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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Howard Stern Declares War on President Bush; Nation Bitterly Divided Over Election '04?

Aired March 16, 2004 - 20:00   ET

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

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Heidi Collins, in for Paula Zahn tonight.
It is Tuesday, March 16, 2004.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): "In Focus" tonight: Howard Stern. Silenced in six cities, he's now declared war on the president. Can a shock jock and a storm of new liberal radio shows tip the balance this election year?

Plus, American anxiety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're making yourself sound like a liar. Now answer the question.

COLLINS: The latest polls show voters disappointed and divided bitterly about the candidates and where they want to take the country.

And what does it take to become really attracted to the opposite sex? A whole lot more than good looks, if you're a woman. New research on the tantalizing differences between men and women and what turns them on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Here are some of the headlines you need to know right now.

The polls close and John Kerry is on track to seal the deal in Illinois, which will put him over the top as far as delegate votes for the nomination. But Kerry's backers in Illinois will have to celebrate without him. He's spending tonight campaigning in the key state of West Virginia, which is expected to be a major battleground in November.

President Bush says the free world must remain determined to fight terrorism. Today, he met with the prime minister of the Netherlands, where polls show most of the Dutch want their 1,300 troops out of Iraq. The administration is trying to prevent more allies from following Spain's reversal on the war.

Court records show the suspect in the Ohio highway shootings was ticketed for speeding twice during the string of shootings. And "The Columbus Dispatch" says the father of Charles McCoy Jr. gave two of his guns to police. Tests show one gun matches bullet fragments from nine of the shootings. One person was killed in those attacks. Police say they consider McCoy Jr. armed and dangerous.

"In Focus" tonight, talk radio and whether it will be a driving force in the presidential race. Howard Stern, who's used his microphone and his audience of eight million listeners a week to help Republican candidates in the past, has now declared war on the White House. And now a liberal radio network is about to hit the air to compete with conservatives like Rush Limbaugh.

And joining us now, on the liberal side of things, Randi Rhodes.

Randi, thanks for being here.

And from Philadelphia, conservative talk show host Michael Smerconish.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: Michael, thanks for being here as well. Nice to see you both.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I want to start with you, if I could, please, Michael.

Howard Stern is, as you know, fiercely taking on President Bush. We want to go ahead and listen to a little bit of sound from that and get your comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If you're listening to me now, the one thing I ask you to do is vote against Bush. Vote for Kerry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: With his Army of viewers, do you think that statements like this could make a difference in the election?

SMERCONISH: No.

I think, Heidi, that Howard Stern is the gold standard in AM drive radio, but people listen to Howard Stern because they want to be entertained. You listen to Howard Stern for a Butt Bongo Fiesta, not because you want to be told for whom you should be voting in the election.

This is the first presidential election post-9/11. I would hate to think that someone is going into the ballot box and pull that lever because the FCC has giving a workout to Howard Stern for not having beeped out the N-word instead of the war on terrorism. I just don't think it will be the case.

COLLINS: Randi, as you know, with 312 hours of conservative radio on the air, five hours of liberal a week, how can liberal talk survive in an environment like that?

RANDI RHODES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, liberal talk hasn't had a chance to survive. Liberal talk hasn't even launched yet, and everybody's saying, oh, it can't work, it can't work, it can't work.

What's really fascinating to me is, Michael works in Philadelphia. And he's got a horse in this race. He works against Howard Stern. And Howard Stern is beating him really badly in the ratings. And so, of course, he wants to trash Howard Stern. But the idea that Howard was a Republican and Howard helped Christie Todd Whitman get elected and other people, too, means Howard is a driving force in politics, and we hope to be the same as well.

You know, more than 50 percent of America is Democrat. A good deal of us are liberal. And we haven't had a platform. We haven't had a chance. And when Air America launches on March 31, I think it's going to make a huge impact in a marketplace that's not been talked to. That's half of the country not been talked to.

COLLINS: Let's go ahead and get to the crux of the issue, and I want to hear from both of you on this. Do voters, though, when it comes down to it, do they actually go to the ballot box and pull a lever on any of the issues that they have heard on the airwaves?

Michael, why don't you go ahead and take a shot at that?

SMERCONISH: No. Heck, no.

Talk radio listeners are not lemmings. They're not out there as automatons following the instructions of Rush or Sean Hannity of someone else. It's more like a gathering place, talk radio, for like- minded individuals who are there to be informed.

And let me just say to the woman who is seated there with you that it's not as if I have to check a box on my employment application as to whether I'm a liberal or a conservative to get hired. If you can generate ratings and revenue, no one cares what you look like. No one cares what you sound like. And they don't care what your politics are.

(CROSSTALK)

RHODES: Michael, you don't generate either. You're No. 18 in your marketplace, and you're working.

(CROSSTALK)

RHODES: I'm a liberal working for Clear Channel, and I had to be No. 1 every single book, 12-plus, No. 2, 25-54, which is the big money demo, as you know, in order to keep my job working for them.

