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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Protests Escalate Over Danish Cartoons; Best Government Money Can Buy; Hard Sell; Minutemen Visit Capitol Hill; Debating Publication Of Controversial Cartoon; Democrats Claim To Know How To Get Their Party Started

Aired February 8, 2006 - 18:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Wednesday, February 8th. Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.

Tonight, Republicans and Democrats are divided on almost everything. So should we be at all skeptical when they come together on lobbying reform? Just how nervous should we be? We'll have that live report for you from Capitol Hill.

And tonight, violent global protests escalating over the Mohammed cartoons. Is this about religious sensitivity or is about abandonment of the freedom of the press?

Most news organizations have decided not to publish the Mohammed cartoons, including this network. Are they sensitive editorialists of the 21st century, or the worst kind of editorial cowards, or something in between?

My guests tonight include the editor in chief of a New York newspaper who walked off the job over those cartoons, and so did his staff. A Wyoming publisher who published two of the cartoons; and the head of the association of American Editorial Cartoonists; and the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic relations all join us to discuss the issue.

Democrats have no message and no political traction, while the Republican Party is suffering under crushing political problems. Three leading Democrats say they have a plan, if only Democrats will listen. We'll find out. They're our guests here tonight.

And the latest pictures of the church fires in Alabama. Now nine churches have been burned over the past five days.

What's behind these fires? Is it religion? Is it race? Is it something else?

We'll be live in Boligee, Alabama.

We begin tonight with violent protests in the Muslim world over the Mohammed cartoons. For the first time since these protests began, a mob attacked a U.S. facility in southern Afghanistan. Five Afghans were killed when police opened fire upon them. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran and Syria of enflaming the anger for their own purposes. President Bush called upon governments all over the world to stop this violence.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Again today, massive demonstrations, Muslims demanding apologies, venting their fury with violence. In recent days, protests all over the world have turned increasingly deadly. Today, U.S. officials say some of those protests were engineered by government officials.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to enflame sentiment and to use this to their own purposes. And the world ought to call them on it.

PILGRIM: But so far, the world has not.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I hope very much that the voice of the moderate majority is not drowned out.

PILGRIM: And today, President Bush met with Jordan's King Abdullah at the White House.

KING ABDULLAH II, JORDAN: When we see protests, when we see destruction, where we see violence, especially if it ends up taking the lives of innocent people, it is completely unacceptable.

PILGRIM: Danish embassies have been burned to the ground. President Bush today asked governments to restrain violence.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I call upon the governments around the world to stop the violence, to be respectful, to protect property.

PILGRIM: But the Danish prime minister warned of the widening global unrest.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, DANISH PRIME MINISTER: Everybody could be targeted. We have seen that.

PILGRIM: And the Danish newspaper editor who first published the cartoon says it was right to print it because of the climate of fear of speaking out on Muslim issues in Denmark.

FLEMMING ROSE, CULTURE EDITOR, "JYLLANDS-POSTEN": In terms of dealing in covering Islam, people who did not want to appear under their own name, pieces of art that were removed, imams calling on the Danish government to interfere with the press.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, the Danish prime minister today said the story of the cartoons is being spread via Web log and cell phone messages. It's a war being waged in cyberspace at this point, Lou, and that's helping people promote it.

DOBBS: To promote it, it is obvious that this is coming five months after these originally were published in Denmark. And so few news organizations, so quick, so quick to deny themselves the opportunity to publish these cartoons and explain to a public and to provide, as is our responsibility, the public's right to know the information. The fact is, no one is questioning seriously and diligently why it has taken so long to see this move to the Arab street.

PILGRIM: Yes, many experts we talked to said they're being circulated privately by imams to their congregations and that's how they're being spread at this point.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

Kitty Pilgrim.

The protesters say cartoons and other images of Mohammed contradict their beliefs that prophets must be honored. But there are images of Mohammed in public buildings and art galleries throughout this country.

There is even an image of Mohammed in the U.S. Supreme Court. Muslim-American groups asked for the image to be removed, by the way, some eight years ago. But then Chief Justice William Rehnquist declined. He said Mohammed is an important figure in legal history.

Later here, we'll be examining the issue of religious sensitivity and press freedom with four of our guest, including the editor in chief of a New York newspaper, who, along with his staff, walked off the job over these cartoons, and a Wyoming newspaper publisher who did publish two of the cartoons, and the head of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, and the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

On Capitol Hill today, Republican and Democratic senators promised to push for major lobbying reform and end the culture of corruption in Washington. But there are rising new doubts tonight about the commitment of some senior lawmakers to actually reform this system, a system that is now the best government money can buy.

