Navy that had knowledge of what went on. The question that also needs to be asked is, why now? Why, three to four years later, did this suddenly pop up and become an issue? Even if the command had disregarded complaints about those videos, there are still avenues available within the Navy for sailors or officers to make complaints to register their dissatisfaction in how this was portrayed and how these movies came about, yet none of those apparently were taken.

And, if they were, then the Navy has a larger issue on hand.

(CROSSTALK)

LIPPOLD: I think, quite frankly, that it's going to be a very isolated incident in this case.

COOPER: It's interest, Katie, because, in the video, the captain does say that he has heard that there were complaints about the videos he has made in the past, and he called the people gutless because they didn't come to him directly.

I imagine -- well, I mean, maybe it's unfair to imagine, but it's got to be a tough thing to go to the X.O. if you care about your career. I mean, it's like going to the head of a corporation based on something that they are doing.

MILLER: I mean, absolutely, and especially with as touchy a subject as -- as gays in the military.

Now, like I said, there aren't any institutional protections, you know, in place for them at this time, so, I mean, really coming to -- to argue with it with an X.O. or to bring about or argue on the -- on behalf of gays is pretty controversial.

I mean, the situation should have never happened in the -- in the first place. I think that's clear. But, I mean, even addressing it, even when people were able to come forward with complaints, it -- it was allowed to get out of hand even further.

COOPER: Again, we will see what happens. By tomorrow, we may have final word.

Commander Kirk Lippold, appreciate your time, sir.

And, Katie Miller as well, thanks very much for being on the program, first time. Katie, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Let us know what you think. Join the live chat right now at AC360.com.

Up next, breaking news: late reports that Brett Favre is facing a sexual harassment lawsuit, a different one than the one you have probably heard about. We have got the details and the new text messages.

And later: birds by the thousands falling dead from the sky. Some are calling it a sign of the apocalypse. There's a lot of that talk on the Internet. We will talk to -- we will talk to actor Kirk Cameron, what he has to say about all of this, star of the "Left Behind" series of film.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Breaking news tonight: Quarterback Brett Favre, hot on the heels of a sex scandal that tarnished his reputation and earned him a $50,000 fine, is now being sued for sexual harassment. That's according to ABC News, "The Wall Street Journal," and others.

The lawsuit, which ABC obtained, names two former massage therapists for the New York Jets, Brett Favre's team back in 2008, when the alleged incidents took place.

Now, according to reports, Christina Scavo and Shannon O'Toole claim they were fired when they complained. They are reportedly suing their supervisor, along with Favre and the Jets. The report say that, in the suit, Ms. Scavo alleges that Favre sent text messages to her and another therapist asking for a threesome.

"Brett here," one of the text allegedly says. "You and Chrissy want to get together? I'm all alone."

Brett Favre then allegedly texted -- quote -- "Kind of lonely. I guess I have bad intentions."

The suit also reportedly alleges that the Jets' locker room and training camp are -- quote -- "a hotbed of sexual harassment, sexism and inappropriate behavior."

Favre, you will recall, was fined $50,000 by the NFL in connection to calls and alleged sexting to a former game day reporter for the Jets. The league said that it could not conclude that Brett Favre had violated NFL policy on conduct. Instead, they fined him for not being candid during parts of the probe.

Joining me now via Skype is NFL star, Pro Bowler and current NFL analyst Marcellus Wiley, and on the phone, Bob Ryan, sports commentator for "The Boston Globe." Also with us is legal contributor on truTV Sunny Hostin.

How much trouble, Sunny, is Brett Favre in with these new allegations?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think he's in a lot of trouble, Anderson. He's in trouble. The Jets are in trouble. The supervisor of the women are in trouble.

I mean, to prove sexual harassment like this is not going to be that difficult because they have to prove this sort of pervasive hostile work environment. Brett Favre now has been accused, not once, not twice, the Jets haven't been accused not once, not twice, but several times. And that's actually a pretty easy case to prove.

My bet is, this case never even goes before a jury. If I were the attorney for the Jets and for -- for Brett Favre, I would say, get out your checkbook. How much can you pay? Because this really is significant.

COOPER: Marcellus, earlier, you told one of our producers that you think the NFL is maybe protecting Brett Favre. Why?

MARCELLUS WILEY, ESPN TV ANALYST: Well, the NFL does have protective interests for a superstar, a living legend like Brett Favre, in the sense of he's played this game and become an ambassador for the NFL.

