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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Wildfire in Hollywood Hills; Terror Arrests; Food Fears; China Pet Food Role; Clinton's AIDS Crusade; America Divided; CNN Hero

Aired May 8, 2007 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight. A wildfire burning in the Hollywood hills just above Los Angeles. Conditions dangerously windy and dry.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is there for us in L.A.'s Griffith Park.

Ted, what's happening?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the wind has died down. In fact, the wind has helped firefighters throughout the day today.

The conditions, though, up here in Griffith Park are extremely dry. And the terrain is very difficult. As you can see, there are still fires burning up here in this rural area.

Griffith Park basically separates Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. And there have been some dramatic moments today as firefighters have tried to fight this fire.

At one point a group of firefighters were actually trapped underneath a bridge that they were trying to save. And it was a very dramatic moment. And there is video of that where you see firefighters actually take refuge underneath that bridge.

Luckily, air support was right behind them. They dumped a -- they dumped water on top of the fire and none of those firefighters were hurt.

They've been fighting this fire throughout the day. About 200 acres have burned in all. No structures tonight are believed to be threatened. There were some evacuations earlier today, but firefighters say that they have been able to get 25 percent containment. And they've been able to basically protect structures that are in the way of this fire which is sporadic and it's throughout this mountainous region. It seems mountainous, but it's really in the heart of Los Angeles.

If you're familiar with this area, it is truly -- it's just that hill that separates Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. And it is also home to the Los Angeles County Zoo. The zoo was evacuated today, and tonight the animals are all at the zoo. However, staff members are on standby. They have an evacuation plan if needed to get those animals out.

Authorities believe that this fire was caused by an individual near the golf course which is located here in Griffith Park. There are conflicting reports.

At first there was an individual taken to a hospital and suspected as an arsonist. Now it appears as though he may have been a golfer that just threw a cigarette out and possibly unintentionally started all of this.

But the good news, no one has been injured. No significant injuries reported tonight. It will be a long night, however, for Los Angeles County firefighters.

COOPER: Ted, we're seeing a remarkable image from KCAL in Los Angeles. You see the observatory in the foreground, the flames in the background. The helicopters now pulling out. That observatory is probably most famous in the James Dean movie. There's a climatic scene which takes place in the observatory.

But you really get a sense from this shot, Ted, and I know you can't see it, but of -- the fire line seems to stretch a fair amount. Do you have any sense of the acreage involved right now in this fire?

ROWLANDS: The fire itself has spread across a huge area, as you mentioned. And it is very dramatic looking at it from the air. They're attacking it still tonight with many firefighters. And 200 acres burned so far and much more of it is threatened. And the problem is the weather that we've been having in southern California. There hasn't been much rain over the winter. Everything is so tinder- dry. And then add to that we've had very hot temperatures over the last few days and gusting winds.

Luckily as night falls here, the wind has died down. And firefighters hope to get the upper hand on this fire. But at this point it's still just 25 percent contained.

COOPER: And in the hills, how hard is it -- I mean, obviously they're fighting this from the air a lot. On the ground, though, are they able to operate? I mean, some of those roads around Griffith Park are incredibly winding. I imagine it's difficult for fire vehicles to get up there.

ROWLANDS: Very difficult. They are able to move some of the fire rigs into proximity of where the flames are. However, for the most part, they're either bringing hoses with long cable, long hose runs, to attack some portions of the fire. Or what they're also doing is using hand crews to build fire breaks. But the majority of the firefighting has been done throughout the day from the air.

Now that it is nightfall, that is most likely going to taper off because of safety for the pilots, but I can still hear at least one helicopter up there continuing to make drops here. And obviously nightfall has come on Los Angeles, 8:00 local now.

So, they're hoping overnight the winds will continue to die down and they'll get some help from Mother Nature so that tomorrow they can really attack this and finish it off.

COOPER: Ted, how do you judge your own safety in a situation like this? I mean, these flames can move, can change direction very quickly depending on the wind conditions. How do you figure out where you should be?

ROWLANDS: Well, quite frankly, you move around a lot. And you listen to the radios and then just look at the -- literally, when you feel the wind pick up, you can see the fire pick up. And when the wind shifts direction, it does move in different directions. However, today it has moved steadily, basically, in the same direction. And because it was swirling and the winds were not overly gusting -- at one point they were 10 miles per hour, 15, much better than yesterday.

If this would have happened yesterday, winds were much higher. It would have been a different scenario. So it was fairly easy to predict where the fire was going to go. It was plotting along. When it was going towards the zoo, they evacuated the zoo. There was -- you know, they were able to do it in an orderly fashion.