Ed Henry reports from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All smiles one day after a war of words, and even some playful shadowboxing from John McCain and Barack Obama at a Senate hearing on lobbying reform.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Senator Obama and I are moving on, and we'll continue to work together, and I value his input.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I'm particularly pleased to be sharing this panel with my penpal, John McCain. HENRY: Obama renewed his call for sweeping reform of how lobbyists conduct their affairs.

OBAMA: The bill would end all lobbyist funded gifts, meals, and travel and strengthen the Senate office that monitors.

HENRY: But McCain reminded his colleagues they just can't pick on lobbyists. They also need to stop sneaking narrow spending provisions into bills.

MCCAIN: That is out of control spending, Mr. Chairman. And it's got to stop.

HENRY: But on the House side of the Capitol, fresh questions about new Majority Leader John Boehner's ties to lobbyists and his resolve to help pass reform, after "The Washington Post" revealed the leader rents a two-bedroom basement apartment in this home from a lobbyist who had business before the education panel Boehner used to chair.

Boehner's office confirmed to CNN he rents the apartment from lobbyist John Milne and his wife, Deb Anderson, a long-time Boehner friend. Boehner says he pays fair market value and has not been lobbied by Milne, but Democrats are pointing to Boehner to charge Republicans aren't serious about reforms, like banning private travel.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: Already we are hearing the sound of furious backpedaling in the corridors of power. Even though the speaker of the House announced that his proposal will include that reform, the newly elected House majority leader feels differently.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Now, Boehner's office says the congressman has been up- front, that he has close relationships with various lobbyists. But they insist all those relationships are above board. The broader question may be whether or not this is creating a political perception problem, however, for the Republican Party in their new leader -- Lou.

DOBBS: A political perception problem certainly for them. But the fact is that neither party, leadership of neither party in Washington, is talking about substantial reform of the campaign financing laws in this country. They're not talking about public financing of campaigns. And they're not talking about rolling back the influence of lobbyist whatsoever, are they?

HENRY: They're not really doing that. And, in fact, a lot of the early efforts -- we heard from people like Speaker Hastert, for example -- are being pair back already. I mean, some of limited reform plans we heard about just a few weeks ago which sounded like they may be major reform, in fact they're now being paired back by Boehner and others. In fact, on the Democratic side as well -- Lou.

DOBBS: And Ed, we thank you.

And on this broadcast, we want to ensure the Republicans and Democratic leadership in Capitol Hill, we won't play the kabuki dance with you here until you talk about real reform. We will call it what it is, the best government that money can buy.

Ed Henry from Capitol Hill.

Thank you.

President Bush today declared the economy is strong and becoming stronger. But President Bush may find it difficult to convince many Americans that he's correct. Opinion polls, in fact, say most Americans are pessimistic about their economic future.

President Bush today signed a budget deficit reduction bill at the White House after he visited New Hampshire to push his economic record and agenda.

Dana Bash reports from Manchester, New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush came to New Hampshire to defend his new budget as a prescription to reduce red ink that exploded on his watch.

BUSH: We're on our way to cutting our deficit in half by 2009.

BASH: But this is a state where Yankee sensibility says you don't spend more than you have. And he was greeted by New Hampshire's conservative newspaper, calling his deficit reduction pledge "fiction." And skepticism from lifelong Republicans like Raimond Bowles, who came to the Golden Egg Diner with a sign lamenting the $2 trillion $770 billion Bush budget.

RAIMOND BOWLES, REPUBLICAN SUPPORTER: That does not include so- called special supplementals such as the cost of the war in Iraq.

BASH: Bowles voted Bush in 2000, but not last time. He was fed up with big spending by a GOP-led government and still is.

BOWLES: We won't be able to get out of this by 2009, which the president is predicting we can do. I am very pessimistic about that.

BASH: New Hampshire has taught Mr. Bush lessons before. He lost the presidential primary in 2000, and though he went on to carry the state that year, he lost it in 2004. Now a recent poll shows an all-time low 37 percent approval rating in the Granite State.

On paper, the president should be doing better. The economy is humming. New Hampshire's unemployment rate is just 3.5 percent.

But visit with rank and file Republicans at the Breaking New Grounds coffee shop and you hear consternation about budget-busting Bush years. SUSAN FROELICH, REPUBLICAN SUPPORTER: I think it's scary. I think our spending is way out of control. And I think it's not in line with conservative thinking.

BRAD LOWN, REPUBLICAN SUPPORTER: I felt that Bush had not been a very good Republican.

BASH: Brad Lown has voted Republican for 25 years, but he's frustrated. He doesn't think his party deserves his vote this election year, but he doesn't want to switch.

LOWN: The Democrats haven't demonstrated to me that they're -- that they're going to be any tougher or more restrained on spending. So the question is what the alternative is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And a nightmare scenario for GOP candidates is that Republicans, disillusioned Republicans, just stay home this election year. But the White House hopes that if they make some progress in spending restraint and other issues, like national security, that will help reenergize the base -- Lou.

DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much.

Dana Bash from Manchester, New Hampshire.

Turning now to the war in Iraq, six more of ours troops have been killed. Three soldiers, one Marine killed by roadside bombs in three separate attacks. One soldier, one Marine killed in road accidents -- 2,263 of our troops have now been killed since this war began.

Still ahead here, the Minutemen. They're leaving their border posts and marching on Washington, D.C. It's an important Capitol Hill rally in the fight for border security.

And a dangerous new idea in Dallas. The Dallas school district is now considering whether to hire illegal aliens to teach Texas schoolchildren.

We'll have that special report for you.

And Alabama's worsening crisis. Nine Alabama churches set on fire over the past five days. ATF calls this their number one national priority.

We're live with the very latest for you coming up here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: What is a school district do when it has so many illegal alien students who don't speak English? Why, it apparently goes out and hires illegal alien teachers.

The Dallas school district is considering doing just that to solve its shortage of so-called bilingual teachers. The school district is considering hiring illegal aliens to teach children. This school district claims it can't find enough qualified American citizens to take those low-paying teaching jobs.

Does this sound familiar?

Casey Wian reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dallas public education officials say they need 700 credentialed bilingual teachers, and they want to fill those jobs by hiring illegal aliens. That's against federal law, punishable by six months in jail and fines of $3,000 per employee.

School trustees met Tuesday seeking a way around the law.

PROF. RUDY RODRIGUEZ, UNIV. OF NORTH TEXAS: I can't believe that a law can be so rigid and inflexible that it doesn't take into account the needs of our children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With some laws changed, it could be very easily be legal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have numerous amounts of individuals who came to the United States at the age of six months, one year, two years, have been here all their lives, and are not able to teach simply because they don't happen to be American citizens.

WIAN: You may remember Joe Maez (ph), the man behind the requirement that Dallas school principals must be bilingual. Now he's spearheading the illegal alien teacher movement and is looking for support from other school boards nationwide.

AIMEE BOLANDER, AMERICAN FED. OF TEACHERS: There are enough teachers. They just choose not to teach in Dallas. A lot of bilingual teachers will go back home because they don't feel that the environment for teaching is good here, or they don't feel the salaries are proper.

WIAN: The average teacher in the Dallas school district earns $48,000 a year. The average Dallas high school football coach's annual salary is $70,000.

After the meeting, supporters of the proposal ducked three questions from a reporter about increasing pay for legal teachers instead of trying to hire illegal aliens.

I'm not sure if I follow you, but, you know, we're talking about credentialed, qualified people.

WIAN: Texas is one of nine states offering illegal aliens in- state college tuition. Many are now graduating with teaching certificates but can't find jobs.

MARIA ELENA GARCIA-UPSON, U.S. CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION SERVICES: They're still here illegally breaking the law, and you cannot go from an illegal status to a legal status.

WIAN: Dallas school officials say they will follow the law, at least for now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: They're hoping that Federal Dream Act (ph) will pass. It was reintroduced in November and would give legal status to illegal alien students who eventually could become bilingual teachers -- Lou.

DOBBS: It is remarkable what is happening in Dallas, Texas. It's also interesting that the school board put itself in the position of many illegal employers in this country, not wanting to discuss raising pay for those jobs.

WIAN: Yes, it was amazing listening to the reporters at that press conference. They asked those school board members three times, and they either deflected the question, said they didn't understand it. It was clear they didn't want to answer it, and it seemed clear to me that they hadn't even considered the possibility of raising the salaries to attract qualified legal bilingual teachers -- Lou.

DOBBS: It's extraordinary, the number of illegal employers in this country who have not considered the answer to that question.

WIAN: Right.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

Casey Wian.

A federal jury in Houston, Texas, today handed down convictions in the nation's deadliest illegal alien smuggling operation. Three south Texas residents were found guilty for their role in the operation which led to the deaths of 19 illegal aliens.

The illegal aliens and dozens more were jammed into an airtight tractor trailer in May of 2003. The smuggling ring abandoned them in Victoria, Texas, on the way to Houston. All three defendants face life in prison.

In Washington today, the Minutemen border patrol movement marched on Capitol Hill. They were there demanding tougher border security and a defeat of President Bush's so-called temporary guest worker program.

Louise Schiavone reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Minutemen feel economically squeezed and cheated of a basic sense of security, and they're convinced the government could care less. Rallying out side the halls of Congress, the self-appointed border watchers demanded a crackdown on illegal aliens. JAMES GILCHRIST, FOUNDER, MINUTEMAN PROJECT: I can assure you, if we cannot move you with our rhetoric, we will most assuredly move you out of office with our votes.

