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Secret Bush Tapes Revealed; California Mudslide Traps Residents; Living to 100

Aired February 21, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening from New York. I'm Anderson Cooper.
The secret recordings of George W. Bush. A man he once called friend goes public.

360 starts now.

The secret Bush tapes, recorded while he was weighing his run for the White House. Why did the man who called George W. Bush a friend tape his private conversations? Tonight, the tapes that have Washington talking. And we go one-on-one with the man who made them. Was he really recording history, or betraying George Bush?

A California mudslide traps residents in their home as extreme weathers hammers the West Coast. Tonight, we're tracking the storm and take you beyond the headlines with a rescue team pulling people to safety.

What happened to this pregnant woman and her son, missing in Texas? An Amber Alert is issued after a pool of blood is found in their home. Tonight, the latest on the search for Lisa and Jayden Underwood.

An expert skier who lived to push the limits plunges off a cliff. His friends search the snow for signs of life. Tonight, we you take to the mountain's edge, an extreme skier and the freak accident that cost him his life.

And living to 100. More and more are doing it. The question is how. Tonight, a new look at aging. What you can do and eat to stay younger longer.

ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: Good evening again. Hope you had a good day so far. Welcome to a special two-hour edition of 360.

We begin tonight with a startling revelation. Doug Wead, motivational speaker, writer, and former special assistant to the first President Bush, a man who was close enough to George W. Bush to sit around jawing and chewing the fat with him, turns out to have tape recorded hours of those just-us-guys conversations he and Mr. Bush had. He did all of this without the future president's knowledge. In a moment, I'll talk with Mr. Wead in his first, and perhaps last, prime-time interview.

But first, those tapes. Here is CNN's Judy Woodruff.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tale of the tapes, new, and yet, in many ways, familiar. The secretly recorded conversations between the president and his friend show the George W. Bush we've all come to know, a family man, a man of faith and ambition, a man who made mistakes in his youth, mistakes he doesn't want to run away from, but doesn't really want to talk about, either, like whether or not he used drugs and why he wouldn't address that question.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), TEXAS: I wouldn't answer the marijuana question. You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried.

DOUGLAS WEAD, AUTHOR, "THE RAISING OF A PRESIDENT": Yes, and it never stops, the questions.

BUSH: But, but, but you got to understand, I want to be president. I want to lead. I want to set -- Do you want your little kid say, Hey, Daddy, President Bush tried marijuana, I think I will?


WOODRUFF: More interesting in the current political climate, perhaps, the then-Texas governor comments about his devotion to Christianity. Bush told Doug Wead the Bible was his guide. But the man now pushing a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage saying a more tolerant tune back then on gay rights.


WEAD: He's saying that you promised you would not appoint gays to office.

BUSH: No. What I said was, I wouldn't fire gays. I'm not going to discriminate against people.


WOODRUFF: In the tapes, Bush also took stock of his potential political rivals, praising future Attorney General John Ashcroft as a man of integrity and potential vice presidential material, belittling Steve Forbes as too preppy and mean-spirited. And Bush waved off challenger John McCain. Quote, "He's going to wear very thin," predicted the future president, "when all is said and done."

Judy Woodruff, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: A White House spokesman said that the tapes were, quote, "casual conversations with somebody Bush considered a friend." "Considered," in past tense.

Joining us now to talk about these tapes and the making and the meaning of them is the man who did the recording in the first place, Doug Wead.

We appreciate you being with us.

WEAD: Thank you.

COOPER: When you heard that White House statement, with "friend" in past tense, have you lost George W. Bush as a friend?

WEAD: Well, I don't know. He's -- I still will be friendly to him. And I admire him, and I think he's an exciting personality. I believe he will be a pivotal figure in history. And that's part of the reason, perhaps in my naivete, I started recording.

COOPER: Well, you've, I mean, the last 48 hours...

WEAD: In fact, I started recording in 1988.

COOPER: Nineteen eighty-eight.


COOPER: Why did you start?

WEAD: But they were with his approval then. So I had quite a number of (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: So he knew initially you were recording?

WEAD: Initially, they were interviews with him, and I saved those interviews.

COOPER: Interviews for what, a possible book, or...

WEAD: Well, it was interviews for a book that I ghost -- was the ghost writer for his father.


WEAD: And so I interviewed the son too then.

COOPER: But then why did you continue after you had done that book, why continue taping him?

WEAD: Well, I didn't. I didn't until, in the years leading up to his run for the presidency. And there were a number of practical reasons to begin with. One, I took extensive notes of what I was supposed to do and say, and they were very complicated. They were exact wording, because some of them were news stories that I was supposed to help spin or -- And by recording, I could play it back, I could hear exactly what he wanted. They were never going to see the light of day. I thought it would make me better for him and more effective for him. And this...

COOPER: So you still say you never planned to publish these, you never planned to make them public.

WEAD: Oh, I never -- tonight, my agent called me and said, Well, do you want to retire a multimillionaire? I mean, we have had long lists now of people, organizations, some news organizations who have offered to buy the tapes (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: Because there's many more tapes other than the small snippets we've heard.

WEAD: Yes.

COOPER: How many hours of tapes do you have?

WEAD: Well, I don't know exactly. I mean, we've estimated approximately nine hours, but I'm not sure exactly, I mean, I -- but somewhere along that line.

COOPER: In the last 48 hours, you've probably been called everything from -- you say -- you call yourself naive, other people say you're treacherous. Why -- I think a lot of people find it hard to believe that this isn't about selling your book, that you happen to release these tapes at a time when you've got a book on the market.

WEAD: Well, I've had the book on the market for quite a while. My previous book was number one on and was a "New York Times" bestseller without any of this sort of stuff. And we haven't been able to promote this book, because "The New York Times" article was hovering overhead for two months. And the reason I say it's not about selling books is, we could have come out with this book before the election. And partisan interests would have driven it.

COOPER: But it hasn't clearly, I mean, on, if you check today, it's gone up, you know, more than 2,000 percent in terms of where it is on (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

WEAD: Because I'm on TV. And -- but I've already told my publicists here, I don't want any more TV. I'm going home, forget it (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: You're stopping all interviews now?

WEAD: I am. And...


WEAD: Well, I just think this story has become a distraction. It's -- I would rather be a good man with mediocre book sales than a mediocre man with big book sales. I -- book sales that were never my interest. If I had come out with this book before the election, some of these statements that affirm the president's integrity would have been incendiary and sensational.

COOPER: Let's, let's listen to just some of this tape again, and I want to hear your take on it. First, the widely heard comments about possible past drug use. Let's listen.


BUSH: Well, Doug, but it's not, it doesn't matter, cocaine. It'd be the same with marijuana. I wouldn't the marijuana question. You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried.

WEAD: Yes, and it never stops, the question.

BUSH: But, but, but you got to understand, I want to be president. I want to lead. I want to set -- Do you want your little kid say, Hey, Daddy, President Bush tried marijuana, I think I will?


COOPER: What do you hear in that? I mean, I don't think most people really care about past drug use at this point. It's so sort of, you know, been out there. To you, what did you learn from that?

WEAD: Well, the whole period that he went through, where his youthful, irresponsible years, was a powerful, important period in his life, because it took all the expectations and pressures off, on, off of him. When I wrote the book "All the President's Children," you see this litany of John Adams II and William Henry Harrison, Jr., and Andrew Johnson, Jr., and Andrew Jackson, Jr., who died, they died from accidents. Calvin Coolidge, Jr., was 16 years old.

COOPER: So all the focus was on Jeb Bush. You're saying this freed...


COOPER: ... George W. Bush...

WEAD: That also. But the focus was on George W. Bush, because he was George Bush, Jr. I mean, When John F. Kennedy, Jr., when that happened, I had chills go down my spine. I thought, This happens over and over in history. And George W. Bush didn't seem to have that pressure, because he had made these mistakes in youth, and he thought, Hey, I, there's no chance for me, no public life for me.

And, of course, the same thing with Jeb Bush...


WEAD: ... the spotlight turned to Jeb.

COOPER: Very briefly, let's just listen to this other recording.


WEAD: He's saying that you promised you would not appoint gays to office.

BUSH: No. What I said was, I wouldn't fire gays. See, I'm not going to discriminate against people.


COOPER: Does the George Bush in private, to you, sound very much like the George Bush in public?

WEAD: Yes, he does to me. He's the same in public and private. There are some pretty dramatic differences, but by and large, the same. In terms of principle, they're exactly the same.

COOPER: You told me something that I heard for the first time just moments ago. What are you going to do with these tapes now?

WEAD: I believe that -- you know, my initial hope was to record something that would have historical value, but this has become too much. I think I should get the tapes back to him. He was the other person on the line. And they can do whatever they want with them. History can wait.

COOPER: So have you contacted the White House? Have you told them this?

WEAD: I've been talking with an intermediary in the private sector.

COOPER: All right. Appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much.

WEAD: Thank you for having me.

COOPER: Well, an ominous warning today about a potential epidemic. That tops our look at stories happening cross-country tonight.

