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GOP Targets Health Care Reform; New Cancer Test?; Censoring 'Huckleberry Finn'

Aired January 4, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: Republicans getting ready to take over the House, promising tough new rules to block bills that aren't paid for. Yet, they're also taking aim at health care reform, and that's supposed to save money and reduce the deficit. So, are they giving themselves a pass on their own rules? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also: censoring "Huck Finn," a new edition of the American classic with all the N-words taken out. The publisher says they did it to help the book find new readers, but many say it's political -- political correctness gone too far. Tonight, all sides square off.

And later: the first in our new "Cold Case" series, the murder of David Hartley. Remember him? Killed on a lake with his wife on a part of the Mexican border plagued by drug violence, the lead Mexican investigator later beheaded? The story has faded from the headlines, but has there been any progress to report? We will talk to John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted," joining us tonight.

We begin, though, as always, "Keeping Them Honest." Tonight: lawmakers who are about to vote themselves new rules that are supposed to save taxpayers money. Yet, they're also about to break those rules practically from day one to try and get rid of a program they don't like.

Remember, Republicans pledged to cut spending in this new Congress. Here's what incoming House Speaker John Boehner said back in September.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: If your intention is to create a new government program, you must also terminate or reduce an existing program of equal or greater size in the same bill.


COOPER: Well, Boehner's first order of business is passing those new spending rules. Some provide more transparency, but the crucial one says that members will have to explain how they will pay for new legislation, not with taxes, but with other ways of cutting costs.

Their second order of business is repealing President Obama's health care law.


BOEHNER: We will start first by cutting our own budget. It will be one of our first votes. Then we will turn our attention to the rest of the federal budget and the job-killing policies that are denying economic growth and opportunity for the American people, including killing the job-killing health care law.


COOPER: He's going to be meeting Thursday with the GOP Caucus to weigh a vote next week repealing the law.

To do that, under the new spending rules, you would think Republicans would have to come up with the way to pay for the $140 billion the health care law was supposed to save taxpayers over the next 10 years. Those figures are according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, $140 billion over 10 years.

So what spending cuts have Republicans come up with? Well, they haven't. They have simply attacked the numbers, saying that they don't believe the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, in a tweet from the House GOP Conference, said, "Only in Washington, D.C., can you spend $1 trillion and say you're going to save the taxpayers money."

And here's John Boehner on FOX back in March, when the CBO report came out, complaining that certain costly Medicare payments hadn't been included.


BOEHNER: It's not in there. And that's why the -- the whole so- called CBO scoring issue is a fallacy. The CBO is only -- only scores what they're given.


COOPER: Other Republicans have said the CBO was gamed by Democrats with phony accounting or that they bent to political pressure.

But, in the past, what's interesting is, when CBO estimates supported Republican positions, they sure sang a different tune.

Listen to some Republican voices during the health care debate.


SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Do you question the work of the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation? Well, you shouldn't, because they're like God around here.

You know, when the CBO says something's going to cost something, that stands, unless there's 60 votes to override it here in the United States Senate. So, most everything that that the CBO says stands. And they got respect, because of the intellectual honesty of their research and the nonpartisanship that they have.


COOPER: Well, that was Senator Charles Grassley back in December of '09.

Here's Congressman Pence praising the CBO scoring of the GOP health reform alternative -- quote -- "The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now confirms that families will see their health care premiums reduced by up to 10 percent, and hardworking taxpayers can expect deficits to decrease by $68 billion over the next decade."

And here, from about the same time, Congressman Boehner:


BOEHNER: The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that our plan will lower premiums by up to 10 percent for small businesses, which will make health care more affordable and help create jobs in America.


COOPER: Now, it's not for us to say who has better ideas for health care or how one party or another should vote on any legislation.

But if you're going to praise the ump's fairness when the call goes your way, it seems kind of hypocritical to complain when it goes the other way. And if you're going to make rules that say money- saving bills are OK, you can't turn around and say money-saving bills are OK, except for bills you don't like.

Joining me to talk about with different perspectives, Democratic strategist and former pollster Cornell Belcher, also Tea Party organizer and Saint Louis radio host Dana Loesch.

Dana, what about it? I mean, when the CBO says something some Republicans, politicians, like, they seem to sing its places, but, on this issue, they are saying there's fuzzy math going on. Are they being hypocritical?

DANA LOESCH, EDITOR, BIGJOURNALISM.COM: I don't think so in this instance, Anderson, because there's something kind of funny about all of this.

First of all, the CBO report that was issued which said that the $1 trillion health control law was going to be deficit neutral, within a week of that report being issued, there was a lesser-known report that was also issued that was based upon an inquiry that came from Paul Ryan.

He asked the CBO to consider the costs of the health care law in -- also with the doc fix. That's the -- the infamous Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors and that. And what the CBO discovered was that those two pieces of legislation together actually added to the deficit.

And it's interesting to note, too, that Nancy Pelosi initially had the doc fix in the health care legislation, but it was removed. So, at one point -- it was removed before the CBO scored it. So, at one point, they thought that these two pieces of legislation, that this could be coupled together, that they were related.

But those two things together actually do add to the deficit. And that's the little known thing that nobody's talking about.

COOPER: Cornell, was the CBO gamed in all this?