SCHIAVONE: The group rejects the Bush administration's proposed guest worker program. The president, in turn, calls them vigilantes.

But Colorado Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo calls the Minutemen American heroes.

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: They know that this government doesn't want secure borders. They know that the president doesn't want secure borders.

SCHIAVONE: The rhetoric was hot on this freezing day on Capitol Hill, where a contained group of Minutemen drew an even smaller group of open border advocates, followed by a couple of American Nazis.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: KKK, go home!

SCHIAVONE: And there was no question that the American debate about illegal aliens was in full cry.

STEPHEN EICHLER, DIRECTOR, MINUTEMAN PROJECT: Do they bring a bomb? We don't know.

Well, what is their age? We don't know.

Are they wanted for another crime somewhere else? We don't know.

We don't know. We don't know. We don't know.

SCHIAVONE: It's estimated that there are as many as 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S. The Senate is looking at a bipartisan proposal to open the door to legal status if aliens pay a fine at other penalties.

In the House, legislation has been proposed to establish a 21st century fence across the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexican border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIAVONE: And Lou, just in the past couple of hours, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean called on Republicans, including the president and congressional leaders, to denounce that Minuteman rally and what he labeled as its anti-immigrant fervor -- Lou.

DOBBS: Howard Dean didn't note anti-illegal alien fervor?

SCHIAVONE: No, his -- his statement said, "anti-immigrant fervor." They feel that all of this stuff is aimed at immigrants in general.

DOBBS: Louise Schiavone, thank you very much, reporting from Washington. Still ahead here, new fast-moving wildfires in southern California as California's dry spell and wildfire season continues.

We'll have the latest for you.

And the ATF is now in Alabama. Priority number one, finding out who has set nine churches on fire over the past five days.

We'll have a live report here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: In Alabama, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has declared top priority to find who is responsible for the arson of nine Baptist churches over the past five days. Four of the churches burned early yesterday in western Alabama. Five other churches were damaged in fires last Friday in Bibb County, southwest of Birmingham.

David Mattingly is live in Boligee, Alabama, where the governor has just concluded a news conference just moments ago -- David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, this is indeed priority number one for investigators. The governor coming out here speaking just a short time ago, assuring the public that everything possible is being done in this investigation.

The governor speculating a little bit, doing a little bit more than what investigators have been willing to do. The governor saying he does not believe this is the act of a hate group. He says he believes it is possibly local people involved.

And after the initial church fires on Friday, he said he thought it was an isolated incident. He's modified that somewhat, saying that they seem to be more calculated now and spread out over a much wider geographic area.

The ATF reveals that they are bringing in profilers. They have profilers on the ground working now not just to deal with who they might be dealing with, but geographical profilers to help determine where these people who are responsible for this might be living.

So again, they're brinking every resource to bear on this. Twice today here at the -- what was left of the Morning Star Baptist Church in Boligee, Alabama. We saw teams of specialists in here with rakes and shovels going through the ashes, sifting through every little piece they possibly could find to look for any clue that might be here.

They've also been concentrating on the churches that are still standing. Two of them here in west Alabama. They believe they might be able to find their most substantial evidence at those locations.

But the bottom line is that the news today is pretty much the same as it was yesterday. No solid suspects, and at this point, no solid motive for why somebody might be targeting Baptist churches in rural Alabama -- Lou. DOBBS: David, thank you.

David Mattingly from Boligee, Alabama.

A dangerous wildfire in California has now more than doubled in size. The Sierra fire has burned through more than 7,200 acres.

This fire is in the Cleveland National Forest. That's just east of the Orange County suburb of Los Angeles.

Fire officials say the flames have shifted and are no longer a threat to nearby homes. More than a thousand firefighters are working to put out these flames. The help of 10 helicopters and five airplanes being provided. So far, the fire is, we're told, about 20 percent contained.

Coming up here next, is the media's decision not to show controversial Mohammed cartoons cowardice or sensitive? My guests tonight include the editor in chief of a New York City newspaper who walked off the job over this controversy.

Also, communist China denies its long history of aggression against other countries.

We'll bring you the latest about communist China's revisionism. And we'll also bring you the truth.

The Democratic Party struggling to take advantage of the Republican Party's litany of political mistakes and problems. Three leading Democrats share their ideas for turning their party around here tonight.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Communist China this week insists that its military is not a threat to any country. However, it appears Beijing is completely ignoring communist China's long history of aggression over the past half-century.

Christine Romans reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China apparently has its own version of history. China's foreign ministry spokesman boldly claiming, "China has never threatened any country in the past and at present and will never do so in the future." A claim dismissed by historians and China military experts as preposterous.