Tonight, they're keeping the animals there, but they have a contingency plan. But it's an orderly fashion because the winds really have not been as bad as they could have been.

COOPER: There had been a story about a guy that they talked to, a golfer who may have thrown a cigarette butt. Is that the person they believe started this fire?

ROWLANDS: That's what the "Associated Press" is reporting, that an individual was playing golf at one of the courses, actually in Griffith Park. It's a huge park, if people are not familiar with it. There are a couple of golf courses here, the zoo, and another -- a number of other areas for people to come to spend time.

Apparently he was playing golf, flicked a cigarette, started a fire and tried to put it out himself. He suffered burns, wasn't obviously able to put it out. He is hospitalized tonight with those burns. And investigators are not saying whether he is a suspect in this, whether it was an accident, whether it is arson. They still are investigating it, but that's what we're hearing. That's what the "Associated Press" is reporting.

In terms of the potential cause for the fire, I'm sure we'll find out more as early as tomorrow on that.

COOPER: It's a little hard to tell from this picture from KCAL that we're looking at, but it seems like the fire is relatively close to some houses. I see some houses on the bottom of the screen, just above the breaking news line, the banner. It looks as if the fire may be -- I don't know if it's moving in that direction or if it is just in some sort of close proximity.

Do you have any sense of how close this is to structures? I used to live overlooking the Griffith Park golf course. There are a lot of houses all around there.

ROWLANDS: Yes. You know, quite frankly, it is a bit of an optical illusion. From the air it look as though those houses are closer than they quite frankly are in terms of natural fire breaks. And for that reason there are -- there have been some evacuations, just a small string of houses on a very small street very close to that ridge line where you're talking about, where at one of the golf courses.

But from the air it is very dramatic. And you can see smoke throughout the entire city of Los Angeles and the entire region, actually.

But firefighters are confident because the wind is not blowing extremely hard, that those houses, by and large, are safe tonight. That could change in an instant, obviously, if the winds do pick up. But at this point, they're confident that they've got a good handle on this. It's only 25 percent contained. But because of the winds, they've got a good handle on it and they are not saying that those structures are threatened. But you're right, boy, they sure do look close when you look at it from the air.

COOPER: And now I see the camera in this helicopter, which we don't have control over -- this is from KCAL in Los Angeles. You can see it is sort of an optical illusion. Those houses are actually in the foreground, the fire line further on.

But such dramatic images. Seeing that observatory right behind it, literally what looks like right now a wall of flames.

Have there been fires in this area before? I mean, I remember a couple -- maybe it was a couple of weeks and/or months ago there was a big fire by the Hollywood sign which was very dramatic. But I don't recall in the Griffith Park area a major fire like this. Am I wrong?

ROWLANDS: No. In fact, we were talking to a police officer today that's been stationed in this area. She used to be a park ranger in this area. She said it's been 10, 15 years since there was a fire of any magnitude.

And you can just imagine the amount of brush and the amount of fuel that has been accumulated over that amount of time. And that's one of the problems here. It is so dense. Literally, we're in one of these little forestry areas and here and it is very, very thick. There are little trails that people enjoy hiking. But all of these leaves and trees are just tinder dry because there has not been rain this summer and there hasn't been a fire here for more than a decade. So you're right, there hasn't been a fire in this specific area.

The other one you're referring to that was near the Hollywood sign was in close proximity just a few miles away towards the forest lawn area. But in this specific area, you're right there hasn't been a fire in a very, very long time. And that's one of the problems they have tonight.

COOPER: They're tracking another fire in the Riverside area. We'll continue to follow both these fires.

Ted, appreciate the reporting. Stay safe for you and your crew. We'll check in with you throughout this hour. A sad irony -- they've got too much water elsewhere. Take a look at these pictures from the town named Big Lake, Missouri. The chopper pilot that took them counted 200 homes under water. Heavy rain and a number of levee breaches along the Missouri River did the damage. The river is still rising in some places.

Tonight, they are breathing easier at the FBI. Six men they've been watching are now in custody, five of them accused of plotting a terror attack on a major American military base. The alleged target was Fort Dix in New Jersey.

CNN's Deb Feyerick is live just outside the perimeter -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Anderson.

Well, according to New Jersey's top prosecutor, the FBI had these men under surveillance for some 16 months. They watched as five of the men did surveillance. One of them scouting Fort Dix and other U.S. Army bases. They watched as they allegedly plotted to open fire with the goal of killing as many as 100 U.S. military personnel.

