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Firestorms Overwhelm Southern California; Could Driver's Licenses For Illegal Aliens Lead to Voter Fraud?

Aired October 23, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, huge firestorms burning out of control in Southern California. The fires could turn out to be the worst in California's history. We will have complete coverage from throughout Southern California.
Also tonight, pro-illegal alien U.S. senators just can't accept the will of the people on the issue of illegal immigration, nor comprehend law and order, those senators trying to resurrect their pro-amnesty resurrection in the Senate determined to go ahead with it. We will have that special report.

And the battle over driver's licenses in the state of New York, the governor wanting to give away those driver's licenses to illegal aliens. State lawmakers, however, trying to stop him from giving those driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Critics say his plan could lead to massive voter fraud, not only in New York, but nationwide.

And, two New York state lawmakers, one Republican, the other Democrat, trying to block the governor's plan will be among our guests here tonight.

We will all of that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Tuesday, October 23.

Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Firefighters tonight struggling to control raging wildfires burning across much of Southern California. Two people have been killed, 44 others injured, including at least 17 firefighters. Officials have ordered more than 500,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Firefighters appear to be simply overwhelmed by the massive scale and intensity of these firestorms.

We have live reports from all over Southern California tonight, where seven counties have been declared disaster areas. Casey Wian and Vince Gonzales covering the fire, Sean Callebs at the main evacuation center that has been set up in San Diego.

We are going to begin with Casey Wian -- Casey. CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, California state officials knew this was coming, yet the firestorms raging throughout Southern California still caught officials and homeowners unprepared.


WIAN (voice-over): Another day of blistering desert winds fanning walls of flames, burning more than a third of a million acres from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

RON ROBERTS, SAN DIEGO COUNTY SUPERVISOR: We are entering day three of what appears to be one of the worst fires, probably the worst fire in San Diego County history and easily one of the worst fires in the history of the state of California.

WIAN: The damage is staggering. At least 1,300 homes have been destroyed. Tens of thousands are threatened. Some residents helplessly watched their homes burn to the ground. Others fled.

JOHNNY VILLANAUEVA, EVACUEE: My wife woke me up at like at 12:00 and screaming and yelling, the flames are coming down. So, we just loaded up the car real quick and came down here. We slept in our vehicle.

WIAN: A half-million people need to evacuate. Dozens have been injured, much of the destruction the result of a shortage of resources and firefighting personnel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got about 600 people on the Ranch fire. We normally would have about 1,500. So, we have to be absolutely surgical in how we plan and how we tactically use our fire equipment, because we just simply don't have enough fire engines in the state of California right now to battle these blazes.

WIAN: The California National Guard has deployed 1, 500 troops to help; 2,300 state prison inmates are also battling the blazes.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Altogether in the state of California, there's over 6,000 firefighters that are fighting with thousands of trucks and equipment. We're getting a lot of equipment and manpower also from other states.

WIAN: The Pentagon has deployed military planes to help fight the fires, while the White House has declared a state of emergency.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I met with the president this morning about it, he has instructed everybody in the federal government to move as rapidly and as fully as possible to support the state.

WIAN: FEMA will help pay California's firefighting costs. The state has already budgeted more than $1 billion to battle wildfires this year.


WIAN: The death toll from these fires now standing at two. Almost everyone in Southern California is being affected by the fires, even those who live very far from the flames. People are being asked to stay indoors when possible to avoid inhaling the smoke that just seems to be everywhere throughout Southern California -- Lou.

DOBBS: And, Casey, as you have reported, as we're reporting here tonight, these fires raging across such a broad area of Southern California, are any of them under control? Any suggestion that they're being contained?

WIAN: Well, Lou, over the last few days, there have been about a dozen fires raging throughout Southern California. As of the last check that I saw, only three of them were fully contained. The rest of them, the largest fires, not close to being contained yet -- Lou.

DOBBS: OK, Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian.

Southern California simply being devastated by these raging firestorms. Officials there say firefighters have found it almost impossible to control those fires because of the high Santa Ana winds and the unseasonably hot temperatures.

Many of those fires are burning out of control across a huge section of Southern California, ranging from Santa Barbara to San Diego. As the fires have spread, many wildfires are merging, making the task of the firefighters even more difficult, if not impossible.

Thirteen major fires burning in Southern California now, as Casey Wian reported, three of them have been contained. More than 360,000 acres have been scorched. That's an area, by the way, larger than all of New York City. The fires have destroyed more than 1,300 buildings, 500,000 people, as we have said, ordered evacuated. A federal emergency declared in seven of those Southern California counties.

President Bush today making that declaration. The president, by the way, is scheduled to turn out to Southern California to tour those fires and the efforts of the firefighters this Thursday.

The firestorms continue to spread rapidly from inland areas toward heavily populated areas and communities along the coast. Some people have been forced to flee for a second time as the wildfires throughout -- evacuation centers themselves.

Vince Gonzales now has the latest for us from Los Angeles County -- Vince.