ARTHUR WALDRON, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: No, I think that's quite wrong. The regime is -- rests very much on a military basis. The way they treat their own people to begin with is with force and repression. ROMANS: In fact, communist rule in China has been marked by conflict: the Korean War, the forced annexation of Tibet in the early 1950s, China's war with India in the Himalayas in 1962, battles with Russia, not to mention a bloody war with Vietnam in 1979.

JOHN TKACIK, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: When the Chinese say, we haven't threatened any other country, well, of course they claim all of the south China Sea is their country. They claim all of Taiwan is their country. They claim all of Tibet is their country, of course. And they're looking at Japanese islands in the east China Sea as their country.

ROMANS: And today, escalating threats against Democratic Taiwan. China regards Taiwan as a rogue province, pointing up to 800 missiles across the Taiwan straits. Taiwan has no missiles pointed at China.

To say nothing of China's aggression toward its own people on the mainland. And don't forget the outrageous threat last summer by a top Chinese general, that China is prepared to use a nuclear bomb against the United States in a conflict over Taiwan.

Contrast that with China's foreign ministry claim, it has never threatened another nation and never will.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Today the Pentagon voiced concern about China's threat to Taiwan, saying it looks like China is preparing for something other than a political solution to its dispute there. And China today slamming Taiwan, saying its president is quote, "a troublemaker." Lou, there's the truth and then there's the Chinese translation of the truth.

DOBBS: And remarkably, we're starting it hear the truth from a few policymakers and officials in the United States government. Of course it is their responsibility to speak truth. It is occasionally honored in the breach, but it is at least heartening to see there is a beginning. Christine Romans, thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

DOBBS: A Chinese newspaper editor has died of his injuries after Chinese police beat him up. Dozens of police officers stormed the editor's offices in October after his newspaper wrote a highly- critical report about exorbitant license fees and corruption. The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists has Chinese officials stop Chinese news organizations from reporting the editor's death.

President Bush today called upon world governments to stop the violent protests against Danish cartoons showing the Prophet Mohammed. Tonight, we have with us four guests who are at the center of the growing debate over religious sensibilities and freedom the press.

Here in New York, I'm joined by Harry Siegel who today resigned his post as editor-in-chief of the "New York Press," rather yesterday. When the paper refused to run the Danish cartoons, his editorial staff quit along with him.

From Cheyenne, Wyoming tonight, Reed Eckhardt, he is the managing editor of the "Wyoming Tribune Eagle" which published two of those cartoons yesterday. We're also joined by Nick Anderson, the vice president the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, who joins us from Louisville, Kentucky.

And from Washington, Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. We thank you for joining us as well, all four of you.

Let me start with you, Harry. The fact that you walked off, what simple refusal to do this? On what grounds?

HARRY SIEGEL, FORMER EDITOR, NEW YORK PRESS: Well, the morning our paper was due to come out, I spoke with the cartoonist in America, in the south who I can't name, who had done a cartoon about this and had to go into hiding.

There was a threat of violence here and an attempt to intimidate the press, that was anything but spontaneous. I couldn't be a party to and I felt it was very important that people saw the cartoons, which are fairly innocuous stuff that triggered this -- saying overreaction.

DOBBS: And we want to point out that this network's management made the decision that we will not be able to broadcast images of this cartoon. I will tell everyone here, the audience knows I'm straight- up, straightforward on these things. It's my personal belief that you cannot report the story faithfully without showing these images, particularly when they're so widely available on the Internet.

Let me, if I may go to you, Reed, Reed Eckhardt in Wyoming. Why did you make the decision to go ahead? Was there a great balancing of interests in your judgment?

REED ECKHARDT, MANAGING EDITOR, WYOMING TRIBUNE EAGLE: No, there really wasn't a big demand for the cartoons themselves. My concern was, as you said, the images are pretty innocuous as Mr. Siegel said. And also be quite frank, they're quite innocuous.

I didn't find much in them that would be offensive. The biggest thing that I wanted was for our readers an opportunity to see for themselves what was going on in the world around them, without those decisions being made for them. It concerned me that a number of agencies, including the "Associated Press," they decided not to distribute those images, despite the demands of their own newspapers for them. And if the A.P. wouldn't distribute them, that I would find a way get them to my readers.

DOBBS: Nick Anderson, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist. You're a -- effectively the head of the Association of Editorial Cartoons. I would think you would be thrilled to hear that kind of support for an editorial cartoonist.

NICK ANDERSON, ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN EDITORIAL CARTOONISTS: Well, actually I'm the vice president the organization. And although there's not a total consensus among editorial cartoonists about the wisdom of publishing these or republishing them.

There's a consensus that you have the right to publish them and there is a consensus that we -- vigorously condemn the reaction to them in the Islamic world. But I don't think there's an overwhelming consensus that it is wise to continue to republish these, because you are playing into the hands of Islamic radicals who are using the continued republishing for their own agendas.

