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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Interview With Actor Jim Caviezel; President Bush Seeks to Outlaw Gay Marriage

Aired February 24, 2004 - 20:00   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Paula Zahn.
The world, the news, the names, the faces, and where we go from here on this February 24, 2004.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): "In Focus" tonight, the man who plays Jesus is here to address all the criticism and his amazing true stories on screen and off filming one of the most controversial movies ever made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I now pronounce you spouses for life.

ZAHN: Also, the president says gay marriage must be outlawed.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.

ZAHN: Critics call it a political stunt. Supporters say it's pure conviction.

And part two of our special series "Intelligence Under Fire" -- tonight, clues missed in the hunt for WMD in Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And all that ahead tonight. Plus, I'll tell you whether Martha Stewart will end up taking the stand in her criminal trial, and we'll continue our series on the real stories behind the Oscar nominees.

First, though, here's what you need to know right now at this hour.

Opposition leaders in Haiti have rejected a U.S.-backed plan to end the bloody civil strife in that country. They're not happy the proposal doesn't require President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to step down. They will meet again tomorrow to draw up a counterproposal.

Morocco's interior minister is now counting at least 564 people dead from the magnitude-6.5 earthquake that struck earlier today in the north. Because the men in the area mainly work overseas, most of the dead are women and children.

The directors of the CIA and FBI have told the Senate Intelligence Committee that terrorist networks are damaged but still capable of targeting American interests. CIA Director George Tenet said today his agency had uncovered chilling plots time and time again. He said catastrophic attacks on the scale of September 11 remain within al Qaeda's reach.

But "In Focus" tonight, "The Passion of the Christ and the passions the film is stirring. Mel Gibson's depiction of the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus finally opens in 2,800 theaters nationwide tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. The film has been praised for its Christian message and criticized for its treatment of Jews and an R rating for its gruesomeness. The distributor says 10 million tickets have been sold in advance. Let's take a look together.

ZAHN: Joining us now is actor Jim Caviezel, who portrays Jesus in the controversial picture, clean-shaven, free of all that dirt and grime.

Good to see you. Welcome.

JIM CAVIEZEL, ACTOR: Good to see you. Happy birthday.

ZAHN: Oh, thank you very much. Who told you that? No one I know.

CAVIEZEL: A little bird.

ZAHN: I didn't tell him that.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about the movie.

CAVIEZEL: Sure.

ZAHN: What is the message that you want a moviegoer to walk away with?

CAVIEZEL: Well, certainly, that it is not anti-Semitic. This film is about faith, hope, love and forgiveness.

And when we went out to set out to make this film, we wanted people to have a visceral effect or reaction of what really went on.

ZAHN: What do you say, though, to -- and I know you've heard the criticism -- to the Jews who feel that it's a very brutal treatment and that it is overtly anti-Semitic?

CAVIEZEL: Well, first of all, our holy father said (SPEAKING SLAVIC), Slavic for "It is as it was." And it is. And the spokesperson for the holy see has said so.

And there are many Jews that have seen this film and loved this film, and this is a part of our faith, Christ crucified. This is our faith. It is not meant to offend, even though Christ himself did offend people, and it cost him his life. But he had handed himself over to be -- to die for all of our sins. And this is the most sacred part of our faith.

ZAHN: Do you think the depiction of the Jews in this film and Romans is an accurate picture or simply Mel Gibson's interpretation of what he believes that history to have been?

CAVIEZEL: I believe that there are good people in life, there are indifferent people in life, and there are evil people. And, in this film, you will see all those characters in this film. That's one of the first things that I said to Mel Gibson.

All the people that are coming up to me, this is what I noticed when I was on that cross. I saw those three figures down below, and I thought that, still to this day, that still exists. But as far as the people standing before Pontius Pilate screaming out for his death, do not condemn an entire race for the death of Christ, any more than the heinous acts of Mussolini condemn all Italians or the acts of Stalin condemn all Russians. We're all culpable in the death of Christ, all of our sins.

ZAHN: Do you believe, though, that the message of Christ's sacrifice, as you see it, and then the hope and renewal that sprung from that, is drowned out by the overt violence in this film?

CAVIEZEL: Well, it's not intended to be just -- many people look at this and say, well, this is gratuitous violence, but we don't see it that way.

It is a sacrifice, the greatest sacrifice. This is a love story between a mother and a son. And, certainly, it isn't just for religious people. When you go into the Vatican and you see the Pieta of this young 24-year-old Michelangelo, you don't have to be religious to appreciate this great piece of art. You don't even need to be an artist. It's meant for all people. This film is for all people for all time.

