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Ted Nugent, James Carville and Debi Mazar, On Tonight; Paula Abdul Opens Up

Aired January 6, 2011 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome to a very special edition, a 9:00 edition of "360." Tonight buckle up. Motor City madman Ted Nugent is back. The author of "Ted, White and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto." Has a lot to say as always. Something tells me tonight will be no exception.

Ted, thanks for coming back.

TED NUGENT, AUTHOR, "TED, WHITE AND BLUE": My pleasure. You deserve me.

COOPER: We -- I deserve you.


COOPER: I'm not sure what I did to deserve you, but I'm glad you're here. We're also going to be joined in a few minutes by actress Debi Mazar. You've seen her on HBO's "Entourage." He's also the co-host of the Cooking Channel show "Extra Virgin."

Ted, try to hold yourself in here.

And in New Orleans Democratic strategist James Carville.

First up tonight, Congress interrupted. A bipartisan recital of the constitution by members of the House was disrupted this morning by so- called birthers who don't believe President Obama is a natural born citizen. Heckling from the visitor's gallery began when New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone started to read Article 2, Section 1 of the constitution which deals with presidential eligibility.

Take a look.


REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: No person except a natural born citizen or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution shall be eligible to be in the office of president. Need to show --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Except Obama. Except Obama. Jesus, help us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair would remind all persons in the gallery that they are here as guests of the House and that any manifestation of approval or disapproval of the proceedings is a violation of the rules of the House.


COOPER: So, Ted, what about this? This woman was shouting, except Obama, except Obama, Jesus, help us. Tell me you're not a birther.

NUGENT: Well, what I am is an American defier. I'm defiant. America is about defying kings and emperors and the status quo of slavery around the world. People came here to be free and exercise our self- evident truth base, god given individual rights.

I like defiers. I like people --

COOPER: You like folks who shout out from the gallery?

NUGENT: No, no. She broke the rules of conduct in that environment.

COOPER: Right.

NUGENT: I do not support that. But I do support we, the people, constantly asking questions and demanding evidence. No, I've never been a birther but my big question today after all this resistance to the demands for confirmation, why not just come out, show me the damn birth certificate. Show me the proof and let's --

COOPER: But they prove -- they've done it.

NUGENT: Let's get over with it. If you demanded it of me, Anderson, I'd go, all right, already, here's the damn paperwork. Now let's get on with our business.

COOPER: Right. But they did that years ago. They got the certificate of a live birth which, if you're from Hawaii, that's what you get.

NUGENT: I don't think that's conclusive.

COOPER: But if you're in the passport office and someone from Hawaii comes in with that and shows it to you, they give you a passport. That's conclusive. Anyone from Hawaii.

NUGENT: You think that documentation is conclusive all around?

COOPER: The Republican governor -- then Republican governor of Hawaii has said on the record the guy was born in Hawaii. I have sent my health direct or to the records room and we've seen the long form original.

NUGENT: Well, you know, I've been busy hunting all year so maybe I missed something.

COOPER: Come on.

NUGENT: But my point would be, if I don't know that what you just told me already existed and has been offered, and she doesn't, there's a whole bunch of people that don't, then why don't we just make it as confirmed and as official as possible in a public forum so that we do put it to rest once and for all?

COOPER: But, James, it's interesting. You know, no amount of -- I mean I've had a lot of folks who consider themselves birthers on. I had a guy named Leo Burman, a state rep, on recently who had a lot of facts but they were -- I mean each of them was just incorrect. And he was a very -- he was a lovely gentleman. He'd served his country. And he's a vet --

NUGENT: And I'm a lovely gentleman.

COOPER: You're a lovely gentleman. But I mean he was just -- he just clung to this belief no matter what facts you presented to him. What do you -- have you ever seen anything like this?

CARVILLE: Yes, sure. Look, of course, they had two newspaper articles the day after he was born that said that he was born. There were people in Louisiana that don't believe anyone landed on the moon. It looks like Arizona to me. I'm not going for this.

And so what -- they show pictures. They've got people walking around. You've got NASA. You got everything. And they've got people who don't believe the earth is round. They've got people that believe that tax cuts pay for themselves, which is a sort of economic equivalent of birtherism.

And so at a point, you just -- these people -- there's nothing you can do about that lady. There's an entire country to go and you just move on. I mean they're just oblivious to anything. And you're right. The problem is, as you ask (INAUDIBLE), Anderson, if you keep arguing with these people.

COOPER: Debi Mazar joins us now from Los Angeles.

Debi, it's good to have you on the program. What do you make of the birthers? You're not a birther, are you?

