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Parity at the Polls; Internet Terror Threats; Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Aired July 13, 2004 - 9:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. Bill and Soledad are off this weekend -- or this week.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm in -- the whole week.

COLLINS: And weekend.

COOPER: Sure, why not. I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us.

Some of the news making headlines this morning, we have another set of poll numbers to look at this morning; new numbers coming out yesterday. Has John Kerry picked up any momentum in the week since choosing John Edwards as his VP? Whatever happened to that Edwards bounce? We'll take a look at that. Kelly Wallace and Bill Schneider here to help us out with that.

COLLINS: Also this morning, part two in our series of lying, looking at just how acceptable it is to stretch the truth in the world of business.

COOPER: And standing by, Jack Cafferty.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Something, by the way, that never helps in television...


COLLINS: Correct.

CAFFERTY: ... stretching the truth.

COLLINS: Correct.

CAFFERTY: Why do -- why do men make more than women? They're not supposed to. We had a law about this 40 years ago, but it hasn't seemed to have changed things much.

COOPER: And take a look at what's going on right now this morning.

President Bush begins a two-day campaign swing through the upper Midwest today. For his part, Senator John Kerry is spending the day in Boston, where he is expected to work on the Democratic convention speech he's going to deliver later this month. Some new polls, despite showing the race a virtual dead heat, are giving both sides something to smile about. National correspondent Kelly Wallace takes a look.



KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Kerry got a bounce, but not a very big one after selecting John Edwards as his running mate. According to a CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup poll, the Kerry-Edwards ticket scores 50 percent with likely voters, versus 45 percent for Bush-Cheney, a jump of three points for the Democratic challenger since last month.

Bush-Cheney campaign aides say they fully expected the senator to be in the lead until after the Democratic Convention. Their goal now? Keep the president in the news, with stops today and tomorrow in the Midwest battleground states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Some good and bad news for Mr. Bush. A Gallup poll shows that a majority, 51 percent, now thinks the economy is getting better, compared with 43 percent in May. However, a majority still says sending U.S. troops to Iraq was a mistake. Aware of the polls and a Senate report sharply criticizing the administration's pre-war intelligence, the president yesterday fiercely defended his decision to invade Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a choice to make, either take the word of a madman or defend America. Given that choice, I will defend America every time.

WALLACE (on camera): The Bush-Cheney message, that the president's actions have made the U.S. safer. When John Kerry heard that, he made an impromptu appearance before the TV cameras.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not enough just to give speeches. America will only be safer when we get results.

WALLACE (voice-over): And the tit for tat didn't stop there.

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president made the right decision, and John Kerry is simply trying to rewrite history for his own political purposes.

WALLACE: Kerry and Edwards are keeping separate schedules this week.

KERRY: I'm feeling this withdrawal, you know.

WALLACE: Edwards is up on Capitol Hill today, on the road tomorrow, ending up in North Carolina, his home state, which may not be in play, according to hour CNN poll. Likely voters in North Carolina choosing Bush-Cheney by 15 points over the hometown boy and his boss.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Here to talk about those presidential campaign numbers, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Good morning, Bill.


COOPER: Kelly mentioning at the end of her piece there the numbers in North Carolina. Let's take a look at that poll -- those poll results from July 9th through 11th. Bush, 56 percent, Kerry 41 percent for a likely choice for president. A substantial lead for President Bush. What do you think accounts for that in North Carolina?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it's a vote on President Bush. And he's way ahead there. It doesn't look like Kerry's putting Edwards' hometown -- home state boy on the ticket is doing a lot of good. It raises the question, maybe the voters of North Carolina don't like their home state senator and they don't really care if he's on the ticket or not. At least that's a plausible possibility.

COOPER: But if you look at the -- at another answer to the poll, the opinion of candidates, Edwards has -- in North Carolina, this is, Edwards has very favorable, 63 percent -- excuse me -- yet it doesn't seem to be translating for Kerry.

SCHNEIDER: No, look at those numbers. Edwards is more popular than Bush in North Carolina. They like him. They really like him.

So, clearly, they're not voting on Edwards. While as you see, those numbers for Bush, 55 percent like President Bush, 40 percent don't. Those are very close to the way North Carolina voters are actually voting.

What does it suggest? It suggests they're not voting on Edwards. They like him. He's a nice guy. They respect the fact that he's on the ticket. But that's not what this election is all about.

COOPER: There's another poll I want to show you. I find it a little bit confusing. I hope you can explain it. Voters who like Bush and Edwards in North Carolina, Bush 74 percent, Kerry 23 percent. Why is this significant?

SCHNEIDER: That's significant because it says, what about the people who like both Bush, the President, and John Edwards, their home state senator? Are they voting for the Democrats because they like Edwards or are they voting to re-elect President Bush?

By three to one, we see right here -- by three to one, voters who like both Edwards and Bush are voting overwhelming three to one for Bush. That clinches the point that this is a vote for President. People are not voting for vice president, even in Edwards' home state of North Carolina.

COOPER: I'm not big on conventional wisdom, but I guess conventional wisdom is that John Edwards appeals to younger voters. How important are they going to be in this coming election?

SCHNEIDER: Well, younger voters, that's where Kerry and Edwards really got their bounce. The polling shows that they jumped about 10 points among voters under 50, which we shall call younger voters. The voters over 50, there was no gain at all.

The question is, will younger voters actually show up? That's always a question in every election, because they vote in far smaller numbers than older voters. But if they do show up, they seem to like John Edwards.

He's the voice and face of change, so there could be a big boost for the Democrats. But we've tried it election after election. People talk about the youth vote and it never quite materializes.

