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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Jersey governor comes out, resigns, Amber Frey captivates court, Massive storms threaten Florida, U.S., Iraqi forces storm Al- Sadr's house, Vice President Cheney takes aim at John Kerry, Convicted sex offender Mary Letourneau to meet young lover
Aired August 12, 2004 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper.
A political scandal brings down a governor.
360 starts now.
New Jersey's governor comes out of the closet in a live press conference and announces he's resigning. A political bombshell. But what's the real reason he's stepping down?
Amber Frey captivates the court. Her recorded calls with Scott Peterson, lie after lie after lie. How much damage is she doing to the defense?
The Sunshine State's state of emergency. Massive storms threaten Florida. Hundreds of thousands told to leave. We're tracking Bonnie and Charley.
U.S. and Iraqi forces storm the house of Muqtada al-Sadr. A day of gunfire, but where's the radical Shi'ite cleric? Tonight we go 360 with Sadr's spokesman.
Dick Cheney takes aim at John Kerry, mocking him for using the word "sensitive." Is the VP trying to be a macho man?
And Mary Kay Letourneau, out of prison and prepping to meet her young love. But what happens now to her kids?
ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.
COOPER: Good evening again.
For much of the afternoon, we've been hearing news that New Jersey Governor James McGreevey may step down. There was old talk of corruption, new talk of a possible lawsuit.
But when the governor reached the podium late this afternoon and started talking for himself, it quickly became clear this was a political speech like no other. McGreevey, a husband and father, with his wife standing by his side, looked into TV cameras and said, quote, "My truth is that I am a gay American."
CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley reports.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The governor of New Jersey has been living a lie.
GOV. JAMES MCGREEVEY (D), NEW JERSEY: At a point in every person's life, one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world. Not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is. And so my truth is that I am a gay American.
CROWLEY: As often happens, a secret has destroyed a public life. Governor James McGreevey is resigning, not, he says, because he's gay, but because he cheated on his wife.
MCGREEVEY: Because shamefully, I engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony. It was wrong, it was foolish, it was inexcusable.
CROWLEY: Still, it was not the affair, but his struggle that McGreevey, wife by his side, spoke of at length.
MCGREEVEY: As a young child, I often felt ambivalent about myself, in fact, confused. By virtue of my traditions and my community, I worked hard to ensure that I was accepted as part of the traditional family of America.
CROWLEY: Married twice, the father of two, and a Roman Catholic, McGreevey was both eloquent and blunt, businesslike and philosophical.
MCGREEVEY: I do not believe that God tortures any person simply for its own sake. I believe that God enables all things to work for the greater good. In this, the 47th year of my life, it is arguably too late to have this discussion, but it is here, and it is now.
CROWLEY: Still, there is a sense of something unsaid in this discussion. Gay politicians are not rare. Many politicians have admitted to affairs but remained in office. And McGreevey's words hint at something more.
MCGREEVEY: Given the circumstances surrounding the affair and its likely impact upon my family and my ability to govern, I have decided the right course of action is to resign.
CROWLEY: He spoke too of the fear of false allegations and made a point to note that his affair was consensual, with an adult.
CROWLEY: Democratic sources tell CNN that a lawsuit from a former McGreevey security aide either has been filed or will be filed. Local stations say it is a sexual harassment suit. As one Democrat put it, today is McGreevey's best day. It is downhill from here, Anderson. COOPER: Well, Candy, and you hinted at your piece. How much do we know about this lawsuit? I'm assuming it is from this person that he talked about having the consensual affair with.
CROWLEY: Yes, that's what we're all assuming. We're kind of waiting to see. I mean, we've called all around, John Mercurio and others in the political unit trying to pin down exactly what's in the suit. We can say that it's a sexual harassment suit. We can say it's from a former security aide. And we are assuming that it is the same person that McGreevey is talking about here, yes.
COOPER: And we can now say, I'm told, and we actually have a photo of the man, Golen Cipel is his name. We are just getting that now for the first time. This is a photo of Mr. Cipel. And as far as we know, Candy, from the reports I have read, he worked for McGreevey. He's actually an Israeli citizen. He had worked for McGreevey on some sort of security initially and sort of a homeland security aide.
CROWLEY: Yes, and there was controversy around him. There were complaints that he had -- that McGreevey had brought him in and gone around the usual vetting process, that some of the credentials as a security aide were not in fact there, or had been blown out of proportion. And so he did in fact resign in -- you know, amidst all this cloud. So, you know, one scandal is sort of approaching the other scandal. They all seem to be merging here.
COOPER: All right. We're going to have more on this later on on 360. Candy Crowley, thanks very much.