DEBI MAZAR, HOST, COOKING CHANNEL'S "EXTRA VIRGIN": Thanks for having me. I'm not a birther. I think like Obama, you know, we've already seen the fact that he's got a birth certificate in 2008 when he ran. We've seen the birth certificate and, like, let's move on. Like he's the president of the United States and we've seen it, and what are we now going to take away his children's citizenship as well?

COOPER: Because it's interesting, the people who believe this, who still cling to this say that the birth certificate, the certificate of live birth which was shown, which was presented, which is -- has a raised seal, which has the stamp of the guy from Hawaii, that that's not -- that's not a real birth certificate. That's not good enough.

NUGENT: Is there a better piece of evidence? You know, again, I'm just a guitar player, so bear with me. But if there's a better piece of evidence that everybody would accept, let's see it.

CARVILLE: There is. There is.

MAZAR: I mean you've seen his -- (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Go ahead, Ted.

CARVILLE: There's two newspaper articles the day after he was born.

MAZAR: We've seen his birth certificate, Ted. What more do we need to see?

COOPER: James? What was that?

CARVILLE: I said the day after he was born there were two announcements of births in both Honolulu newspapers. How much more conclusive can you get? I mean I've never seen my birth certificate.

MAZAR: Yes, unless we've seen the birth certificate.

CARVILLE: I'm saying get something from (INAUDIBLE) County where Fort Benning (ph) is. And you know if I've got to go get a passport, that's what I'd give him. I'm a long form, (INAUDIBLE) farmer, the hell it is.

COOPER: James, I want to play you a clip from John Boehner from NBC. It's Brian Williams interviewing him, about the person yelling in the gallery and about this whole issue. Let's watch.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That's good enough for me.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Would you be willing to say that message to the 12 members in your caucus who seem to either believe otherwise or are willing to express doubt and have co-sponsored legislation along --

BOEHNER: Well, Brian, when you come to the Congress of the United States, there are 435 of us. We're nothing more than a slice of America. And people come -- regardless of party labels, they come with all kinds of beliefs and ideas. It's the melting pot of America. It's not up to me to tell them what to think.


COOPER: James, should Boehner --

CARVILLE: Oh, please.

COOPER: -- tell them or be more specific about it?

CARVILLE: That's his job. He's the speaker of the House. They have the Republican majority. They have the Republican whip. Why do you think they call it a whip? Because he goes and whips people in line. If they have some vote --

NUGENT: I like that. CARVILLE: -- he's telling people that -- yes, that's it. That's pretty good, huh?

NUGENT: I'd rather use a crowbar.

CARVILLE: Right. A sledgehammer or something, whatever, a tire tool. Want that, Ted? This is tire tool.

NUGENT: A tire iron. Tire iron.

CARVILLE: That's it. A tire iron. But, at any rate, the job of the speaker is to keep his caucus in line. That's his job. I mean I understand he was trying to -- I don't think Boehner is a bad guy. He's just trying to have it both ways. He's not the first politician in either Republican or Democrat to do that.

NUGENT: Well, Anderson, you know --

CARVILLE: It's his job to get them to the line.

NUGENT: You do all this research. You're our talking head here. You're the guy with all the information. Why do you think -- are you claiming that these people -- does anybody claims, James, that these people that are asking these questions, are they just looney? Are they just defying the evidence?

CARVILLE: Yes, yes.


COOPER: I would not say people are looney.

CARVILLE: They are looney in the toon.

COOPER: James has said the looney, I would just say that look, they have a belief and they're sticking with it. You know you can categorize why James would do that. That's not my job.

But -- I mean my job is to look at the facts and I have yet to see any fact that indicates President Obama is not born anywhere else and I've seen plenty of facts which indicate he is including the birth certificate which is accepted by the U.S. Passport Office.

NUGENT: All right. Well, if Boehner won't do it right here, Ted Nugent at "ANDERSON COOPER 360", everybody get over it. The president is an American. Move on.

COOPER: All right. We're going to move on.

MAZAR: Exactly. I feel the same way.

COOPER: All right. We're going to move on then. We want to talk about the reading of the constitution that took place today. We'll talk about that after a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Back with this special 9:00 edition of "360." With us guitar legend and outspoken activist Ted Nugent, Cooking Channel star and actress Debi Mazar, and CNN contributor James Carville.

Another hot topic today revisiting the -- or revising the 14th Amendment which states that all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and the state where in they reside.

We'll talk about that in a moment, but we want to talk about today on the floor of the House for the first time ever the U.S. constitution being read out.

Ted, did that make any sense at all?

NUGENT: What doesn't make any sense is it's the first time. I would like to think that the conditions in America today that are less than ideal are a direct result of our disconnect from the constitution and, remember, we can't forget, and that's why I so am celebrating that they read the constitution today.

I think it should be a monthly activity and I think it should be certainly a part of every curriculum K-12 in America today.