ZAHN: You are a devout Catholic, a very spiritual man. How did that inform your portrayal of Christ?

CAVIEZEL: I went into this like every film.

I work as a craftsman. Mel didn't pick me because I was religious. He didn't know about my background, nor did he pick Maia Morgenstern, who's a Jewish-Rumanian actress.

ZAHN: Actually, you thought you were auditioning for some surfer film, right?

CAVIEZEL: That's correct.

I went in and met with Steve McEveety, the producer of the movie. And we were talking about a surfer movie. And then Mel Gibson shows up and he sits down. And I was taken aback. And I said, hey, man, how are you? And we started talking about this. And I said, you want me to play Jesus, don't you? And he said, yes. And that's when it all started.

ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about what you were exposed to during the filming of this film. You were struck by lightning.

CAVIEZEL: Yes.

ZAHN: You were accidentally flogged. You dislocated your shoulder while you were trying to carry the 150-pound cross. You caught pneumonia wearing only a loin cloth in the middle of the winter.

CAVIEZEL: Yes.

ZAHN: The list goes on and on. Was there some sort of divine message, as you see it, being sent to you?

CAVIEZEL: I know this much. If I hadn't had gone through that suffering, you wouldn't have seen the same performance. In a weird way, it forced me into the arms of God. I had nowhere else to go.

ZAHN: Did you find it odd? Did you find it creepy that all of those things came together during the filming of "The Passion of the Christ"?

CAVIEZEL: Yes, I guess. But, at the same time, you're thinking your director's very sick and tired as well. And I, at that point, was like, OK, you know, I've trained my whole life to do this, and I took it one day at a time.

When I got struck by lightning, I just looked up in the air. I was like, well, you didn't like that take, eh, you know? And as soon as that happened and Mel was yelling, and the makeup, the hair was like standing -- I looked like Bozo the Clown. So...

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: But was there something chilling about that? Or did you really laugh it off?

CAVIEZEL: Well, yes, it was chilling, but I was grateful I was still around.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Yes, I bet. You didn't bite the dust on that one.

Playing Jesus has not necessarily been a good thing for actors along the way. You knew you were going to take on a role that was going to be extremely controversial and that you, in many ways, would be a lightning rod. How do you think this is going to impact your career, besides...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Yes, exactly -- a supreme conductor of electricity.

CAVIEZEL: I don't know what actor would have turned a role like this down. But, at the same time, the gospel is very sacred to me. So Mel Gibson, if he would have come in and said, Jim, I have this great take on the gospels, and Jesus is going to walk down the street and go into Domino's Pizza, I wasn't interested in that.

I wanted something that was accurate to the account, so if anything was attacked, at least I could go back and say, no, it's there. This is what we believe in. You know, I...

ZAHN: Final question about the violence. Do you think you would achieve the same message with less brutality on screen?

CAVIEZEL: No. It had to be. It is as it was.

ZAHN: Jim Caviezel, thank you very much for sharing the filming of the story with us tonight.

CAVIEZEL: Thank you. It's a pleasure.

ZAHN: Appreciate your dropping by.

"The Passion of the Christ" opens in 2,800 theaters tomorrow. It's expected to gross $30 to $50 million in the first five days of release, surpassing the $25 million of his own money that Mel Gibson put into it. But the movie continues to draw criticism for what some say is anti-Semitism and excessive violence.

Here to weigh in on this is New York film critic David Denby. He also writes for "The New Yorker," author of the book "American Sucker."

Welcome.

DAVID DENBY, "THE NEW YORKER": Hi.

ZAHN: Good to see you.

Let's share with our audience what you have had to say about the film. You call it sadomasochistic, appalling -- quote -- "religious fanaticism." You say that the movie Gibson has made from his personal obsessions is a sickening death trip.

Why so harsh?

DENBY: Well, I hope people read the whole review, because it's 2,000 words, and I worked this out in great detail.

ZAHN: Sure. Sure.

DENBY: It's really a kind of essay.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But you have to concede that is harsh language.

DENBY: The crucifixion of Christ was an extremely violent act, of course.

The question is, how do you represent it? And Christian artists since about the 4th Century A.D. have been struggling with this problem. And people like da Vinci and Michelangelo and Goya, and Caravaggio, all these great artists, they were not timid man. It's not as if Mel Gibson has the courage to do what they didn't have the courage to do.

But they didn't represent it with this degree of violence, anything like it, because they knew the dangers of taking away from the spiritual meaning and inducing a kind of fascination with physical destruction of a body.

And what you're watching here for two hours with some pauses and some flashbacks to the Sermon on the Mount and the Last Supper, which have very little spiritual resonance, very little power, what you're basically watching is the torture of a young man to death.