So why arrest them now? Well, according to the criminal complaint, they had stepped up their efforts. For example, in February they went up to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania to do their training. They brought shotguns and rifles. They fired off hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

But also they had bought AK-47s, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and M-16s to use in this attack. What they didn't know is they were buying them from an undercover -- sorry, an FBI informant, I should say. And the delivery of those weapons happened last night. That's when the FBI and members of the New Jersey State Police swept in, raided one of the homes where the meeting was alleged to have taken place. They also targeted other locations to round up the suspects.

There's no evidence that this was actually connected to Osama bin Laden or to al Qaeda. Although, it was very much inspired by them, according to prosecutors who say that it was the ideology of going out to commit jihad that got this thing rolling.

One authority said that the fact that they did this on their own, this independent terror cell, is a sign of things to come.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we are witnessing here is kind of a brand new form of terrorism. Today, threats come from smaller, more loosely defined individuals and cells who may or may not be affiliated with al Qaeda, but who are inspired by their violent ideology. These homegrown terrorists can prove to be as dangerous as any known group, if not more so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Now the five were charged with conspiring to kill U.S. military personnel. Three of them are brothers, ethnic Albanians. The fourth is a brother-in-law. And the fifth, actually his family owns a pizza restaurant just nearby Fort Dix, and he was able to get a map of the facilities because he delivers pizzas. And apparently, according to the criminal complaint, he knew this area like the palm of his hand. A sixth man also charged, but he was charged with supplying additional weapons.

Now the four men did appear in court today. They did not enter any sort of a plea. This was just a first appearance. But one of the men, one of the brothers, actually seemed almost relaxed. As a matter of fact, when the judge asked him whether he had a lawyer, he said he hadn't even had a chance to make his first phone call. And as he was leaving the court, he looked back at family sitting in the stands, waved, smiled, and walked out -- Anderson.

COOPER: Deborah Feyerick, thanks very much.

Up next, a CNN exclusive. The pet food recall. A man detained in China with suspected ties to the trouble. Well here, in the U.S., the story is bigger than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): First pets, then pigs and chickens. Now, it's fish. All were fed tainted protein. Is your health at risk? And is the government doing enough? We're keeping them honest.

Plus, former President Bill Clinton, a 360 exclusive.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, this country's really good when we're in the solution business. And we're not very good when we're just in the whining business or the spatting business or the putting each other down business. Especially my party. We're lousy at it.

COOPER: His advice for Hillary and other Democrats in the 2008 presidential race, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER (on camera): Well, that man is one of the main suspects in the tainted pet food scandal. In just a moment we'll tell you why he's being detained in China. It's a CNN exclusive.

But first, there are troubling new developments here in America where two months after the story broke, it just keeps getting bigger.

CNN's Joe Johns, tonight, keeping them honest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The scope of the contaminated feed scare is now almost biblical. Reaching the beasts of the field, the birds, the fish of the sea.

It's not just the dogs and cats anymore. Creatures raised for human food are under scrutiny. Thousands of swine, millions of chickens, and now, it's fish raised on farms.

Federal regulators are trying to determine whether the fish could have entered the human food supply after eating meal contaminated with chemicals from China that weren't supposed to be there. Chemicals including melamine and cyanuric acid, which when combined, form crystals in kidneys that can kill pets.

DR. DAVID ACHESON, FDA: It has come to our attention that some of the contaminated product from the companies in China that we already knew about went into Canada and was then used to make fish food. And that fish food, a part of it was then imported into the United States.

JOHNS: So far, the FDA says fish that got the food at one farm it examined were young, not ready for sale, so the chance they ended up in the human food supply is slight.

And authorities say, the disclaimers that apply to all the other animals also apply to the fish, that whatever chemicals the fish got were in very low doses and not believed to be a danger to humans. But there is a caveat.

ACHESON: I don't want to give you -- leave you with the impression that melamine is no threat to humans at any level. If you expose animals to high levels of melamine, you'll have a problem. But you have to take this into context of how much are humans being exposed to.

JOHNS: The FDA just disclosed that the food shipped here from China that has caused all the controversy was not only adulterated, it was apparently mislabeled as well.

The agency said the suspect shipments were originally passed off as high protein wheat gluten. But when forensic analysts tested it, they discovered it was actually just wheat flour.

Mislabeling is a potential regulatory violation. And FDA said it is considering possible enforcement options.