COOPER: Yes, 1992 being a big year for youth vote, and also the last one before that was 1972. So a big gap there. We'll see what happens this time around. Bill Schneider, thanks.


COOPER: Heidi?

COLLINS: Homeland Security officials say intelligence continues to indicate that al Qaeda is planning a major attack against the U.S. Part of that intelligence can be found in a very public forum, the Internet. Here's Justice correspondent Kelli Arena.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Web site reads in part, "Oh, Allah, destroy America and shake it." This one says, "The decisive battle is approaching."

Such threats are not new to terror experts who scan hundreds of al Qaeda-related Web sites daily. But recently, some say there is more reason to worry. Experts say threats are coming with greater frequency, and from more reliable sources.

EVAN KOHLMANN, GLOBALTERRORALERT.COM: A lot of the chatter that we're seeing is not coming from unidentified, unspecified sources on Internet chat boards. It's coming from the same sources that have predicted before terrorist acts that have actually occurred.

ARENA: One such source warned of attacks in Spain three months before the bombings there in March and distributed video of the beheading of American Nick Berg. It's called Global Islamic Media.

KOHLMANN: ... is now saying that the death blows and the approaching battles are coming. That the death blows are upon us, and that these death blows will not only be horrible, but they are sure to happen. ARENA: Some of the potential targets mentioned include hospitals, parks, airports and houses of worship.

GABRIEL WEIMANN, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE: We see many targets mentioned. And if you are involved in psychological warfare, you know that the more targets you mention, the more panic you cause, and it will be harder to defend against the attacks.

ARENA: What's more, Weimann says even if the postings are pure propaganda, they help terrorists accomplish their goal.

WEIMANN: I think al Qaeda knows that one of the most important values of terrorism is psychological impact. That is, you can widen the scope of the victims by enlarging it to the people who are affected psychologically.

ARENA (on camera): Officials are taking the Web chatter very seriously and have reached out to a variety of experts for assistance. Many are convinced al Qaeda is prepared to strike and are intent on not missing any clues.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


COLLINS: Homeland Security officials have expressed concerns over a possible terror attack, particularly as the political conventions approach -- Anderson.

COOPER: I don't know if you saw last night, former Enron chairman and chief executive, Ken Lay, said he never expected to be indicted after his company's failure. Last night on "LARRY KING LIVE," Lay was asked, "What do you say to the 5,000 employees who lost their jobs and the many who lost their savings as well?" This is his answer.


KEN LAY, FMR. ENRON CEO: I'm incredibly sorry. I mean, I grieve for them. I honestly still grieve for them and probably will until the day I die, Larry.

I mean, as I said earlier, I've always taken my responsibility of my employees very seriously. I've always tried to provide opportunities for them. And -- and indeed, let them realize growth and potential and even financial success like they probably never dreamed of.

And indeed, Larry, we -- we had the most creative, the brightest, most accomplished group of employees in -- certainly in our industry, maybe in many other industries. We were competing with the very best and biggest companies in the world for the best talent. And they loved working at Enron, just like I did.

But I -- I grieve for all that they've lost. And -- and we -- I mean, even having lost what we've lost, I mean, we are so much better off. My family is so much better off than most of them. And it just -- it pains me each and every day of my life.


COOPER: Lay says that he and his wife are overwhelmingly well treated by former employees and other people that they come across -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Some wild weather across the nation. A blinding dust storm hit the Phoenix area. Huge walls of dust brought rain and heavy winds yesterday. So far, no reports of severe damage, though. The National Weather Service says the area could get more of the same today.

Heavy rains flooded streets in northeastern Maryland. The deluge left about a dozen people homeless as floodwaters rose as high as five feet in the streets. Fire crews rescued stranded motorists, and police were urging people to stay put until the water recedes. No injuries have been reported. Very lucky in both fronts there.

Checking on the weather now, Chad Myers at the CNN Center with the very latest on the forecast.


COOPER: All right. It is a rainy day here in New York. Chad, thanks very much.

It is just 11 minutes past the hour. Time for a look at some of the other top stories with Daryn Kagan in Atlanta -- Daryn.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, let's start with some good news, beginning in Florida. CNN confirming that a missing teenage girl there has been found. Officials had issued an Amber Alert for the teen after this video surveillance camera had shown her leaving a shopping center with four young men. The girl was found earlier today in a nearby county.

There has been an explosion in Baghdad (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division was struck by two hand grenades in central Baghdad. There were no casualties. In the southeastern part of the capital, three Iraqi civilians were hurt by an explosion at a work site.

Also in Iraq, the family of a Filipino man being held hostage is there awaiting his release. Diplomatic sources in Baghdad telling CNN they believe the hostage will be freed today, following an agreement from the Philippine government to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Lawmakers are gearing up for a showdown over same-sex marriage. The Senate has been debating a federal marriage amendment since last week. It defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. A vote on the bill is expected tomorrow. President Bush favors the amendment, senators John Kerry and John Edwards oppose it.

And to Florida. Tarzan's tiger is on the loose. It has escaped, at least the tiger of an actor who once played Tarzan. The search is on this morning for actor Steven Sipek's 6-year-old tiger. Sipek was Tarzan in the movies in the 1960s. Florida game officials are searching near the Loxahatchee, Florida, area. That's about 15 miles west of Palm Beach.

They have set up a perimeter around the (AUDIO GAP) neighborhood. Apparently, Sipek, he was known as Steve Hawkes back in the day when he was Tarzan. And he has a number of these exotic cats. Lets them roam his house even when he's sleeping. A different kind of guy.

COOPER: There you go.