VINCE GONZALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, I'm in north Los Angeles County, where there were fears that three major fires could merge, but the winds gave us a lull here today and actually we can report some good news. This is what is left of the Magic fire behind me.

It's just really blackened hillsides, a few tendrils of smoke coming over the ridges. That's because earlier today the winds did die down. Fire crews able to get into the sky with the big air tankers and they knocked this down with repeated air assaults. The Magic fire only grew to about 1,500 acres. It's now 40 percent contained.

The other big fires in this area, there's also been some progress. Fire crews say they were able to go on the offensive with those air tankers and with ground crews. The Buckweed fire, which is now 37,000 acres, is 27 percent contained. That has already destroyed more than 100 homes. So, that's good news there.

And the Ranch fire at more than 54,000 acres, fire crews were able to hold it steady today and again with more air attacks were able to keep it from advancing. No word on containment there, but they're optimistic. And up in Malibu where we were occupied Sunday and Monday, it has grown to 4,400, but is now 15 percent contained.

So, the three fires here, the Buckweed, the Ranch fire and the Magic fire, they're now telling us there's not really a danger of them merging into that catastrophic wildfire that they feared, but they're saying once again this all depends on the Santa Ana and right now they're starting to gust again. We haven't seen any air crews in the sky for about an hour or so. That means it could be another long night for fire crews out here as they try to make sure these fires don't merge, they try to protect more homes and more lives -- Lou.

DOBBS: Vince, thank you very much.

Hundreds of thousands of people, as we said, have fled their homes in San Diego County. As many as 12,000 evacuees tonight are sheltering in the NFL stadium in San Diego.

Sean Callebs reports from the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego -- Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, we have seen an ebb and flow of people coming in and out throughout the day. When it was really hot, just about noon here on the West time, a lot of people were simply out of this concourse area.

They either left, gone to the malls, tried to do what they can just to avoid this heat. But a lot of comparisons are being made to what went on in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

I want to show you one way you can see a very marked difference. If you look over here, there are so many booths like this set up. This one is for the deaf. And I was talking with this gentleman back here, Carlos (ph), just a short while ago. And it has made a huge difference for Carlos. All his family lives in New York. He arrived here, didn't know a soul.

So, when he came and he had this booth and someone could walk him through everything that he had to do, it made his life so much easier and so much better.

And that's what we're hearing. Inside this stadium behind me on the concourse level, where, normally, people would be walking in to see a Chargers game on a Sunday, cots are packed one after another. You see families just squeezed into certain areas. But when you talk to them, no one is extremely bitter. They're certainly frustrated, certainly want to get more information about the fires. We know that a lot of people just in the last couple of hours have been told they can return back to their homes, perhaps as many as 150,000 people. But to those who are here riding out the storm, Lou, what they're seeing is a marked different, a marked improvement from what people endured right after Hurricane Katrina -- Lou.

DOBBS: Right. And, of course, Sean covered that aftermath as well.

When you're talking about people not being bitter, it looks to me, I think many of us are often surprised when people aren't downright grateful for the help that they're receiving. And it looks like that is precisely the case there at Qualcomm center. And the organization is apparent in the pictures that you have shown us and that are behind you now and in your reporting.

Sean, thank you very much.

We will have more on these wildfires in Southern California later in the broadcast.

Also ahead, we will be reporting to you on the pro-amnesty lobby and its energetic supporters on Capitol Hill who just won't give up. And, of course, in part, we're talking about corporate America and socio-ethnocentric interests.

And Lisa Sylvester will have that report for us -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, here we go again. Business and open border advocates are pushing for another amnesty bill on Capitol Hill. A crucial vote happens in less than 24 hours -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, looking forward to the report.

And new concerns that Governor Spitzer's efforts to give away driver's licenses to illegal aliens in New York will lead to massive voter fraud. We will be taking up that issue.

And Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, he appears to be putting the interests of communist China ahead of the interests of working men and women in middle-class America. We will have that special report on of course our government at work.

Stay with us. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: The United States Senate is at it again, Senator Harry Reid demonstrating why he should be leader of the Democratic Party on Capitol Hill.

The Senate today starting debate on a proposal that amounts to amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. You thought this issue had been resolved? Well, not so.

The new legislation is part of the failed so-called grand compromise Immigration Reform Act. Now Democratic lawmakers are trying, once again, one bill at a time, trying to subvert the will of the people who expressed themselves about as clearly as can be expressed this past June. This time, these legislatures are calling it the DREAM Act.

And, as Lisa Sylvester reports, the DREAM Act awards citizenship to illegal aliens if they go to college or join the military.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): Led by Senator Dick Durbin, the DREAM Act has been reawakened. The plan that could provide conditional legal status for more than a million illegal aliens was part of a comprehensive illegal bill that failed this summer. The Illinois Democrat is hoping a limited version he is now pushing forward will attract more votes.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: We're dealing with young people brought to the United States by their parents, some of them as toddlers, who have grown up here and know no other country.

SYLVESTER: The bill would grant amnesty to illegal aliens up to 30 years old who entered the United States before age 16, and have lived in the country for at least five years. They would be eligible for college federal student loans and work study programs.