CORNELL BELCHER, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN POLLSTER: No. What you have is classic game -- political gamesmanship, you know, bait-and- switch politics at its finest.

Look, Senator Grassley is right. The CBO is sort of God around this town when it says something. And it's -- the Republicans are in danger here of really sort of, you know, being hypocritical. And that's sort of the -- the ultimate sin in politics is you come across as looking hypocritical at something.

You can't say the CBO, you know, the Congressional Budget Office is -- is right when it's -- when it's -- when it's favoring you, but not right when it's not favoring you. And the first piece of legislation that you put up here right now is in fact legislation that you -- that you know is going to -- is going to undermine what you're saying.

It's going to roll back -- it's going to hurt the -- it's going to hurt the deficit. They -- they came to Washington saying we're going to be, you know, tough on the budget. We're going to shrink the deficit. And the first piece of legislation out the box is a piece of red meat that they're in fact throwing to their base.

Look, I understand throwing the meat to your base, but for the middle swathe of -- of independent voters out -- out there, this looks hypocritical, and it's going to hurt them.

COOPER: Dana, let me ask you, though, is this just red meat for the base?



COOPER: If it passes the House, it's not going to pass in the Senate.

LOESCH: Well, maybe. We don't know for sure.

COOPER: And, obviously, President Obama wouldn't sign it.

LOESCH: Well, we don't know for sure that it wouldn't pass in the Senate.

But I -- I have to ask, why is it that some people pay so much attention to the first report from the CBO, but completely discount the second report, which actually was in -- completely contradictory to the first one. That is what -- that is -- that is bait and switch. That is gaming the system, absolutely.

But I do think that it's really premature to say that this wouldn't pass the Senate. And I say this because we're going to have to see by how much it would pass the House. There are a lot of very vulnerable senators right now, including my own senator, Claire McCaskill.

You have to think, too, like, with a state like Missouri, a very purple state, Prop C, the piece of legislation that passed into law which exempted Missourians from the -- the health -- health care mandate, that -- that passed like by 3-1 in every single county in Missouri.

COOPER: Right. Yes.

LOESCH: A lot of Democrats voted for that. That's Claire McCaskill's base. We're seeing this kind of over and over again in different states.

COOPER: Well...

LOESCH: So, I think that there are a lot of vulnerable senators.


LOESCH: It could pass.


COOPER: Cornell...


COOPER: ... let me ask you about that...


BELCHER: Come on, Dana.

COOPER: ... because CNN's most recent polling, you have health care reform law pretty unpopular. Fifty-four percent oppose it.

By standing in the way of repeal, I mean, do Democrats, you know...

BELCHER: Two -- two things, two things here, Anderson.

One is, you know, come on, that -- it has zero chance of passing in the Senate. It's not going to pass in the Senate. And it's certainly not going to get a presidential -- a presidential signature -- presidential signature. So it is just political -- so it is just political theater.


BELCHER: The other part about this is that, you know, this -- where's this broad mandate for -- for reforming -- sort of repealing health care? It wasn't in the exit polling.

And in your CNN polling, 54 percent, that's not a broad mandate. In Gallup's last polling, when they asked sort of should government assure -- ensure -- ensure coverage, 47 percent, yes, 50 percent, no. So, it's fairly split.

And, quite frankly, I think Democrats should be looking for this as an opportunity to message on health care, because we did such a poor job of it the first time around.

COOPER: So, Cornell, you say they could pick up independents? Democrats could actually pick -- win back some -- some independents here on this?

BELCHER: No, I didn't say they could win back some independents on this. I'm saying there's not a broad mandate, particularly among independents, for this repeal.

This is clearly political theater for the...

LOESCH: Oh, no, no, no.

BELCHER: ... for the -- for -- for the Republican -- for the Republican base.

LOESCH: I have to disagree with...

BELCHER: At 47-50...

LOESCH: This is one the most -- this is one of the most...

BELCHER: At 47-50, where -- where is that...

COOPER: Dana, go ahead.

BELCHER: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

LOESCH: Just in -- just, what was it, in August, 56 percent of Americans, according to Rasmussen, said that this legislation ought to be repealed. This is one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation, specifically because, for one, the mandate in there that's requiring people to purchase a product from the government simply because they live in the United States.

That's hugely unpopular, and, plus, again, those two CBO reports, the second one contradicting the first one. I think what we're going to see -- it's going to pass the House. I don't know by how much, but I will say it right -- it's going to pass the House.

By the Senate, though, that's going to be -- oh, I'm -- I'm very anxious to see that. And it's going to be like -- that's going to be theater, because there's going to be a lot of people going back and forth on it.

BELCHER: It's not going to pass the Senate. And we can argue about polling numbers, but let's just take CNN's poll.

CNN's poll has it at, what, 54 percent, which is not a broad mandate. And then, certainly, when you look at independent voters, who...


LOESCH: That's a majority, though.

BELCHER: It's not a broad mandate.

LOESCH: You're going to discount majorities suddenly?

BELCHER: And when you -- and when you look at sort of where independent voters are, there was no hunger among independent voters for -- for repealing this -- repealing this act.

You know what independent voters punished Democrats for? For not paying enough attention to jobs and the economy. They think we spent too much time on health care. And what are Republicans doing the first thing out of the box?