And I have kept my job through ratings and revenue. And guys like you just are copycats. That's all you've done, was get on the conservative gravy train.

(CROSSTALK) COLLINS: Let's try to stay on point before we get into the ratings war here, if we could. Tell me what you think, if listeners are really going to pull the lever, as we asked, on things that they hear on the radio.

RHODES: Well, it's interesting. If you provide listeners with good fact-based information that they can research on their own -- and I always tell them don't include anything you hear on talk radio, including what I say.

Go research it yourself and find out if I'm telling you the true facts. And if that is so, it's time to get very angry about the state of things. And if they will do it, then they will make a decision on their own. Voting is a very private, personal thing. But the deal is that, sometimes, we become like family members. And who do you talk politics with? Your family members.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: Unfortunately.

RHODES: Yes, well, if you grew up in a Democratic household, the likelihood is, you're going to turn out to be a Democratic.

And I just want to say one thing about what Michael said not changing minds. Then you're a lazy broadcaster, because I change minds every single day. We actually have converts that call in, which is a hard thing for them to do, and relinquish their marriage to the Republican Party in public every day.

COLLINS: Michael?

SMERCONISH: If there were a demand for liberal talk radio, it would be on the air already. It's not. No one has heard of any...

RHODES: March 31, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Please give me a moment to respond to you.

RHODES: No, because I've heard this argument over and over.

(CROSSTALK)

RHODES: March 31 in major markets across this country.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: The viewers haven't had

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: Michael, go ahead and let him finish.

SMERCONISH: If you listen to her, you see why nobody wants to listen to liberal talk radio in this country. That's it.

RHODES: That's it. Nobody wants to listen to you.

COLLINS: To the both of you, thanks so much, I think.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

COLLINS: Randi Rhodes, Michael Smerconish, thanks once again for joining us.

RHODES: March 31.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: To the both of you, thanks, guys.

Former Tyco chairman Dennis Kozlowski in happier times. Now, one of the biggest corporate crime trials ever is coming to a climax, and the theme is greed.

The Saudi royal family and the Bush family, rich, powerful, and well connected to each other. We'll explore new questions on whether that is shielding the Saudis from the war on terror.

And the games people play. Why are men and women so different about what turns them on? Some amazing new science lets us in on the sweet secret.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Closing arguments continued today in the corruption trial of former Tyco executives Dennis Kozlowski and mark Swartz. They're accused of looting the company of $600 million. And throughout the case, the prosecution has tried relentlessly to paint a picture of outrageous greed.

And we're giving the case the "High Five" treatment tonight, five quick questions, five direct answers straight and to the point.

So, to do that, joining us now, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

No pressure, all right?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: OK.

COLLINS: Question No. 1, the prosecution, as you well know, wrapped up its case by saying this.

We're going to take a look at that on the screen. Here we go: "Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz transformed Tyco into their own personal piggy bank."

What does she mean by that?

TOOBIN: They are charged with deceiving the directors of the company and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from Tyco and using it for their own devious devices. COLLINS: And speaking of some of those things, we know about the $6,000 shower curtain, the $2 million party in Sardinia, Italy.

TOOBIN: The real crime was, neither of us were invited.

COLLINS: Yes.

TOOBIN: That's right. OK. I'm sorry.

COLLINS: But we want to go ahead and look at that once again on the screen here.

The shower curtain was something Dennis never even saw. Sardinia was not a criminal act. Is this lavishness really critical to his conviction?

TOOBIN: It really is because one of the key points for the prosecution is that these expenditures were so obviously personal that no board of directors would ever have approved spending company money for those kind of projects.

COLLINS: All right, well, the defense said, hey, you know what, Tyco is nothing compared to Enron, WorldCom, and some of these other -- Adelphia, of course, as well. Are Kozlowski and Swartz being unfairly singled out?

TOOBIN: Well, that's what the jury is going to decide. But they have a real defense in this case. Their defense quite simply is that the directors knew and approved all of these expenditures. Plus, one of the key directors, who they say approved it, is now dead. So it's easy to put words in his mouth.

COLLINS: All right, No. 4 question for you. Some embarrassing details came out about Kozlowski's personal life, if you will, two mistresses on the payroll. It's pretty illicit, but does it damage the case?

TOOBIN: It is not illegal to have mistresses on the payroll. However, it certainly gives a flavor to the case, and it is a bad fact for Kozlowski, and it is one of the reasons he may well be convicted.

COLLINS: So, question No. 5, is Kozlowski going to walk?

TOOBIN: This deserves a straight answer. I have no idea. I don't know what the verdict is going to be.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: But this looked like a slam-dunk case, but it's been a five-month trial, and there's some real defenses here. And I think it could be quite close. How's that for a weasel out of the question?

COLLINS: Yes. We'll have you back tomorrow night.

All right, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks so much for that. Appreciate it. TOOBIN: All right.

COLLINS: Return to Machine Gun Alley, a village where American and Iraqi soldiers faced each other in a fierce firefight. Now, one year later, how life has and hasn't changed.