And if they stay in college or join the military for two years, they would be put on a path to citizenship. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama estimates that 1.3 million young people could take advantage of the program, but calls it a backdoor amnesty for millions more.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: That if a person is legalized under this process, they can bring their wife and children and legalize them. They can bring their parents and brothers and sisters. So the $1.3 million, which is quite a large number, is a really low figure. It would be much more than that.

SYLVESTER: Sponsors of the DREAM Act need 60 votes to get the bill through. To gain more supporters they held a news conference in the Capitol with illegal alien college students who would benefit from the program. But that may have backfired. Opponents demanded federal immigration officials detain the illegal aliens.

ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERSUSA: Just the idea of bringing illegal aliens into the U.S. Capitol, you know, if the U.S. Capitol is a sanctuary, why shouldn't everyone come in illegally?

SYLVESTER: Congressman Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican running for president, echoed that sentiment, saying -- quote -- "If we can't enforce our laws inside the building where American laws are made, where can we enforce them?"


SYLVESTER: None of the students was detained.

Now, on the DREAM Act, a vote is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Supporters need 60 votes to move it forward. They estimate right now that they have about 55 votes or so, but they're lobbying hard to pick up additional votes in the coming hours -- Lou.

DOBBS: So, at this point, it looks like the cloture vote will succeed or fail?

SYLVESTER: At this point, it's a little too close to call. They are estimating that they have about 55 votes or so. If they can pick up five additional votes, it will go through. And either side says it could go either way. So, for instance, Senator Jeff Sessions is urging people to call their members of Congress.

DOBBS: Call their members of Congress and whichever way you feel about this, let your U.S. senator know exactly what you think of this utter nonsense.

This is a clear effort on the part of the Democratic leadership and that brilliant leader, Senator Harry Reid, to subvert, again, the will of the American people, to disregard the interests of the American people and American citizens, and to pander, to pander to the socio-ethnocentric interest groups in this country, corporate America. And, believe me, this battle is going to continue.

And if the American people flag in their both interest in the subject and their vigilance over the Democratic leadership in both the Senate and the House, they're going to have their way, and the will of the majority is going to be disregarded again by what the Democratic leadership and the Senate wants to call a progressive approach. Absolutely absurd.

Lisa, thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester reporting from Washington, as you will be for some time to come on this issue, I'm afraid, Lisa. Thank you.

That brings us to the subject of our poll. Do you believe all the efforts to confer benefits on illegal aliens are designed to expedite a nationwide massive voter fraud as we approach 2008? Does it seem that way to you? Do you think there is growing evidence? Yes or no? Cast your vote at We're going to bring you those results later in this broadcast.

Let's take a look at some of your thoughts.

Tom in Maryland said: "Amnesty rears its ugly head again. Sleazy Harry Reid and the Democrats appear to have no shame as they try again to pass an amnesty bill."

By the way, if I may say, this White House and this Republican president has no shame either. And they seem to work so well together. I wonder why. And Carl in Tennessee said: "Lou, if I agree that a driver's license is a privilege and not a right, then I have to assume Governor Spitzer thinks illegal aliens are privileged."

I can't see anything illogical in your assertion.

And Leslie in Texas, in response to "The New York Times"' commentary on my position on the good governor and his brilliant idea to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens -- quote -- "Your response to 'The New York Times' was right on. Go, Lou, go. Thank you for being the one voice of reason that can shed some sensibility on the knuckleheads of a nation that can't walk and chew gum at the same time anymore."

I believe you're referring only to our political leaders, well, and a few others, but principally our political leaders of both parties.

We will have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of Jack Cafferty's new book, "It's Getting Ugly Out There." Indeed, it is.

And coming up next, more than half a million people evacuated in Southern California. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed and hundreds more are threatened. We will have an update on what has become a deadly inferno sweeping across Southern California.

The treasury secretary pleading with communist China, begging communist China to please not be unfair in trading with the United States, the poor United States. The treasury secretary for some reason doesn't have any ideas, though, for the U.S. government.

We will have a full report on an administration that just makes you proud to say, I'm an American.

We will be right back.


DOBBS: I have been critical of President Bush and his administration's economic policies since almost the point he took office. He has done nothing to change my mind.

The Bush administration continues to try to talk communist China into changing its trade and economic policies. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson today saying the U.S.-China relationship is now being threatened by rising protectionism in the United States.

And, as Christine Romans reports now, Secretary Paulson warned that reports of unsafe products from China are damaging what he called the made-in-China brand.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It wouldn't be an administration speech about the U.S./China relationship without words like economic nationalism and protectionism, something the American treasury secretary says both the United States and China struggle with.

Henry Paulson noted what he called three dynamics in their relationship.

HENRY PAULSON, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Deepening interdependence, a strained policy consensus, and the rise of economic protectionism.

ROMANS: Paulson referred five times to protectionism in his prepared remarks, another few times in questions after, but not once of the trade deficit.