LOESCH: Right.

BELCHER: Oh, we're going to focus on health care.

I -- I'm telling you, I'm not trying to be a hard-core partisan on this.

LOESCH: Because you don't see how that's related to jobs?

BELCHER: I'm thinking that this is...

LOESCH: Oh, I know.

BELCHER: ... is hypocritical. And independent voters are going to see it as hypocritical.

COOPER: We have got to -- we have got to leave it there, although we should point out Boehner was very quick to...

LOESCH: Can -- can I make one point?

COOPER: ... to -- to categorize this as a job-killing health care -- yes, Dana, go ahead.

LOESCH: CBO said that -- that this legislation is going to actually reduce the labor force by over 700,000 jobs, contradicting what Nancy Pelosi said, that it would create immediately 400,000 jobs. That's according to CBO. BELCHER: So, now you're -- you're -- so now you're for the CBO? So, I -- I don't know. You're flip-flopping. You're against the CBO. You're for the CBO.

LOESCH: No, I'm for the CBO's report too. You're ignoring the second report from the CBO, which contradicts...


BELCHER: You're for the CBO when it's...


BELCHER: You're in support of the CBO when it's...


COOPER: All right. All right.


LOESCH: No, you're -- no, no, no, no, no.


LOESCH: The second report that was queried by -- by Paul Ryan, that's what you're not acknowledging.

COOPER: Dana Loesch...

BELCHER: The last CBO report said it -- it was -- it cut the deficit. That's all I know.

LOESCH: It said that it's not deficit-neutral. Not with the doc fix, it's not. And it's included.

COOPER: Dana Loesch...



COOPER: ... Cornell Belcher, appreciate it.


COOPER: Let us know what you think, the live chat up and running right now at

Up next: rewriting "Huckleberry Finn," removing 219 uses of the N-word. Critics say it's whitewashing history just to get more readers. We will talk about the uproar over new edited versions. All the angles -- you can decide for yourself.

Also tonight: a murder case too cruel to go cold -- a husband killed right in front of his wife while jet-skiing on a Mexican border lake, the lead investigator in the case, the Mexican investigator, beheaded. We will talk about it all with John Walsh from "America's Most Wanted."


COOPER: A battle tonight over what your kids should read in school and which words they should be exposed to. It's a battle that tonight revolves around one of the greatest American novels ever written, "Huckleberry Finn." You may have read it as a child, but, increasingly, schools across the country are choosing not to include it in their curriculum because of its use of the N-word.

It's used more than 200 times in "Huck Finn." Now the editors of NewSouth Books are doing something about that. They're publishing a new edition of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" minus the N-word.

Twain scholar Alan Gribben did the editing, replacing the N-word with the word slave. It's a move that is already causing controversy. One writer of "The Washington Post" compared it to renaming "War and Peace" just "Peace" because war is so unpleasant.

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley called it a breathtaking act of hubris. Mark Twain, he says, "chose the N-word to convey something beyond captive status. It was a word used widely. It is still used in literary works to say something about the people who use it."

We should also point out that there's no evidence that the author, Mark Twain, used it out of his own racial prejudice. Just the opposite. "Huckleberry Finn" was set in the 1840s. By the time he wrote it, Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain, had come to believe that slavery was more than just wrong.

In 1885, the year "Huck Finn" was published, he wrote a letter to the dean of Yale Law School explaining why he wanted to pay the expenses of a man named Warner McGuinn, a pioneering black law student -- student.

"We have ground the manhood out of them," Twain wrote, "and the shame is ours, not theirs, and we should pay for it."

That's some of the context and subtext and history behind the book and author. The question is, does taking the N-word out of "Huck Finn" make the book more accessible to a modern audience, or did it lessen it somehow or change history?

Joining me now, Andre Perry, the associate dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of New Orleans. He's also CEO of the Capital One-UNO Charter School Network. Also with us, Boyce Watkins, a professor at Syracuse University, and Michaela Angela Davis, a cultural critic and former fashion editor at "Essence" magazine.

Boyce, what about this? I mean, there are some critics who say taking the N-word out of this text is whitewashing a part of U.S. history that frankly doesn't deserve it.

BOYCE WATKINS, PROFESSOR OF FINANCE, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: Well, I think the fundamental question that I would ask is, can you still make the point of this brilliant novel without using that word 219 times? And I think that you can.

I think that, at the end of the day, the -- the question for me also is whether or not it makes sense to force kids in school to hear this word over and over and over again in order to make that point? I think you can make the point one time.

I know that, when I was in high school I wouldn't have wanted to read that book, primarily -- and I didn't read it in high school. I read it later. And I think that making it accessible in its rawest form to adults is appropriate. But when you talk about forcing kids to read this kind of thing, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. So, I think they actually made the right move.

COOPER: Michaela, the professor raised a good point. I'm not sure, as an African-American child, I would want to read some book that used the N-word 219 times.

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, FORMER "ESSENCE" FASHION EDITOR: Well, Anderson, I think this is problematic on so many levels.

It's not just history. It's literature, so it's art. So, when we get into really censoring art and -- and censoring literature, I think we open up a Pandora's box that I don't think that we want to get into.