America is a unique and unprecedented experiment in self-government celebrating those self-evident truths and god-given individual freedoms that are outlined --

COOPER: You don't see it as a political stunt?

NUGENT: Not a political stunt at all. The Tea Party is about getting back to the basis for what makes America the best -- last best place in the world, and it's based on the guidelines of the constitution. Everybody should know this document especially those that work for we, the people. So this has been a great wake-up call.


MAZAR: Well, yes, but they read an amended version, first of all, and they decided what they were going to include and not include. And I find that slightly offensive. I mean, yes, I know you're going like that but they left out, you know, things -- they left out many things.

I mean they left out -- you know they celebrated the idea that, you know, prohibition was gone. They left out prohibition. They left out, you know -- you know the abolition of slavery, they also left out, you know, women equality. I mean there's things that they were quite selective and treated it as if it was the Holy Grail.

And since it was, you know, done over 200 years ago, I think it would have been fair to read the original version to see how we've grown as a country.

NUGENT: I agree with Debi.

MAZAR: And what we fought for. COOPER: Well, James, was this just a stunt in your opinion?

CARVILLE: Well, I guess it was a stunt but a harmless stunt and of all the things to do, it was kind of like funny that the speaker and the majority leader just left to have a press conference while they were reading it than watching it.

You know I took a pretty critical view of it early on Wolf's show. But as I think about it's probably -- you know, it's fine. It doesn't hurt anybody. It's kind of good to reflect on. The constitution doesn't have anything to do with self-evident truths, though. That's not in the constitution.

NUGENT: Well, it doesn't have anything to do with self-evident truths?

CARVILLE: That's the Declaration of Independence. That's a different document, Ted.

NUGENT: I understand that. But the constitution is the guideline for this experiment in self-government which limits the government's control which is why everybody came to America to get out of government control.

CARVILLE: It is very doubtful. One of the things that the history of the constitution has actually filed an Article of Confederation. It came into being to establish a strong federal government. That's the history of it.

We had a weak federal government in this country and it didn't work. We had to get rid of it.

COOPER: Although a lot of folks, a lot of Republicans right now who would like to change or amend, or in their words clarify the 14th Amendment. I read about before yesterday in Washington, D.C. State lawmakers from Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Georgia and Arizona unveiled legislative proposals to change that amendment by denying birthright citizenship to kids of illegal immigrants.

The news conference was actually interrupted several times by protesters. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, with all due respect, sir --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This exclusion of slavery --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, we're having a press conference with additional speakers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 14th Amendment is the most ridiculous --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think it shows the ignorance of this bill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I just want to give you -- here's a copy of our flier and other people here today recognize that this bill is ignorant and wrong. It's inhumane, racist bill and it will be stopped. It will be stopped. I'll tell you that much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- are willing to get on board --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senators, the inscription on the Statue of Liberty reflects openness and a welcoming nature that has made our country great.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sit down. Sit down. Sit down.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do not get physical with me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Young man -- if you will sit down --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're so disrespectful.


NUGENT: I love this stuff. It looks like a (INAUDIBLE) to me. I like defiance. I like people that question stuff. And especially the 14th Amendment. It does go back to slavery. It's about making sure that the children of slaves are official American citizens. And I don't know what that has to do with people that are illegally invading this country.

COOPER: Debi? What about it? Do you think --

MAZAR: Well, I mean, we're built on a country that is a melting pot for immigrants. I mean I'm sure that your family came from some place and somebody came from some place, possibly illegally.

I mean if a woman drags herself through mountains and rivers and crosses the border and finally makes it, I think she should be rewarded citizenship for her child. If you're born in America, you're American. End of story.

COOPER: James, is it --

MAZAR: I mean --

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Is it even possible to change the amendment? I know there are a lot out there who say it's unconstitutional to do this even at the state level.

CARVILLE: Well, that's not it. At state level you can't do it. You can amend the constitution out of the founding fathers, presumed in their wisdom I think has two-thirds of the Congress and three-quarters of the state legislature.

COOPER: Right. But they're looking to do it at state by state. They're looking to do it at the state level.

CARVILLE: You can't do it. I mean the constitution supersedes state law. I mean, Ted would agree with that. A state can't outlaw -- can't outlaw guns if the Second Amendment trumps that. So that couldn't even -- my accepts says even a bad lawyer like me would say that would be kind of difficult to do, but you can -- it's possible. It's been done, what, 24 times or whatever to amend the constitution. It's not easy. The founding fathers didn't want to make it easy. The 14th was an amendment to the constitution.

COOPER: Do you see this as a big issue, James, coming down the next two years?

CARVILLE: I see it as one of these things that people are going to, you know, continue to talk about. If unemployment goes down to 4.5 percent, it will be less of a big issue.