PAULSON: Over the past five years, U.S. exports to China have grown at five times the pace of U.S. exports to the rest of the world. And China has become our fourth largest export market.

ROMANS: Imports over the same period rose 129 percent. And so far this year, the U.S. imports five times more from China than it exports.

Critics say that's because China subsidizes its industries and keeps its currency artificially low, an unfair advantage over U.S. manufacturers. Paulson said China should allow its currency to rise faster against the dollar.

PAULSON: They're not moving it quickly enough.

ROMANS: As for Chinese product recalls, they're causing fear among American consumers. Paulson called on China to restore trust in the made-in-China label. But his main message, the deepening interdependence of U.S. and China.

ANDY BUSCH, BANK OF MONTREAL: He listed so many of the interdependencies, whether it's trade, whether it's foreign policy with Iraq or Sudan. These are so many places and so many touch points the United States and the Chinese have together, it's really changed the strategic nature of the relationship.

ROMANS: Paulson warned that economic dialogue between top officials of the two countries needs to be more than talking for the sake of talking.


ROMANS: Paulson strenuously reiterated that America is open for all foreign investment and dismissed concerns about strategic investments into the United States, equating them to empty fears of the Saudis in the 1970s buying up Illinois cornfields, he said, and of the Japanese in the 1980s, buying New York real estate, Lou.

DOBBS: This secretary of the treasury is a frightening, frightening man. As we're looking at the U.S. dollar basically collapsing in world currency markets, the trade deficit now and the trade debt rising at a rate faster than the national debt, we have a treasury secretary trying to tell the Chinese, who have been quite effective competing, I think, in the international commercial system, telling them how to behave, without prescribing any change in U.S. economic policy.

The man is mindless. What in the heck is going on?

ROMANS: Well, Lou, he's been very consistent.

DOBBS: He's in very good company in this administration, I must say.


ROMANS: He's been very consistent about saying that the U.S. needs to be open for investment and we need to be a role model. He asked them to speed up their pace of reforms.

But there was a question from an audience member, who said, you say that we should be allowed to let the value of the yuan rise. How far and how fast?

And he said, time will tell. Well, critics would say...

DOBBS: Time will tell?

ROMANS: Time will tell.

There's been an awful lot of time that has passed, as the red ink, the trade deficits, the situation gets even more imbalanced.

DOBBS: The man doesn't like process. What is the title of his speech? "Managing Complexity and Establishing New Habits of Cooperation in U.S./China Economic Relations."

ROMANS: Right.

DOBBS: The man is a fraud. The administration is a fraud.

We have millions of people in this country right now being -- who are facing foreclosure, who are facing bankruptcy, who are facing default and delinquency in their credit cards and their consumer loans, and these idiots are walking around with money center banks trying to build a fund and avoid moral hazard and consequence for the idiots who put together the subprime lending mechanisms that have now fallen apart.

This -- this is our gift from the Bush administration to history in economic policy management.

ROMANS: You know, you call him a fraud, but this is...

DOBBS: I call him a complete fraud, an irresponsible fraud, this president, this treasury secretary and this administration.

ROMANS: But this has gone so far that the folks on Wall Street, and a lot of people, Lou, who also think that our policy has failed, they say that Paulson is pretty much the best, last hope for the U.S., because he is the..

DOBBS: The best, last hope.

ROMANS: ... because he is respected by the Chinese.

DOBBS: If he is our best and our last hope, let me tell you what, my friends on Wall Street and corporate America. And, by the way, I still have some, because there are a lot of folks out there who know I'm talking straight about this situation.

We have an issue where people, homeowners, credit card holders, installment borrowers are the ones who need the help. Moral hazard should prevail for the likes of Citibank and for the other irresponsible, irresponsible financial institutions and the consequences.

This is not the last, best hope of America. The best hope for America is to remember one thing, one simple thing. And that is, honesty and transparency in U.S. policy is the best practice. It's how we got here.

And the idea that these people would, in this administration, would be telling the Chinese to bring yuan into line with the dollar, do you idiots understand that we're so dependent on Chinese exports, that there's no elasticity, and that, if they raise the price of those exports to the United States, it will be bone-crushing on the American consumer?

But, wait. I forgot. We're talking about this administration. And they don't give a damn about the American consumer, the American working man and woman or their families.

So, forgive me for taking up your time, Mr. Bush, and all of your friends in this worthless administration.

Thank you very much, Christine Romans.

We will have a lot more, as these idiots go down their process trail.

Up next, more on the efforts of pro-amnesty senators, some of my favorite people again. They're reintroducing their failed so-called comprehensive immigration reform. They're a disaster. I will be joined by three top radio talk show hosts. We will be talking about that and a lot more.

And outrage over the New York governor's plan to give away driver's licenses. It just gets better and better. I'll be joined by two state lawmakers here next.

And those firestorms in Southern California threatening to overwhelm firefighters. We'll have the very latest for you here next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Those raging wildfires tonight are being whipped by Santa Ana winds throughout hot, dry Southern California. More than a half million people have now been evacuated. More than 1,300 buildings have been destroyed in those fires. Two people have been killed.