One U.S. company that bought the tainted products from China, Kim Nutra (ph), said it was extremely surprised about the report and called it, quote, "hard to believe."

As it turns out, concerns about unwanted chemicals in imported fish, specifically fish from China, have been with us for a long time.

The states of Alabama and Mississippi recently banned the sale of catfish from China, after finding they had illegally been given antibiotics to keep them healthy.

Investigators say they suspect melamine was added to animal feed for the same reason that antibiotics were added to catfish, to artificially inflate their value. In other words, it's all about the money.

JEFF MCCORD, CATFISH FARMERS OF AMERICA: The price differential, at the moment, Chinese catfish fillets are about $1 per pound cheaper. And that explains why there's been such a tremendous increase in imports.

JOHNS: FDA investigators are on the ground in China, hoping to find out who's putting chemicals in our food and our pet's food and could be back here next week with some answers.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, one more troubling detail. Today the FDA told CNN it has found levels of melamine as high as 20 percent in the tainted samples it has tested.

Now, to China, where the story is taking other turns. CNN has learned that Chinese authorities have detained the manager of a company that allegedly sold the tainted wheat flour. He's been in custody for nearly two weeks now, and authorities say he's a suspect. He says he's a scapegoat.

CNN's John Vause has the exclusive report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This man, Tian Feng, is one of the main suspects in the contamination scandal that led to the recall of more than 60 million cans and packets of pet food across the United States.

He's yet to be charged, but is being held in a detention center in the northern city of Binzhou. He insists he's been wrongly accused.

I've done nothing wrong, he told me.

Tian has been held here since April 25th, the same day police closed down his company which allegedly sold chemically treated wheat flour and passed it off as more nutritious and more valuable protein.

Among the customers, Diamond Foods and other pet food makers who were forced to recall their products after the reported deaths of thousands of dogs and cats.

The Food and Drug Administration says the tainted flour also made its way into feed for some 20 million live chickens, hundreds of thousands of farm fish and thousands of pigs.

But the FDA says, there's no threat to humans. Authorities allege this chemical, melamine, made in factories like this, was mixed into the flour to make it seem to have more protein than it really does.

Cheap and plentiful here in Shandong Province, Melamine is normally used to make plastics.

Tian says, that's all news to him.

I don't know about melamine, I don't even know what this melamine is, he told me. I've never heard of anyone using it.

Why, then, I asked does he believe he's being held.

Because there's an investigation going on. I've heard that the U.S. suspects that tainted products came from China.

(on camera): Under Chinese law, Tian can be held here by police for another two weeks while local authorities continue their investigations. After that, they'll decide if there's enough evidence for this case to go to trial.

(voice-over): The Chinese government banned the use of melamine as a food additive only last month. Before that, it was not illegal here.

This man, whose company makes corn gluten, says he never used the chemical and he's angry because he can't compete with producers who do use it.

The fake stuff is much cheaper, he says. So many types a customer looks at our product and then they see a cheaper, fake product and they'll go with that.

China has now stepped up its export control, specifically looking for melamine. What remains unclear, will there be a thorough investigation into what some experts have said was a widespread practice. Or is the government here just looking for a few scapegoats?

John Vause, CNN, Shandong Province, China.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, just ahead on 360, three people running for president say they don't believe in evolution. But is that a big deal? We'll show you where most Americans stand in just a moment.

And speaking of the presidency, former President Bill Clinton talks exclusively with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta about his AIDS mission and about his wife's campaign for the White House, next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We are following breaking news out of Los Angeles. This wildfire in L.A.'s equivalent of Central Park. It is Griffith Park. That is, of course, is the world famous, really, observatory. It is only 25 percent under control, the fire. And dangerously close to residential neighborhoods as well as landmarks that we're all familiar with.

Joining us on phone is Tim Scowden, a producer with CNN.

Tim, you've evacuated from your home. Where are you in relation to the fire?

TIM SCOWDEN, CNN PRODUCER (on the phone): Right now, Anderson, we're probably a mile and a half, maybe two miles south of the hill. But we've got -- we're on another hill. So we've got a perfect view of what's going on in -- actually in our neighborhood.

COOPER: What are you seeing?

SCOWDEN: Well, just to the east of the Griffith Park observatory, that like dome-like structure -- I don't know what video you have up -- but just to the east of that is a lengthy fire that's come down that side of the hill, which is working its way to the residential area.

That fire looks to be -- I don't know, it could be like a mile wide. I can't be sure from this distance. And then, when you look farther east of that, there's an even brighter wall of fire burning, maybe like a mile or two miles east of that, just above the residential area as well.