In Washington, D.C., Centers for Disease Control now says avian flu poses the single biggest threat to the world right now. What is really alarming, in case of an epidemic,they say it would be impossible to make special vaccine quickly enough. Now, there haven't been any cases in humans here yet. The avian flu first appeared in Hong Kong back in '97. It can be transmitted directly from birds to people, or, in some cases, from person to person.

Knoxville, Tennessee, now, a close call for a police officer who responded to an accident on Interstate 275. You see right there. He was talking to the victim when a white SUV rounded a curve, slammed into his cruiser. The driver of the SUV was arrested for possession of marijuana.

Pascagoula, Mississippi, now, a man with a .9-millimeter pistol opened fire at a large Northrup-Grumman shipyard, critically wounding two co-workers. The alleged shooter is a quality assurance inspector who has been working in the shipyard for more than 20 years. Police say they have no idea why he started shooting. Woody Creek, Colorado, now, the voice of gonzo journalism is gone. Hunter S. Thompson, who coined that term to describe his unusual drug-and-alcohol approach to reporting, shot himself to death over the weekend. Thompson was 67. We're going to have more on his life and death later on 360.

That's a look at stories right now cross-country.

Coming up next on 360, mudslides, sinkholes, and flooding. Mother Nature pounding Southern California with record-breaking rain. We're going to go there live to where a woman was rescued from 10 feet of mud. We'll bring you the latest.

Also tonight, an Amber Alert out for this woman, missing pregnant woman and her 7-year-old son. Police are searching right now. They found a pool of blood in her home, they found her abandoned car today. Tonight, they are turning to you for help.

And a little later, that 9/11 conspiracy, those conspiracy theories, they are all over the Internet. But are any of them actually true? And if they're not, why do these people keep spreading them? We'll get behind the -- get the facts behind the fiction.

All that ahead. First, your picks, the most popular stories right no on


COOPER: Well, what a weekend in Southern California. There were storms, there were mudslides, roads washed out, and more fatalities. At least three people have been killed, dozens were forced out of their homes.

And as Ted Rowlands is about to show you, rescuers have been working overtime. Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we're in Hacienda Heights, which is southeast of Los Angeles about 20 miles. And this is one of the many incidents of trouble that this rain has brought. Behind me here, you could see this hillside, which gave way this morning and brought down more than 10 feet of mud in a condominium down below here.

That mud, which was literally floor-to-ceiling, according to firefighters that responded to this, trapped a woman who -- a maid who was working at the time in a bathroom. It took them the better part of an hour and a half, did it take rescuers to pull this woman out. She complained at the time that she could feel nothing of her lower extremities. She was airlifted eventually off to USC Medical Center, where we believe she is tonight.

This is just of many incidents going on tonight here in Southern California. This hillside is a real concern (UNINTELLIGIBLE) here tonight, as are hillsides around this region. A lot of homeowners crossing their fingers.

It is expected that we are going to get pummeled by more rain for at least the next day and a half, Anderson.

COOPER: Ted, have they had problems on this particular hill in the past?

ROWLANDS: No. We just talked to a resident here at a condominium who says he's in escrow, he's sold his place, he's hoping the sale goes through. But he says that there hasn't been any concern here, but there's been so much rain, not only through this last bout, extending from last Thursday, but in early January, you remember the La Conchita mudslides, we were pummeled there as well.

And meteorologists say that the ground is so saturated that any hillside, really, in this region is susceptible to mud flows, because we haven't seen this much rain in so many years, that, really, every hillside is unpredictable. And for that reason, there are a lot of nervous homeowners here tonight.

COOPER: Understand that. All right, Ted, thanks very much. Ted Rowlands.

You've probably seen the road signs warning you not to drive into fast-moving water. Here is why. Take a look. Rescue crews were needed to pull an elderly man out of his car in Thousand Palms, California, using a rope and harness. They were able to -- Look how fast that water is moving. It is just churning. They were able to walk him to safety through all that water, as you see. Not an easy thing to do.

Not every story has a happy ending. Road crews were trying to shore up a section of highway in Sun Valley near Los Angeles, when a 30-foot-deep sinkhole opened up. One worker died. It's hard to see there in the darkness. Another death happened in Silverado near Irvine. This is an unbelievable story. Boulders tumbled onto the roof and through the wall of this building, killing a 16-year-old girl who was in her bedroom.

Be sure to take a look at this. The storms in California are so strong, some of them are spawning funnel clouds. These remarkable pictures from Northern California are from CNN affiliate KOVR.

A lot more on the storms later on this special two-hour edition of 360.

Coming up next, however, Amber Alert, a pregnant woman and her 7- year-old son disappear before her baby shower. Police, they suspect foul play. They have found blood and her car. No sign of the mother or her child. They are looking right now.

Also tonight, skiing to the extreme. A daredevil filmmaker dies on the slopes. Hear from the friends who filmed his final moments.

Plus, life after the tsunami. A train of death becomes a symbol of rebirth.


COOPER: As a culture, we tend to forget things pretty quickly. That's just the way we are. Life moves fast, and we move on.

However, in the places hit hard by the tsunami, a lot of people are still in need of help. Former presidents Bush and Clinton are traveling across Asia reassuring survivors of the earthquake and tsunami that they haven't been forgotten. They're also reminding the rest of the world the recovery is barely started, and more money is needed.

Just today, Indonesia raised its death toll to 122,000, making the overall number of dead just short of 170,000. Unbelievably, 130,000 more people are still listed as missing.

This weekend, however, a dramatic sign in one community in Sri Lanka that life does move on.


COOPER (voice-over): They're among the most vivid, unforgettable images of the tsunami, the train they called the Queen of the Sea, tons and tons of steel, tossed around like a child's toy.

There were more than a thousand people aboard the train that day when high water forced it to stop. Villagers climbed onto the cars to stay dry. That's when the full force of the tsunami hit, knocking the train off the tracks, killing at least 900 people on board.

A week later, when I visited the site, debris was still everywhere. So was the stench of death. No one who was there will ever forget it.


COOPER (on camera): And it's so strange. Each car has been separated one from the other, and in some cases that saved some people's lives, because some cars were separated and weren't as badly hit by the second wave of water. Other cars got a direct hit.

You don't have to use your imagination to figure out what people were doing the second the water hit. Here is a plate of food someone was just -- someone was eating, surrounded by flies. This woman's purse. Another one down here. Over here is a baby's diaper. That looks like a child's purse.

There is no way to know whether the people in this car survived, whether they got out, whether some of them got out, whether all of them were killed.

Look at this wall too. I mean, the water, clearly, the water just came up, just left this residue here, left all the silt that it brought with it, even up in the fans. They're filled with sea grasses, seaweed.


COOPER (voice-over): That was nearly two months ago. This is Galle now. There's still plenty of devastation, but look, behind the people praying, stacks of supplies for repairs. Several of the old train cars, still muddy and caved in, have been set upright, a makeshift memorial.

But on this Sunday, the people are hurrying down the tracks to see something else.

Up the newly laid tracks, in the last stop before Galle, a new train is pulling in. Men hang a banner. It reads, "The train is running for the first time in 57 days." With a whistle and a wave goodbye, the train pulls out for a historic ride, the first train ride into Galle since the tsunami, the new cars rolling past the old, new life back on track.


COOPER: Well, massive demonstrations against Lebanon's pro-Syria government tops our look at what's going on right now in the uplink.

In Beirut, tens of thousands of people packed the streets, chanting, "Syria out!" The anti-Syria sentiment has increased dramatically since the former prime minister was killed, by a bomb last week.

Across Israel tonight, prisoners freed today. Israel released some 500 Palestinians it had held captive as part of a truce to end bloodshed there. Leaders of the uprising were not included, much to the disappointment of many Palestinians.

Baghdad, Iraq, now, reported talks with insurgents. "TIME" magazine reports U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials have held secret meetings with Iraq's Sunni insurgents. According to the magazine, the talks are aimed at ending the violence there. Magazine says the U.S. is dealing with former elements of Saddam Hussein's regime, not terrorists linked to al Qaeda. The White House has not commented on the report.

Windsor, England, now, commoners at the royal wedding? Because of a 1994 marriage law, Britain's Prince Charles and his fiancee, Camilla Parker-Bowles, might have to open their April wedding to strangers. A spokesperson for Charles's office says that while there may be security implications, if it's the law, it's the law.

London, England, now, breaking up is certainly hard to do. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston split in real life. Well, they're now split in London's famous Wax Museum, Madame Tussaud's. Yes, it wasn't easy. The wax statues were entwined and had their arms around each other, so artists had to do some remolding at a cost of about $19,000. No lawyers were involved, we're told, though.

That's tonight's uplink.

An expert skier who lived to push the limits plunges off a cliff. His friends search the snow for signs of life. Tonight, we take you to the mountain's edge, an extreme skier and the freak accident that cost him his life. You've seen the ads. There was no plane that hit the Pentagon? Explosives brought down the World Trade Center? Tonight, debunking the myths of 9/11. The evidence is in. So why do some continue to claim coverups and conspiracies? Tonight, a hard look at the truth and lies about 9/11.

360 continues.


COOPER: Well, something seems to have gone very wrong on Chatty Brook Lane in Fort Worth, Texas. Over the weekend, a pregnant woman and her 7-year-old son disappeared, and relatives who went to check on them made a chilling discovery, a pool of blood in the living room.