MAZAR: It's part and parcel to the immigration controversy right now. And again, I've got to tell you from the streets that I walk, we just don't believe that a person who got here illegally by any means should be an official citizen of the United States of America until they go through the procedure.


MAZAR: That's not what he's talking about. He's talking about --

CARVILLE: You've got to get -- you've to amend the constitution to fix that because the constitution is very clear.

NUGENT: Understood. I say we work on it.


CARVILLE: The constitution doesn't leave any room for doubt.

COOPER: Although, James, they are saying -- I mean, and George Will wrote an article about that this week saying that you don't need to change the constitution, that basically it's a misrepresentation of some of the wording of the 14th Amendment and that the wording actually --

CARVILLE: But the wording in the 14th Amendment -- right. The 14th Amendment didn't say the children of slaves shall be citizens. Anybody born in the United States shall be a citizen thereof. It doesn't -- I don't have it in front of me, but it strikes me having read it today as it doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room.

NUGENT: I say George Will knows what he's talking about.


COOPER: His idea is that it's people who are born here and not subject to any foreign power essentially and that the wording of it is referencing, though it doesn't say that. It's -- it would imply that kids of illegal immigrants are actually under the jurisdiction of a foreign power and therefore it's not just that they were born here. It's that they're --


CARVILLE: Look, he's a smart guy and somebody could take it to the Supreme Court and, you know, who knows what these guys will find. But my own, you know, amateur reading of it is it seems to me to be pretty clear, people watching our show can go and call it up on their Google or whatever, iPad or whatever they've got.

COOPER: Do you have an iPad, Ted?

NUGENT: I do but I don't know how to work it. My son's got it. (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Yes? All right. We're going to take a quick break. We'll have more with Ted and Debi and James Carville from New Orleans.

A new report on the gulf oil spill. The blame is put on a system wide failure of the government as well. So is BP getting off easy on this one? More from the panel coming up.


COOPER: Welcome back to a special 9:00 edition of "360." Back with me rock star and red stater Ted Nugent, author of "Ted, White and Blue," Cooking Channel star and actress, Debi Mazar, and Democratic strategist James Carville.

Debi, what do you make about BP and there's now a report out about the entire BP spill basically kind of putting blame across the board. Do you feel like the real story -- do we yet know the full extent of the damage of that thing?

MAZAR: Well, you know, as the average viewer who sits at home and wonders what's going on, when it was happening, I thought, why are we letting corporations control our environment? I wondered why our government did not step in sooner. Why can't we, with our scientific research and all of our access to things, why can't we help plug this?

Why are we not -- why don't we know anything at this point of what happened to the people, what happened to the businesses, what happened to the wildlife? When those birds fell from the sky and the fish, I thought, hmm, is that from like some oil thing? Like oil would travel and make its way to Europe. Does this have something to do with the oil? You know what has happened to the families and the communities and who is cleaning up the mess. Like the ball just sort of dropped. And I'm really happy that it's coming back up because I would like an answer.

I'm like James, you know, you live in the thick of it.

COOPER: Yes, I mean --

MAZAR: And, you know --

COOPER: Yes, James, I mean to her point, I mean the report called the accident a system wide problem, a failure of everyone involved from BP to Halliburton to the federal government.


COOPER: Now the causes are identified, do you think the government is doing enough to ensure that this stuff doesn't happen again? What did you make of this report?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, I think that Commissioner Riley and Senator Graham, are conscientious patriotic people and I give them -- and I'm anxious to see when the full report comes out.

You couldn't have a massive mess-up like this without a lot of people being complicit in it. Certainly the government was complicit. They have regulatory caps (ph). All companies basically bought off all of the people in MS. Out there with drugs on rigs according to the report and inspector general going to football (INAUDIBLE) thing.

BP certainly the primary (INAUDIBLE) here but I expect Halliburton and Transocean, a lot of people were getting into, a lot of people were making a lot of money out there were operating equipment in a manner that they had no business doing it. And I thank God we got some very aggressive lawyers down here and I expect they're going to hold their feet to the fire.

COOPER: Yes, James, BP seemed pretty quick to point out in the statement today that they weren't the only ones at fault for the catastrophe.


CARVILLE: They might not have been the only ones but they got a good bit of it. They can go ahead and slug it out between -- remember when all those guys went to Washington and they all started pointing at each other? Well, I mean, that's what you have here today, but I think this report is going to be a good start.

Debi is right. We don't know -- I don't think those birds falling from the sky in Arkansas have to do with the oil spill but, you know, they sure have tar balls on beaches now all over the place and we're going to be dealing with this for a long time.