So, I mean, things could get very ugly by the time, you know, the night's over. The wind is not blowing in the right direction for good luck for the people who live there.

COOPER: So how far, from your vantage point, is the -- are the flames from either your house or nearby houses?

SCOWDEN: I'm looking -- you know, I'm guessing no more than, like, 100 yards or maybe a couple hundred yards up the hill from where I see some lights that I assume are houses. So you know, they've only got a couple of hundred yards to go farther down the hill before they start reaching residential areas or at least that's the way it looks from here.

COOPER: And you're evacuating?

SCOWDEN: It's the same with both patches of fire.

COOPER: You're evacuating your house?

SCOWDEN: Yes. We left -- pretty much everybody on our street, we were all leaving at the same time. People packing up dogs and kids and the bare essentials and, you know, heading for wherever they could.

I guess there's a high school just down the road that's acting as a shelter for people up in the hills.

Our neighborhood wasn't -- it wasn't a mandatory evacuation area yet, but there were a lot of police at the bottom of the hill. It looked like they may have been getting ready to start evacuating people.

COOPER: So how did you -- did authorities come to your door? Did they announce on loudspeakers or anything, or are you just getting out for preventative reasons? SCOWDEN: Just getting out for preventative reasons. I mean, it's just getting too close for comfort. And you know, with the wind, it can kick up one minute and two minutes later it's moved 100 yards. You just never know. So we're playing it safe. But we're also very concerned that, by the time this is over, our home could be, you know, gone or at the very least damaged. It's a serious concern right now.

COOPER: Tim, how long have you lived in the neighborhood? And have you ever seen anything like this before in your neighborhood?

SCOWDEN: No. You know, we've lived in the neighborhood for about 10 years now. And there have been, you know, patchy, small fires on the other side of the hill, a couple of miles from the house. But they never got close enough to a residential area to really cause you any concerns. This is really the first -- the first fire in our neighborhood that seems to be threatening homes.

COOPER: Well, Tim, I'm glad you got out with your family and the essential items. And I hope the house is OK and your neighbors' houses are OK.

Tim, we'll check in with you.

Ted Rowlands is also standing by.

Ted, from your vantage point, what are you hearing? Are there a lot of evacuations? Is there anything mandatory? Is there at this point people just being told if you can, leave your homes?

ROWLANDS: Yes, Anderson. The, you know, what Tim was saying is that it just is too close for comfort for him and a number of people in his neighborhood. And I'm sure that that is the case for a lot of areas that are very close to this fire and it is -- it is still moving. And firefighters are still attacking it from the air, which is rare in a case like this.

Typically, once night falls, they try to pull back on the aerial assault on a fire and let it sort of dampen down, if no structures are threatened. So the fact that they're still flying means that there's some concerns, not only for residents, but firefighter as well.

And we're up on the hill where a number of ground crews are here. There are some just to the back of us and down the path here that are actually going to be walking sort of by us in a bit here.

What they're doing is trying to make fire breaks on Griffith Park on this hill to try to create a block where the flames can go down so that these structures that are down the hill will be safe.

But, you know, as Tim was saying, it's got to be very, very difficult for homeowners to see a fire this close to their homes, even if technically, firefighters are still confident that those structures can be saved because of the winds and how they're tracking it.

You know, firefighters are very good at what they do and clearly, they believe, at least tonight here, that those homes may be threatened somewhat. But they're confident that they'll be able to save homes.

And right now they are saying that no structures technically are threatened in terms of mandatory evacuation scenarios.

But I'm sure what you're hearing from Tim, you know, genuine concern is playing out over hundreds of households tonight in Los Angeles.

COOPER: And Ted, I want to show our viewers who are just joining us these pictures taken earlier. And if you could, explain what happened. Firefighters literally trapped under a bridge. You see them there battling some of the flames.

ROWLANDS: I'm sorry. I've lost...

COOPER: OK. The flames literally just leaping over the bridge. The firefighters, I am told -- earlier when I talked to Ted, he said the firefighters literally had to seek safety underneath the bridge. A helicopter then came in, doused the entire area with flames. But from this vantage point, you certainly get a sense there. Just the height these flames are reaching, I mean, it looks as tall as that electrical tower at one point.

It is an extremely fluid situation and one that firefighters say is about 25 percent under control.

But that's that bridge where you see the flames literally leaping over it. Those are the firefighters who had to then very shortly seek safety underneath that bridge. All of them are OK, we are told, despite what you see in this video, which is incredibly dramatic. We are told all of them are OK.