In Florida right now, a very different state crisis. A tropical storm hit today, and a more powerful hurricane is on the way. In the St. Petersburg-Tampa region, some 800,000 people are on the move right now, urged to evacuate their homes and seek safety. Hurricane Charley is roaring their way and will strike either late tomorrow or early Saturday. Forecasters say by then its winds will likely top 111 miles an hour, creating a massive storm surge that would leave some areas under water.
It'll have a much bigger punch than tropical storm Bonnie, which withered before making landfall this morning. Still, some people are refusing to take caution. We've heard that so many times before.
CNN's John Zarrella reports from Zephyr Hills, Florida.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighty-three- year-old Kaye Cole lives alone in a mobile home retirement community. She's been here year-round for 15 years, and Hurricane Charley will not scare her out.
KAYE COLE, RETIREE: I'm not going. I'm sorry, I'm not.
ZARRELLA: Kaye knows her mobile home, like any other mobile home, is a dangerous place in a hurricane, even the weakest of storms. But Kaye says she doesn't feel she's physically strong enough to a shelter. There's one a mile away, and she has nowhere else to go.
COLE: I don't know where else I can go. I have no friends that own a cement-block home, I have no relatives down here.
ZARRELLA: John Duarte runs the mobile home park's emergency response team.
JOHN DUARTE, EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM: Do everything you can to be careful, that's all. OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right.
ZARRELLA: There are a few residents here, he says, just like Kaye.
DUARTE: Usually you'll get couple of people that, you know, they haven't been through a hurricane before, don't know what it's like, and say, Well, I'll stay in my home. Well, like we say up north, just leave your next of kin so we know who to notify.
ZARRELLA: Many of the people who live here are snowbirds. They are gone for the summers. It's a few less people Duarte has to worry about as the wind picks up and the clouds begin to gather over Pasco (ph) County.
ZARRELLA: It is bingo night here at the Sundance retirement mobile home park, and the folks here are concerned, really, about who's going to bingo than they are about Hurricane Charley right now. But voluntary evacuations have gone into effect, 6:00 p.m. here in Pasco County, for all residents in mobile homes. Mandatory evacuations expected to be announced for 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.
And the folks here, many of them still saying that they will set, they will stay, ride out the storm, others saying they are going to go. The emergency managers are asking people if they can, and they have friends or relatives, to go there, because there are just barely enough shelter spaces for the numbers of people that are going to be required to evacuate here in Pasco County.
A couple people came up to me this afternoon, asking me what they -- what I thought they should do, because they lived in these mobile homes. And my advice to them was, if the storm is coming this way, get out, Anderson.
COOPER: And there's the calm before the storm right now. John "Bingo" Zarrella, thanks very much, John.
It has been a while since Tampa was the target of a hurricane, and the last one wasn't pretty. Here's a quick flashback for you. The year, 1921, an unnamed category two storm with 100-mile-an-hour winds slams into Tampa Bay, creating a wall of water 10 to 12 feet high. Six people died then. There was more than a million dollars in damage, and one of the bay's islands was cut in two.
Same-sex marriages voided. That story tops our look at what's happening cross-country today.
San Francisco, California, married no more. Today the state supreme court ruled that the city overstepped its bounds by wedding more than 4,000 same-sex couples earlier this year. It ordered San Francisco and county officials to void the licenses.
New York, crude oil prices hit all-time high. The New York Mercantile Exchange says the cost of a barrel reached $45.75 during trading today.
Northern California now, 3,000 acres scorched. A wildfire in the Jones Valley area has destroyed at least 64 homes, forced hundreds of people to evacuate. Another fire 100 miles away near Auroville has burned at least 750 acres.
Eagle, Colorado, an angry letter to the judge. The father of Kobe Bryant's accuser has sent the judge a letter harshly criticizing the way he has handled the sexual assault case. He complained about the case's information leaks and called some of the judge's actions insulting.
Jacksonville, Florida, now, a gun shooting victim can't buy the company. A teenager who was paralyzed in a gun accident lost his bid to buy the company that produced the gun that hurt him. Brandon Maxfield's final bid of $505,000 was $5,000 short of the winning bid, pledged by a man associated with the gunmaker.
That's a quick look at stories cross-country tonight.
360 next, sex, lies, and secret audiotapes. Scott Peterson comes clean to his mistress two weeks after his wife's disappearance. It's all on tape. Find out and hear for yourself what he told her.
Plus, fierce fighting in Iraq. U.S. Marines storm in Najaf. We have exclusive video and an exclusive interview ahead.
Also tonight, Vice President Dick Cheney flexing his muscles and chiding John Kerry over being sensitive. That's raw politics.
First, let's take a look at your picks, the most popular stories on CNN.com right now.
COOPER: Well, she may be the 103rd witness, but she is the star witness. Scott Peterson hasn't uttered an audible word yet in court, but today the jury heard him loud and clear in recorded phone conversations with Amber Frey. It was her third day on the stand, and it certainly will not be the last.