Right now, there's an Amber Alert out, and the women's SUV was found in a creek north of Dallas.

CNN's Ed Lavandera picks up the story.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seven months pregnant, Lisa Underwood was ready to enjoy a festive weekend with family and friends. A baby shower was planned for Saturday afternoon.

But the guest of honor and her 7-year-old son, Jayden, never made it.

HOLLY PILS, UNDERWOOD'S FRIEND: No one reports seeing her. They have, you know, asked all the neighbors, they've talked to everybody. We've called everybody.

LAVANDERA: Monday morning, a farmer north of the Dallas-Fort Worth area discovered Lisa Underwood's SUV in a creek. Authorities have spent the entire day combing the site for clues and sending out teams on horseback to search the area.

SGT. RENE KAMPER, FORT WORTH POLICE DEPARTMENT: We have not located anyone or anybody around the vehicle.

LAVANDERA: The 34-year-old woman was last seen Friday night. But it wasn't until Saturday afternoon that she was reported missing. A few hours later, authorities issued an AMBER alert that has grown into a massive search spanning Texas and four surrounding states.

LT. GENE JONES, FT. WORTH POLICE DEPARTMENT: Trust us. There is reason to be concerned.

LAVANDERA: Investigators say that because when they entered Underwood's home, blood was found in the living room. Police say there were no signs of forced entry.

JONES: We are talking to a number of people, many of which are very close to Ms. Underwood. And the purpose of those interviews and those discussions are to narrow the scope to particular suspect or suspects.

LAVANDERA: Lisa Underwood owns a small bagel shop with her friend Holly Pils. The store was closed today as everyone who knows Underwood is helping in the search.

(on camera): Investigators say they are talking with Jayden's father and the father of the unborn child. And that both men are cooperating. But police still say, at this point, there are no suspects in the case.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.


COOPER: Holly Pils is Lisa Underwood's best friend. You saw her in that piece. The two own a bagel shop in Ft. Worth. And she joins me now.

Thanks for being with us, Holly. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances. You last spoke to Lisa on Friday night, how did she sound to you?

PILS: She was in a great mood. She had been sick for a couple of days and she was finally feeling better. She was excited about her baby shower. We had a great conversation, just kind of shooting the breeze talking about the baby shower a little bit. She was in a good mood.

COOPER: When did you realize something was wrong?

PILS: Well, she's been very excited about her baby shower and after about half an hour or so of her not being there, not -- you know we started getting worried and that's when we went to her home.

COOPER: Did you -- were you among the group that went to her house?

PILS: No, I was not.

COOPER: And from what they said, they discovered some blood there. What is the latest? Have you heard anything today that has given you hope?

PILS: No. I mean, I believe -- I have a lot of hope and I think that finding her car is a good thing. I think we're very close to finding her. I'm very hopeful that we can find her and we can get her the attention she needs and so we can get her and Jayden safe again.

COOPER: Police said earlier today there was no forced entry. I mean, is there anyone, you can think of, who would want to be involved in her disappearance?

PILS: No. I've been asked that question many times. I've asked myself that question many times. I do not know of anyone.

COOPER: What's Jayden like? PILS: Oh, he's a great kid. I mean, really. Everybody that knows him knows he is a great kid. He's a very happy-go-lucky, bright, smart soccer team, Boys Scouts. He's great. His teachers love him. He's just a great kid.

COOPER: What -- how do you get through something like this? I mean, hour after hour? Does time go by quickly? Does it seem to drag?

PILS: It does seem to drag a little bit. We just want to find them as quickly as possible. That's what we are hopeful for. Her family is very hopeful, I'm very hopeful, her friends are very hopeful that we will find her and bring her back home. And, you know, get her the attention she needs. But we are -- and I know the police are working very hard, which I'm very thankful for.

COOPER: Well, Holly, I appreciate you being with us and I hope Lisa is found soon, as well as Jayden and I hope someone out there maybe recognizes her or can give some information to the police. The investigation is ongoing.

Holly Pils, appreciate you being with us. Thanks.

PILS: Thank you for your help.

COOPER: Well, the search for Lisa Underwood and her son Jayden is not just making news on television, it is also big news on the Internet.

For that, let's turn to Rudi Bakhtiar, who will be joining us regularly each night, to telling us what stories you've been flocking to on the Web.

Good evening.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson. Well, it's been one of the most popular stories on all day long. Web surfers have been following it, and with pretty good reason. Here in the U.S. Nearly 800,000 children are reported missing a year. That comes to around 2,000 children a day.


BAKHTIAR (voice-over): It's a parent's worst nightmare, their child kidnapped. It's a reality the parents of this little girl had to face with tragic results. The AMBER Alert System is named for her, AMBER Hagerman. Back in 1996, the 9-year-old was abducted while riding her bike in Arlington, Texas. Her body was found just four days later. Her death sparked outrage, and an outpouring of ideas to find kidnapped children before it's too late. The solution was the AMBER Alert. It stands for America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response.

The Justice Department has guidance on issuing AMBER Alerts, including police confirmation that an abduction has occurred. A risk of serious bodily injury or death to the child, enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction, and the victim has to be 17-years-old or younger.

Once that criteria is met, the alert is rapidly sent to the public via electronic highway and road signs. Notices are also distributed by television, radio and the Internet. Timing is everything. It's believed that more than 70 percent of children are murdered within the first three hours of being kidnapped. To date, more than 190 children have been safely recovered with the help of the AMBER Alert System. A system that's grown in leaps since it began just four years ago. In 2001, only four states had AMBER programs. Now every state has one. Just last week, Hawaii became the 50th state to implement an AMBER alert.


BAKHTIAR: And the Center for Missing and Exploited Children say between 200 and 250 AMBER Alerts are issued every day. And states, Anderson, are also getting some help from Washington. President Bush signing a bill that creates an AMBER Alert System on a national level. It was called the Protect Act of 2003. Besides connecting the network of state programs, this act actually strengthens federal penalties for child pornographers and sex abuser and kidnappers.

COOPER: All right, Rudi Bakhtiar, most popular story on the Web. Thank's, Rudi.

360 next, boot camp death. A Marine drowns after a drill instructor is caught on tape, well, kind of being heavy handed. Now his parents are demanding answers. We'll show you the tape, see what you think.

Also tonight, extreme weather. Tornadoes and mudslides and flooding out west. Mother nature releasing furry a torrent on California. We'll take you there live.

And easing the pain naturally. Find out why some food that you may have in your refrigerator may be more effective than pain medicine. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has that.


COOPER: 360 next, a death at boot camp. Was a Marine drill instructor too tough? Find out ahead.


COOPER: Five Marines, including a drill sergeant, have been suspended after a 19-year-old recruit drowned during a training exercise at Parris Island, South Carolina. His grieving parents says he was mistreated, and a videotape that was taken shortly before he died is raising some very disturbing questions. CNN's Jason Bellini has been following the story.


JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The video shows Marine recruit Jason Tharp standing next to the pool as he's grabbed by his bootcamp drill instructor. Tharp walks out of frame. When he returns, his drill instructor strikes him.

Columbia, South Carolina affiliate WIS shot the video of Tharp from a distance, so there is no sound. WIS found out later the Marine its camera had focused on died the very next day.

A Marine official at Parris Island says he died as a result of "complications in the water," unquote, during combat water survival training.

JOHN THARP, FATHER: He's just the kindest, gentlest person I ever knew.

BELLINI: WIS showed its video to Tharp's parents, who live in West Virginia.

THARP: I don't know how they can treat my son the way we saw on that video. He never hurt nobody. He'd do anything that anybody asked him. It's just not right.

BELLINI: Marine officials at the Pentagon say the actions by the drill instructor seen in the video appear to violate regulations for dialing with recruits.

EUGENE FIDELL, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MILITARY JUSTICE: Basically, you're not supposed to lay your hands on a recruit. You don't really want to have drill instructors grabbing a recruit by the collar, which is what happened here. And also, you don't want them sort of basically hitting people with their elbows.

BELLINI: Tharp's drill instructor has been suspended from training pending an investigation.

During his five weeks at Parris Island, Tharp told his family that he wanted out of the Marines.

THARP: We just wanted to go down there, ready to get him and bring him home.

BELLINI: In his last letter, postmarked February 2nd, Tharp wrote he was starting swim qualifications the next day. Tharp died February 8th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did Jason know how to swim?

THARP: Not very good. But they assured us, the recruiter said that nothing would happen, they'd have enough people in the pool where nothing would happen to him.

BELLINI: The Tharps don't know if the physical contact the drill instructor had with their son related in any way to his death.

THARP: We can't understand why, and my little girl, all she knows is her big brother is in heaven.

BELLINI: The Marines expect to complete their investigation in several weeks. Jason Bellini, CNN.


COOPER: This is a special two-hour edition of 360. Coming up next, fighting pain without medicine? Coming up, Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells you how some foods you might have in your refrigerator right now might actually help.

Plus, a mudslide rescue. A woman trapped. See how rescue workers got her out.