We're going to have more ahead on this breaking news situation throughout this hour.

Also tonight, just ahead, former President Clinton sits down with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta, a 360 exclusive, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): God and politics. Some Republicans say...

RALPH REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Presenting some scientific evidence of an alternative view of human origins, what's wrong with that? Let them be exposed to it. Let them come to their own conclusions.

COOPER: But many Democrats don't see it that way. Coming up, the evolution debate. A divided America. And how it could impact the race for the White House.

Plus, tornado terror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Front door blasted out.

COOPER: A mother and child were in danger. EMMA SMITH, 4-YEAR-OLD, SAVED FROM A TORNADO: Mama was on my head and Miss Deborah's head was on mine. They were trying to protect me.

COOPER: But thanks to one woman's courage, they're alive today. Meet a CNN hero, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER (on camera): There are an estimated 40 million people worldwide living with HIV and AIDS -- 40 million people. Many of them are in poor, third world countries where few can afford to pay for treatment.

Bill Clinton is on a mission to change much of that. Today, the former president announced two breakthroughs. Through his foundation, a once-a-day HIV pill will now be available for less than $1 a day. He's also brokered lower prices for so-called second-line AIDS drugs which are required by patients who develop resistance to a previous drug.

He sat down with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta earlier in this exclusive interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: When you talk to people in this country about AIDS, and you're talking about Africa and you're talking about other places around the world, do you tell them that this is an important thing to do or it's the right thing to do?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Both. Because you know, we have -- for one thing, we have people in the United States from everywhere else. And they're all going back and forth all the time.

And so if the AIDS epidemic rage is unchecked in various countries, some of if it will find its way back to our borders, first of all.

Second and far more important, it will lead to broken economies, failed states and more conflict in other parts of the world, conflicts which we will be called upon to help with directly or indirectly through the United Nations.

It will cost the American taxpayers in the end far more money to deal with the consequences of broken societies from AIDS and other infectious diseases than to get in and pay our fair share of turning the health situation around.

GUPTA: Childhood obesity, AIDS, poverty, these are some of the things that you've been working on since you left the office of presidency.

If Senator Clinton gets elected, are you going to be able to focus as much time on some of these things?

CLINTON: I hope so. I've tried to get in a position where, you know, I -- I won't -- I'll be able to do what she did when I was president. That is, I don't want to spend any time making a living. I hope I will have saved enough by then, if she is elected, that we can just, you know, pay our bills and -- I'd like to keep our two homes, our home in Washington, our home in Chappaqua. And otherwise, I'd like to devote whatever time she wants to whatever she wants me to do and I should be able to have probably two to three days a week to do in the foundation. I certainly hope so.

GUPTA: How is the campaign going?

CLINTON: I think well. I'm really proud of her. I thought she was great in that debate. And I like this election because, you know, you don't have to be against anybody.

I mean, all of these people are really sort of admirable people, you know. You just pick the person you think would be the best president. And that's the way it ought to be.

I look forward to seeing what not only Hillary, but her primary opponents are going to say in the newspaper every day. I even enjoyed the Republican debate. And you know, they've had some interesting things to say.

GUPTA: Last question. You were nice enough to send a nice letter when my daughter was born three months ago, which I very much appreciate. How will she remember you when she's your age?

CLINTON: I don't know. I may not even be in her head at all, you know? It depends on how long I live and what I do. But I hope that she will remember me as an American president and a former president who tried to give every child in the world and in our country the chances that you're going to give her.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well the president mentioned the Republican debate. A political issue here in the U.S. is coming up next. How evolution is playing out on the campaign trail in this divided country.

Plus, our CNN hero. As a deadly tornado came roaring through a high school, this person risked everything to save the life of a young girl. A remarkable story, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight we're introducing a new segment, called "America Divided." And we start with the collision of science, religion and politics. It was on display last week when Republican presidential candidates held their first debate. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe in evolution? SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is -- I'm curious, is there anybody on the stage that does not agree in that -- believe in evolution?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MCCAIN: May I -- may I just add to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.

MCCAIN: I believe in evolution, but I also believe when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset that the hand of God is there also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the candidates who raised their hands were former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

They are not alone in their views, of course. Polls show that nearly half of Americans say God created humans just as we are today, without any help from evolution.

So what does that say about the race ahead?