DOBBS: And, Nick, if I may say that, that had some of the polish nuance of the very people that you caricature from time to time.

ANDERSON: I'm sorry the -- what had the polishing nuance?

DOBBS: Your very words, but we're going to -- we'll come back to that.

ANDERSON: Oh, OK.

DOBBS: And if I may turn to you to discuss the Islamic reaction, Nihad, this is five months in the making, these reactions that we're witnessing here.

Why the sensitivity? Why this concern over these cartoons now, do you think?

NIHAD AWAD, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: There are two parts. No. 1, as you all aware, now that Muslims reject any physical or artistic presentation of Prophet Mohammed, Prophet Jesus or any prophet that Muslims believe in, in conjunction with Christianity or any representation of God.

That's one minor part of the problem. The biggest part of the problem that we all have to acknowledge is the fact that this cartoon, or these cartoons, are extremely and highly offensive. They're not innocuous as some of your guests suggested.

They're deeply offensive. And if they don't feel that they're offensive, I think we need some education here. That when you equate the entire religion of Islam and Prophet Mohammed and his teachings with terrorism, then you must be ignorant about history, the teachings of Prophet Mohammed.

DOBBS: Forgive me, Nuwad.

AWAD: Nihad.

DOBBS: I appreciate the statement about being ignorant, but I'm neither ignorant of what some of the radical fundamentalists in the Arab street are spewing out in Gaza, the West Bank, every week, and in Pakistan. The cartoonists there are eviscerating Christians and Jews with their cartoons. And you know it's a staple of the Arab press.

AWAD: And that's the second part that I would like to address. That any violent reaction to this deeply offensive cartoon is highly regrettable and I condemn it. My organization has condemned it. Majority of Muslim scholars who are level-headed, have condemned it. And what you've seen on television, even right now, you see the minority. The few thousand of 1.5 billion people.

The CNN camera and other cameras, they're not going through the homes of almost 1.3 or four billion people. And show how they're offended but they are peaceful at the same time. I respect the freedom the press. I respect their right.

But I see that there is consensus among editors and managing editors around the world, including in this country, to show respect because free expression comes with the responsibility. And I think it was poor judgment and bad faith. Bad faith to publish them, because...

DOBBS: Nick Anderson, let me ask you to respond to Nuwad's statement.

AWAD: Nihad.

DOBBS: Do you feel good and comfortable about a consensus among editors?

ANDERSON: I'm sorry, which part of the statement would you like me to respond to?

DOBBS: OK, Reed, we'll try you.

ECKHARDT: It's pretty clear that there is a consensus given the few number of papers that have published these cartoons. It does concern me that an American press, which can be so aggressive on freedom of information issues, which can be so aggressive about the rights of the American people, to see for themselves and make their own decisions can suddenly become so cold.

My worry here is that the consensus is not so much about being polite, but a consensus on fear -- of a fear of retaliation that we're seeing around the world. That's not how it should operate here in the United States.

DOBBS: Harry, your thoughts?

SIEGEL: I think that's entirely right. I think editors and publishers and owners have been intimidated. And I think that was the point of -- that was the point of the violence. And right now it's looking like it's succeed.

DOBBS: Nuwad, I would ask you this, you said ignorance of...

AWAD: My name is Nihad, not Nuwad, I'm sorry.

DOBBS: ... a viewpoint on the part of American toward the Muslim sensibility. At the same time, to what degree should the American values of a robust, vigorous, and frankly free press that is -- I find more animated and vital to the national interests the public's right to know, when there isn't a consensus. Which of those values do you think should predominate? Should we become culturally sensitive to the point that we can strain ourselves and our national tradition in this country, some 200 years in the making?

AWAD: Lou, I don't think these are just American values. These are universal values. When you...

DOBBS: Well, freedom of the press actually isn't a universal value, as you well know. And I think that no other democracy in the world has a vigorous press that has been practicing as long as this.

AWAD: I think it is universal. And let me just share with you this. When I lived in the Koran and I speak to my fellow Muslims now who acted violent and irrationally unfortunately. God allow Satin in the Koran to speak his mind. And when he speaks his mind he does not threaten God and he does not threaten believers because believers should be in charge of their own behavior.

So I respect the freedom of the press. But, as I said, it comes with decency and responsibility. In your network, in "The Washington Post," in mainstream media from the United States you have guidelines. You do not show nudity and naked people on the front page. You do not publish vulgar language.

DOBBS: Well, let me ask you a question. Would you suggest then that this network should not have shown the photographs from Abu Ghraib? Should we have--what should have been our reaction when Iran put a fatwa on Salman Rushdie? What would--I mean I am trying to sort through the sensitivities here, and I am having trouble.