COOPER: All right. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Daryn, thanks very much.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty and the "Question of the Day."

Hey, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Thanks, Anderson.

Morgan Stanley paying out $54 million yesterday to settle charges that included discrimination when it comes to paying men and women equally. Despite the fact that we passed something called the Equal Pay Act back in 1963, national figures show that men still earn considerably more than women do on average.

So the question is, why is that? Why are still -- men still making more money than women? "Because men still make the decisions on the money and they don't, can't, won't recognize that women are better workers and that women support their families and homes just as much as men." That from Susan in Dallas, Texas.

Warren in Chicago, "Let's not kid ourselves. The white male determines what women or minorities make and how far they move up in the work force. White males who own or run major corporations discriminate. They only hire white males in powerful positions. Just look around at the major corporations."

Dean in Marlton, New Jersey, "Why are men still making more money than women? It's a matter of supply and demand. Most women demand that their men make as much money as they can, and so the men are compelled to supply it. In contrast, however, most men do not make such demands upon their women. Therefore, women are not as compelled..."

I don't even know why I read the rest of that. It wasn't very good. The first part was all right.


CAFFERTY: Mark in Granite City, Illinois, "I'm one of those in the trenches of America's lower class. And I can assure you, women who can't do the same job as me shouldn't be making as much. They still get promotions because the boss wants to date them."

And Ian in Yorktown Heights, New York, "It's simple, really. It costs a fortune to support a woman."

COLLINS: Some women. Not all.

CAFFERTY: Just reading what Ian wrote here.

COLLINS: All right. Very good. Thanks, Jack.

CAFFERTY: You're welcome.

COLLINS: Lies, they're at the heart of the headline-grabbing business scandals. You know what we're talking about, Enron, WorldCom, ImClone. This morning, we continue a weeklong series exploring the truth about lying with a look at how and why lies are told in business.


COLLINS (voice-over): You could say Barry Minkow was a pioneer in the business world.

BARRY MINKOW, FMR. BUSINESS OWNER: We were the first company, really, to lie to the auditors, get clean opinions from three different auditing firms to inflate earnings and not disclose all the debt.

COLLINS: At 16, Minkow started a carpet-cleaning company. And by age 20, he had a $240 million company and was referred to as a whiz kid of Wall Street. And at 23, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for defrauding investors of $26 million.

MINKOW: I was a crook. And, you know, although I started it with the best of intentions, the company ran into financial difficulty. And I lied and cheated to keep it running.

COLLINS: What Barry Minkow did resembles the recent accusations against many high-profile corporations lying about what you earn and owe to make more money. According to Minkow, right and wrong means something different in the business world.

MINKOW: Right equals forward motion, wrong is anybody who gets in my way.

COLLINS: That, says author David Callahan, is because the cheating culture sometimes makes it necessary to lie to get ahead.

DAVID CALLAHAN, AUTHOR, "THE CHEATING CULTURE": Lawyers will say, hey, everybody in my firm is over-billing. If I don't also pad my hours, I'm not going to be considered for partner. I'm not going to get a bonus. I'm not going to get ahead in the firm.

COLLINS: In many cases, Callahan says we are cheating and lying more. Tax evasion has more than doubled since 1990 to $250 billion a year. And he says workplace theft totals $600 billion a year.

CALLAHAN: If you're not cheating, then you're not playing by the real rules. You're playing by an abstract moral code that has no relevance in today's society.

MINKOW: We have to sleep at night, too. We don't want to look at ourselves at parties as big con men. It's a means to an end.

COLLINS: And in the end, Barry Minkow paid for his crime. Today, he works to prevent others from getting swindled. His Fraud Discovery Institute has helped law enforcement agencies uncover more than $1 billion worth of fraud.

MINKOW: You'd have to have been there and done that to know what to test for. I think most CEOs are honest. So I'm not on a witch hunt. But every one of them is going to be tempted at one time in their business life.


COLLINS: We'll continue our series on "The Truth About Lying" tomorrow with a look at an issue in the news lately, military interrogations and how interrogators get at the truth.

COOPER: Well, Ken Jennings is this close to winning $1 million. His record 29 wins so far in "Jeopardy" have made him a celebrity and about $27,000 short of $1 million. Last night, he read the top ten list on "The Late Show With David Letterman." The category was how to irritate "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek.



KEN JENNINGS, JEOPARDY CHAMPION: Give Courtney Love directions to his house.


LETTERMAN: Number three...

JENNINGS: Complain that he's not nearly as Trebeky in person.

LETTERMAN: And the number one way to irritate Alex Trebek...

JENNINGS: Insist on buying a vowel.

LETTERMAN: Yeah, that will do it right there.



COOPER: Now, I said it on my show last night. I'm going to say it again. I challenge this man to a head-to-head competition.

COLLINS: Really?

COOPER: As a former "Jeopardy" champion of admittedly a dumbed- down version of "Celebrity Jeopardy."

COLLINS: So if he calls you, you're going to have him on? Are you going to duke it out?

COOPER: I will take him on. I will take him on. I will win.

COLLINS: This is some serious confidence, people. I like it.

COOPER: Yeah. Yeah, serious.


COOPER: No, you know, I -- anyway, I won't go there. I don't need to prove myself. That's all right.

COLLINS: You're right. You don't.

COOPER: Still to come this morning -- it was a dumbed-down version, sadly. Still to come, a brand-new kind of toob top. Watch what you wear, literally. You'll want to stay tuned for that.

COLLINS: I guess so.

All right. Also ahead, if you're on the fence, maybe the candidate's kids can get your vote. "Political Pop" ahead.