We don't know the long-term health consequences of it. We need tens of millions of dollars at least on research, maybe hundreds of millions, so this thing is a long way from over. And hopefully tomorrow --

COOPER: And --


COOPER: And Ted, I mean, it's still impacting folks all around the region. I talked to someone from Grand Isle just the other day who was saying, you know, business is yet to really bounce back. We're still waiting, hoping, you know, tourists will come and--

NUGENT: Well, it's a heartbreaker. But if I could bring a utilitarian perspective here.

COOPER: As I knew you would.

NUGENT: I have a truck that can (INAUDIBLE) exactly 600 yards to the gallon. So I'm like altogether glutinous Americans who just keep sucking up all the raw crude.

COOPER: What kind of truck do you drive?

NUGENT: You can possibly -- I drive -- you name it, I drive it.


NUGENT: I drive all the big three and then some. But the point is, my heart was broken. I'm a hunter, a trapper, a fisherman, a waterfall hunter, so I have a direct connection to the quality of the air, soil and water that feeds my family.

COOPER: You probably spend more time in the environment than most of us.

NUGENT: I spend more time in the swamp than the muskrats do. I mean I would be a (INAUDIBLE) down there with James. But I also have to admit, as Debi has to admit, the corporations are providing our demand. We are demanding this. And the safety record of BP and drilling in the Gulf has been just wonderful.

I wish that the roller coasters in America had a safety record as good as the oil drillers out there.

CARVILLE: I can't, Ted, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't -- I wouldn't tout BP's safety record.

NUGENT: Well, but they have -- I think the percentage is minute.


CARVILLE: If you spend a lot of time -- by the way, I drove one of those Chevy Volt yesterday out in Phoenix? The electric thing? Those cars, you should try one of those. They've got a lot of pep, man. You can scoot in that thing.

COOPER: I don't think you're going to convince -- I don't think you're going to convince Ted to get an electric vehicle.

NUGENT: I am going to make a charm bracelet out of eight of them. But ultimately Americans are consuming massive amounts of energy and they're providing the energy that we're demanding.

Yes, do we have to upgrade the procedure so it's more environmentally responsible? Of course we do, and that should never end. But currently I've got to tell you to shut down the oil drilling in the Gulf, to shut down the energy production is counter to the claim that we want to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.


NUGENT: I think we've got to go wild and get more energy from our own grounds and our own waterloo.

MAZAR: Well, absolutely. I mean we have to have sustainable energy. I mean look at Brazil. They are completely almost independent with sugar cane. I mean I don't understand why with the disaster like this BP is then allowed to go drill, again, in another area close to us.

To me it seems insane that we're not stopping this and figuring out how we can avoid another disaster like this. I mean the risk is just too -- it's too great.

COOPER: Although, James, you know, for folks down there, as you well know and you can tell us better than anyone, you know, offshore oil drilling is a huge part of the economy.

CARVILLE: It's a huge part of the economy, whatever it is, we're not getting off hydro carbons anytime soon and this is an integral part of the United States energy supply but you can't do it with oil companies buying off regulators. You can't do it with oil companies acting irresponsible and not wanting to be held accountable. And that's why we have -- this thing has to proceed through the courts here and justice has to be done.

And you know when you do that and you get people's attention, they're less likely to do it again. So we need -- we need really good regulation down here and we need very, very aggressive plaintiff's law that hold everybody's feet to the fire. The combination of those two things, I bet you we get safe drilling.

COOPER: We only got about a minute left, I just want to end on a lighter note. Just two lotto winners won the $355 million jackpot. If you won that, Ted, what would you do with the money?


NUGENT: I'd start an oil company and start drilling the Gulf.


COOPER: Debi, if you won -- if you won $355 million, what would you do? MAZAR: Well, I would probably give like half to charity and then with the other half have a great life. With the charities, I will give back to the homeless, to education, to health care. I would just try to help fix the country. That's a lot money.

COOPER: James, what would you do?

CARVILLE: One guy won $10 million and said I'm going to take $9 million and spend on women and booze and the other million just throw it away -- probably my favorite lottery winner.

COOPER: All right, Ted, Debbie, James, I appreciate you guys doing this. Thanks very much. I appreciate it. Tomorrow another special edition of "360" at 9:00. The host of Discovery Channel's "Man Versus Wild." You should go out with him. That would be a cool show to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could handle that.

COOPER: Bill Grill joins me for some incredible stories of survival and reveals how he stays alive in some of the world's most dangerous places. Watch this.


COOPER: Have you ever been on a trip and doubted yourself or your ability?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I wouldn't be seen if I didn't have one of those moments of doubt and every day when we're filming I'm totally scared and thinking what the hell am I doing in this place. Those are normal emotions when you are up against life and I think a big part of survival is acknowledging, but trying to smile your way through them and come out the other side. Hard to survive without never quitting. That's really the meat of it.


