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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Vice President Dick Cheney Breaks Silence Over Hunting Accident; The 'CSI' Effect on Crime; Interview With New York Senator Charles Schumer; Conan O'Brien Travels to Finland to Meet President; How Long Will You Live?

Aired February 15, 2006 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. And thank you all for joining us.
Tonight, the story that has been on everyone's mind for days. Now, for the first time, we hear from the man in the middle of the storm.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): Breaking the silence -- days after he shot a fellow hunter, after all the headlines and all the questions, Dick Cheney finally speaks out. What happened? Who is to blame? And has the vice president said enough?

"Outside the law" -- the CSI effect. Killers watch TV, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is showing the crooks how not to get caught.

ZAHN: Are criminals using what they have seen on TV to try to trip up crime scene investigators?

And "Vital Signs" -- how much longer do you have to live?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to know if you're going to die in the next four years?

ZAHN: Tonight, we will show you how a simple test can predict your longevity. Are you willing to take it?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: We start tonight with Vice President Dick Cheney's attempt to finally do some damage control. But is it too little too late?

After all, it has been days since he accidentally shot and wounded a friend while they were quail hunting in Texas.

White House correspondent Dana Bash is here to recap what the vice president had to say. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four days after he shot a man, the vice president walked across the White House driveway to talk for first time about what happened in what aides say will be his only appearance, an interview with FOX News.

"The image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired, and there's Harry falling. And it was, I'd have to say, one of the worst days of my life, at that moment. He was laying there on his back, obviously bleeding. You could see where the shot had struck him."

The uncharacteristically introspective description is exactly what frustrated associates, even senior Bush aides, say he should have done right away, portray a human drama, not a political cover-up. But Mr. Cheney had no regrets about the controversial way the incident was disclosed to the public, nearly 24 hours later, and by a private citizen, not him.

"I thought that was the right call. I still do. I had no press person with me. I was there on a private weekend with friends."

The vice president that, the morning after the shooting, he and Katharine Armstrong decided she would tell the story to her local paper. She was his host and an eyewitness.

"I thought that made good sense because you can get as accurate a story as possible from somebody who knew and understood hunting," he said. "Accuracy was enormously important."

But the way Mrs. Armstrong explained it to CNN and others, the shooting was Mr. Whittington's fault, because he broke hunting protocol by not making his presence known when he rejoined the group. The vice president now says had was his fault: "You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. And I say that is something I will never forget."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, there have been rampant rumors, especially on the blogs for days, that there was alcohol involved in this incident. The vice president did say that he had a beer at lunch, but that was several hours before they were hunting. And he said during the hunting -- quote -- "Nobody was drinking. Nobody was under the influence" -- Paula.

ZAHN: So, Dana, did you come away from this today understanding more about what happened Saturday night and why the delay in getting this information out?

BASH: A little bit. You know, it has fleshed out a little bit more of what his aides were saying and associates were saying behind the scenes, particularly about why not Saturday night? We knew that -- that they said he was very focused on the medical condition of Mr. Whittington.

And, as the vice president said today, it wasn't about the press. It was that. And he -- he basically said that was the most important thing. You're already hearing from some that, you know, that doesn't necessarily fly, that the -- the focus should have been not just that, but, also, understanding that there is a public disclosure issue there.

We also know that there was a statement in the works Saturday night, that the deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, was working on one, but they actually decided not to issue it, in part, apparently, because the vice president hadn't talked to the sheriff's office. That wasn't going happen until Sunday morning.

And I can tell you, Paula, that is another unanswered question still tonight. Why wasn't the vice president interviewed the night of the shooting, not until Sunday morning?

ZAHN: Very brief answer. There's still some tension between the White House and the vice presidential staff?

BASH: Sure. I don't think that is going to go away any time soon. They hope that perhaps this will pop that bubble, but a lot of that will be determined on how this plays out over the next couple of days.

ZAHN: Dana Bash, thanks for the update. Appreciate it.

So, has the vice president finally diffused the frenzy over the shooting?

Let's ask Democratic Senator Charles Schumer if he's satisfied with the answers we're finally getting.

Senator Schumer joins us tonight.

So, Senator, you heard that the vice president has stood by the way this whole incident was handled. Here is exactly what he had to say about the initial delay: "One of the things I'd learned over the years was that first reports are often wrong, and you need -- really need to wait and nail it down. And there was enough variation in the reports we were getting from the hospital, we really didn't know until Sunday morning that Harry was probably going to be okay. And that's when we began the process of notifying the press."