And a little bit later, 9/11 conspiracy theories. They are all over the Internet, but are any of them actually true? And if they're not, why do these people just keep on spreading these things? You'll get the facts behind the fiction.


COOPER: Well, tonight, some help for anyone out there suffering pain. Last week, an FDA panel said that some popular painkillers like Vioxx might be dangerous but not so dangerous they should be banned. Some people with chronic pain will tell you that the risk is something they are willing to take, but what if there was food that you could eat that might naturally fight pain? Food you might have in your refrigerator right now? Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For most of her life, 47-year-old nurse Roberta Hagen has been in pain, so much pain that she's now unable to work with her patients.

ROBERTA HAGEN, PAIN SUFFERER: I have arthritis of the spine, and it's also compounded by chronic back pain.

GUPTA: To combat the aches, Roberta's doctor prescribed Vioxx, and it worked wonders for her.

HAGEN: When I would run out of a prescription and maybe didn't get it filled immediately thinking, well, I'm feeling better, immediately, the symptoms would come back.

GUPTA: That drug that worked wonders for Roberta is believed to have also caused thousands of unnecessary heart attacks in other patients, and in September, the manufacturer voluntarily pulled it from the market, leaving Roberta and many patients like her in the lurch.

This past week, an FDA advisory committee considered the safety of drugs like Vioxx and Celebrex in a three-day hearing, and recommended they stay on the market, but with a clear warning about the possible side effects.

So what does that really mean for those who don't want to take the risk? Some experts say the answer may lie not in your medicine cabinet but in your kitchen cabinet.

KATHERINE TALMADGE, AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOCIATION: Diet can profoundly affect inflammation in your body.

GUPTA: And it's that inflammation that causes pain, and may also contribute to heart disease, cancer, dementia and arthritis.

TALMADGE: It's your immune system at work, and it's a lifesaver. Sometimes, it doesn't turn off.

GUPTA: To reduce that inflammation and the pain, the American Dietetic Association recommends eating more fresh fruits, like strawberries, citrus and melons, any vegetable, nuts, soy and flaxseeds, and the oily fish, like salmon. They also recommend limiting your intake of caffeine, foods high in animal fats and processed foods, especially those high in transfats, like deep fried foods.

Also, remember that motion can act like lotion. Experts say that at least 30 minutes of daily exercise may also help reduce the pain.

Even though Roberta has already started to include some of these changes into her diet, she, along with millions of others, also hopes that less risky drugs will soon be available to help her pain.


GUPTA: And there are lots of things in the pipeline as well, Anderson, lots of drugs out there that may be safer and still relieve pain. Also, a lot of people sort of jumped to start taking Vioxx or Celebrex. If you haven't tried things like Ibuprofen or simple Tylenol or Aspirin, even, those things are still an option for you, possibly. Then there is non-medicinal things, not using medications, just simple things like physical therapy -- Anderson.

COOPER: And things like taking Ibuprofen or Tylenol, I mean, can you do that for long stretches of time, because these people had been on Vioxx for a long time, right?

GUPTA: Yeah, and you know, the thing about Vioxx, the thing that people sort of rallied behind was that it would not irritate your stomach as much, whereas Ibuprofen might. A lot of doctors I've talked about this say you can take Ibuprofen long term if you're also taking a stomach protectant, so you know, it could be a good option for you.

COOPER: All right, a lot of options out there. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: An expert skier who lived to push the limits plunges off a cliff. His friends search the snow for signs of life. Tonight, we take you to the mountain's edge, an extreme skier and the freak accident that cost him his life. And living to 100. More and more people are doing it. The question is how? Tonight, a new look at aging. What you can do and eat to stay younger longer. 360 continues.


COOPER: You know it is raining hard when it rains hard enough to stop computer trains. Southern California is taking a real soaking right now. It started last Thursday and hasn't stopped. It's turned hillsides into moving walls of mud.

In Hacienda Heights, the mud rolled into homes. Three people pulled out of one house after 10 feet of mud surged into it; dozens other evacuated. As you can see, flooding in the streets. This is already the fifth wettest year on record for L.A., and probably one of the busiest for rescue teams that specialize in swift water and suffocating mud. Ted Rowlands spent this weekend with urban search and rescue teams, and our camera were there as they battled to save lives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) make an entry. We could have some victims stabilizing (ph).

ROWLANDS (voice-over): The Los Angeles County fire urban search and rescue team is called out to a mudslide. When they arrive, they find a woman is trapped in a bathroom, unable to move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, listen! She's right up against the wall!

ROWLANDS: Because the mud and debris is from floor to ceiling, they have to go through a dining room wall to get to the victim.

CAPT. DON ROY, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: She seemed to be pretty stable. I mean, obviously, she was in pain. She had her legs that were pinned in between the wall and the commode of the bathroom.

ROWLANDS: The woman, a cleaning lady who was working when the hillside gave way, tells rescuers she can't feel the lower half of her body. Eventually, they are able to pull her out and get her into an ambulance.

This season has been busy for this specialized team of firefighters. From the La Conchita mudslide, where 10 people were killed, to this dramatic rescue last month of a mother and baby. They fell into raging water after a raft overturned during a flood evacuation.

LEO IBARRA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: I was seeing, this is do-or-die, get them now, especially get the baby now.

ROWLANDS: Captain Larry Collins dropped his role as commander that day, going into the water to help save the mother and child. It is not the first time that Collins has helped save a life.

CAPT. LARRY COLLINS, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: It was pounding surf, 10, 15-foot waves, and still honestly, I didn't really give it a second thought.

ROWLANDS: More than 20 years ago, Collins, then just two years on the job, jumped into this area of the Pacific Ocean to rescue a fisherman.

COLLINS: His skin was literally as blue as my jacket. I mean, he was that hypothermic.

ROWLANDS: Collins was able to save the fisherman, but says he almost died doing it. The next day, after watching some of his colleagues struggle during another rescue, he decided that the department needed a change.

COLLINS: This is where firefighters were wading in with all their firefighting gear, and as I'm watching this, and having had just my experience the day before, it just dawned on me, you know, there has got to be a better way to do this.

ROWLANDS: A letter to his fire chief the next day started the formation of what now, more than 20 years later, is considered one of the most elite search and rescue teams in the world.

COLLINS: This is a river board. One of several different types.

ROWLANDS: Collins was given the go-ahead to assemble the personnel and equipment he needed. With 110 members and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, the urban search and rescue team, according to Captain Collins, is responsible for saving hundreds of lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do have to stay on top of your game, and this is a place for people that are motivated and they want to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go! We're going to pull you out!

ROWLANDS: Over the past three months, there have been a number of dramatic weather-related rescues in Southern California. Fire departments around the region have followed the lead of Los Angeles County, establishing specialized teams to handle the calls.

COLLINS: In just these last couple of years, we've had over 50 or 60 successful swift water rescues. This year alone, I mean, just from January until now, it's in the hundreds. It's in the hundreds of successful rescues.

ROWLANDS: The woman pulled to safety is the latest to be saved by these specially trained firefighters, and with more rain expected over the next few days, there may be more rescues to come.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROWLANDS: And it continues to rain here in Southern California. Tonight, forecasters say that folks living here should expect another day at least. The concern, hillsides like this, which, because of all of this rain, remain unstable here tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: Amazing rescuers. All right, Ted Rowlands, thanks.

This latest series of California storms caused havoc over the weekend. California Highway Patrol reports 309 vehicles crashed in just 14 hours. As Mary Snow now shows us, the Los Angeles area is just a mess.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California's hillsides are sliding into houses again, or out from under them. They put up plastic to keep the rain from washing anymore ground from under this home. At least three people have been killed in separate landslides, including a 16-year-old girl who was in the bedroom of this apartment when boulders crashed through the roof and wall.

In the Sun Valley area of Los Angeles, a section of road collapsed into a 30-foot deep sink hole. Repair crews have been trying to shore up the area. Their equipment was swallowed up, and one worker killed.

Nearly seven inches of rain has fallen in downtown Los Angeles since the first band of the storms hit Thursday, adding to the fifth wettest rainy season in California history.

Think your bathroom needs cleaning? It's just part of the mess confronting this homeowner. Flash flooding has knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

The trial by water comes in many forms, including snow and hail in the higher elevations.

Mary Snow, CNN.


COOPER: Mother Nature is throwing everything at California these days. Take a look at this, a line of thunderstorms near Sacramento actually produced funnel clouds this afternoon. A weathermen with CNN affiliate KOVR, which shot these amazing pictures, tells us that at least one tornado touched down in the west Sacramento area. You don't see that every day.

Turn now to trouble on the other side of the country. In Vermont last week, a young man who was a skier was killed by a river of snow, while he and three friends were filming themselves, pushing the limits of the sport they loved. CNN's Jason Carroll has the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good set-up? ALEC STALL: Yeah. This is a great set-up. Going off in style.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was Alec Stall, getting ready to do what he loved most, skiing. But not your average run down a slope type skiing. That was Stall doing it his way. Exploring chutes off marked trails, far from crowded resorts, risky terrain, but for Alec and his friends, it became a passion, so much so they documented their adventures over the past two years. Each new chapter a worry for his parents, who are experienced skiers themselves.