COOPER: We have some great video of him eating this it grub that just explodes in his mouth. It's pretty cool. We'll have more from Bear Grylls tomorrow night. We're going to hear from people who survived by using the skills Bear showed in his "Man Versus Wild." A kid who survived on a mountain top. He'd been watching the show for about five years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hailed a cab in Manhattan today and I survived.

COOPER: Come on. We have great cab service here in Manhattan. Up next, my interview with Paula Abdul. We'll cover a lot of ground. Everything from her new reality show "Live To Dance" and from showing up in that Bruno movie. How did she wind up in that situation? Stick around.


COOPER: This week Paula Abdul opened a new chapter in her career with a new series called "Live to Dance." She started her career, you probably know, as a choreographer, worked with stars like Janet Jackson and transitioned into becoming a singer herself.

She's had a lot of ups and downs in the spotlight but found new fame as a judge on "American Idol," one of the most popular TV shows of the past decade. Earlier, I had a chance to sit down with Paula Abdul and talk about her career as well as the rumors about drinking and drug use.


COOPER: Do you worry doing a new show that it was going to be compared to "American Idol"?

PAULA ABDUL, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, CBS "LIVE TO DANCE": I didn't walk into this new show even thinking would there be comparisons as to "American Idol."

COOPER: It's going to go at some point head-to-head.

ABDUL: Yes, midway through the planning process we found that out and, you know, I always say this. I feel blessed to be part of a genre of shows that actually give audiences an opportunity to understand talent in the art form and what it takes to be tenacious and strive to do your best and, also, you know, when I was trying to start out, there were no shows other than "Star Search" that allowed for a talent competition.

COOPER: Did you used to watch that show?

ABDUL: Actually, yes. I used to watch "Star Search," but even when I was a little girl I used to watch with my mom "The Gong Show."

COOPER: Right.

ABDUL: And when I was 7 years old I remember practicing. You're a grand old flag and picking up my flute and playing.

COOPER: You played the flute?

ABDUL: I did and I used to cry, if I don't get on "The Gong Show" I'll never make it. And it's just so funny. It's like smash cut to all these years later now the show "American Idol," which when we first started ten years ago we were accused of being, you know, we were ruing the recording industry.

COOPER: That's what people said there were a lot of critics about it.

ABDUL: And they were calling us Velveeta cheese and I said, have I ever told you guys I really love Velveeta cheese? I mean, to me, that became the magic of the show and I am proud to be a part of this.

COOPER: I got to say, when you left "American Idol" I kind of stopped watching.

ABDUL: You did? COOPER: I really did. I would watch and I have nothing against -- I thought Ellen did an amazing job and both did a good job but I missed the interaction between you and Simon. I missed the interaction between you and Simon. I missed the whole thing. I missed you crying in weird moments and, like, saying things I didn't really understand but were great.

ABDUL: You know what, Anderson, it's funny --

COOPER: I say that in a nice way.

ABDUL: This British guy comes along and says, you'll be the equivalent of musical wallpaper. You are the equivalent of musical wallpaper and yet I'm the one that no one understands. Go figure.

COOPER: I want to show you a moment of "American Idol" of you that I love. Watch.


ABDUL: Celebrate what this competition is all about and, you know, I spent the day yesterday watching the tapes when everyone first started. And you've moved me from the beginning, but you are just handsome, evolved performer that -- you are an American idol.


COOPER: See, those are the moments I liked from "American Idol." I didn't get what you were trying to say, but I love the fact you were kind of in your element.

ABDUL: That's me over some talent that is just I'm in awe. I'm in awe over Eliot. Here he is a guy that -- he I could go on and on about some of these contestants.

COOPER: Do you miss doing the show?

ABDUL: It's not that I miss doing the show. I feel like -- I feel very blessed to have been part of something that was history making.

COOPER: Was it scary to leave that? I mean, did you feel I may not work again at this level? Did you fear that kind of thing?

ABDUL: You know, this industry can make you believe that you may not ever work again.

COOPER: It does that very well to a lot of people.

ABUL: A lot of people. But, luckily for me, I've always been the underdog and I've had a constant believing in myself when others haven't.

COOPER: And that's the key, you think?

ABDUL: Well, that's been the key to my success.

COOPER: If people make fun of you, does it hurt?

ABDUL: The only thing that can hurt is if I allow it to hurt me. It's up to me. I can't be concerned to always chase what the press is going to say about me. I can only be me. I say quirky things. I'm a quirky girl. A lot of that allows for me to be, you know, misunderstood.

COOPER: As you know, there were rumors during "Idol" if you said something, you know, lost your train of thought, people said you were -- you had been on drugs or you were drinking. I just read a headline of an interview you said you've never been drunk in your life.

ABDUL: It's probably kind of an uninteresting thing, a fact.

COOPER: How is that possible to never have been drunk in your life?