Does this concern your -- does this -- does this satisfy your concerns about the delay?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, you know, I -- what really bother me most, Paula, is, this is indicative of something about the vice president and the administration as a whole.

Instead of coming clean about the facts and having that as a basic instinct, which I think every -- every administration should have...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But he said he didn't have the facts. It wasn't clear how Mr. Whittington was doing Saturday night. SCHUMER: Well, you know, it's -- the whole thing is a little bit strange. It is not simply that they didn't have all the facts. They could have told people what happened, and say, we are going to fill you in on the details later.

You also have the situation where they didn't -- there wasn't an official press spokesman or anybody else, or the vice president himself coming forward, but, rather, the ambassador talking to her local newspaper.

And the point I wish to make here -- and I think this is the most important -- is, just as Katrina was sort of a metaphor in this administration, sort of a nonpolitical metaphor, if you will, for incompetence, this shooting incident is a metaphor for another thing that is so characteristic of this administration, a secretive nature, not a desire to come out and come forward and talk.

And it doesn't -- it is not just the shooting, which was a tragic incident, but it's so many other things.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHUMER: There are so many questions about the vice president and his role in so many different ways.

ZAHN: But...

SCHUMER: And he hasn't had a press conference in three-and-a- half years.

ZAHN: But, Mr. Senator, let -- let's come back to how the vice president has fiercely defended himself today. When it came to having the -- the property owner issue the information about what had happened, he said: "I thought that was the right call. I still do. I had no press person with me. There are a lot of basic important parts of the story that required some degree of understanding. And so we were confident that Katharine was the right one, especially because she was an eyewitness and she could speak authoritatively on it. She probably knew better than I did what had happened, since I had only seen one piece of it."

Valid point?

SCHUMER: No, I don't think it is a valid point.

I think that it could -- this was one person who saw it from one point of view, talking to one reporter. And we don't know what -- what the relationship was between that person and the reporter, what questions were asked, etcetera.

And, even tonight, the vice president makes a statement, goes before one particular reporter, but he ought to have -- be holding a, as I said, regular press conferences on this issue and on many, many other issues.

ZAHN: But, you know, that's not... SCHUMER: So, I'm not -- so, I'm not satisfied.

ZAHN: ... the standard procedure for vice presidents over the years.

But, if you're not satisfied -- I mean, he -- he has apologized. He said, it was his fault. He explained why he doled out the information the way he did, using the ambassador as the spokesperson. What else do you need to know?

SCHUMER: As I said, I think he ought to hold a press conference and let the whole press corps ask questions and get, finally, to the bottom of this.

And I think, when a vice president is as powerful as Vice President Cheney is, he ought to be coming before the public. There are questions about his role in the Plame investigation. There are questions about his role in the Iraq war. There are questions about his role in countless other issues. And we never get answers to these.

ZAHN: Senator Schumer, we are going to have to leave it there this evening. Thanks so much for joining us.

SCHUMER: Thank you.

ZAHN: Appreciate it.

So, what about the man Vice President Cheney accidentally shot? Harry Whittington is still being treated for the birdshot wounds and the heart trouble those pellets caused.

Let's turn to Ed Lavandera. He has been covering the story from the very beginning. And he joins us tonight from the hospital in Corpus Christi.

What are you being told tonight, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Paula.

Well, encouraging news -- Mr. Whittington's heartbeat has settled down. He's actually in -- in extremely well condition, his doctors here have described him -- have described him. However, he's still in the intensive care unit. But there is a unique reason for that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER BANKO, CHRISTUS SPOHN HOSPITAL CORPUS CHRISTI-MEMORIAL: He's in stable condition in our ICU right now. He's actually in our ICU strictly due to personal privacy reasons. They are not -- he's not there due to his medical condition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: Doctors say that Mr. Whittington is alert. He's eating regular food. In fact, he spent the afternoon working on some of his law papers.

And the only indication that we have gotten of -- of how Mr. Whittington is feeling came today, when doctors said that he -- his -- his opinion of the news media coverage of all of this, he said it was much ado about nothing -- Paula.