And if a teacher is not prepared to have a social and historical conversation, and place this masterpiece in context, is she prepared to teach that text? Should it be to those students? So, when we get into changing words, unwriting history, rearranging art, we start to put our democracy in danger.

This is -- this is not making it palpable. It's censorship.

COOPER: Andre, your charter school system is made up largely of African-American kids. Do you allow -- I mean, a lot of schools don't allow "Huck Finn" to be read anymore because of this very reason.

ANDRE PERRY, CEO, CAPITAL ONE-UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS CHARTER SCHOOL NETWORK: Well, I would allow it, because it's not about the word, the N-word. It's about the portrayal of blacks. And to remove that portrayal in its historical context, you're losing a valuable opportunity to teach kids how this word evolved.

In fact, of all the -- of -- I would love for kids in the hood to read "Huck Finn." I would love rappers to read "Huck Finn," because when I had to read it, and I had to read it aloud, it gave me a greater appreciation how these words hurt.

And so, again, I don't think it's a wise move to -- to sort of sanitize this work, because it's, one, they hear it all the time. But they need the historical context in order to understand how salient it is for them today.

COOPER: But, to Professor Watkins' point, don't you want -- you want kids reading this book. And if the reality is that fewer and fewer schools are choosing this book for this reason, doesn't this -- this, kind of as a stopgap measure, at least get the book out into more kids' hands?


PERRY: Well, again, if I want a different portrayal of African- Americans and other people who are oppressed, I will choose another book.

But, again, I -- what I want from "Huck Finn" is to give me that historical context for the rest -- for that word and other words and slavery and all these other things and its progression over time.

WATKINS: You know, I think that there can also be the point made that if you -- if you're arguing -- and I don't disagree completely with my two colleagues here. I respect them both very much.

But what I will say is that, if you talk about, you know, forms of censorship degrading the value of the original work, you know, I can point to a lot of classic films made throughout history that might involve nudity or excessive profanity.

But if I'm showing that film to a 7-year-old or to a 14-year-old, I'm going to -- there's a good chance that it's going to be an edited version. We're not going to take that into a school and say, well, the nudity was an important part of the point that the director was trying to make.

We're going to show the child the version that we feel is appropriate for that age group. And then we're going to make the original version available for that child when they become an adult.

I think that, if you're going to expose kids to this book, even if you exposed it in the rawest form, which, again, I don't completely disagree with, perhaps some sort of parental consent form might be necessary, because I can tell you, personally, I can explain to my children the context of the N-word and the context of that historical period without calling them the N-word 219 times or forcing them to endure that trauma over and over again.

DAVIS: But I think it robs us of the proof that we have evolved, that we have been -- we have gone from being called the N-word to Mr. President. So, when you take out this provocative word that opens up discourse, that's why it's there, so we could be having this kind of conversation right now.

COOPER: I will -- I was re-reading -- I was re-reading parts of the book today, Michaela. And it is -- it is shocking and disturbing to hear -- I mean, it's used in a very violent way often in the book, in terms of other people describing African-Americans.

DAVIS: Right. And that -- and that's what we should talk about. We can't act like the pain didn't happen.

We -- the only way we can forgive that, I believe, Anderson, if we commit to never forget. And so, when we take this out, we act as if it didn't happen. We act as if that word wasn't meant to dehumanize us, to place us in that time.

COOPER: Well, Andre, what about that, though? I mean, to the professor's point, movies are edited all the time for different audiences. And you have songs that are played on the radio in one version and are in released in a different version with -- with expletives in them.

PERRY: But I'm a firm believer that kids can get satire, they can get nudity, they can get a lot of things, if it's taught well.

DAVIS: Right.

PERRY: And, again, this goes back to the quality of the teacher, the quality of instructor.

Certainly, kids hear these words. They see nudity. They need a context in which to -- to understand it, just as if I'm going to take a group of students to the museum, I'm not going to cover up a beautiful piece of art because a woman's breast is exposed.

DAVIS: Right.

PERRY: And, again, but you need some context and quality teaching, so that kids can understand. And kids are more sophisticated than you think. They can get this material, if -- particularly if it's taught by a quality teacher.

DAVIS: We want to create social scholars, not -- not cultural cowards.

So, if we start to -- when we start to remove things, where does it end, and to what end? So, we want to provoke them to have discourse. We want them -- we want to teach them properly. I think one of the reasons why this word became so violent and so problematic even today is because we didn't protect our history enough. We don't know our history enough. So, to remove it, we -- we -- we -- we move that forward.


WATKINS: I wouldn't agree, though.

COOPER: Professor?

WATKINS: But I think that, you know, we can't compare the use of the N-word 219 times in this book, the use of that word in an offensive way to a beautiful piece of art that happens to show a woman's nude body. That's a very different sort of thing.


DAVIS: Well, would you change Miles Davis' master piece to "Mean Girls Brew"? I mean, where do you stop taking out those words?


WATKINS: If my children -- if my children were being exposed to it, then I might, as a parent, expect to have that right to decide if I want my child exposed to it in school in that way.

I mean, there are a lot of ways we can teach about the cruelties of slavery. I'm in agreement with you that we have watered down history, you know, much to our detriment. But I think that there are many, many ways that you can explain the context and time period without forcing them to read this book.