ABDUL: I've never had an interest in it. And, you know, for me, this sounds square and everything like that. I don't judge anybody. As far as I'm concerned, creative people have -- I've been around creative people and working professionally since I was 17. Trust me, I've been around a lot. I've seen a lot. For me, I took my work very seriously.

COOPER: I want to show something from "Saturday Night Live" because we talked about people poking fun at you and stuff and I want to see what you think about this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a great style. I just wasn't feeling it. I'm sorry, I say no to Hollywood.


COOPER: Was that -- when you see that, did that -- to be mocked by "Saturday Night Live" is an honor.

ABDUL: It's an honor. By the way, to be mocked for season after season after season, you know, sometimes we all -- Randy, Simon, Ryan and I would laugh, sometimes they are better than we are. So it is an honor. You have to have levity and part of my quirkiness is I choose to not take myself so seriously because I have to have fun.


COOPER: We'll have more of my interview with Paula Abdul after the break including her embarrassing appearance in the movie "Bruno." How did she ever end up in that?


COOPER: We're now with my interview with Paula Abdul. She's one has been busy woman over the course of these past few years even making an embarrassing cameo appearance in "Bruno." I asked her about how that train wreck started. We started by talking about her new TV show.


COOPER: So "Live to Dance," how is it different than other dance shows out there?

ABDUL: After I left "Idol" I wanted to take some time to kind of reflect on where does my passion lie again, what moves me. And I always felt like if I have my bucket list at the top of my bucket list would have to be a dance show. I mean, it would be just not fair if I didn't get a chance to produce a dance show.

COOPER: What else is on that bucket list, by the way?

ABDUL: Lots of things.

COOPER: Besides being on CNN.

ABDULL: Well, Anderson, truth be told, I've wanted to be interviewed by you, truthfully. And I told you off camera here that I made the biggest fool out of myself thinking you were on my flight and actually going up to what I perceived to be you and just poured out how much I'm a big fan only to hear a guy go, I bet you think I'm Anderson.

COOPER: It was some pale, skinny, gray-haired person. I want to play a clip from "Live to Dance."


ABDUL: I want different. I want new. I want amazing people to live in their unique ability. Who is bold enough to go out there and show me something I've never seen before? Come on.


ABDUL: It's pretty stunning that our auditions we put such production value so that these talented acts could come and actually feel like they were really performing and in front of a live audience.

COOPER: And there's two -- you don't call yourselves judges, you are experts, is that right?

ABDUL: Yes. The reason being is that I never considered myself a judge. I became a judge and one of the most famous judges that was my title, but I've always been a mentor and a coach.

COOPER: Is there a mean expert on the panel? Do you think it's a different vibe?

ABDUL: It's a whole different vibe. It's not about being mean or being kind or nice. It's about lending expertise.

COOPER: I also want to show one of your videos. I think it's from the huge hit "Opposites Attract." Do you keep in touch with MC Sky Cat?

ABDUL: You know, he's on permanent memory dial, and we kind of have Twitter. We tweet back and forth. He's coming back. COOPER: He's coming back. All right, maybe 2011. I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about appearing in "Bruno."

ABDUL: It's so funny. We were just talking about that.

COOPER: Here is a clip.

ABDUL: Great.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mexican chair people. Demi Moore has them in her house. Yes, if you sit here, if you sit on him. So tell me about your humanitarian -- how important is it for you to help other people?

ABDUL: Helping other people is so vital to my life, the water that I drink, it is extremely, extremely important for me.


COOPER: So how did you wind up in that situation without knowing --

ABDUL: First of all. I'm a huge Sasha fan. Some of the most brilliant --

COOPER: It's painful to watch. The show I used to watch a lot, it's painful to watch sometimes because you see these people in these situations and you're just -- for me, my heart goes out to them. That situation I was like, my God, who got you -- who put you in this situation?

ABDUL: It was one of those situations, Anderson, you'll appreciate this. I hear that I'm going to be honored as international entertainer of the year, German television show. I'm like, I want to go pick up that award. It sounds really good right now. It's very appealing. So I'm told that it's going to be at this home and it's a quirky of a -- like a host, you know, don't -- don't be -

COOPER: They said just roll with it.

ABDUL: Just roll with it, and I was with my then-publicist, as I clarify then-publicist, no longer, like eight days before this movie opened up. My new publicist and management calls, have you ever worked with Sasha Baron Cohen?

I said no, but I'm a big fan. Why? Well, "People" magazine and "Entertainment Weekly" and "USA Today" they wanted to know how did it feel being pranked by Sasha Baron Cohen. I said, I've never met him. They said, we didn't think so. That night I fall asleep.

I woke up like a springboard at 2:30 in the morning in a pool of sweat and I ran down to the computer and I punched in Bruno and there's that character and I'm freaking out and that's how I found out a week before the movie came out.