ZAHN: And we also understand that Harry Whittington and his family are helping decide what kind of information is put out there to the press. Has that created any problems for you guys, as you have tried to report the story?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, the interesting thing about all of this has been that he is not obligated in any way to disclose the information of -- of how he is doing.

But we understand that the officials here at the hospital have been working closely with the family to kind of determine just how much of that information will be revealed to the public. They want to give people the indication that, you know, Mr. Whittington is doing -- is doing well, and that he will be OK, despite, well -- you know, he will have to live with these B.B.s in his body for the rest of his life.

ZAHN: Ed Lavandera, thanks. Appreciate it.

Millions of Americans go hunting, but did you know that, if you have a lot of cash and the right connections, you're sure to bag something, even an endangered species? How can that be legal?

And, a little bit later on, are crime lab shows, like "CSI," too realistic? Are they teaching real crooks how to get away with murder?

And how long do you have to live? We have a very simple test you can take with us tonight. Please stay tuned for the details.

First, though, our countdown of the top 10 most popular stories on CNN com -- more than 20 million of you went to our Web site today.

At number 10, Paris Hilton stealing that spotlight again with an appearance during London's Fashion Week, behind New York's Fashion Week, of course.

And, at nine, an Ohio couple is now facing trial for forcing some of their 11 adopted special-needs children to sleep in cages. A social worker has also been charged in the case. All will be back in court February 22.

Numbers seven and eight a few minutes away. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: What are the chances you will live for another four years? You really want to know? Then, we have got a test you can take right along with us tonight a little bit later on. Back to the issue of the vice president and the controversy swirling around him -- today, in the interview about his hunting accident, Vice President Cheney made a point of describing the conditions at the Armstrong ranch in Texas, where the accident happened, as shooting wild quail over wide open spaces.

Mr. Cheney had been criticized in the past for hunting in places where animals were actually brought in or raised only for the kill, a so-called canned hunt. And, on some of those ranches, you can even pay to kill endangered animals.

Now, this next piece might be hard to watch, but Jonathan Freed takes us to such a ranch in Texas for tonight's "Beyond the Headlines."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It feels like you're in the middle of nowhere. But you're not alone here. And that's the point. These animals were put here or bred here on the ranch mainly for the purpose of being hunted by people paying for the privilege of shooting them.

ERIC WHITE, Y.O. RANCH HUNTING AND WILDLIFE DIRECTOR: There is about 50 species here. We hunt 25 or so species.

FREED: Eric White is the hunting and wildlife director at the Y.O., about two hours northwest of San Antonio, Texas. The Y.O. is what they call a hunting ranch, a place where guides take people out to stalk and kill a wild variety of game animals, and some like this scimitar-horned oryx from North Africa, are on the endangered species list in their native countries.

Depending on how rare the animal is, hunters pay from $2,500 to $8,500 per kill. Many find these kinds of kills and ranches like the Y.O. controversial.

(on camera): You hear this type of operation likened to an open- air abattoir or a guaranteed killing zone. What goes through your mind when you hear that?

WHITE: Well, I hate it.

FREED (voice-over): White insists that, while the ranch is enclosed, he says, it is so big, 40,000 acres, or 60 square miles, that it is as if the animals are in the wild.

WHITE: It is enclosed, but it's enclosed in a huge area. The animals have ample ability to escape.

FREED: The Humane Society and animal rights activists don't call it ranch hunting, but canned hunting.

WAYNE PACELLE, PRESIDENT, HUMANE SOCIETY: We wanted to blow the lid off these canned hunts. FREED: The Humane Society says it took this video at some ranching operations in Texas, not at the Y.O. The Society says, it shows some animals do not run from hunters there, making them easy trophy kills.

PACELLE: What they do, in its naked form, is ugly and inhumane. They're killing animals for a fee.

FREED: The Humane Society is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over ranch hunting. The issue is a decision last year by the Bush administration that allows three endangered types of antelope, including that scimitar-horned oryx, to be hunted on ranches like Y.O. The ranches also are required to donate 10 percent of the profits from those endangered animals towards concentration.

WHITE: We're just the easiest target.

FREED: Eric White says, the antelope are not endangered in this country, insisting the Y.O. ranch has returned hundreds of rare animals to their native habitats overseas.

WHITE: The fact that scimitar-horned oryx are still here because of people like us, and they may not be here if it wasn't for people like us. Blackbuck antelope are back in Pakistan.