COOPER: Also, everybody wants fab abs like Janet Jackson or Oscar de la Hoya. I guess. There you go. But what does it take to get them? The author of "The Abs Diet" tells us. That's -- no, that's -- all right, we'll be right back on AMERICAN MORNING.


COOPER: A vote is expected in the Senate later this week on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Now, supporters may not have enough votes to pass it, but as congressional correspondent Ed Henry reports, the timing of vote may be a bigger issue than the amendment itself.


SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I can't think of anything more important than the basic social building block of our country. And that's what marriage is. That's what the family is. And it is in jeopardy. It is in -- it is in serious real jeopardy as a result of what the courts are doing.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I celebrate marriage. I understand the difficulties in working to keep it together. But I really believe that this is a waste of time.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republicans admit it's unlikely they'll have the votes to pass the amendment. And Democrats gained an unexpected ally in their fight to stop it. Lynne Cheney, who has a lesbian daughter, said that her husband had it right during the last presidential campaign, when he said the federal government should steer clear of this issue.

LYNNE CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY'S WIFE: Well, I thought that the formulation that he used in 2000 was very good. You know, first of all, to be clear that people should be free to enter into relationships that they choose. And secondly, to recognize what's historically been the situation, that when it comes to conferring legal status on relationships, that is a matter left to the states.

HENRY: But the vice president said in January he will support whatever position that President Bush takes. And the president has flatly rejected the state's rights' argument.

BUSH: If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage to be changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.

HENRY: Aides to Senator John Kerry charged that Republicans are just trying to rally their conservative base on the eve of this summer's conventions at the expense of more pressing issues.

MICHAEL MEEHAN, KERRY-EDWARDS SPOKESMAN: They want to have a political divisive wedge issue discussion. They can't pass a budget. They can't give us more money for port security or bioterrorism or rail security.

HENRY (on camera): Senators John Kerry and John Edwards will be returning to the chamber this week to vote against the constitutional amendment. Republicans believe that will hurt the Democratic ticket at a time when values has become a major issue on the campaign trail. But Democrats counter that if Republicans push this issue too hard, it will backfire with moderate swing voters.

Ed Henry, CNN, Capitol Hill.


COOPER: And today's debate is expected to resume in about an hour on Capitol Hill -- Heidi.

COLLINS: A natural reversal could make the compass point south. Scientists have noticed that Earth's magnetic field is getting weaker. It's happened before in the Earth's history.

Over time, polarity reverses and north becomes south. That affects technology, like power grids, but it also turns the natural world upside down, confusing migratory birds and fish, even widening the ozone holes. The process will takes thousands of years, and the experts don't really expect a major catastrophe here. Interesting, nonetheless.

COOPER: I don't get that story at all.

COLLINS: Just talking about it. The birds are going to be confused.

COOPER: It's going to happen a thousand years from now?


COOPER: I was thinking like this afternoon this thing was going to happen. I was like going to take the day off and like, you know, try to move somewhere.

COLLINS: Got to teach some birds how to fly the right way.


COLLINS: All right.

Well, the T-shirt has often been used to communicate a message. And now, Jeanne Moos has found something that really helps you get the picture.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Please stay tuned for T-shirt TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What in heaven's name?

MOOS: An 11-inch screen, four built-in speakers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that is awesome!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like I shouldn't be looking at their chest!

MOOS: That's not what guys say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You kill two birds with one stone, you know. Get to watch a movie and a get a thrill at the same time.

MOOS: Must-see TV, but must not touch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's the on and off switch!

MOOS: Just like with any TV, you can do it manually or with a remote. But only creator Adam Hollander of Brand Marketers is allowed to fine-tune the T-shirts. The models are used to the jokes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, the boob tube.

MOOS: And then there's the line actor Tom Hanks used when he crossed paths with a T-shirt TV-wearing model.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you're very attractive for a flat- chested girl. MOOS: Right now, T-shirt TV is being used to promote the movie, "I, Robot." It plays digitized media, and it played a live feed from a video camera shooting us.

ADAM HOLLANDER, BRAND MARKETERS: Every time we wear it out, people ask, "Where can I buy it?" They offer us money for it.

MOOS: This is no $10 T-shirt. Until the technology gets cheaper, a T-shirt TV would run several thousand dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does it hurt to wear that?

MOOS: No, the models say it feels like a push-up bra, though even the pushiest bra doesn't weigh seven pounds and take 10 minutes to put on.

MOOS (on camera): I mean, this really is, it's a Teletubby.


MOOS: Well, Teleboobies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Teleboobies, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to cleavage?

MOOS: Cleavage is out.

(voice-over): This is a set men can't resist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better than boobs!

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COOPER: We don't see Tinkie Winkie enough on TV these days.

COLLINS: No Tinkie Winkie.

COOPER: LaLa and Po.

Still to come this AMERICAN MORNING...

COLLINS: A little scary that you know that.

COOPER: ... last week, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge warned about possible terror attacks. But the alert level stayed at yellow. Now some lawmakers want to overhaul the entire system. We're going to talk with one of them ahead.


COOPER: And the opening bell is just about to ring on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average starting trading at 10,238, up 25 points yesterday. There it is. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) folks there. At the Nasdaq market site, the Composite Index opens at 1,936, down more than nine points.

And it...

COLLINS: They have much more interesting music there.

COOPER: A lot more.

It is just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Anderson Cooper. Bill and Soledad are off this week.

COLLINS: I'm Heidi Collins. Some of the news making headlines now.