And two weeks of media warfare in the presidential campaign. The Bush-Kerry battle takes its toll on the voters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: One year ago, as U.S. forces began their lightning march towards Baghdad, CNN national correspondent Walter Rodgers brought us unforgettable reports on the fighting. Now he's returned to one of the villages he was under fire to show us how things have changed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is why U.S. soldiers fought here a year ago, Iraqi Shiite women doing their chores. They no longer have to fear that Saddam's sons or his henchmen will kidnap them or rape the pretty ones. Not even young girls were safe in the lawless days of Saddam.

Much has changed on this farm. Where this woman walks now a year ago, two dozen tanks and armored vehicles from Apache Troop, the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry assembled to confront Saddam's Medina Division. American soldiers came to this village believing they were liberating the Iraqi people.

"It was little different for the men," Sadr Hadi (ph) is saying. If Shiite men stuck their heads up then, Saddam's army would finish them off. Villagers fled this hamlet last March, fearing the Americans, too. On a road plied by farmers today, those villagers could hear the shooting not far away just a year ago.

(on camera): The Iraqi Army set its ambush for the 7th Cavalry in these date palm groves. The Iraqi soldiers would be hiding behind these dirt berms and in these ditches. Soldiers from the Iraqi army would blindly fire with their Kalashnikov over their heads. They wouldn't stick their heads up, but they would shoot blindly at the road 100 meters out there, blindly because the sandstorm was so thick they were only shooting at the sound of the tanks and the Bradleys. It was perhaps the most ferocious firefight we saw. We dubbed this area Machine Gun Alley.

(voice-over): On the surface, a return to normality now. Camels graze where Iraqis had mortar and machine gun nests. Last march, black smoke marked the battle. Now it's from kilns baking bricks in the tradition of the earlier Sumerians and Babylonians.

The 7th Cavalry had to shoot its way through this checkpoint. Now the new Iraqi police privately say it's nearly as lawless as before, roaming gangs and murderers replacing Saddam's thugs. Best to be out of here by afternoon, they warned us. Over tea, Iraqis complain of lawlessness and corruption, say they still have to pay bribes to get jobs, bribes to Saddam's men then, bribes to the new men now.

"Democracy does not exist here," he said. Still, nearly all Iraqis want to see Saddam face trial. "I want to see Saddam chopped up in little pieces," he said. But a year ago, this war was as much about finding weapons of mass destruction as it was about catching Saddam. For soldiers, it was about life and death.

(on camera): It was about here along this stretch of highway that Sergeant Todd Woodhall (ph) set up the rear guard for the Apache Troop. His men strung concertina wire across this road, and then they got in their M-113 armored vehicle and sat and waited.

(voice-over): Unabashedly, each of the men said they prayed that night, fearing the Medina Division might come across the bridge, down, and overrun them. The young soldiers asked the veteran sergeant, do you think we'll make it through the night? Sergeant Woodhall told them, everything depends on whether Sergeant Wheatley (ph) can hold that bridge.

Across the bridge, Captain Clay Lyle (ph) sent Sergeant Paul Wheatley with two tanks and three Bradleys to defend. The Air Force and Army artillery pounded the incoming Iraqi armor, disbursing it.

(on camera): If this bridge had fallen, it would have been much, much worse for the Americans.

(voice-over): Those who were here will never forget. Each has his own memories of that night. I asked villagers what happened to the stray black and white puppy I was playing with. The puppy didn't make it, I was told. He was poisoned.

Walter Rodgers, CNN, at the An Najaf bridgehead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: The Bush family, the Saudi royal family, both masters of politics and money. Now new questions arise about the influence of the Saudis in the last U.S. presidential election.

What does it take to turn a man on? Well, a new study looks at the differences between men and women and why love at first sight doesn't work for one of the sexes. Guess which one?

And he was a brutal force in the last days of the Philadelphia mob. We'll have the story of the mobster who became organized crime's worst nightmare.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Here are some of the headlines you need to know right now. Martha Stewart's daughter says her mother feels like her life was wasted. Alexis Stewart is talking about her mother's conviction in an exclusive interview with Larry King. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

LARRY KING, HOST: What's her biggest fault?

ALEXIS STEWART, DAUGHTER OF MARTHA STEWART: She's too, ironically, forgiving and kind. And I know. People don't know that, but she's incredibly generous and she forgives too much, I think.

KING: So would that be...

STEWART: She's too trusting.

KING: Would that be the thing that most people don't know about your mother?

STEWART: I think so.

KING: So, in other words, you don't think she harbors grudges?

STEWART: No, not at all. I have to encourage her -- I try to encourage her to harbor a grudge.

KING: You're a grudge harborer.

STEWART: Yes.

KING: She will not come out of this bitter?

STEWART: No.

KING: That's surprising, because most people who feel they didn't do anything wrong

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: Well, I don't think she's going to...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: See the full exclusive interview with Alexis Stewart on "LARRY KING LIVE." That's coming you way tomorrow night on CNN.

And Saudi Arabia says it has arrested four liberal reformists in two cities. They were accused of making statements that do not serve Saudi unity. All four have called for a constitutional form of government.