TODD STALL, ALEC'S FATHER: It was never our intention to stop him from following what his passion in life was. And I think that's a very difficult thing to do.

CAROL STALL, ALEC'S MOTHER: Toward the end, I would always say to him, you know what? Don't tell me before. Just call me afterwards. So.

CARROLL: Last Monday, a call came. Alec was killed while skiing with friends on Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont. He was 23.

C. STALL: It was just a very tragic incident.

CARROLL: His father says it all began with a two-hour hike last Monday morning, to the top of a remote area.

T. STALL: At the end of this chute, there was a cliff, but everyone had skied down to within 30 feet of that cliff and made a turn and skied off it. Alec skied down the chute and must have caught a tip, and must have fallen, but it was not an unusual fall. And as he was gathering himself, a slough of snow -- not necessarily an avalanche -- enough snow can break off, and usually it's just the top layer, and it can gather speed. And you're not prepared for it, it can catch you unaware, which it did with Alec, and from what I understand, it hit him and drove him over the edge of the cliff.

CARROLL: Stall and his group were popular skiers, known for their abilities and filmmaking. They were even featured in "Skiing" magazine as extreme skiers.

His parents say while Alec may have admired extreme skiing, featured in Warren Miller's popular film, they say what Alec did was not extreme.

T. STALL: They were challenging themselves and perhaps skiing areas where no one else had skied before. I -- it's not that I don't like the term extreme. I just think that some people just don't understand what that means.

CARROLL: His family just wants to reflect on what Alec meant to them.

C. STALL: When we saw him for the last time on Sunday morning, he gave us each a big hug and a kiss. And he always told us how much he loved us, and us, him, and the same with his sisters.

T. STALL: He had a beautiful life. And we know that we were part of it and that we were able to give that to him. So we were fortunate that at least we got to spend those 23 years with him.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Poughkeepsie, New York.


COOPER: A young man who died doing what he loves.

A short time ago, I spoke with two of Alec Stall's friends and colleagues who were there filming him that day. Geoff McDonald is the president of Meathead Films. Kristian Geissler is a skier.

And as we hear what they have to say about what happened on that day, we'll also be showing you some of the video they have shot of the kind of skiing that they and Alec have been so passionate about.


COOPER: Geoff, let's talk about exactly what happened to Alec. You were there. You witnessed the whole thing. He was on a chute planning to, I guess, make a jump in free skiing. What happened?

GEOFF MCDONALD, PRESIDENT, MEATHEAD FILMS: Saw him ski down. He skied very slow, made some of the most beautiful turns I've ever seen him do. And he got down about 15 feet above me. Something caught his tip of his ski in the snow. He did a small somersault, just a small somersault, just like you're going over the handlebars on your bike or something, and just rolled over in the snow.

COOPER: So he landed very close to you.

MCDONALD: Yes, he was probably only about five feet away from me.


COOPER: And how did he seem to you? Did he seem conscious?

MCDONALD: Oh, yes. He was fine. As skiers, we do that all the time. If the powder is deep, sometimes, you just fall over. A lot of times, it's just a fun experience. You dip your head in the snow or something.

But he stopped right next to me. A little bit of snow went past. And then Chris (ph), the photographer, yelled above me, watch out, watch out. I yelled at Alec, watch out, even though I couldn't really see what was going on. I couldn't really see all the way up the chute. But he yelled, watch out, Alec. I that Stall was a little bit stunned from that somersault. So, I think maybe he was just trying to get his bearings. He didn't move out of the chute.

Some slough snow came down. And there was not a whole lot, maybe a foot deep or so, but it was enough that it shoved him over the cliff.

COOPER: Kristian, did you see the snow coming down? I mean, how fast was it moving?

KRISTIAN GEISSLER, SKIER, MEATHEAD FILMS: I kind of saw a cloud of smoke after he crashed, but I couldn't tell what was going on. I heard some yelling. I tried to look down, couldn't really see much. And then I didn't see him at all anymore.

COOPER: So, Geoff, you saw -- you saw him basically being pushed by this mass of snow. How fast do you think it was moving?

MCDONALD: When he went over the cliff, he wasn't going very fast, I mean, maybe 15, 20 miles an hour when he went over the cliff. And -- but what we think happened is, he went over that first 20-foot icefall and landed in a frozen river bed.

COOPER: Did you know it was serious right away, as soon as you saw him go over that first cliff?

MCDONALD: Yes. We took it really seriously. We called out his name a few times. There was no answer.

Then we discussed that we would have to go around. There were some larger cliffs on either side of the small chute that we were skiing. So, Chris and Kristian and myself, we all went down. Kristian and I got down to the road at the bottom of this face. And we got down there first. Chris went for help. And Kristian and I went to look for Alec.

COOPER: And, Kristian, when you finally found him, was he conscious?

GEISSLER: No, he was -- he had no pulse. He was -- he was gone.

COOPER: Geoff, I want to read you this -- just something Alec said in an interview to "The Poughkeepsie Journal" in 2003. He said: "The draw is, I like to get scared. You don't know whether you'll be able to walk away. You put it all on the line."

And we're seeing some of the images that you guys have shot in the past, including with Alec. What is the appeal for you?

MCDONALD: The appeal for us is going out there and showcasing for us, Meathead Films, it's showcasing the Eastern mountains and showcasing the beauty and finding challenging terrain that people haven't seen before. And Alec, he took risks very thoughtfully. So, this is just an accident, and a very unfortunate one.

COOPER: Well, it's a tragedy for you and for Kristian and for his other friends, as well as his family, of course.

I'm sorry you're here under these circumstances. I wish we were here just showing fun video of you guys skiing. But we appreciate you coming in and talking about what happened to Alec. Thank you.

MCDONALD: Thank you.



COOPER: Coming up next on 360, we're going to look at a way to prevent avalanches. We're going to go on patrol with the guys who risk their lives to save others.

Also, tonight, 9/11 conspiracy theories, they are all over the Internet. But are any of them actually true? And if they're not true, why do these people keep spreading them? We're covering all the angles tonight.

Plus, living to 100. What you think and what you eat can add years to your life. We're going to find out how ahead.


COOPER: Earlier, we showed you how rain is pounding Southern California. Well, up north, the problem is record snow. It is heaven for downhill skiers around Lake Tahoe, but a snow slide swept across a group of cross-country skiers in the area on Sunday. One woman was killed. Two others were dug out just in time. They survived.

Rusty Dornin spent a day with some experts who face the fearsome force of avalanches and nature and takes us tonight "Beyond the Headlines."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That whole slab, that whole piece will come out as a huge slab and slide down the mountain.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After 25 years of forecasting avalanches, Gene Urie has a special sense of snow. He's learned that avalanches are born in what's called a starting zone.

Alpine Meadow Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe has more than 300 starting zones. This resort is known for great skiing but also for its reputation as the deadliest when it comes to avalanches. Eleven people have died since 1976.

No one can stop the slides here, but Gene and others want to make sure no one else is killed.

Every morning Gene or one of the other forecasters checks the weather station at the bottom.

GENE URIE, AVALANCHE FORECASTER: No precipitation last night. We have nice, clear skies. So in general, things are pretty stable right now.

DORNIN: But instruments don't tell you everything. For avalanches, you have to go see for yourself. URIE: As we're coming out in the morning, we can see whether there's been natural activity. Have some of the slopes slid on their own?

DORNIN (on camera): Is this area over here a problem area sometimes for avalanche concern?

URIE: Everything from here all the way around this pole, up onto that high ridge around there, it's all avalanche starting zones.

DORNIN (voice-over): Bright sunny skies, no snow for two weeks, not exactly avalanche weather, but there's always work to be done, knocking down what could turn into a problem.

So Gene, together with ski patrolmen Ken Berklan (ph) and Casey Jones, arm themselves with two-pound explosive charges and hike up to a spot known as Idiot's Folly, where snow builds overhangs called cornices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a little bit of an overhang back there, Ken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right over here?


DORNIN: They light the fuse and 90 seconds later...


URIE: We didn't get a slab avalanche out of this. We just knocked off some cornice.

DORNIN (on camera): Less chance of an avalanche later.

URIE: Yes.

DORNIN (voice-over): Two more charges, each thrown over the side of the cliff on a string.

Then it's onto the what-if scenario, avalanche rescue training near the bottom of the hill where, in 1976, a slide killed three people. Ski patrolmen are looking for clues where people might be buried in the snow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I found another pole, similar style as before. If you know the trajectory, maybe you want him to come over here and help you probe a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right probe down.

DORNIN: They probe with long poles to see if anyone is buried.

(on camera) This is just a training exercise, but they have probed and found someone from an avalanche here many years ago. And this is an area of the ski resort that slides every time it snows. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See how far it goes down? See I can just keep going?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come over here.

DORNIN: Right.


DORNIN: Yes, you hit something. You can really feel it. How do you know there's not just rocks and stuff?


DORNIN (voice-over): This is when they call in the specialist, Rex, a fifth generation avalanche rescue dog here at Alpine Meadows. In this training exercise, he finds a scarf buried two feet under the snow.


DORNIN (on camera): Let's say I was buried in an avalanche, but you don't have any article of clothing of mine. How does he find me without knowing what my scent is?

