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Your Gift to Alaska; Corporate Titans Showing Off New Video Game Consoles

Aired May 10, 2006 - 11:36   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Your pain is actually Alaska's gain. Turns out the state cashes in every time you fill up your gas tank. We're talking billions of dollars in oil money, and that's not all. Alaska also gets more than its fair share of federal tax dollars. The profitable details right now from CNN's Joe Johns.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's boom time on the last frontier. Thanks to the trans-Alaska pipeline, the state is awash in oil money. And thanks to you. Why? Those high prices you're paying at the pump. Alaska takes a cut of every barrel of oil that flows out of the state. And with gas prices so high, that's adding up to big bucks, $4 billion this year, so much that the state budget is expected to run a huge $1.4 billion surplus. And get this. Some of the oil money goes into a special fund, now worth $35 billion. They use the interest alone on that to send a check to every person in Alaska, $855 each last year.

With all that money, you might think Alaska wouldn't ask as much of Federal taxpayers, but you'd be wrong. Despite its own huge cash surplus, Alaska gets more per person than any other state in the nation, $12,038 Federal dollars per Alaskan in 2004. So, they profit not only from today's high gas prices, but also from the Federal treasury. In fact, remember those symbols of Washington waste, the bridges to nowhere? Alaska wanted hundreds of millions in Federal money for them, and you'll recall Congress killed them, right? Well, yes, but Congress did give Alaska a lot of money for its highways, and there's little to prevent the state from using that. Keeping them honest, we asked, why a state like this, flush with money, is still cashing in on the Federal fast buck, and we're not the only ones.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R) ARIZONA: I think every state that gets more than what they send to Washington in the form of taxes should only get their fair share. It happens that Alaska is the most egregious example, but it's all related to members of the Appropriations Committee.

JOHNS: Translation -- talk to Ted Stevens, Alaska's senior senator, former chairman of the Appropriations Committee which controls the Federal purse strings. We caught up with Stevens in the crowded halls of the Congress.

Alaska gets a lot of money from the Federal government. Given the fact that the oil revenues now are so high and so much money's coming into the state from oil, doesn't it make sense to cut back on the amount of Federal money?

SEN. TED STEVENS (R) ALASKA: Well, that would be nice if we could increase the production of oil. You've got to remember, oil production is declining. Even though the price is going up, the amount we're producing is going down.

JOHNS: Senator Lisa Murkowski says Federal dollars are still needed because Alaska is so huge and connecting those communities costs a fortune. But with the U.S. taxpayer now feeling a double squeeze from Federal spending and at the gas pump, the notion that Alaska is undeveloped and needs the cash is likely to meet even more resistance. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


KAGAN: She's not wasting any time. We're talking about Britney Spears and her new baby bump. The pop princess sets the record straight, and we have details.



DAVID LETTERMAN, "LATE SHOW" HOST: So we've established now that you are, in fact, pregnant. Is that right?


LETTERMAN: Oh, well, there you go. See, Paul?

SPEARS: Don't worry, Dave, it's not yours.


KAGAN: Yep, she did it again. We have baby news to talk about, plus "American Idol." Who's going to be saying bye-bye tonight? Time to dish with Headlines New correspondent Adrianna Costa.


KAGAN: We were like, what do we start with? Britney, "Idol," Britney, "Idol"?

COSTA: Big news today.

KAGAN: Let's talk babies.

COSTA: And "Coffee Talk."

KAGAN: And "Coffee Talk." We have to do our little toast.

COSTA: I mean, come on, you know?

KAGAN: So good to see you, girlfriend.

COSTA: Ran in so I could be here.

KAGAN: So Britney -- I mean, the baby, the first baby, it fell on its head, it's six months old, and now she's making another one with Kevin Federline.

COSTA: Well, she -- we knew this for a while. You know, the tabloids were all over it. But the bottom line is she confirmed to David Letterman last night on "The Late Show" that she is, in fact, pregnant with baby number two. We talked to "In Touch Weekly"'s Tom O'Neill today.

KAGAN: We love Tom.