The Bush family and the Saudi royal family have been doing business together for decades. But now a new book suggests the relationship between the two families has kept the U.S. from forcing Saudi Arabia to crack down on Islamic terrorism. "House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties" is the book.

Craig Unger is the author.

Welcome to you, Mr. Unger. Thanks so much for being with us tonight.

CRAIG UNGER, AUTHOR, "HOUSE OF BUSH, HOUSE OF SAUD": Thank you, Heidi.

COLLINS: You claim that the Bush family's longstanding relationship with the Saudi royal family has interfered with the war on terrorism. What sort of proof do you have on that?

UNGER: Well, I looked at the Bush family going back 30 years and their relationship. And it's really absolutely unprecedented. Never before in history has a president of the United States -- and I'm talking about both President Bush and his father -- had such a long and rich history with any foreign country, in this case, Saudi Arabia.

And one of the things I discovered as I followed their relationship through both the private sector and the public sector is the amount of money that was transferred from the House of Saud, the royal Saudi family, to companies in which the Bush family and its allies had a major role. And the number I found was $1.4 billion.

To put that in perspective, that's more than 20,000 times as much money as was in the Whitewater scandal. So, in that light, I began looking at the events leading up to and immediately after 9/11.

COLLINS: Let's talk about 9/11 for a moment. You say that the Saudis who left the country on that day chartered flights -- after 9/11, I should say, including members of the bin Laden family themselves. They were not seriously interrogated. They weren't asked any questions. How do you know this?

UNGER: Well, I found a total of eight flights stopping in 12 American cities, 140 Saudis, including 24 members of the bin Laden family. And I talked to people who were on the flights, the two men on the record who were private detectives and were there as escorts. I talked to two FBI agents. I talked to people who arranged the evacuation. This was a massive operation. It took place over a period of two weeks. And there simply wasn't time.

They were identified, in many cases -- well, in all cases. But they were not interrogated. And this is the biggest crime in American history.

COLLINS: Well, you claim that Bush couldn't have even become president without the help, if you will, of the Saudi royal family and the Arab-American vote, in particular, especially in Florida. But is that wrong? I mean, we see all the time candidates going after different groups for their support.

UNGER: What's extraordinary about this is exactly who he was campaigning with. And, in Florida, he met with a man named Sami al- Arian, who is now under indictment for allegedly being part of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

This is a man he later invited to the White House and is accused of funding terrorist activities against Israelis and Americans with suicide bombs. COLLINS: So are you saying this is the kind of support that President Bush knew he was trying to muster?

UNGER: No, I'm not saying he knew in advance, but he wasn't looking very carefully.

And the point is that, was he turning a blind eye to the excesses of the Saudis and to the possible dangers of terrorism? I should add that he later invited Sami al-Arian to the White House as a guest after his election, and that the Muslim-American support provided the margin of victory in Florida and therefore the presidency.

COLLINS: All right.

Well, clearly you know that prior administrations have had close relationships with the Saudis, talking about the Reagan administration, Carter administration, Roosevelt administration, both Democratic and Republican administrations. Why is this relationship, in your eyes, so different?

UNGER: Well, $1.4 billion is a very big number. And the Bush family has had personal business interests in Saudi Arabia through giant firms like the Carlisle Group, which is a huge private equity firm in Washington.

COLLINS: All right, Craig Unger. Once again, the name of the book is "House of Bush, House of Saud." We appreciate your time tonight. Thanks so much.

UNGER: Thank you.

COLLINS: Now let's get some direct reaction to those allegations.

We want to take a moment to speak with this man. Nail Al-Jubeir is director of the Saudi Information Office in Washington.

Mr. Jubeir, thanks so much for being with but.

Do want to get your direct reaction now. What do you say to Mr. Unger's claims that the war on terror cannot be fought without going into Saudi Arabia and really cracking down there?

NAIL AL-JUBEIR, DIR., SAUDI INFO OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C.: I'm saying that he doesn't know his stuff. Unfortunately, he spent more time trying to cut and paste allegations that go back 30, 40 years that have been addressed in the United States by U.S. law enforcement, and there's nothing there. And he's trying to claim that this relationship is hindering the war on terrorism. If he did his research, which he probably -- based on his comment, he hasn't done, we have been very close allies in this war on terrorism. We've been close allies since 9/11. We fought together against the extremists in Saudi Arabia. We've been working together since then, and we will continue to work on that, on the war on terrorism.

COLLINS: How do you defend the business connections that he talks about, though, between the Bush administration and the Saudi royal family? What's this $1.4 billion?

AL-JUBEIR: I'm not exactly sure. I read his book, and I have to admit it's pretty interesting reading, if you don't care for facts and reality. It's -- he cuts and pastes accusations that go back, as I said, 30, 40 years. He tries to put connections in there that simply wasn't there. Most of those allegations have been investigated by U.S. law enforcement years ago, and there's simply nothing there.