ZAHN: Is it possible that's all Mel Gibson wants the moviegoer to understand?

DENBY: No, I don't think that's all he wants, but that's certainly his obsession and his take.

And given the fact that he's been beaten up and mashed and disemboweled in so many of his earlier movies, it's fair to assume that these are his obsessions. After all, in the gospels, the flagellation and scourging of Christ is just a sentence. It's just a line. There are sequences here that go on in slow motion, Paula, for a lot of the shots for 10 minutes, with all of the emotional resources of cinema, music, color -- and the cinematography is fantastic.

I don't think this is a movie without talent, by the way. I think a lot of it looks fantastic. I think it does have a kind of grim power in certain scenes. But I found it utterly depressing. And I don't know what -- you know, like children, people are taking their children to this. It's R-rated.

ZAHN: Sure.

DENBY: But you can take your children. What kind of experience this is going to be for them and how their parents are going to say watching someone flogged to death is a great religious experience, I mean, that shocks me.

ZAHN: Is there anything else positive you can say about the film, about the acting in the film?

DENBY: I don't think one looks at the acting. I think Jim, who was just on, was terrific in "The Thin Red Line." I think the physical performance he gives, which is really a disintegration of his body, is remarkable.

But I can't say much about the rest of it. The rest of it is just faces, because, after all, it's all in Aramaic and Hebrew, so we don't get speak -- the fabulous words of Jesus that we know from reading the Bible in English in whatever translation. It's all distanced so to make it more of a visual experience and less of Jesus' wisdom and spiritual message.

ZAHN: Do you think the film is anti-Semitic?

DENBY: This is a very touchy issue.

I think they did a lot of things -- and this has been detailed by Jon Meacham in the fantastic "Newsweek" cover story three weeks ago. And I would urge all viewers to read it. I think they did a lot of things, Gibson and the screenwriter, to increase the role of the Jewish priests, the Pharisees, and decrease the role of the Roman leader, Pontius Pilate, in the decision to crucify Jesus Christ.

For instance, the way it's played, it seems like the Jews are manipulating Pontius Pilate. They were terrified of Pontius Pilate. He was a particularly cruel governor. This was a Roman colony. They were constantly trying to appease him. So, in other words, it makes it look as if they're playing him and manipulating him.

And then they show up at the scourging and the crucifix, and that is not in the gospels. So it does -- the alleged responsibility of the Jews for the death of Christ has been used as the kickoff point for persecutions of the Jews for 2,000 years.

ZAHN: Do you think the controversy of this movie has sparked will in the end look like probably one of the best marketing campaigns you've ever seen?

DENBY: Well, obviously it is. And I think it's been very shrewdly marketed from the beginning, shown to selective groups and so on, intending to cause a controversy, and it has.

ZAHN: David Denby, thanks you for your insights tonight.

DENBY: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: Appreciate your dropping by.

More on this controversial movie tonight on "NEWSNIGHT." This, Saturday, "CNN PRESENTS: The Mystery of Jesus." The documentary narrated by Liam Neeson explores some of the key questions surrounding the historical Jesus. See it Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Still to come here, the Martha Stewart trial gives us a peek inside the expense account of the woman who wrote the book on living well. And we finally get an answer on whether she will take the stand.

President Bush seizes the issue of gay marriage by suggesting a constitutional ban. Why now? And what does it say about his campaign?

And years before September 11, did the CIA ignore a tip about one of the hijackers? Did they really have his name and phone number?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: The big news tonight in the Martha Stewart trial, she will not take the stand. To fill us in on today's developments, let's catch up with senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Sharon Cotliar of "People" magazine.

Welcome, both.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Hi.

SHARON COTLIAR, "PEOPLE": Hello.

ZAHN: Why isn't she going to testify?

TOOBIN: Because they think -- the defense thinks they're better off without her than with her. And I think it's the right decision, regardless of how this turns out.

ZAHN: What are they afraid of?

TOOBIN: She has contradicted herself. Her stated position is in contradicted to other people in the evidence. I just think there's too much to explain. Better to leave it vague and let her lawyers argue at this point.

ZAHN: Now, in addition to our learning this, you also say there was a Perry Mason moment in the courtroom today. What happened?

TOOBIN: You know, I come here every day. It was a new bombshell. I swear I'm not making it up. But this case is just absolutely sensational.

OK, yesterday, you remember the big news was her personal financial person, Heidi DeLuca, said, I had a conversation with Peter Bacanovic on November 8, talking about a deal to sell the stock ImClone at 60 or 61, corroborating her story in a big day. And she said, I have notes to prove it.

