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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq War Highest Since November '04; Sectarian Murders in Iraq on the Rise; Chaos in Venezuela

Aired May 29, 2007 - 18:00   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, 114 of our troops have been killed so far in Iraq this month. May is now the third deadliest month of this entire war. Has the so-called surge already failed?
We'll have reports tonight from the Pentagon and Baghdad.

Also tonight, shocking new evidence of communist China's failure to stop the production and export to the United States of dangerous foods and other products. It turns out the former head of China's food and safety agency has been sentenced to death.

We'll have that story.

And the Catholic Church at it again, siding with a pro-illegal alien lobby, blasting any effort to enforce our immigration laws.

And among my guests here tonight, the president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, who says I'm wrong to suggest that churches are encroaching on the divide between church and state in this country. We'll have that exchange of views.

All of that, all the day's news, a great deal more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Tuesday, May 29th.

Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

More Americans have been killed in Iraq this month than in any other month since November of 2004. The rising number of our casualties coming as American troop strength in Iraq has increased to 160,000, one of the highest levels of this entire war.

The number of Iraqis killed in this war also rising. Sectarian murders in Baghdad also up after declining sharply earlier in the year.

Jamie McIntyre tonight reports from the Pentagon on the deadly month for our troops.

Paula Hancocks reports from Baghdad on the increasing number of sectarian murders.

And Bill Schneider reporting on President Bush, already under pressure on Iraq, now struggling to sell amnesty.

We turn first to Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the administration has been warning that the situation in Iraq will get worse before it gets better. And tonight we have evidence that that is, in fact, the case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE (voice over): As the new U.S. strategy puts more American troops in the riskier role of intermediaries in a raging civil war, President Bush's grim prediction of last week is coming true.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can expect more American and Iraqi casualties.

MCINTYRE: U.S. deaths in Iraq this month have now surpassed both April and December highs, to make May the deadliest month in almost three years. The worst months were back in 2004, when in both April and November the U.S. was fighting major offensives in Falluja. What pushed May over the top was another helicopter shootdown in deadly Diyala province, which has become the latest front line as insurgents and al Qaeda militants are squeezed out of Baghdad by the U.S.-led crackdown.

Small arms fire brought down the Kiowa scout helicopter monitoring a major supply route, killing two Army pilots. A quick reaction force in a Bradley fighting vehicle fell victim to a roadside bomb as it rushed to the scene, killing five more soldiers. A second vehicle, also hit by an IED, resulted in an eighth death.

If, as President Bush predicts, fighting is even heavier over the summer, 2007 could well be the deadliest year of the war, with more than 1,000 deaths, compared to the previous high of 849 in 2004.

The high price is all to buy more time for Iraqi politicians to meet key goals aimed at fostering political reconciliation, goals that appear more illusive by the day.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The only thing that will prevent it from happening, of course, is lack of will on the part of Iraqi politicians and the chaotic nature of that country's politics in general. And I'm afraid once you factor in those latter points, even if compromise is theoretically possible, it is not very likely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: So, Lou, of the three broad benchmarks, sharing oil wealth, bringing more Sunnis into the government, setting local elections, only the oil law seems to be on track. That's why the new focus is on brokering local peace agreements even if the national government remains in disarray in Iraq -- Lou.

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you. Jamie McIntyre, from the Pentagon.

As Jamie just reported, most of the recent American casualties in Iraq have been in Baghdad or in Diyala province, north of the Iraqi capital.

One hundred and fourteen of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month, 3,465 of our troops killed since the beginning of the war. 25,549 of our troops wounded, 11,476 seriously.

The number of sectarian murders in Iraq is also rising despite the troop buildup by the Americans. The increase coming after a decline in the number of sectarian killings earlier in the year. Last month, military officials say the decline indicated U.S. strategy in Iraq was working.

Paula Hancocks now has our report from Baghdad -- Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, sectarian violence in Baghdad is showing no signs of abating. Almost 700 bodies have been found in and around Baghdad for the month of May, and the month is not even over yet.

Now, this is the worst we have seen for around four months, certainly the highest number of bodies found since the Baghdad security plan started in early February. Numbers had dipped slightly during that time.

Now, many of these bodies do show signs of torture. And two more car bombs hit Baghdad this Tuesday, both of them parked car bombs. At least 42 people were killed in those attacks. The police say civilians were being targeted -- Lou.

DOBBS: Paula Hancocks from Baghdad.

The United States tonight faces another national security threat from Russia. The Russian military test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile from a site in northwestern Russia. The Russian defense minister said that missile could break through any U.S. missile defense. That presumably a reference to the defense shield designed to protect the United States from rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea.