Congressional investigators are starting to raise more questions about the color-coded terror alert system. You've seen this before. Is it time, though, to scrap this system? We'll talk to a member of Congress all about that.

COOPER: Yes. Also, is it possible for a diet to target which fat you want to burn? We're going to talk to the author of "The Ab Diet" about a way he says he you can lose weight in your belly.

COLLINS: I like it.


COLLINS: Looking forward to that.

COOPER: I personally don't have abs, so...

COLLINS: Really?

COOPER: Yeah. It will be interesting to see...

COLLINS: How do you get up?

COOPER: I don't know. I don't know. Weights and pulleys. The whole lever system.

COLLINS: All right. Can't wait for that story. Thanks, Anderson.

And congressional investigators are reportedly joining the chorus now of criticism of the nation's color-coded warning system for possible terrorist attacks. According to "The Wall Street Journal," the General Accounting Office issued a report yesterday urging that the system be overhauled. And a bipartisan group of House members says legislation will be introduced to do just that.

California Democrat Jane Harman is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. She is in Washington and joins us now.

Good morning to you.

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Good morning. COLLINS: I'm wondering, Representative Harman, the GAO, as you know, has -- has issued this report, but how do you change this system and still alert the public at the same time?

HARMAN: Well, let me say first that the threats are real. I'm the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and I've been briefed in, you know, highly classified settings. And I -- I really am concerned about a possible next wave of attacks in the United States before the election. But the only threat warning system we should have is one that gives people specific information about what to look for and what to do. And we don't have that.

I thought Tom Ridge sounded like an interior decorator last week talking about what all the new things we can do with yellow. So I recommend we scrap that system and do something else. The GAO is right, the legislation that we're drafting on the House side, part of a Homeland Security bill, would direct Ridge to brief regionally more than he does. No national briefs unless there's specific information.

COLLINS: Representative Harman, let -- let me just ask you this. Obviously, some of that information that comes to the Homeland Security Department is classified.

HARMAN: Right.

COLLINS: How do you get the information out in such a way that classified information is not released and people are still on alert?

HARMAN: Well, there are several ways to do it. We already do some of that. There's what's called the tear line, where the classified piece, which is the source of the information, how we got the information, is deleted. But the basic bottom-line information goes out over some of these law enforcement systems, like...

COLLINS: Well, how specific should it be then?

HARMAN: Well, hopefully, and what we really want is -- you know, this is just imaginary, terrorists planning attacks on the New York subways on such and such a date, and that alerts law enforcement to guard those subways or stop those trains. And it alerts the public not to use those trains, or to take special care, et cetera.

That's what we want. It doesn't matter to the people taking precautions how we got the information. That's the classified piece.

COLLINS: OK, but...

HARMAN: We want specific information about what to look for and what to do to get out to the public and to the first responder community.

COLLINS: OK. So I am understanding you to say that that information, as direct and specific as it could be in the example you just gave, should not only go to the local authorities, it should also still go to the public?

HARMAN: It depends. Yes, if the public is, for example, using that mode of transportation.

If there's some reason -- I really can't -- let's say it has to do with some kind of a biological or chemical weapon, perhaps not go to the public, because there might be nothing the public could do. The whole point is, this should be actionable information. Those getting it should get guidance on what to do.

COLLINS: Quickly, before we let you go Representative Harman, I want to hear -- you mentioned Tom Ridge. I want to listen in a little bit to some of the sound that he gave last week, talking about this very system. Stand by for just one second.


TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The terrorist threat level doesn't have to change in order for us to continue to build in preventive and additional security measures. One of the reasons that we are cautious about taking up the national threat level, it is very, very labor intensive. You cannot sustain it indefinitely. It is physically and emotionally very, very taxing.


COLLINS: Your reaction to that?

HARMAN: Well, I agree with that. But what we're risking in these generalized national briefings is threat fatigue, or the cry wolf syndrome. People won't tune in anymore. And then they will miss the -- the chance to protect themselves fully.

I think we're doing this wrong. There should be a course of correction. The Homeland Security Department could do this without legislation. I'm sorry they're not.

COLLINS: All right. Representative Jane Harman this morning. Thanks so much for your time.

HARMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: Domino's makes its debut, while Google deals a blow to the Big Board. Plus, let the airfare sales begin. With that and a check back on the markets, Christine Romans is "Minding Your Business."

Good morning.


Stocks up very slightly today. The Dow is about six points. So don't get too excited about that. The Nasdaq up about three points.

But what people are excited about is this IPO, Domino's. DPZ is the ticker symbol there.

Also, Google will call the Nasdaq its new Wall Street home when it has its initial public offering. That means it sells shares to the public. We're expecting that maybe in a month. They're not exactly sure when, but people are really excited about that.

One thing they're talking about on Wall Street, though, are concerns about June, and maybe a little lull in the economy. A rough patch, if you will.

And one thing the airlines are doing to get out ahead of that, they are dropping their fares. You won't believe some of these fares. I just personally got a trip to Chicago for $160.


ROMANS: Really.


COOPER: Round trip?

ROMANS: American Airlines. I'm telling you.


ROMANS: Round trip on the perfect times. But you can match that on any of the other airlines as well. It was started by Southwest and JetBlue and these small carriers that aren't so small anymore, $29 to $99 one way on JetBlue. That's cheap.

Southwest, $39 to $99 one way. Airtran $44 to $129.

COOPER: Are these things you've got to buy long in advance, though?

ROMANS: If you buy these for the fall, yes. I mean, you know, if you can plan pretty well in advance, that's really good. But my ticket that I got was just two weeks from now.


ROMANS: Really cheap. So concerns about a slowdown in the economy, airlines jumping in there and really dropping their fares.