AWAD: Mr. Dobbs, you are missing issues at the same time. On the Abu Ghraib issue it was a national security issue that we just discovered that we had been abusing people in prison. And the human face of that tragedy was not shown.

Now, if we violate people's privacy by showing their pictures then we should not do it because we protect the privacy of our American soldiers when they are injured or killed.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

I have got to give the last word to whoever just asked for it.

ECKHARDT: Mr. Dobbs, I would like to say something if I could.

DOBBS: Quickly please.

ECKHARDT: Yes, I think that the issue here is the fact that the Muslim community has made this is an issue. When they make an issue of this sort, when they go to the point of burning embassies, it is certainly an issue of discussion beyond simply religion.

(CROSSTALK)

AWAD: ...another representative of the Muslim community.

DOBBS: I think that is a very fair point. (CROSSTALK)

SIEGEL: ...address that directly and say that this sort of violence is unacceptable.

DOBBS: In point of fact many Muslims are speaking out against that violence to their credit.

SIEGEL: States.

DOBBS: But not states, as you correctly point out, Harry. But I think Nihad's point is absolutely clear. We are not talking about the Muslim community. We are talking about an Arab street that is being manipulated, and too few news organization are focusing on why it has taken five months in order for that process to be well underway and unfortunate cost of lives.

Gentlemen, thank you very much. Appreciate you all being here and to help illuminate the issues. We appreciate it.

Well, while you can't see the photographs on this networks, most other media outlets also denying you that opportunity, there are a host of web sites where you can see the photographs. And we will tell you about one of them at least. It is www.humaneventsonline.com.

We'd like to know what you think about this issue. Do you believe that the media should publish the Mohammed cartoons blamed for numerous deaths and riots across the world? Yes or no. Please cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up here later.

"THE SITUATION ROOM" will have much more on this issue. Coming up at the top of the hour, Wolf Blitzer will be talking with the Imam who has been accused of sparking the violent Muslim outrage. Also, he will be talking with the Prime Minister of Denmark.

Just ahead here, the Democrats. In this rage what does this party stand for? What is their message? Why have Democrats failed to find traction in the midst of all the Republicans mistakes and mess?

I'll be joined by three top Democrats who say they know how to get their party started. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: What is wrong with the Democratic Party? And what can Democrats do about it?

To discuss the issue, three people who know. I am joined now here in New York by Amy Sullivan, she is the editor of "The Washington Monthly," John Kenneth White, who is professor of politics at the Catholic University of America. From Washington, John Podesta, and he is the president and CEO of Center for American Progress and also worked for a fellow of the name of Bill Clinton, former President Clinton.

Good to have you all here.

They have contributed to a book called, "Get This Party Started: How Progressives Can Fight Back."

Amy, let's start right now. This Republican Party is falling apart seemingly under the burden of scandals and missteps of all kinds. And this Democratic Party it can't find its way out of a paper bag. Why?

AMY SULLIVAN, EDITOR, WASHINGTON MONTHLY: Well, you know, it is all in your attitude. This is, you're right, a Republican Party that is kind of torn apart on a lot of different issues. You've got the business half. You've got the religious half. They are often in conflict. And, yet, they act like they are on top of the world.

And then you have got the Democrats who really have nothing to lose at this point, and yet they act like a party that is just hanging on by a thread and can't afford any missteps.

DOBBS: Well, misstep after misstep. What's the reason for it? Is it the leadership? Is it Howard Dean that is running the Democratic National Committee? Is it folks wanting to be president in 2008, a bunch of senators who all begin to sound alike? What's the deal?

JOHN KENNETH WHITE, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA: Well, I think you have got all of that. But I think at the end of the day, the Democrats have come to understand I think at this point that A. they have got a problem. And for a long time Democrats have blamed their losing candidates, oh, he was terrible, oh this was the worst candidate ever.

DOBBS: John Kerry, Al Gore.

WHITE: Exactly. And the problem is that they have a party problem. And I believe that a large part of their party problem stems from their lack of attention to the values issue. Democrats have not talked about values. They haven't understood the importance of it.

DOBBS: What is a value?

WHITE: Well, values like family, work, neighborhood, peace, freedom, opportunity, community.

DOBBS: The good stuff.

WHITE: Responsibility. And the secret of Bill Clinton's success, by the way, in 1992 is that repeatedly he talked about opportunity, community and responsibility over and over and over again. And guess what? It worked.

DOBBS: John Podesta, can another Bill Clinton have as much, quote, unquote, Bill Clinton, be found by the Democratic Party in time for 2008?

JOHN PODESTA, CTR. FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Look, I think that this isn't just about, as the other authors have said, this isn't just about finding the right candidate. It's about finding the right program and focusing on the right issues.