President Bush focused on Africa, and he announced new sanctions against the Sudan to try and stop the escalating crisis in Darfur. President Bush said the world has a responsibility to end the genocide by militias supported by the Sudanese government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I promise this to the people of Darfur: the United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP) DOBBS: An estimated 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur over the past four years. Another two million people have been forced to leave their homes.

The United States tonight also expressing concern about rising chaos in Venezuela. Thousands of Venezuelans are protesting the government's decision to close an anti-Chavez television station. Troops and police fired rubber bullets and teargas grenades, trying to break up some of those protests. Venezuela's anti-American president, Hugo Chavez, is apparently trying to turn his country into a one-party dictatorship.

Harris Whitbeck has the report from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Monica Herrero is two months short of graduating from journalism school out of Caracas University. But as she participates in the latest protests against the closing of television station RCTV by President Hugo Chavez, she wonders if her timing isn't a bit off.

MONICA HERRERO, STUDENT: I think that in Venezuela's -- well, Chavez theory, the theory of Venezuela, I don't know. I think we can do our work.

WHITBECK: Monica was joined Monday by thousands of fellow students at a protest a day after RCTV, Venezuela's longest running television network, lost its license, accused by Chavez of inciting a rebellion against his socialist revolution.

(on camera): This is one of the first times that students from four different universities, public and private, have decided together to take to the streets.

(voice over): For Chavez' opponents, the protests are a sign his latest move might turn public opinion against him. They cite opinion polls that indicate more than 60 percent of the population is against the closing of the network. That, in addition to opinion and news programming produce soap operas and game shows. And, they say, while the closing is also seen as a warning sign for other opposition broadcasters, they will not stand down in their criticism of Chavez.

Alberto Ravell is the director of Globovision, a 24-hour news network that consistently airs the opposition's points of view.

ALBERTO RAVELL, GLOBOVISION DIRECTOR: We're not going to change our editorial line that we are not afraid of the threats from this government. And it's normal. A military government doesn't like news channels.

WHITBECK: The government, however, insists its decision to close the TV network was legal, and that it will keep its security forces on the streets to make sure protests against the closure do not get out of hand. (END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Harris Whitbeck reporting from Caracas.

Coming up next here, President Bush says opponents of his amnesty agenda "don't want to do what's right for America." We'll have the story, and I'll have a few thoughts for the president.

Also, the pro-amnesty lobby wants illegal aliens to cut the line for entry into this country ahead of legal, lawful immigrants.

And Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama may be finally paying attention to the worsening plight of this nation's middle class.

We'll have that story.

And the formal head of the Chinese agency responsible for the safety and quality of food and drug exports to the United States has been sentenced to death.

We'll have that story, and we'll tell you how his successor feels at this moment.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The middle class in this country making it to the top of the presidential campaign agendas, at least for today. Presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton campaigning in New Hampshire. Both Senator Clinton and Senator Barack Obama turning their attention to the plight of our embattled middle class. Senator Clinton attacked excessive corporate profits. Senator Obama unveiled a vision for health care.

Dana Bash has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Iraq War may be Democratic voters' top issue, but economic anxiety comes next. And Hillary Clinton came to New Hampshire to say she gets it.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While productivity and corporate profits are up, the fruits of that success just hasn't reached many of our families. It's like trickle- down economists, but without the trickle.

BASH: Calling herself a modern progressive, Clinton promised to shrink the gap between rich and poor and do away with the president's so-called ownership society.

CLINTON: I prefer a "we're all in it together" society. BASH: She proposed a nine-point plan, from eliminating tax incentives for companies to send jobs overseas, to reducing special tax breaks for corporations.

CLINTON: Fairness just doesn't happen. It requires the right government policies.

BASH: It's exactly the kind of talk Julie Hobbs (ph), an undecided New Hampshire voter, wants to hear from candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see a lot more money being pulled into the big corporations, and there's not a lot going to little families. We're working and working, and we're not reaping any benefit. It's getting harder and harder all the time. It's not perfect (ph).

BASH: She's a classic example of the middle class squeeze.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I make good money, but my expenses are huge. Because with children and gas prices, it's very, very difficult to make ends meet.

BASH: The 34-year-old single mom's biggest anxiety, she has no health insurance.

Another Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, unveiled his plan to address that. A proposal to provide health care for all Americans by the end of his first term as president.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you're one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have a new plan after this plan becomes law. You will have health insurance that's available to you. No one will be turned away because of a pre-existing condition or illness.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: Dana Bash reporting from New Hampshire.

And today the Pew Center reporting that a median worker in this country now earning less than his father did or his mother 40 years ago.