Earlier I talked to Democratic Strategist and CNN Political Contributor James Carville and Republican Strategist Ralph Reed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Ralph, to conservatives, how important is this issue of evolutionism vs. creationism and/or intelligent design?

RALPH REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: If you really look at all the polling, Anderson, a majority say they believe in the theory of creationism, that God created the heavens, the earth and mankind.

So, I don't know that it's an issue that's really determinative of voting behavior, but it certainly becomes derivative of or part of a broader tapestry of a candidate being able to convey to voters that they share their values.

And I think this has been an advantage for Republicans. I think it will continue to be an advantage in 2008.

COOPER: That's -- I mean, James, he raised a good point. Democrats have long been criticized for not being able to speak to Americans about religion or moral values, perhaps since Jimmy Carter did.

Does the evolution debate present Democrats with particular problems?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No. Every Democratic candidate believes in evolution, as does every scientist. When people pray, they pray that the war on science is going to stop. And if people want to teach creationism, they perfectly well can do that in Sunday school, where people want to teach the parting of the Red Sea, but you don't do that in nautical history.

The Mormons believe that the lost tribes of Israel came over here after the death of Christ. Well, if they want to teach that in a Mormon Church, that's perfectly acceptable, but they don't teach that in the Utah public schools, nor should they.

And I think that's what -- what people are saying. And, obviously, every Democratic candidate believes in evolution. Every Democratic candidate thinks it's based on -- it ought to be taught in schools. It's a theory like -- and every Democratic candidate, by the way, believes in gravity.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: I mean, you know, it's about the -- the same thing.

I mean, you can be a person of faith and a moral person and believe in gravity and believe in evolution.

COOPER: Ralph, what about that? For a Republican to win a primary versus to win in the general election, in terms of faith and religion and evolution, is it two different battles?

REED: No. This is really not a complicated issue.

The issue is that this ought to be a matter left to local school boards, teachers and parents. That's really where it is in our country.

And I think where the president came down when he was running in '99 and 2000, and where I think the overwhelming majority of our candidates today stand, is, you know, this is an issue of academic freedom and local control. So, nobody wants to prevent evolution from being taught. We all agree that when that went on earlier in our country, that was wrong.

But we also think that, as a matter of academic freedom and local control, that if a -- if a school or a teacher decides to present an alternative viewpoint, from a scientific standpoint, not teaching the Bible -- that's for religion class -- but presenting some scientific evidence of an alternative view of human origins, what's wrong with that? Let them be exposed to it. Let them come to their own conclusions.

CARVILLE: Because a school board can't decide to say to teach anti-gravity.

You don't have a local choice. This is science. This is replacing it. And that's ludicrous. And every court has said so. And Americans want science. We are falling behind in science and math. The statistics are staggering. And the last thing we need to do is teach people anti-science. We ought to be teaching them science.

You can't teach that the stork brings babies anymore. That's just not the way the world works.

REED: Well, again...

CARVILLE: And you can't teach this.

REED: ... I think one is an issue of respecting academic freedom and freedom of speech in the classroom. And the other is telling professors and teachers who have come to a different viewpoint that they're not allowed to express it.

CARVILLE: So, if somebody says that you can...

(CROSSTALK)

REED: And you know what? If the weight of the evidence is so overwhelming, then, what are you afraid of?

CARVILLE: I'm not...

(CROSSTALK)

REED: Why prohibit a professor or a teacher...

CARVILLE: You can't teach people you can get pregnant on a toilet seat, because there's no...

REED: Huh?

CARVILLE: You can't teach that, because it's not fact.

You can't -- the school board of -- a school board can't get overtaken and decide that it's going to teach what it -- what it wants. You got to teach hard, fact-based science.

REED: That's exactly what I'm talking about.

CARVILLE: That judge -- go look at the opinion of the judge...

REED: I'm talking about a scientific review of the evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... in the Dover, Pennsylvania, case.

It's all an attempt by you guys to get religion in the classroom.

REED: No. No, it's not.

CARVILLE: You have your religion and your faith in the church, not in the classroom.

REED: No. That's absolutely not true.

CARVILLE: Well, sure it is.

REED: ... because we don't -- we don't believe that someone's faith can be imposed by them by government edict.

(CROSSTALK)

REED: We believe, as a matter of our theology, that they can only agree with that voluntarily, as a matter of the volition of their will.

CARVILLE: Ralph...

(CROSSTALK)

REED: All we're talking about, James, is an issue of academic freedom.

CARVILLE: We're not talking about that.

(CROSSTALK)

REED: You want to prohibit them...

CARVILLE: No, I don't.