EVAN SALKE, TRAINER, SKI PATROL: Well, as I said, the gaseous component, which over time, depending on how deep the burial is, would eventually rise to the surface. A person buried deeper would be much easier for the dog to tag and alert to than, say, an article.

DORNIN (voice-over): Rex is one of seven avalanche rescue dogs here, a big hit with skiers. His trainer, Evan Salke, is also an avalanche forecaster, as are many of the patrolman are here.

He gave up a career as a stockbroker in Boston 15 years ago to join the ski patrol, a career that takes a lot of hard work, can be very dangerous and pays very little.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, guys, probes up.

DORNIN: But no one has died in an avalanche here since 1982, and for many of the patrolman, that's the payoff.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Lake Tahoe, California.


COOPER: Well, what happens next to the secret Bush tapes tops our look what's happening right now cross-country in this hour.

New York City, right near our studio, the author who secretly taped his conversations with President Bush before the campaign, Doug Wead, told 360 just about an hour ago that he'll probably give his complete collection of tapes, about nine hours' worth, he says, to the president himself. In the tapes, the future president appears to admit to smoking marijuana and disagrees with some conservatives who want him to fire gays.

Fort Worth, Texas, now. A pregnant woman and her 7-year-old son are missing. And there is an Amber alert out tonight after the woman's SUV was found in a creek near Dallas. Friends and family began to suspect foul play when Lisa Underwood missed her own baby shower on Saturday afternoon. A pool of blood was found in her home.

And Siloam Springs, Arkansas. A medevac helicopter from Oklahoma crashed today while taking off with a patient who had been hurt in a car crash. The patient was killed in the chopper accident. Three crew members were taken to the hospital.

We take you to Depoe Bay, Oregon, now. You're looking at a whale rescue operation. Beachgoers noticed one of the whales tangled up in a crab net about half a mile offshore. The Coast Guard officer in charge says the whale could be dragging several hundred pounds worth of commercial crab pods.

That's a quick look at stories right now cross-country in our 8:00 hour tonight.

360 next, our special two-hour edition, making nice with Europe. President Bush getting friendly across the pond. We noticed he seems to be sticking to his talking points. We'll bring those to you ahead.

Plus, what really happened on 9/11? The conspiracy theories just won't go away. Trying to knock them down, get to the truth tonight ahead.

Also tonight, food for thought. Find out how to add some years to your life.

This is a special two-hour edition of 360. Here are your picks, the most popular stories right now on


COOPER: Tonight, President Bush is doing a little diplomacy with our allies. He's in Europe working to rebuild America's relationships with the countries that were turned off by the war in Iraq. Today, in Brussels, Belgium, he gave a major speech trying to mend fences, as well as set goals, mostly aimed at achieving peace in the Middle East.

Now, as always, on 360, we carefully listened to the president's speech. And we have condensed it, filtered out the extra words, and zeroed in on the recurring themes. So here now, the 100 percent pure presidential talking points.



COOPER (voice-over): Talking point No. 1, we're all friends. BUSH: Our nations stood together. Together, we have opposed totalitarian ideologies. Together, we united this continent.

COOPER: Talking point two, since we're buddies, let's work for Middle East peace.

BUSH: Our greatest opportunity and immediate goal is peace in the Middle East.

Helping to build a lasting peace.

Peace and security.

We seek peace between Israel and Palestine.

Our peace depends on their hope.

Because freedom leads to peace.

COOPER: Talking point three, we're determined.

BUSH: Our alliance is determined to promote development.

Determined to encourage commerce.

Determined to show good stewardship of the Earth.

Determined to defend our security.

Determined to meet natural disaster, famine and disease.

COOPER: And talking point four, don't mess with us.

BUSH: The Syrian regime must take stronger action to stop those who support violence.

The Iranian regime must end its support for terrorism.

The Russian government must renew a commitment to democracy.

We're pursuing terrorists wherever they hide.

We will be relentless in chasing down the ideologues of hate.

COOPER: So, remember, friends, we're determined and we're sticking to our talking points.


COOPER: Thousands of protesters filled the streets in Beirut, Lebanon. That story tops our looks at "Uplink."

The crowd's message, Syria out. They chanted it over and over. The protest follows the assassination last of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a bombing many believe was linked to Syrian influence in Lebanon. In Indonesia, which does not need another tragedy, a tragedy. In the town Bandung, 19 people are known to have died when a 30-foot tall mound of garbage came crashing down on a neighborhood, several dozen houses, mound of garbage. It may take the toll -- the death toll may rise to as many as 100 people. They are still digging out.

And in Russian, some exciting new television, the debut of the Star Channel, run by Russia's military and intended to boost patriotism. Run it up the flagpole, someone must have said, and we'll see who salutes.

That's a quick look at tonight's "Uplink."

Last week, you may recall we told you the good news about a known as Baby 81 found amidst the debris of the tsunami in Sri Lanka. Many people wanted to claim Baby 81 as their own, nine families, as a matter of fact. And it took DNA testing to identify and reunite the little boy with his real parents.

Tonight, the story of other children left all alone after the disaster and the frustrating reason it may be a very long time before these youngsters are back in the arms of parents who want them.

Here's CNN's Suhasini Haidar.


SUHASINI HAIDAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone at this special tsunami orphanage in South India wants to take care of Mina (ph). This 2 1/2-year-old was brought here when she was found alone near her mother's body after the waves subsided.

Among her protectors is 6-year-old Vijay (ph). "I'm her bodyguard," he says proudly. "I go everywhere with her," too young to know that they may soon be parted. Long after her friends are adopted by families, Mina may still remain here at this orphanage, ironically, because she isn't an orphan.

State officials say that many children here, including Mina, have lost only one parent and may have been abandoned by the other one. Officials say they have been trying to track down those single parents, but many can't or don't want to care for their child. Neighbors told investigating officials that Mina's father left her mother years ago and is now in jail facing criminal charges.

The state welfare department has been inundated by applications from couples who want to adopt children orphaned by the tsunami, but officials say, just as in many, if not most other countries, it will be difficult to allow children who may have one parent to be put up for adoption without that parent's consent.

With no parents to call their own, but not orphans either, tsunami survivors like Mina and others here may have to live several years, if not the rest of their childhood, at a state institution.

Suhasini Haidar, New Delhi. (END VIDEOTAPE)


COOPER (voice-over): You've seen the ads. There was no plane that hit the Pentagon? Explosives brought down the World Trade Center? Tonight, debunking the myths of 9/11. The evidence is in, so why do some continue to claim cover-ups and conspiracies? Tonight, a hard look at the truth and lies about 9/11.

And living to 100, more and more people are doing it. The question is how. Tonight, a new look at aging, what you can do and eat to stay younger longer.

360 continues.



COOPER: Welcome back to this special two-hour edition of 360.

You may have seen the ads paid for by a California millionaire or perhaps you've seen some of the Web talk about 9/11 conspiracies. They say the Twin Towers were brought down by explosives, not planes. They say a plane even never hit the Pentagon. They say the government is covering up what really happened.

Now, some of the theories would be laughable, except for the fact that people believe them and people died. In a moment, we'll debunk some of the most outrageous claims.

But, first, here's a look back at some of the ads that started all of this.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The two ads suggest a government conspiracy and cover-up, raising questions like, why did a building two blocks from the World Trade Center towers seemed to implode?


NARRATOR: It was not hit by aircraft. It had no significant fire. And no explanation for its collapse. has been given.


FEYERICK: Another ad asking why plane parts at the Pentagon seemed to have disappeared.


NARRATOR: The photos show no cabin, no engines, and no tail.


FEYERICK: The 9/11 Commission questioned eyewitnesses to both events, a spokesman saying the official report, which makes no mention of any government conspiracy, speaks for itself.

But the ads, paid for by California millionaire James Walter, are taking on a "Who killed JFK?" like quality. And they're fueling efforts by groups like 9/11 CitizensWatch, asking New York's attorney general to launch a criminal investigation into what they believe is a government cover-up.

KYLE HENCE, 9/11 CITIZENSWATCH: I think there's clear evidence for convening grand juries and examining the body of evidence, the bodies of evidence that the independent community of researchers and others and family members have brought forward.

FEYERICK: Even those who dismiss the more outlandish conspiracy theories say the 9/11 report is incomplete.

(on camera): Many people in the rest of the country probably think there's closure on this. Is there?

GLENN CORBETT, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Not really, because there's still a lot of unanswered questions.

FEYERICK: Glenn Corbett is helping investigate the collapse of towers for the National Institute of Standard and Technology. He says the ads go too far.

CORBETT: The ads seem to implicate bombs and explosives and the use of missiles on both the Pentagon and the World Trade Center complex. And the evidence really just doesn't support that, from what we've found so far.

FEYERICK: Not only did Walter shell out $3 million for the TV ads, which got a lot of airtime before the presidential elections; he also bought newspaper ads and helped bankroll a Zogby poll, the results of which found 66 percent of those questioned want the 9/11 investigation reopened.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Now, we don't take sides on 360. We like to look at all angles on a story. But we do care a lot about facts and truth. In November, we talked with the man behind those ads, James Walter. He's made a number of claims about 9/11.