She is, as I said, the prosecution's star witness, designed to show that Scott Peterson is, at the very least, a liar, and that he might have had a motive for murder.
CNN's Ted Rowlands has the latest from the courtroom.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Laci Peterson's mother broke down in court today as prosecutors played audiotapes of Scott Peterson admitting to Amber Frey that he was married, and that his wife, Laci, had been missing for almost two weeks. Frey also broke down at one point later in the day.
On the audiotapes recorded by Frey, Peterson is heard to tell her, quote, "Amber, honestly, to protect you, I can't tell you everything." Frey asks him repeatedly if he was involved. Peterson broke down at times and at one point said, "I would never hurt anyone. I know I hurt you by lying, and I know the situation hurts. You've got to know that physically, I could never hurt anyone."
The court released recordings played earlier this week. On this call, Peterson was about to attend a candlelight vigil for his wife, but claimed he was enjoying New Year's Eve in Paris.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SCOTT PETERSON (on phone): I'm near the Eiffel Tower and the New Year's celebration is unreal. The crowd is huge.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: The next day he continued lying, claiming that a bomb had gone off.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PETERSON: Did you see about the news on Paris?
AMBER FREY (on phone): No, I didn't, actually.
PETERSON: There was a bomb that exploded and riots, the whole deal.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Later, calling from California, he told Frey he hurt himself jogging in Brussels.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FREY: You fell?
PETERSON: Yes, on these cobblestones. They're all on the sidewalk at this angle, and I turned the corner and just -- bam.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Peterson also spends a lot of time telling Frey how much he says he cares for her.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FREY: So what do you want to be together with me?
PETERSON: Well, I mean, obviously my thoughts are that we would be wonderful together. You're so special, Amber.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Late this afternoon, jurors heard Scott Peterson on tape claim that he had told Laci Peterson about Amber Frey. Amber Frey responded, "I've been in this situation before, Scott, and that person was not OK with it. In fact, she wanted to rip my eyes out."
The court has adjourned for the day. The judge told the audience that they should expect two more days of audiotapes being played on -- between Frey and Scott Peterson. And then, of course, it will be Mark Geragos's turn to cross-examine her, Anderson.
COOPER: Ted, hearing those tapes is fascinating. We're going to bring in right now senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin as well to talk about this for the next couple minutes.
And I want to read to you both something else that came out in the court today, one of the -- the -- from the audiotapes. Actually, before we do that, Gloria...
We are shortly going to go to a press conference of Gloria Allred. who is Amber Frey's attorney, will be holding very shortly.
Before we do that, I want to read something that came out today, a key moment. Scott Peterson, this is when he finally told Amber Frey the truth. He said, quote, "I have lied to you that I've been traveling. The girl I'm married to, her name is Laci, she disappeared just before Christmas. For the past two weeks I've been in Modesto with her family and mine, searching for her. She just disappeared, and no one knows where she's been."
I mean, Ted, what was Scott Peterson's reaction to this in the court? What was the courtroom's reaction?
ROWLANDS: Well, the courtroom was intently listening to it all today. Scott Peterson, no reaction. He just followed along as the transcripts were being played. As we mentioned in the piece, though, both Amber Frey and Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha, broke down at times, Sharon Rocha breaking down at the reality of the situation.
And a lot of people in this courtroom were in Modesto during these statements, and they go back in their minds to see where they were. Very emotional inside. Scott Peterson, though, no visible emotion being shown.
COOPER: It is just a fascinating day.
Gloria Allred, we're told, is approaching the mike. Let's go to this press conference again. She is Amber Frey's attorney and has given press conference several nights now. GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY'S ATTORNEY: Can I start? Is it OK? OK.
There have been some people who have asked me about why Amber was crying in the courtroom as one of the telephone tape recordings was being played. And it brought back painful memories to her. That was the reason.
Just a few remarks about today's tape-recorded conversations between Amber and Scott. I think we see Amber's vulnerability and her emotional response in several parts of the tape. For example, the part in which Amber said to Scott, "Do you feel that she's honestly going to be found alive?" and Scott said, "I've been losing hope." Amber, "You've been losing hope?" Scott, "For the last couple days. Amber, "Life does not lose hope. That hope, that hope never dies until she is found."
Also, I think that Scott's idea about truth and honesty appears to be generous, somewhat twisted. Amber, "You didn't think you knew you lied to me?" Scott, "No, no, no, I have always told you the truth." Frey, "Oh, really?" Scott, "Let me- -- well, no, with exceptions, obviously."
Well, here's my comment about his truth with exceptions. Exceptions like the fact that he presented himself as unmarried, that he had no children, that the only child he could see himself having if he and Amber were together was Diana (ph), and that is while he has a pregnant wife at home carrying his child. The fact he lied about being in Maine and Europe during the holidays, and the many calls he made from Modesto while he was pretending to be in Europe after his wife went missing. The lies he told on his first date as to where he lived.