Well, the government brought not the notes that the defense brought in, but the original copy of the notes. And they put the notes up on the screen. And then they zoomed in on one little thing at the bottom that the defense didn't show.

ZAHN: And that was?

TOOBIN: It was a date, October 24, '01, not November 8. And why that is so significant -- first, it shows that Heidi DeLuca doesn't know what she was talking about. But second...

ZAHN: Could it suggest that the date was changed?

TOOBIN: Not, it's not that it was changed, but it was that she was selling stock from her pension account, an entirely separate transaction, selling ImClone in October, having nothing to do with the sale of stock at issue in this case.

I thought her testimony was blown out of the water. Michael Schachter, the prosecutor, did one of the best cross-examinations I'd ever seen. It was sensational testimony. ZAHN: Some might argue equally damaging was some of the testimony about how Martha Stewart expenses items within her company. What did we learn?

COTLIAR: Yes.

Well, the jury got to learn a little bit about Martha's lifestyle. They learned that she's got 30 or 40 people on her personal payroll. They learned that Heidi DeLuca, her business manager, spends most of her time, 70 percent of her time, on Martha's business and 30 percent of the time on the company's business.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: What's so indicting about that, that it's 100 percent paid for the company?

COTLIAR: But the company pays her paycheck, although Martha got in later in the day that they reimburse the company for that expense.

ZAHN: So that isn't as smelly as it looks on first blush.

COTLIAR: Not at first.

ZAHN: Let's talk a little bit about some reports that suggests that Martha Stewart spent some $16,000 on a vacation that she took with Mariana Pasternak. This was to Mexico and Panama, a trip that was expensed how?

COTLIAR: As a business expense. It was a vacation that was a business expense. And her people outside the courtroom, representatives for her, said, well, Martha, when she travels, she gets ideas from her travels. Who knows? Maybe she'll return to Mexico and get guacamole segment out of it.

ZAHN: So, wait a minute.

TOOBIN: That's true.

ZAHN: You could argue that there could be a legitimate business expense.

TOOBIN: You could argue.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But what the prosecution is suggesting is that she lies, that there's a pattern of lying?

TOOBIN: That there is a pattern of financial misconduct. And this is a jury that heard all day...

ZAHN: Misconduct or lying about...

TOOBIN: Well, it's all part of the same package. Lying is what the case is about. But this was a day where the jury saw financial documents showing her getting $25 million here, $10 million here. And why the hell couldn't she pay for her own damn vacation? There was something really, I thought

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But greedy doesn't necessarily mean that you've broken the law.

TOOBIN: Right. That's true. Absolutely right.

COTLIAR: Right.

TOOBIN: But that's why what was so damaging about today was that her big smoking gun of innocence Heidi DeLuca, I thought absolutely blew up on cross-examination.

ZAHN: Martha Stewart did have a strong supporter in court today, her daughter. How is she holding up?

(CROSSTALK)

COTLIAR: Her daughter is holding up very well. Her daughter is there every day at her mother's side. She's there to escort her in. She's there to escort her out. And she's right behind her. She's seated right behind her every day.

ZAHN: Jeffrey Toobin, Sharon Cotliar, thanks.

The military says they are closing in, but is the U.S. really making progress in the hunt for bin Laden? And what about a new audiotape that warns New York and Washington are still in the terrorists' crosshairs?

And gay marriage becomes a top campaign issue. Will the president's call to make same-sex marriage unconstitutional hurt his campaign, or is it bait for the Democrats?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: By endorsing this shameful proposal, President Bush will go down in history as the first president to try to write bias back into the Constitution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Some new concerns today about the 9/11 attacks and U.S. intelligence. CIA Director George Tenet answered questions before Congress today about a report that in 1999 Germany gave the CIA the first name and phone number of one of the 19 men who would go on to become one of the 9/11 hijackers, but the CIA never tracked him down.

We're going to give intelligence the "High 5" treatment tonight, five quick questions, five quick answers.

And for that, we turn to Steve Coll, managing editor of "The Washington Post." That was Marwan Al-Shehhi we just saw. He also happens to be the author of "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001."

Good to see you, Steve. Welcome.

STEVE COLL, MANAGING EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thank you, Paula. Great to be here.

ZAHN: My pleasure.

We'll start with question No. 1.

The CIA had a phone number. Did they follow up on it?

COLL: Well, we don't really know everything they did, but evidently they didn't act robustly enough to track the guy down, according to what's been disclosed so far by the commission. I think we'll learn more when the commission is finished.

ZAHN: Let's move on to this new tape today from Osama bin Laden's No. 2. What does it tell us?