REED: You want to prohibit them from teaching an alternative view. And we simply say they ought to be allowed to.

CARVILLE: No, I want them to teach -- I want them to teach science.

COOPER: Guys, we're going to have to leave it here. Clearly, we have a difference of opinion.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Ralph Reed, James Carville, guys, appreciate it.

CARVILLE: Appreciate it. Bye-bye.

REED: You bet. Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Coming up on the program, our CNN hero. As a high school was about to get hit hard by a deadly tornado, this person stood strong to save the lives of others. Her story, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The search for victims from Friday's tornado continues in Greensburg, Kansas. And it comes two months after another tornado took a deadly toll on Enterprise, Alabama. There might have been more victims that day, had it not been for a woman named Debra Boyd. She's one of CNN's heroes and you're about to find out why. Here's her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is Miss Debra your hero?

EMMA SMITH, 4-YEAR-OLD, SAVED FROM A TORNADO: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you tell me why she's your hero?

SMITH: Well, she just saved me from a tornado.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

March 1, 2007

4-year-old Emma Smith was saved from a tornado.

(END GRAPHIC)

DEBRA BOYD, CNN HERO: We knew it was bad weather, but we have bad weather a lot of times. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary, I didn't think.

And then all of a sudden, tornado sirens were going off.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Let's first take you to Enterprise, Alabama. That is certainly an area where you want to take cover immediately.

BOYD: There was a tornado coming this way. This was full of parents. And we were pushing them into this office, and we had gotten them all in and I was like the last person and I was about to close the door when I saw Emma with her mother, Barbara.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

At approximately 1:12 p.m. Emma and her mother Barbara arrived at Enterprise High School.

(END GRAPHIC)

BOYD: She had no idea that a tornado was about to hit. There wasn't time to yell or -- I just ran out and grabbed Emma and grabbed Barbara and we ran. I said, we've got to get down.

BARBARA SMITH, SAVED BY TORNADO: The front door blasted out. Glass went everywhere.

BOYD: The wind had just taken one of the trophy cases and put it right there where she was.

I took them over to the side and got on top of them.

E. SMITH: Mama was on my head and Miss Deborah's head was on mine. They where were trying to protect me.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

Eight people died at Enterprise High School that day.

Barbara and Emma Smith credit Debra Boyd with saving their lives.

(END GRAPHIC)

B. SMITH: I shutter to think what would have happened to us had I been standing in that front door when that glass blasted out and the trophy case shattered everywhere.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

Debra Boyd

"Everyday Superhero"

(END GRAPHIC)

BOYD: It's just really something that I did. There wasn't time to do anything else.

I've really never thought of myself as a hero.

E. SMITH: Well, she's a supergirl because she's not a man like superman.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

Do you know a hero?

CNN.com/Heroes

(END GRAPHIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You're going to find more examples everyday super heroes at CNN.com/heroes.

Just ahead tonight, a live update on our breaking news. The fire now raging in Los Angeles.

A break first.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A quick 360 business bulletin. Now, blue chips finally had a down day, but only just. The Dow slipping a little less than four points. The S&P down one. The NASDAQ was up a hair.

And before we go, a very brief update from the fire lines in Los Angeles. CNN's Ted Rowlands is there.

Ted, what do you know?

ROWLANDS: Well, Anderson, there's more concern now, new concern from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and Los Angeles City Department. There has been a wind shift and there's been a flair up and now there are mandatory evacuations for a number of homes in the Los Feliz area. This is an area of L.A. which is just east of the Griffith Observatory in the aerial video. You can see the Griffith Observatory is the large building, the white-domed building, which is at the top of the hill.

Homes just to the east of that is a very affluent neighborhood. Some very large homes in an old, old, old neighborhood of Los Angeles. There is a lot of old growth in that area. This entire region is tinder dry. There's major concern now that because of this flare up and evidently some wind shifts, that there are homes being evacuated in this area. People are being directed to a high school in the region.

So the Los Angeles County says about 200 people have been evacuated. These homes are now a major concern. Firefighters will be working all night long -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ted, appreciate the reporting. Be sure to catch "AMERICAN MORNING" for the most news in the morning. They'll have updates on the fire. John Roberts and Kiran Chetry. Also going to look at the crisis that caused a lot of fires -- drought. That's tomorrow, beginning at 6:00 a.m., Eastern.

For international viewers, "CNN today" is coming up next.

Here in America, "LARRY KING" is coming up.

Thanks for watching. I'll see you back tomorrow night.

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

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