COOPER: It would be like miles away from your home and we would hear the scream like late a home when he realize Bruno -

ABDUL: Absolutely.

COOPER: You're a great person. I wish a lot of success.

ABDUL: Thank you very much.

COOPER: Thanks. Appreciate it.


COOPER: That's Paula Abdul. Up next, Piers Morgan. Tonight, he turns on me and starts asking me questions. Within a short period of time, he was able to ask some very personal and very poignant questions. Watch the interview coming up and I think you'll see why all of us here at CNN are incredibly excited for his new program.


COOPER: All week long in this special edition of 360, we've been getting to know Piers Morgan. His new program "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" takes over this time slot here on CNN beginning Monday January 17th, and I'm really excited about it.

Oprah is going to be his first guest, but tonight I'm his guest. I want you to watch this brief interview he did with me, and watch how quickly he's able to get some surprisingly personal and poignant stories from me. To be honest, I didn't expect his questions at all and I'm really impressed with his interviewing style.


PIERS MORGAN: So, Anderson, obviously you're the poster boy for CNN.

COOPER: Is that right?

MORGAN: So you told me. But --

COOPER: It does say that on my business cards.

MORGAN: I was curious, though, because before I was passing my own assault on the 9:00 p.m. slot, they said you've got to watch one of Anderson's show. I got ready to watch this guy I knew from Katrina, Haiti, probably one of the most respected news journalists in the world. I was horrified because you appeared to be wearing a giant rabbit outfit and trying to give bananas to Guerillas.

COOPER: You can understand why this was confusing. It was a bit of a shock and you probably had second thoughts about coming to CNN.

MORGAN: I had to ring the suits, as Larry called them.

COOPER: You thought it was a public access show in the United States sort of after midnight.

MORGAN: To me your greatest moment was the Katrina period when you came of your own there. Is that your greatest moment as a journalist? Not great as in lauding yourself, but the moment you felt was most significant to your career.

COOPER: I'd say it's probably the moment when I understood the job better than I ever had before. I mean, I'd spent a lot of time overseas. I'd been in the genocide in Rwanda and places where terrible things were happening.

But to be in a position where you're ahead of relief workers, ahead of the response, talk to politicians in charge of this stuff saying things which are not true, that was the first time I felt, you know what? I'm in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

Probably the only other time I felt that was in Haiti. This is downtown Port-Au-Prince, just a few blocks from the presidential palace. Being sort of the first team on the ground and really seeing things and seeing things not going right and call them out and try to get them to change.

MORGAN: How much pressure do you feel to keep it honest yourself?

COOPER: How do you mean?

MORGAN: You must be almost saint-like now, because you can't be dishonest at all. All of us lie at least ten times a day. You can't. You can't even get into a restaurant saying anything wrong. Have you to be completely honest.

COOPER: I've just stopped talking to people altogether so I don't have to say anything one way or another. But, you know, on the program, I mean, I really do feel a responsibility to be tough equally on Republicans, Democrats.

I think - right now, it's easy to have a show, which say liberal show or conservative show and to shove your opinion down somebody's throat. I'm not somebody of strong political opinions. I really do believe there's a role for not taking sides, but being the only side being siding with the viewer and siding with facts. And that's what I'm, you know, very dogmatic about.

MORGAN: What's been the greatest moment of your life? The one you'd relive again before you die?


MORGAN: The single moment.

COOPER: Wow. Let me think about that. Honestly, professionally, I'd say the greatest moment was, and this is going to sound weird, but was being in Haiti that first week after the earthquake. Because I think there's nothing worse than seeing people who have lived good and decent lives dying, be crushed, and their bodies put away into dump trucks and dumped, literally dumped on to the side of a road.

And no one knows their name, no one knows their past, no one knows what will ever happen to them. And to be in a position where you could try to help people and actually call out those who are doing that sort of stuff and try to make a difference, to me, professionally, that was the moment when I felt, I'm -- this is exactly what I want to be doing with my life.

And personally the greatest moment -- you know, I think for -- I think for, I lost my dad when I was 10, and I think for any kid who loses a parent at an early age, you know, I think it is transformative, it changes. I think the person I was meant to be -- the person I am now is very different than the person I was meant to be before my dad died.

So if I could relive any moment it would probably be, you know, some -- some of the few memories I have of him when we were all together as a family and just, you know, hanging out watching TV and as a kid I used to watch TV and lay my head on his stomach and I remember like listening to him breathe while watching TV. So it would be something like that.


COOPER: Part of the conversation I had with Piers Morgan just a couple of days ago. The countdown is on, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" this program premieres in 11 days, Monday, January 17th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific right here on CNN with Oprah as his first guest.