Dan Simon has a live report now for us from Rancho Bernardo.

He has the very latest -- Dan.


For the very first time, they're allowing some people to come back into this neighborhood and check on the status of their homes. There is a condition, though -- you need to tell the police officers that you have to get your medication and you have to come in with an escort. We spoke to one such individual who found out that his home was safe and he got very emotional.

Take a look.


STEVE TUTUNJIAN, EVACUEE: It has absolutely been unbelievable. I've been in two wars. And in leaving our house, it was like being in a war zone. You know, those fires were engulfing all over around us. Houses that I've looked at for 10 years have been engulfed -- engulfed in flames.


SIMON: Yes, people are getting emotional as they find out what has happened to their homes.

Let me tell you what's happening today, Lou.

This neighborhood, at least for now, seems to have escaped danger.

What utility crews are doing, they're coming in and shutting off the gas lines. But in terms of the elements here, we're not feeling any wind whatsoever. But not true for the rest of San Diego County. Winds still kicking up in various parts and 5,000 more homes still at risk of catching fire.

Back to you -- Lou.

DOBBS: And Dan also reports that there are thousands more facing the prospect of being ordered to evacuate. The prospect for the weather there, those Santa Ana winds to continue.

The hot, dry temperatures to continue?

SIMON: Yes. We're supposed to see strong winds at least through tomorrow. And then perhaps on Thursday we might get a little bit of a break -- Lou.


Dan Simon from Rancho Bernardo in Southern California.

Thank you very much.

Let's turn now to New York State, with its own particular set of issues -- its governor, Elliot Spitzer, and his outrageous proposal to give away driver's licenses to illegal aliens.

The governor now taking action to enact his ideas. First, Spitzer announced in September that a valid Social Security number would, by the way, no longer be necessary to obtain a driver's license. Friday, the governor followed up his first directive by ordering county clerks to stop asking for Social Security numbers for people registering to vote.

As Bill Tucker now reports, this new directive opens a door to what could be massive voter fraud.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If an illegal alien registers to vote when applying for a driver's license in New York State, they will be registered with no questions asked. The state has told the Department of Motor Vehicle clerks to register anyone who checks the voter registration box -- even if they can't present a Social Security number. The policy directive came from the commissioner of the state's DMV. It was issued Friday, much to the surprise of county clerks.

KATHY MARCHIONE, PRESIDENT, NEW YORK STATE ASSOCIATION OF CLERKS: It doesn't matter whether you have typed in a Social Security number or not -- if there's a Social Security number or if there is no Social Security number, we can now put -- put a yes -- we can now fill in the box out that says, yes, you want to vote.

TUCKER: The directive caught DMV county clerks off guard because at the beginning of October they had been instructed not to accept any voter registrations without a Social Security number -- compounding the problems and the frustration of the clerks.

FRANK MEROLA, RENSSELAER COUNTY CLERK, NEW YORK: They, also -- in the directive they said you're not to argue with a customer in a certain language. You're not talking with a customer. You're going to process it, send it to the Board of Elections and let them make the determination of whether it's right or wrong. By the time that's sent, they're already registered to vote. It's all about the voting part.

TUCKER: The clerks note that in New York State, a driver's license is acceptable identification for voting and that illegal aliens will be given driver's licenses that are identical to those issued to citizens. The commissioner's office says the directive sent to the clerks represents no change in state policy: "The Motor Voter registration application forms mandated by the state's election law do not require and have never required applicants to provide Social Security numbers. They simply require applicants to affirm, under the penalty of perjury, that they are U.S. citizens."


TUCKER: But the critics of the governor's policy point out that the illegal aliens who will be given licenses are people who have already broken several laws to enter and work in the country, Lou, making them unlawful in the first place.

DOBBS: Now, this -- this is absolutely brilliant. It's incredible. And for the -- and, by the way, they the head of DMV...

TUCKER: David Swarts.

DOBBS: David Swarts -- he seems so enthusiastic about the governor's plan.

Who appointed him?

TUCKER: That would be the governor who appointed him.

DOBBS: I see how that works. I just wanted to make sure I understood that properly.

Thank you very much, Bill Tucker.

Well, the New York State assembly today debated the governor's outrageous proposal to give away those driver's licenses to illegal aliens and open the door to massive voter fraud.

Joining me now, two lawmakers opposed to the governor's proposal.

Republican James Tedisco is the minority leader in the state assembly.

And joining us is Democratic Assemblywoman Ginny Fields.

Thank you both for being here.

Let me ask you...


DOBBS: Let me ask you just straightforwardly -- and let me start, if I may, with you, Assemblywoman Fields.

A Democratic governor proposing to do this with so many people -- absolutely -- 72 percent in the State of New York oppose, everyone from Mayor Bloomberg, former DMV Commissioner Ray Martinez, a list of dignitaries, including former Mayor Ed Koch saying, you know, basically, this is a horrible idea.