CNN, WMUR, the "New Hampshire Union Leader," will be sponsoring back-to-back debates between the presidential candidates in New Hampshire. Coming up Sunday, 7:00 p.m., the Democratic contenders face off. Tuesday, the Republican candidates go into debate.

And we'll be in New Hampshire here as well. Special editions of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT Sunday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Tuesday from 6:00 to 7:00.

We'll examine where the candidates stand on the critical issues facing the nation. We hope you'll join us.

All of that beginning this coming Sunday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern. The U.S. Secret Service tonight is faced with increasing protection demands for all of these presidential candidates, and it's looking to draft other government agency employees. The Secret Service, in fact, is training about 200 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to assist with candidate protection next year. That according to a Secret Service spokesman.

The service has a large field of 20 presidential candidates to contend with. "The Washington Post" reporting the demands on personnel and budget have already caused the Secret Service to scale back efforts to battle counterfeiting and cyber crime.

Opponents of the Grand Compromise, as it's called, on illegal immigration especially troubled by the controversial Z visa. That visa reserved only for those who have already broken our laws. In some cases, that visa offers rights and privileges that lawful legal immigrants don't enjoy.

And as Christine Romans now reports, that visa will be handed out by a government agency already in chaos and under fire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The new Z visa would be available only to illegal aliens. They could work, live and travel freely. Awarded a Social Security number and protected from deportation.

Z visa holders could apply for a green card and eventually citizenship. The Heritage Foundation calls it a "super visa" unavailable to legal immigrants.

MATTHEW SPALDING, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Other people who have been waiting in line, other people who are in the backlog, but also abroad, that have been waiting for years for the possibility of getting here legally on any basis, are not eligible for this visa and they have to keep on waiting.

ROMANS: As currently written, a prospective legal immigrant must have applied before May 1, 2005, to beat the rush of at least 12 million Z visa holders.

Before leaving for recess, the architects of immigration reform strongly defended the Z visa, promising border security in exchange for...

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: A path to legalization for those people that are in this country, working legitimately, good citizens without citizenship, to be able to legal people in our country.

ROMANS: But there are concerns about the already overwhelmed government bureaucracy in charge of handing out all of those visas.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: There's no way the USCIS can handle this kind of backlog. They've got a tremendous backlog today that they can't deal with, and we're dumping heaps more on top of them as we speak.

ROMANS: The Z visa costs $3,000 and can be renewed every four years indefinitely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not return calls for comment. In the past, that agency has said it is successfully cutting its backlog.

If the so-called Grand Compromise is approved, key senators in the White House will be sending another 12 million applications, at least, their way -- Lou.

DOBBS: Twelve million.

Do you find it interesting -- let me just put it this way: I find it interesting that everyone keeps talking about 12 million, amnesty for 12 million, when no one has any idea. And they won't put a ceiling on this.

ROMANS: Right.

DOBBS: But the idea of turning this over to Citizenship and Immigration Services, the head of which has already acknowledged that his agency is a mess and needs a lot of help just to do what it is chartered to do right now, remarkable. What a study in government, or lack of it.

Christine, thanks.

Christine Romans.

The federal government reported a $214 billion deficit last year, but it turns out that they kind of understated that. The loss is actually $1.3 trillion when corporate accounting practices are applied to our government, far more than the official deficit figure, of course.

The nation's total liability would be over $59 trillion, according to an analysis by "USA Today". The debt equal to more than $500,000 for every household in the United States.

Corporate accounting practices, of course, require expenses be recorded when a transaction occurs, even if the payment will be made later. The government doesn't follow those rules -- or sometimes it seems many other rules. So, money promised by Washington for Social Security and Medicare doesn't show up right away.

Time now for some of your thoughts on the so-called Grand Compromise on what the president likes to call comprehensive immigration reform.

Bob in Texas said, "Lou, what's wrong with these government models? Illegals: representation without taxation. U.S. citizens: taxation without representation." I think you have got the essence of this situation.

And Sharon in Georgia, "Taxation without representation -- it's time for another tea party."

And the White House and the Catholic Church again pushing amnesty for illegal aliens.

We'll have the latest here next.

And communist China says it's cracking down on those unsafe products and food shipped to the United States. Watchdog groups say don't be fooled again.

And we may not be alone. Astronomers have discovered new planets outside our solar system.

We'll have that story and a great deal more.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Communist China tonight says it will crack down on those dangerous exports to the United States. Some of those exports, such as deadly pet food, contaminated human food, dangerous toys and other products, obviously already in this country. Beijing says that crackdown is serious.