And -- and, remember, the masterpiece is in the eye of the beholder. I don't consider this book to be a masterpiece, but there are several songs and movies and other books that I might consider to be masterpieces, but I don't get to decide what my kids are exposed to.

So, I think that, as a parent, I would want that right to simply sign a consent form that says that I do or do not want my child exposed to this particular way of teaching history. But I think that teaching history in an honest way is certainly very important.


WATKINS: But it doesn't have to be done through this book.

COOPER: We have got to leave it there.

Professor Watkins, I appreciate it, Andre Perry as well, and Michaela Angela Davis.

Thanks very much.

DAVIS: Thank you.

COOPER: Interesting discussion.

DAVIS: Thank you.

COOPER: Good discussion.

Up next: a new test that some say could revolutionize the way cancer is diagnosed and treated. The test is not available yet. We will talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about whether the reality matches the hype.

Plus, could a cold case that made major news last year be warming up? The victim was allegedly killed by drug cartel members while jet- skiing on a lake straddling the Texas-Mexico border -- his wife, the only witness. The latest coming up, along with John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Some interesting medical news to tell you about. What we're trying do tonight is sort the hype from the hope -- a new test that can detect a single cancer cell in your blood.

It's getting a lot of attention tonight. The reason it's in the news is because the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson and Boston researchers are teaming up to try to fine-tune the test and bring it to market.

Now, it's about a -- reportedly a $30 million deal. A lot of experts are hopeful that this blood test could somehow or some day revolutionize cancer treatment.

Let's talk about it with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta. He joins me now.

Sanjay, the publicity surrounding this announcement, it's been huge.


COOPER: What can and can't this test actually do? I mean, what does it mean?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, it is a research deal so far, as you mentioned, Anderson. And taking something from the bench to bedside, as you alluded to, can take a long time.

But what we're talking about here is being able to take someone's blood. And what they take -- do is they take this -- this -- these magnetic beads, essentially, that have antibodies on them, and those antibodies specifically can cull out a single cancer cell.

So, you take some blood from someone's arm or whatever, and there's billions of cells in there. To find a single cancer cell has been something a lot of people have tried to do. They have now shown some success doing this in the lab. They haven't done it in the clinical setting yet, but, again, in the lab, very exciting tough.

Why is it important? Well, you could potentially tell if someone has cancer and they're getting treatment, is that treatment working? You're also potentially able to look at the specific cancer cell and say, well, what is it about this particular cancer cell that we can predict how this cancer is going to behave?

Can we predict how it's going to spread, or is it going to be more aggressive, for example? And possibly even before someone has ever had cancer, could you predict, sort of as a screening test, that they're going to develop the disease?

So, this is why it's exciting. But, again, it's this idea that it takes time, as you said, Anderson, to go from the bench to the bedside. That -- that -- this has happened before. We have got to make sure we can actually see the results.

COOPER: Would it potentially eliminate, if it worked, and was able to -- you know, be transferred into an actual test, would it potentially eliminate some of the more invasive screening procedures like biopsies or mammograms even?

GUPTA: Yes. And I'm almost surprised to hear myself say that. Because I mean, again, a lot of people have been thinking about this for some time, but that is exactly what people are thinking about, that it could potentially do that.

Again, all the caveats in place about how long this could potentially take and the trials to get there.

But think about it this way, Anderson. If someone develops cancer, what we now know is the time they develop cancer there are probably a few stray cancer cells that are already in the blood. Even if they have cancer of the breast, the prostate, or the colon, there are probably already a few cells in the blood. If those cells could be found, you could have a very early screening test.

I will say, you know, the larger question for a lot of doctors is, so what do you do with that information?

COOPER: Right.

GUPTA: It's a very early cancer. Do you treat it aggressively? Do you watch it? What is it going to mean overall for the patient?

COOPER: That could freak a lot of people out, saying that they have cancer cells in the blood, if you can't do anything about it.

GUPTA: Right. Or you know, if it's a couple of cancer cells, should they start, you know, what might be deemed aggressive therapy for that? Or would those cancer cells maybe not be of any consequence in the long run? Those are the answers that we don't have as of now.

COOPER: And again, in terms of timing, how long, how many years, do you think, to get this thing into a test?

GUPTA: You know, to really be able to test, first you've got to do the clinical testing, so do it in, you know, lots of people.

But in order to really find out if the test is working, you really have to follow those people over ten years or so to answer the questions you're raising, Anderson, which is that, you know, did those couple of cancer cells, did they end up being a problem? Did they end up being an actual tumor of some sort or did the body sort of dispense those cancer cells on their own?

To get those sorts of answers, to find out how 00 how important a test this really is in the long run, I think at least ten years probably to get those answers.

COOPER: All right. A long time. All right, Sanjay. Appreciate it. Thanks.

GUPTA: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Interesting development there. Still tonight, the hottest ticket in America, the Mega Millions Lotto. Find out why we're adding it to tonight's RidicuList. But first, Tom Foreman has the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Tom.


A 360 follow-up. Navy Captain Owen Honors has been relieved of duty as commanding officer on the USS Enterprise. He's come under fire for those racy videos filled with profanity and anti-gay slurs that were taped a few years ago while aboard the ship. He was second in command at the time.