There is a connection between the Saudis and the Bushes, as it was a relationship between the Saudis and the President Clinton, and before them, all the way to Roosevelt. And we're proud of our relationship with the American leadership, and we continue to be proud. But there's nothing illegal about that. If he can point to an area where he said, This is what happened, quid pro quo, they paid this, and this is what they got, yes, then that would be illegal. But there's absolutely nothing there.

There are allegations that he throws -- remember, this is an election year. There are going to be about 25 to 30 books coming out there. How can you take a book seriously who claims that president -- Republican presidents, including from about Eisenhower all the way up to the Bush family, get dressed up in robes in the red forest of California and worship stone owls? I mean, how seriously can you take a book like that?

COLLINS: What about the evidence, if you know of any, that Bush used extreme measures to influence the Arab-American vote in the year 2000?

AL-JUBEIR: I'm sorry, but I don't think it was illegal for Arab- Americans to vote in this country, is it?

COLLINS: It is not. Let me ask you about...

AL-JUBEIR: No. So what's the point? They are American citizens. They are -- I've been following American elections for years, and every politician does it, whether you go to the Spanish vote or you go to the African-American vote or you go to the Polish vote up in the industrial areas. There's nothing wrong with it. What Mr. Unger is doing, which I think really is unfortunate, is trying to marginalize an American Arab community (ph) in this country by linking them to terrorism, saying, This is what happened. And that's unfortunate, and he should be ashamed of himself to try to marginalize an Arab-American population that some of them are two, three and four generations back.

COLLINS: Mr. Jubeir, what are the Saudis doing in the nation's classrooms now to teach moderation, if you will, to the next generation, particularly to stamp out Islamic fundamentalism?

AL-JUBEIR: What we have done is a number of steps. Once -- and the first important thing is we have reviewed our textbooks. We have taken out stuff that we believe is -- might be enticing extremism in our classrooms. We have removed teachers that we thought were not appropriate to teaching the courses. We're reforming the educational process. It's a long process to do. We've done it in the mosques, as well. We've gotten rid of thousands of extremist preachers, and we will continue the crackdown.

We are trying to create world-class graduate students from our universities and schools who graduate and are part of the productive work force. But it is a long process. It's not something that can be done overnight. But we're committed to this, and we'll finally get to the end of that.

COLLINS: If you are committed to this, or the people of Saudi Arabia are committed to this -- trying to enforce moderation, that is -- how do you explain the reports that we have learned about today and the arrests of five Saudi reformers, who, according to a London-based opposition group, advocated a constitutional monarchy?

AL-JUBEIR: I don't know about the -- I've seen the reports from the Saudi minister of the interior about the detention. I do not know much about that. But the opposition -- remember, this is the same opposition, if I'm not mistaken, in London who have provided Usama bin Laden with the cell phones, the satellite phones that he used in the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Africa. These are the same group who celebrate the tragedy of 9/11 in London. These are the same guys who promote extremism on satellite television, broadcast it to the Middle East out of London. And these are the guys that are supposed to be promoting reform?

COLLINS: All right. Nail al-Jubeir, we certainly appreciate your time tonight, as well.

AL-JUBEIR: Thank you for having me.

COLLINS: Thank you so much, sir.

CNN's Paula Zahn asked the White House for a reaction to Craig Unger's reporting about the Bush-Saudi family connections. The White House declined any comment.

The fur flies in the race for the White House. The campaigns pitch tough ads and even tougher challenges at each other. Is all the negativity rubbing voters the wrong way? And what do women see in these hunks? D'oh! The answer should be obvious, but there's a surprising difference in how men and women react to sexual allure. And tomorrow, Erin Brockovich joins us as she launches her latest crusade against Beverly Hills.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: It's been two tough weeks in the presidential campaign, some stumbles and political campaign ads coming earlier than usual and uglier than usual. Let's get an inside view now of the campaigns and how they're defining their candidates. Terry Holt is a national spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign. Thanks for being here, Terry.

TERRY HOLT, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: Thanks, Heidi.

COLLINS: Steve Elmendorf is Senator Kerry's deputy campaign manager. Thank you, sir, a well, for being here...

STEVE ELMENDORF, KERRY CAMPAIGN: Good to be here.

COLLINS: ... both of you joining us from Washington tonight. Steve, I want to begin with you, if I could. Tonight we finally have a recording now of the comments that Senator Kerry made about world leaders, foreign leaders wanting President Bush out of office. I want to go ahead and listen to that.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... because I met more leaders, you know, who can't go out and say it publicly, but, boy, they look at you and say, You've got to win this. You got to beat this guy. We need a new policy and things like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Steve, the president came out today, I'm sure you saw it, and demanded answers for that. Do you think that Senator Kerry has gotten himself into a hole that he just can't get out of?

ELMENDORF: No, not at all. I mean, I think that, you know, George Bush has run the shortest positive campaign in American history. We had one week of a positive ad campaign, and now we're into constant negative charges coming from the Bush White House at all levels. You know, John Kerry said what a lot -- what he's been hearing from leaders he's talked to, which is that this country's, you know, standing in the world has been affected by the way George Bush has done the war on terror. And you know, unlike his father, George Bush did not go out and build a coalition and work with our allies, the way George Bush, his father, did, and we wish he would.