COLLINS: Which is kind of odd, because they usually expect to have a really busy summer season. So...

ROMANS: These are for fall, mostly fall. Although the ticket I got was pretty cheap.

So, anyway, Wall Street pretty quiet today. Everyone's talking about the airfare sales. Also talking about the Google IPO, whenever it comes, it will be over on the Nasdaq. And that slice of Domino's.

COLLINS: All right.

ROMANS: Love that slice of Domino's.

COLLINS: All right. Thanks so much, Christine.


COLLINS: Still to come this morning, summer is here. Don't you wish you had six-pack abs? We're going to check it out a little bit later on. Some simple tips on exactly how you can get them.

COOPER: Also ahead, another bump on the road to Athens. The Olympic host city has one more thing to worry about.

Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.


COOPER: So Dr. Gupta is on assignment. A new entry in the diet wars attacks, though. One kind of fat it says you can't stomach, belly fat. "The Abs Diet" lets you eat and exercise your way to a flat tummy and a six-pack in just six weeks. Author David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of "Men's Health" magazine, joins us now to explain how it works.

David, thanks you for being with us.


COOPER: OK. Why is it so important to target the abs? Is it just to look good?

ZINCZENKO: Well, no. It's not just a vanity play. There are a number of reasons that you want to go after abdominal fat.

First of all, it's the deadliest fat in your body. It is the fat that kills you. It sits there deep in your belly, it presses against your organs, it feeds them poisons, it messes with their daily function.

COOPER: Visceral fat they call it.

ZINCZENKO: Visceral fat. And it causes things like -- it causes things like heart disease, some forms of cancer, diabetes. So if you're able to strip that away, you can start to show abs. And that's important, because a strong midsection will improve your sex life, it's going to beat back pain, it's going to help you stay healthier.

COOPER: So this book, it's got a whole diet plan. But don't you need, I mean, like, you know, a personal chef and a huge workout program as well?

ZINCZENKO: No, absolutely not. The workout program in the -- in "The Abs Diet" is a 20-minute, three-day-a-week routine that you can do with just a set of dumbbells, full body. In terms of the eating plan, everything in the -- in the book is very quick and easy to do. It's for everyone, men and women and...

COOPER: Let's look at some of the fundamentals of the diet. Let's talk first about the Atkins -- for the Atkins folks out there. Can you eat carbs? ZINCZENKO: Yes, you're going to eat carbs. You're going to enjoy carbs, and you're going to eat a lot of them. A lot of the diet plans are really about subtracting. This is about adding.

You're going to add foods. And carbs are important, because they're nutrient-rich and your body craves them just the way it craves burgers and chips. You need fruits and grains and vegetables and juices.

COOPER: Let's look at sort of the backbone of the plan. Almonds and nuts, beans and legumes, spinach and other green vegetables, that's how you -- that's what, starting off?

ZINCZENKO: Yes. There's a simple mental trick called The Abs Diet Power 12 -- Abs Diet Power, 12 letters, 12 foods that you should be eating. Abs is almonds, beans and spinach. Diet is dairy, instant oatmeal, eggs and turkey. Power is peanut butter, olive ole, whole grain breads and cereals. E is extra protein if you're exercising a lot. And then R is raspberries and other berries.

And if you use that simple mental trick when you're -- to kind of serve as a supermarket survival guide, and eat six times a day with those kinds of foods, you're going to very quickly, in a period of six weeks, lose up to 25 pounds of fat and gain up to six pounds of muscle.

COOPER: Up to 25 pounds, really in six weeks?

ZINCZENKO: Yes. Yes. Well, we've had success stories.

Right now, there are 36,000 people who are on "The Abs Diet" challenge, which you can enroll in at and possibly win a car. And these people are just saying that this -- this plan is transforming them.

COOPER: Hmm, "The Abs Diet" challenge. Maybe I'll take it. All right. David, thanks very much.

ZINCZENKO: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, still to come, if your doctor told you your cholesterol levels were healthy, you might want to get another checkup. That story ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


COLLINS: Forty-five minutes past the hour now. Time for another look at today's headlines with Daryn Kagan.

Hey, Daryn.

KAGAN: Heidi, we are going to start on the campaign trial. And for that, we begin with President Bush, who is heading to the Midwest today, rallying in Michigan and Minnesota, then riding with his campaign bus to Wisconsin tomorrow. Meanwhile, Democratic Senator John Kerry is wrapping up a four- state campaign tour. His running mate, Senator John Edwards, heads to the Midwest tomorrow.

A new CNN/Gallup poll showing Senator Kerry gaining popularity with voters. Out of more than a thousand likely voters, about half now support the senator. And some 46 percent surveyed would vote for President Bush. The poll shows Kerry gaining two percentage points since last month.

In health, heart patients are being urged to lower cholesterol to rock-bottom levels. Officials pointing to a new guideline calling on patients to lower their so-called bad cholesterol known as LDL to 70. That previous guideline was 100. The recommendation appears in the "American Heart Association Journal" circulation.

A major power outage in Athens, Greece, crippled the city as it's getting ready for the Olympics. It was the worst blackout in more than a decade and it hit shortly after noon. It stopped traffic signals and stranded trolley passengers. Hundreds of people were trapped in elevators. The power outage lasted three hours. The government blamed mismanagement of the country's electricity grid.

Record-high temperatures north of Los Angeles are not helping firefighters battle several wildfires in the Lake Hughes area, near the Angeles National Forest. This fire has grown to 1,900 acres. Choking smoke is forcing some homeowners there to evacuate, and the heat is making it treacherous for the firefighters trying to control the flames. Three suffered heat exhaustion yesterday.