You will have three extra days this year to file your tax return. The IRS is extending the deadline to April 18. That's because on April 15, Washington, D.C., is observing Emancipation Day, a little- known holiday that celebrates the freeing of slaves in the District of Columbia.

And talk about a kid's science project. A 10-year-old girl from New Brunswick, Canada, spotted an exploding star. There it is. She's now the youngest person ever to discover a supernova.

COOPER: That's cool.

FOREMAN: She shares the credit with her father, who is also an amateur astronomer.

COOPER: Good for her.

FOREMAN: Quite an accomplishment.

COOPER: All right. For tonight's "Shot," Tom, we found this on under the title "Awesome Homemade Luge Track," which pretty much says it all. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready. Oh, they got a way better start.


COOPER: Look at that. How awesome is that homemade luge track? That's crazy.

FOREMAN: That's beautiful.

COOPER: How much time must it have taken to make that luge track? Whoever posted the video didn't give a location. We can't tell you where the luge track is or even if it's actually homemade, though to the untrained eye, or to my very trained luge eye, it certainly looks like it.

FOREMAN: You have a very trained luge eye. I thought you could spot a good luge.

COOPER: Yes. Coming up, the first in our series of some of the most notorious cold cases of all time. Tonight, taking a look at the bizarre case of Tiffany Hartley and her husband David. She says he was shot in the head by Mexican gunmen right in front of her. His body was never found. Neither were the gunmen. The lead Mexican investigator in the case, however, was found beheaded, and the story has certainly faded from the headlines. We're going to bring you the latest.

Tonight I'll also talk with John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" about the details of the case.

Also, tonight, one of the biggest lottery jackpots in U.S. history up for grabs tonight. We'll tell you why the Mega Millions Lottery is up on tonight's RidicuList.


COOPER: Tonight we begin a new series on some of the most notorious and most intriguing unsolved criminal cases in history. The story we begin with tonight is recent history, the case of a murder on Falcon Lake on the border between Texas and Mexico.

Less than four months ago, Tiffany Hartley says her husband David was shot in the head by Mexican bandits, She tried to save him, but couldn't and then escaped on her Jet Ski. What Tiffany Hartley hasn't been able to escape are questions about what happened that day and rumors that there might be more to the story.

We spoke with Tiffany back in October. She told me that, if necessary, she would be willing to take a lie detector test.


COOPER: We heard a sheriff say that -- that if you wanted to take a polygraph test to back up the story, that he'd support that. Is that something you'd want to do?

TIFFANY HARTLEY, HUSBAND KILLED: Possibly, but I don't really think I need to, because I know my story and I know what I -- you know, what the story is. But if, you know, that's what the authorities think I need to do, then that might be an option.


COOPER: Well, a sheriff in Texas said Tiffany did indeed offer to take the lie detector test. None was ever administered. They didn't feel it was needed.

Months later, her husband's body still has not been found, nor the boats or the gunmen allegedly involved in the attack. Drew Griffin tonight investigates.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sun was perfect. The water on Falcon Lake straddling the border between Texas and Mexico was calm. September 30, a Thursday. There'd be no crowds and for Tiffany and David Hartley, no worries.

Even being pulled over by the Texas State Patrol for an expired tag on their Jet Ski trailer didn't bother them. The couple was moving from the border of Mexico back home to Colorado and wanted to spend one last day on the lake. It was mid-morning.

David picked up his cell phone and called his mom.

PAM HARTLEY, DAVID'S MOTHER: They were excited to go have one last big ride on their Jet Skis before they come back to Colorado.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you sure that your husband got shot?

T. HARTLEY: Yes, he was hit in his head.

D. GRIFFIN: Just hours after the carefree call to Colorado, a frantic Tiffany Hartley was calling 911, telling a story at first not everyone would believe.

T. HARTLEY: When you're in shock, you don't even remember some stuff. And simple 911 call, you didn't even remember it.

D. GRIFFIN: She was telling the operator she and her husband were ambushed, attacked by Mexican pirates. Tiffany said she'd escaped racing on her Jet Ski, but her husband had not.

T. HARTLEY: He was thrown off the Jet Ski, and I couldn't pick him up to get him on mine.

D. GRIFFIN: Tiffany's account of what happened hasn't changed since that day. That she saw her husband get shot, that she jumped in the water herself to save him, and when she turned her husband's body toward her, saw the hole in his forehead.

When I sat down with her, she was calm, sure that she had remembered every detail correctly.

T. HARTLEY: I'm in the water. I'm with him. I have him in my hand, and my Jet Ski in my other hand. And the boat came around to me. I could feel the boat coming around me and saw two guys and one had a gun pointed right at me. They were about ten, 12 feet away from me.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Did you think, "This is it"?

T. HARTLEY: Uh-huh. I told them, "Please don't shoot. Please don't."

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Since that day there has been no body. No Jet Ski, no sign of David Hartley or the three boats involved in the attack. And rumors persist that somehow, some way, the Hartleys themselves were involved.

T. HARTLEY: I think it just hasn't hit me. It just seems like how on earth did we -- did this happen? It just doesn't seem real. I mean, just -- seems like it hasn't connected in my brain. SIGIFREDO GONZALEZ, ZAPATA COUNTY SHERIFF: Everything she's telling me has happened before in the other events. The other cases.