COSTA: We love Tom. He's awesome. Just a little shout-out for him. He said that as far as we know -- dress or muumuu?

KAGAN: I don't know what it -- I mean, but all sorts of things are falling out of that dress. I'm sorry. I interrupted you.

COSTA: She looked like Minnie Mouse. Though I'm a fan of Britney's, I have to tell you. All right, Tom said that, as far as we know, she's around four months pregnant. She's due in October, and they're speculating that's it going to be a little baby girl. No...

KAGAN: How does Tom O'Neill know what...

COSTA: I haven't got...

KAGAN: I love Tom.

COSTA: I ask him that every time. He says that they spoke to one of Britney's good friends. He says that it's going to be a little girl. No word yet on any names. So we'll keep you guys posted. But you know, the tabloids get it right a lot.

KAGAN: They do. And Tom even more. And I should just say, you know, our viewers are great naming celebrity babies. So maybe we could start -- we'll start like an e-mail campaign.

COSTA: On that same note, I've given Kevin Federline a name.

KAGAN: What is that?

COSTA: What did I call -- "Fertiline." Because he's so fertile. Because he's so fertile. Kevin Fertiline. You like it?

KAGAN: Making babies all over the place.

OK, I'll tell you what I really do like, and we like and we share? We have -- and we have this passion about "American Idol."

COSTA: We sure do.

KAGAN: And it's down to four. And last night they all had to sing Elvis songs. COSTA: Times are getting tough.

KAGAN: Yes, they are. Tonight somebody saying good-bye. We had a big conversation earlier about who do you think it will be? Who do you think says goodbye tonight?

COSTA: Listen, this is going to be the most unpredictable send- off of the season. And the reason is, if you would have asked me a couple days ago, I would have said Elliott Yamin. He had such a strong performance last night.

KAGAN: He did, two of them.

COSTA: Two of them. His performance was so amazing. I mean, head and shoulders above the others, OK? So I think he's going to be there. And you know what, just talking to people today, everyone is on his side. He's sort of the underdog and he came through last night. If I had to place that this very moment, I would say Katharine is probably going to be the one to go, although we checked with "Dial Idol" and they said that Chris Daughtry, whose performances were absolutely despicable last night...

KAGAN: See, I didn't think that. I thought Chris -- I enjoyed Chris last night. At least he wasn't totally screaming. Chris sang "Suspicious Minds." I made notes as I watched.

COSTA: And little..

KAGAN: Nice, but I wanted more original, more zip. And then "A Little Less Conversation." I liked that conversation.

COSTA: Which he talked his way through, in my opinion.

KAGAN: This one?

COSTA: What is up with those glasses? Like, take them off!

KAGAN: Well, I didn't love the glasses.

COSTA: I mean, I was a little distracted, to be honest. Katharine McPhee got ripped pretty hard last night. You know, I thought that that was a little bit unwarranted.

KAGAN: I just didn't think she was that strong. I think she's the only girl. I think she has that going for her. But she didn't come with a performance like she had last week.

COSTA: Well...

KAGAN: At least she was standing up this time. OK, so bottom two, you predict, will be...

COSTA: Probably Chris and Katharine.

KAGAN: That's right. With Katharine going home?

COSTA: Yes, I'm going to have to say it. Sorry, guys, I know that you love her, probably.

KAGAN: Well, the guys...

COSTA: Safest? Taylor Hicks.

KAGAN: Taylor has yet to be in the bottom two or bottom three.

COSTA: And I don't think he will be this week.

KAGAN: A strong fan base back there. OK, I think it's going to be Chris and Katharine in the bottom two, and Katharine says good-bye.

COSTA: Oh, that performance by Taylor Hicks, how good was that?

KAGAN: Taylor has something about him. Love you, Taylor.

COSTA: I just want to get up and dance. Can he hang out with us? Do you think we can invite him over? No, I'm not going to dance right now.

KAGAN: We can invite him. We'll put the shout out to Taylor. If he knows who we are, that's a whole other thing.

COSTA: Oh! Just watch him.

KAGAN: OK. Thank you, Adrianna.

COSTA: Thank you, Daryn.