The former head of food safety in China understands what serious means. He's been sentenced to death.

But as Kitty Pilgrim reports, the global crisis over communist China's dangerous exports continues.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In China, the head of the national food and drug agency sentenced to death for taking almost $1 million in bribes. On the job for seven years and fired in 2005, he was convicted of approving fake medications that ended up killing people in China who took them.

Some of China's corrupt manufacturers have been caught in recent weeks adding medical melamine to pet food, toxic chemicals to toothpaste, a chemical used in antifreeze to cough syrup, all exported to markets around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a surprising (ph) concern, because I know how much is coming over into the U.S. from China, and that is growing and growing. And meanwhile, it looks like we haven't been doing a very good job at all of making sure that those products are safe.

PILGRIM: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says China is the largest exporter of toys and baby products to the United States and has the largest number of recalls.

China's state agency admitted 20 percent of toys and baby clothes made in China are unsafe. Chinese inspectors found toy animals were stuffed with low quality materials, and even garbage. And toys were so badly made, loose parts could be easily pulled free. Baby clothes, milk powder contain chemicals that could be a health hazard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a quarter trillion dollars of imports coming from China, and none of the products can be relied upon to be safe. From the food to the toys -- first of all, there are very few rules in China. And second of all, there's really no enforcement of the rules that do exist.

PILGRIM: The current worry, lead in children's metal jewelry. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission says they've recalled 165 million rings and bracelets and necklaces made in China.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Chinese manufacturers are using a host of methods to dodge U.S. inspections. Sometimes the products are mislabeled, or when the Chinese manufacturer is targeted for inspection they've been known to change the name of their company to avoid detection -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, you know, as -- just ridiculous is what China is doing. Far more concerning to me is what the United States is doing.

We are sitting here bringing these products in without any inspection, without any sort of consumer protection whatsoever. We're the idiots here, permitting this kind of nonsense. And the corporations are importing this junk. And deadly junk at that.

They really need to be held to some -- I would think some standard. Say, one of decency.

PILGRIM: Many of the watchdog agencies that we talked to today said the importers should be held responsible for testing. And I think that they...

DOBBS: Yes, but which nervy, clever government agency is going to do that? If Congress hadn't begun looking into this, and if watchdog groups hadn't started looking into this, who knows what would happen.

PILGRIM: You know, it's interesting...

DOBBS: If I hear one more idiot talking about a free market working when they talk about communist China, I mean, it's enough to make you nauseous.

PILGRIM: When you get legislation, say, on children's products, that's when you get some inspections and some results.

DOBBS: Oh, for crying out loud. But as you're reporting, we're bringing in stuffed animals with garbage in them. I mean -- and by the way, that's one of our leading exports in the United States to China, soybeans and waste products. So I guess what goes around comes around, is the way that would be described.

Kitty, thank you.

Kitty Pilgrim.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight.

The question is: Who, in your opinion, is responsible for ensuring imports from China are safe for American consumers? The Chinese government, the U.S. government, the importers, or consumers?

Please cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Astronomers have discovered 28 new planets outside this solar system. Researchers said this brings the number of planets found outside our solar system to 236. Now, that is quite a count.

New techniques are helping us detect those new planets. None of these worlds that have been discovered, we are reliably told, can support life.

Coming up here next, an astonishing verbal attack by the president against critics of his comprehensive immigration reform, his Grand Compromise. We'll have that special report.

And three of the country's top radio talk shows join us here tonight. They'll be talking about the president's discussion of patriotism and the perfect view.

Also, the president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, says I'm wrong to suggest that churches in this country are increasingly encroaching on the divide between church and state. Tony Perkins joins me for what I'm sure will be a terrific discussion on God and politics.

And Miss USA booed by the audience in Mexico after falling on -- falling during the Miss Universe pageant. We'll tell you why she was given such a harsh reception, at least in the minds of some.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: President Bush today out selling the grand compromise on comprehensive immigration reform. The president declaring that opponents of so-called immigration reform, quote, "don't want to do what's right for America," end quote.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church tonight is stepping up its support for the president's amnesty agenda. Bill Schneider reports on the president's astonishing verbal assaults against critics of his plan. Casey Wian reports on the Catholic Church's determined effort to stop the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. We turn first to Bill Schneider in Washington -- Bill.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Lou, today President Bush tried to offer some political cover to members of Congress on immigration reform. That could be tough.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Republicans are getting an earful on immigration.

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: I have learned some new words from some of my constituents.

SCHNEIDER: The angry response comes as a shock.

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We've talked to a number of Republican senators, and they confess to being surprised by the reaction.