And I agree with what has been said. And I think that what Democrats need to do, you know, they got the critique down pretty well. What they need to do is really put forward a program that is going to be appealing and compelling...

DOBBS: Now, John, I don't have to remind you all. You are all on the same side here now. We are starting to see a little slippage here.

John, we are going to take a break here and come back. But I would like to talk all of you about some specifics. Because a lot of people scratch their heads when we talk about issues and we talk about values. And what in the world is a Democrat think and believe these days?

And we'll be back with our distinguished panel of Democrats here in just one moment. Stay with us as we find out exactly how they are going to reenergize, help reenergize their party. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour, THE SITUATION ROOM and Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Hi, Lou, thanks very much. We're following several stories. Much more on the cartoon controversy around the world. We'll hear from the Danish prime minister. Also, my interview with the Danish Muslim cleric, who many say is behind the world wide protest. It's an interview you won't want to miss.

And many here in the United States are upset by both sides of this story. And they're sounding off on talk radio. They want to know how much your neighbors paid for their house, just point and click. We will have some new information. All of that at much to the hour. Lou?

DOBBS: Look forward to it, Wolf. Thank you.

Now back with our Democratic panel Amy Sullivan, John Kenneth White and from Washington, John Podesta. John, let's talk about the issues that people have come on to count on the Democratic party but from my perspective, it's disappeared.

On issues of trade and jobs, working man and women in this country. What's happened?

PODESTA: Well, look, I think that we have lost our touch with the middle class and I think we've got to -- we need to reconnect with that. I think starting with reforming the tax code to value work and not just wealth. And I think we -- you know --

DOBBS: Yeah, team! PODESTA: We have to invest in jobs in it country through innovation and I would start with the energy sector by getting us off of oil and onto new American technologies, including new forms of fuel that we could grow right here in America.

DOBBS: Wait a minute, Exxon says we will always be dependent on foreign fuel. There is no sense of thinking about it at least of all Democrat, Amy.

SULLIVAN: Well, that's absolutely not the way to move forward, obviously.

DOBBS: What are we gonna do here, John? the fact you talk about values. You have a party that will have to be mobilized to win to do anything. What's it gonna take?

WHITE: Look if the Democratic party didn't exist in this country, it would have to be invented. And the reason I say that is a party that talks about equality of opportunity, a party that talks about tolerance, those are crucial values to Americans. And I'd say the same about the Republicans.

DOBBS: All right, here's what's crucial to Americans in poll, Amy. Today, Howard Dean slamming The Minutemen, saying George Bush should basically denounce The Minutemen because they're anti-immigrant is the way they put it. They're anti-illegal immigration. The Republican party's troubled on this issue but we can't get a clear statement of where the Democrats are on illegal immigration or border security.

SULLIVAN: This is part the problem is the Democrats need to get into the game. That's been one the things holding them back. We don't have our voters saying we agree with Republicans on all of these issues. We have them saying we're going with the party that talks about these value's issues in many cases. They're the only ones out there.

DOBBS: John Podesta, John white, let me ask you quickly because we just got a few seconds. Are the Democrats just too much like Republicans? You both get your money from the big business. You're doing this -- you guys look and smell and feel the same.

PODESTA: Well, that's the prescription for losing. I think if that's true but I don't believe it is true. I think the Democrats will stand up for working people. And I think we got to get back it our root and stand up for the middle class and win elections.

DOBBS: The last word, John.

WHITE: I think that the Democrats do have problems and we've acknowledged that here. But I think at end of the day, they have to come back to what it is that they believe and the fundamental purpose of the Democratic party is to promote equality of opportunity. Is to promote tolerance. And at the end of the day, if the party can't do that, it's in deep trouble. DOBBS: We thank you very much for being here. John Podesta, John Kenneth White, Amy Sullivan, thank you. I wish we had more time. Come bark, we will talk more as you refine the message.

Still ahead, the very latest on an important effort to give our severely wounded troops the very best medical care on Earth. We'll have an update for why you on The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 63 percent of you responded, saying the media should publish the Mohammed cartoons blamed for numerous deaths and riots across the world, 37 percent of you say they should not be published.

An update now on our Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. That fund is raising $35 million to build a new rehabilitation center for our wounded men and women returning from battle. That fund must raise another $4.5 million over next four weeks. To contribute, please go to fallenheroesfund.org. You can link through loudobbs.com as well or call 1-800-340-HERO, 1-800-340-HERO.

We thank you for being here with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow when our guests will include former Colorado governor Richard Lamm, he's fighting to stop his state from giving away services like health care and education to illegal aliens.

We'll be talking with an American mayor who is going out of his way to help illegal aliens living in his community. Two different views of a controversial issue. Please be with us.

For all of us here. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

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

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