COLLINS: Terry, I want to go ahead and actually look at one of the ad campaigns now. It may be the toughest yet of this political season, coming from the Bush campaign. Let's go ahead and look at that, then I'll get your reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm George W. Bush, and I approved this message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Few votes in Congress are as important as funding our troops at war. Though John Kerry voted in October, 2002, for military action in Iraq, he later voted against funding our soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Body armor for troops in combat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Higher combat pay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kerry?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. And better health care for reservists and their families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Wrong on defense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Do you think getting so ugly so early is working?

HOLT: I will tell you there's nothing ugly about the facts. And this ad just points out that Senator Kerry, though he's been talking about and criticizing the president about body armor and supporting veterans, when Senator Kerry had the chance last fall, he, in fact, voted no for body armor for the troops, for better health care for veterans and their families, and for the entire support for the troops on the ground in the war in Iraq.

Now, if the facts hurt, I'm sorry. This is a very important election, probably no more important election. When 3,000 Americans and other people died on our soil, there was a declaration of war. And to refuse to support the troops in the field is a fundamental difference between the president's campaign and John Kerry's campaign.

COLLINS: Steve, to be fair, your candidate has gotten ugly, too, from everything -- saying that his opponents are liars to saying unnamed foreign leaders are wanting the president of the United States out of office. Any hope for a civility from your side of the aisle?

ELMENDORF: You know, I think it's unfortunate that George Bush has nothing positive to say about the economy. He's got nothing to say about what his program is to get more jobs. He's got nothing to say about what he's going to do about health care, so he's attacking John Kerry.

John Kerry voted against the $87 billion because he offered an amendment that would have repealed the Bush cut for people making over $400,000 a year to pay for the $87 billion. And that's the only reason he voted against it. And they would not accept that. You know, he has a 25-year record of being supportive of veterans and our troops, and he is a decorated combat veteran. He knows better than anybody of these Republicans who are attacking him about what it means to be a veteran and what it means to have your government supporting you.

COLLINS: Terry, I want to take a look at a fund-raising e-mail now for just a moment from former president Bill Clinton that says he's going to be raising $10 million in 10 days for Senator Kerry. You see it on your screen. "It's our chance to demonstrate that in 2004, we're not going to yield an inch to the Republican attack machine. Let's send donations flooding into the Kerry headquarters. Working together, we know how to win. Let's do it again."

Is having Bill Clinton raise these kinds of funds for John Kerry this early a nightmare for the Bush administration?

HOLT: Well, I think it might be a nightmare for the John Kerry campaign. To have to have Bill Clinton ride to the rescue in this election I think is highly risky for them. But you know what? I think they have had a couple of bad weeks. Last week they're talking about crooks and liars. I mean, the tone of the campaign for them, unfortunately, has spun off out of control.

You know, John Kerry today said, I voted for that $87 billion and then I voted against it. And I'll tell you what. Just because you disagree with the president about cutting taxes for average Americans doesn't mean you ought to take it out on the troops that are under fire every day in Iraq. I think that that sort of Senate speak and that kind of an explanation doesn't hold water with the American voters.

COLLINS: To the both of you, we appreciate the gentlemanly discussion tonight so very much. Steve Elmendorf and Terry Holt, thanks so much to the both of you.

ELMENDORF: Thank you, Heidi.

HOLT: Thank you.

COLLINS: The latest polls reflect some Americans' dissatisfaction with both the president and Senator John Kerry. Let's sort it out now with political analyst Carlos Watson. Don't you think they were nice to each other?

(LAUGHTER)

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: For now.

COLLINS: Yes, for now!

(LAUGHTER)

WATSON: They did.

COLLINS: It's still early.

WATSON: Stay tuned.

COLLINS: While both candidates seem to be losing some support, neither is really gaining much ground, either. They're kind of in a tie. A lot of people undecided, at this point. How should the campaigns deal with that new reality?

WATSON: Fundamentally, a little bit of good news for the president. So here -- if you're on the president's team, here's what you can say. You can say the president got engaged in this campaign about two or three weeks ago, started doing the interviews, started running the ads, started getting some of the surrogates out there. And now, instead of John Kerry being up 8 to 12 points, now it's statistically a tie. Maybe the president's a little bit ahead. So that's good news. The bad news is that people are still worried about the economy, still worried about jobs. And although they give the president high praise in the war on terrorism, they're still saying, Hang on. Not only am I not happy with how things are going now, I'm not really optimistic with where the future's headed.

COLLINS: So does the obviously question of Ralph Nader, then, become a more important one?

WATSON: You know, Ralph Nader's going to be interesting here because I've got a little bit of a contrarian point of view on this, Heidi. I actually think he's going to help the Democrats. You know, Democrats are very fearful of him. They think he'll steal critical votes in places like Florida and New Hampshire. I think what you'll see Ralph Nader do is get on the ballot in 25 or 30 states, but he'll choose states that are clearly red or clearly blue, I mean, clearly Democratic or clearly Republican, stay away from the battleground states. But he's on enough ballots so that he's credible to be part of the conversation. And in doing that, I think you'll see a lot of attacks on the president, which ultimately could help John Kerry.