And as he goes off into retirement, now is not the time, if you're the NFL, to truly discipline Brett Favre, just because, as an ambassador in retirement, he will go out and speak to many corporations, many sponsors and represent the game of football globally.

So, that's not to say that the NFL won't discipline Brett Favre going forward. But, frankly, since he's in retirement, they want to keep that relationship as positive as they can.

COOPER: Bob, how do you see this playing out?

BOB RYAN, COLUMNIST, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": How it ends -- I don't know how it's going to end.

I just think that Brett Favre had a unique opportunity here for himself here, and, of course, the league had an opportunity, too, for this reason. The NFL is the most popular sport in America. No one would deny that, football -- national football -- but it has not -- it's always been about teams.

And individual players have not had that post-career notoriety and opportunity just to -- to be the spokesperson type person. You know, think about the great stars. Either they were -- had dull personalities, i.e., Joe Montana, or infamous, i.e., Lawrence Taylor.

But here was a guy who, up until beginning of the season, had an image that they could have used, that he could have parlayed into a career before -- being Brett Favre and being the -- the -- the jovial spokesperson. The Wrangler commercials are very endearing. I think he had that everyman attachment to people.

And if he's blown -- if he's blown it -- and, apparently, he has blown it -- that's just a complete lost opportunity for him post- career.

COOPER: Marcellus, do you agree with that? I mean, how do you think this is going to affect endorsement deals?

WILEY: Well, I think, in the short term, until we get all the facts out, it's going to make everyone kind of stand off at a distance.

But, at the same time, this is just like Brett Favre's legacy on the football field. It's taken some hits of late, but when we remove ourselves a few years from now, we will realize the greatness of Brett Favre on the field.

Now, these issues off the field, they are subjective. There are two sides to every story. So it's going to be interesting from the players' perspective, because I was in an NFL locker room for 10 years. And I know how some of these things are slanted.

Yes, there are some incidents where things go on towards the negative. But there are situations when NFL players are targets. It's going to be interesting to see how this one plays out.

COOPER: Well, also, I mean, Sunny, the fact that this stuff has already leaked out, do you think this is kind of a preliminary move in order to try to get some sort of deal, or if you're -- if you are representing these -- these two women, do you want that case to -- to go to court?

HOSTIN: Well, certainly you want it to go to court. But -- but let me also say this, to Marcellus' comment.

I can't imagine that he's just being targeted at this point. I mean, there are just too many women coming forward. And the NFL, historically, has been this sort of boys gone wild place. And -- and I think it's really time for the NFL, for the NFL Players Association, for former NFL players to get on board and realize that women cannot go to work and be subjected to these kinds of behaviors.

That really is the bottom line. There must be an overhaul of attitude, culture and policy for these organizations.

COOPER: Marcellus, if you want to respond?

WILEY: I would have -- I would have to disagree with that. Just, if you look at the NFL's total population of players that have come into this league and have departed this league, in comparison to the few incidents in which we're talking about, they're small in comparison. The culture...

HOSTIN: But they are the few incidents. It's the same people with the same team. That tells me that there's a culture problem there; isn't that true?

WILEY: But the courage -- but the courage -- the courage only really comes from the first allegation. After that, the dominoes start to fall. You do become a target.

HOSTIN: Well, victims are more comfortable to come forward. Victims are more comfortable with coming forward, because they realize that they aren't alone.

WILEY: That's one way to look at it. And there's also another way, if you look at it from the devil's advocate side, of saying, where were these accusations beforehand? And now you say you're more comfortable, but is it just more believable?

COOPER: Bob, it is, regardless of how you look at it, a very sad way for a guy to -- to kind of go out, to end his career like this.

RYAN: Well, it is. But if -- if -- if the allegations are true, it's all self-inflicted.

COOPER: Well, of course.

RYAN: And -- and I -- I'm going to have limited sympathy for him in that regard.

I just -- I'm just curious, I mean, what's the NFL going to do now? If he is retired -- and I think -- I think we can safely say that we won't be going through the Hamlet thing again this summer. He's -- he's done.

And, therefore, what are they going to do now, ex post facto? I mean, if there's any legalities here, if there's legal situations that are going to be pursued, well, that's one thing. But in terms of the NFL sanctions, I don't see what jurisdiction they are going to exercise over him if he's officially retiring.

COOPER: Yes, it's a good question.