SCHNEIDER: Speaking before a friendly audience at the nation's largest training center for law enforcement, President Bush insisted the legislation puts enforcement first.

BUSH: If you're serious about securing our borders, it makes sense to support legislation that makes enforcement our highest priority.

SCHNEIDER: Conservative critics respond with a scathing indictment.

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Folks out there in America who, when they see Washington say, "we have this wonderful plan," they say, yeah, right. We saw what you did with Katrina. We saw what you did with corruption. We saw what you've done in terms of managing the war.

So when you tell us you've fixed immigration, we're not buying it.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush used equally harsh language to assail his critics.

BUSH: If you want to kill the bill, if you don't want to do what's right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it and you can use it to frighten people.

SCHNEIDER: But critics of the legislation are not frightened. They're angry and they're threatening retaliation.

Supporters of the legislation are the ones who are nervous. Here is why: Among those who favor a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, only 28 percent say the issue is extremely important to them. Those who oppose a path to citizenship feel much stronger about the issue, which is why President Bush felt he had to say...

BUSH: It takes a lot of courage in the face of some of the criticism in the political world to do what's right, not what's comfortable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell tried to reassure nervous Republicans by telling Bloomberg News, quote, "I don't think there's a single member of either party next year who is going to fail to be reelected over this issue."

But most members believe they are unlikely to be defeated because they oppose this legislation, and very few members believe they can get much political coverage from -- cover, that is -- from a highly unpopular president -- Lou.

DOBBS: A highly unpopular president, a group of architects from the Democratic Party who have already demonstrated failure in immigration reform dating back to 1986. What in the devil makes these political elites think that they should just go about their business, as Mitch McConnell would suggest, and not worry about the consequences of just abject dereliction of their constitutional duty?

SCHNEIDER: They're worried about the consequences, but they're trying to figure out which is the safer thing to do, which is the way politicians typically behave. And right now, they believe if they vote to support this legislation, they could pay a price. If they vote against the legislation, they just don't see it.

DOBBS: They just don't see it. In other words, they're going to support the president's plan? Is that what you're saying?

SCHNEIDER: No, no, no, just the reverse.

DOBBS: That's what I wanted to be clear about.

SCHNEIDER: (inaudible) safer course. They're hearing so much criticism of the plan, but they're not hearing many people coming out and saying, if you don't support this plan, you're going to pay a price. They're not hearing that.

DOBBS: And Bill, the president using this expression, "and if you don't want to do what's right for America?" I mean, we've heard this issue of patriotism on the war in Iraq. He's now injecting it into the battle lines over comprehensive immigration reform?

SCHNEIDER: Well, there's a lot of criticism of President Bush for doing precisely that on both of these issues. I think a lot of his critics feel that he often uses the issue of patriotism to malign his critics on a wide variety of issues.

DOBBS: I would like for this president, anyone in his administration, speciality Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to tell us how it is right for America to have borders that are still not secured, how it's right for America still to have ports that are not secured, and to be only inspecting about 5 percent of the cargo entering this nation. I would love to hear this administration explain why that is right for America. Wouldn't you, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: I would, and I'd like to hear it on your show, especially.

DOBBS: Let's do it. Tony Snow, let's talk.

All right, Bill, thanks.

SCHNEIDER: OK.

DOBBS: And if he calls, I'll have you there with us. Bill Schneider from Washington.

The Catholic Church tonight is continuing to press ahead with its ambitious agenda on illegal immigration. Catholic leaders not satisfied with the Senate's grand compromise. They're demanding that senators offer amnesty to more illegal aliens and their families. Casey Wian has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Catholic leaders in Los Angeles and San Francisco entered the offices of Senator Dianne Feinstein armed with 45,000 petitions from church members demanding amnesty for more illegal aliens and their families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy are those who take refuge in him.

WIAN: Even though Feinstein is one of the architects of the so- called grand compromise immigration reform bill, Catholic bishops say it doesn't go far enough. They're demanding full citizenship for temporary workers.

BISHOP OSCAR SOLIS, CATHOLIC CONF. OF BISHOPS: The temporary workers must have a path to citizenship, that we do not create a permanent underclass in our society.

WIAN: They want illegal aliens who are eligible for amnesty to also have the right to immediately bring family members to the United States instead of having to wait eight years.

MARIA ELENA DUAZO, L.A. CITY FEDERATION OF LABOR: They, as workers, should have the right to have their families together.

WIAN: And they're opposed to the idea of a merit-based temporary worker system that favors skilled labor.

FATHER STEVE NISKANEN, OUR LADY QUEEN OF ANGELS: But there's also a need for lower-wage persons in our country who are really the backbone of this nation.