Joining me now is someone whose magazine has just conducted an extraordinary extensive investigation into the 9/11 theories, the latest edition of "Popular Mechanics," from Salt Lake City, Utah, the editor in chief, James Meigs.

Thanks very much for being with us, James.


COOPER: Back in November last year, I talked with Jimmy Walter. This is what he said happen to 7 World Center. Let's listen.


JIMMY WALTER, REOPEN9/11.COM: You can see that there is no smoke in huge billowing clouds coming out of building 7. If there was a massive diesel fuel burning in the basement of that building, there would be huge clouds of smoke coming out.

Two, diesel fuel does not burn hot enough to melt steel. They found melted steel in the basement of that building. It had to have been done with explosives.


COOPER: All right, you've done the research. What's the reality here?

MEIGS: Well, I think what you see with a lot of these conspiracy theories is that people have a very kind of a childlike view of how buildings fall down. They don't just topple over.

And what's interesting about the conspiracy on World Trade Center 7 is, if they're so convinced that there's no -- that -- that there's no way that the fire and the damage from the falling debris could have -- could have knocked down the building, where are the experts who support that view? The fact is, there's no evidence whatsoever for the notion that there were bombs or anything else. World Trade Center 7 was a very unusual structure. And the myth report that will be coming out in a couple months that "Popular Mechanics" -- we worked with a lot of those researchers. And what they were able to show is that the damage in the building was far more extensive than was thought in previous investigations. And the fires fed by pressurized diesel lines did, in fact, they belief, contribute to the collapse.

COOPER: OK, lets look at some of these other myth, and the reality. The other myth, as the towers fell, visible clouds of dust were ejected. Some believe the clouds of dust weren't from the collapse, they were caused by explosions. You say the reality in the magazine is, as each floor collapsed, the contents were pulverized and ejected creating the clouds. How so?

MEIGS: That's absolutely right. When a building collapses, it's like a giant accordion, it's mostly air. So, as it comes down towards the ground, all the air has to be ejected. There's an enormous pressure. You know, people talking about, oh, there must have been bombs in the building. They don't recognize the incredible energy stored up in a 110-story office tower. As that concrete and steel came down, the impact and pressure was absolutely enormous. It ejected huge volumes of air. In some cases, actually, several floors below the collapsing floors. And you can see that on the videos, it does look like something you've never seen before. None of us have ever seen a 100-story building fall down before. And the fact is, this is how it happened.

COOPER: Let's look at how the Pentagon was attacked. There's a big myth out there, and I know Mr. Walters' been propagating it, that the holes in the Pentagon were too small to be made by a Boeing 767. They say in fact, a passenger plane didn't even hit the building. You say there's an easy explanation for it.

MEIGS: Well, you know, one thing that conspiracy theorists do is they ignore mounts of evidence that support the ordinary view, then they seize on one or two little inconsistencies and they say, see, how do you explain this?

What we did at "Popular Mechanics" was actually take those claims by the conspiracy theorist, and subject them to ordinary journalistic fact checking. None of them add up. In this case, there were hundreds of people who saw the plane, actually, fly over and hit the building. The idea that an airplane should punch some kind of cartoon like image of itself in a reinforced concrete building is just silly. You know, an airplane is not made of harden steel, it's made of aluminum. And it's not going to leave tails and cabins intact after plunging into the concrete building.

COOPER: A lot of disintegrates on impact, you say in the magazine. Let's move on, finally, to Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The theory that debris and body parts were discovered almost six miles away from the crash scene, showing that the plane was breaking up before it even crashed. You researched it, what did you find.

MEIGS: Well, this is again, typical of a lot of the conspiracy theories, they're are based on very sketchy early press reports that turned out to be very misguided. In fact, nothing was found more than a mile and a half from the plane. And that debris was just very light paper and other things that floated up with the smoke and flames from the crash. The idea that things were six to eight miles apart were just mistakes in early press reporting, which get repeated over and over again. And what I think is very telling is the conspiracy theorists don't acknowledge when a fact has been disproven. They just move on. They keep repeating it and claiming it again. Our job at "Popular Mechanics" is to try to debunk that and get to the facts.

COOPER: And you've done that in this issue. It's a great issue. James Banks, appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much.

MEIGS: It's nice -- thanks.

COOPER: All right. 360 next. Is there a connection to being lean and living longer? Well -- well, if I was into puns, I would say we'll have the skinny on that. (OFF-MIKE) ... say that.

Plus wild weather tonight, mudslides, tornadoes and sink holes. California pounded by rain. We're going to take you there. We'll have the latest live report.

And a little bit later, not a crooner. We introduced that Web crooner last week. This is our new favorite guy, Air Force Academy cadet. He's got some fancy foot work when he's all alone in his dorm room. He's our new favorite Internet performer. Definitely not ready, quite, for prime time yet.


COOPER: Remember that, a dive into the pool of youth in the hit movie "Cocoon." If only it was that easy. In a moment, we're going to tell you how to really add some years to your life by taking a simple test. Clearly, people will try anything to fight aging. But some researchers say it doesn't have to be that difficult. You can just change your diet. After all, one of the biggest health problems is obesity. More than half of us are over our ideal weight, enough to significantly raise the risk of disease and dying early.

Tonight CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen introduces us to someone who hopes to eat his way to a longer life.



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kenton Mullins (ph) is 5'8" but weighs only 120 pounds.

MULLINS: Yes, it sounds good.

COHEN: That's because he eats only 1,800 calories a day.

MULLINS: Oh, that looks great.

COHEN: Down from 4,000 a day a few years ago. He's hoping it will help him live to 90, 100, or even longer.

MULLINS: It was a very deliberate decision I made to begin calorie restriction. It's backed by very reputable extensive research.

COHEN: Like the research with these monkeys. Skinny monkeys, like the one on the right, live longer, healthier lives.

DR. SUSAN ROBERTS, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: They actually age biologically slower. They're fur's gone grow less quickly.

COHEN: Skinny mice live longer too. On regular diets, mice in one study, lived 36 months. When they ate 235 percent fewer calories, they live 42 months. On 65 percent fewer calories, they lived 55 months. One theory why is that on fewer calories, cells though out body appear to die slowly and repair themselves more easily.

MULLINS: This whole piece of lettuce may have like four or five calories.

COHEN: Mullins counts his calories religiously. For dinner this night, he had his papaya salad, steamed vegetables and he ate only about a third of fish, low in calories, but high in nutrients.

MULLINS: It's kind of like I'm living a life of torture. But how many people could have that kind of will power. Could we even keep off 45 pounds like Mullins did?

RICHARD MILLER, AMERICAN FED. FOR AGING RESEARCH: For every 100 people that are able to lose some weight, 95 or 98 of them just gain the weight back.

COHEN: That's why some researchers like Richard Miller, want to come up with a pill that tricks your body into thinking it's on a very low calorie diet, even when it's not. Giving all of the benefits, without any of the sacrifice.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: That doesn't look very appetizing, I've got to tell you.

For some other ideas on how to live longer, I talked to Dr. Thomas Perls. He's the director of the New England Centenarian Study and co-author of the book, "Living to 100: Lessons in Living to Your Maximum Potential Age."


COOPER: You designed a life expectancy quiz. And we're going to put on the screen four questions that people can ask themselves to see if they have, maybe, what it takes to live to be 100. Now of these four, are you overweight, should you exercise more, are you stressed, or do you smoke, why are these four so important?

DR. THOMAS PERLS, CO-AUTHOR, "LIVING TO 100": These really are the major key things that take Americans on what they should achieve of 88 years down to an average life expectancy of about 78 years, because they're not doing basically what our mothers have told us to do.

So if you're overweight, and you have a diet conducive to that, take of 10 years. If you're not regularly exercising most people say about half an hour a day, much of that should be strength training as we get older, you have to take off five years.

With the stress, stress is an age accelerator. We internalize things that cause hypertension and heart disease and so on. If you -- if you are stressed out and you don't manage your stress well, then you have to take off another five years.

And then finally, with the smoking, that's a biggie. You have to take off 15 years if you do that.

COOPER: And you've studied a lot of people who have lived to be 100 or more. What have you noticed that they have in common?

PERLS: Some of the things that they have in common that absolutely add years instead of subtracting those years would be that they tend to have a personality where they're low in one domain of personality testing called neuroticism, meaning that they have these personalities where they're happy go lucky. They have a good sense of humor. They're optimistic, and they don't dwell on things.

They don't -- as with the stress, they don't take these things in that stress out their heart and cause high blood pressure. They're able to let go. Lots of us have stress. And it isn't so much how important how much stress we have. It's how we manage it that's so key.

So if you have a personality that, where you manage that stress well, you can actually add five years to your life.

The other thing that they tend to do...

COOPER: You're stressing me out, though, because I'm constantly stressed, so I'm going to have to relieve this.

PERLS: Take a deep, good breath.

COOPER: I'll try that while you answer the next question. You're saying that instead of people sort of searching for that fountain of youth, they should strive for a fountain of aging well. What's the difference?

PERLS: Well, we're spending all our time and resources and money on trying to look good, whether it be with Botox injections or going after this ridiculous human growth hormone, which probably accelerates aging, which is actually illegal, for anti-aging.