COLLINS: All right. Well, the latest Gallup poll is showing that some people are satisfied and some people are dissatisfied with the way that things are going in the United States. You see the numbers there -- 60 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied. Well, does that bode as well for Senator Kerry as it might seem?

WATSON: At the moment, there's some good news. But -- but more important in all these polls is that people are clearly in flux. For example, two or three weeks ago in the polls, we saw 70 percent of the people said, My mind is definitely made up, and I know who I'm voting for. And now they're saying only 65 percent are that sure. So there's a lot of fluctuation.

What John Kerry's got to do over the next eight weeks is he's got to raise money not only to counterattack against the ads that the president is running that are negative, but he's also got to re-sell himself. Remember, most people still don't know him. If you're a political junkie, maybe half the population, you know who he is. There's a whole nother half of the population in lots of states who haven't tuned in, haven't paid attention, and he's got to remind them that he's a war hero, he's a 20-year senator, et cetera.

COLLINS: Right. And in fact, the latest "New York Times"/CBS poll is pointing to that exact fact. Half the respondents haven't formed their opinion about John Kerry. So has does President Bush then make that work for him?

WATSON: So President Bush has a tremendous opportunity now to define John Kerry. He wants to define him as a flip-flopper, saying that one moment he's on this side of military support, on the next moment, he's on that side. On one moment, he's on that side of Social Security, the next moment he's on that side.

COLLINS: Which is exactly what that ad does that we just aired.

WATSON: Which is exactly what that ad does. Now here's one very interesting thing that I'll add about these ads, though. Often, negative ads, over the last 10 or 12 ads, the negative ads that have worked the best are the ones that are done with humor. So it's not clear that the ads that the president has today will work. We'll see what happens with the numbers, but the best negative ads we've seen in recent times have been those that have employed humor.

COLLINS: Nobody's laughing yet.

WATSON: Not yet!

(LAUGHTER)

COLLINS: All right. Carlos Watson, thanks so much tonight.

WATSON: Good to join you.

COLLINS: Appreciate your time.

Do TV and movies get it right when it comes to the world of the Mafia? The author of a new book takes us inside the world of organized crime. And what's going on when a gorgeous woman falls for the, well, average-looking kind of guy? New research on the rules of attraction and why they're so different for men and women.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Scientists are beginning to figure out why men get turned on by what they see and women get turned on by -- well, all sorts of stuff. Research using brain scans helps explain why, after nearly 10 years, the maker of Viagra just last month gave up trying to show it works for women, too. Joining us now from Los Angeles, frequent contributor Dr. Drew Pinsky, relationship expert and host of the syndicated radio show "Lovelines."

Dr. Drew, what's the deal here? What is so striking in this study?

DR. DREW PINSKY, RELATIONSHIP EXPERT, HOST, "LOVELINES": Well, you said it beautifully. This is good evidence that men are activated, in terms of their appetitive instincts, as a result of visual impression. This study has shown very clearly for the first time using functional MRIs that the amygdala, a part of the brain that's responsible for monitoring novelty and activating appetites, is very, very significantly activated by men when they look at pictures that are sexually arousing. Women may experience arousal when they have these -- when they see the same images, but they aren't triggered into these appetitive kinds of biological experiences that men are.

COLLINS: So what do they like? They like to talk, and they like to spoon, right?

(LAUGHTER)

PINSKY: That's true, but this study didn't specifically show that. I mean, I look at Heidi, and my amygdala goes up.

COLLINS: Aw!

PINSKY: It triggers -- it triggers an appetite. And with the women, it's -- they've shown actually previous to this that when women engage in emotionally significant interaction with another person, they have similar kinds of sexual arousal. So it's much more -- they use -- women use much more of their brain. It's a much more evolved kind of experience, much more interpersonal, inter-subjective, while with men, this is showing very clearly it's extremely visual, and the visual activates appetite.

What's interesting about this is people who want to suggest that perhaps these are socially ingrained phenomenon. The fact is, the reasons researchers started looking at the amygdala is they were seeing these same things in other mammalian males. So this is a biological event. This is something that men can't...

COLLINS: Animals.

PINSKY: ... help. Other animals do the same thing, that are related to us. And it comes -- you know, the bottom line here is, Heidi, you know, you -- you know, we -- we, as the human species, differ from chimpanzees by about 300 base pairs...

COLLINS: Oh, great!

PINSKY: ... of DNA.

COLLINS: That's so encouraging.

PINSKY: But listen, you and I differ by an entire chromosome. And so there's quite a profound difference. We shouldn't be surprised that there are terrific biological differences between how the male and female react.

COLLINS: OK, well, let's go ahead and look at some examples, if we could. We have Pamela Anderson, the obvious...

PINSKY: Right.