Heidi, back to you.

COLLINS: Hmm, looks awful there. Hey, Daryn, what's coming up at 10:00 for you?

KAGAN: We are going to look at the U.S. Senate. It is two sentences long, and yet it is one of the most controversial potential amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would ban gay marriage. What Republicans are trying to do to get that passed, that's just ahead. Two full hours of news starting at the top of the hour.

Heidi, back to you.

COLLINS: All right. Thanks a lot, Daryn.

Getting a look at the weather now for the day ahead. Chad Myers is at the CNN Center with the very latest on all of that.


COLLINS: Hey, and Chad, I love the Mandalay Bay cam. That's pretty cool.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. You know what? You can get on their Web site, too, KVBC, and they've got four different cameras you can click on live all the time. COLLINS: Any advice on the tables come with that?

MYERS: Don't play.

COLLINS: Don't play. Got you.

MYERS: That's how you win.


COLLINS: All right. Chad, thanks a lot.

MYERS: But, of course, that's impossible.

COOPER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty with the "Question of the Day." And dare I say, it is the most interesting "Question of the Day" we've had all this week.

CAFFERTY: No it's not.

COOPER: Well...

CAFFERTY: What was the question yesterday?

COOPER: I honestly don't remember.

CAFFERTY: I don't either. I guess that would make today's the most interesting.

COOPER: Who do you want to switch faces with, right?

CAFFERTY: No, that was Friday.


CAFFERTY: That was last Friday. What was the question yesterday? Nobody knows.

COOPER: I'll think of it.

CAFFERTY: It's all right.

COOPER: Read the answers today and I'll think of it.

CAFFERTY: No. I've got to see somebody about attaching more significance to my life.

Something called the Equal Pay Act in 1963 was supposed to prevent discrepancies between men and women when it comes to paychecks. But it ain't happening. Men still make more than women. That's the question, why.

Sue writes, "It's not just pay and equality within job types. Since men have controlled things so long, men have decided that jobs held by women aren't as valuable. Who decided swinging a hammer was more worthy of good pay than running an office or caring for children or the elderly?"

Terry in Baltimore, Maryland, a woman, "As a female business owner, I paid a good deal of attention to how females negotiate salaries with me versus how men do. I can tell you, hands down, men have been more aggressive in their salary negotiations. I don't think women have less interest in making more money."

"What I do believe is women feel if they get too pushy they'll be perceived in a negative manner. You know, the 'B' word."

And finally, Valerie writes, "Jack, it's simple. Viagra's $10 a pill. Mom just needs a nap."

COOPER: Oy, oy.


COOPER: By the way, the "Question of the Day" yesterday was, what will be the deciding factor in this year's election?

CAFFERTY: What was the answer?

COLLINS: There were several. There were several, weren't there?

COOPER: All right. Thanks, Jack.

Still to come this morning, throughout the campaign, the candidates will tell you they share your values. But there's a good chance you don't share their wealth. That's ahead in "Political Pop."

Stay with us.


COOPER: It's time now for a segment we call "Political Pop." So, panelists, assume your positions.

On the left, Democratic strategist Karen Finney. Holding the middle is John DeVore, political satirist for "Maxim" magazine. And on the right, Jay Nordlinger, managing editor of "National Review."

Thanks for being with us this morning.




COOPER: All right, Karen, let's start off with you. Put on your boxing gloves.

Last week, you had the Edwards' kids kind of stealing the limelight. Now, the Bush twins are going out on the campaign trail for their dad. How much do the candidates' kids actually affect people's votes? FINNEY: I think they do to a degree. I mean, people like to see the pictures. We all saw those pictures last week of Kerry and Edwards and their beautiful families, you know, walking over the hills in Pennsylvania. But I think -- and obviously the consultants, we like to see the kids out there because it reminds people, hey, this guy is warm and fuzzy and he's like you, he's got a family.

But I think you've got to also be careful to make sure that the kids are able to handle that attention, because sometimes, you know, once they're out there, kind of the gloves are off and they're kind of fair game. And certainly the Bush daughters, there have been a few controversies.


FINNEY: Of course not.

DEVORE: I will say, Jenna Bush is the one first daughter I'd most like to go on a margarita bender with.

COOPER: Oh, yikes!

DEVORE: I don't know if that gets my vote, but...

COOPER: All right, Jay, what about you? What do you think? Do the kids matter?

NORDLINGER: I guess so. It depends on the kid. Some parents aren't so lucky. But the Bush daughters are now out of school. They're adults. They can make their own decisions. They should probably be an asset, or at least not a harm.

DEVORE: They seem very willful, too. That's what I like about the Bush daughters. You know, they seem...

NORDLINGER: No, they're not patsies.

DEVORE: Right, right.

COOPER: And I guess they're going to be used to kind of talk to young people. I guess that's sort of often how these kids are used.

FINNEY: Absolutely. And, you know, there's always a curiosity about, you know, the children of, you know, politicians. You know, so, they'll be out there talking to young people and sort of talking about what their father has done. And, you know, it's a good way to use them.

COOPER: Let's talk about the gay marriage debate. Jay, do you think it's going to be really a lightning rod, this issue? I mean, is it a wedge issue?

NORDLINGER: Sure, sure it is. I think it will be important. A lot of people don't want to think about it. Others do. But the candidates are going to have to grapple with it. It's a very, very sticky issue. COOPER: Why are they going to have to grapple with it, though? I mean, it's basically the Republicans who are bringing it up? Why are they bringing it up now?