What in the world is the profit here for the governor and why should he be tolerated in it?

GINNY FIELDS (D), NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY: Well, I don't know that it's going to be tolerated. We do have some bills out that we do want to have see -- we want to see the light of day with. We'd like public hearings to happen. And we -- we have been, you know, I sent out the forms to all of my colleagues and I've had a tremendous response with co-sponsoring it. And maybe we can force the issue and have this bill actually come out and be voted on, so that we can have some public hearings and some people that really get involved in having a debate, so that we can prove that we don't think this is a good policy.

DOBBS: Has the governor, Assemblywoman, has he responded to you?

Has he responded in any way?

FIELDS: I have not heard one word from the governor.

DOBBS: And this governor didn't inform...

TEDISCO: She may be lucky, Lou.

DOBBS: She what?

TEDISCO: She may be lucky that she hasn't word one word.

DOBBS: Well, Mr. Tedisco, you tell me...

TEDISCO: Some of the words aren't good ones.

DOBBS: You're the minority leader. The state assembly just voted down the effort. The Democrats, obviously, controlling in the assembly. But they just -- by a vote of 85 to 57, it was rejected, the efforts to block that plan.

And Assemblywoman Fields just referred to what does this do in terms of going forward?

TEDISCO: Well, what you should know is that 17 of my Democratic colleagues voted for our amendment on the floor. And, Lou, they can call this amendment germane, not germane. They can call it a chicken, a duck or an elephant. The only thing I know is if my colleagues on that floor, by 76 majority votes, voted for this piece of legislation -- Joe Bruno said tomorrow said he would come back into session and revote it once again, so we'd have the sales tax bill, of which we were putting the amendment on. And we would be rolling back Eliot Spitzer's misguided plan to give illegal aliens driver's licenses. I think we had 17 brave colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

DOBBS: Right. Exactly.

TEDISCO: There were 87 of those who tried to hang their head on a procedural vote.

DOBBS: Mr. Tedisco...

TEDISCO: And I think the security of New Yorkers is much more important...

DOBBS: referring to the fact that 17 Democrats...

TEDISCO: ...than that.

DOBBS: ...joining with the Republicans today in that vote.

And Assemblywoman Fields, you were among the first to take on the governor on this. Frank Merola, the Rensselaer County clerk -- I mean he's filed a lawsuit trying to stop the county clerk's association, saying this is idiotic, and filing a lawsuit to stop this.

What in the world -- the voter fraud issue here is so -- so obvious, so palpable, how in the world can anyone rationalize this?

FIELDS: Well, the other part of the problem is that I had a lady call me today up in my Albany office saying that she worked for the Commissioner of Jurors. And she once had 60 driver's licenses come before her with -- some had the same picture, a different address; the same address, but different pictures -- obviously fraudulent. And the Commissioner of Jurors gets their list from the Department of Motor Vehicles and from the Board of Elections. This could have ramifications that will affect the courts. It could, basically, devastate quite a bit of New York State.

DOBBS: Right.

TEDISCO: Lou, the way the system works in New York State, if you're going to register to vote, is that you have to be a citizen of the United States to register to vote. But the law does not say that the Board of Elections has to validate and you have to prove you are a citizen.

DOBBS: Or that you have to use...

TEDISCO: So once they get that driver's license, that's the I.D. that you get your license to vote.

DOBBS: Well, it's pretty clear this governor, this...

FIELDS: And the New York State...

DOBBS: I'm sorry.

Go ahead.

FIELDS: The New York State data system is not up and running.

DOBBS: Right.

FIELDS: So the Board of Elections doesn't have any voter police, so to speak.

DOBBS: It's pretty clear...

FIELDS: And they have no way of checking.

DOBBS: It's pretty clear that this governor is not disturbed at all by the prospect of voter fraud -- and against the backdrop of accusations that that is motivating this entire debacle that he has set forward.

Assemblywoman Fields, we thank you for being here.

And Minority Leader Tedisco, thank you for being here.

We appreciate you both joining us.

TEDISCO: My pleasure, Lou.

FIELDS: Thank you.

DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll -- do you believe all the efforts, in this case in New York, to confer benefits on illegal aliens and those underway in the Senate and in states and communities across the country, in court and otherwise, are all part of an architecture designed to expedite a nationwide massive voter fraud?

Just a question to consider.

Cast your vote at

We'd love to hear from you.

We'll have the results upcoming.

Next, we'll be talking about giving away driver's licenses. We'll be talking about politics. And we'll be talking about a lot -- a lot of crazy issues next, with three of the country's best radio talk show hosts. And we'll find out what they think about Senator Clinton's remarks that if she's elected president, she's willing to give up some of those executive powers and privileges.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Joining me now, three of my favorite leading radio talk show hosts.

Joe Madison, WOL in Washington, D.C. And X.M. Radio. I always like to do that last just to kind of -- kind of kid with Joe.

JOE MADISON, WOL, WASHINGTON, X.M. RADIO: Well, they appreciate it at X.M. Believe me.