WIAN: The Catholic leaders are clearly out of touch with the American public. A CBS-"New York Times" poll released Friday shows only 20 percent of U.S. residents believe legal immigration should be increased; 74 percent say it should be decreased or stay the same.

As for the senator they're lobbying, she admits the bill isn't perfect. SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I think it's easy to tell the people on the far right of the political spectrum, the far left of the political spectrum, are not happy with this bill.

WIAN: And she continues to preach the gospel of the Senate.

FEINSTEIN: Many of us in this body believe that you can't find and deport 12 million people.

WIAN: But the CBS-"New York Times" poll found 69 percent of Americans believe illegal immigrants should be prosecuted and deported.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: Senator Feinstein was unavailable to comment on the Catholic petition seeking an expansion of the amnesty bill. She has said this bill has generated more public emotion than any other during her 15 years in the Senate, Lou.

DOBBS: Well, the quality of this so-called legislation should generate outrage from the left, the right, and most of all, the middle.

Again, the false choices. The senator is too smart to offer up that false choice, as has the administration -- either a choice for the American people between deportation or amnesty. That kind of politics is not worthy of the importance of this debate.

Casey, thanks. Casey Wian from Los Angeles.

Up next, I'll be talking with the president of the Family Research Council, who says I'm wrong to suggest churches are crossing the line encroaching on the division between church and state. Tony Perkins joins us.

The Democratic presidential candidates shifting their focus to the beleaguered middle class. About time.

And some of the nation's leading radio talk show hosts join me here. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Joining me now, three of the country's best radio talk show hosts. In Chicago, Steve Cochran of WGN. He's working double duty tonight, and he's being simulcast over WGN tonight, or over CNN, if you prefer. Steve, good to have you here. In Washington, Wilmer Leon, of XM Satellite Radio. Good to have you with us, Wilmer.

WILMER LEON, XM SATELLITE RADIO: Thank you.

And here in New York, Mark Simone WABC radio, good to have you. Let's go to you, Steve, the president today says, if you want to do what's right for America, fall in line on comprehensive immigration reform, the grand compromise. STEVE COCHRAN, WGN IN CHICAGO: Well, the scary thing -- you know what he did here? He said something that made a lot of sense. He said, the country doesn't have a lot of confidence in the government about this and that's absolutely true. Bob Barker could come out of retirement here and turn this whole thing into a game show. It's so multi-layered and somebody at the end ought to win something.

There are pieces that make sense, but we need to start with the basic fundamentals here. Secure the border, secure the border, secure the border and I don't understand why that's not issue number one.

DOBBS: What do you think, Wilmer?

LEON: Well, I think the major issue here is the fact that the president wants to talk about if you disagree with me, you're un- American. He seems to be forgetting the fact that informed debate is really at the crux of democracy. A lot of my listeners are really having a problem not with the what the president is saying, but with a lot of things that are not being talked about in this debate. Such as the impact of U.S. foreign policy has on the economies of an El Salvador. Has on the economies of a Mexico and other central American countries.

DOBBS: And how about those just good old American citizens working day in and day out to support their families? No one wants to talk about them, either, Wilmer.

LEON: Well, no one wants to talk about them unless they want to talk about the fact, erroneously, that people in this -- there are jobs out here that Americans just won't do and that's just utterly foolish.

MARK SIMONE, WABC RADIO: Right. There are jobs Americans won't do for half price, I think that's what this is all about. But, I think President Bush, give him credit, he's united everybody against him. People are furious. This is the real culture of corruption. And it's not just Republicans it's Democrats as well when it comes to this totally out of control boarder situation. It's ridiculous. One thing that really annoyed me that he said, this is in the great American tradition of immigration. That used to be coming through Ellis Island, not in the trunk of a Buick.

STEVE COCHRAN, WGN IN CHICAGO: Well, and you know what else is bizarre about this whole thing? Is the expectation that anybody is going to show up. There's a provision in the bill that says, show up and then we'll tell you how much your fine is. They're not showing up now to be legal citizens, so they're going to show up and say, hit me for 5 G's? I don't see that happening.

DOBBS: Today the president also said this, Steve. President Bush said my answer to the skeptics is this, and let's listen to him as he said it. Maybe you can sort this out for me, gentlemen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: If you want to kill the bill, you don't want to do what's right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it, you can use it to frighten people or you can show leadership and solve this problem once and for all.

My answer to the skeptics is give us a chance to fix the problems and a comprehensive way that enforces our border and treats people with decency and respect. Give us a chance to fix this problem. Don't try and kill this bill before it gets moving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: What is the president looking for here, Steve? I mean, a blank check? What in the world has the Senate been doing? They were supposed to come up with a bill, a plan. What in the world is this man thinking?