Bob Ryan, I appreciate you all being on, and Marcellus Wiley as well and Sunny Hostin as well.

We will continue to follow it.

Still ahead: new details about those mysterious New Year's Eve bird deaths in Arkansas. The Internet is abuzz with talk of end times. We will talk to actor and born-again Christian Kirk Cameron, what he thinks about the thousands of birds falling from the sky and all those -- Internet talk about biblical prophecy come true. I will talk to him. He starred in the "Left Behind" series of movies.

And later: the body of a former Pentagon official found in a landfill -- new developments in the investigation ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In two states tonight, wildlife officials are facing a bizarre mystery. Why are birds dropping dead from the sky. Five hundred birds were found dead in a town in Louisiana. And officials said they showed no evident signs of trauma. The test results are pending.

Meantime, there are new details, but no definite answers, in Arkansas, where, just before midnight on New Year's Eve, as many as 5,000 -- 5,000 red-winged blackbirds and starlings fell from the sky, nearly a bird for every resident in the small town nearby.

Witnesses says it looked like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. According to a preliminary report released today, the birds likely died from massive trauma. Internal bleeding, blood clots and injuries to breast tissue were found during examinations on some of the birds. Now, what's still unclear is what kind of trauma actually killed the birds.

Ed Lavandera reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kelly Mayo still can't imagine what caused this bird to fall out of the sky and nosedive into his backyard.

KELLY MAYO, RESIDENT OF BEEBE, ARKANSAS: We haven't touched him. That's the exact way that he's been since the 1st.

LAVANDERA (on camera): You can see what looks like maybe little a little bloodstain on one of these brown leaves.

(voice-over): Arkansas livestock officials say some birds showed signs of massive trauma, but no evidence they were poisoned. But what caused the trauma? Some officials suggest it was New Year's fireworks or lightning from a storm.

Residents here aren't buying those theories.

MAYO: Fireworks? I can't imagine fireworks would strike, you know, 4,000 or 5,000 birds and drop them in a one- or two-square mile area. It just doesn't sound feasible to me.

LAVANDERA: Beebe, Arkansas, has developed a love/hate relationship with these blackbirds. You can ask Charles Moore, who lives right next to a wooded area where tens of thousands of the birds live.

CHARLES MOORE, RESIDENT OF BEEBE, ARKANSAS: To go out and do a simple thing get a paper, sometimes, we will take an umbrella with us. (LAUGHTER)

MOORE: The sky is just black with them. Then there's going to be a lot of droppings.

(CROSSTALK)

LAVANDERA (on camera): Yes. And you have just got a target on your head, right?

MOORE: Yes. Oh, yes, exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

LAVANDERA (voice-over): We walked through the wooded area behind Moore's home. Dead birds are still everywhere. And Moore says the ones still alive are acting strange, some even struggling to fly.

(on camera): I think I see one over here.

MOORE: Is he alive?

LAVANDERA: It's a bird that probably should have flown away.

MOORE: Yes. Yes. I can't imagine a bird letting us get that close. That bird is sick as well.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): We tried to get a better vantage point of the wooded area where these birds flock to, when we came face-to- face with one of the dying blackbirds.

(on camera): I feel terrible. All of the sudden, I'm driving and I see the bird just kind of flop up on to the hood of the car here, and it just started fluttering up this way. And it went over the back. And now it's sitting over there on the side of the road.

(voice-over): The little bird couldn't get off the road.

(on camera): I'm going to him off over here.

(voice-over): As I stood there, the little blackbird died in my hands.

(on camera): That's terrible.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Beebe, Arkansas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That's really terrible.

And as if the Arkansas bird drop weren't freakish enough, it came on the heels of a massive fish kill 125 miles away. Tens of thousands of dead fish washed up on the shores of the Arkansas River near Ozark last Thursday. While wildlife experts say the two events are almost certainly unrelated, it's certainly an odd coincidence. The Internet, of course, is now buzzing with other theories. Some people are even saying this is -- these mass deaths are a sign that the end times are near. Some have cited the "Left Behind" series of books.

So we thought we'd talk to actor Kirk Cameron. He's a born-again Christian. He's written a lot about his faith. He also starred in the "Left Behind" series of films. I spoke to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Kirk, there's a lot of chatter out there on the Internet about these thousands of birds and fish dying. Some people saying this is a sign of the end of days. You obviously starred in a series of films based on the idea of the "Left Behind" series. When you hear that, what do you think?