DOBBS: Well, absolutely.

MADISON: And so does Radio One.

DOBBS: And Peter Boyles of KHOW in Denver.

Peter, good to have you with us.

PETER BOYLES, KHOW IN DENVER: Thank you, Lou. DOBBS: John Gambling of WABC right here in New York City.

Good to have you.

JOHN GAMBLING, WABC IN NEW YORK: Lou, good to be here.

DOBBS: Let's get it out of the way.

I am so ticked off at Governor Spitzer, so disgusted with his irresponsibility, his arrogance and his -- anyway, what's your reaction to this?

GAMBLING: My reaction is exactly the same as yours.

You asked the question just a few minutes ago, what's the constituency?

What's upside for the governor here?

Why is he sticking with it?

I talked to James Kallstrom, who is a good friend of mine, who was the homeland security adviser to George Pataki. He said after 9/11, in New York State there were 250,000 people -- they had no idea who they were. And that's why they put in Social Security I.D.

Why they're throwing it out now, it's beyond me.

DOBBS: Joe Madison?

MADISON: Oh, the same thing. I'm telling you, Lou, I can't find one person to call in -- and we've been talking about it ever since it began. Not one person has called in and agreed with this. I think I said last time I was here, they ought to be looking at -- and I'm saying it now seriously -- this may be grounds for impeachment. I don't know this.

I'm not a lawyer. But this is absolutely absurd. You can take that driver's license, you can now go to other states. And what part of...

DOBBS: Right. That's one thing that people forget about.

MADISON: What part of illegal these folks don't understand, I don't get it.

DOBBS: Peter Boyles?

BOYLES: There's a significant part of this, Lou -- and I've had this knock down, drag out before. Let this sink in in New York City. The number one form of identification to get on an airplane today in this country is a driver's license.


BOYLES: Now, a driver's license is a potential terrorist weapon. I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but if you have a driver's license, you can get on an airplane. Now, we know that. And I don't know what this idiot governor -- especially in New York, that was devastated on 9/11 -- to allow the -- god only knows who to get a driver's license that could be used potentially as a terrorist weapon, Lou. They're nuts.

MADISON: And, Lou, can I add one thing I thought about sitting here?

DOBBS: Sure.

MADISON: And she's not going to like this, but I think it's time for candidate Hillary Clinton to speak up on this and issue a statement opposing this or being in favor of it.


MADISON: But do not remain silent. She is a senator from this state and this has implications nationally.

GAMBLING: You're absolutely right. And the other senator from New York, Mr. Schumer, has not said anything about this.

DOBBS: No. No.

GAMBLING: They won't even go anywhere close to it.

DOBBS: It was a Congressional delegation that...

GAMBLING: Well, exactly. I mean they're nowhere in sight on this, yet everybody complains about it. And the governor continues to stonewall.

DOBBS: I -- Peter?

BOYLES: Yes, well, it's the politics of being a coward. This is playing to the Chamber of Commerce. It's playing to the multinational corporation.


BOYLES: It's playing to the people who hire. And, by the way, most of these people somehow think that these are going to become party members.


BOYLES: Lou, the set up for fraud -- by the way, I think there's enough voter fraud in this country already.

DOBBS: Yes, well, and there's -- certainly this looks like it's one of the inspired motives here. And the fact is that you just laid -- ticked off the list of major contributors -- when you talk about the Chamber of Commerce...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. DOBBS: ...multinational corporations...


DOBBS: ...and, of course, pandering to the socio-ethnocentric special interests...


DOBBS: the way, for both political parties. So it's -- it'll be interesting.


GAMBLING: And, of course, everybody that is for the governor is calling everybody that's against the governor a racist.

DOBBS: Oh, absolutely.

MADISON: Oh, come on.

DOBBS: You've got to be a racist...


DOBBS: A nativist...


MADISON: Well, I, you know...

DOBBS: A nativist, according to the "New York Times" editorial board.

MADISON: Well, I -- and I resent -- I mean, look -- you know, look, I helped to create Motor Vote when I was with the NAACP political department.

DOBBS: Right.

MADISON: And I'm going to tell you, this is wide open. This is not why we created it. And, look, we've had voter fraud. Hello, Ohio and Florida.

I mean have we forgotten?

BOYLES: And, Lou, how many more parts of the welfare system can you now tap into with a driver's license?

DOBBS: Well, yes, look, let's be honest here.

And we're going to take a quick break and going to be back with our panel.

But let's be really honest. The only person getting screwed here, the only person being ignored and failing in any representation on the part of...


DOBBS: idiot like Governor Spitzer -- and the reason I call him an idiot, by the way, is he called me anti-immigrant...


DOBBS: So he started it. I guarantee you, governor, I ain't quitting until you do. And the fact of the matter is we've got to break that nonsense up now.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Wolf Blitzer coming up at the top of the hour with "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Wolf.


California's first lady, Maria Shriver, here in "THE SITUATION ROOM" tonight, talking about the fires destroying parts of her state.

How is her husband, the governor, responding to the crisis and what you can do to help?