These are what he must be referring to as the exceptions to the truth. The problem for him is that when you eliminate the exceptions, what is left is absolutely nothing.
I think it's astonishing that he won't even confirm this is his baby. He is being so careful and self-protective at this point, and the question is, why? Is that the behavior of someone that is innocent, so worried about his guilt and not revealing anything that he is even afraid to confirm that his wife, Laci, was carrying his baby?
I would correct that to say, so worried about potentially thought to be guilty.
What does that tell you about his state of mind? Scott says that he will answer all of her questions when there has been a resolution, which he defines as finding Laci. If he thought at that point in time that Laci would never be found, then he would never have to explain all of his lies.
I think it's also noteworthy that Scott said in the tape-recorded telephone conversations that we heard today that he thinks about Amber all the time. He also said, in what we heard this afternoon, that Laci was aware of his relationship with Amber. He says that she was fine with that. And my reaction to that is, how believable is that? A pregnant woman expecting her first baby, finding out that her husband is having an affair, and being fine with it?
He also says that he was going to give her a dinner invitation to meet the folks, that's Amber meeting his folks. He says that he would introduce her as someone so special to me and so wonderful. He says that was going to happen soon. My reaction to that, how believable is that? He's going to introduce...
COOPER: We're going to drop out of this press conference Gloria Allred is giving, Amber Frey's attorney.
Jeff, Jeffrey Toobin, senior legal analyst standing by, has the prosecution gotten what they needed out of Amber Frey so far?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, in a way, they may have gotten too much. Clearly, what they wanted to do was establish a motive for murder. This is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE), extramarital affair, he wanted to get rid of his wife, that's a potential, that's a potential motive.
They are spending so much time with her, they are dwelling on Scott's lies to Amber Frey at such length, I think there is a possibility, and maybe it's just a possibility, that they could alienate the jury. Because I have heard jurors say in cases that, you know, sometimes prosecutors just try to dirty up a defendant with irrelevant bad facts.
COOPER: It becomes too much.
TOOBIN: And it becomes too much when they think there -- that this is not what the case is about. This case is not about whether he was a terrible husband, whether he was a liar, whether he was a boor, a cad, a bum. It's about whether he murdered his wife.
COOPER: And these tapes say nothing about.
TOOBIN: And these tapes don't say that. And I think it really bears repeating.
COOPER: Jeffrey Toobin, fascinating. Thanks very much for being with us.
COOPER: 360 next, a fierce firefight in Iraq. Marines storm the house of a militia leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. We have the exclusive video and an exclusive video with his spokesman.
Also tonight, political bombshell. Standing by her man, New Jersey's governor comes out as his wife stands by his side.
And a little later, the latest on Mary Kaye Letourneau and her possible reunion with her young lover.
COOPER: From the pictures in Najaf today, you might have thought the U.S. military's promised offensive against Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi militia had begun. Not so, said U.S. authorities. It was only a clearing operation against a few pockets of resistance, but thick, black smoke, as you can see, filled the skies (UNINTELLIGIBLE) helicopter gunships.
Joining us from Najaf with the latest, CNN's Matthew Chance. Matthew?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Anderson.
And, in fact, quite a big offensive has been underway now for the course of this day. Thousands of troops, according to U.S. military officials that we've spoken to, have been deployed in Najaf in and around that city, trying to battle the Mehdi Army, forces loyal to the radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
A lot of firefights inside Najaf. We been seeing tanks backed by helicopter gunships basically really cracking down on the insurgents in that city.
Also, this exclusive CNN video of a raid on the house of Muqtada al-Sadr. Now, it's not clear why they raided it. They said they knew in advance that he wouldn't be there, or at least they suspected strongly that he wouldn't be. But they wanted to see what they could find inside that may lead them to the locations of other Mehdi Army fighters.
They also say they wanted to send a strong message that even the leader of this Mehdi Army would not be immune to this wide operation to crack down on them, Anderson.
COOPER: Matthew Chance, how active is this operation? I mean, is this ongoing? Is this -- will this continue tomorrow?
CHANCE: Yes, I mean, look, this is a really big operation. They are saying here in Najaf that this is the operation to crack down. And you can hear that the tank shells going on right behind me now. This is an operation to crack down on the Mehdi Army and to finish them once and for all.
There have been intensive efforts to try and get Muqtada al-Sadr into the political fold, but, you know, that just hasn't worked. And so now, it seems that the U.S. military, in conjunction with the Iraqi interim government, are choosing the military option to finish this Mehdi off -- Mehdi Army off themselves.
COOPER: All right, Matthew Chance, stay safe in Najaf. Thanks, Matthew.