FREED: White says no animal is hunted until its herd reaches maturity. For example, there are zebras here, but not enough yet. So, hunter won't be allowed to target them for another four to five years.

Jonathan Freed, CNN, Mountain Home, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: One more thing to add -- the Humane Society estimates that there are more than 1,000 canned hunt operations in at least 28 different states.

You happen to be a "CSI" fan? Well, millions of you out there are. So are a lot of criminals. Are super-realistic crime shows teaching crooks how to stay out of jail and commit crimes?

Also, a meeting made for TV -- can you tell who is the late-night comedian and who is the president of Finland? Check out that hair very, very carefully. That's coming up in a little bit.

Right now, let's move on to the hour's top stories from Erica Hill at Headline News -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Paula, just a few hours ago, a deadly end to a bank robbery and hostage-taking in Detroit. Police say the suspected robber died of a gunshot wound after taking 10 customers and employees hostage. Now, all of the hostages did get out of the bank safely. It is still not clear at this time if the bank robber was shot by police or if he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. An Iraqi TV station which is partly funded by the U.S. is broadcasting public service announcements now calling for the release of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll. The 28-year-old reporter was abducted January 7 in western Baghdad. The kidnappers have vowed to kill Carroll by February 26, unless all female prisoners in Iraq are released.

On Thursday, Neil Entwistle will be formally charged with the murder of his wife and baby daughter in Massachusetts in January. The 27-year-old was extradited from England today. He landed in Massachusetts just hours ago.

And an update for you tonight on the condition of Randy McCloy. He is the sole survivor of the West Virginia Sago Mine disaster. According to his family, Randy McCloy is now speaking and responding to questions. In January, McCloy suffered extensive exposure to carbon monoxide when he and 12 other miners were trapped underground. He was rescued after 42 hours. His fellow miners died. McCloy is currently at a rehabilitation center in Morgantown, West Virginia.

And, Paula, that's a look at the headlines at this hour -- back over to you.

ZAHN: Thanks, Erica. Nice to hear that he's making some progress there.

We all knew there were more pictures of the abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners that were never made public. Well, guess what, some of them showing what went on in that notorious prison have been leaked. Will they inflame world passions all over again?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ted Rowlands in Hollywood.

Are shows like "CSI" making it more difficult for police to solve crimes? Coming up, we will go inside a real-life CSI crime unit -- as PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Now on to number eight in our CNN.com countdown.

Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, is now in rehab, being treated for alcoholism.

And, at number seven, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff admits, the government's response to Hurricane Katrina was inadequate. He testified before a Senate committee earlier today.

Stay with us for numbers and five and six just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: In tonight's "Eye Opener," a potentially explosive new controversy over the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. It has been nearly two years since a soldier's conscience led him to turn over photographs of dead, beaten and humiliated Iraqi prisoners.

We warn you, those pictures were horrifying then. They still are today. And I say today, because more of those disturbing images have suddenly materialized.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has the latest on the flare- up and the fallout in tonight's "Eye Opener."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Australian television today was the first to broadcast these pictures. And the Pentagon confirms that they are from the hundreds of unpublished photos and videos of soldiers physically abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.

The U.S. government did not want these disturbing images made public. Australian television did not disclose how they got them -- one sequence showing a restrained prisoner hitting his head against a door. The Australian report described the man as mentally disabled.

With riots across the Islamic world, in response to cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, this could not come at a worse time. The U.S. military worries, the release of the photos could lead to even more violence in the Arab world, a point that General John Abizaid, who oversees the military in Iraq, made as far back as September.

GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: When we continue to pick up the wound and show the pictures over and over again, it just creates the image, which is a false image, like this is the sort of stuff that is happening anew. And it is not.

STARR: The American Civil Liberties Union is one of several groups suing the Bush administration for access to photos that still have not been released.

CAROLINE FREDRICKSON, WASHINGTON DIRECTOR, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: I think the most critical thing, to make sure that there isn't additional violence and a response of that type, is to make sure that people in the Middle East and Muslims around the world see that the United States is actually holding people accountable.

STARR: The Pentagon is emphasizing that a dozen major reviews of detainee operations have turned up no evidence that prisoner abuse was ever ordered by senior officers.

As a result of the Abu Ghraib scandal, nine soldiers have been convicted at court-martial. Two soldiers are pending court-martial. Sixteen other soldiers have received a variety of other reprimands and punishments.