KIRK CAMERON, ACTOR: Well, I first think that they ought to call a veterinarian, not me. You know, I'm not the religious conspiracy theorist go-to guy particularly. But I think it's -- it's really kind of silly to try to equate birds falling out of the sky with some time -- some kind of an end-times theory.

COOPER: But it is interesting the whole notion of end of times and the whole "Left Behind" series which deals with Jesus coming back to take his people to heaven, the believers and nonbelievers. Why do you think there's such fascination in that and when something like this happens, people kind of turn to those thoughts?

CAMERON: Well, it seems to be that people have a real fascination with the mystery of end-time predictions. Of course, people get all excited about Nostradamus prophecies, 2012, and, of course, biblical prophecy has really been a topic of fascination for thousands of years.

So I think people are trying to -- they love to define codes and signs of future events and see if they can decipher them before anybody else. But birds falling from the sky? That has more to do, I think, with pagan mythology and the way that -- and the directions that the birds flew told some of the followers of those legends that the gods were either pleased or displaced with them. But I think people just have a fascination with the religiously mysterious.

COOPER: Doing the series which are hugely popular, did it change your faith at all? Did it change the way you thought about the idea of the end times or your reading of the Bible in any way?

CAMERON: Well, I've been a Christian for about 20 years. And certainly, there are fascinating passages in the Bible talking about the return of Christ. And people are trying to pinpoint those on a -- in a chronology of events.

But you know what it made me think about, was just the fact that I'm probably going to die of some other cause before this happens. A friend of mine just died yesterday. And what I thought about mostly was the fact that life is short. And I need to be ready whenever it is that God decides to end my life here on earth. And to me, that's -- that's the key.

COOPER: You have a new movie called "Monumental" which is going to be coming out later this year. And it's interesting because it's very -- it seems very timely. I mean, it's very concerned about where America is right now and what you see as a problem in America.

CAMERON; Well, you know, I have six kids, Anderson, and I am very concerned about their future in our country. And I look at it and I think, man, if America is a ship, it looks a lot like it's sinking, financially, morally, spiritually. It's frightening.

And it seems that everyone, religiously, in business and in politics, is playing the blame game. And I want answers.

So I decided to go on a journey and retrace the escape route of the pilgrims. They left us clues to get us back to the real treasure of America and get the ship righted again. And I'm very excited about what I've discovered and I want to unveil it in a documentary this fall called "Monumental."

COOPER: I look forward to it, Kirk. I appreciate you being on. Thank you.

CAMERON: Thank you. Great talking with you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We're following a number of other stories tonight. Joe Johns has a "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, in Australia, authorities say at least ten people have died from prolonged and severe flooding that's cut off entire towns in Queensland state. Two hundred thousand people are affected. The prime minister said that damages could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

Back home, Delaware authorities investigating the death of a former Pentagon official are asking the public for help. The body of 66-year-old John P. Wheeler was found in a Delaware landfill Friday. The medical examiner's office has ruled his death a homicide.

And in other news, no, you're not seeing thing. That's Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world, hitting a few balls on a floating court in the Gulf of Doha. Their exhibition match kicked off the Doha-Qatar ExxonMobil Open. Boy, that's a mouthful.

COOPER: I've never seen anything like that. That's kind of weird.

All right. Tonight's shot, Joe. We pulled together some highlights from New Year's Eve in Times Square. Maybe low lights. I'm not sure of the word. Kathy Griffin was back again with me this year, and frankly, I'm glad I survived. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: We should talk about the ball dropping.

COOPER: Yes. The ball drops in an hour from now.

GRIFFIN: What about the other one?

COOPER: I don't -- I don't know what you mean. What are you talking about? God...

GRIFFIN: I meant the one in Jersey, you know, with Snooki. That's going to be off the chain.

COOPER: My mom is now calling in on the phone. Mom, are you there?

GLORIA VANDERBILT, ANDERSON'S MOM (via phone): Yes, I'm very excited to be here. I'm here.

GRIFFIN: Gloria, I'm going to cry.

VANDERBILT: Kathy...

COOPER: Happy new year, mom.

GRIFFIN: Happy new year.

VANDERBILT: Happy new year. And Kathy, I want you to know that ever since I've met you, you have been on my A-list.

COOPER: You're rocking out.

GRIFFIN: Oh, oh, oh!

COOPER: Aren't you kind of dating yourself?