People should be thinking more about these very basic things they can do to age well, add healthy years to your life. Because you're not going to add unhealthy years to your life.

And the thing, aging is much more and good health is much more than just level of the skin. And if we do things right, that's what's really going to enhance your ability to live to a much older age. It's -- it's not a matter of the older you get, the sicker you get. It's the older you are, the healthier you've been.

COOPER: And certainly, stressing about getting older is not going to help anything.


COOPER: Dr. Thomas Perls, very interesting to talk to you. Thanks very much.


COOPER: I'm not sure I want to live to 100. Do you? You can take the life expectancy quiz by logging onto our web site, Just click on the link. It takes about three minutes. It's pretty interesting or kind of depressing, depending I suppose, on the results. Coming up next on 360, Mother Nature unleashing her fury in California tonight. Find out how one woman trapped under 10 feet of mud made it out alive. Live report on that.

And does the world's most famous gorilla want women to reveal a private part of themselves? Strange story. That was next.

Also a little bit later, remembering Hunter S. Thompson. The godfather of gonzo, take his wild life to "The Nth Degree."


COOPER: Want to bring you the latest now on our top story, the deadly storms that continue to pound Southern California.

Take a look at this. The storms are so strong some of them are spawning funnel clouds. The remarkable pictures are from Northern California today.

Well, in the southern part of the state, mudslides are causing misery. CNN's Ted Rowlands is covering the storms for us. Here's a look at how one rescue operation today played out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Northbound 605...

ROWLANDS (voice-over): The Los Angeles County Fire Urban Search and Rescue Team gets a call that a mudslide into a home has trapped at least one victim.

They arrive to find mud and debris from floor to ceiling inside a condominium. A woman is trapped against a bathroom wall.

IBARRA: We have a whole mountain of mud from the hill had come through the house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don, can you pull that?

ROWLANDS: Using saws, crowbars and sledge hammers, firefighters cut through a dining room wall to get to the bathroom.

IBARRA: This is what they call a fluid. It's not a static. What I mean by fluid, it's constantly moving. And if we had actually water flowing under that mud pile, which is a big concern for us. Because once you get the mud flowing down and it's static, now we've got water actually filtering underneath it into the house into the spot where she was at, was the path of that mud, and that is bad.

ROWLANDS: A human chain is used to move debris. Eventually they get to the woman. She is in pain but able to talk.

COLLINS: The concern is what's called a crushed syndrome. When we have this pressure built up against our body parts over a period of time, lactic acid begins to build up in our system. And once that pressure is released, all that acid goes to the major organs in our body. So the concern is that even though she's talking to us now, once we alleviate that pressure, she could what we would call bottom out. Then she would go into full arrest.

ROWLANDS: The victim tells firefighters she can't feel the lower half of her body. Eventually, they're able to get her onto a stretcher...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can move her. She's strapped. We can go.

ROWLANDS: ... and into an ambulance. The victim is then taken by chopper to a local hospital.


ROWLANDS: Firefighters say the woman was a cleaning lady working when the hillside gave way here. They took her to USC Medical Center, where she is expected to remain through the night.

As for this hillside, there is real concern that what is left could give way, because there's more rain in the forecast for the next 24 hours in Southern California -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ted Rowlands with the latest. Thanks very much, Ted.

Staying in California now, a story of a different time. Her name is Koko. And next to King Kong, she's perhaps the most famous ape in the world. And what makes her so special is her purported ability to speak sign language. And lately, it seems, what Koko is really interested in talking about is, well, sex.

CNN's Jeanne Moos has more now on Koko's no-no.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's bad enough when guys act like gorillas, but imagine being told to display your breasts to a female ape.


MOOS: Koko, the ape famous for apparently having learned American Sign Language is at the center of a lawsuit. Two female employees of the Gorilla Foundation say they were ordered to bond with Koko by displaying their breasts.

STEPHEN SOMMERS, FORMER EMPLOYEES' ATTORNEY: At first it was, just shock like, oh, my God, I can't believe that just happened. And the third time, it was like if I don't do this, I'm going to get fired.

MOOS: This is far from Koko's first brush with fame. Dr. Penny Patterson began teaching Koko sign language when the ape was a year old. PATTERSON: Can you blow?

MOOS: She's 33 now and is said to have mastered more than 1,000 signs.

(on camera) Here at Koko's web site, there's a section where you can learn to sign with Koko. It includes 48 of her favorite signs. Breast is not among them.

(voice-over) The lawsuit alleges Koko has a nipple fetish.

SOMMERS: Dr. Patterson would say something along the lines of, "Oh, Koko. You get to see my breasts all the time. Maybe Nancy will show you her breasts."

MOOS: But Nancy Alperin and Kendra Keller refused. Their dismissal came after the pair reported sanitary violations to authorities. Talk about sanitary.

PATTERSON: Koko, here's a napkin. Your chin has something on it. That's your eye.

MOOS: The Gorilla Foundation denies the allegations, saying "to manipulate a purported employment issue and miscast it purely for publicity purposes is particularly hurtful."

At least they didn't respond to the breast overtures like Charlton Heston did.

CHARLTON HESTON, ACTOR: Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!

MOOS: Newscasters in nearby San Francisco couldn't keep a straight face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... who takes care of Koko, denies the charge.

MOOS: And to think the country went ape over Janet Jackson's exposure. What's Koko into next, making X-rated videos?

PATTERSON: Carefully.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Oh, Koko.

And then there are the people who love to show what they've got. Here at 360, as you may know, we like to search for those people, the stars in waiting who let it all hang out.

Well, tonight on the Internet, we found another guy you've kind of got to see. He's an Air Force cadet. He's got all the right moves. But he's probably not ready for prime time just yet. We'll let his roommate explain the rest. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Steve with the Air Force Academy, and I've got a story.

Just about every day, it seems like, I walk into this room and catch my roommate dancing to some retarded song. So I thought I'd try and catch him on camera. And we'll see if he does it today. But if you get to see it, it's going to be hilarious. All right.



COOPER: Well, at least he's a good dancer.

Still to come tonight on 360, the end of the line for an American original, Hunter S. Thompson. We'll take his life and wild ride to "The Nth Degree" when 360 returns.


COOPER: For movie fans, the moment they've been waiting for is just days away. The Oscars will be handed out this Sunday. If you're still trying to figure out how to place your bets with your friends, CNN's entertainment correspondent Sibila Vargas takes us through the Oscar showdown.


SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this corner, weighing in with almost 20 feature films, three Oscar nominations and one very famous husband, Annette "Being Julia" Bening.

ANNETTE BENING, ACTRESS: How dare you speak to me like that!

VARGAS: And in this corner, weighing in with more than a dozen films, one Academy Award and one slightly less famous husband, Hilary "Million Dollar Baby" Swank.

HILARY SWANK, ACTRESS: Got enough truth to seek (ph)?

VARGAS: See Oscar heavyweights face off for Best Actress gold, a rematch of their original bout five years ago.

SWANK: Heavy.

VARGAS: Back then, the statue made it's way to Swank's mantle for her work in "Boys Don't Cry," beating out Bening's performance in "American Beauty."

BENING: Excuse me, excuse me!

VARGAS: This time around, Bening plays a prima dona theater actress in "Being Julia" while Swank plays a boxer. SWANK: It's so rare, I think, to be nominated with someone and then be nominated again only a few years later.

BENING: It's a funny coincidence, I think.

VARGAS: As far as Annette and Hilary are concerned, the battle exists only in the media. The only jabs they're taking at each other are compliments.

SWANK: Annette is such an inspiration to me.

BENING: She's fantastic.

SWANK: She is -- you know, I've had the opportunity to meet her. And she's so generous and lovely.

BENING: I loved the movie, "Million Dollar Baby," and I love Hilary Swank.

VARGAS: The only gloves worn at this year's Oscars will likely be made of satin.

SWANK: I think in the end there are so many other great performances this year. And to talk just about us is just unfair to them.

BENING: Whatever happens.


COOPER: Tonight, taking individualism to "The Nth Degree."

A man who broke all the rules of journalism yesterday again went his own shocking way for the last time. Ordinary people may aspire to a ripe old age, but Hunter S. Thompson evidently didn't. At 67, he took his own life.

He was a character big enough for the movies, certainly. Bill Murray played him in "Where the Buffalo Roam" and Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro were halves of him in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," two films based on books he wrote.

Reporters aren't supposed to intrude on the stories they cover. Hunter S. Thompson did more than just intrude. He became the story.

Reporters aren't supposed to let their feelings show. He broke that rule as well.

Reporters generally try to be above reproach. Hunter S. Thompson said, and I quote, "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

He launched himself into America to tell a different sort of truth altogether. Boozy, blurred, as outraged as outrageous. Gonzo journalism, he called it. How, after all, to tell the story of a crazy time without partaking in the craziness? He lived in an armed compound and carried a gun, which yesterday he used himself on himself, as if to settle an old score. It is somehow unsurprising that Hunter S. Thompson's final showdown would be with none other than himself.

I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching this expanded edition of 360. Up next, "LARRY KING LIVE."


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