Another disaster, another stadium being used to house thousands of evacuees. Tonight, we'll take you inside to hear from the people who had to abandon their homes to the flames.

And FEMA now heading out to the fire zone. Tonight, the lessons learned from Katrina and how FEMA is handling this emergency.

All that and a lot more coming up in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much.

We're back with our panel.

Joe Madison, I think we've just got to tip our hats here -- more than tip our hats. Rush Limbaugh attacked by a man for whom I have absolutely no regard, and that is Senator Harry Reid, over an issue of calling some of the critics of the -- soldier critics, military critics of the war -- accusing him of saying phony soldiers. He took a letter that Rush Lim -- that Senator Reid had written to his syndicator and basically raised $2.1 million on eBay. A pretty amazing performance -- in support of the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Fund.

What do you think?

MADISON: Well, I think it's good that he raised money. I find the motivation exciting. I mean it just shows you, you can take a negative, turn it into a positive. Look, I'm not a big fan of Rush Limbaugh...


DOBBS: That's why I thought I'd start with you, Joe.

MADISON: ...I'm not a big proponent of Rush Limbaugh.

But you know what?

It does show you -- we in talk radio take a lot of hits for some time just being talkers. But, you know, I've raised money for Sudan.

DOBBS: Yes, you have.

MADISON: You've raised money. And it should be an example of what we all can do -- the 4,000 of us who are talkers. And you've got to applaud him for raising the money, and it's well-needed.

DOBBS: Absolutely.


BOYLES: You know, the whole thing was about the attack on the general. And I didn't see anybody rushing up to try and give 4.2. I mean this blew up in their face. I'm talking about the House Democrats and the Senate Democrats. They were absolutely fools...

GAMBLING: Whoever advised...

BOYLES: ...and it showed it.

GAMBLING: Whoever advised Harry Reid on this made a huge mistake...


GAMBLING: ...right out of the box.



GAMBLING: And Rush swung at the ball and hit it out of the park.

MADISON: Yes, he did.

DOBBS: And Senators Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer among those -- John Kerry, Ted Kennedy...


DOBBS: ...and, I'm sorry to say, Jim Webb signing on with that, because I like Jim Webb.


A surprising list. DOBBS: Yes. And the fact of the matter is...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was good -- good strategy. A good strategy.

DOBBS: As Peter said, it was a 4.2. That's because Rush Limbaugh put up 2.1 to match that.


DOBBS: And forgive me, I don't know the name of the person who donated the $2.1 million.

GAMBLING: Casey. It was a lady by the name of Casey...

DOBBS: Casey?

GAMBLING: Betsey Casey, maybe?


Does anybody have that name?

One of my brilliant colleagues on this staff -- OK...


DOBBS: Well, they're about the same I.Q. as I am tonight, so we'll...


DOBBS: We'll get that later. But our hats off to her.

Pete Stark apologizing for his outrageous remarks.

GAMBLING: Well, what took him so long?

Where has he been?

I mean why was it said to begin with? And Nancy Pelosi -- how many days did it take her to admonish Mr. Stark?

DOBBS: Peter?

BOYLES: My great fear -- and I think my fear will come true -- those people are going to have the power.

But how can it be worse than George Bush?

So the beat goes on.

DOBBS: Good lord.

MADISON: Well, gentlemen, I remind you, 12 years of somewhat similar comments coming from the Republicans. So, you know, it's the same bird, two different wings. It's politics here in Washington. And I wish there was some more decorum. But it's just the nature of politics. And, quite honestly, it turns me off. And I think it turns a lot of Americans off, on both sides of the aisle.

GAMBLING: I think the absolution that one gets these days by apologizing...

DOBBS: Right.

GAMBLING: seems to be the cleansing method that we use today.


DOBBS: Well, I'm going to cleanse myself right now. I just called Eliot Spitzer here an idiot here just a minute ago.

Did you notice that?


DOBBS: I was wrong to do that.

MADISON: No, you didn't do that.

DOBBS: I did. I did. And I was wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't hear that.

DOBBS: And what I meant was I'm the idiot for tolerating the kind of nonsense that this governor and anyone who tolerates this kind of nonsense. I'm the idiot. Governor, I apologize for calling you one. Your policies are idiotic. But I have to apologize for calling you an idiot. And they're actually -- it's actually a sincere apology. I'm kind of embarrassed that I got so frustrated that I did that.

We'll let you go seek absolution of your own, governor. Straighten out those policies and start thinking about the citizens of the State of New York.

Joe Madison, thanks for being here.

MADISON: Thank you.

DOBBS: Peter Boyles, thank you very much.

And John Gambling, as always, good to have you, sir.

GAMBLING: Thank you.

BOYLES: Thank you.

DOBBS: Coming up next, the results of tonight's poll.

We'll have more of your thoughts.

So cleansing. I feel better. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Ninety-three percent of you say efforts to confer benefits on illegal aliens designed to expedite a nationwide massive voter fraud. We'll see.

Thanks for being with us.

"THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.