The highest ranking officer to be punished to date is One Star General Janis Karpinski, demoted to colonel for leadership failures during the time she commanded the military police brigade at Abu Ghraib, although she was never directly implicated in the abuse of prisoners.

(on camera): There has been continuing criticism on Capitol Hill that no senior U.S. military officer was ever held accountable for what happened at Abu Ghraib. The military has known about these pictures for months. No new investigation is expected.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And with me now is an eyewitness to the humiliation of detainees at Abu Ghraib. Kenneth Davis is a former military police sergeant who was on guard at the prison in 2003. He's now a police officer in Rockville, Maryland.

Thanks for joining us tonight.

KENNETH DAVIS, FORMER MILITARY POLICE SERGEANT AT ABU GHRAIB PRISON: It is great to be here with you, Paula.

ZAHN: Thank you.

So, describe to us how haunting it is for you to relive some of what you personally witnessed through these latest images that are being shared with the public.

DAVIS: Haunting is a -- is a very good word for that, because it stirs up a lot of emotion. It stirs up sadness. It stirs up anger. It stirs up betrayal.

Just to see them and to relive them, they're memories I would love to be able to forget, sounds and smells that I wish I would have never experienced. But it is going to live on forever, because it is stuff that -- that I went through and other soldiers went through. And it -- it is very disturbing.

ZAHN: In many ways, did you find these latest pictures that the public is seeing for first time even worse and more raw than what you witnessed firsthand?

DAVIS: Pictures are only a part of what we're seeing. We would have to -- to truly understand it, on some regards, as to truly what you would feel, you would have to be there.

But we will never understand the fullness of what we're seeing in the pictures until we can see the memos, until we can see the documents that the -- the government is still holding on to.

ZAHN: Finally, tonight, how bitter are you about what happened at Abu Ghraib?

DAVIS: I'm very bitter. I'm very angry. I feel very betrayed.

I'm angry enough that I will do everything in my power to not allow my children to join the military, this military, as long as it is run the way it is being run. When I was in, I was proud to be a soldier. I was -- I was proud of everything I stood for. But, as things unfolded at Abu Ghraib and after I came back to the states and tried to report what I saw, and closed door after closed door, it showed me that, you know, there is not much pride left in it, because it is being run in a way that -- that I don't believe in. And no one will ever convince me otherwise.

ZAHN: Kenneth Davis, we appreciate your sharing your thoughts with us tonight. Thank you.

DAVIS: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: And now we change our focus to the tens of millions of Americans who tune in to the "CSI" detective shows. But are shows about crime labs so realistic that they're actually telling would-be criminals too much?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: If there were a simple quiz that would tell you your chances of dying in the next four years, would you take it? I'm Elizabeth Cohen with details about a new look into your future. Ahead, on PAULA ZAHN NOW.

ZAHN: And check this out. Look who is causing all the frenzy and excitement in Finland. Conan and his 2,000 new best friends. What the heck is he doing there?

Right now though we move on to our CNN.com countdown of the 10 most popular stories. We continue with No. 6, a North Carolina woman is suing McDonald's. She says she found blood smeared inside a bag of French Fries. McDonald's isn't commenting, as her claim is pending.

No. 5, a record-setting sale. This photograph taken by American master Edward Steichen was auctioned off for more than $2.9 million. That's the most money ever paid for a photo at auction. We've got No. 4 just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Coming up this half hour, what are the chances you'll be around to see the year 2010? Well there's a simple and controversial test you can take and take it with us tonight if you'd like. That's coming up.

And guess who's finally visiting Finland? We've got a case of unmistaken identity or is it a reunion?

And at the top of the hour, on "LARRY KING LIVE," Oscar nominee Felicity Huffman and Dolly Parton on the film "Transamerica."

And in today's "Outside the Law," the "CSI" effect. The T.V. series that made heroes out of crime lab scientists is incredibly popular. It's regularly in the top 10 and just last week alone one of its episodes was the third most watched, that means more than 27 million viewers tuned in.

And it turns out some of the most avid "CSI" fans happen to be criminals. Ted Rowlands set out to investigates the surprising effect the show is having on the cat and mouse game between crime solvers and criminals in our "Outside the Law."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What am I smelling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bleach?

ROWLANDS (voice-over): In this episode of "CSI" the killer uses bleach to cover up a double murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no footprints, there's no hand prints.