COCHRAN: Well, this is what is frightening, because how much of this is politics and how much of this is even -- how much of this do they actually believe can be instituted, you know? And this is again where I always happen on this with your show and when you're on with me, America has to pay attention and has to get involved. Because so many pieces of this thing -- there's not even time to implement half of the stuff in this bill. So let's throw comprehensive out the window for a moment and let's do what we talked about, let's secure the borders and let's build more than two miles of fence.

DOBBS: What do you think of that idea, Wilmer?

LEON: Well, you know, getting the people involved, I think that is key. And over time, I think over the next few months, particularly as we get closer to the 2008 election, we're going to see a lot more grassroots people getting involved. But for the president to say, give us a chance, give us a chance, I don't understand how many chances he is supposed to have.

DOBBS: You know, not only give us a chance, Mark, but also he wants us to be patient, whether it's the war in Iraq, illegal immigration, it's border security. This man wants patience, forgiveness and he wants to be given a chance.

SIMONE: Well, you know, we've given this a chance. We've had major amnesty attempts before. It always makes the problem even worse. It just doesn't work. What we need to do, is elect some illegal aliens. Once they start taking their jobs in Washington, then maybe they'll do something.

DOBBS: Well, and the other thing is, and I think what you raised is a very important point. People have got -- you know, this Congress is going to be a flash for everyone. The Senate and the House are not in Washington. They're back home. This is the time, I hope you all agree with me, for you to let your congressman, your senator know how you feel on this issue.

As Senator Kyle put it today, he's learning some new words from his constituents. You know, Senator Kyle is not naive. This is a man who has heard those words. I don't know what the words are he's hearing but at least he is hearing from his constituents. By the way, we want you to know, if you go to loudobbs.com, our page will show you how to contact directly your congressman or senator if that would be helpful to you.

SIMONE: But they know how we feel.

DOBBS: They don't care! They don't care!

SIMONE: But they also know how the corporate lobbyists feel, too.

LEON: I think, though, that this is one of the instances where people are really starting to understand, we've been expecting for a long time for our politicians to lead, and now what people are really seeing on this particular issue is that it's up to the people to see to it that the politicians clearly understand what direction the wind is blowing and the politicians will follow.

COCHRAN: You know, Lou, the thing that amazes me is -- and it's not even an amazement thing. It's just late at night when Senator Obama and Senator Clinton and Mayor Giuliani and Mitt Romney, they have to be waking up in a cold sweat about two or three in the morning. Thinking about immigration, thinking about the war going, I wonder if I can get out. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Why would you want this job at this point?

DOBBS: Well, you know, the president did something, you know, that is not customary. I think he actually articulated some of the truth. Not in correct form, but when he talked about what is right for America, he put the focus forward on what we all should be focusing on and not what is right for corporate America or socio- ethnic centric interests.

Mark, thank you very much. Steve, Steve Cochran, thanks for coming to us from the studios of WGN.

COCHRAN: Appreciate being here.

DOBBS: And, Wilmer, we thank you very much. Wilmer Leon, thank you.

LEON: Thank you, sir.

DOBBS: Gentlemen, we're going to have you back soon.

A reminder now to vote in our poll, who is responsible for ensuring imports from China are safe for American consumers, the Chinese government, the U.S. government, heaven forbid, the importers, consumers. Cast your votes at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results in just a few moments.

Up next, church leader, in my opinion, have been pushing into that divide between church and state. Tony Perkins is going to push back against my view he'll be here next. We'll be talking about god and politics. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: A lot of coalitions of church leaders in this country are lobbying and lobbying hard for amnesty for illegal aliens. My next guest says I'm wrong to suggest as I have, that churches are encroaching in the divide between church and state. Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council and joins us tonight from Baton Rouge. Tony, good to have you here.

TONY PERKINS, PRES. FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Good evening, Lou. How are you?

DOBBS: I'm outstanding. I trust you're well. You have a lot of power behind you, so I assume you're doing very well.

The idea that churches should be so active and aggressive, whether it be the catholic church on illegal immigration whether it be angelical churches on a host of issues. Why is it that they should get a free pass on this when actually their tax exempt status depends on their political, if you will, aversion to politics?

PERKINS: First, for the record, let me make it clear. I don't necessarily disagree with you on your position on immigration. It was specifically targeting pastors in churches.

DOBBS: Can I say hallelujah, then?