COLL: Well, it tells us that they're continuing to try to reach their own followers to say, hey, we're still here and we're still in business. They do this regularly, and they try to put in timely references to indicate that they're still watching the news and paying attention.

ZAHN: Does that mean we're at greater risk of attack on U.S. soil now?

COLL: Hard to evaluate how much greater, but the threat is obviously still out there. And the attacks seem to come in waves and clusters every three or four months.

ZAHN: And Washington and New York still considered prime targets?

COLL: Well, al Qaeda does have a record of going back to targets. They did this on September 11, where they back to a target that they had tried to topple at the World Trade Center in 1992. And they may come back to the targets that they didn't hit on September 11.

ZAHN: And do you think the U.S. is any closer to capturing Osama bin Laden tonight?

COLL: I think the Americans think they are. Whether they are in fact is hard to say from the outside. But they're clearly going to make a major drive this spring to flush him out of these areas that they believe he's in along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. ZAHN: And the way it looks now, does the U.S. have the intelligence to win the war on terror?

COLL: Well, it's a big idea, the war on terror, one that will probably unfold over many decades. The sort of more immediate question is, can they reduce the threat to the United States itself over the next couple of months? And that is the biggest job that the intelligence community has to do right now.

ZAHN: And, Steve, give us some insights, when you have members of Congress calling for CIA Director George Tenet to be ousted, how this all comes to play at a time when we are really looking for Osama bin Laden? What is at stake here?

COLL: Well, the leadership of the Central Intelligence Agency is always a symbolic focal point for people's dissatisfaction or aspirations for the intelligence community.

What's happening now is, you got an election year in which intelligence figures as a partisan issue in Iraq, in reference to September 11. And that's just not going to go away. At the same time, I don't expect Tenet to step down before the election's over. It provides a clean opportunity for a transition later.

ZAHN: Steven Coll, appreciate your perspective tonight, author of "Ghost Wars." Thanks for joining us.

COLL: Thanks for having me.

ZAHN: And in a special series all this week, we're looking at intelligence failures, including some that happened during the height of the battle in Iraq. What you're about to see was captured by a CNN crew assigned to a war room inside ground force headquarters. It shows that even the most advanced electronic spy equipment can be fooled by a desert phantom.

Mike Boettcher reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Seflic (ph) Operations Center, there's a hot lead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All we know right now is that there could be possibly be over 200 vehicles.

BOETTCHER: A special surveillance aircraft, J-STARS, also known as Joint-STARS, has spotted MTIs, moving target indicators, lots of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing we know is that the Joint- STARS has identified this. Fifteen minutes ago, there was nothing on the indicator.s

BOETTCHER: Colonel Bob Gutjahr, Lieutenant Colonel George Field suspect it might be a convoy of Iraqi paramilitaries moving south from Baghdad, joining the attack against American troops. They also know J-STARS can sometimes give us out what are known as false positives, misleading information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got B-52's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have A-10's.

COL. BOB GUTJAHR, U.S. ARMY: Close air support now is coming in on station. They see it. They're going to shwack them.

BOETTCHER: The stakes are high. The headlong rush to Baghdad is coming to a halt until they can reduce the attacks now coming at them along their supply lines. They're also fighting through bad weather. A sand storm has blinded most of their eyes in the sky, including the unmanned predator. It's one of the U.S. militaries high tech advantages. When the skies are clear, not today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not going to probably see anything because of the clouds.

BOETTCHER: In the field and back in the operations center, there's too little hard information and too much speculation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could be deception too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't make any sense. There's no way they're going to counter attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best defense is a good offense.

BOETTCHER: It even makes CNN.

RODGER WALTERS, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A major column of Iraqi elite troops are moving south. There are said to be 1,000 vehicles in that convoy.

BOETTCHER: All the speculation coming at Internet speed. The younger intelligence officers in the operations center are using chat rooms to communicate with each other. Comparing notes about the convoy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's 70 vehicles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's another 60 vehicles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All they have right now is 10 probably vehicles.

LT. COL. GEORGE FIELDS, U.S. ARMY: We're looking at about 15, 16 chat rooms at one time and glean little nuggets. What we have to do though is we have to police it up and make sure they're not taking rumor or hearsay and changing it into actionable intelligence.

REPORTERS: Tonight there is no actionable intelligence. Nothing to schwack. When they can finally get planes to fly low enough to see the convoy, nothing is there. JAMIE MCINTYRE, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: After hours of looking for it Pentagon officials are beginning to suggest to us that maybe it doesn't exist. Maybe it was a false report.