D. GRIFFIN: One of those who does believe her, Zapata County Sheriff Ziggy Gonzalez.

GONZALES: We've had along the border murders, home invasions, burglaries, rapes, all types of crime where -- that's associated with what I call spillover violence.

D. GRIFFIN: Gonzalez says Falcon Lake has become a drug- trafficking highway. There have been four reports of American fishermen running into Mexican pirates, and he says the fishermen were told to stay off the Mexican side of the lake and were sent on their way.

The sheriff says Tiffany and David may have been mistaken for drug dealers or simply seen as easy robbery victims. But he says his hands are tied.

But the head, the head of a Mexican detective working the case was delivered to the army in October. Since then, Mexican authorities have offered little information about the status of their investigation.

Back in Colorado, Tiffany Hartley waits, along with David's mother, for any news.

P. HARTLEY: It was like Tiffany said, it still doesn't seem real. I'm still waiting for him to walk through that front door.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Have you come to grips with the fact that David's body may never be found, may not be in a condition to be found?

T. HARTLEY: It's passed my mind, but I'm not willing to accept it in my heart.

D. GRIFFIN: Finding David's body and the details that would corroborate her story is the only way Tiffany has to prove she is telling the truth. The body has been missing now for three months, and police say it's doubtful it will ever be found.

Drew Griffin, CNN, LaSalle, Colorado.


COOPER: Earlier I spoke with "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh about the Falcon Lake case.


COOPER: David Hartley, it's not really a cold case. It just happened recently, but a lot of his wife, family members, worry that -- that this is never going to get solved. That these killers across the border belong to drug cartels and have disappeared. JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": Well, the tough thing about this is that they haven't found the body. So you and I have talked about many times, about the not knowing. She first of all would like to get her husband's body back, so that you can bury someone and you can honor them and know what -- where they are.

That was crucial to me in finding the remains of Adam. We were lucky, very lucky, to find his head, his severed head, after two weeks. And we have somewhere to go, somewhere to honor and put him to rest.

So the not knowing is a huge part of her pain and the family's pain.

The second part is the lack of reaction by not only American authorities -- and this was legitimate criticism -- and the Mexican authorities. And when somebody did come and saddle up to help him, a Mexican detective, he was beheaded, and they delivered his head.

And so the theory is that the Zetas, which is -- and I've done many shows in Mexico. It truly is becoming a narco state.

COOPER: Right. The Zetas started out as basically special forces officers, who...

WALSH: Bodyguards.

COOPER: Right, bodyguards, who then basically created their own cartel, and they're incredibly violent.

WALSH: The billions of dollars at stake here, they're ruthlessly brutally violent. Kill women, behead cops, kill politicians, et cetera. And they got into a battle with the Gulf cartel, which is another huge powerful, horrible cartel.

And I believe the theory that he was just a victim of the Zetas protecting that end of the lake. There are pirates on that lake. There were six incidences of robbery of American fishermen. As everybody knows, part of this lake is in the United States, part is in Mexico. Lots of people go there for recreation. They fish and Jet Ski.

It's a horrible case, and I really believe, having spent so much time south of the border and trying to get a handle on this incredible violence and all the guns that are sold by Americas to the cartels and how this has affected American society, I think it's the cartels have sent a message by beheading that cop: "You're never going to get that body back; nobody's ever going to solve this crime. Forget about it. Forget about it." It's the cartel's tearing each other apart, and anybody that gets in the way is collateral damage.


COOPER: John Walsh from "America's Most Wanted." We'll continue the series on cold cases all throughout this month. Up next, we're changing gears, some of the best and funniest moments with the queens of comedy. Highlights with my interview with comics Kathy Griffin, Joy Behar, Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller.

Plus, there are over 350 million reasons why people are catching lottery fever, and it's also landing their Mega Millions dreams or at least the lottery on our RidicuList tonight.


COOPER: OK. Not to brag, but today I talked with four of the funniest women on the planet: Joan Rivers, Joy Behar, Kathy Griffin, and the legendary Phyllis Diller. It was kind of a free-for-all. We covered everything from on-stage nudity to sex tapes to Piers Morgan's Twitter wars. I'm not sure how we got into all that stuff.

But I've got to say, things got a little tense when I brought up the name of a certain other very funny lady.


COOPER: When you look at someone like Betty White, who at 90 years old...

JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: Don't talk about Betty White.



RIVERS: That old bitch. I was doing so well, and from the dead she comes back. She's taken all my jokes.

BEHAR: Your jokes or your parts?


KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: Anderson, that's a trigger for Joan.

BEHAR: Little bit of a sticking point there. OK.

RIVERS: You know how she got it.

BEHAR: She slept around.

RIVERS: Slept around.

BEHAR: With everybody.

Here's the thing about women comedians. It is ageless. Like the Kardashians, they are not ageless. Pretty soon, Kim Kardashian is going to realize that she's getting older, but if she were funny she wouldn't care.

COOPER: What do you think she's going to do when she gets older?

BEHAR: I don't know. I don't know. Maybe Betty White's job.

GRIFFIN: Seniors sex tape.

COOPER: A seniors sex tape.

RIVERS: A seniors sex tape.