PERKINS: No. Pass the plate. Can I quote you, though? I think I can quote Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

PERKINS: This is what you said in the transcript a couple of weeks ago: And church leaders are ignoring separation of church and state by interfering directly in the political issue of amnesty. My question is how so? How are they violating the so-called issue of separation of church and state?

DOBBS: To me, tony, it's very straightforward. The idea of creating, as the catholic church has, the statement from the catholic council of bishops supporting illegal immigration. You heard Casey Wian's report tonight from Los Angeles. Laying out the terms of what they find acceptable in terms of an immigration legislation, terms that are purely secular and totally based on, it seems to me, I just wonder how many Catholics would be involved in this debate -- how many catholic leaders would be involved in this debate. If the Hispanic immigrants were not primarily from Mexico and central America and, for the most part, catholic?

PERKINS: Well, let's take on this issue of separation of church and state. Actually, that's not found in the constitution. It makes reference to the establishment clause. The first amendment of the constitution.

DOBBS: And there wasn't a ruling on it until early 1947.

PERKINS: Let me read it for you. It says, Congress shall may no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise there of. That pertains to congress and later it was applied to the state. It does not apply to the church. The church has been free from the beginning to speak to the issues.

I mean, would you say Reverend Liman Beecher (ph) or Reverend Martin Luther King were violating the separation of church and state? One an abolitionist. One working for the civil rights movement. They were both pastors using their pulpit to speak to the issues of the day.

DOBBS: If I believe -- and I'm going to be candid with you, Tony. I have a lot of trouble with the idea that church has become so involved in the structure of this illegal immigration debate that I think perhaps I have gone too far to one side because I absolutely exceed to you Dr. Martin Luther King and there are other instances in our history in which secular politics has been well served by ministers and pastors and priests.

But I am, at the same time, very disturbed that we're watching agendas being driven. Do I have the correct answer as to what the balance is? No, I don't. But I'm troubled by it and I know a lot of other folks are, too.

PERKINS: Well, I think about the issue and would agree with you that this is an issue -- there is not unity within the evangelical and the Christian community. There is divisions on the issue. But I think you have got to be careful. That may be your position or your view on this separation of church and state, but it's not not the law. The IRS code, which was changed by -- amended by Senator Lynden Johnson at the time because back in 1954, he was concerned about the opposition he had when he ran for the Senate. Up until that time, it was very common for pastors to preach election day sermons that specifically targeted candidates.

Today, churches are free to talk on issues without hesitation. Where their limitations are is when it comes to officially endorsing a candidate as a pastor of a church. I think whether we agree with evangelicals on the left or liberal Christians believe, I think the informed debate is very important for this country and they have every right to speak.

DOBBS: I agree with you about the informed debate. I'm troubled, though, that when I see APEC lobbying on behalf of Israel and foreign policy, I'm by the way, every bit as disturbed by the influence of the Saudi influence in Washington on foreign policy. I'm also disturbed when I see evangelicals pushing a -- you know, writing the land letter in 2002 to the president to justify the war in Iraq. I think we have some very serious issues that require careful thought here.

As I say, I will absolutely admit to you, am troubled by the issue. I don't have the solution. And I will -- you know, this is one of those times when you can take me to school, Tony.

PERKINS: Well, its the -- I agree with you, you may have problems with the outcome. But the input, I believe it's a very troubling road to go down if we say people of faith must check their religious convictions tell the gate of the public square in order to participate.

DOBBS: I would never suggest that because I believe that the body politic is elevated by men and women of faith and those who aspire to higher ethical conduct. So I couldn't go that far. But I'm troubled by the issue and come back and we'll talk about it some more.

PERKINS: I would love to do that, Lou. In the meantime, I'll be watching.

DOBBS: You got it. Thanks. Coming up, the "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Thanks very much, Lou. We're watching several stories, including quarantines, civil liberties suspended, the CDC is taking a drastic step to stop the spread of a deadly disease. Find out why one man's transatlantic flight has now triggered an international flight scare.

Also, dozens of U.S. troops Arabic speaking military personnel discharged simply because they're gay. Is the military putting sexuality over national security?

And Cuban embargo, should the ban go up in smoke? Find out why farmers and cigar lovers are calling for a new policy.

Finally, fuel fury. Politicians are jumping up and down about rising prices but are they blowing hot air or coming up with real solutions? All that, Lou, coming up right here in the "Situation Room."

DOBBS: Cigar diplomacy, I love it. Wolf, thank you very much.

Still ahead here, we'll have the results of our poll, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight, 85 percent of you said the U.S. government is responsible for ensuring imports from communist China are safe for American consumers. Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. From all of us, thanks for watching, good night from New York. The SITUATION ROOM begins right now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?

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