GRIFFIN: Umm, I, also -- can't you see...

Oh, my gosh! This is my dream, your mom and them? Woo!

COOPER: What the...

GRIFFIN: I met someone! What? It's new year's.

COOPER: You're supposed to do that at the stroke of midnight. We're still like four minutes away. And we're going to be live all the way through -- all the way through the new year, playing -- there's all the traditional stuff that we love, "New York New York." Playing of -- what is going on?

GRIFFIN: I'm taking your clothes off.

COOPER: All right.

GRIFFIN: It's for America. I love America. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, four, three, two, one!

GRIFFIN: I just feel like I've let the viewers down.

COOPER: Why?

GRIFFIN: I haven't gotten you fired. I haven't really sworn the way you know I can.

COOPER: Right, but you...

GRIFFIN: What is your address? Real quick.

COOPER: You know what you've done?

GRIFFIN: What's your phone number?

COOPER: You've shown that you can do live TV with the best of them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: There you go. We survived.

Up next, a preliminary hearing set for tomorrow in the Michael Jackson case, the defense alleging Michael Jackson took his own life. That's the theory on what they're going to say. Let us what you want to know about his case. Text questions to 22360 or AC360 for Dr. Sanjay Gupta and legal expert Sunny Hostin. And remember, standard message rates apply.

And why is one member of the shore "Jersey Shore" fist-bumping her way onto our RidicuList? And it has nothing to do with going to jail. Oh, Snooki.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight on "Crime & Punishment," more than a year and a half since Michael Jackson died, there is still as much mystery about his death as there was about his life.

Tomorrow's the preliminary hearing for Jackson's personal doctor, Conrad Murray, who's charged with involuntary manslaughter. Now, Murray admits that he injected Jackson with a powerful anesthetic used in -- that's used in hospitals to help him sleep at his home, but he says he didn't give Jackson the lethal amount that was found in his blood.

Now, some attorneys believe the defense is going to argue that Jackson actually killed himself. It's the latest to a bizarre timeline of events that started, of course, with Jackson's death and now finds his doctor in court. Randi Kaye takes us back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The desperate 911 call comes from inside Michael Jackson's rented Beverly Hills mansion. It is just before 12:30 p.m., June 25, 2009.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's pumping his chest but he's not responding to anything, sir.

KAYE: The King of Pop's heart had stopped. He is unconscious. His personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who can be heard in the background on the call made by Jackson's security guard, is attempting CPR.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anybody witness what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Just the doctor, sir. The doctor is the only one here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so did the doctor see what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doctor, did you see what happened, sir?

Sir, if you can please...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're on our way.

KAYE: As the emergency unfolds, news spreads.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting some breaking news coming into "THE SITUATION ROOM" right now, from -- about Michael Jackson, the King of Pop...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His family is at his hospital bedside.

JERMAINE JACKSON, BROTHER OF MICHAEL: My brother, the legendary King of Pop, Michael Jackson, passed away on Thursday, June 25, 2009, at 2:26 p.m.

KAYE: Sorrow, shock and so many unanswered questions. Immediately, the investigation begins to focus on Jackson's physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, a cardiologist hired to care for the pop star as he prepared for the upcoming concert tour.

June 26, the day after Jackson died, the police announced they'd impounded Dr. Murray's car from the singer's mansion in search of prescription medications that could be, quote, "pertinent to the investigation."

Days later, on June 30, a registered nurse tells CNN Jackson had insomnia and had asked her for Diprivan, a very powerful sedative also known as Propofol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I said, Michael, if you take that medicine you might not wake up.

KAYE: Propofol is usually administered through an IV drip and produces such a comatose state it is not supposed to be used outside a hospital setting.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Propofol is a medication he uses all the time. So is this it right over here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

GUPTA: It looks like -- milk of amnesia they call it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Milk of amnesia.

KAYE: By July 1, Jackson's death is a full-blown drug investigation involving the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

COOPER: Here in Los Angeles, the investigation into Michael Jackson's death has taken a dramatic turn. There are reports that police found Diprivan, a powerful anesthetic, in Michael Jackson's house.

KAYE: Weeks later, July 22, in a surprise raid, federal agents searched Dr. Murray's Houston clinic. Investigators are authorized to seize evidence related to the offense of manslaughter. They take a computer hard drive, documents and Rolodex cards.

Five days later, July 27, a major bombshell. A source tells CNN, Dr. Murray gave Michael Jackson Propofol, also called Diprivan, within 24 hours of his death.