In the streets of Baghdad today, a few hundred protesters call for a complete American withdrawal. Sixteen of Najaf's 30-member provisional council resigned to protest the U.S.-led operation.
Earlier, I talked with a spokesman for Muqtada al-Sadr, who denies the Mehdi Army is using the shrine of Ali as a base of military operations.
Sheik Al-Ubeidi, have you been able to communicate at all with Muqtada al-Sadr? And if so, what has he said? Where is he, and what are his plans?
SHEIK SALAH AL-UBEIDI, MUQTADA AL-SADR SPOKESMAN: He's now in Najaf city, inside Najaf city.
COOPER: And what are his intentions at this point? Is he planning any -- he and the Mehdi Army planning to continue to fight?
AL-UBEIDI: Muqtada al-Sadr insists to continue being in Najaf. He said that an-Najaf is my city, and no one has the right to tell me get out of it.
COOPER: As far as we can tell from reporters on the ground, nobody is trying to attack the shrine of Ali, and yet your fighters continue to occupy it, and in fact, have you have launched mortars from the courtyard of the holiest site. How can you justify that?
AL-UBEIDI: Believe me, there are several false news concerning this point. The fighters are not inside the holy shrine of Imam Ali. Believe me, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
COOPER: So, so they, they have not (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
AL-UBEIDI: ... because...
COOPER: They have not launched mortars. There has been video of mortars, some 25 mortar shells being launched, as well as photographs shown this morning in a press conference by the Iraqi government, of fighters launching attacks from the shrine compound. Are those fake?
AL-UBEIDI: From inside the shrine compound? I don't believe it from inside, because it is something forbidden for us to go inside the shrine with our arms.
COOPER: Help me understand, you keep saying that you are fighting the Americans. There's now an Iraqi government in Iraq, the people who you -- and your forces have been killing often are Iraqi policemen, Iraqi government, and from what I understand, someone from the Mehdi Army has threatened to bomb Iraqi oil pipelines in the south in retaliation. You keep talking as if you are fighting foreigners, you are not, you are fighting and killing Iraqis. How is that justified?
AL-UBEIDI: Today, the raid which was started by the American troops again on the house of Muqtada al Sadr is therefore captures Muqtada al Sadr himself, and a person like Muqtada al Sadr, who were very -- you see, a national figure, an Islamic figure and very typical figure for Shia. We can't accept that he will be between the hands of American soldiers who may humiliate him like what has happened in Abu Ghraib.
COOPER: And therefore the U.S. military and Iraqi authorities say they're not trying to kill or capture him, at this point, Muqtada al Sadr. They're main by going against the Mehdi Army. But my basic question is, how can you justify threatening to bomb Iraqi oil pipelines, or kill Iraqi policemen at this point in time as an Iraqi yourself?
AL-UBEIDI: The American troops using, as I told you, forbidden bombs and forbidden arms against them. So, they try to give themselves the right to defend themselves, that all the Iraqi government places may be not being in peace if this -- if this fight continued. Now, if the Iraqi government accepts to stop the fighting and come in negotiation, everything will be OK.
COOPER: Sheik Sala Al-Ubeidi, we appreciate you joining us. Thank you very much.
AL-UBEIDI: OK. Thanks for you.
COOPER: New Jersey's governor comes out of the closet in a live press conference and announces he's resigning. A political bombshell, but what's the real reason he's stepping down?
Dick Cheney takes aim at John Kerry, mocking him for using the word sensitive. Is the V.P. trying to be a macho man?
And Mary Kay LeTourneau, out of prison and prepping to meet her young love. What happens now to her kids? 360 continues.
COOPER: Well, as political bomb shells go, it was a big one. New Jersey governor James McGreevey may have delivered the most personal resignation speech by a politician in a long time this afternoon. In a surprising admission, McGreevey, a husband and father, announced he was gay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAMES E. MCGREEVEY, (D) NEW JERSEY: Throughout my life, I have grappled with my own identity, who I am. As a young child, I often felt ambivalent about myself, in fact, confused. I married my first wife Carrie out of respect and love, and together we have a wonderful, extraordinary daughter.
I then had the blessing of marrying Dina, whose love and joy for life has been an incredible source of strength for me. And together we have the most beautiful daughter.
Yet, at my most reflective, maybe even spiritual level, there were points in my life when I began to question what an acceptable reality really meant for me. Were there realities from which I was running? Which master I was trying to serve?
I do not believe God tortures any person simply for its own sake. I believe that God enables all things to work for the greater good.
In this, the 47th year of my life, it is arguably too late to have this discussion, but it is here, and it is now.
At a point in every person's life, one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world. Not as we may want to see it, or hope to see it, but as it is. And so my truth is that I am a gay American.