ROWLANDS: In Austintown, Ohio, a real-life killer does the same thing, uses bleach to clean up after murdering a 43-year-old woman and her 70-year-old mother. It turns out according to court documents, the alleged Ohio killer liked to watch "CSI" possibly learning that bleach gets rid of DNA by watching "T.V"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The killer poured bleach down all the drains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sucking all the life out of DNA.

CAPT. RAY PEAVY, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: It's showing the crooks how not to get caught.

ROWLANDS: Captain Ray Peavy runs one of the homicide units in Los Angeles County. He says "CSI" and other shows make it more difficult to nab criminals because after watching these shows and seeing the incredible science investigators are using, criminals are cleaning up.

PEAVY: Things like cigarette butts, blood, semen, hairs, all those things that used to be left -- I won't say regularly, but they certainly weren't cleaned up after them, those things are no longer left at crime scenes.

BARRY FISHER, DIRECTOR, L.A. COUNTY CRIME LAB: So we'll look in here in our identification or fingerprint section.

ROWLANDS: This is the Los Angeles County crime lab, a real CSI unit where they do a lot of the same stuff you see on T.V., analyzing bullet fragments, blood, fingerprints and just about anything else that can find the crime scene.

FISHER: This stuff is really cool. People are absolutely fascinated about using science to solve crimes.

ROWLANDS: Barry Fisher, a criminalist in this lab for 30 years thinks shows like "CSI" may teach criminals a thing or two, but says it won't do them any good.

FISHER: It is categorically impossible to remove all of the evidence that somebody's going to leave at a crime scene. They may try but they're not going to succeed in covering it all up. ROWLANDS (on camera): Shows like "CSI" are not only being blamed for educating criminals, but also for tainting juries. Prosecutors from around the country say they are losing cases because some jurors show up wanting to see overwhelming physical evidence, just like they see on T.V.

(voice-over): Larry Pozner, a criminal defense lawyer in Denver says jurors expectations have changed.

LARRY POZNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The result of the "CSI" effect is that jurors want more evidence. When they don't get it, they become very suspicious.

ROWLANDS: Can a T.V. show really have this much effect on the criminal justice system?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to seem like...

ROWLANDS: ... Elizabeth Devine is a co-executive producer for "CSI: Miami." She used to be a criminalist in the L.A. crime lab. She rejects the notion that shows like hers have changed criminals or jurors.

ELIZABETH DEVINE, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, CSI MIAMI: It underestimates a little bit the intelligence of our audience and the American people if they are -- or if people are believing that they can't tell the difference between a television drama and reality.

ROWLANDS: As for that real life Ohio double homicide case in true Hollywood fashion, the cops found their main suspect hiding in this house., 26-year-old Jermaine McKinney, the one police say learned from "CSI" how to cover his tracks was arrested after allegedly trying to use one of the victim's credit cards. McKinney put up a fight, but just like most "CSI" episodes, in the end the alleged killer is taken away in handcuffs. Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Jermaine McKinney's attorney had no comment about police statements that McKinney was an avid "CSI" fan but he did say his client is not guilty.

Well we don't have a crystal ball but would you like to know what the chances are that you'll live to the year 2010? Then stand by for a very simple test you can take with me a little bit later on.

Plus, a Yankee from New York finally makes the trip his fans have been waiting for. Wait until you see what happened. And the question tonight, why Finland?

Now to No. 4 in our CNN.com countdown. Our top story, Vice President Cheney breaks his silence, takes the blame for accidentally shooting a hunting companion. No. 3 just minutes away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: It was not all that long ago that Jeanne Moos told you that "Late Show" host Conan O'Brien made fun of his resemblance to Finland's female president. But here they are, side by side, check out this picture carefully. The gag, having come full circle.

Conan went to Finland for a face to face encounter with the Finnish president on Valentine's Day. The question tonight is, was it love at first sight? Jeanne Moos reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conan O'Brien gave Finland's president a heart shaped box of chocolates.

CONAN O'BRIEN, TALK SHOW HOST: I brought this for you.

MOOS: He better give her something sweet, after all, he had been doing a separated at birth routine for weeks.

O'BRIEN: It is incredible.

MOOS: Conan's show runs daily on Finnish cable TV, so he took credit when his 62-year-old look-alike won re-election. And since the Olympics have temporarily sidelined Conan's show, why not take a victory trip to Finland?