GRIFFIN: A seniors sex tape. It's going to be very hot.

RIVERS: I tried that.


RIVERS: I couldn't get a sailor to go into it with me.

GRIFFIN: We're going to get Brett Favre to do a quadruple with the three of us, and it's going to sell like hotcakes or hot buns, whatever he'll call us.

COOPER: The legendary Phyllis Diller. Ms. Diller, thank you so much for being with us.

PHYLLIS DILLER, COMEDIAN: I'm so happy to be alive. You're so white, you look like somebody put too much bleach on you.

COOPER: Yes, I...

GRIFFIN: You are pretty white, Anderson.

DILLER: You look like you might -- you might be carved out of Ivory soap.


And you're up, Kathy, for -- you got a Grammy award for best comedy album this year?

GRIFFIN: I have a Grammy nomination for best comedy album. But I like that I've won in your mind.

DILLER: Like the fat mother in law. She went to the doctor with a pain under her left breast. Turned out to be a trick knee.

I like to pow. I like to make sure. We don't want to mess around.

COOPER: How often are you coming up with new material?

GRIFFIN: Every day. I mean, really, that own launch, honestly, given me at least a half hour and that was like two days ago. I can just go through that lineup, and then I'm off and running.

Not to mention my strange addiction about the woman who eats toilet paper and the guy who only eats raw meat. But that's me.

COOPER: You know what's sad? I know exactly what you're talking about.

RIVERS: She has never mentioned my constipation problems. I've said keep it to yourself, Kathy.

GRIFFIN: Because I'm a friend.

COOPER: You know who likes the Twitter wars? Piers Morgan. Piers Morgan likes to get into little tweet wars.

GRIFFIN: Well, good. I'm going to declare one with him right now. I've -- I've had it with his crap, and it is go time, my friend.

Yes. I'm very -- I eagerly anticipate Piers Morgan's premiere, and I like the commercial where there's a lot of close-ups on his left eye and then his right knuckle, and then I believe the theme song at the end is, "It's about me," or "it's all about me." So I'm wondering how he's going to do an interview show that's really all about him.

BEHAR: Here's the thing with wasps, which you are one.


BEHAR: They always have the first name as someone's last name.

COOPER: That's true.

BEHAR: Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: I'm an 18th century law firm.

BEHAR: You notice that Jews don't do that? You'll never hear Gerstein Bernstein.

COOPER: Can you tell when an audience is going to be a good audience and when they're not going to be a good audience, very quickly?

DILLER: Yes, yes, yes, you can tell before you go on. You stand backstage. If it's like a morgue and pretty quiet, you see, they -- you better maybe take off your clothes.


COOPER: Kathy, can you get...

GRIFFIN: Every time.

DILLER: ... always get the laugh.

COOPER: Can you get an audience back, Kathy? I mean, if it's a bad -- you know...

GRIFFIN: Yes, you can reel them back in, but it's tough. And I -- you know, that's one of the reasons I tend to go long, is I want to always try to get them back, or I take my clothes off, as Phyllis suggested, which is always an option. BEHAR: You're not such a bitch.

RIVERS: No, you're a wonderful person. What Barbara Walters says about you is not so.

GRIFFIN: This is going to be great for the Christmas gag reel.


COOPER: They were all great sports to do that.

Time now for the RidicuList and tonight, the honor has to go to lottery fever. It is everywhere. People lining up for a shot at one of the biggest jackpots in U.S. history, $355 million. The odds of winning this thing? One in 176 million. Let me repeat that. One in 176 million.

So a little perspective. The odds of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime are about 1 in 6,000. According to the book of odds, in any given year, there's a better chance of getting killed by a vending machine than winning this lottery. Seriously. This is a warning diagram from the actual vending machine in the actual AC 360 break room.

And then there's what can happen if you do beat the incredible odds and hit the jackpot. You have to beware of the lottery curse. Hurley lived it -- Hurley lived it on "Lost." I wonder how many people are playing those exact numbers in the Mega Millions tonight.

And do I have to remind you what winning the lottery did to "Roseanne"?


LAURIE METCALF, ACTRESS: We won the lottery! I can't believe it!


COOPER: They never recovered after that.

The lottery curse, though, isn't stopping people from standing in line. Some people already know what they're going to do with the millions. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've always wanted to see Europe. That would be nice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Buy me a nice home somewhere where it's a little warmer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got 115,000 on my car, so I could use a new car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lot of job openings if we win.


COOPER: I don't want to be a dream killer, but can I just repeat those odds again? One in 176 million. You're statistically more likely to die in a flash flood while visiting the Grand Canyon.

Of course, unlikely things happen all the time, like this, for instance. Earlier we told you about the 10-year-old girl in Canada, Kathryn Gray, who become -- became the youngest person ever to discover a supernova. Bet the odds of that are pretty slim, too, but much cooler than a miniscule chance of $355 million that might ruin your life anyway. Look at it that way.

Of course now that I've said that, the floor crew here is probably going to win the $355 million, and I'll be all alone here tomorrow, trapped under the vending machine. If that happens, I'll put myself on the RidicuList. But for now, it's got to go to lottery fever.

That's our report tonight. Thanks for watching.

"Parker Spitzer" is next. I'll see you tomorrow night at 9 and 10 Eastern.