NORDLINGER: Well, there's an amendment on table, and a lot of Republicans and others think it's a very, very big issue -- the radical definition of a very human institution. It's a tough subject, but it's big. And a lot of people think it ought to be handled in the political realm rather than merely the judicial realm.

COOPER: There's an amendment on the table. But why?

FINNEY: But you know what?

COOPER: Why is there an amendment on the table?

FINNEY: Well, but given the fact that the Republicans know that they don't have the votes to pass it. The only reason that it's on the table, this is an absolutely pander to the far right, which recently...


FINNEY: Absolutely. And they recently voiced their disappointment with President Bush, particularly because they're going to be, as it were, in the closet during the convention. They're not going to really have any of the primetime speaking roles. So, this is kind of a pander to them to say, hey, we're going to take care of some of your issues.

DEVORE: Polls show that a majority of Americans are against gay marriage, but that same majority is against anti-gay bigotry. In the case of, like, Lynne Cheney's recent statements about it being a state's right issue, I think it's the Republicans trying to reposition the conflict, so they don't come looking like bigots...

FINNEY: But I also...

DEVORE: ... which is what I think the Democrats are trying to make the issue about.

FINNEY: Well, but I think the other...

COOPER: Well, Jay, you disagree with Karen, that this is...

NORDLINGER: I don't think it's pander. I think they believe in this.

FINNEY: It's...

NORDLINGER: I think they find gay marriage alarming.

FINNEY: But it's the timing. It's the timing.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: But all of the reports were that the president -- that the president sort of had backed off it and then was sort of pressured into it of late. I mean, these are the reports.

NORDLINGER: Those are the reports. I'm not sure that's true. I heard the president talk about this last year. I don't think he wanted to go to an amendment. I think he felt he had to in light of what the Massachusetts court did and so on.

COOPER: So, you think his pressure came from the Massachusetts court, not from the conservative wing of his party.

NORDLINGER: He says -- and I believe him -- that he is responding to judicial actions that he wished hadn't taken place.

COOPER: All right, Karen, last word on this.

FINNEY: But, you know, I'm sorry. You can't disagree with the timing of it, though. It is a little bit suspicious. And certainly, the campaign has tried to cast, you know, Kerry as a Massachusetts liberal, sort of out of step with American values. When actually what Americans really care about is the war in Iraq and the economy. So, why isn't the president talking more about that? This is not the issue that's top of mind for American voters, and I think polls are showing that.

NORDLINGER: Rest easy. It will backfire on the Republicans if you're right.

FINNEY: Absolutely.

COOPER: All right, let's go on to the next topic. John, Republicans are kind of talking about pointing to the Democrats saying that they're all millionaires.

DEVORE: Right.

COOPER: Is this the pot calling the kettle black?

DEVORE: It is in a way. I mean, in a way, it's also kind of relative. I mean, none of the four -- all of the four candidates are millionaire rich white guys, but it is relative because they don't -- you know, they don't know what it's like it be broke for the next paycheck and not pay phone bills. But I don't know what it's like when my Jacuzzi breaks down.

COOPER: But some of them are only single-digit millionaires and some are double-digit millionaires. I guess that's the big discrepancy there.

NORDLINGER: One is a billionaire.

FINNEY: We probably should just call it a day on the issue, because they're kind of all even.

NORDLINGER: I think that's... FINNEY: But, you know, what's interesting is John Edwards' story is a compelling story. He's a millionaire, but he didn't start out that way.

DEVORE: He's the one, I think, that understands the hearts of the working class.


COOPER: Well, more so. Jay says, oh, please.

NORDLINGER: I didn't mean to physically hurt you.

FINNEY: He started out...

COOPER: All right, we're going to have to leave it there. Karen Finney, John DeVore and Jay Nordlinger, thanks very much.

NORDLINGER: Thank you.

FINNEY: Good to be here.

COOPER: All right -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Thanks, Anderson. Coming up on CNN, steroids in sports. Track star Marion Jones is just one of the big names questioned in the latest scandal. Now Congress is getting involved with a hearing today. CNN will have that live in the next hour with Daryn Kagan on "CNN LIVE TODAY."

And AMERICAN MORNING will be back in just a moment.


COOPER: Mary Kay Letourneau is about to get out of jail. Tonight, on "360," we're going to talk to the author of a book about Letourneau's relationship with a teen and the impact it has had on both of them. That's tonight at 7:00 Eastern Time.

CAFFERTY: You may -- you may want to re-title the show just for one night only, "The Aristocrats."

COOPER: I don't get it.

CAFFERTY: Wasn't she the one who had that affair with some 10- year-old kid and had a couple of babies with him and wound up going to jail?

COOPER: Well, he wasn't quite 10. He was a high school student, yes. He was...

CAFFERTY: I mean, it's just awful.

COOPER: It's -- yeah, completely bizarre story. And she's about to get out of jail. And she -- these two kids who she had with this kid are being raised by the kid's mom. It's a really bizarre story. CAFFERTY: Well, I say, "The Aristocrats."

COOPER: There you go.

COLLINS: Bizarre, indeed.

COOPER: All right.

COLLINS: But, needless to say, we're finished here. We're going to turn things over to Daryn Kagan at the CNN Center to take you through the next few hours.

Hi, Daryn.

COOPER: Hey, Daryn.

KAGAN: Speaking of bizarre, here's Daryn. I know, you were just waiting -- waiting to say that.


KAGAN: You want strange? OK.

COOPER: No, no, no.

KAGAN: Hey, you guys have a great day in New York City. I will see you early tomorrow morning, 7:00 a.m. Eastern. We'll get started here.


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