BOETTCHER: The convoy has disappeared into what they call the fog of war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: That report from Mike Boettcher. As our series "Intelligence Under fire" continues tomorrow, what exactly triggers a heightened terrorist alert, and how much can we trust homeland security's color-coded system?

The president says he wants a ban on gay marriage. It may please the Republican right, but what does the issue say about the state of his campaign?

And in tonight's "Real Stories" from the movies, we're going to take you behind the scenes with the jockey who rose in the Oscar- nominated "Seabiscuit" and face the danger of pounding hooves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was happening in slow motion, and I remember seeing the horse's hoof coming at me right towards my face, and that was the last thing I remember.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And on Thursday, my interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell on new terror threats, the crisis in Iraq, and the hunt for bin Laden.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: President Bush today put the debate over gay marriage front and center in the race for the White House. He called for change in the U.S. Constitution to outlaw marriage between people of the same gender.

Our debate tonight pits gay rights versus family values. Joining us now, Patrick Guerriero of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that promotes gay rights issues within the Republican party. And Genevieve Wood of the family research council, a group that says Judeo-Christian values are the basis of a just society. Welcome to both of you.

Patrick, I'll start with you this evening. As a loyal Republican, do you feel betrayed by the president today?

PATRICK GUERRIERO, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: This is an extraordinarily tough day for us, who have stood by this president in the war on terrorism, have stood by him as he cut taxes for American families. And we think this is -- reminds us, unfortunately, of the echoes of Pat Buchanan in 1992, who made culture war issues the centerpiece of that election. We know what happened then, the first President Bush lost. If you're an unemployed person in ohio today, you wondered why the president decided to use this morning to talk about amending the constitution.

If your son or daughter is serving in Iraq and overseas defending freedom, you wonder why our president was talking about amending the constitution. And if you're an American who's struggling with whether to support civil unions or civil marriage or domestic partnership you want the right to do that in your own state without the federal government or your president or experts in Washington, so-called experts telling you what to do. This was a tough moment for those of us who believe in an inclusive Republican party.

ZAHN: Genevieve, why isn't this an issue or shouldn't it be an issue of states rights?

GENEVIEVE WOOD, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Look, the reality is, if you are someone who believes in the following the law and that our elected officials have to uphold the laws, then you have to wonder what's been going on in our country for the past three to six months. I mean, in just the last couple of weeks, you have a mayor in San Francisco ignoring a law passed by the people of that state, which defines marriage as a man and a woman. In Boston and Massachusetts, you have judges telling the state legislature how they've got to define marriage now in that state.

Increasingly, you have a lot of people in the middle of the country looking at this and saying, you know, this is something I don't want to have to talk about at the dinner table. I do think there's a lot of other issues out there, but we're being forced to talk about it because what happens in one state can have great impact on 49 other states. And that's why the president, I think reluctantly frankly, came forward today and said the only way to protect marriage, keep it one man and one woman in this country, is with a constitutional amendment. And nobody involved in that fight, not the Family Research Council or the White House or others, take this on with great hope -- it's not we wanted to take this on. We feel forced into this position, and we realize it's going to be a long battle.

ZAHN: Patrick, you know there are 1 million gays and lesbians who voted for President Bush in 2000.

Where will your votes go?

John Kerry if he gets the nomination?

GUERRIERO: Probably not. Certainly, our organization is not going to support John Kerry. We're waiting for him to clarify his position. We know he opposes gay marriage. We know he will continue not to support amending the constitution. There's a lot of soul searching tonight. There are a lot of good, conservative, tax-paying law abiding Americans who happen to be gay or lesbian, who have been so loyal to this president, to this party. I'm sure they're stepping back and trying to figure out what they will do.

ZAHN: So what you're saying tonight is you haven't completely given up on this president then? GUERRIERO: I know we're going to put our money and energy and resources to make sure our constitution is not marked up in the middle of this national debate. That would be an awful league legacy for future generations who are going to work their way to recognizing that all families, including gay lesbian families, deserve tax fairness and equality. This cuts across the board of being federalism, of being compassionate and conservative and being what he promised in the year 2000, a united, not a divided. This is only going to divide the country.

ZAHN: Genevieve, if this amendment does not go through, in what concrete ways would it affect your marriage or the marriage of any heterosexuals?

WOOD: Well, I think that's like saying how does a divorce affect another couple's marriage?

The fact is, divorce has an impact on all culture, and if we redefine marriage it will have a great impact on the culture at large.

The last time the federal government or states, for that matter, got into the business of redefining marriage, or getting into family policy law was when we passed no-fault divorce laws about 30 years ago. What we saw from that is that marriage was cheapened in the eyes of the public. The sky rocket -- the divorce rate sky rocketed in this country. And I don't think anybody thinks that Americans or children are better off because we've had that.