I am also here today, because shamefully I engaged in adult consensual affair with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony. It was wrong, it was foolish, it was inexcusable, and for this I ask the forgiveness and the grace of my wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A little later on 360, I'll talk with author and commentator Arianna Huffington. Her ex-husband, former California congressman and former Senate candiate Michael Huffington revealed he was gay after their divorce.
Today's "Buzz" is this what do you think? "Would you vote for a gay politician?" Log on to cnn.com/360. Cast your vote. Results at the end of the program tonight.
In another corner of the political universe today, Senator John Kerry was in California trying to keep the campaign focused on his proposal for what he calls a $400 billion middle-class tax cut. The distraction, and not so veiled charge that Kerry isn't man enough to lead this country in wartime. It's an attack made by none other than vice president Dick Cheney. His evidence? Kerry said he would wage a more sensitive war against terror.
CNN's John king has more on this full-scale war of word. And its pure raw politics.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vice president led the new attack.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those who threaten us and kill innocents around the world do not need to be treated more sensitively, they need to be destroyed.
KING: Aides said Senator Kerry had no intention to personally responding and getting into another back and forth with the Bush campaign over national security issues. But reporters caught up to the Democratic nominee after an economic speech in California.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's sad they can only be negative. They have nothing to say about the future vision of America. I think Americans want a positive vision for the future.
KING: In the speech at issue, Senator Kerry vowed to destroy terrorist networks. Aides say by promising to be more sensitive, he simply meant more diplomatic with other countries. Much as President Bush used the term 6 weeks after taking office.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Precisely because America is powerful, we must be sensitive about expressing our power and influence.
KING: The Bush campaign attacks are designed to protect a critical campaign edge, a 13-point advantage over Senator Kerry when voters are asked who would better handle terrorism better. Senator Kerry plans two weeks on focusing on the economy, which his campaign says is issue most important to voters.
(on camera): But senior Kerry advisers concede the Bush/Cheney campaign has had some success in raising questions, if not doubts, about Senator Kerry's views on Iraq and his broader approach to the war on terrorism. These Kerry advisers attribute the attacks to a worried Bush White House, but concede they need to do a better job in answering them. John King, CNN, Carson, California.
COOPER: Well it was supposed to be a journey to a better life. 86 people left the poverty, inflation and unemployment of the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico on board a 30 foot wooden boat. But the engine failed, and drifting in the open sea in the hot sun, with little food and water, terrible, unspeakable things appear to have happened.
COOPER (voice-over): The 86 passengers had nearly reached their destination, an island off Puerto Rico, when survivors say the boat's outboard motor failed and they were set adrift. The captain abandoned ship saying he would be back with help. He never returned.
Three days later, food and water ran out. Survivors say some of the passengers lost their minds jumping overboard into the shark- infested waters. By day five, the migrants were dying from hunger and sunstroke. Those who survived tell a harrowing tale.
Thoustina Santana (ph) describes how some of the women were set upon by men who wanted their breast milk, even though some weren't lactating. She told of one woman who gave all she could, until she couldn't produce anymore. But she said, some of the men went crazy and wouldn't leave her alone. She told of seeing a woman thrown overboard for not allowing other passengers to have her breast milk. The body of one woman was found covered in bite marks and bruises.
Doctors who treated the survivors, some told them when all other hope was lost, they considered cannibalism. Of eating just the ears of the dead, the doctors said in the end, they did it.
Rescuers said they would continue to search in hopes of finding someone else alive, but that hope is fading fast. For now 55 are dead, and the 31 survivors suffering from dehydration, sunstroke, many mourning the loss of family and friends.
COOPER: And all just searching for a better life.
360 next, Mary Kay Letourneau, a registered sex offender, what kind of relationship will the former teacher have with her former victim, a former student? I'll talk to his lawyer.
COOPER: Mary Kay Letourneau, planning to reunite with her young lover. 360 next.
COOPER: Mary Kay Letourneau is trying to move on with her life. Out of prison a week, the former teacher is living in a neighborhood near Seattle, registered as a sex offender, due to her affair with one her students.
The question now is, when will they be reunited?
CNN's Kimberly Osias, reports on what may happen next for the couple.
KIMBERLY OSIAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a private lane tucked away, south of Seattle, right under the flight path -- lies the Hidden Valley Estates, where ex-convict Mary Kay Letourneau, now lives.
CLAY ELLSWORTH, NEIGHBOR: It doesn't bother me. I don't think she's a threat to the neighborhood in anyway. I mean, I don't think she's going to jump some 10-year-old walking down the road, you know.
OSIAS: The former teacher has found a place to stay with retirees Bob and Mary Eldridge. After seven years in prison, convicted of raping then 13-year-old Vili Fualaau, her student at the time, now the father of two of her daughters. She's free. Twenty- four hours after her release, she had to get fingerprinted and registered as a level 2 sex offender. Last week, Fualaau, now a 21- year-old consenting adult, convinced a court to lift a life time no contact ban, keeping him away from his former teacher.