Two thousand fans gathered at the airport, temporarily rechristened Conan O'Brien International Airport. "Welcome to Conelandia" read the cake. The winner of a Conan look-alike contest was on hand.

O'BRIEN: You're much more handsome than I.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

MOOS: How did Fins feel about their president agreeing to meet with a comedian?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not? it is good P.R. for both, especially for Finland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a way it is quite funny, but then again it is actually based on the fact that they are making fun of our president.

MOOS: That he did from unearthing video of President Halonen dancing with James Brown at the Finnish Jazz Festival to putting on lipstick at our instigation to make himself appear more presidential.

(on camera): Now you look like her in drag.

(voice-over): But Conan skipped the lipstick.

O'BRIEN: Very nice to meet you. MOOS: And came face to face with the president and he toned down his act.

TARJA HALONEN, FINNISH PRESIDENT: You seem to be very popular here.

O'BRIEN: Yes, well, we can't understand.

MOOS: Earlier Conan suggested he be rewarded with a post in Finnish cabinet.

O'BRIEN: I would like to be the inspector of saunas. Mostly women's saunas. Occasionally male saunas if the man is good looking and in his late 20s.

MOOS: As for photo-op photos, somehow the look-a-likes didn't look quite so alike. If only Conan had worn his glasses. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Very funny. One more thing, the popularity of Conan's show has prompted some Fins to travel all the way to New York for actual tapings.

A lot of people thought they never lived to see Conan and the Finnish president get together. But will you live to see the year 2010? We got a simple test coming up that is supposed to be an accurate predictor of that. Stay with us. We'll explain.

(BIZ BREAK)

ZAHN: Coming up, do you want to know the chances that you'll be around a few years from now? There is a simple test, also happens to be a controversial one. Stay tuned. We'll have all the details for you. You can take it with us.

Before that, let's move on to number three in our CNN.com countdown. Our report on Greenies, the number one selling dog treat in the country. Now, some dog owners say it is dangerous and may even be fatal for pets. The manufacturer denies the allegations. If you missed it, go to CNN.com and click 'watch video.'

Number two on our countdown is straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: No one can tell exactly when their time is going to be up, but what if you could find out exactly how many years you had left to live? Would you even want to know? Well it just might be possible thanks to a controversial new method that might estimate your life expectancy with fairly amazing accuracy. Now it is mainly for those of you who have celebrated your 50th birthday. You know who you are but younger people can learn an awful lot from it. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has more in tonight's "Vital Signs."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN (voice-over): How would you like to look into a crystal ball and know how long you have to live? Well, authors of a new test published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association say they can predict with astonishing accuracy the chances you'll die in the next four years. It is just a matter of answering 12 simple questions.

(on camera): So you want to take a test to find out your likelihood of dying in the next four years?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Sounds like fun.

COHEN (voice-over): We gave the test to Jeff, Roy and Caroline while they had lunch today.

(on camera): Has your doctor ever told that you have diabetes or high blood sugar?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

COHEN: No. OK, you get zero points, that's good because points are bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

COHEN: You want zero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like golf.

COHEN: It's like golf, exactly. Roy got two points for this question.

(on camera): Because of a health or memory problem, do you have any difficulty managing your money such as paying your bills and keeping track of expenses?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes I do.

COHEN: If you have a hard time pushing a chair across the room, that's one point. If you have difficulty walking several blocks, that's two points right there. And being male will get you two points. Sorry. Doctors at the V.A. Medical Center in San Francisco thought a quiz like this would be useful.

DR. SEI LEE, VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTER: One of the most natural questions in the world is what's going to happen to me, doc? And unfortunately I found myself reluctant to answer that because I wasn't sure. And I didn't want to be wrong.

COHEN (voice-over): So they ask the 12 questions of nearly 20,000 people over the age of 50, followed them for four years and found it worked with 81 percent accuracy. So how did our people do? So Roy, you have a 15 percent chance of dying sometime in the next four years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's pretty high. That's pretty slim odds, though, isn't it?

COHEN: Yes, 15 percent, that's not bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's very good.

COHEN: What do you know, what Caroline, you got zero points. You don't even register.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I'm not going to die within the next four years.

COHEN: You have a less than four percent chance of dying in the next four years. All right, good.