There's a lot of evidence that we shouldn't be tinkering with this institution, not just in this country, but abroad. And I think it's a debate that we ought to have. The public in this country is grown up, and they can do it.

ZAHN: We've got to leave the debate there. Both of you, thanks for joining us. Genevieve Wood, Patrick Guerriero.

GUERRIERO: Good to be with you.

WOOD: Thank you.

ZAHN: My pleasure. We're going to talk more about gay marriage and election year politics in just a moment.

But still to come, a real story behind the Oscar-nominated "Seabiscuit." You're going to learn about the actor who faced the dangers of riding one of the most elegant and powerful animals on Earth.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: The president's call for a constitutional ban instantly guarantees gay marriage will be a top campaign issue. Let's call in Steve Elmendorf, deputy campaign manager for Senator John Kerry. "Time" magazine columnist, regular contributor, Joe Klein. And "Wall Street Journal" columnist John Fund. Good to see you all.

STEVE ELMENDORF, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR SEN. JOHN KERRY: Hi, Paula.

ZAHN: Hi, how are you doing tonight.

JOHN FUND, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Hi.

ZAHN: Why does the president need help in shoring up his base?

FUND: Well, I think this issue actually goes beyond pure politics. What Massachusetts and San Francisco are engaging in is a form of civil disobedience. They're basically reinterpreting the constitution, or in the case of San Francisco, ignoring state law.

ZAHN: What about the politics of this, though? Would the president be doing this if he didn't need help from the right flank of his party?

FUND: I think the president...

ZAHN: Answer the question, Mr. Fund.

FUND: The president is doing this because 36 percent of Democrats in the latest "Newsweek" poll support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Another 12 percent weakly support it. This is an issue that goes to the heart of the Democratic base, because there are a lot of church-going, religious Democrats, especially in the minority community, who are uncomfortable with gay marriage wholesale overnight without the people having a vote in it.

ZAHN: What do you make of the timing of the president's remarks today? I don't want to call it a full-scale announcement.

JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: We're -- you know, we have Vietnam this year. We have Jesus. We have gay marriage. This is going to be a nice quiet political year. You know, he said he was a war president, but apparently the war he wants to fight is a culture war. And...

FUND: He didn't start this one, Joe. He did not.

KLEIN: I think he chose to engage. And it could well be left as a state's issue. Although the Democrats who say that this is a state's issue believe that abortion isn't a state's issue. So you take your issue, and you take your chances.

But I think that this is one of those issues that politicians by and large hate, but John is absolutely right. It is not just minority voters, but the most important segment of leaners in any given election is Roman Catholic, working class voters. And this will have an impact on them.

ZAHN: Let's talk about how this potentially might play for Senator Kerry out there. Steve, we know the senator is for civil unions. He's gone on the record against gay marriage, yet he will not support a constitutional amendment. Is he trying to have it both ways here? ELMENDORF: No. The senator's position has been consistent for a long time, which is that marriage is an issue for the states to decide. For 200 years, the states have been deciding marriage. And there's no reason to have a federal constitutional amendment to change that, just as there is no reason to have a Defense of Marriage Act. In 1995, they changed that. The states can deal with this, and they are dealing with it.

ZAHN: We just had a member of the Republicans -- Log Cabin Republicans on, who said it's not at all clear to him where John Kerry stands on this issue. Is it clear to both of you?

FUND: San Francisco is apparently not even on John Kerry's radar screen. He said yesterday he's not been following the news reports. He doesn't know quite what they're doing out there. I mean, this is active avoidance of knowledge.

KLEIN: Well, this is a really uncomfortable issue for major Democrats. Both John Kerry and John Edwards say that they're in favor of civil unions and not in favor of marriage. Now, you could -- I'm at a loss to explain what the difference is there.

ZAHN: Well, do you want to explain the difference to us tonight, Steve?

ELMENDORF: I think the senator's position is very clear, which is that he is against gay marriage. He is for civil unions.

The difference is that civil unions provide many of the same benefits without, you know, the cultural issues that the Republicans are trying to raise here about marriage. I mean, it's no surprise, you talked at the beginning about the timing. It's no surprise that George Bush picked this time to come out with this amendment. He's behind in all the major polls, not only to John Kerry, but to John Edwards, to every Democrat. And I think he's in real trouble. So he's decided he's going to try and start the cultural wars.

ZAHN: Let's turn back to...

ELMENDORF: He doesn't want to talk about the economy or jobs.