DR. DREW PINSKY, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: For a patient to be administered Diprivan in their home or in the outside world, to me, is outrageous.

KAYE: On July 30, search warrants for Murray's home are made public.

(on camera) There's a lot of surprising information in here, Anderson. The search warrant said that they were looking for evidence, quote, "demonstrating crimes of excessive prescribing and prescribing to an addict." Also evidence of manslaughter.

(voice-over) On August 18, Dr. Murray makes his first public comments. He releases this video online.

CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S DOCTOR: I have done all I could do. I told the truth. And I have faith that truth will prevail.

KAYE: August 24, the L.A. county coroner concludes that Jackson died of an overdose of Propofol.

(on camera) The key thing, though, that we have learned tonight is that lethal levels of Propofol killed Michael Jackson. The coroner's preliminary report is telling us so. Dr. Murray thought that Michael Jackson was addicted to the drug. He was apparently trying to wean him off it.

(voice-over) According to an affidavit, Dr. Murray told detectives he'd been treating Jackson for insomnia for weeks. Murray says he tried other drugs, but the pop star demanded Propofol to help him sleep. So at 10:40 a.m., the day he died, he gave him 25 milligrams of it. Nine-one-one was called almost two hours later. COOPER: And what about Murray's actions the day Jackson collapsed? Have you learned anything more about where he was, when the singer stopped breathing.

KAYE (on camera): He said he finally went to sleep. According to this affidavit, he watched him for about ten minutes, and then he left the room to use the bathroom. He said he was gone for about two minutes maximum, according to the documents, and when he came back, Michael Jackson wasn't breathing.

(voice-over) On February 8, 2010, Dr. Conrad Murray is officially charged with involuntary manslaughter. He surrenders to authorities, pleads not guilty, and is released on $75,000 bail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Murray did not cause the death of Michael Jackson. There's no way that Dr. Murray would pump Michael Jackson full of Propofol, sufficient for major surgery and walk out that room.

KAYE: If the judge decides to go ahead with the trial, Dr. Murray could get up to four years in prison for the death of the King of Pop.

Randi Kaye, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: One of the most interesting details leading up to tomorrow's preliminary hearing is that a prosecutor says Dr. Murray's defense may be that Michael Jackson committed suicide. Let's talk about that. Joining me again is Sunny Hostin from "In Session" on our sister network, TruTV. And in Atlanta, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, is it possible for a person to self-administer Propofol?

GUPTA: Well, you know, a couple things. First of all, before this whole thing happened, Anderson, I had never even heard of Propofol ever being used outside a hospital, just to be clear on that.

But despite the fact that he had been receiving lots of different sedatives for several hours before that, including Valium, Ativan, Versed, all medications that make you sleepy and, at least, according to that report, 25 milligrams of Propofol. Given his tolerance to some of these medications over time, he potentially could, if he woke up from the medication or, you know, just was slightly sleepy, could potentially inject himself with more Propofol, if he had an IV in, for example.

So it is possible, I guess, in the strictest sense of the word, but not very probable, given all those medications on board and just being very lethargic as a result of that.

COOPER: If it's true that this is what the defense is going to argue, that he somehow killed himself, I mean, how difficult a defense is that? SUNNY HOSTIN, TRUTV: I think it's actually a good defense, and I can't believe that I'm saying that. But as Sanjay just said, Anderson, it's possible that he could have done that.

And so Dr. Murray said he only gave Michael Jackson 25 milligrams of Propofol. And many experts say that's not enough to put someone down. It may make them a little sleepy. So if that's the case and he died of Propofol, they have to explain it. And what better way to explain it than to say this is a man who was addicted to drugs. He was addicted the Propofol in particular. And when Dr. Murray left the room, he injected himself with just a wee bit more. That actually, for me, passes sort of the laugh test. It's quite good.

COOPER: Do we know, Sanjay, what effect 25 milligrams of Propofol, which is what Dr. Murray says he gave Jackson, what kind of effect that would have?

GUPTA: Well, you know, again, keeping in mind, this was, you know, after an escalating series of drugs had been given for the last several hours, including Ativan, Valium and Versed.

But you know, a couple of the unknowns are you may have some tolerances to medications, as Sunny was saying, and some had been taking that he'd been taking these medications over time and had questions of addiction. Twenty-five milligrams of Propofol by itself probably wouldn't do a lot. Make you kind of sleepy.