COLLINS: ... Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez.

PINSKY: Right.

COLLINS: Now, hang onto your amygdala here. What is the general response from men? I mean, I guess it's a very obvious question.

(LAUGHTER)

PINSKY: Well, the general response is that those -- you know, men tend to parcel off and look at pieces of female, rather than the whole picture or the whole person. And it's those focused images, those focused visual images that then will activate the amygdala, and that information is triggered back to the hypothalamus, which triggers the appetite. The other thing that's interesting about the fact that this is very much an amygdala phenomenon is the amygdala also is the part of the brain that monitors for novelty. This may -- this study didn't suggest this specifically, but it makes me wonder whether a man's need for novelty may be tied into this biological mechanism, as well. COLLINS: All right, Dr. Drew, I'd ask you what it is that women want, but I fear we would be here for, like, oh, at least three more hours or so. So...

PINSKY: We're beginning to figure it out.

COLLINS: We're beginning to figure it out. Well, it's about darn time! Dr. Drew Pinsky, thanks so much, as always. Appreciate it.

PINSKY: Thank you, Heidi. My pleasure.

COLLINS: Beyond "Godfather" and "The Sopranos," a real-life tale of the Mafia in America, how a powerful enforcer turned on his crew and helped to take down the Philadelphia mob.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: We're about to get a rare look inside organized crime. It comes from a journalist who for eight years had the ultimate inside source, a veteran mobster who went on to help the FBI bring down organized crime in Philadelphia. The story is told in the new book, "The Last Gangster." And author George Anastasia is joining us now. Thanks for being with us, Mr. Anastasia.

GEORGE ANASTASIA, AUTHOR, "THE LAST GANGSTER": Thank you.

COLLINS: I know that you spent years, 15 years to be exact, covering the Philadelphia mob. And you struck up with a relationship with this man, who is credited with bringing down the Philadelphia mob...

ANASTASIA: Right.

COLLINS: ... "Big Ron Previti (ph)."

ANASTASIA: Right.

COLLINS: And I'm wondering, what was it that made him seek you out to come and talk to you about his dealings?

ANASTASIA: I think it was part of who he was. Ron Previti was always a player and always was looking at the different angles. And one of the things he wanted when he started talking to me was access to the media. He was trying to establish his credentials in the underworld, at the same time he was an informant for the FBI. And I was writing about him, and writing about him established who he was, helped create that idea within the underworld that he was a player. And he needed that, and that's one of the reasons I think he sought me out.

COLLINS: So what happened to Big Ron? Do you still keep in touch with him?

ANASTASIA: Oh, sure. Yes. I mean, I talk to him on a weekly basis, if not more. He -- but he wore a wire for two years, recorded over 1,400 conversations, and basically brought down this crime family.

COLLINS: Well, for a moment, put it in perspective for us, the size of the Philly mob. I mean, when you compare it to the New York mob, I mean, what are we looking at?

ANASTASIA: Well, I mean, if New York is the varsity, Philadelphia is the junior varsity. The New York crime family's got anywhere from 120 to 200 members. Philadelphia in its heyday had 50 to 60 members. Today it's down to about a dozen members.

COLLINS: But they don't mess around. I mean, you were so inside the mob that there was actually a hit ordered on your life. How did you find out about that?

ANASTASIA: That was -- yes, that was back in 1993. I've been writing about these guys for 15, 16 years. At one point, the mob boss in Philadelphia was very upset with what I was writing and told a guy find out where I live and throw some grenades through the window. I mean, fortunately, that never happened, but...

COLLINS: Yes, fortunately, it didn't. All right. OK. I want to go ahead and -- you know, a segment like this you can't really get by without...

ANASTASIA: Right.

COLLINS: ... talking about "The Sopranos." A lot of people very excited about that show. Let's go ahead and listen, if we could, real quickly to a clip from that. I want to get your reaction to it in a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "THE SOPRANOS")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could be looking at a period of potentially violent power struggle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They got to paint everything the worst, these TV news people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long till dinner?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any familiar names?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In New York, the only old style boss in place is Carmine Lou Bertazzi (ph). He'll soon be rejoined by Angelo Grappe (ph), his former consiglieri. Also Philip Leotardo (ph), long-time Lou Bertazzi captain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you help me here?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: A realistic portrayal of the mob?

ANASTASIA: I think "The Sopranos" captures what it is like today. I mean, the Mafia moved to suburbia and it can't survive in suburbia.

COLLINS: So you like the show?

ANASTASIA: Absolutely.

COLLINS: All right. Not because some other guy in jail told you...

ANASTASIA: No, no. I think David Chase and those guys have nailed it.

COLLINS: Yes.

ANASTASIA: They really have nailed what it's like.

COLLINS: All right. We certainly appreciate your time...

ANASTASIA: Thank you.

COLLINS: ... Mr. Anastasia.

And we are going to toss things over, at this point, to "LARRY KING LIVE." It's coming your way next. Thanks for watching, everybody. We hope you have a great 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

Bitterly Divided Over Election '04?>


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