ZAHN: Let's turn back to the year 2000, when Dick Cheney was in a debate, and he had this to say about gay marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that means that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's really no one else's business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard.

I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: In January, the vice president changed his mind and said he would support a federal ban. What happened?

KLEIN: Well, politics intervened. This issue, if it's dangerous for Democrats in terms of Roman Catholic swing voters, it's really dangerous for Republicans, because lots of people in this country know people like Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a homosexual. And I think it's really dangerous...

FUND: Massachusetts...

ZAHN: You get the final word.

FUND: Massachusetts voted four to three to invent this right in the state constitution. San Francisco voted to ignore the state law. That has changed. The states are acting in a completely irresponsible manner.

ZAHN: John Fund, Joe Klein, Steve Elmendorf. Thank you all. Appreciate you joining us.

ELMENDORF: Thank you.

ZAHN: Coming up, our Oscar series continues, with an incredible real story behind the award-winning motion picture "Seabiscuit." Gary Stevens, the jockey turned actor, and how he nearly repeated a deadly accident, the same kind that killed the character he plays in the film.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: The Oscar-nominated film "Seabiscuit" is based on the real-life triumph of a long-shot race horse that captivated the U.S. during the Depression. One of the stars is a real jockey, one of the world's best, Gary Stevens. What happened to him after the movie premiered is part two of our week-long series, "The Real Story Behind the Oscar."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's storming home. Gary Stevens storming home...

GARY STEVENS (voice-over): It all happened in slow motion, and I remember seeing the horse's hoof coming at me. I wasn't scared. It was totally different than you expect you're going to feel, I guess, when you know you're going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is in some pain.

ZAHN (voice-over): Gary Stevens thought he was a dead man. The jockey, who had just months before made his film debut as legendary jockey George Woolf, thought he would eerily follow in the footsteps of his character, riding fast and dying young.

STEVENS: George Woolf died in a horrible racing accident at Santa Anita racetrack. As I was hitting the ground and seeing a hoof come at my face, all I thought was here we go, I'm on my way, just like George was. I don't want to follow any closer to George than I already have. It's time to stop the parallels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This gives you a good idea.

WILLIAM NACK, WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": I thought it was a very ironic thing. No one is happier than I am that Gary survived that fall. But he's incredibly lucky to come out alive. But you know something? You've got to give him credit because just a few weeks later he was on that very same horse to win the "Clement Hirsch Handicap" at Santa Anita. Didn't take him long to get back on that horse and go at it again.

ZAHN: And that was despite sustaining a broken vertebra and a collapsed lung. But Stevens has always been a fighter. Overcoming a degenerative hip ailment, chronic arthritis, and you won't believe this...an almost phobic fear of horses.

STEVENS: When I was 11 years old, my older brother Scott had already begun getting on horses for my father, race horses, and anything that Scott did, I wanted to do. And I wanted to do better. And I felt that power, the speed and the intelligence the horse had to take care of me. I was hooked. That was it. I knew what I wanted to do.

ZAHN: Just four years later, Stevens left his small hometown in Idaho to travel the world.

STEVENS: All of these trophies up here are million-dollar races.

ZAHN: And now after almost 5,000 races...

STEVENS: Won my first Kentucky Derby.

ZAHN: And three Derby titles, Stevens is considered by many to be one of the greatest jockeys of all time. Hollywood lore is that "Seabiscuit" director and writer Gary Ross took one glimpse at Stevens, his look, and his swagger and said that's him, George Woolf, the cocky jockey that rode Seabiscuit in one of the greatest races ever.

STEVENS: I told him he didn't have enough money and I didn't have enough time, and obviously I was wrong on both points.

ZAHN: It took one meeting for Stevens to realize that the filmmakers were serious, that they had the passion and know-how to capture one of the greatest horses ever and one of the greatest races ever. The Depression-era match race between War Admiral and Seabiscuit.

STEVENS: When I watched it for the first time, I went to a screening, and I had tears running down my cheeks. And it's a sport that I'm involved in. To have that effect on me, I thought was pretty special. When it was done, I walked away with a warm feeling.

ZAHN: Stevens also walked away from "Seabiscuit" with a fiancee. She was an assistant director on the set.

ANGIE ATHAYDE, FIANCEE OF GARY STEVENS: I wouldn't say love at first sight. I definitely noticed him. I noticed his personality. Definitely not love at first sight. I was interested in him for sure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Now Gary and Angie are planning a wedding and a move to France after the Oscars. Despite severe arthritis in his knees, Stevens will race horses there for a world champion trainer. Hoping at age 40 to continue as a reigning prince in the sport of kings. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: That's it for all of us here. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Hope to see you again tomorrow night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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