SCOTT STEWART, VILI FUALAAU's ATTORNEY: I think he's just very excited about actually having contact with her.
OSIAS: While the book and movie deal may be in the offing, Fualaau's attorney, Scott Stewart, says the couple is driven by more serious concerns.
STEWART: I don't think they're playing games. I think they're concerned about their families. I think, they're specifically concerned about the children, and reconnecting with each other. OSIAS: For the next three years, Letourneau, will be under close watch as a sex offender. Meeting with authorities every 90 days to discuss the details of her life, where she works, where she lives, and who she dates. Friends say she's only interested in Fualaau and raising their two girls, five year old Alexis, and 7-year-old Audrey. Insiders say a reunion is planned in the next several days, somewhere in Washington State.
Kimberly Osias, CNN, Seattle.
COOPER: A short time ago I had a chance to speak directly to Scott Stewart, the attorney for Vili Fualaau.
COOPER: At this point Mary Kay Letourneau has not seen Vili Fualaau.
When do they plan on meeting?
STEWART: I don't know the exact answer to that. I know that Vili is really excited about and looking forward to meeting with Mary Kay, but I don't know that any specific arrangements have been made. I'm expecting it's going to be in the next very short while.
COOPER: I think some people would have assumed that they had already have met.
Why haven't they?
STEWART: I don't know the answer to that, either. I mean, I kind of wondered. I mean, they're two adults. I think mostly what's going on, and it makes sense, is that everyone was kind of surprised the no-contact order had been lifted. And I think I've said before, I did have a conversation with Mary Kay, and she had made arrangements essentially to connect with her children. I think she wants to connect with her children independent of the media frenzy that's surrounding the case. I mean, her and Vili, will get together eventually. She's very much looking forward to that. But she doesn't want the whole media thing to involve her family beyond her relationship with, Vili.
COOPER: Has there been talk at this point of what happens to the children that she had with Fualaau. I mean, they've been raised so far by Fualaau's mom.
Will that continue to be the case or do you anticipate Mary Kay Letourneau trying to get custody of them?
STEWART: And I don't know the answer to that. That would be something you would have to take up with a family law attorney.
COOPER: How does he strike you? I mean, kind of young man is he. STEWART: You know, I've met with him a number of times now. He's intelligent, he's articulate, somewhat reserved and quiet, but he strikes me as a mature young man, especially at 21. I've been impressed with him and his reaction to all of this.
COOPER: How much of -- sort of decisions, at this point are going to be made based on financial decisions?
We've talked to some -- to one reporter who had spoken to Fualaau a while ago, and sort of thought, they would be looking for some sort of financial incentives, some sort of book deals, some sort of movie deals.
Have you been in discussions with Fualaau about that?
STEWART: No. Essentially my understanding of all the attorney's -- and there's been a lot of issues, obviously. There was the no- contact order. There are issues surrounding the conditions that have been set on Mary Kay with regarding to her criminal sentence. We're all just kind of stepping back and hoping that Mary Kay and Vili can get together and decide where they want to take this. It's going to be up to them. And At Least in my conversations with, Vili, and also in a limited contact with Mary Kay, I'm confident they're going to make some very good choices.
COOPER: How did she seem to you when you spoke with her?
STEWART: She seemed very concerned about her children, and she seemed very excited about meeting with Vili, but wanting to make sure she protected her children, I think, from the -- not so much protect her children, as that she was able to connect with her children, independent of all the media frenzy that's going on here in Seattle.
COOPER: You reference her children, you're talking about her two children with Fualaau or her four -- the four children from her previous marriage.
STEWART: I think she's concerned about all of them.
COOPER: What's the next step for you in terms of where this thing goes legally?
STEWART: Mostly right now, I'm kicked back. I've told Vili, I'm here if he has any questions. He needs to connect with Mary Kay and decide where they want to go.
COOPER: Scott Stewart, thank you very much.
STEWART: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up on 360, more on the surprising admission of James McGreevey. Next on 360, we'll talk to a commentator and author, whose ex-husband, a former Senate candidate, announced he was bisexual. Arianna Huffington, joins me now. Also tonight, what's in a name, perhaps more than you think.
We'll take that to the "The Nth Degree"
COOPER: It was a political bombshell few saw coming. The New Jersey Governor James McGreevey making this intensely personal admission during his resignation speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAMES MCGREEVEY (D), NEW JERSEY: Shamefully, I engaged in an adult consensual affair with another man which violates my bonds of matrimony. It was wrong, it was foolish, it was inexcusable, and for this I ask the forgiveness and the grace of my wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: For more I'm joined from Los Angeles by author and commentator Arianna Huffington. Her ex-husband, former California congressman and former Senate candidate Michael Huffington revealed he was bisexual after their divorce. Arianna, good to see you tonight.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, AUTHOR, "FANATICS & FOOLS": Good to see you, Anderson.