(voice-over): Jeff smokes and is male. But even so, the study claims his chances of dying soon were less than four percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's good, I'm going to go celebrate tonight then.

COHEN (on camera): By drinking and smoking, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drinking and smoking and red meat, that kind of thing.

COHEN (voice-over): Of course, that's not the message the study authors want to give. They want this study to help people figure out how long they have to live and how they could live even longer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: All right, Elizabeth, here's the one I don't get. What is the question, do you have difficulty managing your money have to do with anything at all?

COHEN: If you're having a tough time managing your money, Paula, because of memory problems, it could be a sign that you might be getting Alzheimer's disease which would shorten your life span.

ZAHN: OK. So I took the test, do you want to reveal the answer of how long I have to live here?

COHEN: Let's reveal the answer to America for how long you to live. And I have to say, it's good news, so we feel good about this.

ZAHN: Thank you.

COHEN: Well let's take a look. First of all, you are not yet 50. You're almost there, you're not quite there.

ZAHN: Almost there? Well come on. I've got a long way to go.

COHEN: Tons of time.

ZAHN: At least another week or two. COHEN: Tons of time. That's tons of time. So the test isn't really intend for people under age 50. But a lot of the questions do pertain to people under 50. So we gave it to you anyhow. What we learned is that you don't have diabetes, you don't have cancer, you don't have chronic lung disease, you don't have congestive heart failure, you don't smoke. Those are terrific things. You got zero points. That's good.

You don't have difficulty bathing or showering or managing your money or walking several blocks. You don't have difficulty moving furniture like a living room chair. Also zero points. That's a great thing. Points are bad here.

Paula, you did get one point and that's because of your weight, believe it or not. It's called body max index. It's a height to weight ratio. Yours is low. And that got you a point. Now that sounds strange. Why you get a point because you have a -- you're nice and slim.

The reason why is what they found is that with folks over 50, you actually have a higher chance of dying in the next four years if you are underweight. They think maybe that's an indication that you're malnourished, maybe it's an indication that someone is about to get osteoporosis.

But I want to say that in your case, it was just one point. So you are in the lowest risk category. You have less than a four percent chance of dying in the next four years.

ZAHN: Well that's good news. But in the spirit of complete disclosure here, I cheated a little on my weight, like maybe by four or five pounds, I shaved off. Does that affect the results?

COHEN: No, not at all. You could have cheated by 10 pounds and you still would have gotten than point.

ZAHN: All right Elizabeth Cohen, it's really interesting. And we appreciate that. And we're going to explain to our audience now how they can take the test. So if you want to know the chances you'll make it to the year 2010, log on to our Web site at CNN.com/Paula and you can humiliate yourself like I just did.

Coming up at the top of the hour, "LARRY KING LIVE." "Transamerica" stars Felicity Huffman and Dolly Parton. Plus real people who've actually had transgender operations.

First though let's move back to our CNN.com countdown. At No. 2, the story we covered here just a short while ago. New images of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. We shouldn't say new images, but images that have just become public now for the first time after several years. And we're going to have No. 1 right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Now No. 1 on our countdown, Tom Cruise's denial of reports that he and the pregnant Katie Holmes are splitting up. Now it's time for "Hey Paula." A lot of you wrote to us about the story we have been leading with all this week. Vice President Cheney accidentally shooting his friend this weekend at a ranch in Texas.

The vice president finally talked about what happened today but some of you feel that that won't end the controversy. Here is what you had to say.

"No matter what Cheney would have said, when he said it or how, he would have been guilty of something. The media grabbed this and ran with it ad nauseam."

You also wrote to us about my interview last night with former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, a long time friend of Cheney's.

Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN SIMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Let the American public know that they're not dealing with some arrogant automon (ph) with no feelings. They're dealing with a guy who I've known for 40 years, who is a magnanimous, magnificent man who got tired of the media long ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Well, here's what you there to say about that. "The interview with Alan Simpson made me furious. How dare Simpson say that Cheney grew tired of the media long ago. Cheney is a public servant. We need to have a dialogue about the ever increasing disenfranchisement of average citizens in this country." That's what one of our viewers had to say.

And you can read Vice President Cheney's entire interview of the weekend's hunting accident on CNN.com. That wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for being with us. We will be back, same time, same place, tomorrow night. We hope you'll join us then. Until then, have a good night. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.

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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