KAGAN: And of course, you can see Adrianna every morning. You don't just have to wait until we talk about "Idol." She's on with "Robin and Company" every morning, 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Is that the time?

COSTA: Yes, six to ten.

KAGAN: On Headline News, our sister station. Thank you.

COSTA: Thank you so much, Daryn.

KAGAN: Great to see you for "Coffee Talk."

COSTA: Good to see you always.

KAGAN: Excellent. Now on to another kind of entertainment, the Super Bowl of video games. Corporate titans Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, they're showing off their new consoles. Billions of dollars are at stake.

Our technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg has more.


DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the multibillion dollar video game industry, there's nothing playful about the latest duel for your dollars. At this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony hey want to convince you why you should buy into their next-generation consoles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a very -- very careful in terms of where I throw my money. And right now, my money would be with Microsoft.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have to say the Wii is pretty exciting (INAUDIBLE).

SIEBERG: It was touchy-feely with Nintendo's Wii, a new name meant to symbolize togetherness, but mainly generating a lot of head scratching, like many of Nintendo's offbeat ideas, including the Wii's game controller, equipped with a wireless signal and motion sensors.

DAN "SHOE" HUS, EDITOR, "ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY": Now we're playing games differently. We're not just seeing new games, we're playing new games.

SIEBERG: The Wii's controller even made Nintendo's braintrust look prophetic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see if our executive team here can make a comeback.

SIEBERG: Microsoft XBox 360 launched last year to high demand, but was hurt by shortages.

BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN, MICROSOFT: It's great to be invited to E3.

SIEBERG: Microsoft used E3 to show off its XBox 360, PC, cell phone promotion, and promoted software lineup, with plenty of buzz around a sneak peek of what's to come in its marquee Halo series. Microsoft also revealed an add-on player for the next generation of DVDs.

DAVID HUFFORD, MICROSOFT: We have not disclosed the price just yet on the HD-DVD player. Stay tuned.

SIEBERG: Sony steered its announcement towards the graphics power of the Playstation 3, showing how in-game characters, like golfer Tiger Woods, will have more detailed expressions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I'm talking about.

SIEBERG: And basketball players moving in a more lifelike way.

So if hardcore gamers are already in, who's left to buy in?

SCOTT STEINBERG, GAME REVIEWER: I think there's actually a massive market out there. It's just grandmothers, it's younger brothers, younger sisters, mothers, fathers, people who wouldn't traditionally be considered gamers.

SIEBERG: You'll have to pay more than ever to play in the latest virtual worlds. Sony tips the scales at $600 for the high-end model. Microsoft at $400 for its souped-up version. Nintendo is expected to hit under the $250 mark. MARC SALTZMAN, GAMING JOURNALIST: I think that it's going to really be between XBox 360 and Playstation 3, and you know, evident of we saw here, it's going to be a very bitter fight.

SIEBERG (on camera): Who will come out ahead when all these consoles eventually hit store shelves, you, the consumer. Analysts say all the choice will help bring prices down as game play goes up.

Daniel Sieberg, CNN, Los Angeles.


KAGAN: We're going to check in on the markets, particularly important today as the Dow flirts with a record-setting day. Our Susan Lisovicz is down there. As you can see, it'snot doing a lot of movement now; it's down about, but will it be moving as the Fed meets and announces some bigs news" today? We'll talk about it just ahead.


KAGAN: Well, an honor for someone we've been watching on here CNN LIVE TODAY, Tom Heidenberger, the former airline pilot who honored the Airline Ride Across America to honor the 33 flight crew members that lost their lives on 9/11, including his wife, Michelle, who was a flight attendant. He was honored at the Pentagon yesterday. There's a deputy secretary of defense, Gordon England. Also Donald Rumsfeld showed up to do the honors. They want to honor their efforts. As they rode across America, they are trying to raise money for a permanent memorial to remember all the flight crew members who lost their lives on 9/11. Of course we followed that ride as it started in Los Angeles and ended at the Pentagon yesterday.


KAGAN: I'm Daryn Kagan. International news is up next.



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