COOPER: As you were watching -- as I was watching this press conference, I think all eyes were on Governor McGreevey, but you couldn't help but think about his wife. What went through your mind as you were looking at this?
HUFFINGTON: Well, you know, I was thinking how doubly hard it must have been for her, because on top of the personal turmoil that goes through any woman's life, or went through my life when my own ex- husband at the time, which of course made it much easier, announced he was bisexual. On top of all that, on top of her concern for her daughter, who mercifully is only two years old, must be the public drama.
Here is a governor acknowledging he's gay, stepping down, and on top of it, there is the major complication of an affair with a male employee who he says was consensual, there might be a lawsuit pending about sexual harassment. All that of course massively complicates what is already a very very difficult emotional battle that any woman whose husband or ex-husband admits that, has to go through.
COOPER: I mean, you went through this in the full glare of the public eye, really just as Governor McGreevey's wife is going through it. To have to stand there and sort of listen to her husband make this announcement sort of stoicly, it was a remarkable press conference.
HUFFINGTON: It was remarkable, and I think it also shows, Anderson, given that today here in California the supreme court ruled against acknowledging the 4,000 marriages that took place in San Francisco, it shows what a long way we still have to go in accepting gay men and women, both in their personal choices and in our public life. And the fact that this is being used as a Bush administration as a wedge issue in this election makes it, of course, all that much harder for people to come up with their own choices.
COOPER: Do you think it matters for politicians these days? There are plenty of gay politicians.
HUFFINGTON: There are not plenty.
COOPER: Well, not plenty. There are some. At least there are some who are open. There are probably many more who aren't open about it. Do you think it matters though to voters?
HUFFINGTON: Well, it obviously matters to some voters. I mean there are only three members of Congress, as you know, two Democrats, one Republican, who are openly gay, no senators, and though governors now, with McGreevey stepping down as of November 15. So clearly, even though we'd like to pretend that we are completely accepting of people's personal sexual choices, the truth is that right now Republicans are trying to equate morality with sexual choices, and that is very troubling in politics.
COOPER: What's your advice for the McGreevey family? How does one move on from this?
HUFFINGTON: Well, first of all, I think he's absolutely doing the right thing stepping down, given the affair and given the potential threat of a lawsuit. I think if that was not happening, it would have been great for him to say I'm openly gay, obviously I'm getting divorced, but I'm staying in office. But that complication, which could end up having legal implications, of course, makes that impossible. I mean, everything else, they'll have to work out on their own.
There are unfortunately no shortcuts. I remember getting, you know, thousands of letters and e-mails from women who have been in similar situations, and they're all offering advice, but in the end, you have to chart your own course. And if you are dealing with children who are older than Mrs. McGreevey's like -- Jim McGreevey's first daughter from his first marriage is 11, that of course makes it doubly hard.
COOPER: Well, it was a remarkable political moment and extraordinarily painful personal moment, I'm sure for the family. Arianna Huffington, thank you for being with us tonight.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you.
COOPER: 360 next. The name game. Is your name hot or not? We take that to the Nth Degree.
And tomorrow Hurricane Charley taking aim at Florida. I'll be in Tampa with live coverage tomorrow night on 360. First today's buzz. "Would you vote for a gay politician?" Log on to CNN.com/360. Cast your vote now. Results when we come back.
COOPER: Time now for the buzz now. Earlier we asked you, "would you vote for a gay politician?" More than 42,000 of you voted. 67 percent said yes, 33 percent no. Not a scientific poll certainly but it is your buzz and we appreciate you voting.
Tonight, taking names to the Nth Degree. What's in a name, you say? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Shakespeare may have been a great writer, but he's got nothing on Amy Profers (ph), a grad student at M.I.T. Profers did a study using the website Hotornot.com which showed that names do have meaning.
See, Profers' study showed that photos of men with names like Matt or or Dave or Jake were rated hotter than the same photos with names like Lou or John or Tom. The difference appears to be that names with vowels pronounced in the front of the mouth were viewed as being hotter than names with vowels formed at back of the mouth.
The study showed exactly the opposite effect for women. Those with names with back vowels like Laura or Robin were viewed as hotter than those with front vowels such as Melanie or Amy.
So parents take note that what you name your child has important long-term effects. Decades from now someone could be rating them as hot or not on a website. Won't you be proud.
We leave you with this possible solution. Parents of boys should all name them Anderson, a very hot front-vowel name and parents of girls should all name them Cooper an equally hot back-vowel name. No pressure.
Thanks for watching. I'm Anderson Cooper. Coming up next, "PAULA ZAHN NOW."
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