The type of dose that we typically give in an operating room, for example, when someone is going off to sleep for general anesthesia, that's closer to a couple hundred milligrams of Propofol. And immediately after that's done, you can see in this video here, it just takes about 10 seconds for it to take effect. And after that's done, the patient needs to have a breathing tube placed immediately, because Propofol makes you stop breathing. That's how it could potentially kill somebody.

The drug itself is not toxic. In fact, it goes away very quickly in terms of being metabolized in the body. But 25 milligrams is a relatively small dose, Anderson.

COOPER: It's -- we have a "Text 360" question. This is from Steven in New Orleans. And he asks, "If Michael Jackson did, in fact, inject himself, will Dr. Murray still be responsible, since the Propofol shouldn't have been outside of a medical environment?"

HOSTIN: Well, that's possible, but I have to say, involuntary manslaughter is a difficult case to prove. And so this is not a slam- dunk case. So if they can have -- the defense could prove that, perhaps, Michael Jackson injected himself with these lethal dose, all they need, Anderson, is one juror to think, you know what? That's -- I believe that. That is reasonable doubt.

COOPER: And one of Murray's attorneys has experience in dealing with cases with Propofol?

HOSTIN: Yes. His name is Jack -- Jay Michael Flanagan. And he is the only attorney I have found that has successfully defended a voluntary manslaughter case where a nurse was charged with killing someone using Propofol.

And so again, I think this team is geared up. It is the only team that I know that has a member that has successfully defend one of these cases.

COOPER: Interesting. Sunny Hostin, appreciate it.

And Sanjay, thanks very much. And Sanjay, thanks for covering for me when I was on vacation. Appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: All right. Coming up, Snooki. Snooki, Snooki, Snooki. Partier, tanner, Renaissance woman. Tonight, she becomes a resident of the RidicuList. What's she done now? You're not going to believe it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time to add a name, a new name to the RidicuList. Tonight, literary critics, word lovers and students of modern American literature are counting the hours because, behold, Snooki's book comes out tomorrow. That's right.

Like a drunken wave careening toward the pristine sand, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi's first novel, "A Shore Thing," hits book shelves mere hours from now. And without further adieu, here are some excerpts, for real. I'm not making this up. Here we go.

Quote, "He had an OK body. Not fat at all. And naturally toned abs. She could pour a shot of tequila down his belly and slurp it out of his navel without getting splashed in the face."

Here's another one: "Any juicehead will get some nut shrinkage. And bacne. They fly into a 'roid' rage, it is a 'road' 'roid' rage."

And my personal favorite: "Gia danced around a little, shaking her peaches for show. She shook it hard. Too hard. In the middle of a shimmy, her stomach cramped. A fart slipped out. A loud one. And stinky."

If a Kindle dry heaves and no one is around to read it, does it still make a sound?

Snooki has a little promotional video on the Simon and Shuster Web site. Oh, yes. She has a totally serious publisher, Simon and Schuster, and some totally serious things to say about her totally serious upcoming book. And like all literary giants before her, she does it while holding on for dear life to what looks like a massive goblet full of screwdriver.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLE "SNOOKI" POLIZZA, AUTHOR, "A SHORE THING": My cast mates are very surprised that I'm an author, because they didn't even know that I read books. But like I said on "Ellen," I can go to freaking Barnes and Noble and sit down, get a coffee and read a book.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes. Freaking Barnes & Noble. I personally worry that Snooki will go all J.D. Salinger and move to reclusive cabin, never to be heard from again.

So yes, Snooki's book will be available at freaking Barnes and Nobles tomorrow. You know what else is coming out tomorrow? This book, "All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age." You know, in case you just want to go in another direction. I doubt it.

I also want to point out that as of tomorrow, Snooki and I will have something in common. We're both published authors. "Dispatches from the Edge," "New York Times" No. 1 best seller still available.

Do you guys think Snooki's book will be more popular than mine? I'm just -- I'm actually not sure what I will do with that information. Why, oh why, did I decide to leave out my musings on bacne?

Congratulations, Snooki. Even if you don't get to be No. 1, you've been No. 1 in my heart in my heart for a long time. And now, you're No. 1 on tonight's RidicuList. Oh, Snooki.

That's our report tonight. Thanks for watching. "Parker Spitzer" is next. I'll see you tomorrow night at 9 Eastern and at 10. Bye.